Ben UFO Fabriclive 67

[Fabric; 2013]

Styles: post-step, soundsystem culture
Others: Oneman, Ramadanman, Ron Morelli, Cottam

From Pangaea’s soulful shuffle to Ben UFO’s crossfade calisthenics, Hessle Audio are building their own wonkish history of soundsystem culture. Spontaneous automatic relative analysis. Session begins 02/03/13 20:22 GMT

Cocktail shakers

Imagine a pictorial history of cocktail shakers, polychromatic as ecstasy tablets. Imagine the ones that are missing — the private collectors who were unmoved by the historians’ claims, the private collections that couldn’t be found, even those elusive cocktail shakers rueful collectors speak of at night (always at night) in drunken tales of near-misses and unscrupulous dealers. Imagine the first disappointed student to spot the holes in that initial history who resolves to do something about it: the search for funding; the tracking of collections; years of research, correspondence, negotiation; all the torturous detail that goes into the construction of another, separate, history of all the cocktail shakers the earlier history missed out.

Imagine the two histories, side by side.

Choose one.

Queues and tangents

The first DMZ night north of London was at the Leeds West Indian Centre in Chapeltown, a community center ‘round the back of a high-rise courtyard. I was there — or I should have been. We tried to get there early, but were told at the back of an extensive queue on arrival that the venue was already operating a one-in/one-out policy. There was six or seven of us; I can’t remember if F____ was there. We slouched around Leeds for a few hours, saw the sights. One of us had caught a train from London and was stuck in Leeds for the night regardless of whether he made it in to the rave. After we left, he strolled back to the West Indian Centre and was let in for free (confirming our own wretchedness for giving up, besides M____’s state of grace).

Skream was DJing. This is around the same time “Midnight Request Line” dropped; “Goat Stare” was still being caned on Rinse. Mala and Pokes were also on the bill. DMZ07: “Anti-War Dub,” that was my joint. “We don’t want to fight tonight”… Dubstep was friendlier, more inclusive than grime. I remember wanting to go to grime nights, but flicking through Simon Wheatley’s Don’t Call Me Urban, I’m glad I didn’t. Grime was under lock and key; it was spoken for. Its inspiring, ferocious energy was entirely postcoded, provincial. Unlike grime, dubstep could mingle. It may have been pasteurized and bastardized since 2006, but it has never really sold out. Even the sawtoothed drop-porn of the Skrillexian vulgate seems like something concentrated rather than diluted. Dubstep was always looking to trade. Soundsystem culture: black market logic, disguises for sale.

This was early in 2006, the same year Hessle Audio was formed by Ben UFO née Thomson, Kevin McAuley (Pangaea) and Dave Kennedy, three students from London studying in Leeds; the White Rose meets White City. It is impossible that Hessle Audio were not at the West Indian Centre that night.

Fabriclive 67 is not a dubstep mix. There are no dubstep tunes here — not really; you look elsewhere for that sort of thing, even though some contributions (A Made Up Sound, Pangaea, Elgato) will occasionally be marketed as such. Instead, like most Ben UFO mixes, it is a kind of dubstep mix in negative — dubstep with the dubstep taken out; a bassline coiled around an erased tangent, snaking across the 21st century.

Remember: the future is only temporary.


Some mixes are journeys; other mixes are maps. They seem made for movement, for travel, for work, and for dance, their track-on-track transitions attenuating a mutability of fleeting impressions. Contrast this reality to the stable identity of a given track: DJs are not merely sequence designers, they are also propagandists, advocates of reality. Compared with its concrete, distorted incarnation in the mix-weave, the track itself seems nebulous and sterile: a form and nothing else.

Motorway metaphysics

Take the M1, the UK’s first intercity highway, and you can make the 310km north-south trip from Leeds to London in three hours. An island’s first intercity motorway: maybe one day its people will remember it like an old god that brought the clans together and changed the face of the earth.

The completion of the M1’s fourth and final section in 1968 (nearly a decade after its first section opened, in the same year postcoding was introduced) represented the first draft of an island reconfigured to that logic of speed and violence that made the automobile, for Ballard, the highest expression of Western civilization.

L.I.E.S. - Hessle Audio - Sex Tags Mania - Murder Capital. Fingers Inc. into Shackleton into Kyle Hall. Magic labels, magic blends: imagine a pictorial history of all the motional machines that have taken the M1, polychromatic as ecstasy tablets, cocktail shakers and Ben UFO mixes.

Session ends 04/02/13 00:43 GMT

Links: Ben UFO - Fabric

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