The 10 Best 90’s Dub Mixes, according to Theo Kottis
Since I’ve stopped pumping my broken body full of chemicals on a weekly basis I was justifiably anxious that 60 minutes of subtly shifting minimal would leave me somewhat underwhelmed and/or unmasked for the geriatric fraud I too often feel like today.
I figured that if I was going to give it at least a fair hearing, like a nervous teenage lover I’d need to go the extra mile in setting the scene so rather than listening to it in a badly lit office in Harrow, here I am in Camden at half two in the morning about to drive home from a gig, Magda’s Fabric mix in the CD player and a dictaphone gaffa-taped to the steering wheel. I’m giving up my weekly hit of Dotun Adebayo for this so it better be good.
It may not be a club, but really there are few better places for cocooning yourself with sound than in your car late at night. When I first got a car I spent nearly an hour just driving around the bubble metropolis of Canary Wharf listening to old Metroplex tapes; short of hiring a dimly lit, smoke and strobe lit venue to play it this is as good as it’s going to get.
2.43am Camden – Rather than dive straight into the four-fours our host has decided to kick things off with the eerie strains of Italian horror soundtrack maestro’s Goblin.
As I turn onto Chalk Farm Road and the street fills with the detritus falling out of Proud, I turn up the stereo and wind down the window, the rattling sounds of satan blasting out the speakers are enough to put off most of the drunks who think I’m a taxi (the curse of the Skoda Octavia driver…).
As expected this pleasantly surprising intro soon gives way to the kind of drainpipe banging minimal techno i’d been bracing myself for. But no sooner had we settled down for what I assumed would be an uninterrupted journey to the heart of the drum machine than what sounds unexpectedly like Fujiya & Miyagi kicks in, (a quick stop at a petrol station and look at the tracklisting reveals this to be Circlesquare). So far so tolerable.
2.55am King’s Cross – I briefly hit 40 on York Way and the streetlamps begin to flash by in time to the music, I pass a group headed for EGG and briefly consider winding down the windows again to see if i can kick off a pavlovian dance reaction. Distractions aside we’re balls deep in ‘proper’ techno now, with the likes of Christian Vogel joining the inevitable parade of Magda’s fellow M_nus artists such as Heartthrob and Marc Houle, It’s ok, I’m still waiting for it to do something, but I have a sneaking suspicion that whatever it is that it does it’s already doing it.
3.05 Farringdon – I cruise past the queue for entry to Ghost and then by Fabric itself, the music is thuddingly monotonous now, which seems fitting really. I can’t quite help but feel that this is music designed to soundtrack the adventures of a discontinued line of Terminators, ones who will relentlessly and implacably hunt you down and bore you to death.
The return of Goblin adds a little extra colour to proceedings but we’re soon back to the shimmering greys of Marc Houle and Luciano, music that can sound epic in its unfolding simplicity in a club but now just feels sorely one dimensional.
3.10 Tower Bridge – The roads are clear and I’m doing good time here. I always like crossing the river, so maybe I’m just getting carried away but even the music seems to have lifted its game somewhat. Yes it’s still plodding away, making a little of not a lot, but it’s begun to get under my skin and I stop looking at the eject button and instead watch the city’s light reflect off the Thames to glorious effect.
3.15 Bermondsey – It probably was just the river, driving through Bermondsey the music feels too clean, there’s certainly not enough energy for these streets. Toddla T’s recent Fabric mix – that’s what is needed here.
3.21 New Cross – I’m home and pull into my estate with around twenty minutes to go, the temptation to have this done with tonight is strong but I’d rather not sit parked in the garage like a suburban suicide and decide to continue this in the morning.
Sunday morning – I’m woken by what sounds like a battalion of clowns hurling buckets of water against my bedroom window. It’s oppressive outside and frankly I want to do little more than curl up under my duvet and idly flick through Cliphunter all day.
I contemplate making the rest up, after all I’m guessing it just carries on in the same vein, but luckily for my journalistc integrity it is soon made apparent that depsite my best laid plans, today will actually involve a trip to Sainsbury’s. So it’s back into the car, out with the dictaphone and off we go.
12:26 New Cross – It’s not promising, the weather is grim and New Cross, never likely to win a beautiful village contest in the first place, seems to be extra full of weird looking mutants today. But like Mr Numan I’m safe in my car and Magda’s has just injected a hot dose of synthetic funk in the form of Yello into the mix, this is much more like it.
12.50 New Cross – Meat secured (although the wrong type I’ll find out later) I’m heading home and the decent run of form continues with a quick one two of the Idjut Boys and Jimmy Edgar. Sadly much as it’s good to end on a high it just goes to show what has been lacking throughout the rest of the mix, dynamism, colour and real rather than plugin dirt.
At the end of the day this is music designed solely with dark spaces, speaker stacks the size of stonehenge and fist fulls of pharmaceuticals in mind and honestly that’s no bad thing, if you fancy being sexed up by some polysexual German in a Berlin basement then I imagine this would be just the ticket. But unless the after party back is taking place back at your home, I just get the feeling that this is one mix that may end up gathering dust on the shelf, next week it’ll be back to Dotun for the drive home.