Cave Paintings – The ‘Gathered Neatly On A Thin Raft’ Ransom Note Mix
We all know what cave paintings are, though few of us are likely to ever need them when we're asking for directions to the nearest cash machine or need the number of a speedy takeaway service. Perhaps for most of us the idea of a cave painting has become a little outdated along with fax machines and Lady Gaga. However, there are a group of people determined to make the good name of Cave Paintings rise to the forefront of our minds once more by using it as the name for their small group of DJs, producers and promoters. We too are keen to back the return of this ancient art and therefore asked them to provide us with this 'Gathered Neatly On A Thin Raft' mix. We did ask them to accompany the mix with a selection of cave paintings but, due to a lack of caves, we settled for an interview instead;
Please introduce yourself…
Who are you, where are you and what are you?
AG: Cave Paintings is a project comprising of collectors and producers; Alex Grzybowski, Atlas Burden, Elbe and Stove. We split our time between Yorkshire and London.
AB: We're nomadic pedlars of left of centre music for dancing.
Describe your sound without using the letter 'e'.
AB: (Is that a nod to George Perec?) Hoary woodland rhythms built by flourishing vagrant artisans.
What is your first memory of being interested in music? Who was your first great inspiration?
AG: Hard to pin-point but I used to really enjoy the music they used to play at the Dolphin Show at Flamingo Land in the 80s. It was all Jean Michel Jarre style stuff. I also remember theme tunes to TV shows getting me really excited; A Team, The Fall Guy, Street Hawk and… Howards Way! Kate Bush seems to stick out in my very early musical memories, too.
AB: I was raised on Northern Soul in the working men's clubs of Yorkshire. It's still my favourite genre of music to dance to, the ritual and emotion of it all, the freedom of expression and that ultimate respect for the dancefloor. Can I point a finger in Luther Ingram's direction? 'Exus Trek / If it's all the same to you babe'.
What's the greatest cave painting you've ever seen?
AG: I've visited the Rouffignac cavern in the Dordogne's Vézère valley a couple of times, the cave paintings there are amongst the oldest known to man, they're pretty special.
AB: I'd love to go and see the paintings in the Karst caves on Sulawesi in Indonesia, they've dated them to somewhere around 40,000 BC.
Are you good at art? What would you draw if we gave you a blank canvas?
AB: Honestly, you've got more chance of me taking the canvas off the frame and using the wood to build something that the canvas will then be used as an envelope for.
AG: I do a mean subconsciously drawn cylindrical shape, whilst on the phone.
How long could you live in a cave for before going mad?
AG: Not long at all, I'd be more at home underwater than underground, apart from the breathing thing.
AB: If it's those giant crystal caves in Mexico off Attenborough you'd never see or hear from me again.
If you were trapped on a desert island with one other person, who would you choose? How long would it be before you eat them?
AG: A person with a good bit of meat on them. James Corden would be ideal and minimise the guilt endured when it came to eating him.
AB: It’s got to be David Attenborough, I’d go as far as to say that I’d choose him as my +1 in most situations if I could. I’d expect to be hanged upon my return if I even so much as thought about a recipe for him though.
Your doctor says you need more exercise… What do you take up for exercise?
AG: Ping Pong.
AB: I’m a keen Alpinist if I’m not working on a project I’ll be in the mountains somewhere. The mountains are the remedy for a plethora of ills.
If you could travel in time…where in time would you go? Why?
AG: A tavern in mediaeval Whitby, smugglers and pirates would make for an interesting crowd to get on the beers with.
AB: Anywhere pre-colonization, Africa or North America. We lost so much valuable information during the ‘civilisation’ of the world, from arts & customs to ritual events and sustainable living practices. We’ve galloped a long way in the wrong direction in my opinion.
What was the first electronic record you heard and how did it make you feel?
AG: Eddie Grant’s Electric Avenue was the first electronic record I remember hearing and loving. I’ve still got the original 7” and it occasionally gets a spin out.
AB: I was given The Twelve Commandments Of Dance by the London Boys along with a taped copy of a Now Dance compilation of some description for Christmas in 1989. The compilation had no tracklist with it and I remember being on the school playground with my walkman rewinding and replaying this particular track with lots of heavy moaning, it was such an alien concept to me at 6 years old but it had absolutely hypnotized me. I found out much later that it was French Kiss by Lil’ Louis.
How does your brain work when making music? How does it work when you aren’t?
We approach making anything in the same way really, with the same set of rules. Materiality, colour and texture are important, but more important is rhythm & most importantly scale. Everything we make is destined for consumption by human beings who have their own particular rhythms and scale. I think that this rule has been forgotten by a lot of makers.
What did you want to be when you grew up? (Or what do you want to be when/if you grow up?)
AG: A mean subconsciously drawn cylindrical shape.
AB: I've always wanted to be an Architect but now I'm halfway through the training I'm not so sure, the emphasis today is on 'The City' which is an entity I'm not 100% familiar with, I'm still quite happy building dens and fires in the woods with my mates.
Onto the mix…
Where was the mix recorded?
AG: The mix was recorded in my home studio, live, straight into Logic, using a mixture of vinyl and digital.
What would be the ideal setting to listen to the mix?
AB: In the forest for sure. You need to take a sacred object and find the place where the sun breaks the canopy and makes it to the forest floor. You make sure that everything is aligned correctly and that you've gathered the right people and that's where you conduct your ceremony.
What should we be wearing?
AB: Anything home-made, a ceremonial gown or headdress is almost essential, if it reflects or refracts the sunlight then even better. You'll also need an altarpiece or offering of some description.
What would be your dream setting to record a mix: Location/system/format?
AG: Apologies for the unimaginative answer but, at home on my current set-up, on a Saturday afternoon in summer, with plenty of tea and tobacco to hand. Dream place to DJ without recording would be a different kettle of perch.
AB: I’m hoping to record what goes on in the Dogon Village this year, that’s more of an ambition though. The dream would be in a high pass in the mountains.
Which track in the mix is your current favourite?
AG: Issa Bagayogo – Kouloun, I've been playing this for a couple of year now, without any sign of finding it any less magical.
AB: I can't stop listening to Africa Ni Leo by Bantu Clan vs Sarabi, the Esa extended mix came out as part of the Highlife World Series in July.
What’s your favourite recorded mix of all time?
AG: I don't have an all-time favourite mix but James Holden, Demdike Stare, Jan Schulte, Lena Willikens and the Finders Keepers collective, all need a mention. I'm also a fan of the Folklore Tapes project.
AB: A favourite of mine for sentimental reasons is the first RA mix that Appleblim made, RA110 I think it was. I listened to that a lot with my brother before tectonic activity changed our situation.
If you could go back to back with any DJ from throughout history, who would it be and why?
AG: I love playing back-to-back with other djs, especially mates, so I guess it would be a mate rather than a 'famous' DJ. I always enjoy a good back-to-back with AB.
AB: I’d really like to get a window into Timothy J Fairplay’s mind for a couple of hours. But yeh I'd have to agree with Al, I really like jamming with friends and we've organised a 3 way with DREEMS at Festival Number 6 in a couple of weeks, I'm really excited by what he's doing at the moment and I'm looking forward to seeing his live show.
What was your first DJ set up at home and what is it now?
AG: A pair of belt-driven turntables, I've forgotten the make and a KAM GM25 MKII in 1996, I upgraded to Technics 1200s and a better Gemini mixer 6 months later. I still use the same Technics and they're going strong, I use Traktor with vinyl control for the digital side of things but only at home, I'm not a fan of it in a club environment. Mixer-wise, I've been looking after a basic Pioneer number for AB, I constantly fantasise over investing in a rotary, either the E&S 400 or ARS MODEL 9000, or both.
AB: I started on Al’s second hand belt drives after he’d sold them to a mutual friend of ours way back when. In hindsight I think we were all fortunate to develop our skills on such rudimentary equipment. It felt like mixes were laser guided when I upgraded to the 1210. My set-up has remained unchanged since I upgraded, they’ve been in every imaginable situation indoor and out and they’re still doing their job.
What’s more important, the track you start on or the track you end on?
AG: It depends on the scenario. In a club I’d say last track as I prefer a more subtle approach to taking over from the DJ before. In a festival environment, I guess you can be forgiven for making more of an entrance (and exit).
AB: In a mix I’d offer them both equal weight as they’re the beginning and end to your story but playing out a ‘last track’ should be given the most consideration in my humble opinion.
What were the first and last records you bought?
AG: First record: Roger Sanchez – Hard Times – The Album (1995). Last record: Craig Leon – Nommos / Visiting – Anthology Of Interplanetary Folk Music Vol. 1
AB: The first vinyl I bought was a track called 9Bar by OD404, we were partying at Subway City in Birmingham at the time. Thomas Melchior's ethno dub remix of Radiq's Eastern Hemisphere was the last.
If this mix was an edible thing, what would it taste like?
AB: That thing you buy from the fella in the tuc tuc on your adventures and then you find a fancy recipe for it when you get home but it doesn’t taste anywhere near the same. You’ve got to get it from the guy in the tuc tuc.
If it was an animal what would it be?
AG: A coral reef.
One record in your collection that is impossible to mix into anything?
AG: There's always a way of mixing anything.
AB: I'd have to agree, sometimes you've just got to think outside the box.
Upcoming in the world of Cave Paintings?
AB: We've been tasked with building & inhabiting the Dogon Village at Festival Number 6 in Portmeirion again this year, it's been the highlight of my summer calendar since 2012 and I'm really looking forward to the line-up we've managed to assemble. The crowd we get up there are so dedicated and the setting is so sacred and special, it's an emotional time for me.
AG: Continuing our monthly residency at the excellent 212 Café & Bar, in Leeds, which is the first Thursday of the month. Gigs for Kaleidoscope at Wharfe Chambers and playing records at the opening of new venue; Headrow House, which looks set to be a much needed addition to the Leeds scene. Later in the year, we're bringing Ivan Smagghe back to Leeds too.
Anything else we need to discuss?
AG: The planning of Cave Paintings events in London, Berlin and New Zealand as well as a label and full CP production outfit are amongst the things we're currently discussing.
Find out more about Cave Paintings here.