You don’t need me to tell you that a lot changed in the world between August 2018 and August 2022. That time period also marked the gap between the second and third edition of Houghton Festival. 2019 fell victim to ‘high winds’ and 2020 and 2021 were both casualties of COVID.
The 2018 festival was the first time I came across A Love From Outer Space, the project of Andrew Weatherall and Sean Johnston. They delivered a transfixing set, which felt both completely at home in, and completely distinct from, the house music surrounding it. Fast forward four years and we are now without Andrew Weatherall, who tragically died in February 2020.
Sean Johnston has been keeping the spirit of the duo alive by playing under the ALFOS moniker, and returned to play one of the closing sets at Houghton 2022. It was highly emotional, studded with tributes to his dead friend, and once again utterly transfixing. As well as some ALFOS favourites, Sean played Canto Della Liberta by 3rd Face. This was probably the most memorable tracks of the festival for me – bizarre, punchy and loads of fun.
Sean Johnston is playing as ALFOS at Phonox in December. Trust me, not one to miss if you can help it.
Long time no see listeners. I’m back with a triple-helping of Dusky goodness.
First up, one of my fave tracks from 2012, their remix of Cloud 9’s Don’t You Want Me Baby. This’ll be sure to get a smile on yer face.
But look, this is Dusky we are talking about, and it all really began (just over) a decade ago with Stick By This. Earlier this year they released a deluxe 10 year anniversary edition with some tasty little edits. Here. You. Go.
And finally, they released a new album just last week. Maybe you were at EartH this weekend for the launch party. Anyway, Pressure is a tribute to the sound of their youth, which is… garage. I have to be honest, most garage isn’t really for me – but for these guys I’ll make a small exception. Check it out here.
A short story. I was at a 90s themed birthday party the other day. A private room in a South London pub. Big outfits, big tunes, retro snacks, you know the score. David Beckham was having a boogie with Lara Croft and Baby Spice*. Everyone was getting a nice buzz on. I was having a very nice time, enjoying myself.
Then, Olive. Wow.
It’s hard to put the reaction I had into words, but the nostalgia and beauty got to me. It’s a stunner, plain and simple.
*For the record, I came as Raoul from the film adaptation of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
They just don’t make albums like this anymore. Throwing it back to 2001 with Groove Armada’s seminal third album, Goodbye Country (Hello Nightclub). Andy Cato and Tom Findlay shot to stardom with their previous album Vertigo; that release was certified Platinum in the UK and is a huge lounge record – think Inside my Mind (Blue Skies). Then, just one year later, as the title of the album suggests, they left the lounge behind to craft some bigger beats. This move was not a simple one, since ‘Chill Out’ was at the crest of a wave in 2001 (a movement that they had a hand in creating). The move also alienated some of their fans, but you have to say that history has proven them right on this one.
There is so much to love about this album. First up, Suntoucher. Six and a half minutes of the highly talented Jeru the Damaja channeled into a new world of groovy electronica. “Focus like a samurai, stronger than a Mai Tai”. Massive rhymes. You can read more of my thoughts on Jeru and this track here.
Suntoucher is followed by Superstylin’ which still hits different. The BBC wrote at the time that its bass line was “big enough to bowl over a bungalow.” You’ll understand when you listen to it.
And then we have My Friend. Try and listen to the opening two seconds and not get carried away.
Finally, a new find for me is Fogma. Groove Armada pick up a sample from the (now heavily overplayed) Bam Bam by Sister Nancy and take it into pretty brutal Chemical Brothers electro club territory.
All in all, the album is a classic. Not much more needs to be said.
Paul Johnson, the producer of the absolute #1 top-level banger Get Get Down, has passed away aged 50. He was a big part of the Chicago house and dance scene, and a lot bigger than that one track (although, as I mentioned, it is an absolute #1 top-level banger.
This is just an absolute beaut of a track from 2009. Four Tet at his haunting best.
The energy for the track is brought by the drums; really raw and tribal. And then halfway through the vocal sample comes in with the mystical aura of a Buddhist chant. It lasts for 9 minutes, but it could be double the length and I’d be happy. Only Four Tet eh?
Bonus tracks: Four Tet has a stunning knack for picking a sample. The two vocal samples in this are straight-up pop classics by none other than Brandy and Cassie.
A short story: the year is 2014 and I am dancing to an unnamed DJ in a clearing in the woods at Secret Garden Party. This track comes on, and my little mind is completely blown by the bassline. So much so that I for a brief moment I consider a career as a DJ. Anyway, here we are 7 years on and that loop that comes in at 2:18 still packs just as much heat.