Ubre Blanca selects…16th September, 2014

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Glasgow duo Ubre Blanca describe themselves as soundtrack makers of a film that doesn’t exist yet; they mine an analog synthesis of a visceral futuristic realm, fusing this revivalism with contemporary sound design to create expansive sonic atmospheres. Andy Brown, once the unrelenting drummer for Divorce, joins his brother in darkness Joel Stone, formerly of ShitDisco, to select some of their most influential soundtracks.

You can catch them live at The Art School this Friday for Eclair Fifi & Pals.

1. La Ragazza dal Pigiama Giallo (music: Riz Ortolani; track: Corpo De Linda)
Nothing in music implies confusion and tension more than a fast, hypnotic arpeggiator. Like ‘I Feel Love’ stripped of all the love, a better title would be ‘I Feel Weird’. Ortolani also created the fantastic soundtrack for ‘Cannibal Holocaust’.

2. Sorcerer (music: Tangerine Dream; track: Betrayal)
From William Friedkin’s first movie after ‘The Exorcist’ which, even with it’s spooky title, isn’t a horror movie at all. Regardless, Tangerine Dream’s soundtrack is mindblowing.

3. Beyond The Black Rainbow (music: Sinoia Caves; track: Forever Dilating Eye)
A modern soundtrack this time. “…Black Rainbow” came out in 2010 but it’s soundtrack is only being released now. Excellent, dark, brooding synth mantras that suit the film’s sense of claustrophobic foreboding perfectly.

4. Prince Of Darkness (music: John Carpenter & Alan Howarth)
Obviously a hero of ours. It was tough to pick a track by him that isn’t already burned into everybody’s memory, which is a testament to how affecting his music was. “Prince Of Darkness” is the most genuinely frightening of his soundtracks, Carpenter’s pinnacle of sheer fear.

5. Bui Omega (music: Goblin; track: Buio Omega)
Goblin were a necessary addition as well. ‘Suspiria’, ‘Tenebrae’ and ‘Profundo Rosso’ get a love of the love, deservedly so, but there are diamonds littered throughout their soundtrack work. When they go into a groove full-tilt, like they do here, it’s stunning. The bass-line is a thing of wonder!

Green Door Studio in Ghana and Belize12th September, 2014

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On the September 26th The Art School will be taken over by Green Door Studio, an analogue recording hub and education space based in Finnieston that was recently described by Resident Advisor as “the beating heart of the Glasgow music scene.” Green Door’s nurturing of acts like Golden Teacher and Whilst, along with the sonic quality they have facilitated with such group’s recorded output, is already well documented. Less has been written about the studios continual commitment to youth education and cross cultural exchange, an ethos that is born out in the polyrythms and instrumentation that have come to be associated with the studio’s sound. As Laurie and Oli Pitt from Golden Teach make clear, there is a practical as well as musical element to such exchanges, “We have both been involved with projects at the Green Door since we came to Glasgow, both as participants exhausting every possible course they offered and also helping out with other courses and workshops they run for younger kids: doing drumming lessons and helping with recording sessions. Its all very informal and everything’s usually repaid with favours or recording time which we’ve recently been using to record all the Golden Teacher EP’s.”

The 26th will see Green Door launch a new youth music project that sees this exchange travel across to the Lebeha Drum Centre in Belize and Tafi Atome Cultural Village in Ghana. Three collaborative groups of young people (each with 2 Glaswegians, 2 Ghanaians and 2 Belizians), will each write, perform and record 3 songs that will then be released world-wide on Optimo Music and presented at a final Celebration Performance at the Glasgow African Caribbean Centre in May 2015. The young people will explore what the Pitt brother’s term, “ the obvious links between contemporary western dance music ( all music to some extent) and traditional African drumming” through workshops in Ghanaian and Garifuna Drumming, Electronic Music Composition, and Basic Recording, Overdubbing and Editing Skills, while making use a brand new mobile recording studio.

Surmised in typically succinct form by the Pitt brothers, this is an opportunity for some particularly, “Bangin tunes made by enthusiastic young people.” We spoke to Emily from Green Door about the project in general and this fund-raising party specifically, which sees Optimo’s JD Twitch, Golden Teacher, Whilst and Ghana Soundz all taking to the Assembly Hall stage in support.

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Hi Emily, what’s the context of this project?
We’ve been running West African drumming workshops after school in the studio in conjunction with Glasgow City Council and had the pleasure two years ago of studying Ga drumming under Master Drummer Ni Tetti Tetteh at the Kusun Cultural Center in Accra, Ghana. At the start of this year we also went to two drum schools in Belize to study Garifuna and Maroon Creole drumming in the villages of Hopkins and Punta Gorda. On our various travels we came across Lebeha drum school in Hopkins and The Tafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary youth group in the Volta Region of Ghana.

In Hopkins we were blown away by the talent and exuberance of the local youths whenever they jumped on Lebeha drum school’s drums (they also ran circles round Stuart when he played football with them on the beach). On Chinese New Year, when the whole village was out partying, we were introduced to Ted Mckoy, who had recently returned home from studying in North America and was talking about setting up a non profit community interest recording studio (similar to what we do at Green Door) as part of the Nituwana foundation that he runs to promote the unique local culture in Hopkins. Meeting Ted gave us the inspiration to try and work out a way that we could link what we do at Green Door with some of the youth projects that we had encountered.

The previous year in Ghana we had had the privilege of watching the young people in Tafi Atome put on a mesmerising Borborbor drum and dance performance and had come away keen to try and find a way of returning and documenting their music (the community has no access to any recording facilities). We had also been working in the studio back in Glasgow with young musicians from the likes of Golden Teacher and Whilst who were making live analog electronic music which often incorporates traditional West African rhythms along with other musical elements from all over the world.

The exciting prospect of seeing what would happen if we paired up some of the young musicians that we work with in Glasgow with the young musicians in Belize and Ghana got Emily working on a funding application to try and make it happen. And when we discussed the proposed project with JD Twitch who runs the Optimo Music record label (and is behind the Autonomous Africa EP’s) he told us that he’d love to release the results on record.

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Have Green Door has been involved in exchanges before?
This is the first international musical cultural exchange project that we’ve run as a studio. But a passion and interest in how the musical elements and rhythms of traditional West African music have fed into the music of both North and South America (Bluegrass, Blues, jazz, R’n'B, Funk, Rock’n'Roll and Hip Hop in North America, and the likes of Cumbia, Soca, Rumba, Samba and other Afro-Latin American musical styles in Central and South America, not to mention the many genres of Afro-Caribbean music), had lead to us travelling to Africa and Central America to study traditional drumming styles.

What could you tell me about them? Are you still working
in the same areas or with the same communities or groups? What has happened since?

The drumming that we studied in Ghana alongside Laurie and Oliver Pitt from Golden Teacher and Julia from Fem Bitch Nation lead to us teaching after-school drumming workshops for young people from the Finnieston area of Glasgow. And some of the young people have since also participated in other Green Door workshops and projects including this cultural exchange project.

What was learnt, exchanged and created?
This project will focus on exchanging rhythmic styles between Belize, Ghana and Glasgow—Laurie and Oliver Pitt will be lading workshops in Ghanaian rhythms for the young people in Belize and Garifuna/Kriol rhythms in Ghana. We will also be bringing our portable electronic music studio and offering workshops in electronic music. In addition, we will bring a mobile recording studio (using a Tascam DP03 8-track, mics and monitors), and leading recording skills workshops.

We are holding the fundraiser so that we can furnish each youth music group with their own mobile recording studio, so that they can continue to write, collaborate, and record music well after the project finishes.

laurie

How has it affected your personal practice as a musician and as a studio?
African polyrhythms and time signatures are incredibly fun to play around with. And their addition as live percussion can transform relatively simple drum machine loops into organic hypnotic tracks. The extra percussion we’ve picked up along the way has been used on a surprising range of musical styles recorded in the Green Door. We’re also probably the only recording studio in Glasgow that has a set of Kpanlogo drums from Ghana and they’ve appeared on quite a few recordings and releases that have come out of the studio.

What kind of differences have you already seen them do? What are the intentions with this current project?

Alot of our current work focuses on encouraging young people from different backgrounds (whether it’s cultural, economic or social) to collaborate with each other musically. This happens, for example, in our Sonic Youths project, where we teach music production skills to young musicians not in employment, education or training—in these workshops you might get a drummer who is deeply entrenched in Death Metal pairing up with a classically-trained piano-player and another who only ever makes music with synthesizers all trying to bash out a Bo Diddley cover for a recording project. It’s surprising how fast people let their guard down and open their ears to new ideas and approaches to music.

We also run a project called Supergroups, where each month we select an unsigned band who get 5 days in the studio to record, mix and master a 4-5 song EP. Then, every 4th month, the 3 bands from the previous 3 months form a “Supergroup,” who get 2 days to rehearse and write, and 3 days to record and mix. I’ve seen rehearsals where it starts with 6 people who have never met and it’s a bit awkward…then you plug in a guitar and someone starts toying with a Birthday Party riff, everyone’s ears perk up and then the next thing you know they’re off…and 8 hours later I had to kick them out of the studio when the rehearsal time ran up!

So for this project, we thought we would broaden the horizon even further and encourage young people living on other ends of the world to form a band (well, 3 bands) and make a record. Myself, Stuart, Ollie and Laurie are volunteering to be the mentors for the project, with one of us working with each band (which has 3 members from Glasgow, 2 from Ghana and 2 from Belize).

How do you think the project affects the music community of each area involved (including Glasgow)?
We are encouraging the young people to interact with other musicians from diverse backgrounds, forming both musical relationships and friendships throughout the year. I think it also helps the young people to gain a greater understanding of their own community, while broadening their appreciation of other styles of music.

I think it’s also interesting to see how musical styles have travelled and transformed. For example, the Kriols of Belize are originally of West African and Scottish/Irish ancestry. You can hear West African rhythms clearly in their style of drumming. At the start of the project, I made a compilation CD for all of the young people, featuring music from Ghana, Belize and Glasgow (including Boroborbor, Lebeha’s Drum Troupe, and Glasgow-based artists involved in the project such as Golden Teacher and Whilst)—it was interesting to hear the threads of influence in all directions (and the project hadn’t even started yet!).

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What is the Lebeha Drumming Center?
Lebeha runs a drumming school and accommodation in the Garifuna village of Hopkins, Belize. They also work with the local young people, running a youth group called Tuteme Band. More info can be found here: http://lebeha.com/

What is the Tafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary?
Tafi Atome is one of the most well run ecotourism projects in Ghana. Proceeds are reinvested in the community, including the recent construction of a medical clinic (unfortunately closed due to lack of medical staff). They also run a youth music project.

Why is cultural interaction important in the creation of music?
Well… music would be pretty boring and repetitive if there was never any cross-pollination of style. As lovers of music, we live to discover and explore new styles and incorporate them into our own work. As leaders of workshops and recording engineers, we like to “shake things up” and get people to think outside of the genre of music they think they are making—once you can break it down to an abstract series of sounds (and stay away from categories and classifications…are you trying to be an artist or a librarian?), people act more intuitively, and, ultimately, make weirder, wilder music.

What kind of possibilities do you think this project can create?
We hope this is the prototype of a project which can be repeated numerous times with youth music groups from all over the world. We would like to establish a network of youth music projects, so that they can communicate with each other, share musical styles and lessons, and collaborate on future recordings.

Personal Union11th September, 2014

results-referendum-graphic

In 1603, under the rule of James I, the crowns of England and Scotland became united under what is known as a ‘Perfect Union’. The referendum, only 1 week away, is challenging this 400 year union, with a very real possibility that Scotland will again be an independent country.

Personal Union was created by a group of artists and staff at the Glasgow School of Art Students’ Association (aka The Art School), the project was headed up by Winnie Herbstein and Josh Hill who wanted to provide the school with an independent poll that created a simulated experience of voting within a hedonistic celebratory context.

The Art School played host to the official Reid Building opening party earlier this year, over 900 people flowed into the venue to celebrate the return to Garnethill, it was a perfect opportunity to find out the opinion of its patrons. This certainly wasn’t the most accurate poll, people were drunk, people were making out in the booths -there was no registry and no invigilators- but this was the intention: it was an opportunity for people to try out new behaviours in a voting booth.

Personal Union (2014)

Personal Union (2014)


Personal Union (2014)

The first part of the installation, installed in the Assembly Hall referenced the heraldic motifs of the two countries. Two banners, one on either side of the booths framed the voters, in much the same way they would sit either side of a cathedral alter. Centre stage hung a mirror ball built to the proportions of the new one pound coin, due for release in 2017 and modelled on the old threepenny bit. Its relationship with the two flags highlighted the currencies spectral influence over the referendum; economics and finance as the central debate in the referendum. It also alluded to a future beyond the referendum.

Four polling booths sat in between the banners, they were adorned with the livery of the Scottish and English crests. Inside the booth, a supposedly neutral zone for the voter, was placed a voting box and ballot.

Although the result of the poll was people’s temporal experience inside them, something was left, an artefact… large stacks of voting slips.

Personal Union (2014) - Booths

Personal Union (2014) – Booths

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Astral Black presents…2nd September, 2014

ASTRAL-BLACK-SPOOKY

After a full-house for their debut party at The Art School, Astral Black are returning this Friday for the second instalment. This time they’ve invited one of the most important grime producers of our generation: Spooky. As a resident DJ for London’s infamous grime crew Slew Dem, and holding down a residency at London’s Boxed club night and two radio show residencies (DejaVu + Mode FM), Spooky has certainly earned his reputation as one of the scene’s most precise and energetic DJs. Renowned for his rapid mix style, Spooky’s certainly no rookie when it comes to turning up the dance floor from small talk to medium talk.

Astral Black resident and edit king, DJ Milktray, took some time to catch up with the acclaimed producer. Revealing himself to be a man of few words, but many punchlines.

Hi, Spooky, for those who don’t already know – who is Spooky?
Just a fat bastard who knows how to mix and make tunes. And made that tune called Spartan.

How did your start in music come around? What inspired your choppy style of making music?
Started doing music because it was either that, or fuck all. As for my choppy style of music making… that stems from hearing all these “bootlegs” of popular tunes at the time and going “we can make our own”.

You have worked with/played with most of the dons in the grime scene. Is there any vocalist or MC you would like to work with and why, not specifically in grime.
Don’t want to start naming names ‘coz if I do and we don’t make it happen then it’s just pointless.

What do you expect from a Glasgow crowd?
As long as they’re up for it and can keep up with me then I just expect nothing more than absolute madness.

Top 3 tunes that come up in every spooky set?
I’ve started playing varied sets but as long as I’ve got 1 version of ‘Spartan’ on me, anything “Pulse” related and ‘Playground’.

 

 

 

Introducing… Astral Black1st July, 2014

Astral Black launches at their new Glasgow home this Friday, since their inception last year they’ve built a solid reputation with a series of releases and parties that have resolutely hit the mark. Starting out with limited cassette runs from the likes of Edinburgh beat-maker Jaisu and Glasgow’s grime aficionado Inkke, the label keeps the home fires burning this year with a new DJ MIlktray 12″, while forging ties with Southern counterparts Budgie and Darq E Freaker. The Art School spoke with label head Jon Phonics and DJ Milktray about what’s coming up for Astral Black.

For those who aren’t familiar, what should we know about Astral Black?
Jon: Astral Black is a record label and club night that was started in early 2013. So far we’ve released music from myself, Jaisu, Inkke and Opal Block with records on the way from Budgie and DJ Milktray. We’ve had a club residency at The Alibi in Dalston which is a residents focused night but occasionally we bring in the odd special guest or two, previously we’ve had Slugabed, Alexander Nut and S-Type come through for us and we’ll be bringing Darq E Freaker for our first party at The Art School.

What can you tell me about this mix? Is it a collaboration?
Jon: This mix is kind of an influences mix for our Milkmakerz project, so classic Dipset, Kanye productions, Timbaland productions and newer stuff that we’re into, like young thug and robb bank$ an’ that. We just made a folder of songs and then put them together in the popular DJ style.

Milktray: Yeah, we thought it would be a good idea to compile a mix of rad tunes old and new. It’s also good to get people in the mood for the vibe we bring to the parties so you can put it on Friday whilst you getting ready before you hit the clurb.

What else is coming up for Astral Black?
Jon: Release wise we’ve got the Budgie 12″ up next followed by a Jaisu record and hopefully a Milktray 12″. Putting on parties, we’re back in London for our residency at The Alibi the night after The Art School, followed by an Edinburgh party at Sneaky Pete’s on July 9th and our boat party with Hyponik at this years Soundwave festival in Croatia, which should be rad! Some new t-shirt designs are on the way and just generally trying to always do dope shit and making sure there’s always dope shit to be done.

What have you got coming up as DJ Milktray? It’s been a pretty big year for you in many ways and has no sign of holding up, what’ve been some of your highlights?
Milktray: I’ve just been trying to DJ in clubs a much as possible as that’s really fun, and making a bunch of music at the same time. Coming up I have a few original things and remixes coming out on some rad labels aswell as some stuff from this Milkmakerz project. The main highlight really is just people fucking with my music and getting to meet a bunch of sound people.

Jon P, what have you got coming up this summer? What’s this boat party all about?
Jon: Ive got my new EP White Neckle dropping on July 7th via First Word records. That’s out on digital and 7″ vinyl and followed closely by another release which is a 3 track 12″ for Alex Nut’s Hotep label. I also have a collaboration project with my good friend and talented rapper Jam Baxter dropping mid-July on High Focus, that’s called Fresh Flesh, with the exception of one track we’ve made it all in the last month so it’s nice to have something so new released so quickly. As for the boat party, I was booked to play at Soundwave festival and they asked if we wanted to host an Astral Black boat party, so we teamed up with Hyponik to make it happen. Myself, Opal Block & The Purist are reppin’ Astral Black and Om-Unit B2B Reso are reppin’ for Hyponik. 4 hours on a boat in the sea sounds ideal, so it’s a great pleasure to have been asked. Last time I was on a boat party out there i saw a dolphin so y’know, might see another dolphin or something…

What are your favourite things to do in the summer? If you came to a BBQ, what would you bring?
Jon: Two halloumis. One for me, one for sharing.

Milktray: In the summer I like to eat ice lollies most, but for a BBQ I’d probably not bring that, probably bring some meats and if I felt fancy maybe a potato salad.

Why did you pick Darq E Freaker for your Art School debut?
Jon: Ohh, a serious note to end on eh? Well, we’d like to think the sound we’re cultivating with Astral Black exists at the fork in the road where grime and hip-hop meet. Darq E naturally has the grime influence in his sound from coming up in Nu Brand Flexxx and was the first kid from that scene to really bridge it with hip-hop on his collab with Danny Brown. Them lot come through most of our London parties and are always in the house at Budgie’s Livin Proof night so we’ve been meaning to bring Darq E in for a minute and felt it was fitting for our first Glasgow party considering his relationship with Numbers.