Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Epochal Moments In My Life # 69

69 - Desire

Once upon a time I lived in a very strange flat on the top floor of an enormous dilapidated gothic mansion in Brondesbury Park, with a very fine man called Matt Mancuso. I didn't live there all that long, crashing and burning after about six months. It was a crazy place with a constantly revolving cast of inhabitants and casual(ty) stopovers, always anchored by our genial caner host Mancuso. There was never any food in the fridge but every night was party night, when the booze flowed freely and narcotics were (chopped up) on a plate if that was what your heart desired. Aaaahh, yes, Desire…

So, one night in the middle of a week of typical debauchery, I was making the most of an empty flat to try and get some much-needed sleep. I eventually drifted off into the kind of exhausted, deep narcoleptic shut-eye where nightmares rule and you can't work out whether you've been under for five minutes or five days. I was disturbed by a fumbling at the door handle and instantly froze, racked with paranoia and ruing the fact I didn't keep a baseball bat to hand. After what seemed like an age, the door burst open, and I was confronted by a bear of a man, silhouetted in the doorway clutching a flat, square object between his paws. The Bearman slurred something I couldn't decipher, but as my eyes adjusted and my brain engaged, I realised it was Mancuso, and he was carrying a record.

"Don't get up Mr Clay," he mumbled. "I'm about to do something wonderful. You can thank me in the morning."
"Piss off Mancuso," I snapped. "I'm asleep. Whatever it is, it can wait."
"This can't," Mancuso said. "Trust me."

I groaned and rolled over to face the wall, listening to him fiddling with my stereo with all the dexterity of a fingerless man sowing on a button. The needle dropped clumsily onto the record, and Mancuso staggered back out of my room as it crackled into life...

I contemplated getting up and turning it off, but I couldn't move. I was pinned to my bed, dumbfounded by the regal majesty of the music that was pouring gloriously forth from my shitty speakers, like liquid gold. Mancuso was right. Of course he was. He knew the power of this mighty song, and decided to administer a potent dose of techno goodness where it was needed.

It's six simply sublime minutes of the most soulful techno you will ever hear, with a gorgeous string-infused keyboard line that warps like it's recorded on old tape, and the phenomenal chopped-up break that drops in and takes you away. Carl Craig, you are a genius. I can't believe I hadn't heard it before that night, and I don't know why it doesn't get played out more - it still packs a colossally emotive punch. I've had plenty of people who 'should' know what it is, ask me when I've played it, and then hunt down a copy at the earliest opportunity. If music can ever be made with a specific time slot in mind, this is one for 4am. Originally released under Craig's 69 (six nine) alias on R&S in 1994, it is a glaring omission from the otherwise immaculate compendium 'Sessions', which came out on K7 at the end of February.

I returned the record to Mancuso (after taping it, of course) the following morning. He was fast asleep, and we never mentioned the moment that had passed the night before. I hope in some small way that what I'm doing on this blog is a virtual version of what Mancuso did for me that night all those years ago - sharing the love, spreading the magic. Perhaps I'm being too idealistic about it, but ever since the demise of the C90 mix tape, sharing music hasn't felt the same for me - until now. And failing that, I hope that out there somewhere, someone is stumbling into your room at night and enriching your life with music.

Buy Carl Craig 'Sessions' from Boomkat
Buy the original 'Lite Music' 12" that features 'Desire' from eBay
Carl Craig MySpace
Carl Craig discography
In-depth Carl Craig biography at Planet E website


Thursday, March 06, 2008

Joe, Do You Hear Something?

Cine City - Plants, Animals, H20

For one reason and another, I know far more about deep house than the average man on the street. Now, while this wealth of knowledge has never really served me that well in winning friends, influencing people, or even scoring sneaky points at the local pub quiz, it does mean that my record collection is peppered with obscure vinyl gems from labels like Classic, NRK, Pagan and Paper that may not be found on everyone's shelves. Take this banger from Manchester's finest Paperecordings (home of the awesome Crazy Penis) - 'Plants, Animals, H20' was located on the flipside of a 10" released by the label back in 1997. Cine City (named after the oldest cinema in Manchester - now defunct) was one of many pseudonyms adopted by label owners Elliot Eastwick and Miles Hollway, perhaps best known for recording as Salt City Orchestra.

Under the Cine City alias, they drafted in fellow deep house-head Si Brad, who acted as producer. I'm not really sure if this track is all that representative of the deep house scene - I'd file it more at the funky end of the spectrum. No matter - opening with MC Tunes's proclamation from back in the glory days of baggy of "Man-chester, the dance capital of England" (from the risible Stone Roses-sampling 'Tunes Splits The Atom'), the needle is thankfully dragged across the record and an atmospheric sample from an unknown sci-fi or horror film crackles into earshot (I've tried but failed to find out where it's from). Then, from out of nowhere, a whipcrackin', überjackin' drum beat (if I'd programmed it, I'd be a skeleton, trapped in the studio still going mental) is fired up, a filthy bassline drops and we're plunged into Jedi Knights-style nu-school breaks territory. Dangerously veering towards future jazz at various points, the track is kept on track by a guest appearence from the mysterious Wai Wan on keys. Legend has it Wai was rehearsing in the next door studio, and popped in one afternoon for a cuppa, and ended up laying down some seriously pimping keyboard science all over the outro. Wonderful stuff. Paper sadly got pulped in 2003, but Eastwick and Hollway are still in demand as DJs, and, funnily enough, Eastwick also runs a legendary pub quiz. Any chance of a deep house round, Elliot?

The label also made a video for the A-side of the 10", 'Are You Sure Joe?', which you can feast your eyes on below. Paper tell the story:

When we first started paper, we managed to get hold of a Super8 camera and we all drove off onto Saddleworth Moors, just outside of Manchester and filmed our first video. It was the first lo-fi dance video and was filmed using paper beakers, shoestrings and magik eye dust. I'm sure you'll agree that no expense was spared and it was purely fuelled by passion, foolishness and belief in the music we were making in the North West of England. This video was found in a box in my loft on an old VHS, sent to be digitised in London and whacked up on YouTube for all to see. The orange coat is still knocking around and its stars all the peeps who set up Paperecordings. Andy filmed it and Elvis was there courtesy of rock n roll. Mmmm, slick isn't it? Fun though.... Love from Paper x

Buy Paperecordings mp3s from Paper
Elliot Eastwick's World Famous Pub Quiz at MySpace
Wai Wan MySpace