Category Archives: Features

Vali NME Click Interview + Pearsall presents Memories of the Parazone [Parallax Album Promo Mix] + Vali NME Click’s Message from the Parazone Promo Mix

Pearsall presents Memories of the Parazone

No download on this one!

Mixed in Berlin, June 2021
100% Vinyl
(54:48, 125 MB, 320 kbps mp3)

Tracklisting:

  1. Freshtrax & HMS – Do It [Parallax / Keeping Vinyl Alive]
  2. Phyzikal Flex – Energy Blast [Parallax / Chakra Doom]
  3. Innercore – Turbo Sound [Parallax]
  4. Headware – Around Ya [Parallax]
  5. Techno Brewster & DJ Iceman – Put You In A Trance [Parallax]
  6. On 1 Crew – Bad Dreams (Lost and Found Mix) [Parallax / Keeping Vinyl Alive]
  7. On 1 Crew – Bad Dreams (Tim Reaper Remix) [Parallax]
  8. FX – Dark Shadows [Parallax]
  9. Techno Brewster & DJ Iceman – Jungle Junkie [Parallax]
  10. DJ Lewi & Chopper – You Better Run (Dubplate Version) [Parallax]
  11. Fine Feline – Weekend [Parallax]
  12. Total Dark – Tenement Yard Jungle VIP [Parallax]
  13. Fine Feline – Just For U (Kid Lib Remix) [Parallax]
  14. Total Dark – Jamaica [Parallax]
  15. Tim Reaper – Dope Break [Parallax]
  16. Tim Reaper – Mental Atmosphere [Parallax]
  17. Tim Reaper – Journey to the Moon [Parallax]
  18. Tim Reaper – Energy Sphere [Parallax]]

Pearsall’s note:

My good friend Vali NME Click is the man behind the essential Berlin-based hardcore and jungle label Parallax Recordings, which is just about to celebrate five years of releasing records with its biggest release yet: the incredible Message from the Parazone, a five (!) vinyl album featuring some of the absolute finest new skool darkside hardcore / jungle from some of the scene’s finest figures. As a little promo for the release I’ve done this label tribute mix, pulled together from every release so far. Vali also kindly agreed to answer some questions, so please read on to find out more.

Also, duh, make sure you pre-order the album at either BigCartel or Bandcamp!

Vali’s promo mix:

  1. ? – ? [forthcoming Parallax]
  2. Jack Smooth – How We Do [PARA 10 – Message From The Parazone]
  3. DJ Mindhunter – Bass Roll [PARA 11 – Body Journey]
  4. InnerCore – Turbo Sound [2 copies of PARA 10S1 – Departure To The Parazone]
  5. Pete Cannon – Dream Again [PARA 10 – Message From The Parazone]
  6. DJ Mindhunter – Prisoners Of Xtasee [PARA 11 – Body Journey]
  7. Brute Force – Secrets [PARA 10 – Message From The Parazone]
  8. Worldwide Epidemic – Face Melt [PARA 10 – Message From The Parazone]
  9. Theory – What’s Going On [PARA 10 – Message From The Parazone]
  10. Dwarde & Tim Reaper- London Stomp [PARA 10 – Message From The Parazone]
  11. ? – ? [forthcoming Parallax]
  12. ? – ? [forthcoming Parallax]
  13. DJ Mindhunter – Mind Trip [PARA 11 – Body Journey]
  14. FFF – Bandulu [PARA 10 – Message From The Parazone]
  15. ? – ? [forthcoming Parallax]
  16. Coco Bryce – Pirates Of The Pancreas [PARA 10 – Message From The Parazone]
  17. Ant To Be – So Strange [PARA 10 – Message From The Parazone]
  18. Dev/Null – DarkPhase [PARA 10 – Message From The Parazone]
  19. DJ Mindhunter – Mind Full Of Stars [PARA 10 – Message From The Parazone]
  20. Justice & Necrotype – Refried [PARA 10 – Message From The Parazone]
  21. Champa B – Let´s Go Message From The ParazoneMessage From The Parazone]
  22. FX – Dark Shadows [PARA 10S1 – Departure To The Parazone]
  23. Tim Reaper- Dead And Buried [FX Remix] [PARA 10 – Message From The Parazone]
  24. ? – ? [forthcoming Parallax]
  25. ? – ? [forthcoming Parallax]
  26. ? – ? [forthcoming Parallax]
  27. DJ Mindhunter – Dreamin [PARA 11 – Body Journey]
  28. Yorobi & Tim Reaper – Rhodiola [Dead Man’s Chest Remix] [PARA 10S1 – Departure To The Parazone]
  29. Sonar’s Ghost – Future Shock [Double 0 VIP] [PARA 10 – Message From The Parazone]
  30. ScanOne – Horizons [PARA 10S1 – Departure To The Parazone]
  31. ? – ? [forthcoming Parallax]
  32. ? – ? [forthcoming Parallax]
  33. ? – ? [forthcoming Parallax]
  34. ? – ? [forthcoming Parallax]
  35. K Super – Being With You VIP [PARA 10 – Message From The Parazone]
  36. Hornchurch Hardcore – Labyrinth [PARA 10 – Message From The Parazone]
  37. ? – ? [forthcoming Parallax]
  38. ? – ? [forthcoming Parallax]

For those who don’t know you, who is Vali NME Click? 

I grew up in a musical household in Ulm, South-Germany. Both my parents are classical solo singers and multi-instrumentalists, so there has always been music and instruments around me, my father even self-built a Cembalo. I remember regularly falling asleep on the sofa to jam sessions that my parents and befriended musicians did in our place.

In 1994 together with my mate Önder I bought two crates of 92/93 Hardcore and Jungle from a local DJ and we started DJing and founded the NME Click. We went on and did radio, wrote for magazines, put on events (and even did live broadcasts from there), we even did an outdoor festival.

Things kicked off in 1997 really when Ikomowsa and MC Marvellous  joined and completed the crew. We established a quite big scene in our little city and were on the road constantly every weekend for the best part of the next 10 years, also having residency clubs and radiostations in other cities and booked popular Drum and Bass artists from all over the world regularly, especially from the UK. We had records out on labels such as DSCI4, Basswerk, Blue Saphire, Shadybrain and played at stages all over Europe, such as Sun&Bass, Fields Of Joy, Lightbox, Fusion, Splash, SonneMondSterne, Kings Of The Jungle and Breakzone.

In around 1997 I started the side-project Studioline, which was a mix of the music we grew up with and were influenced by. Nowadays you would call it “Mash-Up”, but we did it all on the fly, with records, playing all across the board, cutting and scratching and with that we attracted a wider audience and with those events financed the Drum and Bass parties in return. When I got tired of that around 2010 I re-found my love for the music that it all started with –  Hardcore and Jungle. I always had a soft spot for the era and basically never stopped collecting tunes from the early 90ies. 

So, while all this went on I didn’t really do such a good job of making a career outside of the music thing for myself. I quit school at around the age of 16 without any degree, just hustling, doing graffiti jobs, djing and selling illegal substances. But I soon figured out I needed to do something. So I went back to school, did one degree after another, did an apprenticeship at the local music magazine – all to be able to study digital media, only to have arguments with the lecturers and drop out. So there I was in Hamburg in 2009, in a traineeship as part of my studies, with everything seemingly lost.

So I decided to play the wildcard and just apply for jobs at random agencies without any degree. Luckily I found a job as a web designer in Berlin. The agency itself was a bit grim, but I stayed there for 5 years and learned the trade and in 2015 I went freelance, specialising in web- and print-design and illustrations, with a focus on clients in the NGO field and more socially-oriented companies. Through my past in the music business I also did a lot of artwork for labels and artists such as Metalheadz, CIA, Dispatch, Basement/ Precious Materials, InnerCore, DJ Seduction, Total Science, FD and the likes. 

What’s the story behind Parallax Recordings?

In Berlin I started putting on the ‘Parallax’ events in a small, illegal location around 2013, doing parties about once a year. I invited the people around Germany that had the same passion for Oldskool and a record collection. These events got a lot of love although I put little effort/ possibilities in promoting them. And they’ve been tons of fun!

Being an avid record collector I remember always hassling Dave Elusive from 92  Retro and Will Irvine from Sublogic/KVA to see if they could repress this or that and link them to the producers. One day Will said: ‘You know what? You just did the hardest part – finding the producers. Let’s do this together as a joint release’ and asked what I would call my label. I didn’t think too much and just took the name from my parties, thinking this would be a one-off experience. But so, Parallax Recordings was born. Soon after I found the guys from Technosaurus and decided to put their ‘Best Of Invention’ out on my own, just to see if I could do it all alone (though Will helped me heaps and forwarded me all his contacts, so thanks again, Will!).

My girlfriend was pregnant with my now 3-year old daughter and I somehow thought I had to do this “before it’s all over” and I’m a dad. Well, I did and caught the bug, and fast forward, here I am releasing the 5-piece album ‘Message From The Parazone’.

What’s the process behind re-releasing old tunes? How do you find the artists and get the rights? Some of the stuff has been extremely rare!

The process of finding the artists is always the hardest. Sometimes it takes me years and I always keep my cards close, especially now that repressing is a thing and so many others do it.

I also fell out of love with it a bit. Personally, I think it got too much and too much average stuff has been put out and I sometimes miss the love and the attention to detail.

But it also has to be said that there are some people in the ‘business’ that do an absolutely tremendous job and do everything right and I also feel the most important things got reissues in the last few years.

So it has become harder and harder to find something that’s worth it. My ethos has always been to only re-release music that’s not just expensive, but hard to get hold of. The tunes that never come up, even if you are dedicated and look for months. I don’t see much sense in re-releasing something that is widely available on the second hand market, even if a bit pricier. If you really want a tune and are dedicated to get it, you will pay a bit above the average to get it.

It’s a choice how you live your life and how you put your priorities. People often state that a remaster will sound better. But if a tune never sounded bad in comparison to others from the time I don’t see the need for that either. I still buy a lot of the represses myself, even if I have the originals. For one, to support other labels in the same field (although I don’t see many other label owners doing that .. ), and of course to have a mint copy for a tenner myself haha. 

Are there any tracks that you’ve really wanted to release that you haven’t been able to secure the rights to?

Of course! The Intense and Skanna releases on Will’s Sublogic were the stuff dreams are made of! I would’ve LOVED to put out the Liquid Crystal stuff by NRG (big ups Luna C and the Knite Force crew), also Chalke – Resurrection, X-Plode – First Of Many, Phantasy – The Atmosphere and Silver Fox – Dread By Dawn (big ups Brent Aquasky @ Vinyl Fanatiks). Then there was this track by Redlight – “How Many” that I tried to get for Parallax. I got a reply from Smiley of Shut Up And Dance, he said I should wait as they will do it themselves. It ended up coming on another label but it got shelved at the Testpress stage and I didn’t even get my hands on one of the few pressings boohoo. 

Others than that I tried several times to get in touch with Ed Rush about his Selekta track (it came out on Jetstar, and since I already put out Total Dark’s and Lewi’s Jetstar stuff it would’ve made sense to have it on Parallax) and also tried to get Pascal to speak to me about his track ‘The Process’ that he wrote as “the Full S.P. I just love this tune, it only came out on the “Faces Of the Future” album alongside two other tracks on a side and I would love to do a 12” with it. No replies from either of them, though, sadly.

Another label is in touch with Pascal though, I hope it will happen through them. I tried to get DJ Hype to talk to me about his “Jungle Fever” dubplate from 1994, but again to no avail. 

And I mention it here again: If somebody is in touch with DJ Mastersafe – I would love to talk to him. There are masters he thought were lost and we would love to put them out.

And if somebody has a dubplate of ‘Defender – Workstation’ – please reach out 🙂

Over time you’ve gone from re-releasing old and obscure hardcore and jungle to also releasing new music from artists like Tim Reaper, Kid Lib, Innercore and more – what led to this decision?

As said, I fell a bit out of love with the repressing game. There are certain key players that started doing it that weren’t around when I started. They are well connected and can make things happen that I simply can’t. They have a name for themselves and the original artists know them from back then, trust them and therefore will prefer to work with them. Basically, 8 out of 10 times, my efforts lead to nothing. And artists can be slow, it’s not seldom that a release takes two years in the making. I also had all sorts of drama: from artists that weren’t happy about an etching that I put into a runout groove, so I had to scratch it out, to original graff artists that weren’t happy with my new artwork and slagged me off online to lawyers of silent partners that came threatening me while deals were signed and records were at the pressing plant. 

I started to play more of the new stuff that I was buying regularly. I am quite communicative, so getting in touch with my favourite artists came natural to me. One thing led to another and I ended up signing the Dead & Buried EP by Tim Reaper. I am still extremely proud to have that on the label. Even going back to it now, it’s 4 unreal tunes, each one could be the highlight of any EP. Ed is unreal too, he gave me around 20 tunes to choose from and all were great! Although I never met him in person he is a great guy, always ready to help, be it with optimising a mixdown or being of help with his knowledge, so big up Ed for always taking time out for me! I never really made a conscious decision to release new music, the next thing were the remixes to the Fine Feline EP, just to make it more than a straight repress. Key is that the music sounds authentic to what was made back then. I think what really led to Parallax releasing new music was the album that sort of formed itself and through that I found so much great music, the future for Parallax looks bright!

How important is art and design to the whole Parallax project?

A lot of effort goes into that! I do all the artwork myself.

I grew up drawing and bombing, even doing graffiti jobs as a youth. It took  a few years until I started to get my head around graphic design programs like Photoshop and Illustrator, but when I did I started to do all the NME Click promotional stuff myself, from about the mid-2000s onward (although some of it is pretty cringeworthy when I look at it now). I always put a lot of effort in, sometimes I have worked on a flyer for two weeks (tbh I was still learning and was horribly slow, you couldn’t tell if you look at the artwork now). But I was always disappointed that the artwork was dead and forgotten after the party was over. Nobody seemed to pay attention and as an artist, you naturally crave recognition. So having your artwork on a physical, timeless music release is pretty perfect, people go back to it from time to time and look at the cover and all the details while listening to it. Having your design on merchandise is even greater, there’s nothing better than being at a club and somebody wears your artwork 🙂

But I also feel I owe it to the music. If an artist decides to trust me and put his music out, I want to do the best job I can. I sometimes spend weeks thinking of the right motive, trying out different stuff. 

The look of Parallax came naturally, it now is basically three fonts I work with and a strict 1c attitude – black and white. No gimmicks, no sprinkled or coloured vinyl. Black is beautiful and if you can strip something down to the essence that’s always best. No collector’s edition, the products are all limited anyways.

What’s the story of the album?

I wish I could say that there was a big concept from the start, but there wasn’t.

I think originally I wanted to do a 4-tracker with a mix of artists I adored at the time, this was around when I signed Dead & Buried.

I reached out to InnerCore and FX and they gave me the two tunes that were on the ‘Departure’ sampler. That was around January 2019.

As mentioned, I’m quite communicative, so one thing led to another and I collected more tracks. By then I wanted to do a 2×12”, but it just went on and on, and by the time that I realized I had material for 5 records I thought nobody would buy that. That’s when I decided to do at least the 12” advance sampler (Departure) so its at least only a 4×12”.

All in all, it was a great experience and a great learning curve – getting in touch with the artists, collecting all the tracks, getting changes done to some of the arrangements or mixdowns, getting the masters (re-)done etc. It all took a lot of patience, a lot of sweat and a lot of time.

In the end I had the testpresses of the whole album done and held up the project myself, having sort of a writer’s block with the artwork. The graffic in the gatefold sleeve took me forever, from finding the idea to getting it down. I literally forced myself to get it done just before I went on vacation in May, so the record was not held up any longer.

I am glad I did, because after that I went straight into knee surgery, I doubt I would’ve finished it by now if I hadn’t done it then. The artwork itself was tons of work and to be honest I’m not fully happy with it. That said, I never did an illustration that big and it also was only the second time I worked with a pencil, drawing it in Procreate (the first time was the sampler), before that – believe it or not – I did everything by mouse. So it looks a bit grittier than the stuff I usually do, but I hope people still like it 🙂

What have been your goals with this album?

First and foremost I hope this album gives an oversight about our small contemporary Hardcore/ Jungle scene, showing the great talent that is out there. And it also gives the DJs tons of great fodder to choose from.

Although unplanned, this has turned into a great concept that wasn’t done before – a snapshot of who’s current in our scene. There were some artists that I couldn’t get aboard, maybe because they were working on albums and had no time to contribute, or for other reasons. So the picture will never be complete, but it’s still a good summary I like to think.

It’s also a good showcase for those who will be doing more on Parallax in the future hopefully, you can take it as the introduction of a roster. It’s giving Parallax an identity and its own sound and hopefully putting it more on the map. I often have the feeling that people tend to oversee/ forget about the label. Be it due to not being based in the UK and only knowing everyone online, so being “out of the cloud” or due to it being just me, doing this on the side while having a job and family, so not having as much output as other labels. But I’d love to establish it as a label the DJs check for, being a regular in the DJ’s playlists. 

What have been the biggest challenges that you have faced when putting this album together?

Getting the artists to trust me and giving me good tunes in the first place, communicating to artists why it takes so long and keeping everyone happy, getting tunes to sound right, demanding changes on some tunes, coming up with the right concept how to promote it, having names or titles misspelled, using the wrong ink on the testpresses (don’t put them near water!), deciding when a master is good, it never ends. There was so much going on behind the scenes, but everyone involved was great and patient with me.

Also Brexit. It keeps on giving me headaches and I have to get my head around things I’m not really inspired to learn. The crappy side of the business. Unnecessary costs in production. Unhappy customers due to records sitting in customs, records arriving damaged or being lost. An absolute nightmare. 

And the pandemic. I can’t do any release party or tour for the album, which would’ve made total sense so I can meet the artists I work with in person. Also I was making some money through DJing and promoting, that’s all missing now. Not just the money but I need DJing and promoting to function, it’s in my DNA, so it’s really been pressing on my mind. Besides that, the graphic design jobs slowed down a lot as well, which has left me in a bad financial state, forcing me to eventually reinvent myself if things don’t brighten up, so that I can make enough money to live off of. Right now I’m on crutches, when I’m back on my feet and the album is out that’s when I need to take a step back and take a closer look at it all. 

How has Brexit affected the label?

I am still trying to find how to deal with certain things and have no solution. For the moment I work with a fulfilment partner in UK, solely for the UK and I still deal with the rest of the world. I thought about pressing in UK too, but I was always pretty happy with Optimal Media, which is where I press right now, and after calculating, it won’t save me money or time really, altogether its just more expensive. Pressing costs rose, but they did everywhere. And to get the records into UK I have to pay taxes and customs, but also the carrier costs are more, as they drive with only my records and return empty. All in all, it’s more expensive and less fun, I hope the underground can take it. It certainly won’t stop the majors to block the pressing plants for their endless represses for Record Store Day. Personally, as a record buyer myself, I don’t see how I will be able to afford buying vinyl from the UK from 1st July onwards when everything will be going through customs. When a record was around 25 Euros including shipping it now will be 30 Euros upwards, that’s madness and out of balance!

Where next for Parallax after this album drops?

There’s more than the ‘Message To The Parazone’: I have nearly completed the collection of music for a sequel, another 4×12”. I’m not sure if it will simply be Part 2 or two 2×12”, sort of samplers that come after the album (hence the catalogue number PARA 10S1 on the Departure – “S1” standing for “Sampler 1”, so there could be “Sampler 2”, “..3” and so on). Those of you that followed the livestreams in the last months will have heard a lot of the tunes forthcoming on Parallax. 

Then there’s the ‘Body Journey EP’ by DJ Mindhunter (an alias of a very well known face in the Jungle world, nuff said) coming later this year after the album. I’ve been playing these tunes everywhere (=in mixes and streams lol) and they are absolutely great, 4 bombs in the same vein as the Parazone tunes! 

There’s also 3-5 other EPs in the works that aren’t fully finished, so I won’t talk about them yet. 

And there are at least 1-2 represses, one pretty much secured, the other I’m still fighting for and hoping that the artists let me do it, that would make me very proud.

Also, keep checking for new merch. Besides the regular shirts I would love to get jackets and recordbags with embroideries done. There will also be new Hoodies for the winter hopefully and more caps. Watch this space!

Regarding the Parallax nights: Although I’ve been in touch with all the people in the UK and could’ve done crazy line-ups, sadly there never was a budget to get the artists over. I still struggle to find the right club with the right conditions to be honest, as there is only so much promotion you can do for a location that’s illegal. I am in touch with a Munich based promoter and if the “pilot” goes well we might do regular Parallax nights there. The basement club is very well known and has an absolutely heavy PA. And I would be damned to get an artist flown into Germany and not get them to Berlin the day before or after to fill up the weekend, so it’s only a case of finding the right location with a fair deal in Berlin. Oh yes, and a team to do the street promotion. No way I would find time anymore to do that myself.

But that’s all in the future: enjoy the album when it drops!

More thoughts on Get Dark

My recent mix Get It 005: Get Dark inspired some interesting comments in reaction to both the mix and the accompanying blog, which I wanted to round up here.

The post itself continued an ongoing conversation with Simon Reynolds about new breakbeat hardcore. In a sense, it was a tricky thing to write, because I wanted to say two somewhat contradictory things:

  1. Retro rave is a bit weird in some ways, in that it faithfully recreates something that was in its original phase anything but a faithful recreation of, well, anything – hardcore was dynamic and ever-changing the first time around
  2. That doesn’t really matter, though, because on a pure sonic level this stuff is great fun

The tricky part here is to examine the first point in a fair-minded way – because it’s interesting! – while also being respectful towards the modern producers. Because I really do enjoy what they are doing! I guess the risk you run is hurting peoples’ feelings, even if that’s not what you are trying to do – I just wanted to step back for a look at the big picture while considering all the differences between then and now, to try to provide some context.

I guess it’s up to you to decide if I succeeded or not!

On Facebook, Simon Reynolds offered this point:

i think you are on to something with the ‘too perfect’ uncanniness… it’s something to do that with opposition of ‘plunge into the unknown’ (93) versus ‘accumulated knowledge and know-ho’ (now). i’ve noticed the ‘too high standard’ thing with old skool sets, how they cream off the best tunes over a long period, whereas sets at the time tended to play a lot of just-out-this-week white labels, making it a lot more hit and miss.

In a follow-up on his own blog, he also considered Special Request’s new rave-inspired album:

That said, it don’t sound that bowel-evacuating to me… a bit clean, a bit digi-crisped.

Despite being produced in his underpants apparently! 

On Discogs there were a few interesting comments, like this one from user fluffbomb:

I understand the comment about these tunes not being of the same pushing boundaries approach that was the case back in the day. But I don’t think that there is anything ‘wrong’ about making new music in this style. The vast majority of genres (dance, rock, soul, etc) consist of very little innovation and are following the established formula of sounds and arrangement .

A very fair point! Innovation is exciting, thrilling, but also messy, and there’s a bit of a double-edged sword effect here, as I mentioned in my post – a lot of hardcore written in 92/93 was frankly not that good. Some of those random ideas just didn’t work! With hindsight we now see more clearly what ‘good’ breakbeat hardcore is, and what elements it should contain. So in a way a carefully considered set of modern darkside should be more consistent that a 1993 pirate radio set of the freshest tunes, but the sheer head-frazzling wow factor is no longer present.

Also on Discogs, traffic_cone made a very important contribution about the role of influences:

i think part of the reason why the retro rave stuff can sound like that is because the original iteration of that style was made by producers who were influenced by a range of other music, but the revivalist stuff is often made by producers whose main influence is all the old records in that style. so it can become self-referential. at it’s most noticeable is when artists use samples already famiiiar from oldskool tunes.

but – that’s why some of the best of those new tunes are ones that do add something a little different – even in a relatively small way.

This is a very smart point! And this can also be applied to a lot of modern music, really. If you read interviews with, for example, the original Detroit techno artists like Juan Atkins or Jeff Mills, they had a long history of listening to all kinds of music, from synthpop to spacey jazz to soul and funk and random stuff like the B-52’s as well as obvious forerunners like Kraftwerk. All of those influences informed the development of Detroit techno, whereas a lot of the current big room techno that you would hear in the main Berlin clubs today seems to exist only in reference to the techno of the past (I also like some of this stuff, too, to be fair).

I think this also pinpoints why I am such a big fan of Sully’s recent jungle tunes – he is making stuff that is clearly jungle, not a whimsical spin-off, yet it is also clearly grounded in and informed by more recent musical movements, like grime, dubstep and UK Garage. Perhaps this is because he started his musical career doing other stuff and then latterly started making jungle? In any case, he’s doing great stuff, and I’m always excited to hear more from him.

Dogsonacid user El Dudereno also made a good point about some of the differences between the 90’s and now, which extends my point about the vast differences in context in which the original and modern darkside sounds exist:

I always tell the younger generation that I’m so happy I was old enough to enjoy the ’90s. It feels like it was the last decade of genuine hedonism. Young people didn’t have the same pressure to succeed in education or careers (my “gap year” lasted 8 years LOL), the cold war threat had ended and the threat to the environment was an ignorable blip on the horizon. We didn’t have social media, we weren’t as body conscious, and in the UK at least, ecstasy completely changed the mood of society. Music reflects the society it’s born into, and on the hardcore continuum, I guess Grime is the UK zeitgeist for younger people – even though I find it tough, militant, uncompromising and a bit cold.

On a more in-depth note, Pete Devnull from Blog to the Old Skool sent me this comment on the mix and essay, which I am reproducing here with his agreement (obviously I disagree on the tracklisting, but that’s ok, music is subjective):

I saw the mix, maybe 4-5 good choices but tracklisting was not in my view a strong representation of darkside centric stuff. Probably because it was an all vinyl mix, and some of the good nu-darkside things I’ve heard have been digis or came out a few years ago now (Champa B’s killer EP on Modified Magic from a few years ago would be a better call for instance than the tune featured, which is also good but not nearly as traditionally “darkside”).

Regarding the point about this music losing its purpose now that it’s a re-tread vs when it was fresh and innovative 25-26 years ago: well yeah, no one can argue that the context is the same now. These are fairly common complaints. Someone I used to knew personally HATED all the nu-oldskool stuff being made, because they saw it as totally missing the point since it was lacking the relentless progression which made them love it the first time around. That’s fine, and fair play if that’s the aspect of the original music which some people cared about the most. But, even if the music’s context has shifted, we’re in different times now. Media overload, media saturation, widespread instantaneous access to an insane amount of music and video via internet. I think this causes the temporal and locational aspects of culture to largely fade in importance for people, and seem a lot less relevant. It means less to a listener when they hear a good tune streaming on their PC in 2019 whether that tune was written this year, or 10, 20, 30, 50 years ago, than when someone had to go to a real record store and buy it years ago.

There’s still some people focusing in and trying to make “progress”, to find something generally agreed upon as novel to drive forward; some combination or series of elements which haven’t been done before. It’s that classic jungle/dnb progression deathmarch, which since genuine “progression” is hard and most people aren’t that up to to the task, often ends up being a reductive game of musical trope bingo. Aside from those limited number of people truly dedicated to “pushing the sonic goalpost forward” though, I think there’s a lot more more of a sense now that that ah explicit progression isn’t as important, and if people find some random thing in the ginormous landscape of what-has-come-before-and-is-instantly-available which piques their interest, they react to it any way they want. Yes, they can take influence from it, try to mutate it into something more “modern”. Or, they can just do THAT THING for its own sake, to whatever extent they want. It doesn’t have to justify itself by connecting the dots or breaking new ground or breaking from tradition. It can literally just be a sick well written old sounding deep house tune, or a grimey glorious 93 darkside jungle track.

Also, with massive availability of media, and decades of collecting, so many of the original tunes have been played over and over. Most of the white labels have been dug up and listened to, arguably to a much wider extent than they were originally (more decades of people hearing them on places like youtube by people across the world who would never have access to the original songs). Because of this some people are butting up against the edges of what’s available in terms of killer tunes, so there’s a highly pragmatic drive for people who DJ out and love a particular sound, to want something “new-old” which can still be effectively played alongside an existing subgenre without seeming awkward (see the “uncanny valley” part you talked about next). And yeah, some attempts at that, like reusing the same old samples or mimicking popular riffs can be a bit groan-inducing and feel like a poor substitute. Though the same type of shit was happening with oldskool functional “mash up” tunes circa 92-93, so it’s not without precedence. The better approach seems to be when people instead choose to mimic the methodology and approach of the original tunes, without sampling them, since this requires pulling from other styles of music (house, techno, hip hop, electro, funk, etc). One easy recent example of this is a 94-95 style happy hardcore EP, Trigger Happy Vol 2, where the A side is decidedly non hhc sounding, and more of a clever melodic jungle tune featuring a great mishmash of US house,techno and even freestyle vocal elements from non-obvious tracks. It’s not breaking any new sonic ground, but the transformation of those not-obviously linked samples into a very coherent jungle tune sounds great. It might not be BRILLIANT, but it sure is CLEVER.

As for the “uncanny valley” thing, I’ve had similar discussions before with respect to oldskool, but for me there’s a difference between the original context in that the visual “uncanny valley” is an innate, unconscious and visceral reaction with no explicit and opted into “training period” , For music though, it’s instead built up from long periods of listening to a particular style and absorbing not just the macro-elements but also the nuances and more subtle aspects of the sound. Hence, it’s relevant for you, and me, and other people who have “seen through the matrix” of oldskool by listening to a metric fuckton of 92-95 the past however many years. But it’s not relevant for a normal person not particularly versed in the genre, who processes an amen simply as an amen, not a particular era amen sampled from a particular track with particular production characteristics. Hence why a more commercial artist doing a “throwback” “oldskool jungle” tune where the breaks or elements aren’t really authentic sounding, isn’t a crime worth sending to the Hague. It’s perfectly enjoyable for the majority of people, even those who have heard some amount of jungle/dnb before but who arent proper beardy about it. It’s also the reason why most people are perfectly happy to hear a mostly-there microgenre flex which then abruptly deviates in a way that doesnt’ deliberate or a calculated choice (like a 93 jungle techno tune where four minutes, a random 97 crunchy techstep breakbeat appears). Stuff like that matters to the nerds (me and my friends), but only because we ARE nerds who have trained ourselves up to be sensitive to it, and one notable sample out of place can be as jarring as going to a historic battle recreation and seeing an 1800’s era general wearing an Apple watch.


2018 Recap and Ideas for 2019

dj raccoon sweater

2018 was pretty decent! 11 new mixes, almost 60k listens on Soundcloud, and featured on DJ Mag and elsewhere, not bad!

Here are the mixes in question:

As for 2019, here are some ideas that I originally published in the last post, Get It 002: Get Robotic:

So, what’s coming up in 2019?

I have loads of ideas!

There’s a special three part acid project that I originally wanted to do after hitting 200,000 listens on Soundcloud – I have it sort of developed, I just need time to record it. Plus I also want to do something interesting with both design and writing to accompany it.

It’s been a few years since Eurotrash 6 – maybe time for another in that series?

I plan to do more mixes in the Get It series, with some ideas for different genres to cover including breakbeat, grime, new ragga jungle and new school hardcore.

I would like to do new tribute mixes to dubstep heroes Mala and Matty G.

As far as jungle / drum n’ bass goes, God there are so many ideas. I would like to do a follow-up to Drumwar, and I would also like to do an old atmospheric jungle mix, similar to That Dream is Over from so many years back. Maybe a Kid Lib tribute mix too, to match my Tim Reaper one from a year ago? Plus it would be fun to dig into my ’93 hardcore collection and follow up on Darkside Generation.

So that’s a lot! In reality, I won’t be able to execute everything that I’ve just mentioned, but it sure will be fun to try.

See you in 2019!

Liveset from BUNS open air freeparty @ Kulturhaus Kili, Berlin

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Here’s part of my liveset from yesterday’s free party at Kulturhaus Kili – mostly we played a very loose back to back, but here’s 30 minutes of me doing my thing on my own. Good times!

Tracklisting:

Secrets – Sunrise (Street Beats)
Flatliner – The Big Bang (Ram)
Eternal Bass – Deep Sensation (Volatile)
4 Horsemen Of The Apocalypse – Drowning In Her (4 Horsemen Remix) (FX)
DJ Trace – Lost Entity (Lucky Spin)
The Terrorist – Sing Time (Dread)
Harmony & Xtreme – Boo (Section 5)
Undercover Agent – Dub Plate Circles (Juice)
Safari Sounds – Droppin Science Volume 04 (Droppin’ Science)

Here’s a clip from the party:

Me on the decks:

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Introducing The 780 Project

records

I would like to introduce something very special for 2016:

The 780 Project

What is this?

Well, I am planning on putting out a ton of mixes this year so that I can feature 780 different tracks by the end of 2016, or 15 tracks for each of the 52 weeks of the year.

Is this an insane undertaking?

Well, uh, yes, indeed it is.

Why am I doing it?

Well, most obviously, to see if I can do it. Consider this a particularly bonkers (and public) New Year’s resolution. I mean, past resolutions of mine have revolved around losing tons of weight (not that successful, to be honest) or being able to not drink for a month (I was able to do that, but I drink a lot less than I used to so this one doesn’t seem like such an achievement now), but this year marks 20 years of me collecting records, so it seemed like a good time to really stretch myself creatively.

And make no mistake, this project will be a big stretch. I managed 16 mixes in 2015, which is pretty decent going, but this new plan is much, much more ambitious.

I have tons of ideas for mixes to do, and I am pretty confident in my ability to execute a good mix in one take with minimal preparation, but this is still a creative mountain to climb. I do have almost 3000 records and several hundred cd’s, so I clearly can pick 780 tracks with no repetition, but getting beyond the 10 obvious ideas for mixes that I could scribble down right now will be a big challenge.

Can I do it?

I don’t know! Which is part of the reason I want to try …

Generally speaking, the idea will be to upload a new 15 track mix every Sunday. This isn’t a hard or fast rule, because sometimes the mixes will be longer and sometimes shorter, and sometimes I will miss a week or two, but that’s the general idea.

The specific reason for 15 tracks is that it seems like an eminently achievable goal when you break it down to the specifics. At four minutes per track (which is generally longer than I keep tracks in the mix anyways), that would end up being 60 minutes of recorded time per week, which together with some time for preparation (picking tracks, testing mix combos) would probably not require more than two to three hours of time all together in a typical week.

I don’t have tons of free time – I work full time and I have a family, so I can’t devote incredible amounts of time to this project, but two hours per week is eminently achievable if it’s split up over a few days.

What do I hope to achieve with this project?

On a personal level, I want to see if I can do it. If music is something that I love (and it is), then I feel like the time has come to really push the boat out and see what I can do with it. What can I achieve if I really try? That’s what I want to find out.

Secondly, I want people to listen to the mixes. Anyone who makes some kind of musical project publicly available, whether an original composition or a dj mix, wants people to hear it and enjoy it. I really am chuffed when I get good feedback, and being able to share music with people and touch their lives, even in a fleeting way, is a great feeling.

Thirdly, I am 35 years old and have been mixing records since I was 16, so I harbor no illusions that I am on the verge of becoming a superstar dj (not that that is what I want anyways), but if this project could lead to some more gigs in and around Berlin then that would be cool. After a long break from playing in clubs, I’ve actually had some gigs recently, so a big thank you to Vali from Parallax, Martin from Blasted, and Casper and Federico from Mechatronica for booking me.

Finally, my day job is in digital analytics, so I am setting myself some KPIs to achieve on Soundcloud in 2016, just to see if I can. Specifically, I would like to double the number of my followers from 1000 to 2000, and I would like to get at least 60,000 listens (up from 33,000 in 2015). I recognize that these are pretty ambitious goals for someone who is solely a dj, who doesn’t play at big-name Berlin clubs like Berghain, About Blank, Golden Gate or Suicide Circus, who doesn’t produce, and who doesn’t make even a vague pretense of sticking to one style (which is, I’m sure, somewhat confusing or off-putting for some people). In any case, hitting these Soundcloud goals is just pure ego gratification – it won’t improve my or my family’s real world life in any way – but since I am being creatively ambitious with this project I might as well dream big on the results too, right?

Finally, I have to give a shout out to Chrissy Murderbot for the inspiration for the project. Back in 2009/2010 the Chicago dj/producer did his Year of Mixtapes project, where every week for a year he did a new mix, covering along the way all kinds of electronic music styles, such as jungle, juke, electro, house, techno, bassline, rave, and much much more. If you love electronic music, I highly recommend digging around in the archives for stuff to listen to. The 780 Project will be functionally different, in that the idea is more about the total number of tracks instead of the total number of mixes (plus the styles featured will be somewhat different), but his project is the original inspiration for sure.

So what is in store musically? It’s going to be all kinds of stuff – drum n’ bass, jungle, hard trance, techno, dubstep, old skool, bass music, electro, psy trance, grime, and other stuff …

To keep track of things, I will regularly update a publicly viewable Google Sheet which will list every track that I use through the year, complete with links to the release on Discogs as well as to the accompanying blog post as well as to the streaming version at Soundcloud or (sometimes) Mixcloud.

So that’s The 780 Project in a nutshell … I hope you enjoy the music through the year and please feel free to drop me your feedback here or via social media, and please share the music with friends, family, and unwilling neighbors.

Tuesday Time Machine: My Top 10 (Hard) Trance Tracks of All Time

Molecule Man
Molecule Man

A few weeks back, Dyzphazia of Freeformatted asked me to name my 10 favorite trance tracks of all time; here was my answer:

In the interests of sharing, here are those ten tracks for you to listen to and enjoy.

Continue reading Tuesday Time Machine: My Top 10 (Hard) Trance Tracks of All Time

Pearsall presents Rampage Turbo 21 (Specially Substanced)

Pearsall presents Rampage Turbo 21 (Specially Substanced)

right-click, save as to download this free mp3 mix

Mixed in Berlin, June 2014
(32:12, 74 MB, 320 kbps MP3)

Zip file (split into separate tracks)
Big cover
Cue file

Style: Freeform Hardcore – A tribute to the Finnish darklord, Substanced

Continue reading Pearsall presents Rampage Turbo 21 (Specially Substanced)

Mix Ideas for 2014

Here are some of my ideas for mixes for 2014, across acid, house, techno, bass, dubstep, drum n’ bass, hard trance and freeform! I meant to write this, but I have failed to do so by now, hence I just recorded it into my phone and uploaded it to Soundcloud. C’est la vie.

Have a listen and give me your feedback!

Sunday Sounds: RIP DJ Rashad

RIP DJ Rashad

Sad news this morning, as it has been announced that pioneering Chicago footwork dj/producer DJ Rashad has passed away at his Chicago home:

Chicago footwork pioneer DJ Rashad has died. While an official statement has not yet been issued, the news was broken and confirmed by Rashad’s close friends, including DJ Godfather and Chance the Rapper. Rashad, who was 35, was due to perform tonight with DJ Godfather and another longtime collaborator, DJ Spinna, at Detroit’s Inhale Art Expo.

Update: The Chicago Sun-Times reports that DJ Rashad was found dead by a friend in a West Side apartment early Saturday afternoon and pronounced dead at the scene shortly after. An autopsy is scheduled for Sunday. A drug overdose is suspected.

Nice tribute from Om Unit:

Whenever a musician passes away, I think that it’s always best as a fan to remember them through their music, so here are a few of my favorite tunes and mixes of his:

Continue reading Sunday Sounds: RIP DJ Rashad