Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Glitch Hop guide to Secret Garden Party 2012

For anyone searching for last minute set times here's our quick-print UK Glitch Hop guide to Secret Garden Party 2012! For those who don't know, The Drop is co-programmed by the Uppercut team behind The Meteor so expect plenty of bass action there. Temple of Boom also has killer line up...

@ Secret FM 87.9FM
5pm Hungry Man & Harky (Jump Music)

@ The Forum
 5pm Hungry Man talk on music = fun

@ The Drop
6pm Shamanic Technology
8pm Slugabed (Donky Pitch)
9pm Beat3 (Uppercut)
10pm Your Niece (Uppercut)

@ Circus Kinetica
12am Hungry Man (Jump Music)

 @ Circus Kinetica
10.30pm Harky (Jump Music)

@ Temple of Boom 
4am FreQ Nasty

@ Collo-Silly-Um
4.30am Your Niece (Uppercut)

@ Feral Fever (Badger Rave)
7pm Hungry Man (Jump Music)

@ The Drop
8pm  sixAM (Skanky Panky)
9pm William Breakspear (Skanky Panky)


Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Crash-site report: The Meteor @ Glade Festival 2012 Review

Morbidly Obese Midget reports back from the smoking crater...


When I arrive at Glade Festival on Friday morning, The Meteor is already the talk of the festival. I hear tales of a smoke-filled pit, strafing lazers, blinding strobes and leg-quaking levels of bass. The Thursday night Jump Music showcase was apparently off-the-scale. "I couldn't take it" one of the organisers tells me. "I was completely sober, but it felt like I was high just being there". Sounds promising.

The Meteor is a new feature for Glade Festival 2012 - a DJ booth styled like a flying saucer, built into the side of a hollow, above a wood-paneled dance floor stuffed with bass woofers. It's been built by the team behind of one London's most recent bass music nights, Uppercut, who have been developing their idea from an area called The Drop at The Secret Garden Party in 2011.

Launched in 2004 as an annual outing for the UKs alternative dance music tribes, Glade itself has been on a journey in the last few years, hitting a rough patch after losing its original site in Aldermaston due to council noise restrictions, then taking a year out after one crazy outing at Matterly Bowl. It was rescued by a partnership with Secret Productions, the team behind the UK's most successful festival of recent years. Their mission is to bring the fun back to the festival. They have certainly succeeded this time, on a new site Houghton Hall near St Ives in Norfolk for the second year running.

In a month which has seen flooding around the country, with heavy rain going into the weekend it looked like the festival might become the kind of mud bath that saw punters wading for 20 minutes through waist high waters to reach the Aldermaston site in 2007. The estate team were well prepared though, adding fresh hardcore to access roads which had already been well laid out.

Logistics aside, the success of the weekend lies in the diversity of fun on offer. The music programming is top notch, with Glade favourites such as the Origin, Overkill and Liquid Records alongside Secret Garden Party favorites like the Dance-Off, traditional fairground rides and a new woodland area. There is an evident commitment to aesthetically pleasing stage design and build, combining the creativity of Boom with the ambition of Burning Man as seen in new stages The Pyromid and The Meteor. It was the latter, built by resident Secret Garden Party DJ Andy Ellis or Head of State his Uppercut crew, that really raised the bar though, giving the broad church of glitch hop it's first dedicated showcase at a UK Festival.

But what is 'glitch hop'? My first port of call is nu skool breaks pioneer FreQ Nasty, who's now living in LA and very much involved in the West Coast bass music scene, opening the Glade stage on Friday afternoon.

"I'm really excited by the new stuff coming out of the States, because it doesn't sound like anything else. They've matured their own sound, which started out of the UK in the late '90s and early 2000s and evolved into something else. You could say that the granddaddies of the glitch hop and acid crunk scene are Si Begg and Dave Tipper; but now it's it's own animal, different from it's roots. It's a distinctly West Coast sound, including some artists from Colorado, making stuff that has that Bay Area kinda vibe, that acid crunk kinda feel, that classic west coast hip hop kinda feel, with the influence of the wobble of dubstep; but it's not all whomp. It's got wobble in there, but it's secondary to the vibe. It's as much about the melody and atmosphere as it is about the bass and beats. That's good because it's difficult to get more whompy than stuffs gotten right now. I love that heavy whomp stuff, but I think at some point it becomes more interesting, when everyone is doing that, to shift gears and change into something else. And that's what a lot of these cats have done."

I tell Darren about UK Glitch Hop and The Meteor, so we head into the woods to go in search. 

Following the sounds of mid-tempo bass we descend into a woody glade, sun filtering through, down steps cut into the side. With the smoke from the night before cleared, we see a flying saucer in the bank opposite us, piloted by Skanky Panky Records co-founder William Breakspear who is bombing the bouncing bodies on the wooden dancefloor below with tracks from his debut album, Bardcore. Soulful vocalist Georgina Upton and Liverpool's MC SAS complete the live PA. Like Freq Nasty and many others who have pioneered glitch hop worldwide, as his name suggests Breakspear started out making and playing breaks. It's easy to see the progression that he's followed in the dubwise opening of his set and the party vibe style.

Breakspear is followed by followed by Italian IDM producer and one time Londoner, Memory9, who flits from minimal dubby glitch and downtempo crunk right up to incredible footwork edits of jungle classics. By the time Skanky Panky's other bossman, SixAM, takes the decks, the wooden dancefloor is heaving. A blistering hour of glitch bangers ensues, featuring tracks by producers hailing from San Francisco to Melbourne. His own tune 'Bad Mother' and a massive remix of 'Octopus Lover' by South Africa's Sedge Warbler are definite highlights.

Next on the bill are a live production trio from London, Zen Death Squad, whose triumvirate line up draws instant comparisons with US glitch hop superstars The Glitch Mob, although their music ("we call it lazer crunk metal") couldn't be more diverse. Off the back of their debut EP, Cyber Dojo Lazer Training, they toured to the US West Coast last autumn . So how did it feel to play back in the UK? "It's amazing to come to stage like The Meteor where that whole sound is dominating" says Adam, one of the two ZDS members able to make it to Glade, "You walk in and Mochipet's playing and it's like: I didn't even realise other people listened to that here!" "Yeah, it's like home away from home" chips in fellow ZDS head Mark.

Friday evening on The Meteor is another label takeover, this time from Colony Productions, perhaps the longest running glitch hop label in the UK. Established in 2000 by Mike Wallis and Dave Tipper, it was initially just an output for their Crunch material. At the time, Dave was better known for his drum and bass or breaks productions, while Crunch was developed under the IDM umbrella. Exploring a space between the dancefloor and the chill out room, they made a track way back in 2002 called 'Bit Hop'. "We only recently heard the term; but I like the sound of Glitch Hop" Mike told me recently. When Dave Tipper decided to defect stateside, Sam Ashwell a longtime friend of Mike and Dave's got more involved with running the label as they expanded their roster. Sam, incidentally, is one half of the internationally successful renowned duo VENT and also collaborates with Mike as Abstrakt Knights. 

The Colony showcase is opened by Colony Dj's Mike Wallis and Ben Parker aka Lone Drum who warm up the gathering crowd before a live set by one of the UK's rising stars, Mouldy Soul (aka. Richard Carrigan). 

"Someone came up to me today and told me 'I was looking for future music, and then I found you'," Richard tell me later on. The analogy isn't a bad one - like the pioneering electro hip-hop of the 1980s, this is a sound that revels in lazer beam samples and robotic imagery.

His crisply produced, melodic, mid-tempo bass wobble (or in his own words "wiggling wangling lines of awesomeness") topped the glitch hop charts on Beatport and Addictech for months after his first releases in autumn 2011. 

As darkness descends, space ship DJ booth really takes off with some spectacular lighting. The dancefloor bounces energetically to beats by another emerging act, Krossbow, a duo from London who have released through both Colony Productions and US label Simplify Recordings. The pair really ramp up the energy, with dancefloor friendly 110bpm tracks, A.Skillz classics and Limp Bizkit remixes sending the crowd nuts.

Playing as VENT, label boss Sam Ashwell, takes that energy and runs with it, keeping the crowd hooked throughout his set of mostly new material that peaks with the swing-style singalong of Lunatics. Talking to Sam and Mike afterwards, it became apparent quite how significant this moment was. 

"It was definitely in my top five gigs, and I've been DJing for 15 years" said Sam. He takes a moment. "that was almost like a watershed moment for glitch hop in this country. It's not really a big genre in the UK. You know it's huge in Australia and it's huge on the west coast of America especially, but that was a crowd not knowing the tunes... just raving hard. I don't think I've seen that in this country before. It was a huge buzz. I don't think I've ever played a whole hour of glitch hop in this country; a least not while people were still dancing at the end of it. That wasn't a step up, that was an Olympic jump. That was a different scenario to what I'm used to."

Next to take the intergalactic controls is 21 year old bass wizard Culprate. Over the last year or so Culprate  has been one of the most popular acts to begin steering the UK dubstep scene towards a mid-tempo cross-genre bass music evolution. He's joined by Maksim, an MC who over the last 9 months has been rapidly staking his claim to mid-tempo funkstep territory. Rusko is reportedly in the audience, who collectively go berserk.

Another big act to have achieved this crossover in the last year, Koan Sound were billed to play on The Meteor too, but perhaps understandably declined a Glade appearance on the offer of a transatlantic tour. This can only mean good things as they take the sound to new audiences through Skrillex's OSWLA label, alongside the Foreign Beggars.

Glasgow's Akira Kiteshi, treads a similar path, and his affinity for lazer noises and refusal to be restricted to any one tempo has seen him attract much attention both here and in the US. Dramatic shifts and slides between tracks betray his roots as a hip hop DJ, as he hammers out remixes, established classics and tracks from his latest album Industrial Avenue, accompanied by a scratch turntablist.  By this time, the flyer saucer is reaching new dimensions with some mind-blowing 3D animations being projection-mapped on the surface. Problems with the system balance at the start of the set don't phase the dancers. 

"The crowd didn't seem to mind" he tells me afterwards in his good-natured Glaswegian drawl, "they were just properly up for a good dance and a good party. To be honest,I think that was one of the best places we've played in quite a long time. We drove from way up North, down here, for ten hours driving and basically straight on stage, and you know it was just such a great vibe. Wicked atmosphere, an amazing stage and Glade's just a great festival anyway, so it was a privilege to actually play it." 

He was equally excited to be playing alongside VENT and Culprate for the first time. "The thing about the glitch hop scene is that it's like a family, because it's not grown as big as dubstep at the moment. Everyone's aware of everyone, so it is very friendly and it is a great vibe. And the music's good as well."

Kiteshi is followed by US bass music star Ben Samples, who's been ploughing his own sub-frequency furrow in the wake of pioneers such as Bassnectar. One of the headliners on The Meteor, Samples is carrying the flag for the West Coast scene. "I think my DJ sets are a good entry point to glitch hop" he tells me "I play a lot of remixes of well known tunes so it gives the crowd something to recognise and creates a real party vibe. That's what I'm really about, party music". Coming from the US where the style already seems to have matured, I ask him if he feels like the party's already over, just as it looks like it might finally take off in the UK. "Well, I played more of a glitch hop set here than I usually do. It was a lot of fun, but also a lot of work, there's more to do as a DJ! Back home I'm actually playing stuff that sounds more like house music. It's all beginning to blend like that. I just make music you know?"

The final set we see is Uppercut resident Your Niece, dropping low end tunes that nod toward swaggering ganster rap and the US roots of crunk - a kind of slowed-down, bass-heavy hip-hop that evolved from Miami Bass and became popular in the US around the same time as dubstep was taking shape in the UK. It's current evolution, trap seems to be that latest flavour du jour.

FreQ Nasty again: "At the moment it feels a little bit like dubstep was in America when it came out of the UK. I used to play dubstep to people in the States and they'd just stand and look at me. 'What are you doing? Shit's so slow!' But kids into hip hop started getting it first because they already had chopped and screwed stuff and the crunk that was getting so low it was starting to getting down to 70bpm. I noticed when I was playing at the Glade stage, there, that when I veered into glitch hop I could see people just going 'Where's the huge drop, the big whomp?' And I understand that... but I still played a  bunch of glitch hop because I wanted people to hear it and to be able to think back next time they hear it and go 'Oh yeah! I remember hearing that stuff. Ok, cool. I'm a little more open to it than I was before.' Probably in three or four years time they'll be going 'Oh I'm right into glitch hop. Glitch hop's awesome. I was into that stuff years ago' but actually the were just standing there staring at me."

The excitement around The Meteor can be gauged by the fact that FreQ Nasty delays his flight out of the country in order to play an unscheduled guest set to a packed woodland on the Saturday night. Leaning heavily towards the swaggering, popping, glitch hop end of his bass arsenal, the level of effort he puts into playing and the enjoyment he gets out of are evident. "Bare headz were there for the mid tempo sound. Mad system too," he tweets afterwards.

*Review by Morbidly Obese Midget*

Sunday, 1 July 2012

OLMEC Interview

Anyone tuned into their electro bass is likely to be familiar with OLMEC's glorious dance-floor filth, but he's got something a little different in store on his next EP, Motley Bass, out on WONK#AY Records 6 July 2012. Here's the man himself on making the switch down to 100bpm.

Please introduce yourself....

Hello! I'm Morgan, aka OLMEC. Music producer / office monkey /family man from Bristol UK!

How would you describe your particular style of bass music?

Mid Tempo Broken Bass Filth! It's definitely got some of that neuro sound with elements of electro and dub-step mushed into it along with everything else that inspires me. Err.. like this!


What first turned you onto glitch bass? Any particular artists or tracks?

I first heard Opiuo's Physical Symptoms EP (free download right here) when I was still writing Psytrance (don't laugh!) as Morganism. Around the same time I quit Psytrance and started OLMEC as an electro project I was also listening to a bit of The Glitch Mob and was loving Kraddy's release Android Porn/Steppin Razor

Some time later I heard Inspector Dubplate's FRIDAY FILTH SESSIONS EP#3. That was the OMG I have to make some music like this moment! As far as I was concerned this was just called 100bpm, I was such a noob!

Luckily I made friends with Oska (Kursa) through a mutual friend who helped me out and turned me on to artists like Davr, Culprate and of course Koan Sound. I'm still really new to this sound so a lot of my "seminal" tracks are still pretty new:

What's the scene like where you are?

Pretty cool! Bristol is a big music city so there's always a lot going, even if it I am in the studio/bed when it's happening :) Things are feeling pretty eclectic right now with multi-genre parties and producers trying not to be too tied to one sound. Bristol attracts people from the surrounding area (London of the South West??) and the fresh blood keeps things fresh innit!

Where do you like to play the most?

Probably the Black Swan in Bristol, it's my local club and a Bristol institution. I like dirty clubs with banging soundsystems (in-house or brought in, as long as it's quality) so if you got that I'm not fussy about where in the world the gig is :)

What's the craziest gig you've ever played?

The craziest was probably at a tiny festival where a naked dude asked me to stop breaking his brain while I was playing. Most fun/memorable with out a naked dude is a toss up between two NYE gigs. One early morning after sunrise at a squat in London with a great crowd and loads of mates around. The other, Tribe of Frog at the Lakota in Bristol. Big room full of people and a terrific soundsystem.

Who's inspiring you most at the moment?

Absolutely everyone and everything! I'm still really new to this sound and I'm always hearing something inspiring. If I have to name names, Subdue is killing it right now and I love his style, check this out:

Also Blatwax has got the multi-genre mash-up thing going on which I'm really partial to. I hope he pulls out some more glitch hop kinda stuff soon

Who are you looking out for in 2012?

Mouldy Soul has clearly got his finger on the pulse (just listen to his radio show and you'll know what I mean!). Mouldy along with Kursa are both primed for big stuff this year.

Also watch out for Dephicit who's been known to smash it down here in the South West UK:

I think more and more people are going to get turned on to the neuro side of glitch hop and this means loads of new talent to watch out for, I just don't know who they are yet. One of them could be reading this right now!!

What's your next project in the pipeline?

I've got my first release coming out on Wonk#ay Records on 6 July and I'm working on the follow up and I'm going back in the studio with Bunkle of Wonk#ay Records pretty soon which will be loads of fun. Expect some free form bass nonsense from that collaboration. The plan is to keep on writing neuroglitchbass100bpmhop and ultimately play sets of all my own tunes (which I do fairly regularly with the electro stuff).

Where are you playing over the summer?

Next up is BIG:LARGE in Bristol which I'm really looking forward to. Loads of fun with mates to the soundtrack of loads of great bass music in all its forms.