[Above image credit: Pitchfork]
Night of the Year: Karen Gwyer @ DBA presents DJ Bone, Batu, rRoxymore, MGUN, Karen Gwyer (Live), Semtek
Don’t Be Afraid is a label that has been firing on all fronts in 2017. Releases from Karen Gwyer, TR One and rRoxymore rank amongst the year’s best, while they have hosted some of the most exciting events across the country in the form of their well-respected label showcases. Their Easter showcase at Bloc was by far the best club event I attended in 2017, with Hessle Audio at Bussey Building coming a close second.
While the soundsystem at Bloc is unable to match the likes of Corsica or Studio Spaces, the one-room venue kept the crowd on the same level and gave each act their chance to shine. The event was not oversold either – an attribute rare for a large London event.
Opening with an extended version of the hynotic and brash, The Workers Are On Strike (something I thought I had imagined at the time) Gwyer sent the crowd into a frenzy before running through several tracks from her new album over the next hour via expert control of her Elektron hardware. Standing out amongst exemplary sets from the likes of Batu and DJ Bone is no easy feat, but there is no doubting that Karen Gwyer in the headline slot managed to achieve this. At the end of her set she received a rapturous round of applause from the crowd who had entrusted Semtek and Don’t Be Afraid with providing their entertainment on the first night of their Easter Sunday.
Mix of the Year: Truancy Volume 196: Call Super
Any number of Truant Volumes released in 2017 could be described as “mix of the year”. The Truants series combines an in-depth and thoroughly researched interview with a mix from some of the world’s best, and occasionally under-appreciated, DJs. While Joe’s genre hopping effort, Detroit in Effect’s turntablism masterclass, and Shed’s breaks and bass filled volume all rank among the year’s best, Volume 196 from Call Super AKA JR Seaton is by far my favourite.
In his press release for Fabric 92, Seaton noted the lack of “late hour” contributions as his reason for following such a theme in his edition of the famed mix series. The result was one of the best Fabric CDs in recent years, and on his mix for Truants he takes a similar approach as he takes the listener on a journey from the peak hours, to the end of the night. The first half of the mix is filled with breaks and techno by the likes of Percy X and Jeff Mills, while the second is filled with plenty of dub cuts and wonky tracks from the likes of Pev, Smokin’ Cheeba and Ricardo Villalobos.
This mix highlights the range of Seaton’s musical tastes as his technical skills are showcased through regular chops and cuts on the mixer from start to finish. It is in equal parts fun and challenging, and another highlight from a mix series that is filled with them.
Written by James Acquaye Nortey-Glover