Eine Kleine Musik

My friends at RBMA Radio have been locked away in a Berlin back room for over three weeks now, serving up ten hours of radio every day. I’ve come for the last two weeks of the pop-up radio station, which has turned a Kreuzberg Italian cafe into a musical magnet of sorts.

Berlin has become the central location for a  generation of artists who sit broadly within the descriptive realm of electronic music – which means a lot of local treasure. Even if it’s a lot of highly internationalised local treasure.

First day I was here I met Morphosis, aka Rabih Beaini who runs a label called Morphine. He is reissuing the work of a musician called Charles Cohen, who was one of the few people who used very early synthesisers, particularly those made by eccentric innovator Don Buchla. This was music made for experimental dance or theatre performances, but it sounds an awful lot like the music that Detroit musicians like Mad Mike, Jeff Mills and Derrick May would make some years later. Even the titles resonate with those of classic Motor City techno. Dance Of The Spirit Catchers is a Charles Cohen piece, but is interchangeable with UR titles like Hi-Tech Jazz or Journey Of The Dragons. The music is gorgeous.

Young Turks did a takeover of the station for the last two hours of the day, and included an interview with FKA Twigs. The music has a quality that marks her out as an innovator: it doesn’t sound like anyone else. Much is made of her distinct visual flair, which like the music, is confident, beguiling and seriously original. This is well worth a listen.

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A couple of days later we had a two hour special from the Hotflush label, who brought along one of their artists, Recondite. He’s a seriously serious man, both sartorially – all blacks and greys and minimalist glasses – and sonically. We played some of his music and talked about it, on air, in-between plays. On one, he described the music as coming from the perspective of a hawk, circling high up, seeing everything. He makes lovely music but should also be writing hard-edged, brutalist nature novels, like a Berlin-drenched Knut Hamson or Cormac McCarthy.

Leisure System, or more specifically Ned Beckett, came in yesterday. They run parties here in Berlin and have morphed over eight or nine releases into a record label, too. The thing they do really well is breadth, bringing together musicians as superficially distinct as Objekt and Gold Panda, and picking up brand new artists like Hubie Davison, like musical Manta Ray, scanning the ocean floor for buried treasure.

The final entry is for some music of the mouth. Yes, I got myself some classic Berlin fast food in the shape of gemuse kebap from Kottiwood, just down the road from where I’m staying at Kottbusser Tor. Yes boss!

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RBMA at Amsterdam Dance Event

It’s 12.30 on Friday lunchtime, and I’m sitting in a shop- turned-radio studio on Spui, in Amsterdam. I’ve tried to pronounce Spuistraat in Dutch on a couple of occasions but can only get close in a way that sounds a bit like early ’80s English TV comedian Frank Spencer. Ah well.

I’m here for the annual Amsterdam Dance Event, helping to host a pop-up radio station for the duration of the event. We’re broadcasting on the rbma radio stream and on Dutch radio and we’re going to be here til Sunday. The basic idea is that DJs and musicians come by and play sets or do a live thing, and get interviewed by me or the redoubtably zen Emma-Jean, or one of the ultra capable Dutch radio team. So far that’s meant Kyle Hall sitting just out of view, talking about his Wild Oats label and rolling out an excellent line in charmingly sweary answers. It also meant the original Detroit gentleman passing though: it was quite nice, for me as an old-school Detroit fan, to have Kevin Saunderson (taller than I expected, wearing a heavy overcoat, lovely vibes), a visably cheery Juan Atkins and Carl Craig on the microphone, talking about the D25 tour, where they’re celebrating 25 years since the first Metroplex release back in 1985. Then to complete the Detroit circle, or at least add to it, Kenny Larkin came in yesterday and played a set so deeply banging that the elderly lady upstairs called the police.

Now all we need is Robert Hood, fedora in hand, to come in and play us some tunes.

Africa Hi-Tec, Mike Slott, James Pants and Kryptic Minds in today… will report back later. And if you’re in the area, come and say hoy.

Radio…. transmission

My monthly radio show, the Pick N Mix, is up now here: http://www.rbmaradio.com/ARCHIVE.153.0.php

It contains me rambling on, the Martyn mix of Shut Up And Dance, the good track off the Yo Majesty album where they go all OutKast, Portuguese dubstep from Octapush, new-school conscious grime from Geeneus and a wicked old street soul electro number from Dhar Braxton. And me rambling a little more.

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