The Return of Nathan Fake – Hard Islands

Category : Digital Media, Electronica, Minimal House

fakeBack in 2003 a 19-year kid with a laptop and Casio keyboard set the world of electronica alight with the release of his seminal, techno inclined, ‘Outhouse’ single. His sound was something very special that alluded to a style, sophistication and knowledge greater than that of his youthful years.

Techno is a genre littered with artists unable to step beyond one-hit-wonder status. However, it was clear by Fake’s 2005 release ‘Dinamo’ that there was something quite remarkable and multi-faceted about this wunderkind from Norfolk. His music straddles the “maximal acidic techno beats” of ‘The Sky is Pink’, lovingly remixed by Border Community label boss James Holden, and the more ethereal and sweeping downbeats of his first album ‘Drowning In A Sea Of Love’.

Fake’s new six-track mini album ‘Hard Islands’, released on 18th May, is an unquestionable return to the dancefloor. I was lucky to get the opportunity to listen to a pre-release copy and the result is a techno delight.

“Playing live a lot over the last couple of years has had a profound influence on the way I make music now,” says Fake. Indeed it is clear that this collection of tracks have taken inspiration from recent tours with the likes of Squarepusher, Kieran Hebden (Four Tet) & Steve Reid and also indicates influential stimulus from the back catalogue of Warp and Rephlex.

The stand-out track for me is ‘Basic Mountain’ proving his ability to take a simple melody then twist and distort it into a maelstrom of undulating sounds. But this album has its fair share of exciting experimentation too in the form of ‘Fentiger’ and ‘Castle Rising’ – the former a nod to Richard Aphex Twin James. There’s also the brooding fuzz of “Narrier” which invokes a soundtrack for a, as yet unmade, film – 2009: A Space Odyssey.

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Back in 2006 Fake stated “For me it’s just a computer and a Casio keyboard. It’s all I’ve ever used”. Today he’s progressed to the more robust and experimentally vigorous Ableton Live enabling him to induce a technically advanced battering of the software.


To celebrate the release of ‘Hard Islands’ Nathan Fake is set to play live the Elephant & Castle arts club Corsica Studios on Friday 15th May. His live show has been described as an “unstoppable hour long industrial assault” so with dj sets from James Holden, Allez-Allez and Caribou the night looks set to be a winner.

Look out for the equally enjoyable “Hard Islands mix” which is a Fake mix of compatible tracks in a similar mode….. especially Clark’s – Growls Garden.

Nathan Fake @ Cargo, 17th May 2006

The Grandfather Paradox – Henrik Schwarz, Âme & Dixon

Category : Digital Media, Electronica, Minimal House

paradoxIn the mid to late nineties electronic music was beginning to lose it’s way. It was as though techno was morphing into a hideous “prog rock” cousin. Techno and House had become overproduced, overlayered, bloated and self-indulgent.

Inspired by the work of Kraftwerk and Richie Hawtin electronic music producers from Berlin to Brazil found that stripping sounds and layers away from the music made it more rather than less interesting. With a nod to the classical minimalists like Philip Glass and Steve Reich – minimal house was truly born.

Fast forward to 2009 and bang on cue comes the release of “The Grandfather Paradox” which embarks on ‘An Imprudent Journey Through 50 Years Of Minimalist Music’. Conceptually this is more than just a compilation of the latter. Taking its title from the science fiction writer René Barjavel the album cleverly and skillfully reveals lost minimal gems. This is delivered in mixed, remixed and unmixed formats allowing for different contextual listening environments.

albumHenrik Schwarz, Âme & Dixon disclose in their sleeve notes that they felt they were “traveling back in time and manipulating the old music with modern knowledge.” The Paradox in the title refers to Barjavel’s idea that if you travel back in time and kill your grandfather you can not exist and thus cannot go back in time to kill him…

As for the music it is full of diverse sources and selections. The mix kicks off with Steve Reich – Electric Counterpoint memorably sampled in the 90’s by The Orb on Little Fluffy Clouds. It also includes the music of often forgotten 80’s Avant Garde New York group Liquid Liquid. The rest conjures up a carefully considered and beautifully executed journey of various styles. From the dubby To Rococo Rot through Robert Hood’s minimal techno the music seamlessly travels taking in the ambience of John Carpenter’s “The President is Gone” and the jazz multi-intrumentalist Yusef Lateef effortlessly in its stride. The unmixed CD has a surprising but clever selection in the form of Young Marble Giants with the always reliable Can bringing up the rear.

Henrik Schwarz, Âme & Dixon have produced a conceptually inspired compilation journey. They are currently touring their “Critical Mass” project which is infused with Henrik’s Ableton driven live show. Catch their minimal “Acoustic time-travel” at a Tardis near you soon.

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