This is a montage of music reviews from an old experiment we tried out in 2013 called Haarp Radio. We ran five episodes before we knew it was too resource-intensive and we didn’t have a good audience. The series featured reviews, gig guides and new tracks. Perhaps it’s got future on the actual radio? Who knows? 😉
After a lot of figuring out what the hell I’m doing, here’s the products for you – The first Haarp Magazine and 100 Most Influential Albums.
Haarp Magazine works in line with our Haarp Media VIP Sessions event brand, so it features an in-depth look at our first VIP star – Ollie Olsen. The mag also features our controversial feature on Venetian Snares, a gig guide for the rest of September and October, two gigs we think are hot for that period, and a whole bunch of older reviews.
Expect our next issue in late November, where we will present our next guests for HM VIP Sessions, have pretty much the same format, but with more content and getting better all the time!
If you would like to be a contributor or you have some red hot tips for us, please email us email@example.com
The 100 Most Influential Albums list is what albums we think have shaped electronic music to this date, and is only a first version. It has a wide blend of listening, features all covers, has a short yarn on each one, and is interactive – meaning you can listen to the albums and purchase them too.
All free for you! Please give feedback if you can 🙂
Mag – Front Cover
Mag – Back Cover
100 Most Influential Albums – Cover
Hoooo-boy, spring is here and the next few weeks will spoil you rotten for electronic dance music here in Melbourne. If you would like us to post your event in November, get at us soon.
The Wall Launch Party @ Railway Hotel – Thurs 24 Sept
Haarp Media VIP Sessions #1 feat. Ollie Olsen – Thurs 24 Sept
Ananda 7 feat. Double Story x Hippy Mafia – Fri/Sun 25-27 Sept
All Good Warehouse Party feat Stormzy (UK) – Fri 25 Sept
Motion:Theory @ Circus – Fri 25 Sept
Future Weird @ Secret Location Footscray – Fri 25 Sept
Beginnings – First Birthday @ Sub Club – Sat 26 Sept
Subsonic Melbourne Party @ Railway Hotel – Sat 26 Sept
French Fries (France) @ Revolver – Sat 26 Sept
OTR Warehouse Party – Sat 26 Sept
BBA presents Noisia x Upbeats @ Max Watts – Sat 26 Sept
Machine @ MyAeon feat. Lateral x Adrian Bell – Sat 26 Sept
Grumpy’s/Detrimental fundraiser for MCM – Sat 26 Sept
Honeysmack x Voiteck @ Railway Hotel – Sat 26 Sept
Looper Troopers feat. Walla C @ eFiftyFive – Thurs 1 Oct
Fluorescent Connections Warehouse Party – Thurs 1 Oct
Cymatic Society Live Showcase @ Grumpy’s – Fri 2 Oct
AMC (UK) @ Grumpy’s – Sat 3 Oct
Universal Tribe Records @ Railway Hotel – Fri 9 Oct
Phace (Germany) @ Railway Hotel – Sat 10 Oct
Iono Music 10th Anniversary @ Railway Hotel – Fri 16 Oct
Oscillate present Miss Conduct @ Sub Club – Fri 16 Oct
Heist x Henry Shotta @ Prince Bandroom – Sat 17 Oct
Tribal Theory @ Railway Hotel – Sat 17 Oct
Zion Train meets Heartical Hi-Powa Pt.2 – Fri 23 Oct
Industrial Jungle 3 – Fri-Mon 30-2 Oct-Nov
Urban Halloween Gathering – Sat 31 Oct
Who Is Ollie Olsen??
Olsen is now active again as member of three-piece noise and soundscape band Taipan Tiger Girls, who have launched their first full-length album – 1 – in a live show at the Old Bar on 31 July.
As so far as history goes, Norwegian-bron, Melbourne-raised Ollie Olsen developed interest in electronic music in the mid 70s and studied under German composer Felix Werder. He went on to work on a range of experimental work, sound installations and dance music, as well as creating film and television soundtracks.
He was an important part of Melbourne’s punk/post-punk scene in the late 70s/early 80s as leader and vocalist, and with others formed punk bands like The Reals and The Young Charlatans. Post-punk work includes such confrontational bands as Whirlywirld, Hugo Klang, Orchestra of Skin and Bone and industrial techno outfit NO.
In 1984, Olsen was asked to appear with band Whirlywirld in cult classic feature film on the Melbourne underground punk scene – Dogs In Space. He also directed the soundtrack, which featured such artists as Iggy Pop, Boys Next Door, Brian Eno and INXS vocalist Michael Hutchence.
Hutchence was lead actor in the movie, and made friends with Olsen. They afterwards collaborated (along with band members John Murphy and Gus Till) in music project Max Q, a classic Australian electronic album with a theme of political paranoia. They mixed the album in New York City, which was remixed by DJ Todd Terry.
Olsen came back to Australia and was a part of the early techno scene in Melbourne. He played in cities across the country and co-managed label Psy-Harmonics with Andrew Till (Gus Till’s brother and current label manager of Machine). His various projects and collaborations at that time included Third Eye, Antediluvian Rocking Horse and Shaolin Wooden Men.
However, as his music was always uncompromising, he became less interested in generic dance music, and went back to the underground to refocus on his personal projects. After release of album Emptiness in 1999, Olsen re-embraced his noise roots with collaborations on electro-acoustic projects like I Am The Server, and worked with many artists from Australia, Japan (notably The Boredoms) and South Africa.
In 2008, Olsen collaborated with Melbourne electronic composer Steve Law on their drone-based project Mutagen Server. This led to a showcase at Melbourne’s planetarium, along with Robert Henke (Monolake/Ableton designer), who was showcasing his Laying Buddha album.
So as you see, Ollie Olsen has an incredibly diverse and rich history, of which he will be sharing with us all for this most rare of DJ sets. He will also be showcasing other more contemporary experiments into newer genres like witch house.
Please come join us for this very special occasion to celebrate a true Aussie legend of our scene.
Haarp Media VIP Sessions debuts this Thursday at Grumpy’s (125 Smith St, Collingwood). Support DJ Kristian Hatton will be playing his unique blend of contemporary niche genres and old-school know-how from 8-10pm, and Ollie will set it on fire from 10am-12am. Entry is free.
This list is a compilation of albums that have been influential in pushing niche electronic music to our current state of sonic possibilities.
We consider our list more extended in scope to other lists on electronic music because we cite music outside of pure electronica, such as hip-hop and original funk cuts. Hip-hop needs to be included in any album list because it is a form of sample-based electronic music production that has helped revolutionise the way dance music is done.
The list is not perfect, because it’s limited to only a hundred picks. We can accept any critisism, and we have made the executive decision to not rank the albums. We have presented this list subjectively from an Australian point of view too. You’ll see some of your favourite Australian artists, and also you’ll see artists you might have never have heard of.
Feel free to make comments, and tell us why you agree/disagree with a choice we might have made. Tell us your favourite picks and why. We hope this is a nice journey for you.
Kristian Hatton xx
ps. Soon we’ll add youtube clips and links for album purchase to this list.
Pink Floyd – Atom Heart Mother (EMI/Harvest – 1970)
Pink Floyd’s fifth album was their first number one in the UK. But why it’s really of note here in influence to electronic music was that it was mixed and recorded specifically for quadraphonic (four-channel) sound. The progressive rock journey on the first six-part 23 minute track has sampled and recreated electronic sounds that garner the thought of many modern producers for how old – yet how new – they are.
Kool & The Gang – Wild And Peaceful (De-Lite – 1973)
This was New Jersey funk band Kool and the Gang’s first noted commercial success. It makes this list because this album is still frequently sampled in modern house and hip-hop music, and the original sounds were foundational (amongst many others) influences for 70s disco. This album certainly helped the infusion of swag, soul, bounce and attitude during the pioneering of electronica.
Tangerine Dreams – Phaedra (Virgin Records – 1974)
Berlin’s pioneering of electronic music is complicated and it’s pretty hard to give it the justice it deserves in such a broad spectrum as this. However, it’s fair to say that German electronic band Tangerine Dreams and their album Phaedra’s use of Moog sequencers was a first in garnering widespread attention from the public. The analog sounds were carefully crafted, yet imperfections in equipment allowed a cerebral soundscape to be crafted with poise and touched by humanity.
Kraftwerk – Trans-Europe Express (Kling Klang – 1976)
Arguably modern electro’s finest and most influential album. Some may argue that Kraftwerk’s 1974 album Autobahn was their most defining release, but Trans-Europe Express revealed electronic music to the public in a way no other electronic music album up to this point did. It couldn’t be mistaken for anything except electronic music. It was confident and minimal in a way that could be defined as actual pop.
Lee Scratch Perry and the Upsetters – Super Ape (Mango – 1976)
Dub music magician Lee Perry’s finest work, and its trickle-down effect encompasses all UK bass and dub-based music. An unavoidable addition to this list, and pure Upsetter mastery of the rawest variety. It’s amazing that someone of Lee Perry’s caliber can be so unrecognised for the amount of work he’s contributed to not just electronica, but indeed all music. This album personifies his work.
Jean Michel Jarre – Oxygène (Disques/Polydor – 1976)
Arps, Korgs, Moogs and Jarre all contributed to the 70s pool of Musique Concrète with the warm and biological Oxygène. The synthesis of electronic music contrasted Kraftwerk through classical elements, atmosphere and ambiance. It gave a broader public the complex emotion of humanity in space through use of electronica to convey this. Perhaps no other music outside of electronica is capable of this.
Brian Eno: Ambient 1 – Music For Airports (Polydor – 1978)
This defined the 70s period as being a time in electronic music for tasteful listening, and one of music being akin to installations you might check out at an art gallery. The aesthetic helped give true definition to the word ambient as free of all melodic, harmonic and rhythmic structures to present a soundscape devoid of personality. The influential creation of this space is masterful and one many try to imitate today.
Tom-Tom Club – Tom Tom Club (Sire/Warner Bros – 1981)
An early 80s gem of sunny rhythms, art-school intellectualism and street spunk. An album frequently raided for samples and a slice of New York history when hip-hop, dub and indie music were growing together. The project included Chris Frantz of Talking Heads and the vocals of Tina Weymouth. Talking Heads may have been a bigger band, but Tom-Tom Club were arguably more influential for club beats.
Vangelis – Blade Runner OST (EMI/Atlantic – 1982)
A continuity and mastering of Jarre’s humans-in-space theme, except this time given actual image and motion in the sci-fi classic Blade Runner. This was composer Vangelis’ first merging of film soundtracks and electronica, aside from Chariots of Fire. Blade Runner was more influential as it showed the ever-present parallel between humans and spaces, which influences most electronic music producers.
George Clinton – Computer Games (Capitol – 1982)
It could be argued that Parliament’s interaction with electronic music was one of the first that really infused funk and swag into it. It’s undeniable that this interaction influenced other American producers’ interest into the possibilities of more dancefloor and club-friendly electronica. The sounds of this album are discernible in G-funk, future beats and juke, just to name-drop a couple of modern genres.
ESG – Come Away With ESG (99 Records – 1983)
South Bronx’s ESG brought the ghetto funk and this album was a hit with early 80s club DJs with its focus on central dance beat and cool vocals. The drums and bass are infectious as hell. Maybe this hasn’t got your attention yet. You might not have heard of this band, but their sounds and this album has been sampled by such biggies as DJ Shadow, Nine Inch Nails, Beastie Boys and NWA. Oh really?
Soulsonic Force – Planet Rock: The Album (Tommy Boy – 1986)
This album was most important for the electro movement with classics ‘Planet Rock’, ‘Looking for the Perfect Beat’ and ‘Renegades of Funk’. Among the large team of producers working on it were Perfect Sky, Ennio Morricone and Kraftwerk, as well as Arthur Baker, KeithLeBlanc and of course the larger-than-life Afrika Bambaataa, who assisted in bringing Americanised and bombastic club energy into global dance beats.
James Brown – In The Jungle Groove (Polydor Records – 1986)
Why this album in particular out of Jame Brown’s massive discography of funk-driven albums? Two words – ‘Funky Drummer’, the most sampled song in hip-hop history. You’ll find James Brown samples all over electronic music. The drum breaks are unmistakable and stand alone as real club and dance talk. It also gives a good overview of funk/soul’s biggest hype man and his band members up to that point.
Pet Shop Boys – Please (Parlophone – 1986)
Yes, the Pet Shop Boys. No really, these guys have done it all. This classic album marked a massive debut for where eclectic singles ranged from disco hits to gay anthems to slit-your-wrists pathos to Euro-trash to posh experimental intrigue to Italian house all gave something for someone. Don’t be scared of giving credit where it’s due. Chicago house DJ Abe Duque also co-produces for PSB on occasion.
New Order – Substance 1987 (Factory – 1987)
If one album could be tracked as a bridge between rock/punk and dance/electronic, that album would be Substance. ‘Blue Monday’ led the way for a dancefloor revolution in the UK, along with other dance singles ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’, ‘State of the Nation’ and ‘True Faith’. Honourable mention goes to Joy Division, the trio’s former band with Ian Curtis (RIP), also important this logical transition.
Depeche Mode – Music For The Masses (Mute Records – 1987)
British band Depeche Mode have a trickle-down legacy primarily taken up by an American audience. The album is aptly titled – although encased in irony for its dark and nihilistic undertones – as it was embraced by a mass audience, although also loved by fans of alternative/underground sounds too. Big synths, big drums and much eeriness present a disturbing dystopian soundscape still influential today.
Enya – Orinoco Flow (Reprise/WEA – 1988)
No, we’re not trolling. We recognise Enya’s contribution to electronic music in the field of New Age music, and was also inspirational in how it was derived from geography and nature. You know you’re getting older when you appreciate new age songs. Feel the serenity. Enya’s ‘Boadecea’ has been sampled by The Fugees in ‘Ready Or Not’, so she got mad street cred.
Beastie Boys – Paul’s Boutique (Capitol Records – 1989)
A less successful album that is considered the Beastie’s most credible by today’s standards. The production by The Dust Brothers on Paul’s Boutique is complex with heaps of insider’s references that just keep on giving to modern beat geeks. The masterful sampling ranges from Johnny Cash to Chuck D, and the way in which the tracks are executed is humourous, witty, funky and precise along a range of tempos without need for over-the-top electronic embellishment.
Coldcut – What’s That Noise? (Tommy Boy – 1989)
UK’s first real sample-based production team have some credits to their names. You might not know this, but they mixed the pop version of Eric B and Rakim’s ‘Paid in Full’, as well as Yazz and the Plastic Population’s ‘The Only Way is Up’, which hit #1 in the UK charts. This classic breaks album went silver, but the team took preference to the underground and whelped alternative label Ninja Tune.
808 State – Utd. State 90 (Tommy Boy/Warner Bros – 1990)
Acid house busted in on the electronic music scene in sweaty warehouses all over the UK (in particular Manchester, which was going through dance floor revolution inspired by New Order), carrying on from Chicago house sounds from the states. It was an eclectic album, ranging from industrial to percussive to ambient to funky sounds, which in turn inspired the evolution of newer UK bass and techno sounds.
Public Enemy – Fear of a Black Planet (Def Jam/Columbia – 1990)
One of hip-hop’s most important albums. PE’s production team – The Bomb Squad – created complex rhythms and set precedents for sample clearance, with dozens of sources in every track. The message was politically empowering for African-Americans, spearheaded by the socially conscious lyrics of Chuck D and the hype of Flava Flav. The result is the real deal, uncompromising golden-age hip-hop.
The Orb – Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld (Big Life – 1991)
This psychedelic album took earlier concepts of electronic soundscaping, ambiance and the progressive rock movement into more modern realms of house music. This was an important album that defined lounge and chill sounds for many years with its dub overtones, nature sampling, classical influences, radio/film voice lending and gentle looping house movement that transports the listener to another realm.
The KLF – The White Room (KLF Communications – 1991)
Jimmy Cauty (earlier Orb affiliate) and Bill Drummond intended this release as a soundtrack for a film, funded by their pop song success ‘Doctorin’ the Tardis.’ The film fell through, but the album was still released. It represented a commercial peak for acid house into a sound they dubbed “stadium house.”, which helped evolve rave culture. It’s sample-heavy, vocal-laden and very cheesy but no doubt a classic.
Massive Attack – Blue Lines (Wild Bunch/Virgin – 1991)
A must-have on any influence list. This heralded the sub-genre known as trip hop, logical accumulation of progressive/psychedelic rock, hip-hop, dub and ambient house sensibilities. It pioneered an evolution in sophisticated downtempo sounds, and also comparative to modern rap and dancehall production. It has been remixed and remastered, but is still the same classic and still regarded as the cutting edge.
Jeff Mills – Waveform Transmission Vol.1 (Tresor – 1992)
Jeff Mills is regarded by many as the godfather of modern techno, and this album is an adequate representation of much of his 30+ years worth of work. Detroit’s wizard obliterates the senses with hard-edged techno permutations that bang without remorse. These sounds were revolutionary and formed a sort of techno apocalypse that stands to this day with millions of rabid fans in warehouses across the world.
Dr Dre – The Chronic (Death Row/Interscope – 1992)
This G-funk classic bred one of the sounds that influenced an important geographic location in the global niche electronic music climate. The new sound pioneered by Dre typefaced America’s West Coast as a geographical location for beats, and brought the hip-hop game up a notch. This clean, minimal swag has to be factored into electronic evolution, as it was influential to glitch-hop, trap and future beats too.
Aphex Twin – Selected Ambient Works 85-92 (Apollo – 1992)
Richard D James is one of electronic music’s most important figures, yet his sounds sit on the fringe away from everyone else. He has no-one who could really be dubbed an imitator; a strange thing in niche electronic music culture. Selected Ambient Works 85-92 has been selected in particular because it’s Aphex Twin’s benchmark sound. Its signature permutations have stood strong for 30 years now.
Nine Inch Nails – The Downward Spiral (Interscope – 1992)
Trent Reznor’s most accomplished earlier work that managed to creep into the mainstream charts despite its industrial and uncompromising nature. It even managed to pick up a Grammy for best alternative music album, something never before achieved by an industrial electronic outfit. It’s just so ahead of its time and breath-taking in scope, and I doubt anything like this can be accomplished again.
Prodigy – Experience (XL – 1992)
The strength of The Prodigy was in their production; everything else was a gimmick. Let’s face it, the whole punk thing marked their decline from relevance. In this album, producer Liam Howlett lays down signature shuffling ravey breaks, pre-cursor to UK bass music. These scorching beats stood the test of time and didn’t need a guy with a silly haircut yelling gibberish, although that was gateway electronica for many.
Snog – Lies Inc. (ID – 1992)
Snog head and Melbourne’s own David Thrussell is one of Australia’s most prolific producers. His production and film sound credits are impressive to say the least. Snog was a dark industrial outfit that had strong and individually empowering social and anti-capitalist/anti-consumerism messages recreated and punctuated in their music. ‘Corporate Slave’ surprisingly had a lot of commercial success.
Wu-Tang Clan – Enter The 36 Chambers (Loud/RCA – 1993)
Hip-hop production continued to evolve with the drop of the lo-fi classic, which stood in direct opposition to the crispy-clean G-funk sounds being laid down on the other side of America. Producer Rza’s sounds spoke dirty urban terrains whilst embedding them with intangible mythology through usage of far eastern music and kung-fu movie sampling. These beats have influenced grimey, off-beat producers to this day, and have also been sampled by artists like The Prodigy in track ‘Breathe’.
Black Dog Productions – Bytes (Warp – 1993)
The third compilation by Warp Records (in the Artificial Intelligence series), and a hallmark for IDM styles with various artists displaying trademark elaborate beat structures and rhythms. It’s influenced much brain-journeying electronic friendliness, and is for those who’d rather wear headphones than hit the smelly dancefloor. Producers on this album include Plaid, Close Up Over and Balil.
Orbital – Orbital 2 (FFRR Records – 1993)
One of the albums that helped establish a modern stamp on atmospheric techno and other spacious electronic releases. Layers upon layers of progressive sounds flow from one track to the next, giving the listener a fully immersive listen that defines how you create an album objectively. The elements are fluid and the permutations have almost quality in placement, creating seeds for future producers to muse over.
Itch-E and Scratch-E – Itch-E Kitch-E Koo (Volition Records – 1994)
Another influential win in Australia for duo Paul Mac and Andy Rantzen. It showed that electronic music in our country – although always influenced by America and Europe – could gain attention from a mainstream audience despite being from the underground. Despite this, they still managed to score one for the underground by thanking “the ecstacy dealers of Sydney” in their ARIA award acceptance speech.
Underworld – Dubnobasswithmyheadman (Junior Boy’s Own – 1994)
They were actually around before as synth-pop band Freur before reincarnating. When Underworld came back, they scorched the earth with this one. Their pop sensibilities dictated an album that showcased current underground UK in an accessible format that was fresh rather than plastic, with massive rave tracks and acceptably cheesy UK pub vocals that unify the people for the dance.
Portishead – Dummy (Go! Beat – 1994)
When you talk about the questionable Bristol scene and trip-hop sounds, you can’t go without mentioning Dummy. The musky and sensual lyrics of Beth Gibbons created a cabaret lounge atmosphere within the sub-genre. They helped serve Geoff Barrow’s insidious and soulful sounds for a broader audience who had never been able to stomach Massive Attack without an injection of pop medicine and vocals.
Tricky – Maxinquaye (Island – 1995)
The continuity of trip-hop led to its logical peak as vocalist Tricky stepped from Massive Attack’s shadow with his production Maxinquaye. This was a popular album that set off hundreds of imitations. The underrated songstress Martina Topley-Bird certainly contributed to the album’s success, and this chaotic hybrid of sounds and combination of vocals created a versatile album that represented the times perfectly.
Leftfield – Leftism (Hard Hands/Columbia – 1995)
Leftfield was another logical progression of hip-hop infused with techno sounds and production techniques. Leftfield pioneered the more house-friendly, progressive and funky side of UK bass music – breakbeat , which created welcome variations in percussion alongside the traditional 4-4 structure of techno. This album escaped any total pop classification (as paradoxically confirmed with the featured vocals of Johnny “Rotten” Lydon) and remained firmly rooted in underground dance culture.
Chemical Brothers – Exit Planet Dust (Junior Boy’s Own – 1995)
Discussion of breakbeat and an accumulation of 90s big beat sounds always leads back to Manchester’s Chemical Brothers. They were originally called the Dust Brothers in homage to the American Paul’s Boutique producers – who threatened to sue them. This debut album continued 4-4 dance music’s focal point on percussion, and is one of the great pop/underground cross-over electronic albums of the 90s.
Goldie – Timeless (Metalheadz – 1995)
Goldie said it himself, Timeless is probably the greatest drum and bass album of all time and is classic. It’s stood the time test and helped initially serve the sub-genre to the public. Its interwoven rhythms and melodies take you back for repeated listens to catch some little thing you might have missed before, and it has a way of telling grimey urban life in crystalline liquid fashion that’s dirty real yet heavenly clean.
Carl Cox – F.A.C.T (React – 1995)
Some puritans may disagree with this selection as the F.A.C.T double album is actually a couple of DJ sets, but it was mixed by the UK’s most influential house DJ at this time and remains arguably his most well-known work – even over his own production. This introduced refined modern sounds from producers like Jeff Mills, DJ Hell and Drax, and also helped in the evolution of progressive house/techno. It still is a classic and beautifully wrought couple of mixes, even by today’s standards.
Hallucinogen – Twisted (Dragonfly Records – 1995)
Simon Posford’s seminal work that took the outdoor electronic music scene by storm. This album marked a transition from the crazy, archaic sounds of Goa trance into the more widely digested psytrance, and still stands head and shoulders above most of its ilk. Twisted brought DIY electronic renegades from all over the shop together, and doof culture became a more global thing under the banner of psychedelic trance.
Moby – Everything Is Wrong (Mute/Elektra – 1995)
He’s a pretty ambitious producer, and this album conveys a dense palette of sounds to the broader audience. It strings together techno and metal aesthetics accessibly not to just newbies but also to those who already liked electronic music, thanks to the deftness of Moby’s production, his guest cast of vocalists and haunting ambient opera-style interludes. Classically done for a major pop work.
Wiseguys – Executive Suite (Wall Of Sound – 1996)
Downtempo jazz joints on the happy hip-hop instrumental tip. This is in the list because of the finesse and popularity of this release, pre-‘Ooh La La’ and ‘Start The Commotion’. It paralleled the “big-beat” hip-hop/breaks hybrid championed by labels and artists like Fatboy Slim and Ninja Tunes at this time, and the 50s movie sampling accompanying the funky and soulful beats made this a lounge classic.
DJ Shadow – Endtroducing (Mo’Wax – 1996)
The grail of all downtempo albums and a definite top ten. If anyone says that sampling is stealing and not really music, this is your response. Hip-hop instrumentalism was completely changed on this one’s drop. Textures, chords and voice sampling all conspire to create a dimensional door into the sacred. It set a precedent that was followed by many other crate diggers and beat makers.
Squarepusher – Hard Normal Daddy (Rephlex – 1996)
Squarepusher is one of the pioneers of IDM, and was given the nod with a debut release of Aphex Twin’s label – Rephlex. It came out when broken beats were only starting to catch on, so it was probably a little much for fans to understand at this time. The intense drum and bass was layered with much guitar and bass instrumentation and its rapid pace, textures and eclecticism will have your head swimming.
Everything But The Girl – Walking Wounded (Atlantic/Virgin – 1997)
EBtG were originally a folk outfit, but Tracey Thorn’s guest vocals on Massive Attack’s Protection in 1995 showed them another direction and home they felt comfortable in. They released this pop treatment of soulful jungle and prototypical garage sounds. It acted as gateway for newer listeners whilst accepted by older electronic fans, although some commented on its sterile nature without variation.
Drexciya – The Quest (Submerge – 1997)
Detroit’s Drexciya were less rated than Jeff Mills, but no less important for that sort of hard-edged techno with a side of deep, subtle funk. This album was a collection of songs from previous EPs like Journey of the Deep Sea Dweller, and represented a fictitious underwater mythical race and narrative as detailed by song titles and liner notes. This was manifested in deep, menacing analog synths and 808 drum patterns.
Daft Punk – Homework (Virgin Records – 1997)
A popular electronic release that relies on production values to spread its sound and message, without need for embellishment or gimmick. With this minimal fusion of techno and house, Daft Punk pioneered the sleek electro-house sound, put France on the electronic music map, and managed to impress both underground and advertising/marketing scum of all descriptions.
Roni Size/Reprazent – New Forms (Talkin’ Loud – 1997)
New Forms was one of the few albums in drum and bass to get broader mass attention around this time without accommodating for a pop audience. There’s no single track within the genre that has the recognition of ‘Brown Paper Bag’. The album didn’t resort to cheese (not that there’s anything wrong with that), and Size’s band Reprazent set an instrumental precedent that gave a live edge to the album and to the genre as a whole.
Bjork – Homogenic (Polydor.K.K – 1997)
Bjork really came into her own as a producer and musician here, assisted by Markus Dravs and Mark Bell. In Homogenic, her aim was to create a simple sound that evoked her native Iceland. The resulting sound was powerful nature in hi-tech and futuristic form, and heralded as one of the greatest albums of the decade. Bjork continues to empower female musicians worldwide and pushes electronic music to new heights.
Plaid – Not For Threes (Warp – 1997)
Ed Handley and Andy Turner were involved in the Black Dog project, and were inspired by a tour with Bjork to start a Plaid album together on the Warp label. The result was Not For Threes, a work of slippery and glitched-out broken beats, quirky aesthetics and delicate melodies, that features a great deal of instrumentation and guest vocals from the likes of Massive Attack’s Nicolette and the aforementioned Bjork.
Amon Tobin – Bricolage (Ninja Tune – 1997)
Before Amon Tobin released under his own name, he released some more archaic breaks-based albums that weren’t that critically acclaimed. With Bricolage, Amon Tobin displayed the production finesse in recreating an old-school jazz equivalent using modern technology, and also blurred the lines between jazz and jungle styles of music. It showed an organic variety of electronica, bordering on the classical.
Air – Moon Safari (Source/Virgin Records – 1998)
It’s questionable whether or not Air are truly a “classical” electronic outfit – in that perhaps their sounds won’t really stand the test of time. However at this particular time, Air’s influence was widespread and their sounds were lauded. Moon Safari was fluffy and easy listening that was among the first to celebrate kitsch/retro styles of electronica within an ambient environment.
Shpongle – Are You Shpongled? (Twisted Records – 1998)
The first downtempo collaboration between Simon Posford (Hallucinogen) and Raja Ram (known as the “godfather of psytrance”) led to this album release. Loosely speaking, Shpongle is a combination of world music, psytrance and the more stock version of chill/ambient electronica. However, this album was far from stock and mastered the art of doof chill. The act eventually translated into a massive live band, touring such outdoor events as Rainbow Serpent Festival.
Nam Shub of Enki – Consciousness Encoder (WMS Records – 1998)
An underrated Australian legend. Nam Shub produces for psychedelic horror circus troupe Monster Zoku Onsomb under his production alias Kiki iLL. His punk approach to bass music was noted by such electronic luminaries as BBC1 broadcaster Mary-Anne Hobbs. This album hallmarked his enigmatic style of industrial noise, with chunky choppy drum programming and gut-turning synth lines for real ravers.
Fatboy Slim – You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby (Skint Records – 1998)
Oh man, dorky big-beat club music. You’d always cringe and duck your head when you’d hear this song, but there’s no denying that the Fatboy elevated the stance and appeal of electronic music to the globe. Also for many 90s kids, it was an accessible gateway for them to get into more select beats. It’s a lot harder to write nauseatingly catchy stuff like this, and it was good fun in a cringey way.
Basement Jaxx – Remedy (XL – 1998)
Basement Jaxx are an afterthought when you think of electronic acts that had commercial success in the 90s. Their broad scope travels through house, ragga, pop, latin and northern club music, flexing a flavour for all listeners. Remedy intermeshes future funk, complicated dance rhythms and uplifting house sounds that parallel the likes of The KLF, but upgraded to infuse modern UK garage.
Boards of Canada – Music Has The Right To Children (Warp – 1998)
One of the few albums rated a perfect ten by Pitchfork who judged it as a “predominant inspiration for IDM”, and for good reason. It’s all about the textures with this one, as well as an eloquent handling of all elements to be true food for the brain. I could live off air listening to this over and over for a week. Darkness and light woven in a grand pattern that digs right into your psyche.
Mr Oizo – Analog Worms Attack (F Communications – 1999)
This French producer one-upped Daft Punk, focusing more on the underground dirty house game over disco sensibilities, and taking the electro game to twisted and sophisticated heights. Lead single ‘Flat Beat’ led the way for mid-range fart-noise in house synths and rocked clubs around the world. While not mind-blowing as an album, it was important in pioneering hip-hop sensibilities in electronica.
Handsome Boys Modelling School – So…How’s Your Girl? (Tommy Boy Records – 1999)
Collaborating producers Prince Paul (of De La Soul and Gravediggaz) and Dan The Automator (of Deltron 3030, Gorillaz and Dr Octagon) killed it on this eclectic smorgasboard of rap treats. This collaboration of many of the most creative producers and MCs in the game was the finest of champagne alternative hip-hop, and forged the way for other forward-thinking producers to step outside the box.
Missy Elliot – Da Real World (Elektra – 1999)
Missy Elliot and Timbaland were true innovators who pioneered crunk – part of the futuristic “dirty south” sound morphing to trap – and put hip-hop squarely in a new millennium. They also managed to garner a large following, partly through their extravagant and creative film clips. Broken, minimal beats with a fresh approach and a dancefloor-friendly approach to hip-hop re-established the B-boy/girl movement.
The Avalanches – Since I Left You (Modular – 2000)
This was the debut release of one of Australia’s most popular live electronic exports, and contains over 900 samples. It’s quite a feat that the album got released. To be fair, the samples were re-contextualised that gave The Avalanches an individual style that was brave, fun and dynamic. Their hyperactive collaging of sounds received live backing through their own instrumentation and live show.
Autechre – Confield (Warp – 2001)
We had to mention one of their albums. Autechre is a notoriously difficult listen destined for music nerds collections, but undeniably influential to modern aesthetics for being truly unique production. Confield – like all the pair’s work – needs multiple listens in order to synthesize it properly. To broadly define this album in layman’s terms, it orders chaotic sounds into repetition, and is warmer and more fun than earlier releases.
Venetian Snares – Songs About My Cats (Planet Mu – 2001)
Aaron Funk’s first solo album helped carve out a core for IDM drill and bass sounds, with the kind of rapid-fire panned onslaught of beats we’ve come to expect not only from Venetian Snares, but many others who use Funk’s unique style of aesthetics to compliment their own vision of electronica. It pulls no punches with its chopped cerebral salad, which can be a bit harsh and intimidating for your average listener.
Techno Animal – Brotherhood of the Bomb (Matador Records – 2001)
Released on 11 September, 2011 and featuring alternative rappers Antipop Consortium, El-P and Dalek. Dirty, heavy industrial beats, and feedback that smashes your brain apart, and the uncompromising havoc will send shivers up your spine. It represented a brave marriage between noise, dub and hip-hop, creating a signature sound which led to collabs with digital hardcore outfit Atari Teenage Riot.
Dizzee Rascal – Boy in da Corner (XL – 2003)
Dylan Kwabena Mills was only 18 when this debut album was released. This is the album that brought grime to the mainstream. The raw and bombastic beats – produced in part by Dizzee – smash discordant synth noises and blend chunky 8-bit noise, gabba and bass to match the ghetto climate of rugged East London. Boy In Da Corner was embraced by both electronic aficionados and the broader audience.
Infected Mushroom – Converting Vegetarians (BNE/Yoyo Records – 2003)
Quite a few purists would disagree with me, but this really is the most influential Infected album. One side is their vintage goa-style psytrance, whilst the other is a braver and more experimental. Vocalist Duvdev emerged in this album; a major transistion for Infected – which didn’t gel for many fans. There’s no disputing that ‘I Wish’ is a classic anthem of the big psytrance dancefloor, especially Skazi’s remix of the track.
Ricardo Villalobos – Alcachofa (Playhouse – 2003)
This debut album carves out a murky and enigmatic niche, doing things only the way Villalobos can do them – minimally with a great deal of quirk. His focus on smaller sounds is evident, and plays on the idea that ambiance can still rock. The use of space allows for the art of listening to take over, and the modular development of his sounds create a synergy with silence that is truly magical and unique.
Prefuse 73 – One Word Extinguisher (Warp – 2003)
The real concept of “glitch-hop” started around this point, except it was a majorly different thing from the rushed production of what glitch-hop eventually turned into as a shelf. Prefuse 73 was grounded with real hip-hop, instruments, jazz samples and lyrics complimented with use of glitch and fizz elements – rather than overusing midrange sweeping bass and fart noises like pretenders of glitch-hop did later on.
Soundmurderer and SK-1 – Rewind Records (Rewind Records – 2003)
The Amen Break has had a hundred kinds of shit thrashed out of it, but this is probably the biggest trouncing it’s ever had (although we recognise Amen Andrews – one of Luke Vibert’s alter-egos – as being up there too). SK-1 is also one of the most amazing ragga MCs you’ve heard, and turns this chop-chop-chop fest into a live and ridiculously exciting adventure that is a must-have for any self-respecting junglist.
EdiT – Crying Over Pros For No Reason (Planet Mu – 2004)
EdiT was Prefuse 73 on steroids without vocals. It progressed the idea of the “glitch-hop” genre a step further with frequent embellishments and complete digital glitch-outs. The result was something akin to cutting in turntablism; an entirely original and influential notion at the time. This release is also grounded in hip-hop soulful chill and feels, which act to contrast and compliment the ultra-electronic element.
Diplo – Florida (Big Dada – 2004)
Diplo’s influence spreads to electronic crunk, trap and smaller genres like New Orleans bounce. This album is one of his earlier works and is a gentler journey into trip-hop aesthetics that showcase his breeding ground and finesse into the big-beat lord he is now with Major Lazer. Florida is more soulful and shows a side of Diplo that perhaps many purists would have loved to have heard a continuation of.
MIA – Arular (XL/Interscope – 2005)
Of course MIA has to be mentioned after Diplo on a time-scale. Before, in fact. The album was supposed to be released in 2004, but half of Maya Arulpragasam’s lyrics went to Diplo’s mixtape Piracy Funds Backlash. MIA kept 100% integrity with a pop cross-over, because she done what she set out to do with her foundational production – creating fusion between Baile funk, dancehall and grime aesthetics with her active patois vocals.
Sensient – Pressure Optimal (Zenon Records – 2005)
It’s safe to say Australia “found” the sound pioneered by head of Zenon Records – Sensient aka Tim Larner. Any sound akin to his synthesis of dark and funky progressive techno with minimal components has been described as “Zenonesque.” Whether or not you agree, new aesthetics for outdoor parties were fully realised, and Pressure Optimal represented a new Australian evolution and preference of techno over psytrance.
Matmos – The Rose Has Teeth in the Mouth of the Beast (Matador Records – 2006)
Musique Concrete – the art of recording raw sounds for sampling – has evolved from Faust, to Matmos’ artistic homage to a collage of the 20th century’s most enigmatic and creative figures. It’s one of electronic music’s few examples of listeners interest of how it was made over how it sounds. To be honest, it wouldn’t attract as much attention if the tracks weren’t sampled utilising items like a cow’s reproductive tract.
Trentemoller – The Last Resort (Pokerflat – 2006)
This album encapsulated the prominent electro-house sound getting around in popular circuits at this time. The Last Resort turned this aesthetic into a richer and more organic soundscape, coupled with the minimal techno poly-rhythmic structures populating the underground European scene. While Trentemoller didn’t really stand the test of time, his scope for this album stands as classic.
The Knife – Silent Shout (Rabid Records – 2006)
The Knife were to the mid 2000s as were what Portishead was to the 90s – in terms of electronic music coupled with vocals. The third album of Swedish brother-sister team of Olof Dreijer and Karin Dreijer Andersson sets off the otherworldly and eccentric mood of the twisted synth-pop sounds, which create a soundscape that is dissonant and compelling in even strokes for the listener.
Released three days before Dilla’s death. He produced 29 of the 31 songs on the album on his death-bed at hospital on a Boss SP-303 sampler. A deeply personal statement, a classic hip-hop instrumental and a deeply meaningful album for modern beats producers all over the globe. Donuts upgraded soul music and sounds with sampling finesse that helped bring hip-hop instrumentalism into a new decade.
Skream – Skream! (Tempa – 2006)
This is probably dubstep’s most important album in the era where UK club FWD>> was in its supremacy, and groups of niche producers began having amazing revelations about the possibilities of bass music. ‘Midnight Request Line’. That is all. Unfortunately Rusko barged in with the more generic-sounding “brostep” and – along with Skrillex – proceeded to demolish all the subtle elements of dubstep.
Ellen Allien and Apparat – Orchestra of Bubbles (Bpitch Control – 2006)
Both of these cats needed to be highlighted in this list, and what better way to do it than recognising this fusion between the directors of Shitkatapult (Apparat, with partner T. Rauschmiere) and Bpitch Control (Ellen Allien). This show of compositional elegance took electro out of the 4-4 club variety so popular in the mid noughties, and gave a picture of possibilities in the marriage between succinct analog techno sounds and off-pace grainy breaks. Eclectic, nimble magic.
Kode 9 always kept to his vision of bass music throughout the rise in popularity of dubstep. His label Hyperdub continued to push UK bass into the future and bring out exciting new artists, such as with his introduction of Space Ape, an engaging and poetic MC. Kode 9’s eerie and abstract production was partnered with Space Ape’s lyrics to create a true “artist’s album” in the realm of bass music.
Burial – Untrue (Hyperdub – 2007)
Another artist that Hyperdub brought to prominence was Burial. This album was undeniably one of the biggest breakers in the 21st century beats game through its depth and subtlety rather than through brute force. Untrue made it almost cliché to use skittering organic percussion and disembodied, androgynous vox. It’s one of a kind and any imitation of the formula inevitably leads back to Burial comparisons.
Carl Craig – Sessions (!K7 – 2008)
Pitchfork noted in review of this album that Carl Craig is hard to talk about, because he is more about reform rather than revolution. His tracks are solid, and the main thing you get off this particular album is that it’s just a real solid house album. However, there can be no understatement when you talk about solid dancefloor music. The simple ideas and motions are often the best when it comes to waggling your booty.
Flying Lotus – Los Angeles (Warp Records – 2008)
FL’s sophomore album is regarded as his most fully-formed work as a whole, and also the most influential. The next logical step for future beats after Prefuse 73, Los Angeles seeded the idea of ambient noise textures and static interacting with off-time organic clattering and other hypnotic rhythms. The most charming thing about this spreading sound is how loose and odd it is, it doesn’t need to be clean to be tight.
The Bug – London Zoo (Ninja Tune – 2008)
Top gunning dancehall and heavy digital grime of the highest and most classic order. This album is regarded as a classic in traditional UK bass music circles. ‘Skeng’ (feat. Flowdan) and ‘Poison Dart’ (feat. Warrior Queen) are dubstep’s two most rewound songs ever. ‘The Bug’ producer Kevin Martin’s other projects include Techno Animal, Pressure, King Midas Sound, Black Chow and Curse of the Golden Vampire.
Zomby – Where Were U in 92 (Werk Discs – 2008)
Sometimes in a man’s life, we all have to face some hard facts. Zomby is known notoriously as a toe-stepper in public electronic circles. It’s hard to for some to recognise and admit he was ahead of everyone else seven years ago. Now remixing hard rave days is all in trend, and Zomby’s all like, “where were you in 2008?” The idea of producing jungle throwback with new eyes was genius then.
Opiuo – Slurp and Giggle (Addictech – 2010)
New Zealand’s #1 glitch-hop export has cemented so-said genre all over the globe. Australian ex-psytrance artists all over the country try to emulate his style, but none come close to his particular brand of sound of massive slabs of funk set off with powerful synth wobs. Opiuo helped transform the Aussie doof and festival soundscape to beats digestable for an audience no longer interested in psytrance.
Skrillex – Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites (Big Beat/Mau5trap – 2010)
Never has an album raised more hackles in subversion of a genre into a less subtle and more commercially viable form. It was from this album that dubstep took off worldwide, and niche bass music producers were screaming for blood. However, the influence on electronic music is undeniable and melted mass floors everywhere. Who are we to say what music is going to change the world?
Bonobo – Black Sands (Ninja Tune – 2010)
Described as “middle-brow”, Black Sands is an artist album that appeases both hipsters and more mainstream listeners. Bonobo breaks out of background music mode to give others a shot to hear what this multi-instrumentalist has to offer. ‘Eyesdown’ and other tracks shows more a sense of deft accomplishment than previous outings, with the scope of a director seeing music as a movie.
Rudi Zygadlo – Great Western Laymen (Planet Mu – 2010)
The Glaswegian native’s sweeping mid-range bass and glitchy, melodic laz0rs compliment an industrialised pop-synth approach to dubstep. What completes this picture are Rudi’s own haunting, whimsical vocals floating ghostly. A beautiful album many discounted because of over-saturation of electro-infused dubstep at this time, but we feel it has stood the test of time and is classic.
VA – Bangs and Works Vol.1 (Planet Mu – 2010)
The first compilation that clued in tourists to the land of Chicago footwork, as placed by Planet Mu and beat seeker extraordinaire Mike Paradinas. Featured on this compilation are Teklife DJs Rashad, Spinn and Nate, as well as RP Boo and Traxman. It’s 808s on crack with soul, hip-hop and reggae sample inflections, done in a trippy and energetic way to complement the dance that the genre is named after.
James Blake – James Blake (Atlas – 2011)
The complete package with a dynamite voice and an insane and woozy production sensibility. This album has been the make-out music for nearly every dubstep fan in existence at one time or another, and also a great background for MD comedown, overly-vulnerable self-hatred bordering on cutting yourself type feelings. This is a true candlelit classic to inappropriately play at a party.
Mala – Mala in Cuba (Brownswood – 2012)
An ambitious piece by one half of Digital Mystikz – Mala. Geographic location and culture, and its impact on the craft of a producer make this of particular note for UK niche bass music. Although it has been reviewed by some publications as falling short of translating the mastery of Cuban musicians into electronica, it sets a benchmark and does an admirable job in translating the atmosphere.
Distal – Civilisation (Tectonic – 2012)
Atlanta’s Distal does something I can’t get my finger on. He evades genre but helps create a new fusion of UK-style bass that is eerie and minimal that carries a similar pressure to dubstep. It contains elements of acid house and southern state “trappy” sounds that generally went under the radar. However, we think that it was more important on a sonic level as an album than previously credited for.
LiL JaBBA – Scales (Local Action – 2013)
Australian-born Alexander Shaw previously represented the Teklife fam at the time of this release, and presents an offering with Scales that went right under the radar. However, we feel that this album is so ahead of its time to be something called post-footwork. It helps when listening to this to think of Adventure Time, and hopefully does the trick of transporting you to other realms.
Jon Hopkins – Immunity (Domino – 2013)
This album updates the techno album artist formula to the n-th degree by being an engaging work, flowing from killer dancefloor tracks like ‘Open Eye Signal’ from ambient transistional tracks like ‘Sun Harmonics’. The warm synthesis of Immunity is moving forward into the 21st century and blurring lines between organic and mechanic, making electronica more relatable for human beings.
DJ Koze – Amygdala (Pampa Records – 2013)
German Stefan Kozalla aka Koze first produced hip-hop beats as one half of Fischmob in the 90s, and this influence shows in the eclectic Amygdala. The true power of this album is shown in Koze’s minimal and melancholy signature beats, laced with guest vocals and instrumentation. His warm whimsy shows a humane side to the serious and cold world of techno, and leads the way for alternatives in these realms.
Darkside – Psychic (Matador records – 2013)
Epic dance music meets inevitable Pink Floyd comparisons with the spacious and lazy/tight Psychic, a collaboration between electronic composer and vocalist Nicholas Jaar and guitarist Dave Harrington. Superbly crafted, this album takes the listener into realms that could have been sculpted by prog-rock space travellers in the 70s, mastered to contemporary sonic perfection.
Lodsb – Helicon 1 (Retort Records – 2014)
Lodsb actively works to deconstruct pre-existing forms whilst flexing his insanely crisp modular sound to create a world where form continuously glitches to create new forms. Released on Australian label Retort Records, Helicon 1 is perhaps Lodsb’s most digestible work travelling on a 4-4 format to make soundscapes that are challenging but rewarding, yielding new possibilities by melting the old.
Written by Kristian Hatton – If you have any suggestions for the lists, comment or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org – please share if you enjoyed this list!
This is likely the biggest news for Melbourne beats massive this year. It shows that our current government actually knows our city and what is needed to make it work.
Announced in the 2015-16 Victorian State Budget, Labor have pledged $50 million towards a trial of 24-hour public transport on Friday and Saturday nights. The trial will be up and running by New Year’s Eve 2015.
Overseas cities such as Berlin, New York and Chicago all have 24-hour public transport services – and now Melbourne is too. This will be a blessing for many promoters and venues who are going broke because they can’t convince punters to pay cut-throat taxi fares.
2016 is sure looking like our year, and Daniel Andrews is doing it right.
There’s not a lot happening this weekend in Melbourne now that we’re headed into the cold bit. I mean, comparatively speaking anyway to other cities. 😉
However, out of town is the Yemaya Festival for all you cats who like a bit of doof-doof, and I also hear there’s a warehouse party on Saturday night. If you’re interested in attending that and you don’t have the hook-up, get at me.
I’d also like to give a quick mention that our neigh-bours Uncomfortable Beats and Blend Corp are having a free do at Section 8 this Sunday, which wasn’t mentioned in the gig guide. They have special guests- Ghost Mutt, Grinel and Lockah, who are repping niche UK crew Donky Pitch.
Uncomfy are also about to release Adelaide producer How Green’s latest collab and improv jam with Datãkae entitled Hindum. It’ll be released on the 28 of April, but I heard a little birdy knows where to go for a listen.
Make sure you check out our new monthly Haarp Media Hi-Five track tips, of which we’ll have sections on drum and bass, juke/footwork, techno and house, trap/hip-hop/future beats, dubstep, and future garage/UK bass.
I’m working on an interview with Able8, a feature of my travels to the jungle paradise at The Dusun in Malaysia + a chat with Cee of Bass Sekolah, and also a MASSIVE feature of top 100 albums you need in your collection.
Have a good one, stay safe, ❤ K
p.s. if you have any tips for me, get at me at email@example.com 🙂
A subtle and tranquil yet banging mover.
Woo Factor – 2.5 out of 5
A match made in heaven between Manni Dee and Deft. A stealthy movement through rapid, crispy kicks and snares. Irresistible ass mover that kicks off into the best of bridges. More of this goodness, please.
Woo Factor – 4 out of 5 woo’s
Jungly, housey goodness with a progressive shaker that builds into a real raver.
Woo Factor – 3.5 out of 5
More on the UK bass tip of juke with a snarling and grimey sub-bass playing front stage over a staccato landscape of skittering snares.
Woo Factor – 2 out of 5
Moves methodically on the warm and atmospheric tip with souly vox and moogy, jazzy inflections. A good building block to start moving the dancefloor.
Woo Factor – 3 out of 5
Maurs’ lyrics piggy-back a neurofunk beast by Arp XP. Great to drop a storm on.
Woo Factor – 2.5 out of 5
A free track in celebration of Valac hitting 1000 likes on Facebook. A minimal tech-step track moved by a single kick drum through dark space.
Woo Factor – 2 out of 5 woo’s
A techstep space skittering along a layer of snares to a boofing and popping 2-4.
Woo Factor – 1 out of 5 woo’s
This one will have your listeners tracing shapes in a steady and spacious groove.
Woo Factor – 2.5 out of 5 woo’s
Safire does Melbourne proud with this undulating shaker creating a variety of motion through the warping terrain of dark and twisted neurofunk.
Woo Factor – 4 out of 5 woo’s
It’s on a sad note we bid Vernon Treweeke (born 1939) farewell on 19 March 2015. Known as the “father of Australian psychedelic art”, Vernon was a pioneering artist who came from The Blue Mountains to colour the streets of Nimbin, an important place in Australian human rights, activism and DIY culture.
Vernon had already had achieved success as an artist in Australian society in the 70s, but his disdain for the art world led him to drop out of society.
“I found out that people were buying my paintings—not necessarily because they liked them but because they were a tax deductible purchase—a case of capitalist corruption basically…. ….Why should wealthy people be able to avoid paying tax by buying art and why should art be treated like a charity? The whole thing disturbed me. It made artists fabulously rich but I decided I was done.”
He moved to Tuntable Falls community near Nimbin for a number of years before moving back to the Blue Mountains – but not before he had imparted Nimbin with a lasting legacy that street artists worldwide can take pride in.
It’s this DIY culture mentality that helps drive many artists, and this in turn is the type of mentality that helped breed electronic music culture in Australia.
Of particular note to Haarp Media and the Melbourne electronic music scene is that Vernon is succeeded by Julian Treweeke – aka Dysphemic – one of Vernon’s four children who have inherited Vernon’s creativity. Dysphemic is taking time out now, has moved back to the Blue Mountains and is working hard on his music with local Sydney producers like Zulu Flow Zion.
“We – well, I – might like to note that this is actually very touching news for me, as I too originally have Nimbin heritage and my father also lives on Tuntable Falls. I’d like to think that we attempt to carry on our father’s legacies in adhering to art for art’s sake and also remaining true to one’s calling.” – Vernon Treweeke
* – Quote and pictures from Electric Caves
As someone shy and not incredibly confident, I used to find the idea of Culture Jam needlessly flashy and encased in bell and whistles. A great deal of attendees were exhibitionists of the first degree, and HIPSTERS also sprung to mind on a fairly frequent basis. For a quiet person like myself, the performative element of Culture Jam is quite confronting. I dislike show ponies.
But after witnessing the evolution of this crew over the years, I can no longer question the incredible creative vision and direction Culture Jam have taken. For many promoters thinking inside the box, the party is confined to its acts and parameters. Get the sound on, get the floor filled, try to make the numbers work.
For Culture Jam, promotion is a wealth of endless possibilities, to push events to their limits in terms of theatrics, use of space – and most of all – having fun.
Culture Jam are a flamboyant crew whose focus of events and music is eclectic, and infuses circus and theatrical elements in an interactive setting. They act as conduit for many groups of freaks and performers, who see Culture Jam as their stage to dress up and role play as the director requires in a freeform jam based on theme.
From the outside looking in, it would seem that the worst problem at one of these events you could have is being limited in imagination. Not even wardrobe or budget is a limit for many of the fringe Culture Jam attendees, as their creative aptitude comes to the forefront. Many fashionistas create their thematic dress from opt shop finds, hard rubbish and from where-ever else trash can be converted to treasure.
The music at CJ events is also a primary focus for the events, especially earlier on in the formative years of this crew. They started off in June 2010 by smartly deciding to book Opiuo when he had begun peaking in popularity – with their show Cheeky Beats at the now-closed Miss Libertines. Miss Libertines’ focus was always on quality beats, so Culture Jam didn’t flex much of their focus on theatrics at this point.
CJ continued the Miss Libertine “beats” series in 2010 with Sneaky, Tweaky and Freaky Beats (note: there were three seperate events), which showed their format for progressive types of electronic music ordinarily confined to doof and outdoor events – acts such as Circuit Bent, Kalya Scintilla, Tetrameth, Meat Axe, Hugo & Treats and Sun Control Species. This helped gather the kind of creatively performative and interactive audience who only usually dress up and attend festivals like Rainbow Serpent.
CJ also held outdoor parties at CERES Environmental Park for their yearly series Stacks On, which showed their eclectism in music programming with progressive trance, hip-hop and more downtempo psychedelia with acts like Hypnagog.
Culture Jam’s real antics started really flexing in the lead-up for their event Barrel of Monkeys. A couple of their crew dressed up as monkeys and skateboarded around Melbourne CBD for a promotional video. A picture of their shenanigans featured on the cover of MX, and the daily public transport rag’s massive circulation helped push Culture Jam’s audience and vision to the next level.
During 2012-13, Culture Jam’s themes gathered strength with the gangster-themed Unusual Suspects production – featured the insane rockabilly cabaret of Brisbane’s Monster Zoku Onsomb – hailing at their new spiritual home of the Revolt Artspace in Kensington. Their use of this space was continued with their monkey follow-up – Monkey Business, which saw CJ implement a pirate theme on that venture.
After Culture Jam successfully, staged and framed the post-apocalypic future-themed 2013 event The World Beyond (also at Revolt), I was forced to admit that this crew were the real deal and not just staging this for promotional kicks- they were actually a legitimate and original movement, and are a major contribution to Australia’s electronic music history and culture.
The owner and I once had our differences in the public circle about music vs promotion, but we have always kept the peace, enough to chat about his project.
Culture Jam director Michael Scarlett is a very bright and good-looking character, and his approachable, affable nature, and broad, easy-going grin always have to make me check my jealousy levels. Most of us wish we could be as happy as Michael seems to be all the time.
In online conversation, Michael whimsically recalls his foundational days. He describes himself as “that young, sparkly kid on acid up the front (of the crowd) loving life”. Jealousy levels increasing. I confide with him I was the one caught in introspective LSD mind-traps up the back. Of course, he laughs at this and we wonder if we have crossed paths in earlier days.
We discover we both spent nights partying in Brunswick at the renegade Oven Street warehouse, which was a centre for freaks and bootleggers a couple of years ago. We also go over some memories of Albert Street venue (which was not supposed to be used for big parties) Playspace.
Michael gets excited in recollection, “…we did this one party there called Brunswiki Beats, where we dressed the entrance as a fake birthday party with balloons and streamers. At the door you had to say that you were there for ‘Rob’s Birthday’. Then when you walked around the corner there (were) 400 people going nuts and a bootleg bar.”
Michael’s enthusiasm and zest led to him taking the helm and inspiring others putting on park parties around Melbourne’s northern suburbs and assisting yearly doof charity Earthdance as creative director. Inspired by (amongst others) psychedelic electronic crew Third Ear, Michael formed Culture Jam with the assistance of his good friend Aaron Cooper aka Cat Party.
“Yeah, Aaron was also behind the concept of Culture Jam and Hellzapoppin’ Evenings (an electro-swing oriented event), and has an incredibly creative mind…”
It is maintained mostly that the seeds for Culture Jam started as a solo effort. Michael surmises that Culture Jam was not conceptually founded by a collective because he had “specific creative vision”, but recognises that a great deal of the project’s success is linked to his collaborations. He had incredible support from friends, creative visionaries and groups of maverick performers who embraced Mick ‘s new possibilities and envelope-pushing.
During the conversation I managed to bring up the word “Hipster” to Michael. It gave him a bit of a beamer,
“I find truth stranger than fiction sometimes, and I love people that are walking parodies of themselves! The universe has an amazing sense of humour. I think a hipster taking themselves seriously is an example of this. I met a hipster In Berlin. I felt like he was part of a race of people, who live on an island, and have their own accents. It was fascinating!””
This sort of thing has helped provide Michael with inspiration for his bravest project yet – The Town.
The Town (on Easter Weekend 2015) is going to be Culture Jam’s first event staged outside of Melbourne in the Strathbogie Ranges. The premise for this event is that they will create their very own town for the Easter weekend for a population of 800 people maximum, as “a place of like-minded folk who have declared the real world a joke.”
Culture Jam is asking for participants to choose a “suburb” to move into (including locations Pleasantville, Hipster Town, Funkytown and Vanland), complete with its own mayor and media. The Town is touted to feature a church with weddings, fashion police, a general store, tea-house, beauty parlour, barber shop, bike cabs, canoeing on the lake, cafe, DIY school, op shop, library, and special Adventure Town for workshops and “missions”.
Amongst the day-to-day grinders in The Town you will find Fashion Police, Naughty Nurses, Town Media (no, I won’t .ed), Lollypop Ladies, Steampunk Delivery Boys, PYROMANIAC FIREMEN?! You are also invited to take on your own Town career.
Of course, there will be a fun and funky soundtrack to the town featuring JFB (UK), Thriftworks (US) and Frivolous (Canada) as headliners.
In terms of events, Michael attributes part of the success to spreading them out.
“I’ve kept it safe….most of my parties do well enough to have some profit, and (spreading events out) allows me the time to do this at the level it’s at now.”
Current hot music acts Michael would like to clue you into are Smilk, Ripple and Circuit Bent (“constantly progressing….and keep pushing boundaries”), Formidable Vegetable Sound System (“on the live tip”), and the irrepressible Hugo of Hugo & Treats and Rap News (“…constantly expanding his mind into the collective… and still has some big tricks up his sleeve”).
He’d also like to thank Ryan at Revolt – also helping with The Town, “and also Tom (The Chief) and all my beautiful friends helping with this ridiculously epic job of creating The Town.”
My talk with Michael yielded personal dividends for me as a journalist in allowing me to confront my own aptitude for hasty judgement and negative stereotypes.
My appreciation for these showy, glitzy sort of events is something I had to develop a detached and uninvolved viewpoint for, in order to frame things from a positive internal space. Individually, people are too complex to be driven into one small derogatory term. People have always enjoyed role-playing and performance, and it goes without saying that dressing up to go to party is something that really brings an occasion to life.
I mean, I’m a pretty hard guy to impress. I held onto the view for a while that they were just fishing for attention, which was – I admit – a negative perspective. These guys have more creative integrity than you could imagine. I have since had to readjust my values and look at things from a broader perspective, and recognise that sometimes a good gig isn’t just about musical strength.
My inevitable conclusion is that every theatrical ensemble needs a director, and Culture Jam provides this purpose for spontaneous, real-life flash shenanigans.
In short, maybe we need to take more time and let things unfold before we pass judgement on others. Sometimes image and fashion in events isn’t just posing, but constitutes incredible creative depth and vision, vision that assists in making music three-dimensional.
Hipster – in this context – isn’t a dirty word.
Written by Kristian Hatton
Perth’s DeadWeight crew have just announced their “retirement” after bringing five years of quality underground bass parties to the people of their city. They had their second-last party at their home venue Flyrite and are set to farewell Perth on 10 April 2015.
The last couple of years in Melbourne have seen the demise of Heavy Innit! and Wobble, who brought years of international acts like Loefah, Caspa, Noisia and probably the bulk of buzz names from the UK bass scene. We at Haarp Media (in partnership with bass music producer Warpa!nt) tried our hand at showcasing UK bass act Thelem in Melbourne. We stopped after doing just one event of this kind.
So what stops us from doing events? There’s a few reasons to be named. There’s money and venues for one thing.
There also seems to be limited interest in dubstep now. When observed from the less buzzy standpoint, actual dubstep (as in not Skrillex and electro-oriented step) always did have a limited audience. Older niche genres have become dated and superceded. Many original UK dubstep artists now focus on bringing their bass aesthetic through different hybrids like juke, garage, house and drum and bass. Perhaps there’s a niche to be filled there. If you’re interested in doing this, you’ll need support from players in other cities to split international costs.
And it’s called underground music for a reason, it’s lesser known and limited because it’s more about form and art rather than garnering audience. That means promoters often run a loss to cover the expensive internationals, especially now the US dollar and pound are rising over the Aussie dollar. Limited turn-out and associative problems often burn out promoters too early, Many OG promoters are too old for this shit now. All people seem to want to turn up to are the buzzy sort of popular kid crews and for internationals.
What does this mean for fans of underground electronica?
Well, in Melbourne we’re still powering. Drum and bass is going strong with crews like Twisted Audio and Broken Beat Assault still in the game (who just had two monster parties last night featuring LTJ Bukem and Teebee respectively). The Operatives continue to break ground with their fusion of future beats and bass music. Techno/house events are led by Darkbeat, Funf and Novel.
Smaller crews like Onepuf, Prognosis and Oscillate are breaking ground with loyal audiences with unique approaches and contemporary sounds. City psytrance sounds are being championed by Kinematic Records, Foolproof and Mithya events. More experimental festivals like Square Sounds show that having a fresh idea is still important. Sound system crews like Heartical Hi-Fi are wobbling some fixtures out of place somewhere.
Electronic music has always been the same, and you can nest every single genre back into one of five catagories. Techno/House, Drum and Bass, Hip-hop, experimental/live and Reggae/dub. Everything else is a variant or hybrid of these forms (yes, even psytrance comes back to techno/house variant), and nothing will change in this respect.
Perhaps you disagree with our catagorisation? Please fill us in. Also if we’ve missed out on what you’re doing as a crew, we’d love to hear from you. We extend the invitation to Brisbane, Sydney and Adelaide and any other Australian town to tell us what’s up in your burb.
In summary, crews come, crews go. Underground parties, ideals and art are always around despite obstacles. Too many chiefs, not enough Indians also springs to mind when thinking of our current picture too.
It has been drawn to our attention that there are massive gaping holes in our knowledge in the posting of our response to Pilerats, and we accede to that,
Thank you to our friend for pointing out that there was, “….no mention of the Sydney 90 scene: happy valley, free 2 b me, the massive warehouse scene there including the famous Broadway squats, the graffiti hall of fame, Stanford theatre etc…”
We must admit that our knowledge is limited to experience of a kid growing up around Byron Bay. We had little time to reply or think in order to get the article out as quick as possible, which is obviously a bit hypocritical of us when we were talking about researching culture as well.
Please feel free to fill us in on anything we may have missed by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and thanks again!
Extra note: this was also limited by amount of research available too. We’d love for others to take the time to share their knowledge in the public domain of our history too.
Here’s our exciting formation if you’d care to have a look. Go check out the Archives tab.
We’re no n00bs. Haarp Media is actually having its fourth birthday this month!
Our inception was in March 2011 rather pretentiously called The Lone Flower and then The Natural Hipster (that was a joke) and then Haarp Media.
You can track our maturity and various gaffes in the archives. You can also see we had various interviews with cool guys like Netsky, Kode9 and Max Cooper. You can also see we’ve been very strange at times and never used to hold back.
Things have changed now.
We want to encourage and support positivity, and flaming outrageously has been found not to serve our agenda.
Do you think we’ve grown up yet? What’s your favourite article? What should we bring back? What would you like to see more of?
Hi, and welcome to Haarp Media’s brand new blogging platform.
Haarp Media took a break from blogging for over a year, to get some real-life perspective as electronic music event promoters and performers. This work was inspiring – and sometimes painful – and it’s generally given us a greater perspective on the overall Melbourne beats scene, as well as giving us a need to look beyond it.
So now we return to with regular articles and a more stream-lined look in WordPress.
We have addressed image and roll-over issues, and are aiming for a less cluttered and more professional-looking blog. We are aiming to be less partial and more entertaining; less niche-oriented and appealing to a broader audience.
Our central aim is to strike a balance between informing, entertaining and creating social commentary. We will still retain our cutting edge and will not be afraid to be outspoken. Passion and truth are important to us. Hopefully you will find our edge has matured and developed due to a broader perspective we’ve honed outside of blogging.
You will also see what seems to be unrelated content at times. We are attempting to expand and cover other things in life, because Haarp Media lives a life outside of electronic music in Melbourne. We are affiliated with many scenes in the macrocosm of Melbourne beats culture, but we are not going to be enslaved by it.
We like telling stories, we like travelling, we like hearing of other cultures, we like nature, we like political debate, we like playing games, we like reading books, we like drawing pictures. All of these things affect Melbourne electronic music culture. So let’s embrace the larger picture and have some fun with it.
If you are a small crew and/or you have some sort of initiative you wish to be known, by all means contact and pitch to us. We are most interested in things that operate outside of capitalist ventures that operate with their own life.
I just read the sort of naive and derogatory sub-cultural commentary one might have expected from a right-wing newspaper years ago, except written by a proponent of electronic music and one of Australia’s favourite underground crews – Pilerats. They’re actually a pretty cool crew who have broken a lot of ground for electronica, and have established a real emergence in niche beats in Western Australia.
You can read their article here to get up to steam.
Their article is quite hilarious. I quite liked it in a few respect, but generally I thought it a bit disrespectful to our history and culture, and didn’t pay heed to the bravery of movements years ago. To be fair, they didn’t actually know about their history, they just wanted to be hip to new movements and failed completely by “tracking” an old culture as something new. What from? A YouTube post. Kids these days, sheesh. Rabble rabble.
I responded to their Facebook post and told them it’s exactly the kind of thing I might have written ten years ago. They replied “But you didn’t” in typical fluoro yolo fashion, which was just the sort of cute cheeky kid thing I was expecting from someone in full teenage bloom.
But yeah, actually I did. I used to flame-war daily with faux hippies full of piss and vinegar on a now-defunct Australian outdoor music forum. Also – I might add – from a standpoint of being involved in the actual scene, rather than someone uninformed on the outside peering in. In 2005, things were actually at their peak in the Australian doof scene. When addressing “bush doofs”, you guys at Pilerats caught onto a movement that has been in its decline.
I mean, to be fair, the author said he had actually never attended a doof before, but he is entitled to have an opinion that doofs are exactly the same as Future. I mean c’mon, people just love to party and these doof cunts quite clearly think they’re better than everyone else.
So anyway, I figured I’d get you kids started with some actual information about “bush doofs”.
Australian doof culture (arguably) started at some point in the early 90s. It was a movement exported from ex-pats, punkers and activists who were Goa trance enthusiasts, in a way of rebelling against the conventions of mainstream rave culture. These pioneers started putting on sound systems in city parks, as well as out in the bush. Many doofs were located hours away from the city, and the only way you could have known about them was to be on one of only a couple of internet billboard forums like Australiens or Oztrance, or you would have had to have been on the grape vine.
The more mainstream doofs were titles like Exodus, Every Picture Tells A Story, Earthdance and Beyond The Brain. There were crews like The Non-Bossy Posse, Sundance and Tribeadelic. Heard of Byron Bay’s doof scene? It was in supremacy at a former whale abbatoir called the Epicentre, that was open 7 days a week and populated by a tribes of hippies. Around northern NSW, you might have gotten a hand-drawn flyer at a cafe randomly saying “Full-Moon tonight, near the big tree, DJs Franny, Booth, Ray Castle, bring good vibez” or some such platitude. It was cute.
Doofs were amazing mind-bending experiments in lighting, sound and social perception distortion with only 100+ attendees, that were artfully and tastefully done to bring out the most in a raving experience. They weren’t always comfortable, but all the participants were amazingly switched on individuals who actually did dwell on the fringes of society and live their own way.
One of the primary differences was the socially active nature of doof culture. They didn’t just do this stuff to have a party and get munted. There were often strong political and environmental messages that connected the main body of participants, rather than drugs being the primary influence for the movement. Many doofs were organised primarily in assistance of protest directly outside uranium mines on solar power sound systems by troupes of nomads who didn’t take drugs from day to day.
They participated in social activism on the front lines. Ask Monkey Marc, Izzy Brown or DJ Wasabi aka The Combat Wombats, who were a part of the Earth Dreaming troupe. Ask Robyn of the Mutoid Waste Company, who manufactured incredible metal structures in Max Max-style road trips all over Australia. They had no jobs and were fully dedicated to the doof lifestyle with no income. They still help refugees and environmental charities to this day, and would be appalled to be debased to the level that all they were doing it for was just to get munted.
Eventually in places like northern NSW, crews of street kids started invading and smashing up parties, attracted by the freedom of drugs and other liberties at doofs. Many country kids with bogan attitudes also latched onto these freedoms and used it as an excuse to sell LSD to their mates and drink heaps of piss, also attracting the thug element in the cross-over movement called “psy-boganism” in some circles. The “Faux hippy” generic conventions as discussed by Pilerats started taking place around the early 2000s with the rising popularity of festivals like Earthcore, and the psytrance hippy uniform was donned by many younger crew.
So there’s a bit more learn for you. If you’re into history of cultures and shit.
If you wish to learn more and you’re interested in the more intelligent approaches discussed above, an excellent place to start is Graham St.John, who is a PHD academic writing on the subject of Australian doof culture. You can access his material here. It may be good to do research on this subject rather than hitting YouTube for a recycled video clip.
Also, you might be interested to know that doofs weren’t founded on the genre known as psytrance, that came into supremacy later on in the late 90s as championed by guys like Simon Posford, GMS and Tip Records. Focus for psytrance came more from the more exciting experimental and industrial electronic form known as Goa trance, of which the Australian (and still occasionally active) Space Tribe originated in.
A great deal of what you listen to at Australian “bush doofs” is festival music, and about half the content is mostly progressive trance of which was more likely to have been heard at a mainstream rave back in the day. A great deal of psytrance out there would be considered too dark or “weird” for the majority of big psytrance festivals in Australia.
Perhaps doof culture is dead these days in light of Pilerats’ article. They pretty much hit it on the head when they comment that mainstream psytrance festivals are populated by people who just act switched on, but are quite clearly not and have hypocritical attitudes. Many Maitreya and Rainbow Serpent Festival participants don’t live by environmental and socially conscious ideology previously championed by earth-friendly ravers.
I don’t see the organisers of such festivals complaining now though. Their structure has become corporate and many doof tourists will pay hundreds of dollars to rave outside. If you times the ticket price of $330 by 10-20k, you have a figure in its millions. Of course this would be pretty lucrative to miss out on. To be fair, the originators of festivals like Earthcore, Rainbow, Maitreya and Earth Frequency have been at it for years and have gotten the formula down now. What else can they do? Where else can they go? They probably do love their work. But it’s spawned into something different and commercial that a lot of original doofers would not really be keen to call doof culture.
It may not be responsible to sell the culture any more at this point, and the ideology has been ground to dust by every tanned, dreadlocked and custom hippy clothed Adonis and Aphrodite’s. One would observe no overall social concept beyond your standard PLUR tenements that could be accessed at any city nightclub, and one would observe a lot of rubbish left behind. That’s not going to stop the parties going on from year to year, and yes they will eventually hold no more value than Future Music.
I’m 35 years old now. I was actually one of the younger doofers. Perhaps there are new social values now in electronic music. But.
It’s far more likely that there are less values now if younger crew think raves are for are conduits for getting wasted. I really would like to believe that intelligent culture can breed spiritual insight and social change WITHOUT drugs. But ay, maybe I should stop like thinking so much and get swaggy on some farkin’ pingers cunt! YOLO!
Note: We would like to thank Pilerats for their good humour, and hopefully you have learned something from us! Thank you for your contribution to Australian electronic music culture! 🙂
Are you sick of the usual Lonely Planet-style holiday in Asia?
This new idea focuses on travelling as a fan of music and art first, and features Australia as a rightful part of the Asian path!
An interesting and relevant interview with a brand-new act focused on the jungle environment of Malaysia – Bass Sekolah.
New video by Armand Hammer (feat. L’Wren) with beats by local beatsmith DOS4GW! Get on this one.