“Long was the year” (Trish Keenan)
1. Kraftwerk – Retrospective 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 (MoMA, New York)
So much has already been said about Kraftwerk’s MoMA performances, but the week of April 10 to 17 was doubtlessly a highlight of 2012 for both pop and art. You could feel the tension in Manhattan grow every day as showtime approached. I was lucky enough to attend the TEE show on April 12, and of course I couldn’t leave without a souvenir:
2. Smallville Records
Hamburg’s Smallville label had a pretty amazing run this year. They’re definately en route to becoming an institution for futuristic deep and tech house, as everything they put out sounds so fresh, vivid and sexy. Salty Days, an LP by all-star team Smallpeople, was what captivated me the most, with “Black Ice” as the true standout.
I also like Smallville’s awesome CI – Stefan Marx’ typography, poster and record cover art.
3. Tortoise – “Hot Coffee”
A shame that I missed the start of Joyful Noise Recordings‘ flexi-disc 7-inch series. But as an avid follower of Tortoise and John McEntire-related stuff in general, I got my hands on their contribution to the series—a repetitive robofunk tune called “Hot Coffee”. It was issued in an edition of 500 and the artwork also kills it.
4. NRSB-11 – “6231-748 3”
This is probably my most visited SoundCloud page this year. “6231-748 3” is part a collaboration between Gerald Donald and DJ Stingray (for whatever reason the stream above is titled “Forensics”, but ignore that). I listened to this for days and days and days until finally the 12-inch arrived in the mail—only 150 clear vinyl copies available exclusively through WéMè Records’ website.
5. The Italic Chair
Industrial design-wise, 2012 comes to a close ends with this exclamation point: The Italic Chair, designed and manufactured by Stefan Schwander aka Harmonious Thelonious aka Antonelli Electr aka A Rocket In Dub. This was “released” by ITALIC Recordings and is probably the first piece of furniture with a proper record label catalogue number (ITA101). I didn’t order this yet but I feel tempted.
Stay safe in 2013!
Magnetic Man are the first dubstep supergroup, a trio made up of Skream, Artwork and Benga who have taken the heavy wobble and soaring synths of one the most important underground music scene from the last ten years and catapulted themselves into the mainstream, breaking down barriers for not only themselves but the likes of Katy B as wel. Only Artwork and Benga were available for a quick chat during their recent Balaton Sound gig just at the moment when Skream was celebrating a new-born heir to his throne. Strangely, the show went on as usual and no one even noticed the gap in front of the third computer.
Can you remember the first dubstep tracks you ever made; how the groove was formed?
Benga: I can’t remember. It is hard to look back into the past. We definitely made a lot of things to develop this genre.
You seem to be a very cohesive, close family within the Rinse crew.
Benga: He is my mum and he is my mum’ that’s how it works.
Even on international level? You always have a new partner, John Legend for example?
Artwork: The process is quite easy, as we do almost everything on the internet. It’s not necessary to meet personally in the studio. So the relationship is not the same with the international friends.
What about Katy B? She is probably the most well known female of the UK bass world and she depends on your production works, like the hit called Easy Please Me.
Artwork: We’ve been working together for four years. She is our little baby. We’re just watching how she is growing to a pop star. I’m glad to see the fans’ faces when they are crying like “huh, Katy B!?” So it’s a real success.
How did you find her? You just picked her up from school?
Artwork: It wasn’t us. We have the same management, so it was kind of evident we would work together. We have a huge family. It’s easy to find new added values to our tracks.
Why did you decide to make an album together in 2010, when all of you have solo projects?
Artwork: We’ve been touring with Magnetic Man for years. We knew that we prefer similar music and gradually it turned out that we can work together very effectively in the studio as well. That’s how the album was born.
Is it easy to insert Skream and Benga tracks into your Magnetic Man sets?
Benga: Yeah. We’re always mixing each other’s tracks. We’re using them during the live gigs like a common toolbar. I’m always DJ’ing and always changing how to mix them together, while applying new versions.
What is your set up like on stage? Whose duty is the master computer and the midi controllers?
Artwork: It goes around. We don’t have fixed positions. We used to have one computer, but now we all three have one.