Sep 30, 2014

RELEASE: Handpicked 004
WORDS: Alex Caslano

We really need to applaud our good friends at Handpicked. Last weekend they released their fourth compilation, and the attention to detail is just awesome. Setting aside the music for a moment, the release itself comes on a highly attractive cassette tape designed by the supremely talented Diane Edwards, boasting a psychedelic sleeve which perfectly compliments the beats within. It’s no wonder the label’s fanbase has grown dramatically since they launched at the start of 2013, and with some of Glasgow’s finest underground talent on offer, Handpicked have started to attract attention from around the world.

Indeed, they’ve made a point of reciprocating that support by showcasing producers from as far away as Canada, with a talent pool which is bursting at the seams. And talent is something ‘Handpicked 004’ certainly isn’t short on, with Synth favourites like Bessa, Cheeky Forty and Arm Watches Fingers mingling with fresh names like Tuscan Whale, Howie Wonder and Conrad Hart. As we’ve come to expect, it’s an intoxicating listen which surprises at every turn: boom-bap classics sit comfortably next to future-facing jams, while other tracks make a point of being utterly mind-bending (check ‘Wumpa Islands’ by Jetsam). Sometimes it’s bewildering, but 100% of the time it’s original, and that’s something worth shouting about.

Listen to the tape in full below and follow the links to buy:

‘Handpicked 004’ is available to download now via Bandcamp. You can also pick up a limited cassette tape at Monorail Music and Love Music Glasgow while stocks last. Handpicked join us at Simple Things Festival on Nov 1st with appearances from Mr.Tuner, Bessa, Cheeky Forty and Fortywinks.

Handpicked Website
Handpicked on Soundcloud
Handpicked on Facebook

Sep 25, 2014

FEATURE: Catching Up With Ian Pooley
WORDS: Alex Caslano

For those willing to dig a little deeper, Glasgow has a plethora of underground nights which punch above their weight. Often going under the radar but consistently delivering great parties, DC Sessions is one of those nights. Over the past four years Frazer Divine and Jane ‘Jaya’ Ayres have promoted quality deep house on Glasgow’s bulging dancefloor, inviting everyone from Derrick Carter to Marc Romboy into the booth. This Saturday sees their final party before they move onto bigger things, and they’ve secured a DC favourite to do the honours.

With a career spanning two decades, and with five albums under his belt, Ian Pooley is one of the world’s most respected electronic artists. A true advocate of diversity, he’s channelled everything from samba to hip hop into his music, releasing on labels ranging from Innervisions to Aus, while constantly pushing to the next horizon. From the widescreen tech of ‘Compurhythm’ to the undulating techno of ‘Chord Memory’, his tour schedule reflects his long-lasting durability and appeal, having spent the summer travelling the world, “I had a really fun gig in Zagreb” he tells us. “It was in an old tennis club, actually in the bar of the tennis club. It was packed with 120-150 people - great energy and loads of fun!”

With his fifth album, ‘What I Do’, released just last year you’d think he’d relish some downtime, but he’s already looking towards the future and the launch of a new label. “I’m really in the flow at the moment” he beams. “I’ll start work on a new album next year and I’m also launching a techno label called 'Montage'." It’s a wonder how he fits it all in (particularly as he lives around the corner from legendary Berlin club, Watergate), but with an unwavering passion for music, solid work ethic and a motto which says ‘keep going!’, we get the feeling that the next twenty years of Ian Pooley’s career will be just as prolific as the last.

Check out recent releases on Innervisions and Rejected below, as well as a fresh mix for Deep House Amsterdam:

Ian Pooley plays alongside JFunc and residents at the last DC this Saturday at The Berkeley Suite. Entry is £5 before midnight, £8 after. Pooley’s ‘Floris EP’ is out now on Innervisions.

Ian Pooley on Soundcloud
Ian Pooley on Facebook
DC Sessions on Facebook

Sep 24, 2014

VIDEO: Mirrors – Night

Sometimes a song instantly captures your imagination, and that’s exactly what happened when Mirrors sent over of his new track, ‘Night’, last week. As a producer who’s been bubbling under the radar for some time, it’s not surprising that Jackmaster named him as one to watch in 2014, and this seven minute excursion certainly underlines his potential. Drifting in like leaves on an Oriental breeze, the song unfolds into an incredibly beautiful arrangement of subtle percussion and delicate chords, mesmerising the listener from start to finish.

Hooking up with local videographer Ernesto Harmon for an equally spellbinding montage of martial arts, ‘Night’ transports you to a very distant place, and it’s somewhere entirely tranquil.

Check out the video for ‘Night’ below and pick up a free download here:

Mirrors on Soundcloud

Sep 23, 2014

COMPETITION: 02ABC Presents…Slum Village

As a newly formed rap group in the early 90s, Slum Village (or Ssenepod as they were then known) were one of Detroit’s hottest underground collectives. With T3 and Baatin weaving playful, but socially engaging rhymes over sample heavy and soulful beats from the legendary J Dilla, they were a force to be reckoned with. Their first official album, ‘Fantastic Vol.2’, is now regarded as a stone cold classic, featuring some of the era’s most celebrated talents, including Q-Tip, Pete Rock and Busta Rhymes. Tellingly, it led many to cite Slum Village as successors to A Tribe Called Quest who had bid farewell on their final tour in 1998.

Unfortunately the group were to suffer numerous tragedies in the years that followed. After leaving Slum Village to pursue a solo career (but still produce for them in alongside his protege, Young RJ), J Dilla would succumb to lupus in 2006, rocking the hip hop community and sparking a four year hiatus for the remaining members. At the same time Baatin was also suffering health problems, sadly passing away in 2009. But despite the adversities Slum Village have persevered (albeit with new members), releasing their seventh album, ‘Evolution’, last year. Now consisting of Illa J (J Dilla’s brother), as well as Young RJ and T3, the trio have stayed true to their roots, continuing to make timeless hip hop which rolls deep with soul.

Check out full streams of ‘Fantastic Vol.2’ and their acclaimed mixtape ‘Dirty Slums’ below:

This Sunday you can catch Slum Village performing in Glasgow on their European tour, and as always we have two tickets to giveaway courtesy of 02ABC. If you’d like to be in with a shot, simply head over to the Synth Facebook and type ‘02ABC Presents…Slum Village’ on the wall and we’ll select a winner this Friday afternoon. Please be sure to check the terms and conditions below.

Terms & conditions: Please note that this prize is for two places on the guestlist for 02ABC Presents…Slum Village on Sunday 28th September. There will be one winner. The competition closes at 1pm on Friday 26th and the winner will be notified via Facebook comment (please check your Facebook entry in the hours following the closure of the competition). The winner must be 14 years or older. After we have passed on the winner’s details to the event organisers we then pass on responsibility for entry on the night.

Slum Village perform at the 02ABC this Sunday (28th). The show will be preceded by a special J Dilla exhibition focusing on his productions between 1992-2000. Tickets are available from Ticketweb priced £16.87 inc fees.

Slum Village Website
Slum Village on Facebook
02ABC on Facebook

Sep 17, 2014

PREVIEW: Philanthrobeats Presents...Leave Your Vote At The Door
WORDS: Alex Caslano

One of the biggest events in Scotland’s history, a source of unprecedented debate and an unavoidable question which will have huge implications no matter which way the vote falls. Over the last few months the independence referendum has dominated lives up and down the country, and while the rest of the UK (and indeed the world) is only just catching up, the importance of Scotland’s decision on September 18th 2014 can not be exaggerated. But whatever happens on the morning of the 19th and no matter what you decide in the booth, there is one thing which we all agree is vital: moving forward together. This is something Glasgow-based charity, Philanthrobeats, hopes to address as the votes are being counted, engaging revitalised political interest to tackle some of the issues facing Scotland’s dancefloor.

“The referendum has motivated the residents of Scotland to rethink everything, and we figured that clubbing, and society’s attitude towards clubbing, should be included” says Marco Calzone of the charity. “The club scene has traditionally attracted open minded crowds, so we believe that the input from clubbers with regards to shaping Scotland’s future could be valuable, even on subjects outside nightlife and clubbing.” Crucially, this can begin as soon as you enter the Sub Club tomorrow night. Clubbing, parties and social engagement provide a great vehicle for change, for hatching ideas, conversing and discussing the future; and come Friday morning, the future will have renewed focus. With all profits from the event going towards a project which will hopefully harness this energy, Philanthrobeats have reminded us that we can all make a difference regardless of which box you cross in the polling booth.

“We want to harness this interest and turn it to the subject of nightlife” confirms Marco. “Recently we have had a number of club death tragedies in Scotland, often linked to dodgy ecstasy pills being consumed at clubs. We want to offer solutions to problems like these from a user-lead perspective, consulting punters like us who enjoy going to clubs, as well as venue managers, DJs and event promoters involved in Scotland’s nightlife.” So while there will be disappointment this Friday, the opportunity for change is now very real. The status quo is over; Yes or No, there’s work to be done, and it should be done together.

Check out a mix by Philanthrobeats resident,Fortwinks, as well an interview with charity representatives Marco Calzone and Own Fern in which we talk more about the challenges facing Scottish clubbing and how the referendum could help address them:

Philanthrobeats Resident Mix 003 - Fortywinks by Philanthrobeatscharity on Mixcloud

Synth: The last few months have been revolutionary in terms of Scottish politics, engaging the electorate like never before; why do you feel it’s important for people to leave their vote at the door this Thursday no matter what the result is?

Philanthrobeats: People are entitled to their opinion, and as a social-equality charity we are not here to try and influence votes. Our committee is made up of both Yes and No supporters, one of us being involved directly in one of the major campaign organisations. We wish to reflect that we have no political grounding either way, and with this event we wish to present a blank canvas devoid of any pro or anti independence sentiments. The event is named Leave 'Your Vote At The Door' in an effort to make this clear.

The real ethos behind this upcoming event is to use the opportunity the referendum offers to discuss a current talking point in the world of Scotland’s nightlife: club deaths and the associated safety concerns. The referendum on September 18th has kindled record interest in politics and scrutiny over statutory opinion and legislation; we want to harness this interest and turn it to the subject of nightlife. Recently we have had a number of club death tragedies in Scotland, often linked to dodgy ecstasy pills being consumed at clubs. Earlier this year, a reveller at The Arches in Glasgow collapsed after purportedly ingesting a number of these ecstasy pills in the queue outside the club amidst fear of being caught with them by the club stewards.

We want to offer solutions to problems like these from a user-lead perspective (that doesn’t diminish the integrity of the experience) through a media project consulting punters like us who enjoy going to clubs, as well as venue managers, DJs and event promoters involved in Scotland’s nightlife.

Synth: In the event blurb you talk about the recent tragedies in Glasgow clubbing and the ‘draconian response’ from authorities in their wake. Is there a sense that the current political momentum and engagement can inspire change on the dancefloor?

Philanthrobeats: The referendum has motivated the residents of Scotland to rethink everything, and we figured that clubbing, and society’s attitude towards clubbing, should be included. The club scene has traditionally attracted open minded crowds, so we believe that the input from clubbers with regards to shaping Scotland’s future could be valuable, even on subjects outside nightlife and clubbing.

We are keen for the civic engagement that the referendum has kick started to continue - it’s been a welcome change to the general feeling of apathy we’ve grown used to in Britain. Many are apathetic out of laziness, others through a lack of trust in the governing bodies. We believe that the way we approach clubbing as a society is something that should be addressed, and the current interest in institutional change can only help move this discussion forward.

Synth: The proceeds from Leave Your Vote At The Door will help fund your own project which will engage with the current political momentum; can you tell us more about the project and what you hope to achieve?

Philanthrobeats: The Media Project in question is initially going to focus on a video and podcast regarding not only how Scottish clubbing can improve, but how we can take a mature approach to the isolated tragedies which have been very prominent in the media over the last period.

It can be argued that the way certain media outlets have addressed said tragedies has been counter-productive, and pretty short sighted. However, there is a high chance that these reactions have been influenced heavily by the police and local councils: two bodies who are out of touch with nightlife (but still govern it!).

Therefore, we want to consult those who are involved with Scottish clubbing, from punters to promoters, and further afield. We plan to release a short documentary and podcast that will address these issues, provide various perspectives and hopefully will come up with some solutions. The pipeline idea is to eventually compile this research into a more academically-viable report, and through working with industry professionals (lawyers, narcotics experts, anthropologists, local MPs, etc) eventually release peer-reviewed literature with the intention of positively influencing decisions made by the powers that be.

Leave your vote at the door: dance together. Photo by Ralph Thompson

Synth: As it would appear by the polls it’s likely that almost half the population will be disappointed on the morning of September 19th; do you think there will need to be a healing process if we’re to move forward together?

Philanthrobeats: Like you say, the opinion polls tell us that the split is round about 50-50. Inevitably around half of the country will be disappointed on Friday morning, but I think we are resilient enough to take it in our stride. Generation after generation of people from all over the world have bore witness to massive changes – some elating, some disappointing - throughout history.

In Scotland alone we have had the mass closure of the Glasgow shipyards throughout the 1970s creating mass unemployment and plunging the city into a comparative dark era of violence and poverty; the 1984 miners strikes in which over 90% of Scottish miners joined with strikers across Britain and refused to work in defiance of forced mine closures across the country; and countless cases of sectarian issues throughout the country’s history. These are all examples of times when people have been tested by enormous social change, often causing violence, prejudice and kindling family-destroying feuds.

However, rather than the stories themselves, it is how people have reacted after these changes that defines our resilience. So regardless of the direction of the referendum, we should be confident in our ability to overlook our differences and move forward.

Synth: And do you think there’s been enough emphasis placed on how people unite after the vote? Is there any substance in the prospect of a divided country after Sep 18th?

Philanthrobeats: The miner’s strikes in the 1980s were instrumental in Britain’s cultural development. 30-year-old arguments between family members over whether or not to strike have left irreparable damage between parents and children that have lasted to this day. In Scotland, sectarian violence has continued to tear apart housing estates, schools and entire towns. The list could go on.

But we’re still here, and despite some scaremongering reports and crime polls, we can honestly say that Scotland and its major cities have moved forward leaps and bounds in recent years. With new generations old bitterness gradually dies, and across the country communities have strived to overcome sectarian issues – Glaswegians can now wear Rangers and Celtic tops in most streets without a constant fear of mindless abuse. So, whilst a period of disappointment and potential bitterness is inevitable, we have no doubts that Scotland can move forward as one and make do with whatever fate deals us on Friday morning.

Synth: Finally, it’s almost a year since you became a registered Scottish charity and you’ve done some fine work since then; what feedback have you had from those who have benefited from the charity and how can people get involved?

Philanthrobeats: It has been a bit of a whirlwind, and a shitload of work to be honest. We have still been continuing to support other charities in any way we can, whether that be financially or by other means, but the really great thing about registering as a charity is that we’ve been able to contribute to people’s lives directly. Seeing as we have very little administrative costs, and no paid staff, the money raised goes a long way.

A lot of our money has gone towards helping those who otherwise would have been made destitute by some of the more archaic and ethically debatable laws. Needless to say, recipients of any kind of support were always extremely grateful, which has been really wonderful to see. Furthermore, we have two large projects scheduled to start at the end of the year – music tuition for asylum seeker & refugee children, and a community arts project. There will be more news on those projects soon, but you can check out our first Project Diary on our blog to find out more details about the work we’ve been doing.

Harri, JD Twitch and Fortwinks all play Leave Your Vote At The Door on Thu 18th Sep at the Sub Club. Entry is £5 on the door and proceeds go towards Philanthrobeats’ new Media Project addressing the issues in Scottish Clubbing.

Philanthrobeats Website
Philanthrobeats on Facebook
Philanthrobeats on Twitter