Premiere: Mumbai producer Sandunes shares the meditative ‘Eleven:Eleven’
Hessle Audio is quite remarkable really. With a subtlety and care to match the stripped yet always interesting approach of their back catalogue, the label run by Pearson Sound, Ben UFO and Pangaea has steadily (since TRG’s Put You Down [HES001] back in May 2007) fleshed itself out as one of the most consistent and distinctive independent labels. And that’s of any kind of music – not just that fit for a dance-floor. ’116 & Rising’ makes this clear. Hessle Audio’s first long player, it brings together two CDs – one of highlights from the label’s back catalogue, and the other a selection of completely new tracks from past contributors, as well as a few associated friends.
CD2 charts Hessle’s past. Anywhere that has a place for the crackling steps of Pangaea’s You And I, James Blake’s stuttering soul, the insistent brittle outlines of Joe, right through to the percussive high-emotion rush of Ramadanman’s Don’t Change For Me is going to be worth the listen. It’s a mark of the label’s ability to continually be ahead of the curve that they haven’t needed to present these tracks in chronological order for it to sound meaningful.
Then there’s CD1. Which is about as fresh and essential a spread of current UK electronic and dance music as you will find. It sounds versatile. The exuberant gallop of Run Out, Randomer’s hard-edged thunk, Untold’s playful Cool Story Bro, the bright shards of Peverelist’s Sun Dance, and a whole lot more besides. There are things to be said about all the tracks here. Each one points the finger at dance music past and current, and then pieces together it’s own thing. Like, the Hessle Audio release catalogue, ’116 & Rising’ is a series of voices that are at once clear and distinctive, and yet fit well as a set. We decided to put those voices in writing, and asked the contributors from CD1 to send over a few words about each of their tracks. One third of those behind label – Ben UFO – also told us a little about the compilation in general.
What made you all decide that now was the right moment for a label compilation?
Ben UFO: It seemed like a good way to celebrate the last few years we’ve spent running the label. It’s easy not to think about the label’s progress and how much things have changed when you spend so much time focusing on the future, and a project like this seemed like a good way to recognise how much things have developed.
Where does the name 116 & Rising come from?
Ben UFO: I was going to try and avoid answering this question, as it’s not the most exciting title ever, but Kev managed to make it sound interesting in another interview… Joe’s tune Twice is 116bpm, the slowest tune on the compilation, and the tempos rise from there. It reflects nicely on the last year or so of my DJing too, where I’ve messed around more and more with starting slowly and gradually edging towards 140bpm. A few of the tunes on this compilation, particularly Twice and Music by Elgato were cornerstones of those early sections of my sets. I’d actually forgotten about this but Kev reminded me that we’d been talking about old rave song titles too – Prodigy’s Everybody in the Place (155 and Rising) was brought up, so I guess stuff like that feeds into it too.
I know it’s not nice to pick favourites, but which Hessle releases do you find yourself continuously returning too?
Ben UFO: It changes a lot but at the moment probably Joe’s first release (HES007) and Elgato’s release from last year (HES015).
What’s next for Hessle Audio?
Ben UFO: We’re focusing on this for the time being but we’ll hopefully have a couple more singles out before the end of the year. This isn’t the start of a slew of album projects or anything like that.
01. Elgato Music (Bodymix)
Elgato: Music was written with peak time in mind. Composed shortly after a trip to Ibiza, the aim was simple – to replicate the vibe of those trips and the island’s superclubs. It’s a buzz to be on this release – shouts to Ben ‘been there done that’ UFO, Dave ‘rhythm slave’ PSound, Kev ‘the chaos’ Pangaea and of course all the other Hessle crew – big ups, Elgato.
02. Untold Cool Story Bro
Untold: Cool Story Bro was written at a time when I was searching out and buying a bunch of Disco and Rare groove compilations. They inspired me to create a track that had definite sections and interludes as lots of my other work at the time was very linear in structure. It’s my first tune with a bass solo in it, and the title was inspired by people (including myself) expressing opinions about music over the internet. I’m proud to be part of the compilation by the label that gave me my debut release.
03. Blawan Potchla Vee
Blawan: It took me a while to finish Potchla Vee after battling for a long time with some of rattling percussion that you can hear at the beginning of the track. Those sounds kinda started a slight drift in direction for me in terms of pattern programming too, as I was dead set on trying to make really organic but punchy drum-like sounds out of stuff that basically wasn’t drums. As some people will have spotted, the track has been sitting around for a while, but for me it still has some of the best natural sounding audio I’ve made to date, I think.
04. Pearson Sound Stifle
Pearson Sound: Stifle I made around May 2010 – it had been an idea sitting on my harddrive for quite a long time, but then I eventually got round to finishing it one evening. The whole project is pitched down, which was just an experiment at first but ended up being the final version. I didn’t really do anything with the tune, but then I sent it to Benji B and a couple of other people. He really liked it, and I think was basically responsible for a lot of people hearing it! I decided to hold the tune back for my own label, which is why it’s taken a bit longer to come out than normal.
05. Joe Twice
Joe: I wrote Twice in July 2009. I had been checking this DJ’s monthly residency at Plastic People since late 2008, and was really getting into heavy, percussive dance music around 100-120bpm. I wanted to write something with the kind of groove you can feel at that tempo – something which is harder to access at 140. The track is at 116bpm: around this speed, you can dance with a more purposeful drive behind each beat. And the rhythms/drum patterns can get doubled-up, while still holding on to some sort of… hook-y clarity. Hopefully.
06. Randomer Brunk
Randomer: I was experimenting with writing more stripped down stuff at the time, mapped some new drums I made to my keyboard and bashed the keys about until I came up with the main rhythm. It’s pretty jagged and stomping, as I was listening to my favorite Meshuggah tracks that day. You can really hear the influence if you listen to a track like Soul Burn or Autonomy Lost.
After finishing the track I remembered a word I made while pissed up at Notting Hill carnival combining “broke” and “drunk”. The sound of the word really fitted with the track and it was named Brunk. I’d known the Hessle guys for quite some time and thought they might be into the woodblock bit. Luckily they liked the rest of the track too and the rest is history…
07. Pangaea Run Out
Pangaea: This is a relatively new track by myself on a slightly different vibe to my previous releases, but I like to keep switching it up! We thought it would fit in well with the other tunes that are featured on the comp. I’m really pleased with how the album has come together, musically.
08. Cosmin TRG Bijoux
Cosmin TRG: Bijoux speaks about a day in August when you were having bubbly at noon in a field listening to ghosts of grooves traveling from distant sound systems.
09. D1 Subzero
D1: I built the tune a few years ago when I was just using Reason. Its always been a track I’ve always played though and it just never seemed to get a release. A few other DJs were also still playing it, including Pearson Sound and he came to me with the idea for the release, and I was like yeah, cool, would be honoured to have a release on a great label like Hessle Audio.
10. Addison Groove Fuk Tha 101
Addison Groove: I never set out to make a tune called Fuk Tha 101. It just happened that this vocal fitted on top of the 808 beat pretty well. In hindsight it’s kinda funny because I use a Roland 808, and Roland also make a 101 (sh101 synth). I’m not against the 101 really… Prodigy used to use it on all their old tunes.
Anyway… the tune sat on the hard drive for a while then I started seeing people talk about it thanks to the American dubmaster Joe Nice. He raved on that it was going off in the dances… so I think I then passed it to Dave (Rama) who said he too was playing it… and it’s now ended up on this compilation… result.
Very happy to be part of this album.
11. James Blake Give A Man A Rod (Second Version)
James Blake is currently on tour and was unavailable for comment.
12. Peverelist Sun Dance
Peverelist: The Hessle crew asked me if I was interested in submitting a bespoke track for their compilation. I rate the label and wanted to put something together for them that was really strong and set about constructing the track Sun Dance. It’s Peverelist all over, and I am glad they felt that fitted their vision.