Animaux | UK

Alga – Aralia EP – Inter-re-view

May
25

Available for free on Lost Oscillation’s website, Dan Egdell’s first outing as Alga is a 2 track EP showcasing an original and inventive mind.

Four Tet, Caribou and other associated acts have a lot to answer for when it comes to the current crop of SoundCloud wannabes. Luckily, sometimes the slew of homebrewed imitations and rip-offs is interrupted by tracks or EPs which genuinely develop and respect the fundamental successes of their inspirations. Aralia is one such EP.

By avoiding the temptation to smash random sonic textures together in pursuit of a rich and lush soundscape, Alga sidesteps the type of error a lesser producer would leap headfirst into. Still a student, his promising work thus far has shown him maturing into a canny aesthetic operator. Bringing his skill as a DJ to bear on these tracks, elements transition seamlessly; in fact, it seems like the main aim of both pieces to effortlessly end up far from where they started.

“This Is Your Carnival” spins itself a semi-demented fairground ride out of some propulsive brassy pomp. The selection and deployment of instrumentation is ingenious, allowing the track to retain its character even as the constituent parts are piled up, taken away, demand attention, or subtly change the direction. It pays rich dividends here as the midpoint of the track finds the layered pieces stripped away. The hand drumming, satisfying kick and rising mania of the synths is the highlight of its 8 minutes (and it truly is the better for being that long).

Moreso than simply grasping at sound and texture, Aralia illustrates Egdell working as a songwriter and a selector. The joy of “This Is Your Carnival” is in the details: the slight dissonance of the climax; the interplay of the reverbing horn blasts in the introduction; and the finely woven percussive textures that underpin the whole thing.

“Patina” relies even more heavily on Egdell’s percussion work. However, for much of the track these elements are foregrounded in the mix, rather than underpinning. Synth chords, rich basslines and ethereal vocal samples slowly emerge from beneath and behind them. This inverts the formula of the first track and though it leaves some sections feeling paradoxically sparse considering the variety of percussion instruments present, the payoff more than makes up for it.

At just two tracks (albeit two eight-minute tracks) long, Aralia is a teaser of what’s to come from Egdell. Having emerged from an album containing 8 tracks, it is a little disappointing not to be able to hear more of that body of work just yet.

I sat down with Dan (albeit over Skype) to discuss the EP, his musical history, and his inspirations.

EM: So you weren’t Alga to start with, you started out as Slyside?

DE: Yeah, I started as Slyside about 2 years ago when I was in second year. I just kinda decided to start making music, needed a name, went with Slyside and then released something through Anonymous Records in York. Which was great, I really liked the Slyside stuff, but it felt like I’d finished, and it didn’t seem right with the kind of stuff I was writing. So I decided to start from scratch.

EM: Would you say there’s been an obvious progression since your Slyside material? It’s no longer on SoundCloud, so it’s hard to view the material that came before Aralia.

DE: Well yeah, I kinda wanted to ditch the whole thing. Maybe it was a bit of a rash decision looking back but I didn’t want anyone to be able to find out about me and go “oh, you used to be Slyside”; I liked the whole anonymous thing.

EM: Would you change your name again for another project or EP?

DE: Well, probably not because I’ve found a sound and Alga seems to make sense with it. You can still find the Slyside stuff on YouTube. I’m not too happy with that. I like that stuff, but I felt like I needed to progress and it was holding me back to try to sound like Slyside.

EM: When it comes to creating, do you have a procedure? Are there particular elements that you start with, or things you like to have in your mind at the start of a project?

DE: I wish I did! It would make my life a lot easier. No, I don’t. I get ideas when I’m walking around and I record a little bit on my phone, or I find a sample that I like or I find a groove that I like. There’s no real routine, what happens – happens and some tracks dissolve into nothing and others take off.

EM: Were there a lot more tracks that you could have put on this EP?

DE: Yeah, there was actually 8 tracks. I was writing an album in my 3rd year as an equivalent to a dissertation. I handed it in and I was happy with the results but I felt that there were some tracks that could be chipped away and weren’t really needed. And when I sat down it turned out there were 6 tracks that weren’t needed.

EM: Do you do live performance stuff, or do you have any plans to?

DE: I was thinking of getting a band together to do some of the Alga stuff, but now I’m writing again. The plan was to do some gigging but that’s on hold until I have a little more material I think. We might do it after that.

EM: In terms of the EP as a whole, what kind of influences have played a part?

DE: John Talabot, I love the way his tracks progress and his production style and how percussive it all is. I was listening to a lot of his stuff while I was making it. Caribou as well, which is an obvious choice but it was a big influence. Also Nicolas Jaar, even though it doesn’t really sound anything like what I make, it was definitely an influence. And again, jazz, even though it’s not really a direct influence and you might not hear it.

EM: And you play a lot of the instruments on the EP live?

DE: All the drums, all the brass, all the bass is recorded by me. The synth line at the end of TIYC, all the synth stuff was recorded into the computer but the rest was real instruments.

EM: Both tracks are 8+ minutes; did you consciously aim to create a long and smoothly transitioning track?

DE: It wasn’t a deliberate choice, like I didn’t sit down and say let’s create a 10-minute track that’s gonna evolve. It might just be because I’m bad at being concise, I don’t know. It starts with an idea and then I couldn’t end the idea without it changing. I started with it and it was like, this isn’t done yet. I kept going until it felt done and it felt like it morphed into a different song in the second half, but I kinda like that. They both do a similar thing as well which I think works, they both match that pattern.

EM: Thanks for your time Dan.

You can download Alga’s Aralia EP for free from Lost Oscillation’s website.

David Bowie’s Influence On All Things Electronic

Mar
13

It has now been three months since the passing of music titan David Bowie. Sadly, the world and the industry he helped mould have been forced to move on, and in some respects culture will never recover from his loss. Thankfully though, his indelible mark is still evident everywhere you turn. From the offbeat tinkling of Tiga’s “Bugatti”, to the now omnipresent grooves of Daft Punk, Bowie is lurking (in a non-creepy way) behind every note.

The comparison may not at first seem obvious. Art-pop legend David Bowie an electronic pioneer? And yes, the case could be argued that well before Dave started to dabble, other artists such as Giorgio Moroder and Kraftwerk had been working as part of a thriving European tradition dating back to the late ‘50s. However, it cannot be argued that during his stay in Berlin in the mid ‘70s, Bowie seamlessly began to intertwine niche electronic vibes into mainstream pop. No example of this is more salient than his 1977 album “Heroes”, which is well worth a listen if you have a spare hour.

“Beauty and the Beast”, the opening track, roars into life in all its spasmodic weirdness, rumbling with electronic synthesisers and Eno masterminded treatments before we can even settle in for the ride. The title might even be a reference to the meeting of two musical worlds (I’ll let you decide which genre is the Beast). The aforementioned “Bugatti” begins to look a little tame in comparison…

More remarkable perhaps is “Fame”. Released a full two years before electronica masterpiece “I Feel Love”, this song is a precursor to the huge Disco sensation which was to come. Wailing across the soniverse like a synth banshee, Bowie threw down the gauntlet, and the music industry really responded.

Finally, the last example needed is the hugely popular “Ashes to Ashes”. Self-consciously ushering in an era of New Wave artists, Bowie swaggers across an unknown planet dressed as a clown (amongst other things) in an unforgettable video illustrating his rightful place at the helm of all things new, strange, and exciting. In short, all things electronic.

Meet “Thing” – Lithuania’s Klock [Naktiniai Paukščiai]

Mar
10

Thing (Alex Krell) has been making absolutely massive waves in the Lithuanian techno scene. Alex listened to lots of hip-hop and rap while growing up but his passion for Techno came from his dad who owned and played him records throughout the 90’s. Currently he is one of the hosts to ZIP FM’s (national radio) show – “Naktiniai Paukščiai“, is finishing up his newest EP and is heading to Belfast on April 9th among countless local performances with local and foreign talent alongside him.

Mantas: Hi Alex – what are you up to these days?

Alex: Hey! Right now I’m finishing my new EP which should be released next month, so I’m putting final touches on it.

Mantas: Could you tell us more about your inspirations? Who do you follow and what makes “the cut”?

Alex: Inspirations…Wow, there are a lot of them! Maybe I will be banal at this point but Berlin and it’s Berghain music and residents inspire me the most. I couldn’t name only ONE of them… But if there’s anyone I would aspire to be as – it’s Ben Klock. I mean he is more than 40 years old and he tours like a 20 year-old dude. Despite that his production and dj sets are just amazing. 🙂 I produced my EP just after listening to his Essential Mix so this tells how much he inspires me.

Mantas: Why ‘Thing’?

Alex: Oh wow, that`s a funny one! We have to go back to 2012, when I was studying  in Belgium via the ERASMUS programme and I started my solo career as Thing. I’ve made a couple of tracks and one label offered me to release it, so I had to think of a stage name that is easy, sounds good and is easy to remember… There was Adam`s Family TV show on in the background and I heard “THING!” there. I wrote it down, it looked cool and I decided to keep it.

Mantas: Lithuania and Eastern Europe are not generally well-known in the techno scene. Could you tell us why – or what steps are you taking to amend that?

Alex: I don’t know what the situation in Latvia and Estonia is, but Lithuania? I would deny that! We had Ø [Phase], Function, Ben Klock, Tadeo, Kobosil, Par Grindvik, Gary Beck, Regal, Deadbass, Benjamin Damage and many others since summer of 2015 till now, so I think techno is “on its wave” now and everybody’s loving it. Many thanks to such promoters as HOOKED:ON, Minimal.lt, ResoluteDAI and my colleagues from Naktiniai Paukščiai (Nocturnal Birds) for making this happen in our country

If I look to this question as a producer – yes, there are many great producers that make good music, but it’s very hard to release your own productions on big labels when you don’t have “friends” there. If labels paid more attention to production from talented people as opposed to their “friends” we would have been taken techno market in Europe, haha! Anyway, I’m trying to produce as much quality music as I can and I often send it to techno “big-heads” on SoundCloud and sometimes they give me feedback, they download it and etc., so maybe I would say little step by step moves and we`ll make it. 🙂

Mantas: Future plans?

Alex: I have some projects started for my future EPs, I even have some tracks for my 1st album but an album is a lot like wine: the more it gets saved in the basement – the more delicious and expensive it gets. It’s the same in music industry. 🙂 I also have a project for my live show, but it needs time and more hardware to make it a stunning one, so we’ll see about that.
Mantas: And finally – what is the funniest / most absurd thing you have seen in a gig you either attended or played at (or both!)?

Alex: Oh my. I have a radio show with my colleagues Roads and Pakas called Naktiniai Paukščiai so I played b2b sets with them only once and both sets for me ended with drinks spilled on the CDJs. Thank God my colleagues are playing with vinyl – they saved my ass from silence. 🙂

Mantas: Thanks Alex!

We have a chat with Longman [Texture]

Mar
08

What is texture?

‘The feel, appearance, or consistency of a surface or substance.’

Loz Waring, better known as Longman among York’s clubbers, is the self-titled “Captain of the Texture ship”. From funky Saturday grooves at Sotano to truly massive events as Texture’s recent collab with Closed Circuit bringing the likes of Hunee, Loz has been busy pushing York’s house scene for the past two years. We managed to pick his brain about the past, present and future of both Longman and Texture.

Texture in action.

Mantas: Hi Loz, let’s get down to it – what are you up to these days?

Loz: Just working for myself. I like to spend my time spread out between music, events, gardening, dog walking & some designing. Just generally try to create a nice balance of all my interests & business ideas that all help pave the way/pay the bills.

Mantas: Could you tell us more about your inspirations? Who do you follow and what makes “the cut” in your sets / production?

Loz: Inspired by people that think outside the box, using new spaces for parties, people that think about the layout & flow of a venue, how the decor can help create a mood, the mix of people, all the things that can combine to create a really good party.

Soundcloud is a great tool, being able to connect with people across the globe with a similar taste in music is really exciting. I follow a lot of upcoming guys & girls that support each other, play each others music out & in sets and its nice to see. Everyone coming up together…

As for sets, my taste is always developing, but hypnotic grooves really do it for me. When an endless loop can lock you in for 8 mins you know its pretty special.

Mantas: How / why did you start producing?

Loz: Thanks to Fruity Loops (software) and the energy & rawness of grime music at the time, which had me hooked from the age of about 14 (2006), probably started making loops a year after that. First grime tune I was introduced to was:

Alongside this (thanks to my parents) I was in an african hand drumming group. From there I got into more instrumental based music, Idea3 was born and that was the outlet for some of the deeper listening stuff.

Euphoria –

Plus a love for a lot of the 140 stuff.

Silkie –

Mantas: How did Texture start? What are your plans for Spring / Summer?

Loz: It started when I was living in Huddersfield. It was first and foremost just an excuse to get friends together and a chance for us dj’s to play out. I would come over to York on weekends to play at Sotano, and me & Sam (the manager at the time) would share ideas. So we brought Texture over to York a few months later and it went down a treat!

Tex – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MIs3M2H2-u8

Summer plans are loose at the moment, but outdoor spaces are being looked into.

Mantas: What are you up to next?

Loz: Just wanna focus a bit more on production, do bit of travelling and eventually set up shop in a new city.

Mantas: And finally – what is the funniest / most absurd thing you have seen in a gig you either attended or played at (or both!)?

Loz: Not absurd, but it did give us a good giggle… one of the Textures at Sotano we were joined by a random middle-aged man in a suit who got himself stuck in on the dance floor, I think he was doing some kind of squat dance, he made a few friends anyway.

Mantas: Thanks Loz!

You can follow Texture on Facebook they have also just launched a blog!

Animaux presents: Chris I’Anson

Jan
07

Vous êtes tous des Animaux.

We are taking over The Falcon Tap‘s bunker for this and bringing our good friend Chris I’Anson back – who can forget his blinding set at our second birthday?! For those uninitiated, Chris is the man behind Slipstone Records as well as wildly successful night in Leeds – On Rotation. This man knows his stuff so do come and experience some quality music with us.

The Falcon Tap is a proper pub so expect a variety of beers, ales, ciders as well as a new cocktail menu. We will, as always, be showcasing visuals and are bringing a massive rig to the tiny bunker.

We are also running a like & share competition to win a pair of tickets which you can find here. 

Here’s a podcast that Chris did a while back for us:

Animaux Podcast 04 – Chris I’Anson by Animaux on Mixcloud

You can find the event over at Animaux presents: Chris I’Anson. Tickets are £4 via Resident Advisor, Earworm Records, The Nook, Bison Coffee Shop, The Falcon Tap or directly from our reps (numbers are on the event page).

See you on the dancefloor! 🙂

One to watch for 2016: JACKY

Dec
02

As the winter months start rolling in and we all look back on what a great summer of music we’ve had, it’s easy to get excited about what 2016 holds in store. One producer that’s been making himself difficult to ignore over the last year is Manchester based ‘mute!’ resident JACKY.

Ever since the release of his EP ‘NINETEEN’ on ‘Keep It Zen Records’, JACKY has been gaining momentum as a tech artisan. His debut EP really finds that dance floor sweet spot between smooth infectious basslines, cheeky synths and enticing vocals, a formula that didn’t take long to catch the attention of Steve Lawler, who featured the title track regularly in his sets this year, even laying it down as his track of the summer, and he didn’t stop there. He immediately asked to hear more unsigned material, tweeting “let’s get you released on VIVa ASAP!” and later hooked JACKY up with a guest appearance with the infamous VIVa Warriors at Sankeys Ibiza.

It’s been just over a month now since JACKY’S rumbling tech house EP ‘SINABIT’ was dropped, on VIVa Limited and nothing could have cemented his position more as a definite talent for the future. All four tracks are underpinned with the kind of relentless, pumping bass that make your foot tap without you realising, leaving your brain to drink in the twisted, bouncy synths and subtle vocals which permeate throughout. The title track’s trademark use of these addictive basslines, interwoven with a prickly acid synth and precipice build ups produce a fizzing ensemble worthy of a tech house pro, and leaves no doubt in anyone’s mind that this young producer has the same amount of talent as I wish I had money in the bank. But don’t just take my word for it, the release has received some pretty esteemed support from the likes of; Hot Creations head honcho Jamie Jones, Santé, Nick Curly, Skream and Richy Ahmed to name but a few.

It doesn’t stop there either for the protegé from the north-east, it looks like he’s been pretty damn productive in the studio as well, with news of a forthcoming EP ‘Discotek’ planned for early February on ‘Elrow Music’, as well as host of other work set for release with the likes of; Criminal Hype, Keep It Zen, Skint Records and Straight Ahead Music, amongst many, it looks likely that he will be adding to his already impressive remix collection next year.

One thing is for sure, JACKY has created enough of a buzz to keep him a very busy boy in the upcoming months, playing alongside the likes of Paco Osuna, Richy Ahmed, and Cuatero at Motion in Newcastle, as well as confirmed dates in London, Bristol and Cambridge it’s safe to say he will be ending 2015 with a bang.

So, all pretty exciting stuff for a guy who only recently quit the 9-5 routine, and the way things are going, it looks like he’s definitely made the right decision. With his work popping up in sets around the world, including Marco Carola dropping his remix of Lee Walker’s “Gotta get” at Amnesia’s closing party in Ibiza, and a wave of releases ready to hit in 2016, JACKY is definitely likely to be in high demand next year.

FKA Twigs Releases Videos to Accompany Her New Album: m3ll155x

Aug
24

FKA Twigs new album comes with five music videos, available here as one 18 minute segment.  The album deals with issues such as the objectification of women, their roles as child-bearers and their position in society.

http://m3ll155x.com/

It’s well produced and beautifully abstract, with captivating choreography.  In “Figure 8” an older woman with features of an angler fish may describe the allure of women, as they attract men without a display of their true selves.   “I’m your Doll” explores how a woman might be a sexual object from the waist down, as Twigs appears on a bed with the body of  a sex doll.  After she is impregnated, “In time” appears to parody the promiscuity of RnB but, instead of showcasing lyrics about seduction and sex, Twigs asks her partner to “stay with [her] in this”.  “Glass and Patron”, my favourite track, juxtaposes brutal bass with birth and is by far the most abstract video of the bunch.

The final track, “Mothercreep” of the album does not have a video attached to it.  Could it be that Twigs considers child–birth as the end for women, their ultimate purpose?  Or is that a reflection of what society dictates?

With every viewing I unlock more, but I’m never sure of anything other than the fact this is a great album.

FKA twigs – m3ll155x

Source: FKA twigs – m3ll155x

We Visit Berghain – The Lockean Utopia

Jul
10

From the distance, illuminated by a dim Berliner dawn, Berghain looks like a run down high-security mental ward — home to your worst, darkest nightmares. The queue winds its way to the door, dozens piously wait to be allowed into the Techno cathedral. Provided you abide by the strict yet somewhat arbitrary dress-code, conceal all happiness behind a veiled expression of disillusioned boredom, and never pull your phone out of your pocket, the doors of Berghain might open for you. Berghain will defy all of your expectations, challenge the very core of your raver-self and spit you out a different person.

Eardrums start to thump as I step through the door followed by dozens of envious eyeballs. After being given the one instruction from security to “go and enjoy yourself!”, I find myself propelled in an immense hall dominated by the towering statue of a man guzzling away through a funnel. The scratchy concrete walls are lined with sofas dotted with buzzing clubbers of all ages; a staircase winds its way around the statue, leading to the dance floor: I’m in Berghain.

Columns of speakers stacked meters high sustain the drug-fuelled frenzy that seems to have captured every fibre of the crowd and the dark building. Unimaginably tall and painted black, church-like windows guarantee perfect darkness from Saturday night to Monday morning. I am greeted – if one can call that a greeting – by an exceptionally heavy set kindly provided by Mr. Giorgio Gigli, venerated by the pulsing black mob hungrily feeding off every sound discharged upon them. The industrial, almost robotic, beats absorb the crowd into the music, coming together as one organic being – I never thought techno, or any other genre for that matter, was capable of such a thing.

Untangling myself from the hypnotic pulse of Berghain, I make my way to find some solace and head towards the Panorama Bar. More pleasing to the eye and lighter on the eardrums, the Panorama Bar breathes upbeat, housey vibes relieving clubbers from the scorching industrial inferno next-door. For the first time in hours, I am reminded that the outside world still exists as sunlight bathes the lounge-like room. Eventually, as my vision readjusts to the unexpected sunbeams, I notice the entrance to an odd corridor running parallel the dance floor. It turns out, the mysterious corridor is in fact a long succession of cramped sex-booths only separated from the dance floor by scruffy curtains. I’d like to say it came as a shock, but it didn’t.

Somewhat revitalised, I return to Berghain as the dance floor is being commandeered by Lory D’s vigorous techno as the clubbers ranks swell. Despite having already formed an idea of the Berghain crew, the next few hours would deeply challenge my understanding of ‘weird’. Sometime between Lory D’s and STERAC’s set, I witness a truly Berghain-esque scene. Only a couple of meters away from me, a middle-aged man, completely naked, is walked around on a leash by what could only be described as Santa Claus wearing nothing but some leather underwear. Shocked at first, I am surprised by the apathy of the crowd towards the scene. No one could care less. Confused, I plunge again into the frenetic crowd.

With my flight back to the UK only a couple of hours away, we make our way towards the exit. I leave Berghain walking past a young man dripping in sweat, dancing as if under the grips of a seizure, and completely oblivious to anything around him. Beyond the doors, a cold Berliner morning awaits me.

Over the next few days, thinking back to my weekend in Berlin, I think I cracked the enigma of Berghain. I think I might have managed to understand the core values that underpin “the church”. To me, Berghain is the ultimate expression of libertarianism. The club ignores social conventions, and only abides by the rule of tolerance: as long as you do not bother anyone, you are literally allowed to do anything and everything. Berghain understands and accepts the uniqueness and individuality of each one of us, and offers relief to the oppression of the aspects of ourselves that cannot transpire to the public. To me, Berghain is a Lockean utopia.

We chat up Beatsofreen about his new Dimensions EP

Jun
26

“The process of Bloom started with the idea that the world we perceive is a reflection of what’s inside us, subconsciously or not. It is about coming out of your shell, about expanding into the space around you. We just have to take the walls down, and bloom.” – Joanna Borromeo

Born and raised in The Netherlands, producer Beatsofreen has gained major attention by releasing his first well-received beattape “Future Memories” back in 2011 at the age of 17.

After a successful collaboration (Global Soul EP) with Medaforacle (USA), he was signed to the Darker Than Wax family, celebrating his new EP “Coloured Dreams” (2013), a little tribute to the late & great J Dilla. With his alter ego Stan Forebee , Beatsofreen also creates more jazz-orientated beats, and most recently landed himself a feature on Okayplayer for his remix of Flying Lotus’ ‘Siren song’.

We managed to have a quick chat with Mr. Beatsofreen as he is prepping for his newest release – “Dimensions EP”.

Mantas: Why Beatsofreen? Was the name inspired by something or was it just something you thought would be memorable to people?

Beatsofreen: The alias Beatsofreen originally comes from a Dutch pronunciation of the word schizophrenia. Given the fact that my head is musically inspired in so many different ways, I’m referring to that term by deriving Beatsofreen from schizophrenic. A friend once came up with that one and it actually never got out of my head.

Mantas: Could you shed some light for us on how the whole production game started for you?

Beatsofreen: I grew into the production thing naturally. I played a few instruments before realizing I could create beats and record instruments myself. At the time I started, I was triggered by this dude who moved to my little village, a few blocks away. We were the only two listening to hiphop in our neighbourhood back then. Imagine: green flat landscapes, farmers, mills and cows, local folk people, and two strange guys rapping and making beats together.

Mantas: Could you guide us a little through your sound? What makes the cut?

Beatsofreen: I would consider my sound as warm, organic and full with colors. With that approach I always try to create music that is surreal and imaginative.

Mantas: Who inspires you? Flying Lotus is the obvious answer, but do you have any hidden gems?

Beatsofreen: Most of the inspiration comes from nature and other experiences than music at the moment. I’m inspired by not too many artists. But to name a few: Steve Reich, Terry Riley, Ben Frost, Sigur Ros, Thom Yorke.

Mantas: And finally – what is the funniest / most absurd thing you have seen at a gig?

Beatsofreen: That was at the solo debut release party of Perquisite, former half of the duo Pete Philly and Perquisite, a few years ago. Live band went crazy on stage, solo’s and everything. I don’t know what happened, but in the middle of a massive jam, his self-build setup broke in pieces and half of his gear fell off stage. The other band members didn’t even notice and went on playing.

Beatsofreen’s official first single ‘Bloom’ of his upcoming ‘Dimensions EP’ is out now on electronic music label Darker Than Wax. The track features Canadian songwriter / vocalist Joanna Borromeo. You can stream and download it for free below:

DJ Rashad, Machinedrum and the Footwork Legacy

Apr
30

Ah yes. Man, these are the sounds of summer. Rolling down the seafront, windows open, unnaturally baked, drowning in sunlight. The sounds in question are the tracks that make up the latest album from Dj Rashad, Nick Hook, and Machinedrum, ‘Moving Forward’.

Before we begin, here’s a little context: DJ Rashad was born in Indiana, October 9th, 1979, as Rashad Harden. He grew up in Calumet City, a suburb of Chicago, an ideal location for a passion in electronic music. His dad said that ‘Since [Harden] was a kid, he’s been doing this [and] he knew what he wanted to do”. He did some work at the Kennedy-King College radio station when he was in high-school; he also took an interest in some local dance troupes, for example the HouseOMatics, The Phyrm, and Wolf Pac. He met Morris Harper, (DJ Spinn) at high school and they began spending time round each other’s houses, producing tracks, performing at parties. Rashad was one of the founders of the Teklife crew that brought ‘Footwork’ into development around dance battles during his time in Chicago.

These are all meaningless facts, let’s face it; they might be cool for background noise, filling up our head, but everything we need to know can be heard in his music, where the true essence of a man can be found. Let’s take a look at some of his older stuff.

‘Juke It From Behind’ from the Juke Trax Online album (2006), and the difference between this and the newer Movin’ Forward’ album is incredible. It’s not exactly down-tempo but it’s significantly slower than his new tracks. There’s no frantic scramble to reach the pinnacle of your high as the bass thuds away manically. It’s a darker, more reflective, heavier sound playing from my speakers. Of course, still about bad bitches and the life, but you can’t expect that to ever go away; that’s what it’s all about, after all.

The true sign of a good musician is his or her evolution; how resilient they are. Can they change with the times, while incorporating the things people are digging at that specific time? Now as time has gone on, we’ve noticed a huge evolution in the rhythm of electronic music. Nowadays, much of the appeal is in that rock hard bassline. You can see a reflection of that in the Rashad’s development, compared to this new record. It’s impressive to say the least, and if I’m being completely honest, I’m really digging the newer stuff, whereas I wasn’t so into his older stuff. Apart from ‘I don’t give’. Man, that track is gangster as fuck.

Coming to ‘Movin’ Forward’, a collaboration with the very talented Nick Hook and Machinedrum, and of course DJ Rashad. ‘The $$$’ has undeniable danceability, a sort of ‘drink too much and bounce around until you throw up’ vibe. ‘All I Really Want’ is the first track I heard from the full album, and reminds me of everything good about summer that I remember from growing up. It’s carefree, rhythmic, and super cool.

Unfortunately DJ Rashad was found dead on April 26th, 2014. His autopsy confirmed the death as drug related, finding heroin, cocaine, and alprazolam in his system. With the passing of this great man, we must always look back at what he has given us: his legacy. I can’t help but feel that this is as fitting a send-off as anyone could ask for; a final closing chapter for the book of his extraordinary musical life. It might sound cheesy, but I salute DJ Rashad for this awesome last bit of music, and everything that came before. It may not be my favourite genre, but I can appreciate a great artist and the fact he died doing what he loved: living it up.

To purchase ‘Movin’ Forward’, click HERE.