get your ears ready for a new set of twisted sounds for this blog's mix series... anatomy 04 comes from UK techno producer/dj smear!
i first learned about smear earlier this year through his excellent remix for giorgio gigli and obtane on their record, contextualized in monochrome. he is one half of forward strategy group, and also works on a few other projects, with the emphasis usually on aggressive, industrialized techno.
i approached smear to see if he'd be interested in a mix. as it happens, he was in the process of putting something new together and was happy to share it through smilecoldanatomy, as well as talk a bit about his music.
Who is Smear, and how did he discover electronic/dance music?
While growing up, this (http://www.mediafire.com/?kywzxdmnlic) was one of my favourite tapes. It had a big influence on my early Element Abuse releases. I went in and out of phases listening to techno, but i was mainly into noise, industrial and hardcore, that kind of thing. I was never keen on 'music', in fact there wasn't a band I liked until I was 18. Music to me has always been a means to arrange and present sounds rather than tell a story, and obviously being young I was attracted to more extreme, more immediately gratifying music.
What musicians have made the biggest impression on you? Are there any artists in particular who excite you right now?
Stella & Poka Michelson, Vromb, La Peste, Yb70 Records, and the "Harshkoc'h" guys are the main ones in terms of electronic music I guess. Archae & Grovskopa and British Murder Boys were responsible for me getting into producing techno. It seemed a natural step to take at the time as I was making music along the lines of BMB's Fist/Splinter EP. It had a sense of craft and attention to texture that I felt was quickly disappearing from the industrial/powernoise scene at that period. It was inspiring to hear just how much potential there was in techno, it was refreshing having spent several years working with styles of music where exploring potential was increasingly being frowned upon.
At the moment I love what Milton Bradley does, especially on his new label. Blackest Ever Black looks like it's going to be fantastic, but my favourite techno record this year is Friendship Connection's debut, I really hope those guys carry on with that project.
If you had to name your three most favorite records/songs/tracks, what would they be and why?
La Peste - Techniques Illégales De Juxtaposition Des Angles
Hiroaki Iizuka - Fr
Both of these for similar aesthetic reasons, both squelchy, propulsive and constantly evolving. The whole Iizuka EP is massively underrated in my opinion. It's also quite handy for techno sets that the La Peste record about 260bpm, but I only play it when I feel I can get away with it.
Integer - Integer
I've only worked up the courage to play this out fairly recently and went down surprisingly well. It's basically a never-ending loop of 808 rumble and noise, but it's very intense and effective, almost like a very violent Plastikman track.
What do you think of the never-ending debate between vinyl DJing and digital DJing?
It's not really important to me, I prefer playing vinyl but I've started to DJ digitally recently. They both have their pros and cons. I think some people look at digital DJing the wrong way. There are endless possibilities with what you can do with it, but many don't properly explore it, the options available can be crippling and ultimately constrictive. The limitations that come with vinyl are a good thing, they're there to be worked around.
Your remix on Zooloft is one of my favorite tracks of 2010; I think it is a delightfully aggressive counterpart to the droning, hypnotic original mix. How did you connect with Giorgio Gigli and Obtane?
Giorgio got in touch a few years ago with a demo for FSG. We don't take demos but we still get some, and his was by far the best we've ever received. His music is quite different to mine in a lot of ways so he seemed like someone worth working with. The 3 of us have talked about working on a record together but I've not been able to do much recently. Hopefully we'll do something soon.
You employ a few different aliases, and operate your own record labels as one half of Forward Strategy Group as well as Retail & Leisure. Are there specific motives in mind for each project? Do you have a general philosophy of music?
Retail & Leisure is a bit of an experiment in composition where I set up systems for elements of tracks to largely compose themselves, either randomly or algorithmically. If the system produces something worthwhile, I'll use it as the basis of a track. If not, I clear it all and start again. There's an element of chance to it, but I always have an idea of what a Retail & Leisure track should sound like, it's not total chaos.
FSG is more than just a cross between myself and Patrick, it's a seperate entity that we spent some time developing before we started properly making tracks. We have definite idea of what we're doing, so we trust each other to often not work together too closely. Sometimes 90% of a track will be the work of one of us. We have some different ideas as to what FSG means to us, and we use that to our advantage, it allows us both to entertain ideas we wouldn't on our own.
There's also Adrian Ross, the new third member who will be contributing more in future. He joined us at the last minute to do a live set a few months ago. We gave him an MS-2000 at 6pm, he had an hour to learn how to use it. It turned out great. We always like to take risks with live shows, and quite often we'll try to surprise and shock each other. I can be quite mischeivous with some of the things I spring on Patrick. It's good, it keeps things exciting.
What is next for Smear?
It's been a bit of a slow year for me while I've been settling down in a new city, but we have an FSG remix for Dave Miller & Paul Boex should be out soon. As well as that we've got some new stuff on Perc Trax over the coming months. Patrick and I are DJing at Perc's new night in London this month, I'll still be playing regularly at Detatched in Leeds, and any other place I'm wanted.
Would you like to share any thoughts on your mix?
It's quite gloomy and a little bit strange at times. There's some stripped down versions of unreleased FSG tracks in there and a few loops and live edits. With Ableton there's scope to play around with proportion and dynamics more than you could with 2 turntables, so you can be more nuanced with how you present the music.
... now, time for the mix! all i really ask out of those who i contact for mixes is whatever it is, please just make it deep and intense... and this is exactly what smear has done. check the tracklist, or ignore it and approach this with a completely open mind. at 70 minutes in length, smear really took advantage of digital technology to create a dense, challenging work.
Ammo - Kaleinoiscope Part 5 - Falling Elevators
Substance P - Ingrates - Killout
Cio D'or - Organza (Milton Bradley Remix) - Prologue
The End Of All Existence - A2 - The End Of All Existence
Raime - Retread - Blackest Ever Black
Psi Performer - 1972 - K2 O
Senking - Wind Up - Raster Noton
Zyrtax vs Sudden Infant - Aloka04 - Dead Mind
Go Hiyama - Mathematical Accuracy (Norman Nodge Remix) - Perc Trax
Invisible Men - Winter Night - Livejam
Giorgio Gigli - Spazio - Prologue
Clock DVA - Bitstream (Hafler Trio Remix) - Contempo
Benny Liberg & Johannes Wikstrom - Untitled - Maracas
Adrian Ross - Untitled - Unreleased
Pub - Screw - Ampoule
Planetary Assault Systems - Surface Noise - Peacefrog
T++ - Audio1995#8 - Apple Pips
Ritchie Hawtin - Concept 12.a - Concept
Ben Gibson - Possess - Perc Trax
Charlton - Slow Down - M_Rec
Forward Strategy Group - Tokyo Stress Test (Smear Dub) - Unreleased
Miller & Boex - Relevance (Forward Strategy Group Remix) - Labrynth
Tevatron - Dark Energy - Re-Load
Donato Dozzy & Cio D'or - Limone - Time To Express
Modern Heads - Mooger - Prologue
Nuel - Untitled - Aquaplano
Nommo Ogo - Geletec
Autoerotic - 06 - Unreleased
TV Victor - 130509 - NSP
Donato Dozzy & DJ Say - Your Eyes - Attic
Shackleton - Let Go - Perlon
Inigo Kennedy & Isodyne - Lagrange Point - Stroboscopic Artefacts
Mist - Through Tongue & Skin - Cosmic
check out smear's myspace, as well as forward strategy group's myspace, to learn more about his sounds. thanks again to smear for his excellent contribution to this blog's mix series. it was a pleasure to get to know him, and i all hope you enjoy this set as much as i do!