Hivern turns ten

The Catalan Way

Hivern Discs is about to celebrate its 10th-anniversary party, set on September 10th at Vila Habana, in Castellbisbal, a location near Barcelona (Catalonia/Spain.) The event calls followers to join in a journey set, from 4 pm September 10th to 6 am September 11th.
The bill is under the imprint’s boss control, John Talabot, who invites a diversified bunch of friends and colleagues like Ben UFO, Daniel Baughman, Inga Mauer, Aleksi Perälä, Benedikt Frey, including artists who debuted on the label like Cleveland. Also takes those who are in the sound taste of the imprint like Romanian duo Khidja or under the headquarters’ attention as Dutch producer Oceanic, French The Pilotwings or Japanese artist Sapphire Slows. The traced historical background comes from local associates who were the early core for the label’s roster and its growing, from Mistakes Are OK (Franc Sayol) and C.P.I. (Hugo Capablanca + Marc Piñol) to the latest JMII, among others.

This line-up belongs to the spirit that decided Oriol Riverola (John Talabot), Salva Coromina and Franc Sayol to create Hivern Disc in Barcelona back in 2008. Do their own. First for patting themselves on an excellent job along a decade. If there is no intention for that, I’ll do it sincerely for them. Focus now. Primary, they began this ten years run to give support to the local talent. It was a decision made out of personalism. A label created by an individualities’ will to get along but not moving with the program. The fact is that, at the time, there was no program at all. With a tremendous lack of media support, enabled to consider electronic music as a cultural movement, it rested as an atomized and dispersed appeal available only for a few, a bunch of rare and uncontrollable beautiful ones. They were jumping from Nitsa/Apolo to Razzmatazz and dug in through numbered of import record stores in Barcelona, purchasing wax on the Internet and concentrating year after year at Sonar or the starting Primavera Sound. Those who built these prestigious festivals now were also individuals who pushed forward against all the odds. All of them went the Catalan way. Growing flowers out of stones.

In 2008, out of Razzmatazz‘s DJ booth, Oriol Riverola took his first moniker as D.A.R.Y.L. and released “FlorDance,” the first Hivern Discs reference, a 12-inches accompanied by his fellow at the decks, MouseUp (Salva Coromina), on a complementing B-Side. The first label’s compilation, “Hivern a L’Estiu,” came out ten years ago with the same names but with a first track signed by John Talabot. This artistic name was on the radar’s attention since “Sunshine.” Permanent Vacation put out his “Afrika” in May 2009, and the reactive to fixed forms Munich label opened up his space for debuting full-length album “ƒIN,” a personal catapult as demanded remix artist who turned to international recognition with his contribution to DJ Kicks series in 2013. John Talabot was inventive, kaleidoscopic, going in from dark tropical to African percussive in diaphanous synth lines, and his house enriched in Balearic mode. By the way, as John Talabot going to the crest of success Hivern Discs released a consistent amount of local acts, from Pional to Marc Piñol, Aster, Kresy, Eduardo de la Calle, Olde Gods and so on. Of course, Hivern Discs approached Red Axes for the Eastern moods as well as John Talabot had something to do with Axel Boman in Talaboman act, same DJ Koze related to Studio Barnhus. They share an attitude.

Hivern Discs has fed primarily on Anglo-Saxon and German electronic musical tradition, but let their hearts devoting most of its work to nappy digestion of effluent dreams, or was it soulful work (‘ànima,’ in Catalan)?… They looked out further from any border and trespassed them all. However, behind that apparent decision of celebrating the tenth anniversary, I would like to dedicate the place they were born in and be proud of what it means. These guys are from Catalonia, a real hub on diversification from trends and tendencies, in a confluence of geographical and cultural blessings. They are full-time on a Mediterranean state of mind. I mean, ask Dj Koze for the effects of an Espelt (winegrowers in Empordà) red wine bottle, and the view of a little village in Costa Brava for morphing different shores on his album “Amygdala” (Pampa, 2013). If I am too exogen, specific or personal, let’s put it another way. In musical terms, the Mediterranean Sea (a way to see) set the epithet ‘Balearic‘ to the standard, out of the rule. A lot of comes and goes in trading; a sea sailed on adventures since the first words became history. Always in the sense of beauty.


The Hellenic touch is in the Hivern Discs‘ logo, created by Arnau Pi, graphic designer, and art director for the label. A Greek Bust, as individual as the capital H (for Hivern) working as factions. Moreover, the ‘H‘ has many faces. Because of Hivern Discs have many flexions, and complexions, as much diverse and unique as the appealing of a one musical moment: taste. No imprint sound to enforce, but captivating artists that work out of the norm, deserving an exclusive cover art. Hivern Discs is for followers. Let’s celebrate it!

Kölsch at RazzClub (Razzmatazz)

A promising “Testing new stuff”

Kölsch comes back to Barcelona with resonances of a perfect year. 2017 threw all the glitter over his stardom’ shadow, felt as an induced glow over the dark stillness of his appearance artwork. Always sliding from the ones’ perception he shifts to the mainstream and from the others who appreciate the qualities he injected into the underground, the half-Danish, half-Irish DJ, and producer turns to both with a bright naughty look like saying: “I do what I feel.” That is the point, and it is enough for the writer to enjoy his session this Saturday, March 10th, at RazzClub, one of the five rooms at Razzmatazz.

He will be on the decks a week before his latest remix hit the selves. A horizon melody over a strict early drum N bass pattern and groove bassline he turned into a rhythm artifact for the glory of Damon Albarn‘s chant and the fading echoes of classic UK rave sake. His contribution to “Saying,” a track from the acclaimed “My Heart” album by Nic Fanciulli, with whom Kölsch played alongside weekly throughout last summer at Hï Ibiza. His Facebook announces a promising “Testing new stuff.”

He steps like this in 2018′ solid ground after rounding up his autobiographical trilogy served through years in the full-length format with the last “1989” in grey, complementary to the teenagery memories of “1983” and the debut with “1977,” five years ago, giving the anthemic ‘Grey.’ All this stuff, all these uncomplexed string arrangements enriching his techno foundations would not have been possible without the empathy of Kompakt Records, the legendary Cologne-based imprint who did believe in him.

In 2010, Michael Mayer invited Rune Reilly Kölsch to express otherways than the dominant so-called Ketamine House at the time, and bring Ink And Needle (with Johannes Torpe) to Kompakt. It was the right place indeed. The home of Ambient, and Minimal Techno, thanks to Gas (Wolfgang Voigt), a territory for openminded artists daring to do something else as expected. Then Kölsch was Rune RK, the one who smashed with ‘Calabria‘ in July 2003. Immersed since then in different recording projects through the 00’, running labels like Arti Farti or Tatoo Recordings and releasing under the cited moniker but also as Ink & Needle (with his half-brother Johannes Torpe) without forgetting Artifical Funk among others.

On October 18th, 2010, under his definitive artistic name, Kölsch released the 12-inch ‘Loreley,‘ corresponding to #68 of the famous Speicher series, a defining fineness from Kompakt, the German record label founded by Wolfgang Voigt, Michael Mayer, and Jürgen Paape. The Icelander affiliate Gus Gus ask him for a remix of ‘Deep Inside,’ and his personal touch of deep emotional Techno began in demand. The rest is a growing list of high rated names, from Coldplay and Deadmou5 to Eric Prydz and The Chemical Brothers, with a regular criterium of selective ventures for the artistic interest, which went to put his name beside andHim, Paul Kalkbrenner or Damian Lazarus & The Ancient Moons. What he gave to Flume‘s ‘Take A Chance (feat. Little Dragon)‘ and mostly to London Grammar‘s ‘Hell To The Liars’ is musical history. He is one of the talented producers, few of the accomplished craftsman capable of making electronic music the new pop for the 21st Century (in the most broader sense).

The local DJ and producer Baldo will open the night for the Kölsch set. The Vintage synth-loving L.A. producer Seth Haley (a.k.a. Com Truise) will be in the neighbor room, The Loft, with his latest album,”Iteration,” in the case. Everything is starting at 1 am.

Bicep at Nitsa Club (Barcelona)

On the rise

Nitsa and AsTiN name the prestigious Apolo venue for the electronic music on weekends. If one is a referent in the European Club circuit, the anagram suggests the quality of transfer for the other. When you are in, you are part of both, in artistically complementary. On Saturday, November 25, Nitsa Club will welcome Bicep audience. Simultaneously, AsTiN, the newly remodeled La [2] Apolo room, will have dutch duo Weval, Canadian Jessy Lanza and Catalan JMII. Doors will open at thirty minutes past midnight.

2017 is the year of the rise for Bicep (Andy Ferguson and Matt McBriar). The two former schoolmates from Belfast, North Ireland, have now a career of almost a decade. Along it comes a remarkable string of jacking powered house 12-inch and EPs with ‘Visions Of Love” as their starting point in 2012; remixes from Carl Craig to John Talabot, and finally, a self-titled debut full-length album, released the first of September through Ninja Tune. It is the compendium of their musical qualities, belonging to their virtues and attitudes in twelve tracks.

Whereas the three armed-wheel logos stamped now in stardom, what identifies Bicep distinctively is their background of being bloggers first (“Feel my Bicep,” now the name of their imprint). The experience of lacking in resources and digging where nobody cares contributed their ability to put in muscle what it is out of fit or even out of time, considered aside, out of trend, and get the weird thing for good, the rare stuff on the wings of the unexpected. They cued the unappreciated excellence of leftfield disco, searched for electronics oddities and appreciated the rave oldies’ emotive glow. They got the talent to introduce those inputs in their productions, moving people smash after smash. Now we got Bicep’s new dimension, with a myriad of recognizable references that can be 4/4 dancefloor stuff as well as a full ride from impeccable tasters wherever you go out of the club. Expect the forgotten for the better.


James Holden & The Animal Spirits Band – MIRA 2017

From a pagan place

The British DJ/producer and synth melody’s clairvoyant takes new fellow travelers as a bandleader to perform his third unconstrained full-length album, “The Animal Spirits,” to MIRA 2017 Festival audience on Friday, Nov 10th at Fabra i Coats – Fàbrica de Creació, Barcelona. The live band set will come with Dan Tombs on the generative visuals.

By using ‘unconstrained’ means Holden keeps on the free-spirited steady ride, divergent as he pointed out with the previous “The Idiots Are Winning” (2006) and “The Inheritors” (2013). Moreover, he leaps from gravitational dance into some outer-date field as an apologist of musical legacy. This time for good, with turning point limit ahead, not yet overpassed. Yes, it sounds like he thinks the submission of everything to time, the unstoppable dictatorship of what is up or down is overrated. His career confirms it. From being top dawg DJ on the progressive and trance scenes in the early ‘90s, highly required re-mixer for the first row acts (Madonna, Depeche Mode, New Order, Mercury Rev…) and strictly electronic trailblazers like Nathan Fake or Four Tet, he decided to launch his imprint, Border Community. He had a reason. The Oxford University Maths graduate modeled a new set, away from the constricted functions of DJing to channel a more expansive interface with music. An intercalation past-present output with the same attitude he used to switch knobs, buttons, pads, and faders in dominion: improvisation. “The Animal Spirits” album was recorded live with all group performing at once; single takes in one room at Holden’s London Sacred Walls studio in Summer 2016. Any post-production was not allowed, no overdubs, no edits by self-imposed dogma from the bandleader.

As a simile for the context, let us remember Canterbury Sound put the progressive rock in psychedelic orbit circumvallating avant-garde jazz improvisation. The trend-setting producer makes similar thing by taking his knowledge in electronic music to open a new window over the unknown of challenging progression, calling explicitly jazz legends Don Cherry and Pharoah Sanders as inspirational figures, which goes to say at least Sun Ra and John Coltrane in pursuing. A compound of musical influences is what electronic shaman Holden ritualizes to enter this new featured world, “something like a spiritual jazz band playing folk/trance music.”

Same talent for the propulsive melodics that made him a star with his earlier techno-ish work, but this time created from his self-customized modular synth and software to adequate machine to the human pace of drums (Tom Page) and percussions (Lascelle Gordon). His always strident solos have counterparts blown on brass (cornetist Marcus Hamblett and tenor saxophonist Etienne Jaumet). The rendition of Krautrock links mostly in its folky variants and La Monte Young’s The Theatre of Eternal Music appears in drones with windy flutes by multi-instrumentalist Liza Bec, who also waves to the Eastern resound. The result is heretical for those who miss former DJ/producer James Holden in anthems like “A Break In The Clouds,” the same ones who got surprised from being unaware of “The Inheritors” turning supposed. It is a statement of the freedom of creativity, a genre-blending, transferred through perceptive and identified claims that rejoice fluidly for the glory of the universal music. It is worthy, up to those open-minded.

By the way, with “The Animal Spirits” James Holden corroborates a message he signed, sealed and delivered to the electronic community: being a pagan is not that bad, it takes you to different and enriching soundscapes. It did arrive at Flying Lotus among many others and has Floating Points as a faithful promotional allied with whom James Holden collaborated in “Marhaba” EP (Eglo Records, 2015), featuring Gnawa Morrocan musician Maâlem Mahmoud Guinia. Listen and enjoy the diverse.

GAS – MIRA 2017 Opening Concert at L’Auditori

‘Deutscher Wald’: welcome to the misty forest

Digital Arts Festival MIRA 2017 solemn its Barcelona Edition inviting GAS (a.k.a. Wolfgang Voigt) to perform “Narkopop” for the inaugural concert. The audio-visual show will take place on Tuesday, November 7th, at Sala 2 – Oriol Martorell, L’Auditori, Barcelona.

GAS is a driving force in ’90s German Ambient; the Techno Ambient to be precise. A musical impersonation of Wolfgang Voigt, the main spearhead of Cologne Minimal Techno and co-founder (alongside Michael Mayer and Jürgen Paape) of legendary imprint Kompakt Records. Considered as the influential producer who tempered the punishing 4/4 Techno (the early ’90s Berlin-Detroit alliance with E-Werk and Tresor as headquarters) into a more finessed and not-to-be-roughly-explicit version of the beat. He helped (with his brother Reinhardt and through multiple projects and aliases) to spread an indulgence wave over it, recalling for hedonism and taste, giving Micro and Minimal extensions a chance to grow on the roots of Techno and House.

Wolfgang Voigt will perform “Narkopop,” the fifth installment of his opus as GAS. It is a set of eleven tracks in due form untitled but with the numbered generic one. Envolving musical journey in a symphonic and stately manner. Forget to expect any relaxation because eerie passages are on the way, even menacing ones. A set of visuals will complete the musical performance recorded at Köningsforst, a forest near Cologne where Voigt used to go as a kid, a place to meditate and experience, a matter of formation landscape. A set of stimulus music that will help to create your cinematic train of thoughts, scripted by knowledge and suggesting the imprecise.

The GAS project has always been in that abstract forest from the beginning, a cultural frame where germanic marching drummed was echoing in the mist through recreational descriptive historical pages with the same severity Kraftwerk attacked the musical cannon on the American airwaves. He has been there even when Wolfgang Voigt was unnoticed to grow artistically in this earthy and mythic environment, where to bridge a listening; Klaus Schulze connected to Wagner through psychedelic experience. A sampling pop citations state of mind that made him go from traditional sources of classical music to Schläger, in a mishmash of jazz glam-rock and new wave references that he poured in the acid house trend first to recreate Techno and give a hallmark for the run imprint afterward.

“Narkopop” is the re-encounter with an artistic move Voigt left behind seventeen years ago. He introduced it with “GAS” (1996), placing dance floor-ready Techno in standby for challenging himself to explore through long pieces into a suggestive soundscape of a purpose. It was a very European move, offering an alternative variation to Techno and House, generally defined by the American characteristics of being respectively “banging” electronic dance music and soulful “deep” dance music. In fact, the wordless contemporary universal language of music had a new context where the inclement pounding drums redefined in a tasteful turn, a signing sound for his releases and appreciate personality for the imprint, definitely stamped as German sound. He apparently completed GAS project with “Pop” (2000), with “Zauberberg” (1997) and “Königsforst” (1999) in between, all through Frankfurt record label Mille Plateaux. Except for the first, the rest of titles featured forest images on basic colors in its artwork. It is an aesthetic decision but also a framework charged with symbolism: “Deutscher Wald” (German Forest). The stylized German myth, the Romantic metaphor that defined Germanic-German arts and culture. From defeated Roman legions in Battle of Teutoburg Forest to ‘Nibelungenlied’ (The Song of Nibelungs), the myth runs over epic poems, fairy tales, legends, and music. From Schiller and Goethe to Rilke, Grimm Brothers and Mann, perverted in infamous chapters of the history as the ever-present ground force dismissed by the fog, from Wagner and Mahler to Schönberg.

Attendants will sit comfortably on the main floor of one of the four complimentary halls of the public building design by architect Rafael Moneo, home of the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra and The National Orchestra of Catalonia (OBC), providing the high-quality standard in acoustics. It makes sense because what we are going to listen to is an electronic music development categorized as Ambient. It is about tone and atmosphere as the most relevant beyond musical structure that can change in layered and diverse musical stimulus and travels through time and rhythms to evoke not to precise, “as ignorable (in parts) as it is interesting (for the whole)” as pioneer Brian Eno Dixit.

John Maus, Cønjuntø Vacíø #5′ headliner

In full band for the first time

The American intellectual, experimental synth-pop crooner returns after six years-hiatus with “Screen Memories,” his fourth full-length album, out on Ribbon Music. Touring for the first time backed up with a band, he will star the Festival Cønjuntø Vacíø #5 line-up set on November 4th at La Capsa, Prat de Llobregat, a location near Barcelona. It will be his third-time performance in the city, introduced at Primavera Sound 2009 and rebilled for Primavera Club 2011, by the time of his breakout album, “We Must Become The Pitiless Censors Of Ourselves” (Upset! The Rhythm).

John Mouse has a dedication for other matters but music to become an almost regular five-year period releaser in between. He is one kind of musician, an outsider with an academic formation in Philosophy fascinated by pop as expression, a concept to be taken as naked as the universal elevated sense or down as common standardized practice in particular time. He anchored experimentalism to the melodic pop for his absolute, the well-crafted song convention as the motive and the ’80s synth-pop tradition as the teenagery moving memory. He always reached the edge of it, to the fringe limits to form connected and unexpected twists, where universals meet on atemporal nuances. A general field where synth-pop patterns share harmonic backbone with other musical conventions, from Middle Age and mid-Renaissance pieces to baroque as surprising as electronic pioneers Ultravox did with magisterial ‘Vienna.’

He is atypical as much as a singular voice to gain a cult following from the two first official albums with negative reviews upon release, “Songs” (2006) and “Love Is Real” (2007). He got a favorable critics’ attention when “We Must Become The Pitiless Censors Of Ourselves” came out in 2011, his third solo album through London’s D.I.Y. Label Upset! The Rhythm and the most accessible to date then. It was a reflective work about the inconsistency of immediate writing back and forth in a narcissistic trip through social media and, mostly, a roll call to shout our names in forgetting to think. From ‘Cop Killer,’ the banal of evil turned on the subversive ballad of dehumanizing, to the ecclesiastical modes of ‘Believer’ were eleven tracks full of synth glow, electronic drum kits, narrated by baritone vocals in a grey shadowed background, a timbre resounding for our human condition. He defended and depicted sole, in a pre-recorded, way of karaoke-box sets, as the performer of the accident, him and his circumstances on stage. Often criticized for not offering a regular show instead of throwing himself around.

Now the profile image of his Facebook account shows a human figure observing the overwhelming absolute. It is a representative of what German 20th-century philosopher Heiddeger described as Dasein (“being-there”). Sustained as involuntary throwness into the world, may lead us to concern about the temporality of our existence, Being-towards-death, having language as House-of-being and Nature as the Standing Reserve to act. Yes, it is ontological, pre-nihilistic, as dark as real. As absolute as reduced into the TV static, enframing no signal, the snow screen, the white noise, the picture on “Screen Memories” album cover. The very Freudian title is his latest release in a pace almost ruled by quinquennials, recalling about how we manage ‘Sensitive Recollections’ as repressed elements to defend ourselves against them. It is hard to admit we have a neural net security system to avoid unapprehensive fears to survive, save the unconsciousness mode to keep going and multiplicate on the verge towards an end.

Excuse me for bothering you with this kind of pretentious rags, and thanks to an artist that stands up in front the absolute, giving aware of on heartfelt songs, faithfully devoted to a sound, repeating cannons that echoing either Alan Vega’s ‘Hey Hey’ or assembling Reinassance polyphonic funeral chants. It is all in ‘The Combine’ to dust, a default falling sound to particles that we should listen as static. We need him as a healthy practice, his raw irony in ‘Pets,’ and the marvelous sense of humor admitting he wasted time building up modular synthesizers on their hands. Love to that guitar in ‘Find Out,’ and please, take yourself seriously and go for the “Touchdown,” after earning Ph.D. in Political Philosophy from the University Of Hawaii.

We waiting for him with a full band for the first time on stage, with Joe Maus in Bass Guitar; Luke Darger on Keyboard and Synthesizers, along with Jonathan Thompson playing Drums and Drum Machine. It is going to be soon; in a venue away few minutes ride from downtown Barcelona.

Hivernacle Pop Up Club: #1 Halloween Special Night

No trick for the treat

Autumn is here, and Hivernacle Pop Up second edition’s bill is back to renew this ephemeral idea of a club, always hot, with full parties of envolving sound and visuals. This three-part series event will take place through each of the resting months of the year under a transparent plastic greenhouse set at Plaça Major in Poble Espanyol (Barcelona).

The first will be on October 28, tagged as #1 Halloween Special Night, with legendary Derrick May heading the line-up along two females DJs and producers like french born Berlin based Bloody Mary (a.k.a Marjorie Migliaccio) and Ukranian IVA (a.k.a Anastasia Topolskaia). Two locals will round it up, Eduardo de la Calle, with his techno based in everything and everybody is physics particle vibrations, and the Argentinian based in Barcelona, Fede Zerdán. He will open at 10 p.m., and May will close from 2 a.m. until 4 a.m. The night will lighten up with lots of jack-O’-lanterns and beat pulses of Techno.

Having Derrick May (“Innovator”) on the decks is having a monster of pioneering Detroit Techno. He is one-third of the legendary bunch of visionaries commonly known as “Belleville Three,” along with his musical mentor Juan Atkins (“Godfather of Techno”) and collaborator Kevin Saunderson (“Elevator”), now on the road again as collaborative effort since Coachella 2017. Back in the early ’80s, these three were high-school kids. Atkins introduced to May and Saunderson in stuff as diverse as from Kraftwerk to Yellow Magic Orchestra, Depeche Mode, The B-52’s and Prince, including extensive and intense listening through Bootsy Collins, George Clinton’s Funkadelic, and Parliament material.

This mixture of Europhilia and weird shit that was decisive for the sound that represents May in one third through his three-decades-long career, from first steps as Deep Space Soundworks (with Atkins) to the singles signed as Rythim is Rythim. He is part-responsible for taking Techno back to its cradle, to the spirit of the city which gave it birth, after the massive impact on the other side, in the always receptiveness for innovative European shores, especially in the UK where it crossed into the pop charts in the late eighties. It was a round trip for good, recapturing some lost soul, by the way helping to make a difference from Chicago House. A set that predicts some healthy perspective in time from foundation’s drops.