Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Glitch Hop has landed at Glade Festival!

Since its first appearance at Glastonbury in 2000, Glade’s been a home to innovation in electronic dance music, with new sounds and styles emerging every year. The new kid on the block for 2012 is The Meteor – a hollow in the woods featuring a custom-built wooden platform stuffed with under-floor bass-bins under the eaves of a DJ booth-cum-pulpit from outer-space. The line-up is a mouth-watering cross section of lazer crunk, drumstep and glitch hop – or whatever else you want to label the synth-soaked, sample-laden infusion of mid-tempo breaks, IDM, hip-hop and dubstep that will be taking your legs out from under you this June. For ease of reference, we’ll lump it all under the banner of glitch-hop – more of a production style that a genre that’s been gaining momentum in the US for the last five years and is now opening ears from the UK, Hungary and France to Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Mexico.

One of the first DJs to champion this sound in the UK was Secret Garden Party favourite Your Niece, who’s been blasting audiences with lazer-bass since a notorious set in the Master Bedroom at the 2007 Bacchanalia Ball. Your Niece, Head of State and Sweet Jesus recently launched London’s first regular glitch-hop night, Uppercut, and are now set to take Glade by storm with The Meteor. They’re the ones you need to say thank you to when you see them.

Of course, like most new departures in electronic music, glitch-hop has its roots in the UK. Glade Festival favourites Autechre, Amon Tobin and Aphex Twin/AFX all pioneered the aesthetics of glitchy digital music, and for the first half of the naughties many breaks and drum and bass producers turned their hand to down-tempo and mid-tempo productions inspired by IDM and electronica. Among them were AMB, Danny Breaks and a bloke called Dave Tipper.

In 2001 Mike Wallis (one half of Crunch, with Tipper) and Sam Ashwell (one half of Vent) founded a label called Colony Productions to release their mid-tempo experiments. Mike and Dave named one of their 2002 tracks ‘Bit Hop’, in reference to the digital beats and bleeps they were making. Tipper continued to develop the sound on his own label Tippermusic, establishing himself world-wide as one of the leading proponents of what was to become known as glitch-hop, a style he brought to Inspiralled at Glade Festival in both 2006 and 2007.

This year Colony Productions co-founders Vent headline the label showcase on The Meteor alongside Mouldy Soul aka. Richard Carrigan - a young producer who’s been dominating the Addictech glitch hop charts in the last six months alongside Tipper and New Zealand producer Opiuo. Mouldy Soul credits his own glitch-hop epiphany to seeing Aussie glitch pioneer Spoonbill play in Inspiralled at Glade in 2009.

By 2004, on the other side of the pond a long-haired bass-freak from San Francisco calling himself Bassnectar had started making his own brand of ‘omni-tempo maximalism’ – a mash up of breaks, hip hop and other styles, which focused on the psychedelic potential of the bass. Having toured the UK with Freq Nasty in 2006, he returned home to tirelessly promote this bottom-heavy sound across the United States. Co-produced with Kraddy, his belly-dancing inspired 100bpm banger Snakecharmer became the soundtrack to Burning Man that year, and pointed the way to the current domination of glitch-hop and whomp on The Playa. While Lorin will always wear the crown, one of the most talented US producers to follow in his ground-shaking wake has been Ben Samples whose 2010 album Chose Your Own Adventure and subsequent releases showcase a diversity of genre-defying deep bass. We can’t wait to hear what he does to our Funktion1 speakers.

A second glitch-hop milestone back in 2004 was ‘Crying over Pros for No Reason’ - a ground-breaking album of glitchy hip-hop influenced electronica - released on UK label Planet Mu by a young L.A. producer called edIT. By 2007 he’d teamed up with fellow West Coast laptop DJs Ooah, Kraddy and Boreta to form The Glitch Mob – a glitch-hop supergroup whose G-funk drenched, crunk heavy remixes of STS9, The White Stripes and 2pac / Dr Dre went a long way to popularising the genre worldwide. In 2010, they toured a live version of their debut album Drink the Sea, which brought a US brand of glitch-hop to the UK in a major way for the first time, inspiring many young producers to try a live approach themselves, including Zen Death Squad and Beat3.

Zen Death Squad’s own debut EP on Made it Glitch saw heavy support in the US and a West Coast tour last autumn, while Beat3 have been showcasing their own blend of DJ and live production skills across the UK. Zen Death Squad are back in 2012 with an eagerly anticipated second EP revealing a more mature evolution in their sound – to be previewed in the Skanky Panky showcase at Glade!

Inspired by noises coming out of the US, party breaks producer William Breakspear teamed up with glitch-hop DJ Buddha from SixAM to form Skanky Panky Records in Liverpool in 2009. Bringing the upbeat bounce, their Skanky Panky EP series has launched the careers of internationally acclaimed producers such as K+Lab from New Zealand, Jmej from Canada and Sedge Warbler from South Africa.

Always one step ahead of the pack, Freq Nasty recently moved to L.A. to develop his own ear-bending, booty-shaking blend of glitch, breaks, dubstep, raga, drumstep and moombahton, which he’s bringing back to the Glade Stage this year. We're also very lucky to have San Francisco legend, Pretty Lights, over for the Glade Stage this year. In his own soulful way he's probably done as much as anyone to popularise glitchy hip hop. Recently he's been exploring a more organic approach to his production, building all of his music up from analogue sounds and samples.

Another UK producer to crack the US scene on his own terms was Glasgow producer Akira Kiteshi, whose anime-lazer drenched dubstep was featured on the seminal Acid Crunk Vol.2 compilation. His debut album, Industrial Avenue, which spans glitch-hop, future garage and electro-disco came out on Afterglo in March and he’s already been described (rather unfairly) as ‘a Scottish Skrillex’ by Boomkat and a ‘crazed genius’ by Huw Stephens on Radio 1.

Around the same time as Bassnectar and edIT began bomb the bass in a big way, other hip-hop producers in LA started experimenting with intelligent jazz-infused beats. The hotbed of innovation was, and still is, a club called the Low End Theory, where young UK dubstep producers such as Skream, Benga and Joker were also invited to showcase their 140bpm grooves early on. Alongside Gaslamp Killer and Flying Lotus, one of the stalwarts of the scene was Kutmah - who in 2010 was shockingly incarnated by US authorities under immigration charges and deported to the UK. The silver lining is that he’s here for Glade this year. Aren’t you lucky?

While all this has been happening, the rest of the UK has been wondering what to do ‘post-dubstep’. A group of beats producers in Brighton have just been getting on with it, creating the south coast’s equivalent of the Low End Theory – Donky Pitch – and launching a synth-heavy retro dancefloor-beat mutation they’ve decided to call ‘Skweee’ (tongues firmly planted in cheeks). After a string of acclaimed EPs on Stuff, Ramp and Planet Mu, their most prolific resident Slugabed was recently signed to independent powerhouse Ninja Tune. He’s just released his first full length album, Time Team, to rave reviews on Drowned in Sound and the BBC.

With a fresh breed of producers on Robox Neotech, Earnest Endeavours, Senseless Records and Jump Music showcasing even fresher directions on The Meteor this summer, 2012 is the year that glitch-hop crash lands back into Britain with a crunk.

*This post is an extended version of some copy that Morbidly Obese Midget wrote for the Glade Festival website.*

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