Hijak Special Bios #7 – Able8

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Last but never least on our showcase list (although of course there’s no such thing as least w/ Hijak) is one Able8.  Melbourne niche beats’ nicest fella and overachiever with a ridiculous amount of qualifications to boot. The pies/fingers ratio is off the hook right here.

Top shelf future beats production with a couple of albums out, label king at Uncomfortable Beats, a zillion tracks on small label compilations all over the shop, and sure-fire collaboration with such talent as Melody Myla, Benny Diction and U-Wish.  His dedication to beats in Australia is truely remarkable, as will be his DJ performance at Hijak.

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Uncomfortable Beats/Able8 Bandcamp:  uncomfortablebeats.bandcamp.com
Able8 Soundcloud:
 soundcloud.com/able8
Able8 Facebook:  facebook.com/able8

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HIJAK – LABOR DAY SPECIAL – SUNDAY 15 MARCH @ GRUMPY’S

Hijak Special Bios #6 – U-Wish

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Originally hailing from Perth, James Harris aka U-Wish has solidly been carving a niche out for himself for the last couple of years.  At this upcoming Hijak special, you can expect him to be right on point as usual with his unique blend of hip-hop, future beats and bass music.

One of Melbourne’s most in-demand DJs on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights around small niche venues, U-Wish also keeps himself flat-out organising events for his project Cymatic Society, producing and releasing his own beats, and assisting with getting other artists’ tracks together for Uncomfortable Beats.

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U-Wish Soundcloud: soundcloud.com/u-wish
U-Wish Facebook:  facebook.com/u-wish

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HIJAK – LABOR DAY SPECIAL – SUNDAY 15 MARCH @ GRUMPY’S

Hijak Special Bios #5 – Ghostsoul

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Rob Healey aka Ghostsoul is a producer’s producer.

You probably wouldn’t have seen him for a while because of the work he does in live sound engineering and also currently video game soundtrack development.

He’ll be coming back exclusively for this episode of Hijak for a rare showcase of his brand new sounds.  Noted for his live performances, Ghostsoul has released three extremely realised and polished albums on Hopskotch Records and Uncomfortable Beats, and is also noted for his work doing what he does best – making sound sound good.

Healey’s dub and trip-hop sounds are influenced by the world around him and his love of science and space, in making recordings he likes to view as “artifacts in the middle of nowhere”, which rather than a nihilistic view is more one recognising the beauty of all that stuff in between the gaps.

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Ghostsoul Bandcamp:  ghostsoul.bandcamp.com
Ghostsoul Soundcloud: soundcloud.com/ghostsoul
Ghostsoul Facebook:  facebook.com/ghostsoul

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HIJAK – LABOR DAY SPECIAL – SUNDAY 15 MARCH @ GRUMPY’S

Hijak Special Bios #4 – Aoi

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Coming live with brand new material debuting exclusively at Hijak is multi-skilled b-boy and Melbourne underground sensation Aoi.

This guy is on a quest to be the best where it counts for things hip-hop.  His portfolio is impressive to say the least.  eight albums (many of which are free at his Bandcamp), the Spotwelder remix tapes, a couple of other mixtapes, seven MC albums under his now-deceased alias of Prince Mackerel (who died in a terrorist attack on Disneyland), spittin’ bars under his new moniker of Slums Mack for a host of single tracks with rap group Stonecuttaz, and beats maker for TMFSE (as part of a whole album on US label Smoker’s Cough), Jak Tripper, Lukey Cage, Noemotion Goldmask and The Baroness (w/ Class A).

His appearance at Hijak will cement his position as one of the most solid acts you should be following in Melbourne’s matrix, with a live set performed without screens, utilising his self-professed caveman technique using a pair of samplers and turntable to work his magic.  Do not miss out on this one if you know what’s up.

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Aoi Bandcamp:  aoibeats.bandcamp.com
Aoi Soundcloud: soundcloud.com/aoibeats
Aoi Facebook:  facebook.com/aoi3000

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HIJAK – LABOR DAY SPECIAL – SUNDAY 15 MARCH @ GRUMPY’S

Hijak Special Bios #3 – Merc Swazey

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Merc Swazey is an exciting and hilarious live hip-hop MC headlining the show, with brand new material debuting exclusively at Hijak!  This new work utilises his new alibi highlighting the undeniable swag of Andre Agassi.

Formely a rap-battling heavyweight in New Zealand known as Hash, Merc Swazey was created on a whim to satirise and have fun with current rap trends in an on-point and engaging manner, but still as formidable as a real hip-hop MC from his rap battle days.

Swazey has worked with trap producer NettSmoney to create a tropical and catchy rap flavour that’s humourous and catchy as fuck, yet grounded in solid and talented lyricism and rhyming patterns second to none.

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Merc Swazey/Nett$money Bandcamp:  nettsmoney.com/album/loud
Merc Swazey Soundcloud:  soundcloud.com/merc_swazey
Merc Swazey Facebook: facebook.com/merc.swazey/

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HIJAK – LABOR DAY SPECIAL – SUNDAY 15 MARCH @ GRUMPY’S

Same Shit, Different Bucket – Updating Rituals in the Doof World

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It’s come to a time where I’m about to leave this urban landscape of Melbourne.  I’m about to come home to northern NSW.  There’s not much of a scene up here electronically, except for outdoor electronica aka Doof.  This is filling me with apprehension.  I’ve always felt slightly at odds with this culture, and my want to get beyond it was a partial reason for leaving in the first place.  I’m still trying to come to terms with this scene at turns marred and defined by its embedded rituals and sounds.

So many questions come to mind.  What’s going on?  Where are the brackets these days? How can we define our collective Australian electronic music cultures in a country bred on imports? One place where the war on ideas and approaches seems more pronounced between old and new is in the outdoor scene, and in definition of the never-resolved issue of What Is Doof ™.

The introduction of more popular veins of dubstep in 2009 to the outdoor Australian world found many new champions to extending cultural vocabulary, a lot of whom were previously embedded as psytrance purveyors, punters and performers. Labels like Hopskotch Records began releasing former psytrance artists of the well-known institute Zenon Records producing Canadian and Bay Area glitch-hop almost exclusively.

Independent northern NSW small festival Deliverance imported acts like Eprom and Ill Gates, the latter of whom evangelically converted many young producers to these newer possibilities in sound through focused tours of performance and workshops. At that point, Tipper and other acts were already gaining an increasing fanbase from the outdoors, and psytrance lovers were in open revolt as to what they saw as “their” scene.

It seemed at that time like a revolution. However, old modes of behavior and custom started setting in, and the same old hierarchies re-emerged in full force to structure and govern what was popular within this microcosm.

One could say that the problem with newer forms of outdoor electronic music claiming to break genre programming in Australia is that it’s still psytrance. Similar melodic devices and keys are used to still render that sort of “bush” sound. A great many of the new school of producers I’ve seen at work or interviewed still author with software like Cubase, Fruity Loops and Reason, and still use the same VSTs.

This isn’t to dispute what they do in terms of quality, but overall approaches to writing music haven’t evolved. At worst, newer “glitch-hop” tracks can sound like cheap emulations of their influences.  Those who reach a level of mastery have learned that computer programs can’t emulate hardware with any real level of accomplishment, although it’s always easy to flex smoke and mirrors to fool the open, or those who have more a cest la vie attitude to their musical consumption, which creates less/more conflict.

I say less/more here because some wish to preach tighter sound architecture as preference, but occasionally get a little too passionate, which in turn raises the hackles of those who don’t want this business of craft evolution to interrupt what is otherwise a very fun party.  But criticism and rejection of older ideas is necessary in any evolving craft.

Some Australian psytrance producers – on the other hand – have evolved their craft in terms of what hardware they use, and have embraced use of modular analog equipment and so forth. If you’re already passing a judgement that a genre is going to be shit, then perhaps you’re not listening to the detail of sound architecture. Part of learning to enjoy music is accepting what you’re listening to without judgement. When I write reviews for music, it’s an essential that I try to find the best in what I’m listening to first before I take my blade to it.

Punters are more or less exactly the same when I see them outdoors. They’re still taking the same ol’ drugs, dancing the same ol’ dance, talking the same ol’ shit. The level of sophistication they do this is well-worn in, with accordance with what model of car they’ve decided to work on (so to speak), but all the rituals remain the same.

I actually have learned to revel more in some of these forms of ID and rituals as time progresses. Some more nefarious issues, however, have become massive barriers I simply must acknowledge for my own sanity. One is the same beautiful-people schoolyard culture that used to have me hiding in toilets on lunch breaks, or attempting to fit in when I obviously didn’t.

Some of our rituals are beautiful, some are stagnant, others reek of desperation, while operate exceedingly arrogantly and resist query. For things to evolve, it’s more to do people’s levels of personal conduct and integrity, outside of the ever-permeating hive mind. However, in niche scenes, it usually takes a couple of popular people to adopt a trend before the rest of the sheep come to flock, so we also need this hive mind to a relative degree. But when we identify with it exclusively, problems come forth.

The same application of schoolyard ethics still exist out there in the paddock, except more like a doof version of Lord Of The Flies. In many cases, this new school of outdoor partiers are as unforgiving and as vacuous as any bogan or bimbo at Stereosonic, except they think they’re in some sort of upper echelon, which means they’re even more ignorant and high-powered. In many cases, it’s entry-level EDM lovers who start to embrace the niche trends that keep the wide-eyed magic in the scene, not the older, jaded ones. Perhaps they’re the ones who continue to carry the torch of our idealistic dream.

As we reach a level of confidence, that’s when we have the tendency to not only trim and neaten our own tastes, but unconsciously apply these edits to others. Sometimes this has a less-than-fortunate ending, as strong egos rile up and combat each other when situations become personalised.

Evolution doesn’t have to be forced. It doesn’t have to mean you have to adopt this month’s style of electronica, which to me shows that essential herd mentality rolling on in full force. If you’re going to break your programming, try embracing your true individuality without compromise. </culturaldogma>

Written by Kristian Hatton

Hijak Special Bios #2 – Kayhat

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Controversial director of Haarp Media and Hijak, and also up to speed on the decks.  As a DJ, Kayhat has an eclectic history starting from 1995 at the age of 15 as a community radio announcer at Byron Bay’s BAYFM. Since organising his first electronic music event series in 2006, he has organised nearly 100 events in both northern NSW and Melbourne.

He DJ’s an eclectic blend of sounds from techno to footwork to UK bass to trap to hip-hop.  To celebrate his last set in Melbourne for quite a time, he’ll be playing an extended afternoon set, focusing on his impressive mid-2000s minimal house collection of vinyl, but also making forays into up-to-date sounds of UK bass, future beats and house music.

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Kayhat DJ sets:  mixcloud.com/kayhat
Kayhat Facebook:  facebook.com/kayhat

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HIJAK – LABOR DAY SPECIAL – SUNDAY 15 MARCH @ GRUMPY’S

Ipman – Depatterning (Tectonic Recordings)

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Jack Gibbons aka Ipman hails from rural Herefordshire in the United Kingdom, and is one of a new generation of bass aficionados taking UK bass sounds into the future.  Ipman’s first album Depatterning was released on Tectonic Recordings on 16 October 2015. I’ve always loved Ipman’s single tracks, and he’s always shown himself to be different than your average bear with his focus on that field of beats in dark space.

I was in an absolutely foul mood. For a whole week. Friends and loved ones had to keep me at arm’s length as I attempted to understand just why I felt so dark. No-one would would listen to me or tell me what I needed to hear.  So I did what you do in those sort of moods, crank up some tunes as self-prescribed medication.  For some of us, music isn’t just music, it’s therapy we need to tackle and make sense of life.

My inner intensity was complimented, synthesised, untangled and neutralised through Ipman’s album, which to me made sense to me on an inner level at that time in being called Depatterning.  Subjectively, Ipman confronts genre and changes concepts we have about it by putting things through his own complex filter and set of aesthetics.  Ipman’s technical production is second to none, with a storm of analog and granular synthesis mangled to perfection through off-kilter drum patterning.

More critically, Depatterning reads less as a flowing whole and more as a collection of songs.  I find that most UK bass acts are more focused on DJing, and I feel this is more of a body of work previously produced and released now to keep fans sated and to distinguish him as a major contender amongst UK bass acts.  If this is the game, it succeeds on this front.

However, it succeeds less if the game was to bring out a tight single message in album delivery, because it’s all over the shop without any sort of introduction or conclusion.  I mean, the album title could suggest an escape from any sort of consecutive motion, but that would be a lazy approach.  I’d say that even though it does jump in between genres, it still conforms to niche genres already established such as UK breakbeat, garage and dubstep, and production is fairly predictable with build-ups made for dancefloors.

Song for song, nearly every single track is a solid player for DJ crates and is unfuckwithable in that regard.  Essentially you can expect dark, seething and atmospheric songs stomping along with a off-kilter stop-start-stop bass kick, and augmented with whips of alternating and layered snarling mid-range bass.  Occasionally you will be surprised by softer moments such as driving breakbeat track ‘Strong Ones’, which progressively introduces a melancholic and redemptive overtone.  However, the real strength is on the heavy, evil and insidious beats pounding relentlessly and defiantly.

Other stand-out tracks include ‘Technicolor’ – the album’s single heaviest and most gloriously dark track, ‘IPA’ – a pulsating and progressively psychedelic showcase of Ipman’s truely unique sound, and ‘U’ – a nebulous and atmospheric syncopation delivering those tendrils of aforementioned mid-range bass with deadly accuracy.

Depatterning is a heavy hitting debut that will mangle your brain, and a real show of Ipman’s impressive arsenal of bass weaponry.  I look forward to hearing more of his stuff in the future.

Hijak Special Bios #1 – Warpa!nt

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Sebastian Elkner aka Warpa!nt has been gaining more notoriety as a performer in the last year in Melbourne’s bass music scene. He has played support for international heavy-hitting bass acts such as Thelem, P-Money, Royal T and Grouch. He has previously released an EP of originals on Hopskotch Records with more slated for release soon, and is currently involved with bass music crews Dark Riddims and The Wall.

His current project with partner-in-crime Sarah “Shuttersound” Buckley-Jones – Strutcity – is more focused on techno, house and breaks styles built for a strutting dancefloor of ravers, as recently showcased at the Rainbow Serpent Festival.  His set will likely focus on this newer flavour of sound, generally of the UK bass field in autonomic and housey style.

This one will set the tempo and groove for HIJAK – LABOR DAY SPECIAL, and let you all know that this is going to be a party not to miss out on!

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Warpa!nt DJ sets: mixcloud.com/warpaint/
Warpa!nt EP: hopskotch.bandcamp.com/album/
Facebook page: facebook.com/warpaintbeats/

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HIJAK – LABOR DAY SPECIAL – SUNDAY 15 MARCH @ GRUMPY’S