So much can happen in ‘a space of time’. Whether you’re consciously watching the clock and letting life pass you by or whether time is insignificant against the actions you choose to fill your time & space with.
This program of music was compiled & mixed upon my departure from where I knew as home at the time - Melbourne, Australia. With a venture into the unknown, the ‘shitting myself’ feeling was eased through the journey I took myself on mixing this set 30,000ft above Asia. 30 or so hrs in the clouds gave me an incredible space to think. A vast array of emotions flowed through me, sometimes like a free flowing gentle stream and at other times, like Niagra falls. This mix features some of the music that holds a very special place in my heart and a mix that portrays my experiences of happiness and sadness of the months prior to making it.
An emotion filled audio session with appearances from William Orbit’s - Adagio for Strings and some of my favourite producers - Youandewan, Fred Everything and many more.
Thank you for listening.
Amidst the political, racial, sexual propaganda style media coverage that’s currently present in the UK, it becomes difficult to focus on what you are hoping to achieve from the day without these vicious seeds influencing the judgmental mind of a human being. I rely heavily on music to assist in the everlasting quest to makes sense of the environment around and within me.
The TV ‘News’ off (thank fuck). In goes the left earphone, then the right. Press play. Hop on the bike and away I go. Everything that has ever been said, played, viewed, heard or done, affects someone somewhere. Solace in music. Being tickled and pickled by everyday life situations (many from the past and many about future prospects), this Balance Presents release once again pulls me into my present – a space in time I seem to avoid a lot, but a place I love whenever I return.
My first in the flesh experience with Guy was when Fluidlife teamed up back in 2011 with Balance and Darkbeat for a Balance Presents show with Guy J at Roxanne Parlour in Melbourne. Was a Balance Presents Guy J release in the sights of the label at this time?? Who knows? Given the formidable form and intricate selection of artists from the label over the years, I’d hazard a guess and say yes, this one was on the cards. This night was more special for me than any of my past events as it was the first occasion my partner at the time would see the fruits of my labour that I love so, so much. She’d see the fruits of that which occupies my every thought, every phone call, and every conversation with each and every person I communicated with. Excited and nervous much? Very.
Throughout the whole mix, my mind is guided through a myriad of deep emotions. Guy J, a sovereign of emotion probing. Do I wish I was a better partner? Do I miss her? Very dearly. Having met Guy and sharing beers with him, his humility is aspirational in the ever judgmental industry of electronic music. Guy sets the tone with his mood-scaping remix of DJ Yellow & Flowers and Sea Creatures ‘No One Gets Left Behind’(Guy J Edit): an incredible track to say the least with haunting vocals and an industrial, yet peaceful, musical presentation behind it. It flows beautifully into Guy’s remix of Roger Martinez & Secret Cinema ‘Menthol Raga’ – upon the drop from a beautiful build in this track, the image of a Cheetah in full flight across the African Savannah floods my mind’s eye, casting my energy into a spiritual realm, and it is right here where I am in a zone where time has no meaning anymore.
Circa 20 mins into the mix, Guy smashes my hypnosis to a whole new level. I am a happy man. His edit of APM 001 ‘Migrants’(Radio Slave Accapella) [Guy J Edit] takes me back to an experience I had at the infamous Rainbow Serpent Festival in Australia where tears were rolling down my face in elation to the music I was absorbing. My aforementioned partner looked at me and with a loving, warm energy said “Only you would cry to techno”, whilst I was dancing (amazingly in my perception) semi naked, off my nut on life and acid with an incredible Indian chief headpiece on. One of the many free moments I’ve had in my life. All of those ‘free’ moments evoked through music of course. Guy, whether he knows it or not, kindles freedom.
The final 45 mins deliver a collection of productions that I’m finding really hard to explain. Well at least explain in a typical review sense. It’s a very unique experience for me not to have a reason or explanation of what goes through my mind. This, I can only put down to being blown away. With such beauty words are never, ever required. What I can offer you is that Guy -as expected- has delivered a Balance Presents offering that surpasses comprehension. The trackNavar ‘Phases Of Grief’ (Guy J remix) takes me to a realm of what I can only illustrate as opportunity. The delicate hats and beautiful synths composed in a manner of respect that caters to the listeners highest levels of appreciation. Guy is saying thank you. Musically. To the hearer. Whilst I’m in this incredible mind-state, it’s the follow up track to Pavel Petrov ‘Fever’ (Pezzner mix)/DJ T Ft. Cari Golden ‘City Life’ (Accapella) (Guy J Edit) that really causes a life and death situation. Totally engaged by what I’m hearing I had no idea of my bicycle’s positioning on the road, leading to what can only be described as a duel with a meth-amphetamine infused truck driver clearly needing sleep and/or sexual relief. The ever ending battle between the cyclist and motorist. Fuck them is all I felt at that particular moment. Further on into the mix, Guy takes us into the classic prog-feel track of Echomen ‘Perpetual’ (Guy J Remix), and then into a gentle journey-esque, latin vibe expression with Guy J’s remix of Guy Manzur ‘I’m in your country’.
Overall, I recommend listening to this whilst doing something you love. To get the best out of anything, always do something in an environment where you’re at your optimum. Even if not in the ‘ideal’ environment, this mix is one I believe will be regarded highly across the board. To the new listener, take your time in hearing. There’s a big difference between listening and hearing. To the die hard, prepare for something very, very special.
Balance + Guy J = World Peace?
This is expressionism at its finest. This is Balance Presents Guy J.
“Having worked with and for Darkbeat over the years, I was excited to hear how Darkbeat – the no.1 Consistent Australian Underground Music Event Brand – would perform as a commercially released compilation. My time working with Banko & the Darkbeat team (joining creative forces with the Fluidlifecontingent) to deliver collaborative events for highly acclaimed Renaissance and Balance Series album releases will always be remembered fondly. At the time, I remember a high intensity on many levels, but the work between us all were executed brilliantly, and as a result, we delivered superb shows. I write as I listen. This is a long one so fire up the CD and listen as you read.” – John Sharp (Fluidlife)
I was not aware of the tracklisting for this release until it came down to slotting in the final pieces of this review puzzle; I ventured into this open-minded, which is the only way to approach any new situation: innocent and free from obscured influences, especially relating to labels and artists I either like or yet to like. Why have I chosen to spend the next few hours of my life to do this? Well, several reasons: interest and intrigue probably top the list, the fact that I have close connections with the Darkbeat brand professionally and personally (which includes Darkbeat fave Anthony Pappa, founder Rollin Connection / Daniel Bankoand resident Phil K), and also feeling safe in the knowledge that this will be a really good musical experience for me. This is a ‘review’ with a personal touch. Not being one to do things in the ‘correct’ order – a little like the ‘shuffle’ function on an ipod – I start with Disc 3 mixed by Phil K…
Whilst Disc 3 is labeled as an ‘after hours’ mix, this offering from Phil K conjures up a different image in my mind: ‘I’m wearing a spanking Hawaiian shirt – 80’s Miami style- on a multimillion dollar Monaco yacht: blowing a joint, sipping elite red wine whilst bathing in sublime ice-cream -Maggie Beer Ice-Cream (Australian gourmet ice-cream) of course- and accompanied by the most beautiful women in the world, delicately assisting me to clear the dairy destruction I’ve created; only using a very sensual part of their incredible female anatomy, the job gets done.’
Back in the real world… Who said “white men can’t dance”? This one can: Phil K has got some groove flowing right here… One hell of a groove. This downtempo, stripped back and educated style couldbe taken as an after-hours mix; however, with this offering Phil K defies any musical bracket and does so with precise technical skill and incredible track selection: Rayko ‘Slowtrack’ & Sir Mike Callander’s‘Still Lost’ (Darius Bassiray & Paul Beynon’s Slo Mochi Remix) being particular favourites of mine. Deep into the mix, my mind casts back to 2005 with my arrival in Australia and my hopes of meeting Phil K (along with Danni Minogue – purely from a schoolboy fantasy perspective) so I could pick his mind. Intrigued by his musical performance, style and versatility, I had to find out what/where/who inspires him. One day I was having a chat to someone in a mutual friends’ refreshment establishment and imagine my surprise when I found out I was speaking to Phil K! I soiled myself in absolute shock that I was speaking to one of my greatest inspirations. His music came into my life at a very challenging period and provoked a change: a change I chose to make, and I truly believe Phil’s music played an integral part in comforting that change. I could say his music is responsible for me being present this very day; furthermore his music instilled a hope and passion in me to keep on chasing the dream of one day calling ‘Music’ my ‘Work’.
This CD reflects a character with divine, unconditional passion for music in its entirety. His presence and confidence shines through with this mix and one that I’ll be playing again and again, so I can revive my vivid imagination back to that yacht in Monaco (I fully believe that this Monaco scenario will one day become a real experience). Every period in my life that has involved Phil’s music has turned out to be some of the most pivotal and ‘real’ moments of my life.
I wanted to listen to Rollin Connection next but held back as I asked myself: “Why?” Instead I decided to listen to Pappa’s disc first, my thought process being that I really didn’t know what to expect from Rollin Connection (the anticipation twisting my twisted mind further) so I decided to listen to his mix last. I knewwhat to expect with Pappa though – even without knowing the track-list I was excited to immerse myself in some vintage Anthony Pappa mixing. I was totally wrong with my expectations: expectations can be exceeded or it can lead to the devilish human trait of ‘high expectations leading to disappointment’; Pappa happily achieves the former.
I was taught something by my Grandfather that I’ll never forget: “Under Promise & Over Deliver.” With this mix Pappa Over Promised (my high expectations from his past work) and Over Delivered. It took me a while to get into the mix, and I think the reason being is that all I could see -or wanted to see- in my mind was Lord Pappa in front of 1000’s of die-hard fans, in perfect synchronicity with their dancing; moving to the driving, forceful, incredible beats he masters so well – always delivering way more than anyone else who tries to emulate his unique style. 18 or so minutes in, Afrilounge ‘Gold’ fires up. Bang! I hear Pappa, I see his cheeky grin; feel his infectious energy behind the club altar after blessing the crowd with his underground-infused holy water. Pope Pappa the 1st is at the Vatican delivering a speech through the united medium of music; fueling my highly unusual need to clean the kitchen from top to bottom.
My mind flashes to a rider he once presented to me which in turn provoked a unique and stupid sounding laugh-out-loud (can you imagine the laughing sound of a successfully crossbred donkey & hyena? Yes, that’s the one!). The only other time I’d produced such a reverberating sound was when I read the email containing his ‘Rider’ whilst I was in a Crazy John’s store (an Australian mobile phone retailer) trying to negotiate a deal for a washing machine (I truly believed at the time this phone retailer would have contacts in the field of white goods). Much to the frustration of the poor salesman and his superior, I was eventually ejected and reunited with my fellow journeymen who were wailing on the ground -and in hysterics- just outside the Crazy John’s store. Yes, I/we were in Sharpyland that morning: imagine a never-ending moonscape of social mind-bending and un/acceptable behaviour, political incorrectness, windups and funny situations, all in the name of “trying to understand people and myself much better”. Never. Ever. Ending.
How could I ever forget this rider? Wow. Some of the more memorable requests on the rider included:
2 BACK UP DJ’S THAT LOOK EXACTLY LIKE FUNKY COL (THEY CANNOT BE LATE)*
1 MCDONALD’S UNIFORM AND HAT
1 SOUTHERN ATLANTIC SPERM WHALE (FOUND OFF PORT MORESBY), DICED INTO SUSHI ROLLS, SLIGHTLY SEARED AND LEFT IN GEORGE FOREMAN GRILL FOR 5 MINS”
* Funky Col is an Melbourne stalwart DJ from way back and a dear friend of Anthony Pappa’s.
If this man can be this creative with his rider then I was under no illusion he was going to tear the gig -that I would book him for- a new one. Anthony Pappa, Phil K, Kasey Taylor, Rollin Connection, Text Book Music, Lister Cooray & Jon Beta all featured on what I felt was one of my most exciting Australian Fluidlifelineups for our ‘Lunar’ residency at OneSixOne in Melbourne. To have such a rich pedigree of artists together on the same bill was an amazing feeling for me.
But I digress… Back to Pappa’s mix!
As his mix progresses, I hear a new side to Pappa: his notorious teasing style is still present, but I have a feeling that his recent life decisions and experiences are reflected throughout this mix (more so than any of his past mixes). Life is a journey and not a race, and whether Pappa is consciously doing it or not, I believe he is channeling the status quo of his life with this compilation. His selection of Ame’s remix of Ry & Frank Wiedemann ‘Howling’ is a very pleasant and integral moment for me, and Pappa’s use of Solomun’s ‘He is Watching You’, again, evokes a surprise in me that is a very welcome emotion.
Anthony Pappa. Unique. Unrivalled. United…
Where would I most want to be if I was with Pappa for a night out? North Korea. With courtesy to the safety of the general public of Planet Earth, this would be the safest place for us both. Not even their Nuclear weaponry could come close to stopping the fun. I have no doubt during our North Korean adventure, Pappa would convert the North Korean dictatorship into a music festival called Pappafields (God help Kim Jong-un with Pappa’s rider for this gig), and everyone would be making friends over some nuclear fireworks (I’d better be careful with what I wish for – to date most of my music related wishes have come true).
So, finally I give into my analytical mind (with no answers to the questions I was twisting myself with) and enter the Rollin Connection audio display with a clear and open mind. Why was I thinking this way? Well, I’ve never heard a recorded mix of his before, but I have had the pleasure of listening to him live many a time. I do regard him as a superior DJ in a game where it is getting more and more difficult to define what a ‘DJ’ is. Do any of us care about the definition of a DJ these days as long as the output is quality? Also, being the man behind Darkbeat, I expect him to really think about what he wants to portray in this mix. Not influenced by categorising RC to a particular genre or sound (I deter all reference to genre classification), I was gently led into what I felt was going to be a whole new story.
His opening track choice -‘Walking Through The Hills’ from Daniel Sanchez- sets the scene for what I believe is Rollin Connection AKA Daniel Banko’s true self. I find Banko at his most visible and communicative about whom he really is whilst he’s playing music. That might just be my perception, or maybe that really is how he communicates best: through music. If I’m right though, what an amazing way to communicate your ‘self’ through music? It’s in Banko’s nature to use humor when it comes to answering direct questions, and ‘the scene’ isn’t used to seeing his serious nature, but through the journey of his music you can hear it. This mix is serious. There are several tracks in his selection that are on repeat and current favorites of mine: Claudia Lovisa ‘Nightrider’ [Original Mix] and Pig & Dan’s ‘Savage’ - the energy lift into ‘Savage’ is incredible. RC’s selection is of a world class standard, and with clever programming he succeeds in elevating the enjoyment of tracks that I never enjoyed all that much prior to hearing this mix. In 8 years of experiencing Darkbeat, I can safely report that RC’s mix is very representative of the Darkbeat sound: a dark, mysterious beginning that flows into a high energy, dancefloor-rocking mid-flow; harmonizing into a melodic, euphoric close.
He (Banko) is in a situation of sincerity. I feel Banko’s innate passion for music, people, people, music, music, people and music is heard right here. He eats, breaths, drinks, shits and dreams Darkbeat and what it can offer to the scene. That is an aspirational character trait that everyone should achieve – total belief in something. From my perspective (even in the multiple-looped emotional roller-coaster of a ride that is Electronic Music) this is a great thing to witness. I owe a lot of thanks and recognition to Banko/Rollin Connection for teaching me some of the things he has learnt over the years: the art of not giving a direct answer, for example. Haha! On a serious note: he’s stepped up and he has taken the Darkbeat brand to a new level, and I sincerely hope this takes him many levels further, bringing many new opportunities forDarkbeat, himself and his most visible character: Rollin Connection.
Thank you to Darkbeat for the chance to reminisce those joyful times I had with the Darkbeat crew – and the extended circles that will never be forgotten. This 3CD package offers several great things: memorabilia for the Darkbeat faithful, an opportunity for the new consumer to understand what goes into putting every last ounce of energy, life and soul into something you love for others to enjoy, and of course, fucking great music. Is this a good foundation for further releases in my opinion? Yes. A thoroughly enjoyable audio and reminiscing experience for myself. I hope you enjoy it too.
Darkbeat 10th Anniversary Collection mixed by Anthony Pappa, Phil K and Rollin Connection is out now.
The most incredible, humble & inspiring documentary I have ever seen about a musician.