Just as EDM-ified dubstep was becoming a mainstream sensation in America and beyond, its deeper counterpart dove further underground with odd and adventurous permutations. Some of the most hotly followed and interesting adaptations came from one man: Dave Huismans, who launched a string of singles as A Made Up Sound in 2009. Over the course of seven years, the Dutchman released ten AMUS records on his eponymous imprint as well as outposts like 50Weapons, Clone and Delsin, and in the coming weeks he will conclude the series with a final EP and album that compiles all the AMUS label installments in one LP. To celebrate the consummation of such an astonishing and singular body of work, we called upon a bunch of DJs and producers to pick their favorite instalment in the AMUS set.
Scratcha DVA: “Ahead” from AMS00X (A Made Up Sound 2013)
“I fink erry producer hears 1 of dem trax and wishes they had made it. This is defo 1 4me. Mad amounts simple but mad amounts of complex. Hearing this trak reminded me that i sounded better in my productions and ws most happiest wen i had my head up my own ass. I luv the way it has that kinda olskool housey sample 4/4 sample in it. Jus enuff2 annoy the ‘wheres di techno?’ hecklers. I remember wen i 1st played this 1 at Fire in Vauxhall after Pinch. Pinch was leavin the booth but wen i drew this he came bk in and goes ‘ur brave 4playin this 1st tune’ lol. I stood dere like ye am brave. Crowd stood dere like wtf is goin on? Luv it.
Ben UFO: “Take The Plunge (Beat Mix)” from AMS005 (A Made Up Sound 2011)
“I’ve no idea how Dave does it, but his tracks manage to be at once totally self-contained, like variations on a theme existing in their own private universe, and totally outward-looking and expansive, touching on the fault lines between scenes and styles and sounding relevant in countless different contexts. His music is unmistakable, and it’s been a staple of my sets for nearly 10 years, wherever I might be playing and at whatever BPM, whether playing the warm-up or at peak time. The way he works with rhythm is unparalleled—I remember seeing him play his first ever live set at Freerotation a few years ago, and after dancing for 45 minutes and hearing his percussion unraveling and twisting over itself, a friend turned to me and said, “There are no rhythms left! That’s it; he’s done all of them!”
I could have picked any number of tracks for this feature but ended up going for ‘Take The Plunge’ because it’s one of the most successful examples of the kind of thing I’ve been looking for in dance music for a long time—it’s very strange, twisted and uniquely modern; there’s nothing retro about it whatsoever, but it has this totally irresistible dance floor appeal as well. It’s experimental music that people have to move to.”
Nic Tasker: “Sun Touch” from AMUS002 (A Made Up Sound 2010)
“’Sun Touch’ is one of my most treasured records and one that had a significant impact on me.
At the time it came out i was just starting to play in clubs and my taste was shifting slightly. This record in particular sparked an interest in darker, more minimal sounding production. It also highlighted to me that you didn’t need lots of elements to make something super groovy.
It was also the first record I ever bought from Phonica Records, where I went onto work for four years. Working there taught me so much about music, and this record always reminds me of that.”
Peverelist: “Alarm” from AMS003 (A Made Up Sound 2010)
“When you’re in a club, you can always tell when a A Made Up Sound tune is coming in. He’s one of those producers with a very distinct signature sound—something about the samples he chooses and how he uses them and the swing he injects into his rhythms. He’s certainly one of my favorite contemporary producers and DJs. It’s impossible to choose a favourite track—there are so many to choose from—so i’m going to go for ‘Alarm’ just because it’s great fun to mix and has that inimitable A Made Up Sound vibe.”
Kowton: “Sleepwalk” from “Sleepwalk”/699 (Subsolo 2007)
“Dave Huismans’ output over the past decade has been consistently innovative and compelling both as 2562 and A Made Up Sound. ‘Sleepwalk’ was the first AMUS 12” I bought. Released at a time when dubstep was beginning to wear techno influences more overtly, the track combines sub bass and angular rhythms in a skeletal and lurching, tumbling form that sounds like a classic Detroit rhythm knocked clean off its axis. The minor chords that fill the mix toward the climax of the track reinforce the references to the Motor City, but really it’s all about the drums: each sound slightly off the grid but like a cohesive whole that’s undeniably propulsive. Like the best Shackleton or Peverelist records, the AMUS releases have pushed rhythm in new directions, rarely settling for the easy option or taking shortcuts to please the masses. At its origins, techno was intended to be the music of the future; these productions still sound like the music of the future.”
Peder Mannerfelt: “Half Hour Jam On A Borrowed Synth” from AMS008 (A Made Up Sound 2015)
“It’s very hard to choose just one from such an excellent and already classic series of records, but I think I would have to go with ‘Half Hour Jam On A Borrowed Synth’. I’m a sucker for good titles, and this title is such a dry and understated description of a perfectly executed minimal masterpiece. It’s very hard to maintain interest and build tension for over five minutes with a single-instrument track, but AMUS does it with such a light but playful touch. Total killer!”
Objekt: “After Hours” from AMS006 (A Made Up Sound 2013)
“Dave’s output as A Made Up Sound has been such a consistently clever, tricksy, innovative string of weapons that it’s impossible for me to pick a favorite. But this compilation reminded me about ‘After Hours’, a meandering and engrossing trip with the unique feature of being mixable at 125 and 95 BPM without changing the pitch—something I hadn’t noticed at first but will definitely be having some fun with in the coming weeks.”
Cosmin TRG: “Wire” from Archive (Clone Basement Series 2009)
“’Wire’ is one of my favorite A Made Up Sound transmissions (and he knows it). At the time of its release, I coined it “gangsta techno” because I thought the groove was a bit cheeky and the bassline quite criminal. I think ‘Wire’ is textbook Huismans—strong, muscular command of the drum section, with a whole lot of quirk and trademark smirk thrown in by way of elegant, street-savvy sampling. The entire A Made Up Sound catalog is just incredible—so varied and yet so conceptually sound, like there’s a thin red wire (!) going through it. What an extraordinary artist.”
Decka: “Bounce” from Archive (Clone Basement Series 2009)
“This was probably the first AMUS release I listened to, and since then I haven’t stopped listening. For me, this track showcases everything I love about his production. The addictively groovy and clunky percussion rhythm, mixed with a teasing bassline that reminisces the sound of UK dubstep (this was released in 2009, after all!) This, combined with the use of stabs and dreamy synthlines, is just everything I love about dance music merged into one, colossal blend of cracking techno. AMUS is just one of a kind.”
Hodge: “Take The Plunge (Beat Mix)” from AMS005 (2011)
“I could pick any of these tunes as a favorite—it kinda depends on which one I’ve listened to most recently. But to pick it’s gotta be ‘Take The Plunge (Beat Mix)’—I’ve played this out loads, it’s an absolute banger, that low bass sits with the kick perfectly and the way the stuttered synth fires around over the beat is amazing. Love it.”
Dave Huismans will play at the release party for A Made Up Sound (2009-2016) at Griessmühle in Berlin on November 11.
Published October 12, 2016.