Surgeon & Rob Hall
Subject & Nightflight presents:
Friday December 17th 2010
The Button Factory, Dublin.
SURGEON [Counterbalance - Birmingham] [DJ/AV] - Irish Debut
ROB HALL [Skam/Warp - Manchester]
Advance tickets - e12. Available at: www.tickets.ie or City Discs & Plugd Records.
Surgeon - An introduction...
Since exploding onto the techno scene in 1995, with the now-classic 'Surgeon EP', DJ and producer Anthony Child has been remoulding his area of contemporary techno. His early releases on Downwards caused a ripple of excitement through the techno cognoscenti of the time, leading to more widespread exposure via remix work for Dave Clarke and inclusion on Jeff Mills seminal 'Live At the Liquid Rooms CD'. Further output on Downwards, such as the 'Pet 2000 EP' (containing the familiar growl of 'Badger Bite'), along with releases by label mates Regis, Female and Portion Reform, helped to place Birmingham boldly on the techno map.
However, these early works, for all of their raw energy and their unusual harsh, funky edge were merely hinting at what was to come. Surgeon's more esoteric influences began to manifest themselves on his first Tresor album release 'Basictonalvocabulary', a record which contained a depth of musicality, without sacrificing any of the edge of earlier works.
This idea of balance between the dancefloor and more cerebral influences was to become a recurring theme in future releases, through the 'Balance' album for Tresor and, later, Surgeon's own Dynamic Tension and Counterbalance label releases. This became increasingly evident as Tony's ability to incorporate the more left field aspects of his musical background into his club-based material developed. Tape based experiments from 1984, which can be heard on the 'Boys, School Showers and Swimming Pools' release on Downwards, show a pre-Surgeon fascination with experimentation and the diverse influences of Industrial music and Musique Concrete became more apparent in each Surgeon release.
Evidence of a new, darker direction began to show through on the 'Force and Form' and 'Body Request' albums, but came to the forefront on the more recent Counterbalance releases. It was becoming obvious that Surgeon's output was more heavily influenced by Coil and Brett Easton Ellis than by Jeff Mills or Underground Resistance.
Throughout this development, Surgeon's production skills have steadily grown. On the Counterbalance releases and the 'British Murder Boys' split project with Regis on Downwards, complex poly-rhythms battle with grumbling sub-bass and oblique musical references, causing devastation on club dance floors, while always equally providing a rewarding listening experience.
Since the first British Murder Boys release, Surgeon and Regis have worked closely together, recording several more eps and performing live. The BMB releases have further blurred the line between techno and the artists' industrial and experimental roots, marrying off-kilter noises and submerged vocals with a strict rhythmical framework.
Further evidence of these multi-functional production skills can be seen on Surgeon's impressive remix C.V. Alongside remixes for techno luminaries such as Dave Clarke, the Advent, Rue East and Luke Slater, he has produced reworks for Glasgow post-rock outfit Mogwai (moulding their Fear Satan track into a droning Boyd Rice-like crescendo which takes the original to its logical conclusion) and old masters Faust and Coil.
As a compliment to his production work, Surgeon is also an in-demand DJ, with a busy work schedule spread across Europe, U.S.A and Japan. He has been a resident at House of God in Birmingham since 1993 and also held a three year residency at Berlin's famous Tresor club.
Contemporary Surgeon sets have been notable for an experimentation with new DJ technologies, breaking out of the standard format of two record decks and a mixer to embrace cutting edge hardware and software solutions, blurring the line between a DJ set and a live performance.
Almost a decade on from the initial impact of the thumping introduction of 'Magneze', Surgeon continues to use techno as a vehicle to carry his artistic message. Oblivious to current trends (although often helping to set them), his work continues to be deep and expressive but still carries through in a club environment. A perfect dynamic tension; balance and counterbalance; screw the roses.
Rob Hall - An introduction...
Rob Hall’s style is unique and stems from almost 20 years of uncompromising passion for all things electronic; music and otherwise. The distinct and refreshing sound that is characteristic of Rob’s performances can be attributed to the breadth of his taste and his confidence as a selector. There is a strong element of curatorial judgment evident when you hear one of his seamless sets, yet this is seemingly at odds with the diverse and atavistic nature of the music he chooses to expound. It is nigh on impossible to pigeon hole Rob, as his taste is defined not by genre, but by a highly personal capacity to edit, based on experience and his broad knowledge of production and programming. This clear but complicated stance is a product of a very specific context and associations.
In Rob’s own words: "In the late 80’s and early 90’s I used to buy all these records that I loved, but I would never hear DJs playing them when I went out, I couldn't understand that, I was happily mixing them at parties and sessions at friends houses, at some point I realised that maybe I should put my position on music forward by trying to get some proper gigs. The fact that friends, Autechre, had recently begun releasing music through Warp helped considerably, they would often ask me to come and play with them, which was brilliant. Around the same time my mate Andy (Maddocks) had just started the Skam label to release Gescom stuff. Being associated with that helped me a lot in being able to build a reputation as a DJ."
The Autechre / Rob Hall connection is a long established one. They have been his most valued friends and his biggest supporters. He has played as support DJ on most of the highly successful Warp duo’s tours over the last 12 years, from the Tri Repetae album tour of the UK in 1995 (their first), through to the Confield, Untilted and Quaristice World tours (Europe, USA and Japan).
Rob began his career at techno night Megatripolis held weekly at the legendary London venue ’Heaven’. His first of many appearances there was with Autechre in the summer of 1992. Since then Rob has played both ends of the spectrum in the UK, from small crowds in intimate venues to huge numbers at clubs and festivals including The Orbit, Phoenix, Glastonbury, Glade, Bestival, Bloc Weekender and All Tomorrow’s Parties.
Concurrently there was a steady increase in Rob’s air miles collection as he garnered an international reputation for his particular brand of technical entertainment. He has played at a host of international venues and festivals, usually at seminal moments in their respective histories; Sonar and Coachella in 1999 stand out as notable examples. In 2001 another of Rob’s long term friends and supporters, Andrew Price of respected New York electro / techno imprint ‘Satamile’ gave him the opportunity to play a monthly residency at his weekly ‘Static’ night in New York. This was the impetus that drove forward solo US tours, eventually hitting Miami, Seattle, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Detroit and Chicago with his shifting, pulsing styles.
Since 1995 Rob has also actively promoted and been resident DJ at numerous club events in Manchester; contributing to the collective spirit that drove the scene forward in his home city. A desire to promote the music he admires and respects lead to invitations for artists like Aphex Twin, Plaid, Boards of Canada, Squarepusher, and Berlin's Pole, to play in Manchester, often for the first time.
Rob has also contributed to numerous productions, remixes and live sets as part of the Gescom project; a collective that includes a diverse range of producers, from the aforementioned Autechre and Mego artist Russell Haswell to Skam Records’ Andy Maddocks, Darrell Fitton (Bola), and Mike Williamson (Made). This grouping is also the backbone to the highly revered and respected Skam Recordings, (www.skam.co.uk) the label where Rob has worked as part of a small but dedicated team, consistently releasing electronic music that is both interesting and innovative. Robs’ style, though specific, encompasses a broad spectrum of what would be elsewhere classified as genres. As such, despite being incredibly selective, he is open and receptive to new patterns and sounds in music. Similarly, new technologies are consumed; digital DJ interfaces have allowed Rob to diversify and expand upon the range of audio and technique he employs to deliver the well calibrated sets for which he has become acclaimed.
In 2007 Rob embarked on an ambitious project, to record and release, via free download, a year long collection of 12 very personal DJ mixes, each one only available for that month. A series that was highly acclaimed by the thousands of people who eagerly downloaded them each month before they dissappeared into the ether.
Most recently Rob has become a regular fixture at Berghain in Berlin, currently regarded as one of the best techno clubs in the world. It is a testament to his belief, passion and uncompromising stance that he is now established here and his peers, including Mark Broom, Surgeon, Regis, Ellen Allien and Marco Passarani, would probably suggest “it’s about time”.