Friday Night Tune – Bango: Ritual Beating System (Systematic mix)

These days it is sometimes difficult to look back on the last twenty or thirty years of electronic music and see quite why there was so much fuss about various records or artists or genres. Aside from the obvious fact that we are spoiled for choice by the endless stream of new talent and music, we are also able to reach back to those archaic times with an ease that would have seemed pretty amazing even 10 years ago, and pull almost any track we (barely even) remember into the present where it stands under the same glaring scrutiny as something we just got our hands on yesterday.

Although I wouldn’t like to suggest that familiarity breeds contempt, it certainly lends itself to an amiable complacency. Sometimes we need to be reminded that the distance between then and now has allowed nostalgia to colour our response and, for a new generation of fans, it is sometimes difficult, if not actually impossible, to understand why a form of music was so important.

Detroit Techno sometimes falls into this. I’ve heard people occasionally suggest that it wasn’t as important as is often made out, that other genres were equally, if not, more important. For sure, I can think of many tunes from way back that, by modern standards, seem basic, with limited sound palettes, naive musical choices or were hampered by poor production techniques or equipment. In a way it’s like judging the rock n roll of the early 50’s with ears attuned to Joy Division or Sonic Youth. Times change, yes, and sounds and taste alter, but the impact remains the same.

With Detroit Techno, there is a less audible influence than there once was. At one point it seemed like every European producer was worshipping at the altar. But the reason Detroit Techno remains important today isn’t so much about the sound or the chord structures. It’s about the way Detroit Techno spread out from a single city to reach into many different genres. You might not hear so many Detroit-y cascading synths nowadays, but that is because the sound of the city became part of the fabric.

The grooves and feels of the genre are to be found in many far-flung places now, because Detroit Techno was far more than just one sound. The music was always expressive even in its velocity, and the little touches and flourishes, born of countless influences and tastes were woven together into something that could be taken away by a host of other producers from other backgrounds to do their own things with, be it Techno, or House or whatever else.

Ritual Beating System by Stacey Pullen under his Bango guise is one of those tunes that defines Detroit Techno even though it strains to defy such easy categorisation. And yet it is very much of Detroit. Right from the start, the drive and the low slung groove mark the common ground. The sample – Also used by Santana – add verve and fire to the mix, the tribal drumming gathering the whole thing together into a storm. The bleeps and pads so very emotive, opening the track up into wide open spaces.

But its something less tangible that marks this down as purest Detroit funk. It’s the warmth and expansiveness of the track that linger in the memory as it ends. The best Motor-City had to offer were rich with a sonic curiosity and playfulness that was less about naivety and innocence than excitement in the possibilities of Techno. It was about seeing where things led. And it’s in this that the real influence and importance of Detroit Techno lies. That was the spark that lit the fire. I hope it burns forever.

Friday Night Tune: Technique – This Old House

I’m going on holiday tomorrow and, to be quite honest, my mind is on anything other than writing this column. I have much to do: clothes to pack, books to choose and podcasts to burn to my Ipod, the usual run of the mill chores to get out of the way before I sit on the plane at take off and squeeze my partner’s hand into a messy pulp as the terror of flying sets in.

I had previously decided on choosing something relatively holiday-ish to write about tonight but one of the problems with Techno is that it doesn’t really do the Holiday tune particularly well, being far, far too much of a shaven headed, manly and grumpy sort of overly serious genre. As I’m not going away for a week in a steel foundry, I suspect any track I picked might well seem a little off. House music, of course, has no such issue with looking overly serious in its summer clobber, being a more light-hearted (although infinitely more twisted) kind of genre. Whilst This Old House isn’t quite your usual chunk of big room Ibiza holiday memories, there is something about it that is undeniably summery, sort of low slung and ready for anything. I do worry, though, that part of the reason for that is because, essentially, it’s a bit of a novelty record.

I hate novelty records with a passion that borders on the pathological. I just don’t get why people would buy something so one-dimensional and lame – and I speak as someone who bought an electro record that was constructed out of Jimmy Saville samples. I think part of my hatred stems from a six-week spell in hospital as a kid just as The Birdy Song was smashing the charts and was all that ever seemed to be on the radio for that whole period. It drove me spare and I still get a twitch in my eye every time I think about it. Summer always seem to draw them out of the woodwork too, an I’m not just talking about World Cup tie in crud either – If you go back far enough I bet you would find that Sultans of Ping FC released all their records in the summer, the bastards. They prey, like parasites, on people’s good humour and desire to have fun in the sun, but while you’re lying by the pool the inanity of the summer novelty smash is burrowing into your head like an insect about to lay its eggs….God help us all.

This Old House By Technique is very much a novelty record, but not in the same sort of way. While its ‘theme’ of a TV DIY presenter talking you through how to build a House track might seem a little on the cheesy side (alright, a lot cheesy,) it more than makes up for it by being a pretty mean piece of floor ready House. It’s what saves it and renders the narration ‘tongue in cheek’ rather than anything worse – and, to be honest, it’s all but impossible not to agree with his pronouncements – especially as the bass kicks in. Actually, I think there are a number of producers out there who could probably learn a lot by listening to what the man has to say….

Anyway, that’s me packed, taxi phoned and the hot water switched off. I’ll be back in ten days/two weeks and we shall pick up where we left off, except with a bit more of a tan. Hopefully. Ciao!

We’re All Going On Our….

That’s right! In a bid to avoid drowning through the act of simply breathing the Glaswegian summertime air, Pattern Burst will be on a brief hiatus from Friday for a week or two as we jet off in search of hotter, less depressing climes, eat steaks the size or our beds and wash them down with lashings of ginger beer wine.

Which is all a slightly smug way of saying I won’t be updating the blog for about a fortnight, maybe less, maybe more depending on how sober I am when I get home. Any inquiries about the blog, promos, events etc please write, as always, to the address in my Gravitar profile down the bottom right of the page.

As always, thanks for reading. Don’t go too far, I promise big things when I get back, big things. I just don’t know what……. hell, maybe I’ll interview someone or something like that. It’ll be like a real music website!

The Scribe.

Friday Night Tune: Gigi Galaxy ft Simone Star – Universal Love

The output of Teknotika Records seems strangely forgotten these days. Even back then, they never seemed to have enjoyed the same level of fame as others around them, although people who knew to look in the right places always had an eye on them. Nowadays, if Discogs is anything to go by, Interview With An Alien, Gigi Galaxy’s 1996 oddball B-movie jacker, is the one people remember – rightly so – but there are plenty of other releases under the Teknotika flag that are worthy of much closer examination.

I always seem to remember Glasgow having some sort of particular affection for Teknotika. Looking back, though, I’m not sure that is true of the wider scene within the city. I expect it was Club 69 in Paisley that first played them, with the word spreading out to other, distant punters and DJs. Certainly by the time out own night was going, the Teknotika sound was as much a part of the fabric as Underground Resistance or Drexciya.

I think I first heard Universal Love via one of the residents of our night. Although Adam was a few years younger than the rest of us, he had a knack for picking tunes and that almost insatiable lust for music that marks a great DJ out from a decent one. He frequently surprised us with the depth of his musical knowledge, and our group was rife with characters who knew their shit inside out when it came to House and Techno. Although a Techno and House bod at heart, like the rest of us, there was an eclecticism to his mixing and his picks that would serve him well when he eventually went on to DJ as part of the Numbers collective. I don’t know whether this was played much at their parties, but at Mystec, especially in the early days, it garnered a reputation as a bit of an anthem. Or, to be accurate, it was an anthem for Adam. I don’t know about anyone else, but I played it only once and never again. It didn’t feel right coming from me.

Just like my writing, It takes an eternity to get to the point. The first two minutes sound like the plateau of a tune cut from the middle and pasted to the front, and there is virtually nothing to give away what’s coming next. The verbed out, spacey snares and the thrum of elastic bass dance around that meat cleaver of a synth stab, the edges ground away and then sharpened. In comes the breakdown, the cosmic wurtlitzer organs hanging in orbit above the suddenly rising tension…

And then the whole thing explodes into life, a crazy and gloriously uplifting piece of space House; wonky and yet so slick; part free party in a muddy field on the edge of the eighties, part discotheque on Europa. It’s the vocals that do it. House vocals are famously anodyne, gleefully stupid and full of pat little phrases that would fit well into a self-help guide. They aren’t really different here but, tied to a tune as recklessly fun as Universal Love well, how the hell can you not agree whole heartedly with the dippy hippy sentiments? Pursuing the glumness of the existential philosophies is rather difficult when you’ve a grin spread across your face and your arms are so high in the air only spy-sats can see your fingers. Gigi Galaxy sets the stage but it’s Simone Star who works the magic, her vocals ducking and dodging and diving. It’s fun, it’s life affirming and its everything a good night out should be. I might not know why Teknotika never got quite the recognition the deserved, but I do know it was a crime. lets rectify that, and lets start right here with this twisted, glittery, good time banger.

Friday Night Tune: Gemini – X

Discogs is a dangerous place for the unchaperoned record obsessive, no matter what their poison. Its bland, functional front end is nothing but a doorway to a realm of scarcely imagined temptation and once you’re in there is no real escape. Sure, you can avoid it, sometimes for weeks, sometimes for months, but sooner or later the hunger will reawaken inside you and you’d better get your wallet ready, and your prayers, because your on your way to a poorhouse made of wax.

I’ve been good around Discogs, allowing myself only scant purchases over the years. But the pull is always there – that junky feeling, and the whispers…oh Lord, the aching seductive tones….

Like most people, I try to use it as an online archive of what I own and what I would like to own. Discogs is great for that. That and checking prices. I came across this EP, On The North Star by Chicago legend Gemini in my stack at home a few weeks ago. I hadn’t listened to it in years. It’s in not bad condition and I went onto Discogs to stick it in my archive. As I did so I checked the price – £100.

Is it that good? No idea. I used to love it, though. across its four tracks it builds on what would probably now – wrongly – be called Deep House. Blue Night, for example, is pure Detroit Techno pushed and pulled by Chicago nous. Day Dreaming is a glorious, Bass led mind rush of spiralling and effervescent tweets and chirps and Snow Drop a gorgeous, dreamy trip through the latest of late night moments.

X was always my favourite, though. Opening with a simple beat courtesy of some of the finest overdriven and crunching kicks you will ever hear, it builds so subtly over its 9 minute length that it comes at you like a soft padded mugger. It exists at the interchange between House and Funk. The grimy, sampled bass fluctuating in harshness as Gemini works the filters over and over, constantly bringing to boiling point before he brings in another Wonderful element. And when the snares come to life a couple of minutes in the whole thing transforms in a loose limbed jacking monster. Even in its more tender moments it never quite leaves you: a snarling guitar snaps out at you, demanding you keep your eyes and ears focussed.

Gemini -AKA Spencer Kincy – all but disappeared before the high tide of the nineties crashed against the new millennium. But he left one hell of a body of work in the few years he was active. I don’t know why he chose to vanish – I’ve heard rumours and stories – but it remains a shame. He was one of the originators, one of that second generation of Chi-town producers alongside the likes of Cajmere, Paul Johnson and Boo Williams who had such a profound effect on the direction of House. Kincy’s influence is still strong today whether or not that truth is conceded – listen to X and tell me you can’t here a generation of modern House and Techno in its sounds and grooves, tell me you don’t hear this record when you listen to Kyle Hall or Jay Daniels.

Some of his work has been re-released in recent years on a couple of different labels, all of it more reasonably priced than this one is on Discogs. Would I sell it? Nope. Some things are more precious than money no matter what the profiteers of the internet might think. This one is a keeper.