News

Enigmatic techno player Gesloten Cirkel makes his Edinburgh live debut for Overground x Substance this Friday 29th March

25 March 2019 -

Substance are more than just a wee bit excited to have bagged this week’s guest, finally.  In their own words:

‘After literally years of independently tracking one the most elusive and sought after artists of our world, with apparent dead ends aplenty, we’ve finally got our man and bring Gesloten Cirkel to The Bongo for a debut appearance in the Capital.

The full live show has only graced select dance floors and is the sonic attack we’d always hoped for, fusing those untouchable underground anthems with live hardware experimentation, twisting acid, techno and electro into brave new forms.

Strap yourself in, this is going to be wild.’

MORE INFO / TICKETS

Richard Brophy did a good interview with the elusive producer for Juno on the release of his debut album, Submit X, back in 2014.  It’s well worth a read (see below)…

Richard Brophy interviews Gesloten Cirkel, the mysterious producer behind one of this year’s best albums.

Gesloten Cirkel is an enigma wrapped up in a mystery. Named after a quote from I-F during an interview in the documentary, When I Sold My Soul To The Machine, this artist has only put out a handful of records in the past five years. Despite this, his recently released debut album Submit X was one of the most anticipated – and is also one of the most acclaimed – works of 2014. The reason he is held in such high regard is because while there are references to other styles, artists and communities in his music, what he makes is highly distinctive, with that rare ability to make people sit up and listen.

Gesloten Cirkel’s self-titled debut record appeared on I-F’s Murder Capital in 2009, the first release on that label in seven years. The screeching strings and shriek of a rooster on the driving techno of the title track sounded like a rude wake-up in an age of digital sterility, while “Twisted Balloon” was just as head-turning, consisting of grainy beats, grimy acid and slow-motion sirens. Following this debut, there was a two-year wait until the next Gesloten Cirkel release, Moustache Techno Series 001. That release kick-started David Vunk’s Moustache Techno sub-label and featured the eerie, bassy electro of “Yamagic” and the wonky, offbeat house of “Insummer”.

Like its predecessor, Series 001 became a sought-after release, with copies now on offer for nearly €80 (£65) online. Following the release of Series 001, there was another period of radio silence – with the exception of a short, high-tempo ghetto mix for Juno Plus – until 2013, when Gesloten put out the reduced electro drums and menacing bass of Hole on Berceuse Heroique. Earlier this year, he announced that he was putting out an album, Submit X, also on Murder Capital.

Was he surprised by the reaction to his first few records and why has he only put out such a small amount of music in the past five years? “Yeah, I was surprised, but also I am not sure a lot of copies were pressed,” he says about these records. “Music is mostly a hobby for me and I don’t want to make worthless releases. I do it to enjoy it, but I have to be confident in the package to release it with a price tag. That being said, I pump out recordings pretty often and post them online on Intergalactic FM.”

Although we have not yet reached the halfway mark of this year, Submit X is easily a contender for album of 2014. Like previous releases by this artist, it is rooted in grimy acid, techno and electro. Grainy drums are pushed to the point of distortion, acid spews out like bile and there are even some vocals on “Stakan”, “Feat Liette” and the over the top robo-electro of “Zombiemachine”.

However, Submit X is just as varied as his singles. It rages from the dirgeful Goth intro of “Stakapella” and its follow-up, the long-slung electro bass and wavy vocals of “Stakan”, to “Vader”, a nasty, distorted sewer techno banger. “Stakans” is almost catchy and sounds like it could be a big track – would Gesloten Cirkel be happy if his music became known by a wider audience? “I don’t care! I am happy if one person almost enjoyed it. “Stakan” was a stab at Emo wave,” he explains. “It used to have a few more lines of vocals that were really silly, but I didn’t record them so the track stayed pretty dark.”

He explains that “Stakan” was also the track that provided the idea for Gesloten Cirkel to record an album in the first place. “I played it live in 2010 in The Hague after the first EP was released and got nice feedback at the show. I actually made it in the same week as “Twisted Balloon”, so I think I mixed the two together at the live show. I accidentally deleted those files during some MPC maintenance,” he adds.

“Later, I put that track in a mega mix that was for a contest on IFM. The Murder Capital boss (I-F) liked it and I sent him some versions. I didn’t like them too much so it didn’t drive me to finish a release. Then work took all my time. I sent a demo version of “Feat. Liette” after I returned to working on a release for Murder Capital and that got some airplay. It was pretty rough and the vocals were clashing in some parts, but I think I-F still plays that version. So with two tracks kind of done, I said I am going to do an album. Most of the compilation and polishing was done in December 2013 when I had time and then I procrastinated with artwork for a bit.”

Now available in its final version, “Feat Liette” is an insistent, pulsing affair. Like a dark, slowed down EBM riposte to Alden Tyrell’s “La Voix”, it features an unnamed vocalist wittering away in an unidentifiable tongue. On “Zombiemachine Acid” and “Zombiemachine” the artist delivers more vocals. This time, they are accompanied by murderous basslines, grainy kicks and epic, soaring synth lines. The vocal element comprises a pitched down robotic tones ordering listeners to “follow the leader”. It sounds like Gesloten Cirkel is having a laugh. Does he not take things too seriously and like to inject some humour into his music?

“Funny? You think I’m funny”, comes the all-caps response by email. “I guess it is sort of a formula. I like tracks to have character – be it a sound or melody or solo but yes, life is one big joke.”

But there are things that this producer won’t discuss. “Zombiemachine” sounds similar to the grainy, acid-fuelled electro-techno that Hague labels like Panzerkreuz and Bunker release. Is he inspired by them?

“No comment.”

What about the vocals on the album; who is the vocalist on “Stakan” and what language is the unidentified woman signing in on “Feat Liette”?

“No comment.”

Fair enough, let’s steer it back towards the music. There are exceptions to Gesloten Cirkel’s bombastic electro-techno sound, and the most notable one here is the upbeat, warbling, lo-fi synths on “Chatters”. It sounds more melodic than the rest of Submit X – is this an area Gesloten Cirkel is keen to explore? “That track was a keyboard jam that I’ve set up to sound like some chiptunes – I don’t think it is that deep. I am more psyched that it was all in one take,” he says. “I definitely want to play live melodies more, but it takes a lot of practice.”

Would he ever consider making a soundtrack/home listening album à la DJ Overdose or like one of Danny Wolfers’ side projects? “I do make a bunch of ambient and sometimes a chill track, but I don’t plan on putting those out. I would rather score a film or do some sound design than make a home listening release,” he replies.

There is an argument that he should stick to what he knows best, and the title track sees Gesloten Cirkel channel a similar type of electro funk as “Yamagic” but with looped vocal stutters replacing the ethereal, dreamy textures. “Vader” is a banging, straight down the line techno track, while “Arrested Development” is inspired by Hague electro. However, it veers unexpectedly into a spiralling guitar solo before ending with Gesloten Cirkel spitting acid-soaked nails all over the arrangement. Did he sample a hard rock guitar for “Arrested Development”?

“No comment”.

Thankfully, he is slightly more forthcoming when asked about the influence of industrial music on Submit X. “Yes, I am sure it was inspired by it. I don’t listen to IFM radio often, but I know it influences my taste in sound. Mostly I tune into Murder Capital radio and it plays all sorts of dark and industrial and minimal sounds – especially on Black Mondays.”

So while Gesloten Cirkel’s music operates in its own world, The Hague’s electro and techno sound and the community that centres around I-F’s Intergalactic FM radio station seem like his spiritual home. A sign of how close Gesloten Cirkel is to this community is evidenced by the fact that his debut release relaunched I-F’s Murder Capital label and the follow-up provided the kick-start for David Vunk’s Moustache Techno sub-label. Speaking to this writer, Gesloten Cirkel says that he feels most affinity with artists from this milieu.

“Most of my contact with artists is through online chat on IFM,” he says. “There is an obvious connection since we discuss all sorts of things, including music production and the IFM radio site. I haven’t been participating in production of various media involved with the radio, TV or website code all that much in the past years due to my day job, but still – that is my main contact and reason for contact,” he adds.

The scant amount of information that is available about this producer suggest that he is Russian or based in Russia, which would explain his interest in developing relationships with like-minded artists online. As he is based away from the Dutch west coast nerve centre, he also places importance on face-to-face contact with his peers.

“When it is possible, I try to meet artists I’ve met in chat or forums before their gigs and just shoot the shit. On the rare occasion that I do play, I am with like-minded people who are on the bill or are putting on the show. It is really good to just talk with people who are moving through time alongside you, instead of getting too carried away or attached to things you can’t influence or be influenced by directly,” he believes.

In spite of this back story, not everything adds up. All of the topical questions that this writer sent to Gesloten Cirkel about Russia via email – his views on its incursion into Ukraine; its treatment of homosexuals and even questions about the development of electronic music in his home country – are unanswered. Of course it’s not unusual for some artists to dodge unrelated topics and to instead focus on talking about their new release or recent records. But then there is another strange twist – in the midst of preparing a new set of questions to send him by email, Gesloten Cirkel puts out a tweet stating that all of the proceeds from sales of Submit X will go directly to IFM, which recently announced it had been hit with a large fine for filing its tax reports late in 2010 and 2011.

It seems like such a selfless act for a producer who does not own the station that it immediately raises suspicions that Gesloten Cirkel may not be who he seems. Why has he decided to do this?

“Because IFM is the place – doesn’t everyone support what they like? Nothing is for granted. Everything is taxed and everyone needs a break sometime. The amount of work that goes into IFM, I know first hand – so I know where my earnings end up,” he answers obtusely.

It sounds like a very altruistic move, but Gesloten Cirkel would probably argue that it is money well spent and arguably, the producer’s debut album is shaped and influenced by I-F’s multi-channel digital broadcasting empire. “They are all very talented, self-driven, creative and reachable,” he says of the IFM community, justifying his donation.

“There is such a huge amount of material that I hear from these people and the IFM radio that I can hardly keep up with my influences anymore. Obviously there are tracks I don’t even remember that influence my melody or synth patches. That’s another thing, if I hear some old Paul Johnson or Armani record, these artists feel really far away and from another planet, so I can’t just go, ‘hey do you have more tracks like that or, hey how is that bass even made?’ So I kind of get inspired by them to make my own versions. But if I hear some Legowelt or Mark Du Mosch or I-F, I almost don’t want to know how they made that because I can just ask. And also, what’s the point of me jacking their production values or patterns? I guess it happens anyway whether I want to or not.”

This kind of interaction was impossible before the internet and it is one of the main reasons why an artist like Gesloten Cirkel is able to source and soak up all of these sounds on IFM, communicate with some of the artists who made the music and then deliver a unique interpretation of what he has absorbed.

It’s a different situation to the ’90s, as he recalls. “I was really blown away by Live at the Liquid Rooms by Jeff Mills in the late ’90s. He was already a superstar by then and obviously I couldn’t just talk to him or other acts like Ciccone Youth or Nirvana about what was on my mind. I probably liked it (Live at the Liquid Rooms) because it was marketed to me and my friends also liked it.”

“Richard D James’ album also blew me away and lots of Future Sound Of London stuff. I couldn’t talk to them or people that were involved with them. I could talk to other fans and hope that some synth magazine somewhere would reveal just a few bits or techniques that they used. So, after a while I really got tired of that and just did my thing and talked to other like-minded people. So now I am happy to be around the exact people you see me on the bill with,” he adds.

Possibly the other reason why the artist is comfortable giving the money to IFM is because he works full-time and has the financial wherewithal not to be reliant on touring or releasing records. On the subject of whether he will play live to promote Submit X, he says that he has “no tour and no gigs planned due to work”.

At the same time, he believes it is “very hard” to mix full-time work with music-making. “You have to be very mindful of funds, promotions, investments of time. It is basically running your own business that is powered by your creativity. You can sit at a desk and use 1/10th of that creativity per month. That is, until you get promoted. Then you are fucked,” he believes. Nonetheless, he can always slip back into his Gesloten Cirkel alter ego. Apart from his own releases, he has also remixed Mark Du Mosch and Conforce. Is it something he enjoys and does he approach it differently to making his own music?

“Not really. I just make my own track and put their name on it usually. Sometimes it turns out really bad because I can’t make it my own enough. I should probably approach it differently, and then I would enjoy it more,” he explains.

As a parting shot, I ask him if he has any other releases planned apart from his debut album.
“I don’t know. I don’t want to think about it,” he replies curtly, before signing off for good. With a debut album like Submit Xto his credit, it’s no wonder that he’s reluctant to set the studio wheels in motion for some time.

Interview by Richard Brophy

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Sunil Sharpe, aka ‘Dublin’s Jeff Mills’, headlines Overground x Pulse this Friday 7th December

05 December 2018 -

Sunil Sharpe makes his Edinburgh debut for Overground x Pulse this Friday.  He’s been kicking around the Irish techno scene for a good while but has been touring internationally more and more of late, so it’s an exciting booking for the Bongo and should be a great night for techno fans.

Here’s a good interview (courtesy of Fabric’s blog) with the man hailed by some as ‘Dublin’s answer to Jeff Mills’, where he name-checks some of his earliest influences as a DJ, demonstrating the unpretentiousness which has no doubt been core to his enduring success (and includes a track by Edinburgh’s own Neil Landstrumm, no less)….

TICKETS

CORNERSTONE TRACKS

Sunil Sharpe charts the start of his DJ career

Until a few years ago, it was quite rare to hear the name Sunil Sharpe outside of Ireland. The Dublin-born artist has been considered one of the country’s best techno DJs for the best part of a decade, but his growing following has meant you’re now as likely to find him at places like Bassiani or Concrete as you are anywhere in the Irish capital.

The increased interest surrounding Sharpe is easily explained. Over the years he’s developed an outstanding talent for mixing records, sometimes cutting between 30 tracks or more in the space of an hour. A string of banging techno releases has also helped, and his forthcoming On A Roll LP with DeFeKT under their Tinfoil alias should be an opportunity for more of the same.

Sharpe joins us on a techno-heavy billing in Farringdon this Saturday, so we asked him to pick out a handful of records for our next Cornerstone Tracks feature. In his list, he discusses some of his earliest vinyl purchases as an aspiring DJ, and how these shaped him as an artist today.

Cambodia (Clanger remix) – The Art Of Trance [Platipus]

Some older friends of mine were big into trance, goa trance, and anything with a trippier sound palette. I picked up a lot from them, and by the time I got a pair of decks, it gave me a head start with trance or tech-trance, or good old acid-trance as well. Naturally I knew of Platipus Records. Like many Platipus fans, I was a bit of a completist when it came to artists like The Art Of Trance, Union Jack and so on. I still occasionally play some of them. This one is slightly more minimal but has a different hypnotic ingredient to the others; definitely one for the head as well as the feet.

It’s interesting because trance gets a bad rep but lately we’ve heard a lot of big name house and techno DJs playing it. Is there really much difference between trance and techno?

At one point there wasn’t. I switched off to it as vocal trance came in but the early era before that had so much amazing music. It’s disappointing that many will overlook what an incredible movement it was or base their judgement on the more commercial stuff. Trance was just as vital as techno for a while. Like with techno though, you can’t just scratch the surface, you need to look deep into it to find much of the best stuff.

Tranceido – Tandú [Noom]

This was on a Billy Nasty mixtape that I used to listen to. Back then it was close to impossible to find track names, but it wasn’t as important, as you could still hear it on the tape and preferred hearing it in the mix you knew anyway. After I started playing records though, things obviously changed. One day I popped into a shop called Music Power in Dublin’s Merchant’s Arch, and picked this one out to listen to. BOOM! The track with the sireny horns off that tape was now mine! It was such a rewarding part of buying records back then: randomly putting the needle on a record of something you loved and never expected to hear.

Quite a fearless sound to this. Were you already looking for a specific style of record like this at this point or collecting from quite across the board?

As simple as it sounds, I just wanted any records that sounded good, I wasn’t thinking quite like a DJ yet in terms of what could go with what. As I started to find labels and producers I liked, I would get fairly obsessed with their music. I was buying mostly techno then, all kinds, and some tech-trance records too I guess. Some Chicago stuff also which crossed into house here and there. I think I widened my collection a lot more when I started getting bored with new techno for the first time – a situation that everyone probably reaches at some stage!

Vessels in Distress – Model 500 [Network]

A second-hand copy of this and The Art Of Stalking by Suburban Knight were two of the first Detroit techno records that I got, delivered from Hard To Find Records. Like a lot of records back then, I listened over and over, really absorbed them, and it was tracks like this that I feel “coated” me somewhat going forward. It was techno on a much deeper level. I later found out that this was co-produced with Martin Bonds (aka Reel by Real), which makes sense considering his own classic track Surkit; you can definitely hear a connection between them. We’re at a point now where the first wave of techno partially gets forgotten, but I think you should know that first wave, and especially Juan Atkins’ music. It’s so warm and free, uplifting and tension-filled too. It’s nice to see the appreciation people have for Drexciya’s music, and rightly so, but it’s still clear to see who a lot of this can be traced back to.

So would you say discovering Detroit became a gateway in itself for you?

Yes and no. I was probably drawn more towards the darker sound of Detroit, and got more into second generation people like Jeff Mills, Underground Resistance, and Kelli Hand; there was another producer called Punisher, I liked her stuff a lot too. The Kalamazoo guys like Jay Denham also. I think when I began working in a record shop called Spindizzy, I discovered a lot that I had missed or overlooked. I worked with Graham O’Sullivan (who had co-run the D1 record shop in its early days) there too, who showed me some less obvious stuff that I may not have known otherwise.

Crisis A Gwarn – Bandulu [Infonet]

I bought a second-hand copy of this in a short-lived shop called Vinyl Frontier in Dublin’s Abbey Mall. At one point there were about five record shops in this mall, including one that specialised in German and Dutch hardcore and gabba tapes. This was like heavy metal meets hard techno when I first heard it. So fierce and warped. I eventually got the chance to play with Bandulu and see them live. Such an intense and masterful clash of worlds, dub reggae v techno. Lucien MCing and owning the room, an authoritative-looking John O’Connell controlling the desk and Jamie Bissmire rocking the 909. It’s extraordinary that Bandulu haven’t had more coverage in recent years for their contribution to techno. What a group they were.

We’ve heard one Ricardo Villalobos playing a record of theirs at the club recently, but we have to say in general we’re also surprised by how few techno artists seem to know of them. Do you think there’s still a lot of untouched gold in 90s techno like this that people have overlooked?

Definitely. Having said that, I think social media and the ongoing sharing of content means that people are clued into a lot more old stuff than previously. As DJs, we can introduce people to older acts, but I think journalists have a responsibility too. In London alone, the amount of techno history is mountainous. I appreciate that some journalists weren’t listening back then, but if not, get to know this stuff and share the knowledge. Techno has a history that needs to be told and sometimes re-told; DJs and journalists have a duty here. I’m not going to say we’re the “historians”, but you know what I mean!

Chord Memory – Ian Pooley [Force Inc. Music Works]

Back when you’d associate certain tracks with a specific DJ, as if they nearly made it themselves, this was very much a Carl Cox tune. I was after this for a while, and had to settle for the likes of Celtic Cross or the odd Ian Pooley remix until I got it! This is probably the first time I remember buying what was considered to be a ‘big’ tune that my friends also knew after hearing it out. At the time I was hooked in by the jacking beats and “Rock The Discotheque” sample, but these days it’s more about the chords and breakdown for me. An all-time highlight for producer and label.

It’s interesting how the appealing part of a record can change with time. Or the B-side you never played suddenly sounds like a gem you’re been missing. 

Definitely. It often happened with some older Marco Carola records – one side would be a banger, but over time I’d go for the other side or inside track, which would be a lighter, pulsing groove for earlier in the night. But yes, it is an ongoing thing for me – sneaky A2 or B2 tracks that later become the highlight of a record!

This is surely one of the biggest records that came out on Force Inc. Do you still play a lot of stuff on the label?

It kind of depends on what I have access to. Not all of my collection is in one place, and some stuff has fallen out of sight here and there. I’d say the ones that I kept closest were Heckmann’s later Welt In Scherben releases. They’ve aged quite well too.

Praline Horse – Neil Landstrumm [Tresor]

I was on the way home from town one day. I had literally just got my own decks, and had a bag of records with me that I’d bought in Comet Records, including labels like Labworks and Prolekult. I bumped into a friend and early DJ inspiration of mine called Mark Gormley, and showed him what I’d got. He recommended a label called Tresor. The seed was sown. I knew of Joey Beltram and the first Tresor record I bought was by him, but it was over the next year that Neil Landstrumm, Cristian Vogel and Tobias Schmidt opened up a new kind of world for me. They were like protest records against everything else I was hearing, as they were so original and followed no template. Landstrumm’s music was obnoxious, Vogel had this weird insect funk, and the Tobias Schmidt stuff was very one-minded too. I loved Swedish techno for instance, but I could tell that these producers were very much the opposite of loop techno.

This doesn’t sound a world apart from some of the tracks you’ve made. Have you taken inspiration from Landstrumm in your own production?

That’s hard to say, but I guess I must have. I think what I took from him and other producers of then was a mind-set, that techno is an experimental music form where you create your own style and sounds. Making my own original sounds was my main goal when I started making music, before I ever fleshed things out into completed tracks. It’s not so hard to make sounds that are different, but forging that into a style of your own becomes a challenge. Neil is one of those producers who can make an electro track or a techno track, or a ravey track, or something slow and dark, and you still know it’s him. To have such a distinct sound that carries over many styles is quite rare. Definitely one of the greats.

Mortuary (Thought Process) – Freddy Fresh [Holzplatten]


Freddy is one of my all-time favourite techno producers. I used to read Mark EG’s reviews in Eternity Magazine, which is how I found out about him originally. Mark’s writing was funny, colourful, full of enthusiasm and made me want to track down and own anything I’d find by someone like Freddy Fresh. This was taken from a CD on Freddy’s Analog label, and Holzplatten put out five tracks from it on a 12”. It’s an epic 303 workout, turned into some type of dark sci-fi soundtrack. Amazing.

Like Bandulu, we’re surprised Freddy Fresh isn’t better known in the techno world.

Freddy did what some techno producers weren’t “meant” to do – he didn’t make only techno. He was big in the breaks world and through his association with Fatboy Slim; he had a long background in hip-hop too. He had also stopped releasing techno for many years. Dustin Zahn then re-released an old track of his on Enemy, and I managed to get some new material from him and Paul Birken for Earwiggle after that too. He has since become reinvigorated by techno, his Analog label is back up and running, and it seems people have been discovering his old stuff again too. His name is going to grow in the techno world again for sure.

This sounds like an end of the night record. When would you pull normally pull it out?

I’ve been the other way around, I would open up a set with it. I agree though, the end of the night would be a good time for it too because it’s such a climactic piece.

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Nightwave’s recent Resident Advisor mix isn’t taking any prisoners!

19 October 2018 -

Nightwave headlines the Hobbes Music 5th Birthday Party on Friday 9th November.  This feature/interview is republished courtesy of Resident Advisor.

Maya Medvešek has spent a lot of her life in Glasgow, which you might guess from hearing her DJ. Something about the city seems to breed DJs who know how to rock a party by spanning genres and eras, unafraid to drop anthems while they do it. Medvešek is no different. Her sets encompass everything from classic acid house and electro to new-school grime and footwork. She has an enterprising spirit that keeps her selections adventurous and forward-looking, with a mixing style that hearkens back to the rough-and-ready days of classic Chicago house. This might be explained by her formative years spent in Ljubljana, a city she says took great influence from Chicago and Detroit.

It’s that push and pull between retro and futuristic that defines most of Medvešek’s work. Take her two recent EPs for Fool’s Gold. Wavejumper is a thrilling EP that combines Drexciyan electro with ghettotech and rap, while Sanctuary takes old rave music and polishes it. Her RA podcast is full of new and unreleased tracks that fold in techno, breakbeat, electro, footwork and acid. There are classic flavours from newer producers like Arttu and Bodyjack, early ’90s hardcore from Public Energy and an appearance from the king of rave throwbacks, Special Request. It’s mixed live from the decks at one of her favourite nightclubs, K4 in Ljubljana.

What have you been up to recently?

A great year so far. I released the Sanctuary EP on Fool’s Gold, Acid Mouse on Metro Jaxx, worked on remixes and music for a feature film, had the amazing opportunity to travel to India and teach production for women thanks to the British Council and Wild City, held Producergirls workshops, played some great gigs, celebrated five years of my club night, Nightrave, and my label, Heka Trax. It’s been a very personally transformative year as well as I’ve done a lot of inner work, shamanic retreats and practice, and feel I’m starting a new exciting chapter in my life and my music.

How and where was the mix recorded?

The mix was recorded at club K4 back home in Ljubljana, Slovenia while visiting. K4 is one of the oldest leading electronic music institutions in Slovenia (it’s been going since the late ’80s) and the first club I ever went to, so it has a special place in my heart. Recorded in one take on CDJs and a Pioneer mixer.

Can you tell us about the idea behind the mix?

Nice jackin’ house and techno party time, some classics, quite a lot of recent and unreleased stuff in there and a couple of my new tunes as well.

A lot of your productions and DJ sets incorporate old-school dance music sounds. What draws to you those classic styles?

I guess I’m partial to some rave nostalgia from when I started out, as it got me into DJing and producing, but mainly because it still holds so much energy and life. It’s no-nonsense music made for people to have a good time. I also love how club music has evolved into so many new forms and hybrids now, I often play quite a variety in my sets.

Is there a healthy scene in Ljubljana, and any producers or DJs to watch out for?

Ljubljana has always been a bit of a techno haven, I’m very grateful to have had such a good scene to look up to when I was a teenager—a fantastic Detroit and Chicago influence, loads of great electro, local producers like Umek and Random Logic. I moved to the UK in 2002, so I’m a bit out of touch but the scene is very vibrant. Try K4, Metelkova, Bozidar for clubs and look out for nights by Bojler, Stiropor, Rx:tx. If you like beautiful, shimmery jazzy vibes I recommend Your Gay Thoughts, they have a new album out soon.

What are you up to next?

Should have a couple more releases out this year and I’m starting a new label with a more focused direction. Apart from that, doing what I love most: DJing and travelling about. I also want to build on my therapist qualifications to hopefully help musicians with their mental health and wellbeing in the future. It’s all about creating a balance.

Tracklist /
Nightwave – Rainbow Body (unreleased)
Lauren Flax – It’s Ours (unreleased)
Arttu – WD40 (Jack For Daze)
Arma – Girl (unreleased)
Bodyjack – Nataraja (unreleased)
Mak & Pasteman – Reakt (Boom Ting)
Oli Furness – Trigger (Jack For Daze)
Benny Rodrigues – Cocaine Speaking (UTTU)
Special Request – Make It Real (Gerd Janson & Shan Prance Mania Mix) (Houndstooth)
Raito – Gunman (BNR)
Lone – Oedo 808 (unreleased)
Defekt – Acid Bounce (Tripalium)
Solid Blake – Masha (Modeselektion)
Martyn Bootyspoon – Spread That Kat (Steve Poindexer Remix) (Fractal Fantasy)
Public Energy – Three O’Three (Stealth)
Mella Dee – Expansion (Warehouse Music)
Nightwave – Bang The Rocks (unreleased)
Bleaker – Hype (Funk) (UTTU)
Ritzi Lee – Reverse Processed (Theory)
Panteros666 – Euronature (Meteociel)
Clark – Honey Badger (Warp)
Kenny Larkin – Without Sound (Rush Hour)
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DJ Q headlines Distrikt launch night at the Bongo, Thursday 18th Oct

15 October 2018 -

Launching at The Bongo Club, Distrikt is presenting to you some of the best drum and bass, bassline and garage dj’s in the current scene and who better to headline our launch than DJ Q!

Part of the TQD collective, DJ Q is an innovative bassline DJ who is set to raise the roof for the first event. With recent performances at Boomtown and Lovebox festivals earlier this year, this event is one that is not to be missed!

Tickets have been flying, so don’t hang around if you’re keen!  Grab one here.

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Messenger Sound System Re-opening Night Party at Bongo this Sat 1st Sept!

31 August 2018 -

It’s been a long, hot summer…  Have you missed us?  Come show the Bongo dance floor some love!

High Grade Sound System Experience
Original Roots Advertiser since ’87…

Conscious Reggae Muzik / Dubwize.
Full Custom Built Sound System.
Good vibes/ heavy duty bass line…

Room 2 – Sound System Legacies with DJ Skillis and crew playing jungle, dub, garage, dubstep.

2 Floors of music – Don’t miss!
Powered by Messenger Sound System.

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Bongo Summer Break: Closing Parties!

06 July 2018 -

We will be closing our doors for our annual summer hiatus, 16th July – 31st August, due to our lease being taken over by The Underbelly (who have a prior agreement with landlords Edinburgh City Council dating back more than 15 years now).

While we’re obviously saddened and somewhat financially hobbled by not being open for business through the Fringe, we have no choice in this matter, nor anywhere else to locate our events satisfactorily.

Please come and help us make our last week in the building until September a proper blast!  It helps us to keep all the wheels turning (and the wolf from our doors).

Closing Parties:

Midnight Bass, Tuesday 10th

Skin Tight, Thursday 12th

Electrikal, Friday 13th – LATE LICENCE CONFIRMED

Headset, Saturday 14th – LATE LICENCE CONFIRMED 

Tall Rich (live), Sunday 15th

NB As is now traditional, we re-open with the mighty Messenger Sound System on Saturday  1st September.

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Berlin techno legend DJ Boris (Berghain) makes his Edinburgh debut for Substance x Pulse, Fri 11th May ’18

02 May 2018 -

It’s another coup for the Substance crew, as they join forces with Pulse once again to welcome Berlin native Boris Dolinski to our stage. He’s been resident at Berghain since Day One, having been involved with the original OstGut club & Panorama bar (from ’98 & ’00) before it opened. 

But his heritage runs even deeper than that, as he also lived in New York in the mid-Eighties and was a regular at the legendary Paradise Garage and Loft parties when both were going strong, taking early DJ cues from Larry Levan and David Mancuso.  How many DJs still active in the world today can lay claim to an involvement with such towering temples of dance music history? 

This audio interview he gave to Resident Advisor, where he talks about his early clubbing experiences in Berlin and at the Garage and then becoming a DJ himself (‘all i want to do is create memorable experiences’), is worth a listen.

BIO

DJ Boris is kind of a charismatic, multifunctional weapon in the Berlin club life. His musical roots reach back to the mid 80s, when he lived in New York for four years where he absorbed the unique spirit of the seminal club Paradise Garage weekend after weekend. From the Club’s mentor Larry Levan Boris learned to believe in his musical intuition as well as a broad musical spectrum, which nowadays ranges from Disco, Hi-NRG, Post-Punk and (Kraut-) Rock to House and Neotrance, all of which Boris loves to throw into one set. 

‘Music was most important for Levan. He was uncompromising and he knew how to convey it. That’s what I’m trying to achieve, too, when I’m djing.’  Many years later, Boris became a resident at Panorama Bar’s first incarnation in Berlin, where he was able to build a loyal following by playing long sets lasting until noon. ‘The crowd is always a lot more receptive for music at the end than at the beginning. That’s when I rather have the opportunity to present unusual stuff and that’s when I’m able to let my feelings run freely.’ 

After the old OstGut/Panorama Bar closed, Boris played in almost every club in Berlin, but when the follow up club Berghain opened its doors in 2004, he quickly focused on playing out here again. Since 2005 he has got another musical platform, as he is taking care of the label Careless Records as an A&R. Both as a dj and as an A&R, he is not exactly keen on refining a certain genre, but rather to push music with a certain twist.

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UK legend Jah Wobble & The Invaders of the Heart play the Bongo, Thurs 26th April

13 April 2018 -

We’re more than a little bit excited to be hosting the first Edinburgh show in some twenty years by ex-PiL bassist and all-round UK legend Jah Wobble, a unique character, a unique artist and a musician par excellence, who has worked with more inspiring artists on more records than just about anyone else who has played the Bongo in its 22 year history.   

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This 2014 interview by Robert Barry in the consistently excellent FACT Mag (copied below) goes some way to demonstrate why he and his amazing band are still considered in such high regard across the music  scene, some 40 years after he first started out with ex-Sex Pistol John Lydon and co in post-punk innovators PiL, and also why his pioneering style is so perfectly suited to us at the Bongo.  

Jah Wobble has been putting the old firm back together.

He speaks habitually of his players – in this case, longstanding group The Invaders of the Heart – as “the firm,” as if their business was bank robbery or football terrace violence instead of dubbed out pop fusion. At one point he refers to the band’s mid-’90s incarnation, when they were breaking into the Top 40 with hits like ‘Visions of You’ and ‘Becoming More Like God’, as “the Norwich City of the music scene.” Like the then-UEFA qualifying Anglian football club, he says, the group were “punching well above their weight.” But the current line-up of musicians, he insists, “are world class – and I am not saying that lightly.”

He’s a big fella, is Wobble, with a pronounced cockney accent, a face he claims has been compared to Vladimir Putin’s, and a very determined stare. When he looks at you and says he is not saying something lightly, you know not to take it so. But then he veers off into talk of karma and samadhi, quoting from Zen scholar Daisetsu Suzuki, and one is left with the curious impression of attending a yoga class with one of the Kray brothers.

In my head Jah Wobble looks much as he does on the cover of his autobiography, Memoirs of a Geezer. Suited and booted. Equal parts film noir detective and East End spiv. But today he could scarcely look more different. I’ve interrupted his morning run, so he’s wearing a sweat-blotched blue t-shirt and a baseball cap that says ‘bullshit’.

He talks incorrigibly, almost unstoppably. Even after I’ve told him we’re done and I’ve turned the tape off, he starts going on about his antipathy to art deco – something he puts down to the Highbury grounds of Arsenal FC, rivals to his beloved Tottenham. But I tentatively suggest it may have just as much to do with a more general resistance to grids and straight lines. For Wobble, everything moves in waves. and smooth curves. Nothing is ever clear cut.

“THE KARMA OF GOOD DEEDS IS RUNNING OUT,” HE TELLS ME. “IT’S ALL VERY UNSTABLE. ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN.”

He wasn’t always called Wobble. Once upon a time he was John Wardle, one of a group of friends at London’s Kingsway College that were all called John. It was thanks to one of those Johns – John Simon Ritchie, aka Sid Vicious – that he first picked up the bass. During the Sex Pistols years, Wardle would sometimes borrow Vicious’s bass while they sat up taking speed. “Bass chose me,” he says, “I don’t feel much separation between it and me.” Later, a friend stole him a guitar of his own. Without an amplifier for it, Wardle would lean the headstock against a piece of wooden furniture in order to amplify the vibrations.

In some ways this accounts for his famously negligent attitude towards his instrument. Former Can drummer, Jaki Liebezeit, with whom Wardle often collaborated in the early ’80s, would say, “it’s incredible, he just leaves his bass anywhere.” To which Wardle responds philosophically, “Where does bass dwell? It’s not in the bass. It’s in the interaction of things.” Learning to make drones by direct contact with a physical solid object “actually taught me more,” he reflects, “than having it powered into an amp. It’s natural vibration.”

But it was one of the other Johns – the one that at that time was still calling himself Johnny Rotten – that gave Wardle his first break into music. After his departure from the Sex Pistols, Rotten rang up his old pal from college, saying he wanted to start a band. Living at home at the time, on the dole, Wardle figured he didn’t have much to lose.

In Public Image Ltd., his heavy bass notes were the anchor, the solid physical object emanating heavy-duty vibrations, around which the increasingly deranged guitar and vocals would swirl and gyre like something conjured by the witches in Macbeth. “I was so lucky to have my bass to the fore, because I was a real amateur guy,” he reflects of PiL’s first two albums First Issue and Metal Box. “It was, like, three-quarters of the signal.”

Two years ago, Wardle returned to that second Public Image album for a series of gigs with the group’s original guitarist Keith Levene under the name Metal Box in Dub. This came as something of a shock to many observers, not only because Wardle had spent many of his interviews up to that point explaining that he and Levene had never got on, but also because both had eschewed the chance to appear in Lydon’s reformed Public Image in 2009 and now here they were onstage with the singer from a Sex Pistols tribute band. “It wasn’t a parody,” he insists. “I want somebody who sounds like him, as he did then. That’s the point. He’s sung these parts more than John probably has.”

“As much as anything,” Wardle tells me, the reunion came about due to a feeling that he “didn’t play enough with [Levene] back then.” With the benefit of maturity, he believed they could now make the old songs “sound better that it would have at the time.” His one regret concerning the reunion, he says, “was that we never recorded it.” Not for want of trying. They had even gone so far as to hire a mobile recording van for their London show at Shoreditch’s Village Underground, only to find that the distance from the stage to the car park was too long for the rig to stretch.

Wardle left the original PiL at the beginning of the 1980s. After a brief spell in a “power trio” with ex-Public Image drummer Jim Walker and a friend known as ‘Animal’, he put together The Invaders of the Heart. The original idea, he tells me, was “to try and present some of the feelings behind the music I’d heard from around the world.”

Since his teens, Wardle had been tuning into shortwave frequencies from around the globe, picking up bits of Egyptian chanteuse Om Khalsoum from Radio Cairo and Romani music on Radio Ankara. “It came with a natural phasing from the shortwave oscillations,” he explains, “which made it more exotic – as if it was coming from another universe.” The Invaders would bring this cosmically distorted oriental sound together with the “unpredictability” of jazz and the “spaciousness” of dub, all mixed together “in a very amateur, youthful way that probably annoyed a lot of more experienced musicians over the years.”

Around the same time, he started working with ex-Can members Holger Czukay and Jaki Liebezeit, first on Czukay’s solo album On the Way to the Peak of Normal, later receiving equal billing on Full Circle and Snakecharmer. This latter EP, Wardle calls “a mini-marriage made in heaven” for the way it brought together Czukay and Liebezeit with The Invaders of the Heart as a backing band and New York DJ François Kevorkian manning the controls.

In particular, the encounter between Liebezeit and Kevorkian’s Linn drum machine, Wardle describes as “like when Freud and Jung had a meeting, round the old oak table.” Things didn’t go so well for either party. The Can drummer “got freaked out” because it sounded like the drum machine was losing one and a half beats every minute. The Linn, for its part, ultimately threw in the towel. “A puff of smoke came out and it died.” Upon analysis, Liebezeit was vindicated. The drum machine was out of time. Czukay, delighted, exclaimed “He out-computered the computer!” Kevorkian, on the other hand, “was genuinely upset.”

Touring the record in ’83, Kevorkian showed them round the loft party scene, taking in the Garage as well as Disco Fever in the South Bronx amongst other spots. “Real exuberance,” is how he recalls the atmosphere of those clubs. “The whole idea of trance was very strong.” To Wardle, who had grown up listening to soul music, he recognised immediately a continuity with the all-nighters popular in ’70s Britain. It was, he says, all about that “special thing of people going into a room and actually worshipping the music. Real bass was respected.”

Bass, for Wardle, has always been about shapes and patterns. “I was self-taught,” he tells me, “so I made patterns – and I’m a ‘pattern mode’ guy when it comes to sequencers. It’s actually quite medieval in a way. Unlike the Bach view, of chordal progression which reads from left to right.” The statement makes me think of John Ruskin. In his mammoth work on the architecture of Venice, the Victorian art critic praised the inventive designs and ornate traceries of the gothic cathedral builders, in whom he saw the perfect marriage of craft and intellect; thought made healthy by labour and labour made happy by thought. If such a union is somewhat characteristic of post-punk as a whole, then it is particularly so of Jah Wobble, one of British music’s most articulate and philosophically-inclined spokesmen.

“WHEN I COME OUT OF PIL, I THOUGHT, GOD, I’VE GOT TO LAY OFF THESE POWDERS. BUT BY ’83, I’D GONE BACK ON THE POWDERS AGAIN.”

“It’s very theatrical in a way,” he says of post-punk (“that strange pot pourri”). And it’s this theatrical element that makes it a ripe vehicle for the expression of discontent. “There’s so many things involved in it, it’s somehow the perfect medium to say stuff and to suggest stuff.” But Wardle had little truck with the Red Wedge movement in support of the Labour Party that so many of his peers joined in the mid-’80s, detecting in it something “slightly juvenile”, though he will grant “that it was good that people resisted and were against Thatcher. For some reason it didn’t feel right for me at that time. But then again,” he shrugs, “I was an angry sort of bloke at that time so it was probably my problem.”

Wardle’s temper was once notorious, back in the days when his drunken stagger earned him the name Wobble. Histories of the punk scene tend to be littered with anecdotes detailing his various punch-ups. Even some years later, with Kevorkian in New York, he admits to being “very badly behaved. I was becoming a real nuisance at times out on the road so that started to fuck things up in every way.” He acknowledges that for much of his early career he was “drinking a lot” and taking drugs. “There was a little gap,” he says, “when I didn’t take drugs. When I come out of PiL, I thought, god, I’ve to lay off these powders. But by ’83, I’d gone back on the powders again.”

Around ’84–85, he says, “I just really broke down and had to stop drinking and drugging.” It was, he tells me, “like a bright star that suddenly imploded.” He spent several years working “part-time” in music whilst driving a mini-cab, and later, working on the London Underground. Finally, one day in 1986, his old percussionist Neville Murray came and knocked on his door. If it wasn’t for that call out of the blue, “I probably would have stayed on the Underground, to be honest. I said to him, do you really want to…? I was shocked.” That was the beginning of the group’s most successful phase, breaking into the charts and collaborating with Sinead O’Connor, Dolores O’Riordan, Natacha Atlas, Chaka Demus & Pliers – the Norwich City of the music scene.

He’s scarcely stopped releasing records since. Today, thanks in part to his own 30 Herz record label, he’s more prolific than ever. Over the last few years, new Jah Wobble projects – from Chinese dub to Moroccan chaabi to working with the Modern Jazz Ensemble or making electronic post-punk with Warp Records’ Julie Campbell – have become as regular as severe weather warnings. “I decided that I’d better hurry up and move,” he says, adding ominously, “events could take us over at any time.”

There’s always a note of apocalypse in the air with Jah Wobble. “The karma of good deeds is running out,” he tells me. “It’s all very unstable. Anything can happen.” When I point out that he’s expressed the same feeling about the period at the end of 1970s when he first joined PiL he retorts, “Yeah, and I think it was right to have it.”  But Wardle takes “the long term view. What good I do now, when I die, the shadow of the good deed reverberates out and helps people in some way. The action will continue. Music’s a great emanator,” he continues. “It emanates out in a way other arts don’t.”

So the Wobble continues to send out wave upon wave, reverberating and emanating, innovating and inventing. “I’m always ready,” he says, “if a voice comes from above: Jah Wobble, you have had enough time, go away! I’ll go away. I’d be cool with that.” My suspicion is, that voice won’t be coming for a long while yet.

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