PLACE: Anywhere, be it a festival or a basement club.
TIME: Anytime, be it sunset or the middle of the night.
As a disc jockey, I like to enjoy music together with the audience. And as a resident of Salon Des Amateurs in Düsseldorf, I always try to play music that sits between liberation and education. I want to provide a chance for you to discover unique music without forgetting the purpose of the gathering: to find relief in dance and to celebrate the wonder of music.
1. Mandingo, “Mandingo” (Columbia 1973)
This track by the pseudo-exotic jazz-funk group Mandingo (which was actually a project by easy-listening conductor Geoff Love) works great as an intro. It might be too epic and pathetic for some events, but in the right moment it conveys a perfect vibe with its tease, thrill and release. I come from a jazz-funk background, and the first records I bought were jazz and funk LPs and soundtracks, so this track refers to my musical background.
I like to play an intro track whenever I start a set, either to open a dance floor up or after someone else has played. I do this no matter whether I’m playing warmup, peak time or 10 AM at a never-ending Berlin party. This draws attention from the audience, and in the best case, you can directly connect with them. Afterwards, I can start to play music in my own tempo and direction, no matter what music was played before.
2. Eddie Harris, “It’s War” (Atlantic 1974)
This track by jazz-funk legend Eddie Harris combines a lot of my favorite things in music. It starts off with a hard-to-identify vintage rhythm machine accompanied by free additional percussion. Although the rhythm machine follows a straight pattern, the whole feeling at the beginning is totally free. It reminds me of Sun Ra sessions from the late ’70s or some of the early Cluster sessions. The tribal character of the track intensifies with solo toms drumming over the evolving rhythm machine pattern. Male chants come up. And then, suddenly, the drum set starts to react to the machine. It becomes straight and starts a rather slow but intense dance rhythm. A weird trumpet-like sound starts singing and leads into the real start of the dance: a bassline appears, and it’s soon accompanied by a rhythm guitar that makes for a perfect tribal and spiritual beginning.
The rhythm in the end of “It’s War” is straight, and the song even has some disco-ish elements in it, but it still feels loose and free because of the improvised percussion and vocals. With the next track, I’ll try to transfer from stomping dance to a more accessible electronic dance rhythm.
3. Puma & The Dolphin, “Fossils” (Forthcoming ??)
This track, which will come out soon on a compilation by Brussels-based DJ SoFa, was produced by Puma & The Dolphin. It combines very ’80s-sounding rhythm machine drums with vocal samples, street sounds and a pulsating drive. The combination of weirdly pitched male vocal samples and cheap synth melodies makes this track unique and surprising, and the pulsating rhythm keeps it going.
The rhythm in “Fossils” is kind of straight and rarely uses hits on the 16th notes, so mixing the funky electronic drum shuffle of the incoming track,”Whirr”, can add a lot of funk and drive. This leads easily into more tribal weirdo vibes for the dance floor.
4. Frank Youngwerth, “Whirr” (Viola Da Gamba 1992/Dekmantel Selectors 2017)
My friend and musical collaborator Young Marco put me onto this track, which is now also featured on his Dekmantel Selectors Compilation. It has an extreme lo-fi home recording vibe to it. It also has some really shuffle-heavy electronic drum programming and dreamy arpeggiated synth sounds. The static but tribal drum groove makes it run really hypnotic until a big, rhythmic synthesizer freakout suddenly gives the track a new intensity and psychedelia.
After two very electronic tracks, I feel the urge to go back to something more organic again. “Radio Africa” by Tullio De Piscopo might be produced electronically as well, but the disco vibe with guitars, horns and the intense vocals gives it a very live and organic feel. With this, I’m trying to bring a loose and emotional feeling to the dance floor that teases at possible emotional moments that might lie ahead.
5. Tullio De Piscopo, “Radio Africa (DJ Armin Schmelz Edit)” (Unofficial, unreleased edit)
Tullio de Piscopo is a legend in the Italian music scene. He originally came from the jazz fusion scene and always supported other bands as a studio drummer. He released the Balearic classic “Stop Bajon”, which is a timeless party-starter. This track tries to connect to the success of “Stop Bajon”, but here he adds in a wonderful combination of studio electronics, live instruments and African pop elements. This edit by my dear friend, the incredibly eclectic DJ Armin Schmelz, extends the tribal moments and deletes some of the cheesier parts.
Read more Played Out columns here. Jan Schulte’s Tropical Drums Of Deutschland compilation is out this spring. Find more information about our Telekom Electronic Beats Clubnight at Essen’s Goethebunker with Mr. Ties on April 16 here.
Published April 12, 2017.