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Kode9 - DJ KiCKS

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  • Kode9 - DJ Kicks
    Liner notes and press materials: mix CD press release and single press release.

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  • CD Press Release:

    Kode 9 - DJ-KiCKS

    International release date: 21st June 2010

    Kode9’s grasp on the throat of bass music in 2010 is almost unparalleled. His trend setting record label, Hyperdub, is in its sixth year of viral contagion; he’s become a published author on the theory of sound abuse and sonic frequencies being used as weaponry in his book ‘Sonic Warfare’ and his production work has mutated from an almost simplistic marriage of beats and sine waves into a fusion of dancefloor Ebonics and discordant synths.

    Becoming a figure head of UK dance music hasn’t been a quick process, and Kode9’s single mindedness has contributed in some way to his notoriety, but it’s simply his tireless work as a record label boss and A&R that has marked him out as one of the most powerful ears within the scene. Probably best known to the wider global audience as the label that gave birth to two genre defining albums from Burial, Hyperdub has become one of the most reliably testing labels out there. Just as likely to release a glut of two and a half minute beat sketches from American beat maker Samiyam or Zomby as sprawling house opuses from Brixton bass bin temptress Cooly G, the label is at the forefront of innovation and it’s something that he has infused into his volume of the DJ-KiCKS series.

    “Very simply, *the mix is+ just a snapshot of my DJ sets at the end of February 2010,” he says calmly. “It’s definitely not an exploration of my musical heritage, but it’s not all new stuff. It probably signifies something about my relationship to dubstep that the mix only has a few dubstep tunes in it, and is instead a mix of UK funky, broken beat, dubstep, grime and some R&B. Unfortunately, I fear some listeners, because of my background, will think that all the tracks are just mutations of dubstep.”

    Starting off in serene fashion with Nottingham producer Lone’s upbeat exploration of steel drum snatches ‘Once In A While’, Kode9 dives into the percussive textures of Dutch producer Aardvarck before steering the mix into a duo of his own productions: ‘Blood Orange’ and the specifically tailored exclusive single, ‘You Don’t Wash’(dub). Jumping off from this point into a journey through current UK funky, Goodman aligns tracks from Hyperdub artists Cooly G and Ikonika with works by Ill Blu, Sticky, Grievous Angel, Mr Majika, Ikonika and Scratcha DVA, sampling the textures and suitably brutal drum patterns that regularly inject London’s dancefloors with such a sustained level of energy.

    “I find the whole mix pretty danceable in different ways. Some of the stuff is around 8 or 9 years old like the Aaardvark tune ‘Revo’ which Martyn introduced me to last year,” he notes; “And in the early 2000s, I was a big fan of Nubian Mindz as well so it was great to dig up that remix of his for the mix as I feel rhythmically things have swung back round to some of that broken techno stuff, with all its scattered snares, bent synths and maximalist percussion. Also that Maddslinky tune ‘Cargo’ is an oldie, but I've basically been playing it in practically every set over the last couple of years. The first time I heard that tune played at FWD>> at Plastic People I remember it was like someone had suddenly let the sunshine into this dark basement...”

    The tracklisting is mostly, but not all London-centric, featuring a selection of big booming riffs and asymmetic percussion possessed by a guttural sense of forcefulness. “Cooly G's ‘Phat Si’ really is one of those tracks for me; it’s just a timeless, mean, deadly roller and is effortlessly a Hyperdub classic.Producers like Lone and Zomby definitely have a magic touch and Mala, for me is like a tropical island in an ocean of dubstep sewage.”

    Kode9 surfs through those artists and productions that sideswipe you in an unexpected moment of surrealist realisation. Whether it’s being brought by a track bringing the sunshine carnival vibe to a Shoreditch basement or by the sheer level of production and temperament that a producer pours into each of their tracks.

    Veering from the taught and poignant snare snap of Morgan Zarate’s ‘M.A.B.’ he flips from the troubled soul of Rozzi Daime’s falsetto on ‘Dirty Illusions’ to the bruised rhythm of JDaVeY and on into the advanced rhythm science of Terror Danjah and Headhunter’s breakout 808 anthem under his Addison Groove alias, ‘Footcrab,’ distilling some of the more powerful strains of modern UK dance music culminating in the big moody tombstone of The Bug & Flo Dan’s ‘Run’.

    “I love the sour R&B tracks of Rozzie Dame and Jay Davey in the middle. If only more pop music sounded like that…” he notes tangentially. “The first and second halves *of the mix+ are pretty typical of my sets over the last year. The little ‘dream sequence’ in the middle, I only get to do when the vibe feels right and people look capable of moving to more downbeat stuff instead of just standing around and nodding their heads.”

    “I started DJing around 19 years ago and I don’t know… I just think that every few years I get a musical epiphany from an intense experience in a club or in something I hear that fills me with energy, information and inspiration to produce and DJ. After each one I spend the next few years trying to decipher what happened in that singular moment.”

    And sonically that’s what Kode9’s DJ-KiCKS does: attempt to decipher the tangled state of UK dance music in 2010.

    Words: Oli Marlow
  • EP Press Release:

    Kode9 - DJ-KiCKS

    International release date: 19th July 2010

    Kode9 and his Hyperdub label has done a lot for the perceptions of dubstep, helping transform underground dance music into the tangle of approaches, sounds and styles one can expect from artists like Burial, Cooly G, Terror Danjah, Quarta330, Darkstar, King Midas Sound and the rest of the iconic label’s roster; and his exclusive single, ‘You Don’t Wash’ - taken from his forthcoming DJ KiCKS mix for !K7 – is, much like the mix CD, an amalgamation of his current influences. 

    As a producer he’s defined his style with a similarly broad array of productions; his debut album, ‘Memories of the Future,’ was structured on the power of a sine wave, simple beats and the vocal stylings of his emcee The Spaceape; but it was his 2008 singles ‘2 Far Gone’ and ‘Black Sun’ – both released on Hyperdub – that saw him really carve his most interesting niche, teaming the more soca tinged dancefloor rhythms with sustained chords and a foreboding level of intensity. 

    ‘You Don’t Wash’ traverses this latter vein of rhythm, aiming itself squarely at the dancefloor. Coming in two versions, a vocal version featuring The Spaceape and a dub version (which appears on the mix). From the off it jumps with personality, the 4x4 kick drum pulse shuffling itself a touch to create a bombastic groove that is peppered with glassy hi hats and marimba. It’s not that obvious that it’s a Kode9 production until the thick chords appear around the two minute mark, careering into earshot suddenly, elevating the atmosphere and sporadic ascending bass snatches perfectly. 

    Splattered with nuances and a bracing groove ‘You Don’t Wash’ benefits a touch from The Spaceape’s phrases, almost every one is coated by Kode9 in layers of delayed decay, sprawling his deep tones on into the depths; but the dub version loses none of its potency without them. Both versions are a unique insight into the mindset of the producer and given its summertime release date, the vitality and soca flourishes of its drum pattern it seems destined to mark a new territory for dancefloors, providing something light and vehemently danceable for the dark underbelly of bass music.

    Words: Oli Marlow
  • CD Liner Notes:

    In 2010 Kode9 resides ahead of the curve. Having cultivated one of the most sonically testing and unpredictable labels in bass music with his Hyperdub imprint, he stands as more than just a DJ to many an avid listener. With writing credits (his recently published book Sonic Warfare deeply explores the use of sound as a weapon) an impecable A&R record and an ample smattering of his own productions under his belt; he maintains the intrinsic need to be individual and his musical desires have made him stand out like a beacon of hope in the somewhat desolate setting of UK dance music. 

    His label produces vinyl - as much a a collector’s item as a music medium in our digital age of mp3 downloads and endless torrents – and it houses works from numerous luminaries and experimental producers working to find something fresh and new. As a producer he knows that saturation is something best avoided having released only a witches’ handful of 12”s and readily available DJ mixes since his 2006 album Memories of The Future brought him into the media’s consciousness.

    “We’re all drowning in DJ mixes through this podcast mania that we are living through;” he reveals. “Everyone can be a DJ these days - which is great - but it certainly devalues the status of a DJ mix, and emphasizes the importance of selection. It’s great to do a mix for a change that will come on a CD and have a physical presence,” he continues. “I’m not against the speed of the internet, but I certainly prefer that this mix will leave a trace in the analog world and hopefully not just reside in that trebly little world of iPods and laptop speakers.”

    Attending numerous DJ sets, reading his interviews and hearing snippets of conversation recorded for the wider internet to enjoy, Kode9’s motor-mouth make him such a figurehead for underground dance music. The expressive way he talks about music is infectious and his DJ KiCKS mix reflects simultaneously this passion for crafting something different and his lack of patience for genre misnomers in the same breath.

    “Very simply, [the mix is] just a snapshot of my DJ sets at the end of February 2010,” he says calmly. “It’s definitely not an exploration of my musical heritage, but it’s not all new either. It probably signifies something about my relationship to dubstep that the mix only has a few dubstep tunes in it, and is instead a mix of UK funky, broken beat, dubstep, grime and some R&B. Unfortunately, I fear some listeners, because of my background, will think that all the tracks are just mutations of dubstep.”

    “I’ve tried to mix together some of my favourite tracks and producers from these sub-genres in a way that I feel is not necessarily eclectic as such if you ignore the little worlds they get trapped into. Producers like Mala & Terror Danjah are two artists that are at the top of their game, at the top of their genres of dubstep and grime respectively, and I suppose, like an alchemist, I like to think that if you take the most concentrated energy from one place and the most concentrated energy from another place and blend them together, you can potentially come up something very powerful.” 

    The mix is a rousing and danceable collection of tracks segued together by a DJ who’s approach to his art is tried and tested. “The first and second halves [of the mix] are pretty typical of my sets over the last year,” Kode9 agrees. “The little ‘dream sequence’ in the middle... I only get to do that when the vibe feels right and people look capable of moving to more downbeat stuff instead of just standing around and nodding their heads.”

    For Kode9 this diverse mix has its own consistency to it - “even though the rhythm patterns keep shifting, and cycling discontinuously.” Cracking jokes about robotic DJs whose performances are stuck in the same drum pattern, key matched perfectly or rigid and predictable in their drops it’s obvious from talking to him that he holds the process of mixing 2 tracks together to produce a 3rd very close to his heart; his passion, growth as a selector and lust for rhythm characteristic of his club sets in claustrophobic basement venues has been captured perfectly on this mix.

    “There is definitely a continuity from the UK garage I used to play, the dubstep and grime I play and the UK funky I play. It definitely has more air in it and space to breathe, but I also think a lot of the music around just now is a lot more colourful and doesn’t necessarily need vocals to stay interesting. In an alternate universe, the kind of R&B vocals I play in the middle of the mix would be on top of the more upbeat stuff I play, but I can’t find those tunes yet.”

    Words: Oli Marlow