Boy, I rinsed this.
There are a number of tracks which can transport me back the occasional session spent in the booth of the wee club underneath Yang on Queen Street in Glasgow. Pissing off a bouncer by telling him I’d stopped before, like a wee prick, kicking out Derrick May’s Strings of Life; letting things unspool into the endless dark beauty of Human NT by Random Noise Generation; delightedly discovering that Floorplan’s Burner will mix in and out of anything you like; And realising that DJ Funk’s Run (UK) becomes the greatest tune ever at a certain time of night. Aril Brikha’s Groove La’ Chord was one of these too.
I wasn’t then, nor am I now, a particularly great DJ. I suspect I don’t have the patience to be as obsessive as I should be, and I certainly don’t have enough desire to be the centre of attention to want to ever do it on a regular basis, particularly since that seems to be a far more useful talent for a DJ to have nowadays. Nowadays I’ll spend an age messing with the EQ, trying different approaches and actually practicing. Back then I was like a chimp with a toy and if it didn’t work first time the answer was always to smash it and see what happened. Subtly was rare unless I stumbled into it whilst on my way somewhere else and couldn’t get out again. I would have had all those DJ academics with their carefully weighted words and guidelines for ‘the aspiring warm up DJ’ running for the hills. I was a shit DJ then, and I’m a shit DJ now, but at least now I’m the only one who has to suffer.
Put me on later, though, when the mood more closely matched my limited ‘one speed fits all’ skill set (match it, mix it, get as far as way as possible, quick as you can, before it goes tits up) and it was better, especially if I’d been in the place long enough to soak up enough of the atmosphere to begin to understand a bit of what was going on and get the vibe. It also helped that I genuinely cared and loved about the music. In that I was hardly a rarity of course but there have always been technically gifted DJs who seemed little interesting in what they were playing. They were a million times more professional than I could ever hope of being, but their sets always seemed lacking soul.
Boy, I rinsed this. I don’t think it left my bag from the day I bought it until the last time I played. Groove La’ Chord is maybe a tune whose place in the lists of all time great techno tracks has perhaps suffered from the curse of over familiarity. Interestingly, I don’t think it was over exposure to the record itself that was responsible for this, rather it came down to the records that followed it, by a host of producers, which shamelessly aped its style.
And style it has. Rarely has there been a techno record that so completely lives in the moment. There’s really not much there. A beat that kicks with just the right heft, some dirty percussion and a bass that buries itself so low you are barely aware of it until you hear it bursting out on a big system. None of those are reasons for why it keeps you coming back, nor why it was so copied. Nah, the real reasons are those gorgeous shards of radioactive light that pass for chords and the way they endlessly turn themselves over and over and over. Critics have called this a one trick pony. Yeah, it is. But what a trick!
Ok, so I’m maybe not quite as bad a DJ as I’m claiming here, but if I was removed from the records I love, I couldn’t do it. I just don’t have enough interest in DJing as an end in itself to want to bother. But give me those records and I’ll have a go because I want to do them justice. And shit DJ or not, I had the sense to play this. I couldn’t have sucked too badly.