04 Sep2009

Slabs 066 - Mr. Bentos

Posted by AIC • Sep 04, 2009

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Mr. Bentos is playing with Red Rack’em and Ali Renault at Bodybox on 19th September but can meanwhile be found gathering grime on your local Lidl shelf.

DOWNLOAD HERE

Tracklist

Drrtyhaze – Nueva York
The Glimmers – Time for Action (Padded Cell Remix)
Shirley Lites – Heat You Up (Melt You Down)
Love Street – Come On Down To Love Street
Paul Hardcastle – Guilty
Putsch ’79 – Asian Girls
Michoacan – Sabor
Templeton Peck – Glory Hole
Pineapples – Come On Closer
J.D Jaber – Dont Stop Lovin’
Francisco – Hero
Lipps, Inc. – Funky Town
The Immortals – Ultimate Warlord
Sylvester – Do You Wanna Funk
DJ Overdose Y Mr Pauli (Los Hombres Nova) – Hijos Del E
Den Haan – Night Shift
Pauli vs Tyrell – Little (S.Y.D. Remix)
Dubious – Afterhours
Dynamik Bass System – She’s Gotta Have it
Koto – Dragon’s Legend
Bangkok Impact – Junge Dame Mit Freundliche Tel (Bangkok Impact Remix)
Berend-G – Mind Insane

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03 Sep2009

Interview with Casionova

Posted by Joel • Sep 03, 2009

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After an epic Road to Rimini weekend down in Newcastle I caught up with co-founder of Cyber Dance Records and good friend of Slabs of the Tabernacle, James Penrose/Casionova for an in depth interview over a chicken kebab…

(Interview by Joel Shaw)

How was your time in Newcastle?

Just an absolutely great night last night, seeing Human Shield and the Fratelli at the Tyne. It was brilliant fun.

Human Shield? I know that you have links to them, who are they and how did your connection with them come about?

Around ’98/‘99 I met Ali (Ali Renault), Pete (Peter Mangalore) and Danny (Tommy Walker 3) through my ex-girlfriend who studied in Manchester at the time, where they were all living.

I remember a group of us were listening to electro in Surrey in the mid to late nineties. We all thought we were the only guys in the country into that stuff at the time so we were very surprised to discover (through this random connection) some other people up in Chester of all places had exactly the same records as us. My ex brought me down a mix tape by Ali and Pete and I remember thinking fuck I’ve got every track on this tape… so we got on through the music initially. I first knew Pete well as he had moved down to Brighton where I was living at the time, we used to hang out, mix records together lots, do graffiti and such. Having known Pete for a bit, Ali then moved down to Brighton after travelling around Australia, and we got on instantly… kind of just after the time I discovered italo, he got really into it too… we decided to do Cyber Dance as a result of our chats and nights of listening to italo. I think we were basically the only people in the country listening to it at that time.

We realised from the outset that Cyber Dance was a different musical direction from that of Human Shield, so “sister labels” is the best way to describe the relationship between them. I was actually briefly part of Human Shield before we did Cyber Dance, but mainly through writing it on walls!

Who is we?

Cyber Dance is Ali Renault, Spruxxx and myself.

Slightly later you started Magic Waves, could you talk a bit about how that started?

Magic Waves began in 2006 and it ran as it’s own radio for 3 years in total. Now we’re part of IFM, on the CBS channel which is IFM4.

How did it start?

Well after we released Cyber Dance 001, Ali started doing Heartbreak and Spud and I started doing Magic Waves. The idea was Ali would take the music one way through a pop direction and we would take it another way through the underground but essentially it was all part of the same thing, spreading the good word of italo. A disco evangelism so to speak.

We had been planning on doing the radio for a good while when CBS started up. This was really encouraging you see because it made us realise that it was even more possible than we had previously thought. It was a good inspiration and almost a model for us too. Although we didn’t want to copy it we still wanted to do something similar to it, so the identity of Magic Waves was almost carved out around and in response to the CBS template in a way that relates to it quite well but isn’t the same thing.

Rather than playing really interesting obscurities and weird tracks, we wanted to do something that was like you tuned in and you would be having a party whatever time of day or night it was, and that’s literally all it was for 3 years – just non-stop no talking tune after tune of relentless musical freakout.

How did you find running a 24 hour radio station with just yourself and Spruxxx involved?

It was extremely hard work. Spud (Spruxxx) handled the technical side and I handled programming the music. For 3 years of my life, I did nothing but program the radio 24/7, it was without a doubt one of the most insane experiences of my life… but very rewarding too.

Where did you get the dedication from?

We just wanted to put it out for people, being passionate about it, and knowing how it had helped us personally. This music had improved our lives, and we had a desire to show it to other people in a way where they wouldn’t have to pay for it or hear it through some horrible commercial watered-down version of the original that is always the way it inevitably goes. It occurred to us that we had a large number of tracks that we really believed in and that not many people knew about sitting idle on the computer and they’d be better off broadcasted.

So what are the differences between IFM and Magic Waves?

Well there was never any presenting with Magic Waves when it was it’s own radio, purely just music. This was the basic policy really, no commercials and very few jingles, only non-stop music 24/7. It was interesting in a way but after 3 years of that I think we’d taken it as far as we could. I believe IFM gave Magic Waves a new lease of life, Ferenc suggested it’d be great if we could do a live show as people like that live feel. Switching to CBS gave us the opportunity to start doing that.

How did you find presenting at first?

The first time, me and Spud just plied ourselves with red wine until we were able to do it… listening back to the recording of the first show you can hear me slurring my words! But as it was our first time we couldn’t help but be nervous, so we had to drink enough wine and ingest enough whatever to roll through it, and after that first show it became a lot easier. I would recommend red wine to anyone who wants to begin radio presenting.

Do you feel presenting on a non commercial station such as IFM gives you freedom to be yourself?

Yes. Personally I really enjoy the freedom, because freedom of expression is actually the point of doing it for us and people react well to hearing other people do that when they are used to a media saturated with posers and fakes, they seem to react well to honesty. You don’t need a big show boating routine, just come on and be you, people react better to that than some guy with a transatlantic accent who’s actually a vicar’s son pretending to be a gangster. You know who we’re talking about…

So the virtual move from Magic Waves radio over to the Intergalactic FM has been a positive one?

Absolutely. We really enjoy being on IFM, it feels very much like we’re at home, and it doesn’t feel like we’ve changed anything. It just feels like we’ve got a bigger family around us, and we’re still doing pretty much exactly what we were doing before, just better.

Prior to the move to IFM you went over to Holland for a visit, how did you find things over there?

Yes I went out to Rotterdam and The Hague a few months before the festival and stayed with David Vunk, Mark du Mosch and Ingmar Pauli, all people I’ve personally learned a lot from. High times, drunken mixing and vinyl shopping! I’ve always been into the Dutch sound since the acid and techno years back in the ’90s and am still a big fan now with the newer electro and italo stuff. There are some amazingly talented musicians and DJs over there, most of whom have a very sincere passion and love for the music and I’m glad the “West Coast scene” has started to come together a bit and their fame is starting to become more widespread. The recognition is long overdue.

Ferenc has been there through almost everything and really his legacy went global a long while ago, but there are many others with serious musical talent from the West Coast: I’m a huge fan of everything on Moustache Records and Viewlexx in particular, anything by Mr Pauli, Alden Tyrell, Legowelt, Mark du Mosch, DJ Overdose, Rude66, Novamen and of course now Electrick Dragon too… but really there are way too many to name. With DJs its a similar situation, too many to name… but of course I-f, David Vunk, TLR, Loud-E, Intergalactic Gary, Slick Chick, Mark du Mosch again – all amongst the best in the world right now at what they do.

To celebrate the 3 year anniversary of Magic Waves you held the ‘Magic Waves Festival’ in London – how was this event for you?

It was another of the most insane experiences of my life! It was very much like a leap in the dark, and it started by accident almost…

We felt we should up the ante from what we’d been doing previously… and as soon as we started figuring the festival out, it really snowballed. Suddenly we were looking at 42 artists over 2 days, and when we realised that it was possible on paper, it became impossible to walk away from. I felt like “if this was possible to do then we should have a shot at it”.

Can you talk a little more about the reason behind it?

There were three different angles to it. One was to show people italo, another was to celebrate Magic Waves being on the air for 3 years and the other was to show the strength of the current UK scene. I think over the past year, one of the biggest observations I’ve made is that musically, Britain is as good as it’s ever been and as good as anywhere else but just no one is seeing it for what it is.

There was at least 5 acts from the 80s in the line up: Fred Ventura, Fockewulf 190, Oppenhiemer Analysis, Casco and Alex Novaga, what was your reason behind these bookings?

I felt there are a lot of events going on, a lot of italo based events even, but not actually really any chance to see some of the originators who created the music in the first place. We as “DJs from 25 years after the fact” shouldn’t put ourselves on a pedestal above the artists who actually made the music all those years ago, as that’s the original act of genius and creativity which we draw from, and I feel those people deserve the credit, exposure and recognition much much more than they’ve ever got.

Casco is a great example, most people didn’t seem to realise the guy did anything beyond Cybernetic Love… an italo classic for sure, but they don’t seem to realise that he is also one of the biggest italo DJs of all time. He has been DJing since 1973, in 1985 other DJs elected him the “DJ champion of Italy” and you just feel like “who over here knows that about this guy? And how can we make them realise this?” So I just decided to put these guys on and let them show everybody what they’re about for themselves. Also Fockewulf 190 I knew had had a bad experience in their dealings with the music industry about 25 years ago and basically ducked out of it all together… so it was great to get them back and see Victor (Life) on stage again behind his Elka Synthex!

And Alex Novaga hadn’t played live in 30 years! So in answer to the question it was definitely to give exposure to people who deserved it.

Having taken so much from the records, do you feel in a way that you yourself owe something to such artists?

As fans of the music I felt at the time that perhaps we all did. And I guess theres also the strain of curiosity there… its amazing to think it is possible to actually be in touch with the people who made this obscure, exotic, bizarre, mysterious music. I mean when I first heard Gitano I almost imagined it to be by space aliens from another galaxy who transmitted this tune down to Earth and then disappeared into the mists of time or something, you couldn’t believe they were even real people. (laughs)

Sort of like when Mad Mike described the point when he and his friends first started listening to Kraftwerk, that they almost thought it was made by robots?

Exactly, reaching out across time, this music somehow got into your ears and you are peering into another world just by listening to it, but it is a world I remember from my childhood and one I was very happy to revisit… albeit through sound. I guess you fall for the impression they were trying to create. But the very idea of having these people on stage makes it an intriguing thing to find out just who these people are in “real-life”.

From doing the festival and properly meeting the artists, do you feel any of the mystery say in a track like Gitano has gone for you?

Absolutely not. It is just as mind blowing and ethereal as it ever was.

Although it does change the nature of the mystery slightly I guess, but the mystery is definitely still there. I mean you may now know the person behind it, its not so much a question of are these people human? Or is this even real? But instead: how did you make something so good? And where did it come from? Such questions always remain.

Speaking to Alex Novaga it was fascinating to hear about how he made his tracks and some of the stories behind them, it made me realise just how much we all don’t know about what was going on behind the scenes. I think people on forums and such can be overly judgemental about music when they really don’t know very much about it at all and are completely guessing the most basic info surrounding the tracks they’re into – it’s better to keep an open mind as you can never know all these details, but especially when you are talking about Italian music from the the early 1980s, what you read on the record label doesn’t really correlate with reality at all. And if that’s the only information you’ve got to go on you’re not in a position to judge.

Having been such a successful weekend, are there any regrets? Or anything you would do differently if there is a next time?

You live and you learn… having never done a festival before we had to plan everything very conservatively. Not so much regrets, just reflections on things that will make the nights run more smoothly for next year, and I can confirm there will be a next year… but maybe next year we’ll have slightly fewer acts but give them more of a spot-light each, and of course we will be less conservative and more adventurous because the first one went so well.

The only small regret I can think of is that the running order on the Saturday night got a bit messed up due to someone’s flight being delayed which had meant a few sets at the end were cut short. Brassica’s was cut down to ten minutes which was a real shame. I think he really was one of the best artists on the line up… but there will definitely be many more chances to see him again, no way you’ve heard the last from him!

And what about the aftermath?

We broke even, we lost a tiny bit of money…just physical exhaustion.

Is it correct that Flemming Dalum helped you guys out with the festival?

Yes absolutely. Through letting us release his magnificent ‘Boogie Down Box-set’ as a fundraiser for the event. Massive thank yous to Flemming, because he basically made the festival happen with his generosity on that one.

There was supposed to be a few thousand pounds of profit made from the box-sets of which Flemming refused to take any of whatsoever. He said “why don’t you put it in the festival instead to make sure it happens”, so the money from the box-sets covered the flights and the hotel fees for the artists, and we used money from the doors to pay the artists their performance fees. So I guess he provided the majority of the funding for it. I think he’s a great philanthropist for italo; a very generous man with a lot of belief in music.

Over the past few months I notice you have made mixes under 3 different names – Casionova, Sparta, LaserQuest. Do you have any more? And why?

The reason I use those different names is because there is something significantly different in the attitude of each. Casionova is my generalised all round italo name, a positive mix of straight down the line italo, classics, and some obscurities as well.

But I found after a while I was wanting to make mixes that maybe wouldn’t fit so well under the Casionova name so it occurred to me why not use different names to fit the different ideas I might have behind the mixes… so for example DJ LaserQuest was very much a joke about noticing that a lot of theof the italo and general synth pop made after ’86 was actually really good, some of the hardcore italo heads even see this as the best stuff and I’d agree in some ways. I felt let’s do something with a sense of humour that encompasses this unexpressed passion we feel.

Although with LaserQuest as a name I guess it started off initially as a production alter-ego; I started making a lot of acid tracks on a Nintendo DS-10 as a joke, and the concepts and ideas behind the tracks were purely based around the place I grew up (Kingston in South-West London). I realised that DJ LaserQuest would be the exact character who would be playing post ’86 italo (if anyone in Kingston ever had!) seeing it as the best era even. Maybe you’d have to know Kingston to know what I mean… it’s a weird place with some very bored kids in it and a lot of cheap arcades. And LaserQuest is the name of the laser shoot ‘em up in Kingston, where the bored kids would go and shoot lasers at each other. I figured they should have been listening to Den Harrow…

DJ Sparta is aimed at the “classic golden age of Italian disco”. A heroic lost classical age of italo. So the more ’70s stuff. And I thought Sparta was an intriguing city and name for a variety of reasons, the controversial aspect of what Sparta stood for seemed to be strangely in sync with a lot of those records from that time… I saw a weird connection about the classic golden age of Mediterranean music, and it had to be an ancient Greek name really because they were pretty much the originators of Western civilisation (ie. pre-Italian and therefore in the metaphor pre-italo) and in particular the Spartans were the most war-like long-haired lunatics of them all so if the name fits…!

It’s a little-known fact that they believed in music as much as they did in war and in fact used music in their war-time practices – they actually used it in battle to co-ordinate troop movements and tactics and all the soldiers were taught to dance before they were taught to fight. Anyway I thought that was a very interesting situation where they combined conquest and dancing… even saw it as the same thing.

There are other aliases too… Jim ‘Jackin’ Jackson is one where I felt I grew up with Detroit techno and Chicago house influences and through playing italo a lot recently I felt the need to express this other side of my taste a bit. Classic Detroit and Chicago futuristic music.

Any time I come up with something that is different to those things I invent a name to go with it… I’m not fussed about making one name big, it’s about doing something true to whatever records you’re playing, and obviously a lot of people have lots of aliases for production so why cant you do something like that for DJing as well?

Vinyl is obviously a way of life for you. I read recently an interview with a DJ who was talking about giving up records and moving with technology? How do you feel about that attitude, do you feel people who are doing this are jumping ship too early?

My first thought… To quote a friend of mine who is sadly no longer with us “if it aint broke don’t break it”, and I think “vinyl, what is wrong with it?” For me it is the ultimate format and anybody who wants to kill it will have to get past me first! Its stupid to think that because something is new technology it means that everything else is out-dated… I mean of course I don’t mind if other people want to use other formats, they can do whatever they feel comfortable doing but in terms of us (Cyber Dance) we love vinyl and we don’t think it should ever die so we’re going to keep making and playing it. I don’t see how it is out-dated in any way, if anything CD decks just seem to be a poor imitation of the same technology but with the added inconvenience of trying to force a CD do what a record does more naturally, so I can’t see the point of them unless you’re playing exclusive tracks. I can’t believe DJs would ditch a format just because it’s heavy and harder to carry around. Come on, that’s weak. Just put your back into it!

And of course I love the manual “hands-on” way of doing it, and the little human mistakes you get add to the feeling of it.

But I don’t think computer mixes are at all invalid, they can be done extremely well, but the principle has to be that you are going to try and use the technology to do something that you can’t already do manually, you don’t want to simply recreate what you can do manually with the technology available because you’re just saying the same thing again, its pointless. Better to use that technology to do what you can’t do manually! I mean I’m completely in awe of mixes like Flemming’s – the amount of skill and work that goes into those mixes is easily the equivalent of what goes into any vinyl mix and he’s the kind of example of what is good and how people should attempt to do that kind of thing, i.e. use the technology, master it and find the limits of what it can do, what other methods can’t.

Does the presence of vinyl make it a better party?

Maybe a little bit, it can show a bit of human skill, create some tension, excitement and the whole drama of live performance, more than if its on Tractor or something anyway, but you can go out to a club and have good times dancing to the music whatever format it is on and however its mixed, because it’s the music that is important not the format ultimately, and the tracks a DJ selects is more important than how he mixes them. However if we’re talking in terms of what formats I would choose to use personally then its always vinyl, I don’t even know how to use a CD deck.

So what does governmental politics mean to you?

In the UK right now, its a big mess to be honest with you… what it means in terms of governmental politics: its all about power control, keeping the population in their place and trying to prevent true democracy ever happening – and it seems sad that having fought an enormous war in Europe against the biggest fascist state ever to exist, that even involved the use of atomic weaponry, that we’re suddenly flushing all the freedoms and rights we fought and died for in our millions only a half-century ago right down the toilet with record numbers of CCTV cameras recording our every movement and ID cards and centralised health records, DNA and biometric data and bank details to make sure the powers that be have greater access to our lives than ever before, with no clear reason given why in a system becoming more open to abuse by anyone corrupt in power than ever before. So it absolutely disgusts me politics at the moment and how little choice or say we have in any of it. We live in one of the richest countries in the world which also sadly gives very little of said riches towards encouraging it’s own cultural output, which is an especially confusing situation as one of the things that most people around the world seem to enjoy the most about Britain is in fact it’s cultural output. And our government does very little to encourage this or anything outside of it’s own immediate political agenda in any way. Usually they make it as difficult as possible to do anything other than what suits them. Its a messed up situation on all levels though, culture being only one of the victims of these selfish policies, along with other vital things like healthcare, education, employment, equality and justice.

I don’t see any government of this country as being effective for the past 50 years so its fair to say I don’t think very highly of governmental politics over here, and unfortunately I think were getting to a point where the only thing that will sort it out is some kind of drastic social change, even uprising or conflict or some shit like that which obviously nobody wants but the government don’t seem to be sorting the problems out themselves and I don’t expect they will do before everything eventually reaches the critical point… so its a big concern to anyone with an eye for the future.

But contrary to the agenda the politicians would have you subscribe to there are other ways to do, see and live life, you don’t have to be self-interested and completely individualistic, you can look out for each other, you can choose to do things not for money but passion. Not everything in life has to be reduced to money and statistics and exploitation. That’s what the political advisors since the 1960s have wanted you to think, but you can think for yourself anytime you like, that’s the one thing they can’t take away from you. And I see more and more people everywhere are choosing to do exactly that.

Where do you see Cyber Dance in relation to this?

One of the biggest models we had for setting up Cyber Dance was Underground Resistance from Detroit. I’m an absolutely massive fan of what they’ve been doing ever since they started, and I think its an incredible musical/political statement and I totally agree with them. Also, all of Cyber Dance were profoundly influenced bythe American thrash metal movement; in particular the more political bands Megadeth, D.R.I. and Nuclear Assault, they woke us up to politics from an early age, we shared their political viewpoints in the ’80s thoroughly and the way we think now owes a lot to that background of “Cold War youth resistance”. It pretty much left us opposed to mainstream politics. Dave Mustaine of Megadeth in particular was a big hero of mine and totally influenced me to say what I felt and helped me to dare to think for myself. Also should say Public Enemy did a lot back then to wake people’s brains up – pity there is so little out there these days attempting to put across that message.

What advice would you give anyone who wants to set up a label or even put on parties?

The reward is in itself, you put a good night on or get a killer record out, you see people smiling and leaving happy and dancing and I think that’s a good thing to be doing for the world, you can be doing a lot of crap things in life so be motivated by the positive effects it can have. Believe in yourself, think for yourself and don’t give up!

And finally do you have any new records coming out late 2009 on Cyber Dance?

Got one coming out in the next couple of weeks, a compilation called ‘Somewhere Out On The Nightside’ featuring London-based artists – Brassica, Serious Lover, Bill Ambrose and Melanie Houston – and also the ‘Cold Sweat EP’ from Mark du Mosch very shortly after that. Also got EPs on the way from Andy Romano and Antoni Maiovvi, but more about that soon…

Many thanks to Casionova for his answers! We asked if he could provide us with a list of 25 albums to go with the interview…

25 essential albums

1. Tangerine Dream – Exit
2. Nemesy – Nemesy
3. Edgar Froese – Aqua
4. Dennis Wilson – Pacific Ocean Blue
5. Metallica – Master Of Puppets
6. Exodus – Bonded By Blood
7. Hawkwind – Hall Of The Mountain Grill
8. Azoto – Disco Fizz
9. Black Sabbath – Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
10. Giorgio Moroder – From Here To Eternity
11. Automat – Automat
12. Allman Brothers – Eat A Peach
13. B-12 – Time Tourist
14. Jimi Hendrix – Electric Ladyland
15. Megadeth – Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying?
16. The Byrds – Fifth Dimension
17. Aphex Twin – Selected Ambient Works ’85 – ’92
18. Patrick Cowley – Mind Warp
19. Kraftwerk – Computerworld
20. Newcleus – Space Is The Place
21. Elecktroids – Elektroworld
22. Rational Youth – Cold War Nite Life
23. Burzum – Det Som Engang Var
24. Goblin – Tenebrae
25. Fun Fun – Have Fun

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02 Sep2009

Slabs 065

Posted by AIC • Sep 02, 2009

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photograph courtesy of Daniel Andréasson

Earth News

Broadcast on IFM4 25-08-2009.

DOWNLOAD HERE

Tracklist

Fire, Body & Ice – Liberation (Instrumental)
Ditone – Theme From Able Archer
Mauno Kalevi – Supercry
DJ Overdose – Face Down In The River
C-Bank – One More Shot
Kasso – Key West
Kongo Band – Afrikan Man (Instrumental)
B.B. Band – All Night Long (Instrumental)
Stephany – Shame
Neon – Voices
John Carpenter & Alan Howarth – The Bank Robbery (Lory D Edit)
Jason Brunton – Breathing Hot Air
Phuture – Acid Trax
The Third Man – Russian Disco
Omar S – U (Instrumental)
Nimoy – Dort Kommen Die Clowns

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