Thunder Picks – Top 8 of 2013
End of years a go go… Top 10 straight to box set DVDs. Top 1000 digital deep house labels. Etc. We've decided to go for Top 8 Whatevers. The Top 8 things of the year – be them bacon sandwiches; the top 8 times you stubbed your toe against the f*cking boxes full of useless sh*t your girlfriend insists on leaving in the hallway; and so on and so forth. Each week until the new year, we'll be publishing the Top 8s of the various R$N scribes.
Here are our very good friend and crack (of Thunder) lover Miles Simpson's Thunder Picks:
His death was actually one of the lowlights of the year but the revival of his music it inspired has been lovely. He is one if the truly great house male vocalists, maybe even the greatest in my eyes. Of course he didn't have the power of a Byron Stingily or the polish of a Peven Everitt but that isn't what house is about, is it? Great house isn't about the sheen of slick production, it's about dirty, smoke filled, sweat soaked basements – it's raw, primal, sex music. Romanthony was epitome of that and there is rarely a Thunder party that passes without his music being played. A real originals, hell be truly missed. RIP Anthony Wayne Moore.
On the subject of dirty, smoke filled, sweat soaked basements and raw, primal, sex music, Dance Tunnel is fast becoming my favourite London venue of all time. It's a labour of love but boy is that labour paying off. The perfect size, low ceilings, the layout, the sound system, and more than anything else, the ethos of the venue. Almost no advertising, no photos allowed, amazing underground DJs from all over the world and always a fantastic crowd whatever the night. Its a real life dream of a club.
THAT Paradise Garage video
If you havent seen this yet, you better block out a couple of hours if youre going to hit play now. Its a collation of video from the last weeks of the Garage, including the final party itself. It captures all sorts of fantastic moments, the queue, the famous ramp, the lone dancers wheeling away on the empty floor to E2-E4, the house music, the crowds reaction Spank, the even bigger reaction to You Used To Hold Me, the show-womanship of Gwen Guthrie, Liz Torres and Master C&J live on stage, Keith Haring out on the floor, the dancefloor unity during We Are Family, in the both with Larry as he drops Jeanette Thomas Shake Your Body, Adonis, the ultimate end of night moment of Make It Last Forever and Ce Ce Rogers Someday being played at the end, twice. Its hard to believe that this video has existed since the late 80s and only just surfaced in its entirety this year. If you have even a passing interest in club culture, it is essential viewing and is quite probably the best thing that will ever be on youtube.
Exciting Producers that I've developed a low level obsession with.
Not all of these guys have just come to prominence, some of them have been around for ages, in the last year people like Funkineven, Greg Beato, Fett Burger, Sotofett, Fred P, Soulphiction, Headless Ghost, and Innerspace Halflife, just to mention a few, have really caught my ear and made me genuinely excited about new music. Its all too easy to look backwards for influences and the sheer volume of 90s influenced house produced in the last 12 months bears testament to that – but what hooked most of us on house music in the first place was that it sounded like it had been beamed from another planet. Im not sure any new interpretation of house will ever quite have that impact again, but records that sound fresh, make you want to go out and dance, and cause you stay up until the wee hours on a Wednesday DJing in your headphones when you have to be up for work in 3 hours, cant be a bad thing. Looking forward to finding more people like this lot in 2014.
One exciting DJ and producer that deserves a mention of his own is DJ Sprinkles. Again, hes been around a while (a lot longer than me) but I only really got into him this year. Midtown 120 Blues from his debut album of the same name a couple of years ago became a Thunder warm up staple at the start of the year (you can find the whole album on youtube).
As the year wore on, pretty much everything from his Queerifications and Ruins remix album found its way into the early sets at Thunder too, but one track that stood out above all others and is without a doubt one of the most creatively producing house records of the year, is his Crossfaderdrama remix of The Mole on Perlon.
Sprinkles isnt your average DJ either, a transgender ex-pat New Yorker living in Japan, interviews with him demonstrate a depth of thought that is not usually associated with people paddling around in the shallows of house music. He is someone he regards his music as art and the culture that surrounds it as significant and defining rather than trivial. This is a man (and his Sprinkles persona is male) who refused to play Madonna records for dancers because She had taken a very specifically queer, transgendered, Latino and African-American phenomenon and totally erased that context with her lyrics you will not be allowed to Vogue to the decontextualized, reified, corporatlized, liberalized, neutralized, asexualized, re-genderized, pop reflection of this dancefloors reality!
Personally, I find it refreshing to find someone who lives what he believes rather than just trotting out the usual house rhetoric (its a feeling blah, blah, blah), playing a few mp3s he didnt pay for and treating it as a vehicle for making a few quid. There IS more to it. For some people its not fad, the latest music Hackney and Peckham dwelling middle class kids from the Shires are into, before the next fad comes along. For some people its life. As Sprinkles says House is not universal. House is hyper-specific.
I like nothing better than to contradict myself at times, although usually I try not to do it in the same article. However, much Ive enjoyed all the new music that has been released in the last 12 months, I also loved this years resurgence of 80s and 90s Chicago label, Dance Mania. I think what sets it apart from is the uniqueness of its sound, especially the once house music spotlight moved away from Chicago and the labels its output moved away from the traditional Chicago house sound, towards a rawer, more ghetto, tracky sound. It may not have troubled the charts but those disco loops, searing hi-hats and punchy kicks proved to be hugely influential with underground producers. Back in August, with the help of serious ghetto house experts, Dom Cappello and Simon Fullerton, in the Thunder group, I pulled together a few personal highlights for Ransom Note.
This in turn led to me getting involved with a compilation Strut Records were working on. It was the brainchild of Conor Keeling, the man behind those Daft Punk Teachers mixes, so it was in pretty good shape so I just helped tweak the tracklist. Conor and I are both really pleased with the end result, which hit the shops in February (Im not going to plug it anymore!) and whats more, weve also been working on a very special, limited edition Record Store Day treat that all Dance Mania fans will want to get their hands on. Keep em peeled.
Kenny Hawkes Bench
Some of you will be familiar with the London House Tree t-shirt, which started life as something knocked together for Faith Fanzine and was then commandeered for t-shirt making purposes to help fund a bench to commemorate influential London DJ Kenny Hawkes, after his passing in June 2011. I was very happy to be involved in a small way and it was small as others did all the hard work but with all the best will in the world, I had my doubts that the bench would ever happen. I was wrong though. Kennys memory didnt fade, people kept pushing on and then, just before the second anniversary of his death, the bench came to fruition. It can in Brighton, where Kenny lived, on Marine Parade in front of Burlington Street and Bloomsbury Place and bears the inscription, I would have sat here but Im far too busy, because if there was one we all associate with Kenny, it was being busy. If youre ever down in Brighton, and you enjoyed Kenny, dancing at Space, Fridays R Firin or anywhere else he DJed, listening to Girls FM, or just laughing your arse off at his internet musings, maybe take a few minutes to go and sit on the bench, and remember what he brought to our lives. I know that like Kenny, youre probably busy, but in reality we can all make time for the important things in life.
And Finally Dopplereffeky Infophysix
Another old record I only discussed this year (via Funkineven) but it is the best record I have heard this. You know what I said about music sounding like it had been beamed from another planet? Well this is what I mean. Its almost 20 years old and sounds like it was made tomorrow. There have been days this year sat at my desk at work when I have literally played 30 times on the trot and it never fails to take me away, even if its just for a for few moments. It is one of the greatest pieces of machine music I have heard in my entire life and in a way, Im kind of glad its taken so long to discover it because I dont ever want to get bored of it. So, enter your four digit code
Purveyor of the finest deeply undergound house parties in London; Thunder.
Check the group here.