In 2013, it's all about the live show. A double Beatport #1 act and remixer, the boss of two labels, recent Aussie export to LA, a successful dance-pop songwriter on the side ... He's achieved a lot already but today, Bass Kleph is focused on taking live/DJ crossover to a new level. His free-flowing sets open with live jamming on the Native Instruments Maschine sampler, segueing expertly into the kind of DJing you get from an act who's had 12 years behind the decks - and then swap freely from live performance to DJing and back again. If you can't make it to a show, check out the Bass Kleph YouTube, which has seen tens of thousands of views of BK's live covers of big tracks like Nari and Milani's Atom (Size Recs) and Quintino & Sandro Silva's "Epic" (Musical Freedom), as well as his own releases like Flashing Lights and Make Me Forget.
But the gift of pushing the boundaries of DJ performance? It didn't come from nowhere. To understand Stu Tyson, as he's known offstage, you've got to know about the graft. Most kids are still at school at age 15, but back then BK was touring Australia and New Zealand as the drummer of a hugely successful three-piece rock act, Loki. Playing live in grubby rock venues, he says, gave him his earliest understandings that there's a dynamic to making crowds dance. A catchy rhythm won't catch without the hypnotism of an irresistable hook - but then even the most nagging hook won't shuffle the feet until it's bent out of shape by the thunder of a serious rhythm section.
Knowing this, the rock world was never going to hold on to him. As BK says, "I remember when Loki got its first album back from mastering. I'd been listening to Squarepusher and The Prodigy. Everyone else was stoked with the way the album sounded - but I thought 'why are the drums so quiet? Why is it all about the guitar?'"
And why, he thought, couldn't Loki do more with that cool little bit of equipment he'd found in the back of the studio - a drum machine?
Loki imploded eventually, the inevitable result of the music industry trying to screw all it could out of the band's three teenage members. BK left, determined that he wouldn't taken in by the empty promises of the industry again - but also that next time round he wanted to do it differently. A more electronic sound, focused on his new obsession, DJing.
That was 12 years ago. Bass Kleph been DJing continually since - and the DJ booth is still one of his favourite places to be. Sure, his earliest gigs took advantage of his live-band experience in bringing a crowd to its peak - but it's the hundreds and hundreds of gigs since, from tiny clubs to huge festival stages, that taught him the craft of DJing and playing live, developing his own style that now can push the most beard-stroking underground crowd into a hand-waving frenzy, or lock a mainstream crowd into a dark, heads-down and wordless groove.
And of course, there's no-one like BK for proving the cliche that the best DJs get the girls on the dancefloor. His recent single, Make Me Forget - featuring his first-ever vocal performance - had that knack of simple, direct, lighters-in-the-air pop songwriting, inspired by the heartbreak of the end of a relationship - the reason why you see the sisters singing along at every single gig. And beyond that, BK's been releasing and collaborating with international talent like Wolfgang Gartner, Morgan Page, Andy Caldwell, Mowgli, and his own labels Vacation and Exit Row have been a big part of the LA/Australian crossover, with acts like Tommy Trash, Hook n Sling, fRew and more. Bass Kleph may now have be firmly settled in LA's neon-lit club scene, but he's kept that irreverent, humble and self-depreciating Aussie approach: in life, his labels and his DJ and live sets - and, since Dec 2012, with Klephtomania, his new iTunes podcast series.
Not bad for a man whose teenage self "just wanted to get on stage and bang some drums". As Bass Kleph says, "I love it. I love the journey, because there's always something new coming in music, in DJing, with songwriting. If I won ten millions dollars in the lotto tomorrow, I'd still keep playing live and DJing and writing music - what else is this much fun?"
Resident Advisor top 20 live act 2012
A Beatport top 10 artist of 2012.
One of XLR8R's 10 most popular podcasts and single downloads, and two most-popular videos, 2012
Resident Advisor top 100 DJ, 2011
"A rare live techno act whose epic sets rival DJs in variety and duration ... [The End of Reason is] a truly sublime beatless tour de force that recalls Philip Glass, Aphex Twin's most serene moments and even Henryk Gorecki's Symphony No. 3" - Resident Advisor
"Beautiful, hypnotic techno that should be listened to by anybody with even a passing interest in intelligently geared dance music" - Electrorash
Control, humility and precision - emotion, release and catharsis. There's two sides to Max Cooper. The public side is known for extended festival sets - a hybrid live/DJ performance that explodes from delicate, reflective electronica into abrasive noise within a moment, but just as fearlessly throttles back to moments of stillness and silent beauty - within the same track, across three or four hours of playing, or within the space of a couple of expertly chosen samples. What others producers see as an unbridgable chasm between different styles, BPMs, approaches, instruments and feeling, Cooper views as a single musical toolbox, with every tool is at hand to a producer who's been playing out for 15 years.
The private side of Cooper, meanwhile, is the humble scientist, the producer who works while others network, who is more influenced by modernist classical than dance-music trends, and who introduces new releases on his facebook with the self-effacing "I hope you enjoy this one!" Despite the affirmation of being made a Beatport artist of the year 2012, voted one of Resident Advisor's top 20 live acts, and having, for influential US electronica site XLR8R, a top 10 most-popular podcast and single download, as well as two of its most popular videos, Cooper still feels at the start and not the peak of his artistic ambitions. There are more collaborations with visual artists to come, his debut album, a series of musical pieces inspired by contemporary art, his contribution to the FIELDS live-electronica label and tours - all part of his calling to fuse the gospel of science and rationality with the excess and exuberance of the most creative electronic music.
Blame that on Cooper's background. Raised in a town outside Belfast, Northern Ireland, as a child Cooper was sent to a Steiner school - the only mixed-religion school in the neighbourhood, but also one that pushed its pupils to be free spirits: independent and questioning, reflective and self-disciplined. And that's how, first DJing local student club Firefly during his university years in Nottingham, he simultaneously managed to earn a PhD in computational biology (genetics) and produce his first tracks. And how, while stacking up the hours as a genetics researcher for University College London, he wrote his first significant releases for German techno label Traum Schallplatten: the trilogy of "Serie" EPs, each taking a different scientific concept as inspiration, both musically and in the collaborative animated videos he commissioned from Andrew Brewer / Whiskas fX.
Having retired his research job in 2010, Cooper is now established as one of the UK's most intriguing, prolific electronic acts. There's now eleven commissioned experimental animations with filmakers like the UK's Nick Cobby and Whiskas fX, France's Cedric De Smedt, Russia's Dmitry Zakharov and Italy's Vicetto, to accompany his music - and a fanbase that regularly offers up its own own visual take on his tracks. There's a heavily trafficked podcast series that includes two seminal mixes for Resident Advisor and XLR8R, John Digweed's Transitions show, the upcoming launch of the Magnetic Mag soundscape series, in which Cooper will release music inspired by the his favourite architectural space; Cooper's research efforts with the staff of noted music-software house Liine; and his back catalogue of nearly 60 original tracks and remixes ... With all this, Cooper has pushed beyond his early apprenticeship as a 4/4 techno producer to become something new and unique in the electronic landscape.
As known now for visual experiments as his yearning and emotional reworks of huge acts like Au Revoir Simone and Hot Chip - and his more glitchy, experimental approach to working with traditional orchestral composers like Olafur Arnalds and Nils Frahm and rising Planet Mu-style mentalist Vaetxh - Cooper continues to evolve, absorb new influence, and change the rules for who electronic artists should work with, and how. The first producer outside of Richie Hawtin's Minus Records family invited to join Hawtin's prestigious booking agency, Clonk, he's also the first musician ever allowed to rework the music of Michael Nyman, seminal minimalist and one of the world's most identifiable soundtrack composers (The Piano, Gattaca).
With Cooper, there's contrast, and also unity. A reserved, clinical producer who's known for the emotion and melody of his music. The writer of delicate soundscapes for the female voice who quietly slipped out an EP of pounding snare rolls called Mechanical Concussion. A remixer of blog bands like MMOTHS, Halls, BRAIDS - and a go-to remixer for techno labels like Herzblut, Bedrock and artists like Bodzin, Romboy and Agoria. A minimalist who likes to relax with a bit of hip-hop scratching and turntablism - and who is working on ways to use turntablism to operate other electronic instruments. A live act known both to be both naggingly hypnotic and blisteringly tough.
A blend of science and feeling, risk-taking live performance and polished musicianship - in 2013, Max Cooper looks ready to become one of the biggest acts in the electronic world.
"The production is as ominous and haunting as the group's name" - XLR8R
"We're big fans of Ghosting Season" - Drowned in Sound
“Strangely gothic... deeply affecting” CLASH
“They’re exquisite, beautiful... This is as close as you’ll get to music in its pure, liquid form... What a revelation" - THE 405
"A post rock soundscape embellished by their knack for drama, distilling both wall of noise intensity and a keen ear for electronics" - Sonic Router
"Sublime techno ... more akin to a rock performance than electronic ... a special debut" - Little White Earbuds
A fascination with taxidermy, a love of Krautrock, and interests ranging from vintage synths to gothic Victoriana: Ghosting Season embody the eccentric and the ethereal – and are one of the rare electronic bands whose live band sets are as explosive on a festival stage as in a tiny club.
Last year, their debut album ‘The Very Last Of The Saints’ was described as “more akin to rock performance than electronic” (Little White Earbuds), having “production as ominous and haunting as the group’s name” (XLR8R) and “exquisite, beautiful” by the 405.
Stepping off the path laid by the great British leftfield tradition (Eno, Aphex, Seefeel, Global Communication, Burial, Lone et al), Ghosting Season fuse elements of ambient techno, musique concrete, IDM and post-rock into the kind of textured soundscapes that have won them much critical acclaim via a handful of releases, remixes (Radiohead, Cloud Control, Young Galaxy, Get People) and their formidable live show (Fields, SXSW and several UK tours).
Ghosting Season’s sound first emerged as tangents from Gavin and Tom’s previous band project, worriedaboutsatan. While the latter took its cues from the likes of Explosions In The Sky and Mogwai, the pair’s music began to head off into a different direction, one that was informed far more by electronic music, but still incorporated their love of guitars, vocals and found sounds. This new identity bore its first fruit with 2011’s ‘Far End Of The Graveyard EP’, then ‘The Very Last Of The Saints’ - a breathtaking debut on Sasha's Last Night On Earth, moving from beautifully crafted cerebal electronica to tripped out house, glitchy drone collages and more strobe-friendly peaktime techno.
Ghosting Season’s next single, Apophenia, featuring TE Morris of Her Name is Calla, will drop in March 2013. The duo’s second album will follow in late 2013 alongside a tour with the FIELDS collective in May.
- John Kennedy, XFM
"We fall harder for The Slow Revolt with every listen, you will too"
- The Line of Best Fit
"Full of poise and precision, there's an inherent drama to the performance which is difficult to deny" – Clash
"Creeps under your skin without you realising it until you notice how many times you’ve just listened to it on repeat" - Disco Naivite
It’s a slow burner, but the voice stays with you long after the music fades.
If you first heard This Dark Matter in Patten’s Fact Mix 285, then you’d next have heard The Slow Revolt’s stunning vocals in his rework of Patten’s Peachy Swan. Rising up through the blogosphere, it was a clustering, pulsing rework that cajoled the original into straighter rhythms and melodies – and what made The Slow Revolt was beginning to surface.
Then came the first half of the This Dark Matter EP. A yearning hymn to a dead affair that coupled immaculate electronic production, blues-descended guitar and a swooning vocal performance, it had support from XFM, 6music and Radio1. It also earned The Slow Revolt the support slot for MMOTHS recent UK tour, as well as supports for Ofei and America’s Balmorhea; upcoming gigs with another much-lauded producer Jimmy Edgar, Machines, and a run of UK dates with Ghosting Season and Max Cooper – who also, as part of this release, has reworked This Dark Matter into a cathedral of chiming, wildly emotional abstracted sound.
The ‘Doldrums EP’ will be released on Pavilion, the new sister label to Super Recordings (AlunaGeorge, Bondax, Throwing Snow). Drawing more heavily on The Slow Revolt’s guitar work than his electronics, Doldrums has long been a highlight of his live sets – a track that hushes even the most determinedly drunk, talkative UK crowds…
With a name inspired by a crisis in the life of Carl Jung, and a sound that bolts claustrophically dark, oblique metaphor onto contemporary electronics and effect-laden guitars, Miniature Cities is a three piece that wants to get under the skin of its listeners.
The name? In 1913, one of the two fathers of psychodynamics, Carl Jung, felt he was close to madness. He had turned his back on his early work with his mentor Freud; broken-hearted and burned out, he embarked on a mental exploration in search for the root of unconscious imbalance. From his own experiences, Carl Jung proposed the theory of our Archetypes within our unconscious that are their own individual entities, their own independent organisms, their own living cities. A theory echoing the miniature cities Jung would often make as a child. They appear in dreams and visions, each with their own symbolism, communicating our own unconscious back to us; a message often ignored.
Compulsion is what pushes the band. "What you can't admit creates guilt, and pressure and frustration," says lyricist Joe Barnby, who threw aside a Neuroscience PhD to form the band. "You take that out on yourself; you don't understand why you're lashing out. Lyrically, that's what the band's about. That pressure, the way that things are difficult, people are difficult, it's hard to understand even your own feelings or whether they're even your own feelings in the first place. Everyone's pent up and frustrated and no-one is giving an inch. London isn't an easy place right now, and it's pushing people to their limits."
The result is intense, mesmerising performance, and the band's sound takes as much inspiration from today's offbeat bass-music rhythms as its own experiments with earlier genres. With bassist Alex McDowell modernising a dubby bottom, drawn from Trip-Hop and 90s Hip-Hop, and guitarist Daniel Hernandez experimenting with a wall of hard-driven effects pedals, the result is compulsive, melancholy, dancable and musically nimble.
Enter the collective unconscious today.