Welcome to the Guide to the Week of Music, a round-up of music news, media and releases from the wide musical world. This week, Dan Dwayre tells us about his Black Lodge archival releases and we dive into some new sounds and music visuals, from the global music community.
Black Lodge: Archive to Arcola
Good music, bad timing. That was the case when, in the early noughties, Mancunian producer and DJ Black Lodge readied a batch of material for a prospective Mo’ Wax release. Despite its successes, the label would fold before Dan Dwayre’s magnificent cut Hotline — a ‘peak time slice of electro madness’ in the words of Arcola — made it beyond a test pressing. At a busy and possibly turbulent time for the label, his genre-hopping productions might have posed a challenge they were uncertain about tackling. But that is pure speculation. His enviable (but recently dispersed) record collection, paired with that bold, open-ended production style, might have made him one of the label’s most dangerous DJ/producer hybrids. Instead, his name is one omitted from its story, which incidentally hits big screens this Summer.
Until recently, you could find little about Black Lodge online. His mix of Badly Drawn Boy’s Disillusion was available via a few streaming platforms, his 2002 ‘mixtape’ selections for Dazed were there if you searched attentively and a thoroughly-written article by Ben Cardew was on hand to summarise his artistic output. But in terms of music to enjoy, one was sinking one’s teeth into scraps.
Thankfully, that all changes this month. Warp’s Arcola imprint has released a remastered six-track 12”, featuring those vital cuts prepared for Mo’ Wax. Alongside it, Disciples are releasing a collection of recordings made at the King’s Arms in Salford, an anthology entitled Bitter Blood. The latter is vastly different to the 12” of Mo’ Wax material, as followers of the Trilogy Tapes (who released two volumes of material from the same King’s Arms collection) will appreciate. Both releases provide a window into Black Lodge’s artistic vision, but raise as many questions as they answer. We put a small handful of ours to Dan earlier this week.
How does it feel to be putting out your archival material? Does the time feel right and does it feel like the culmination of your production/composition…the beginning or the end of the chapter?
Black Lodge: ‘It’s an end and a beginning. I had the opportunity to work with some seriously talented people who vaguely tolerated my tough love. For me personally the process was it, not lust after [a certain] result. I put up with a lot for these releases. I did it because they [his collaborators] deserve to hold a record in their hands. And that’s it.’
Can you tell us a little about the circumstances surrounding the music on Bitter Blood and MWR157. They sound like very distinct projects: were they made in different environments, with different collaborators, equipment and artistic goals?
Black Lodge: ‘Totally different! Mo’ Wax was all in the box, just me and my long-suffering collaborator Stuart Jones in a tower block looking at hi-hat patterns for months. Bitter Blood is part of the Kings Arms sessions. Musicians, 99% analogue, live takes, straight to tape, improvised. It was how I always wanted to make music.’
What do you think, as music fans, our obsession with the archive stems from? Are you yourself drawn to art, sound, literature etc. that it’s creators didn’t intend to publish or failed to complete?
Black Lodge: ‘We all want mystique in our lives. The everyday kills us. Then we kill mystique…personally, I’m delighted that Duchamp played a massive joke. I adored him but my books on him end before his passing. Only after his death and his famous artistic silence did we find he had been working a long time on a piece. That is where magick comes from. David Bowie didn’t randomly die a week after his last release. He endured suffering to see its release then could end his days with the best press release ever.’
You’ve made some considerable sacrifices to realise your ambitions. Can you tell us a little about acquiring your gongs and how they factor into your current lifestyle and music making?
Black Lodge: ‘Anything we truly love takes sacrifice. My records, like money, are an energy…I could never have afforded Gong energy without giving energy back. I didn’t play them anymore, hopefully people are now. I carry one of the heavy bastards every Sunday to a studio and no one shows up. That’s ok, that’s my meditation. Future plans? Hopefully recording with my friends Magpai and Alexis [Taylor, of] Hot Chip…I’ve been threatening the project for long enough. Really though I have a film project that is almost impossible to make, my archive is on really obscure formats that got skipped.’
Children of Zeus’ phenomenal full-length debut Travel Light is out today. Fear of a Flat Planet, which features the formidable LayFullStop, is an outstanding number – its soft, panning keyboards, poppin’ percussion and gorgeous hooks all noteworthy elements. That said, there isn’t a weak track on the project! We recommend you listen front to back and of course, support the artist and label.
Berlin-based producer Marquis Hawkes has announced a new record with the Houndstooth label and shared a tasty track featuring Jamie Lidell. Lidell’s backing vocals provide a subtle lift to the soulful lead, elevating the track to new heights. Hawkes’ The Marquis of Hawkes is out toward the end of August.
Vocalist Lonnie Holley released the moving I Woke Up in a F***ed-Up America this week, accompanied by an equally evocative music video. Holley himself, Matt Arnett and Ethan Payne worked closed on the direction and production, filling it with poignant references and artwork by a host of creatives, all listed in the video description.
NYC rapper Wiki released a visual for the jazzy hip-hop cut Litt 15 ft. Your Old Droog this week. Directed by Ryosuke Tanzawa, it features footage from the inner city to the coast, shot on film developed at Negativland Motion Picture Lab and scanned at Metropolis Post. A standout cut from Wiki’s excellent No Mountains in Manhattan LP.
China Lane, who play at Free Vibes in early August, released their video for Feel Good last week. The undeniably summery track reminds us a little of Metronomy, with pop hooks and drum programming giving it a flavour distinct from The English Riviera. The video sees the group revelling in the beautiful weather, hitting the beach and exploring the town.
Finally, we couldn’t help but mention Children of Zeus’ video for All On You ft. DRS & [ K S R ]. Directed by Tarnish Vision, it’s mostly shot in the barber shop. Chimpo makes a few cameos, getting a fresh cut in the process!