Whether he likes it or not, Andy Blake exudes an aura of the cultish. His Dissident label has harboured many treasures of leftfield disco, old-school acid and electro and earned him a devout following. Grab them here or find them here. While Blake now releases his one-take, analogue cuts on his new label Cave Paintings, his monthly World Unknown parties in London thrive on his taste-makers qualities. We’re proud to have him on board, as this is a mix that is as good as it gets. It sets off with a live recording from a Rare Earth concert; a promoter warns of electric cables near the water. But you’re hardly electrified here, since this is an open-minded, psychedelic groove zone. No tracklist available, but Andy warmly welcomes your exploring efforts. Let’s take a “little walk in music”.
ROOF.FM: I know you’re not going to tell us right away which artists are on the mix, but can you say what your mix is about?
ANDY: I’m not entirely sure it’s really about anything at all but maybe it somehow becomes about what the people who listen to it think it is. After all, the music itself is just the catalyst, the starting point. Its left to each listener to respond in whatever way he or she feels like at that time. At the most basic level it’s just a bunch of records that I love and that hopefully sound good together and complement each other in some way. I always treat each dj set or radio show, podcast etcetera that I’m asked to do as a unique chance to try something different each time. It’s a real privilege to be asked to share music you love with people and I never forget that. Actually, if this one is about anything then maybe its me trying to show that, despite apparent surface differences, all the music included here is really the same at it’s core. Like that famous Jesse Jackson quote from the Wattstax concert which I’m no doubt going to get a bit wrong here; “Tonight on this program, you will hear gospel, and rhythm and blues, and jazz. These are just labels. We know that music is music….”
Your new label Cave Paintings heralds the primal and raw essence of house and techno. Why is it you favour the raw so much over the polished?
It’s not that I’m totally opposed to polished music, some of my favourite music is big and overblown and super shiny but I do love the universal, basic language of primal, gritty music and I think all the music and other art that I truly connect with has something of that at it’s core, like the grain of sand that gives rise to the oyster. And its most definitely what I enjoy making in the studio and often forms a significant part of my dj sets. I’ll take fire, spirit and passion over flawless ‘perfection’ every single time.
You estranged some of your die-hard vinyl fans when you decided to release the back catalogue of Dissident as WAV. Is digital after all not that bad?
I’ll go to my death bed firmly holding the opinion that mp3s should never be played loud in public and personally I definitely prefer the sound of records but a well-mastered WAV isn’t the enemy. My main beef with download culture has always been that the way that people buy digital music removes some important aspects from the experience but these days most people who buy vinyl use almost exactly the same system and interface as to buy digital so that argument against selling WAVs has kind of evaporated. Also, just because something is solely or mainly released on vinyl, it doesn’t follow that it’s always good. We now have a bunch of not very good djs slavishly and unquestioningly playing a bunch of fairly average records, especially dull nu-disco, sub-standard and pointless edits, soulless ‘deep house’ and pseudo-underground hand-stamped techno and acting like they are the shit just because they and their audience fetishise vinyl and think that alone is enough. The record itself is just the medium and not the message after all.
The tracks released on Cave Paintings are recorded live in one take. Ever thought about doing live shows in the same manner?
Its unlikely that any live shows will happen in the same manner as the tracks are made. Each Cave Paintings track literally comes out of the air with no sequencers or pre-programming involved and the way some of the elements and patterns are constructed means they would be almost impossible to save to a sequencer and reproduce. Once the machines are turned off, the tracks are lost apart from the recording itself, and I really like that. I have played live in the past and no doubt will again but it will have to be at least a little more organised than the way I make the Cave Paintings tracks. There’s a lot of experimentation, improvisation and trial and error that takes place before I hit record and I don’t think it would be fair to subject an audience to that!
What are you working on at the moment?
My party in London, World Unknown, takes up a lot of my energy and time and is proving to be a very fulfilling experience for Joe and I who run and dj at it and the really great crowd of interesting people who come to it. Other than that I’m always djing at all kinds of different places, which is great as I get to play lots of different music that I love all the time rather than having to stick to just one style. I’ve also got a lot of Cave Paintings sessions across a range of styles that I’m currently making ready to place with various labels. A few are already in the hands of some excellent imprints and I’m very excited about seeing how they are received when they start to come out.
I love the universal language of primal, gritty music. all music and art that I truly connect with has something of that at it’s core. Like the grain of sand that gives rise to the oyster.