Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Reckno Special - Part One: An Interview with Chris who runs Reckno.

This time I am not reviewing a record because I am doing an interview instead with Chris from Reckno, which is a record label which puts out tapes. Chris sent me some more tapes to listen to which I will review next time and he also agreed to answer some questions which I thought was very nice of him. Here are the questions that I wrote and his answers, I hope you all enjoy it.

Hello this is Peter, thank you for sending me some tapes and for agreeing to answer some questions. Here are the questions I have written for you.

Can you tell us a bit about your label like; When did you start it and why?
Reckno was started in 2009, back then it was the name of an occasional night of music that my friends and I put on for ourselves and our friends. Then between 2009-2012 we put out 3" CDRs by all sorts of good folk like: Sunshine Republic, MC Coc Oen, Vanessa Feltch, Human Costume, Delicate Hammers, Ape Centre, Andrew Perry, The SK5, True Swamp Neglect and Max Bellancourt. The C Powers/Yaaard tape came out in 2010, then the label lay dormant for a while. In 2012 I had been talking to some amazing artists and tape seemed like a really interesting format that suited the releases. So far there have been 11 tapes: Ananas Pyramidalis, Yaaard/C Powers split, Tuff Sherm, Blackpepper, Michael Tanner, Kinlaw, Joane Skyler, dtcpu, Yaaard (Kimberlin), Our Love Will Destroy The World and the Goodiepal/Flower Farmer split tape. There are 7 more planned which I'm really excited about. 

           The 'why?' part of the question is harder to answer. I just love music, especially unusual music that exists in it's own universe and articulates feelings beyond language. 

Why is it called Reckno? 
I think it's great looking word. My best friend, Mr. Barney Lyall thought it up. It doesn't really have any meaning so hopefully you won't get any preconceptions about the kind of music you might get, a bit of a blank slate. After having the name for ages we said that Reckno stood for 'recreational noise' and I suppose sometimes it does.

You only do tapes on your label, do you listen to tapes at home?
I do listen to tapes at home and when I wonder around with my walkman. I really like going for long walks really early in the morning with a small stack of tapes. 

Why do you like tapes?
The main reason is they sound great. The bass gets all warm and bouncy and sounds just gel together in a way I like. Plus I suppose there might be a bit of a nostalgia thing for me, I have lots of tapes that I bought as a young music fan because it was the cheapest format back then. I find some good stuff in second hand shops and car boot sales now. Like VHS, tapes seem to be considered almost worthless by the general public which means if you have the patience to dig around there is some great stuff just waiting. I really think that great music and film transcend format though, I'm happy watching a VHS tape on my portable TV. If the film is good, it'll be good in any format, same with music.

Do you think you will put CDs or records out ever or do you not like them?
I can't imagine putting out CDs right now but I do like them and have quite a few. As for records, hopefully by the end of the year the first Reckno vinyl will be out. I don't want to say too much now but it's going to be really, really special. I'll send you one when it's out.

I've listened to a few of your tapes now and they are all quite different, and all a bit strange, so how do you choose who to work with and who has been your favourite?
Thanks, I take that you find them different and strange as a massive compliment!

           I can't quite explain what I'm looking for but I know it when I hear it. My iiird eye opens and I feel really good.
          There's no set way I get to work with artists, some I've met or seen live and got talking or I've just admired them from afar and sent an email. A few have just sent links and it has evolved from there. I do listen to everything we get sent at the moment but I'm not sure how that's going to work in the future.
           Pick a favourite? That's tricky.
           The Ananas Pyramidalis tape is really beautiful, it sounds like a sunrise to me. Tuff Sherm aka Dro Carey is someone who I'm a bit fanatical about, I think everything he's done has been great and Canal Cloaking was no exception plus I'm really happy the first Tuff Sherm release came out on Reckno. Michael Tanner's tape has
really magical memories for me because I first played it in the middle of the night while on Holiday in Italy during a thunderstorm and it made me feel like I was floating. Kinlaw's Chorus+Mysticus took a long time to form and I heard snippets along the way but when I heard the finished version, it blew me away. Joane Skyler came right out of nowhere, I'd heard a few tracks but again wasn't prepared for how accomplished and perfect an album 'orz' was/is. I'm really excited about what Joane will come up with next.
          The Campbell Kneale cassette took about 3 or 4 years to come through but it was well worth the wait. I asked him, only half jokingly, for a hip hop album, obviously he ignored my request and gave me some guitar bliss instead. I keep going back to that one at the moment. dtcpu is a really odd one, it sounds like he can just plug into a strange zero dimension and pull great things out at will. Flower Farmer compositions and tones sound really original to me, I can't think of anything at all like it which is a massive achievement. Having Goodiepal release his first recording is an honour too, 'Havet' is brilliant. I'm really into his lectures and whole .....vibe.
            Like children, I think it would be unfair on the others to have a favourite. I love them all and I am very grateful to all the artists who have trusted me to present their work. I'm very proud of what has come out on the label so far.

I'm quite enjoying this summer because it's nice and hot are you enjoying the hot weather?
 Yeah. I love the hot weather. It's odd how the heat and sunshine can make familiar environments seem different. It feels like being in a different country at the moment and travel is always good, even if it's just in your mind.

Is there anything else you'd like to say?
Thanks for the Joane Skyler review, thanks for listening and thanks for thinking up interesting questions for me. Take care.

I thought this was a very good and interesting interview because it very nice to read all about Chris' label and all the different tapes that he has put out and I'd like to thank him for doing it and wish him very well for all the things he will do in the future. One thing I thought was especially interesting is where he says about Reckno being a made up word that his friend made up and if I had a tape label I would call it Makthing Tapes which would be a mix of Making and Things - I think I would be quite good at running a label because I would release allsorts just like Chris does.
             But that is the end of this part of my Reckno special and next time I will be doing reviews of the Our Love Will Destroy The World and the Goodiepal/Flower Farmer tapes that Chris talks about in the interview. I am looking forward to this and I hope you all are too.

Thanks to my friend Wayne for painting the Reckno letters.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Various Artists - Modernists 4 (and an interview with Tony from Modern Urban Jazz).

VariousArtists - Modernists 4 (Modern Urban Jazz)
This time I am reviewing a cassette tape that I was sent by Tony from Modern Urban Jazz who also agreed to answer some questions for me so I would like to thank him for both sending the tape and also for answering the questions. Here are the questions that I asked and the answers:

Can you tell me a bit about your label; things like how long have you been doing a record label and why did you start it? Why did you call it Modern Urban Jazz? Do you sell much or do you have to have another job as well?

I first started the record label back in 1995, so a fair few years ago now. I started it initially as somewhere that myself and other artists I was working with could release some of the more challenging or experimental drum and bass that we were making at the time, and it also let me have control of what I was releasing and how or when I wanted to release it. I called it Modern Urban Jazz because I felt the music that we were making was akin to jazz in its non-conformist and no rules approach. I like jazz and had always been influenced by it so it felt right to use the jazz name. The modern bit was all about bringing our own futuristic take on jazz, making it modern and the urban because well it's the music of the cities and towns it was being made in and listened to in. It just seemed to fit together as a name and summed up what the music was about. The releases we do on the label in the physical forms, the records, tapes, cd's etc are always in a limited amount and we release digitally as well. The label does make some money which we usually invest back into the next projects. I work in education as well and do mentoring and teaching with 11-16 year olds.

I have reviewed a few tapes recently and enjoyed them very much, why did you decide to release this on tape as well as CD and do you listen to tapes at home - if so can you tell me about them?
When you have a label, you find yourself in a position where you are able to release music that you like and you can release it in lots of different formats. Tapes really seem to be making a comeback at the moment and this really appeals to me because as a kid I used to have loads of tapes with different music on. A lot of it was hip hop and then house and the developing rave scene. I used to walk round taping stuff when i was young so I have always had a love of tape, and wanted to put one out. I still have many of those same tapes at home and lately I have been listening to a hip hop mix tape by DJ Premier from New York from the mid 90's , a tape by Bobby Womack and the Valentinos and another tape we did in collaboration with Rawtrachs, called Jump and accept the power, which we put out a while back.

Modernists 4 is a compilation with lots of different people on it, how did you find the people to go on it?  

When I put something together a project or an LP, things often happen quite organically or naturally. This LP is the 4th in the Modernists series and I wanted it to be more varied and different musically from the others we had released in the past. Rawtrachs has a track on there and I met him because he interviewed me for his fanzine, I found out he also did music so got him to do a track. I met Burlish as he had also been interviewed for the same fanzine and I also DJ-ed at his night in Birmingham and I liked the tracks he sent me. Critical resistance I met via twitter and soundcloud via the internet which is a really useful tool for artists getting in contact or being able to network with different people. We have people who we work with regularly like Jason oS from Canada, so it’s a nice blend of people we have stumbled across, established artists and my own work or collaborations like Just in from Michigan with Metro.

I'm a Londoner and like living in London because there's plenty of things to see and do so I never get bored. Where are you from and do you like it and if so why? 

I am from Luton, which is not far from you, and yes I don’t mind it, it’s my hometown and base. I don’t really get bored as I have a wife and two boys who keep me entertained in between doing music and running the label. But if I want to I can hop on a train or drive and be in London in about half an hour which is good because we do the mastering for our music in London, plus I like London as well so enjoy a visit to different record shops or pubs, to get some food or have a look about, I never get bored there either.

           I thought that was all very interesting because it is interesting to learn a little bit about how record labels work and I was surprised to learn that running a record label doesn't make you enough to live on. I think it's a shame that Tony doesn't make a living out of it but being a teacher is a good job to have, education is very important because if there were no teachers then children wouldn't be able to learn anything. I also thought it was interesting that Tony comes from Luton - I went to Luton once when I lived in Leavesden Hospital and we had a day trip to go all round the town and to the cinema where we saw Basic Instinct and I thought it was a very nice place and the people there were very friendly people.
            Another thing that I thought was interesting was how Tony talked about getting the different artists together to put on the tape. I've got a few compilations at home but they are mostly 50's and 60's rock and roll ones and not electronic music like this is, I think compilations are a good thing to have because they have a lot of different people on them and it is good to listen to different people.
             The person who starts off side one of the tape is the Burlish person that Tony talked about in his answers and his song starts off with electronic drums which sound a bit like fast marching drums and then over the top comes synthesiser bits which sound like long echoes in a tunnel and then there are bits which sound like a big bell being hit softly - I thought this was quite a relaxing tune even though the drums are quite fast and I thought it was a nice way to start the tape.
             After the Burlish tune is a tune by Icons called Time Undefined and this is another quite relaxing tune which I thought was perfect for a sunny day like today and would be nice to listen to in your garden having a drink and a sandwich and just taking it easy. I'm not in my garden though because I'm at The Gate doing record reviews but I don't mind being in here because I like doing the reviews.
              The next song on the tape Betamax Heard which is a funny name because I've not heard the word Betamax for ages because I don't think you can buy Betamax's anymore because they are out of date so I thought it was interesting that a person has called themselves after them. The music doesn't sound out of date though because it is electronic party music and it sounds modern to me because electronic music is quite new - when I was young the music at parties always used to be rock and roll because electronic music wasn't invented then. I like this song very much, it seems quite a happy and cheerful song  which I thought was another one which is perfect for the summer weather.
             Next up is a song by somebody called Rawtrachs which is another party tune with drums in it which reminded me of marching drummers and I thought of them parading down the street. I didn't think this one was as summery as the last two because  it's not as happy sounding but I still liked it a lot.
               After that tune is a song by Deep Blue and Justice and I liked this a lot too. Justice is the name that Tony who sent the tape uses when he's making music - I think he is very good at making music and have heard his music before when I reviewed a record of his before that I liked very much, this song is another one which sounds quite relaxed even though the drums are quite fast on it.
                The next song is called Cope by somebody called fume and this one I thought was great, it has a big, jazzy drumbeat and keyboard space sounds and I thought it sounded a bit like it could be the music for a space film about astronauts who go into orbit and come back and go to a jazz club; I think this would be a very good film indeed.
                 On the B-side of the tape it begins with a song by Milestone and it starts off with a lovely piano bit which goes over and over and then the drums come in and it gets very funky and different piano bits come in - I thought this was another nice relaxing tune which would be good to chill out too.
                  The next song has piano in it too but it is faster piano because this is a faster type of song. I liked this one because it had that nice Jazz singing in that just goes "ba ba baba ba" instead of having words.
                   After that song is a song by Consumer which is another one that made me think of space. It is quite a noisy one with metal clanking sounds for drums that made me think of the robot dancing that you used to see on the telly in the eighties. I used to enjoy seeing the robot dancing because it was a very different way of dancing and I also thought it was a bit funny so it was good to be reminded of it.
                  Next up is another one by Betamax heard and like his other one it another tune that would be good for a summer party maybe on a beach somewhere like Brighton or Southend - I'm going Southend this weekend but I don't think there will be any music there because I'm not going to a party there.
                 Then there is another song by Tony but this time with somebody called Metro which I thought was very good and quite spacey again and after that is the final song which is really nice because it is very mellow with a drumbeat that sounds a bit like a heartbeat and I thought this was a very nice way of ending the tape.
                    Overall I would say I enjoyed this tape a lot and I definitely think it is a good tape for the summer especially if you were going to have a party in your garden. Another reason that i liked it was because there are lots of different things to listen to on it and they are all very interesting and nice to listen to. I would give this tape 10 out of 10.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Kelpe - Fourth: The Golden Eagle.

Kelpe - Fourth: The Golden Eagle (Drut Recordings)
Today I am reviewing a record of what I think sounds like electronic party music by a guy called Kelpe who sent me the record himself so I would like to thank him for sending me it. When we were first doing this record my friend Darren who also comes to the Gate heard it and said he would help with the review and I said he could because Darren is a rapper so he knows a lot about music. Darren said that this music that Kelpe does is like Instrumental Hip-Hop which is rap music without the rapping in it. I don't know know too much about Hip-Hop music so I am glad to be doing this review so I can hear something new.
           The first song is called Astrolomy and it starts off quite quiet with a noise that sounds a bit like when you do that thing with you finger and a wine glass to make it make noise and then there is an instrument that I thought sounded like a middle eastern guitar and then there are some very jazzy drums. This goes on for a bit and then there are all different instruments that I didn't know what they were but Darren said they were probably synthesisers. I thought this was a very funky song with lots of different things to listen to in it and I liked it very much and thought it was a good start to the record and that it would be a good song to play at a party to get people dancing.
Drawing by Clare Louise Miller.
           The next song is called Beaks of Eagles and it starts off quite slowly with a noise like angels singing and I thought it sounded a bit like the record was warped on this bit and so was playing a bit funny but the record isn't warped because it's supposed to sound like that which I thought was very interesting. This song is a bit more relaxing than the last one but would still be good for a party I think because it is still very funky. One bit I really liked on this was near the end where there is a sound like trumpets because this reminded me of angels as well so I think maybe that's what the song is about.
          The next song is my favourite so far because it reminded me of a the music for science fiction films in the Seventies, it is called Superzero Theme so maybe it's a song about a man with powers like Superman or Kiss Ass. If I was a superhero Darren said I could be called Smoke Man because i smoke a lot of cigarettes and I think that's a good idea and I think I'd quite like to be a superhero.
          After this is one that starts of all slow with a noise like water taps which made me think of music to play when you are in the bathroom but then it speeded up and got all funky and sounded more like music for a disco club again but I still think you could dance to it in your bathroom if you wanted to.
           Next is Nice Eyes in My Size which is slower than the others have been and all weird and a bit wonky - I liked this one a lot because of this because it sounded very different to songs i've heard before.
           The next song which is the first song on the second side is called Single Stripe and is quite weird too because it has an instrument in it which sounds very farty which I thought was funny. This isn't all there is in this song though because there is singing in it which made me think of angels again and overall it's a very lovely song really.
            Glinterlude is the next song and this one is a very fast one with noises in it like I imagine electricity would make if there was lots of it and after that is a song called puds which made me think of a spaceship in orbit with people floating round in it having a good time - I'd quite like to go up in a spaceship one day to see what it's like in space but I don't think that's likely to happen because I'm getting on a bit, it's a nice thing to think about though.
              After Puds is Outwhere which is another quite spacey one but slower this time maybe which made me think of science fiction stuff again like aliens and robots and spaceships and that. I liked this because I like science fiction especially old films like The Day the Earth Stood Still and The Day the Earth Caught Fire which are both excellent films that I enjoyed very much.
              The next song is the last song and is called Answered and it is quite a relaxed tune that I thought was very summery sounding and very good to be playing on a sunny day like today. I think the whole record is quite summery really because it's quite a fun record with nice songs to dance to or just listen to while you sit in the sun maybe on a beach or in a park. I liked this record very much indeed and if you would like to hear it you can do on the thing below. I would give this record 10 out of 10.