So in comes ‘Afterhours 2’, the sequel to one of 2002’s most surprising successes from a label that has been synonymous with the sounds of Sasha and Nick Warren. Yet, it seems as though it shouldn’t be a stretch to hear more spine-tingly grooves for the afterhours (if you pardon the pun) as the last few releases have seen more compilations that fit in the early mourning mood than that of the confines of the nightclub.
Trafik, who have done the recent samplers for GU and its subsidiary ambient and downtempo releases (Electric Calm and Afterhours) have another gem to put under their belts. On these two discs continues the party after the party – and what a ride it is.
Gifted producers who have embraced and incorporated the latest advances in technology, Archer describes the differences between mixing the traditional club mixes compared to “Electric Calm” and the “Afterhours”; “
When we started to mix the samplers it is approached much more like a club mix but with some added effects, cuts and overlays. For the Electric Calm series, especially V.2 we took the majority of the tracks and really “spaced” them out, messed around with the original parts and re-edited them so they mixed together seamlessly; it did take a very long time. Afterhours was a combination of these methods with some tracks totally re-edited like our reprise of Nush – Nush and the reworking of Stef, Pako & Frederik’s – Magic Shop amongst many others sitting alongside some “straighter” club mixes.” Time is always of importance, but it never wasted; “The whole process took about two months to do and countless hours of studio and mixing time.” Perfection – it seems is always a trademark of the creative spirit.Looking at GU’s catalogue of music, the “Afterhours” discs have been the most experimental collection of sounds that have been presented to its public. The label’s history has progressed from Hi-NRG to Trance; moving to Progressive and Tribal to the current state of Breakbeat and Ambient music, showing the label’s sound has certainly matured. Like everyone knows, diversity is the spice of life.
Maybe that’s the goal, to show the world that Global Underground is more than just a dance label, more than just one sound, and more than just the hip fashion model simmering with style, but that there’s substance along with the gloss.
Transcending how ambient music should be listened, the purpose of the new release was “the idea to put together the music you always hear at afterpartys, you know the sort, after a long night out back at some random persons house playing crazy music; some you have heard, some you haven’t.” says Archer. There is certainly a different mentality that goes into the mind when hearing this, as you’re not going to sit down on a beach in Ibiza watching the waves swim in. Would you consider this “chillout music?” I personally would say so in a sense, but Archer sees this as “wobbly at 7 a.m. music.” Different moods give different feelings.
Weighing the differences between “Afterhours” and the “Electric Calm” releases, there has certainly been a conscious effort to distinguish each series as a separate piece of “chill” music. Each one represents a light and a dark side it seems. “There is most definitely a difference in mood. Afterhours is its own thing, Electric Calm takes a more “chillout” sound from GU’s artists and cuts and re-edits them into a more mellow sound.”
I wonder how many people have experienced this before, the time where you just drift away. To me it’s a special time where everyone is invited, yet only few dare follow. Reading the press release and taking in some of the hype, you wonder if the creators feel the same. Archer gives his interpretation of the afterhours as “it’s just a really really stupid time of the night, mostly due to sleep deprivation. Some of my best times have happened “afterhours,” so goes the piper.
This then brings the question of Archer’s first experience in the afterhours experience. When was it, where was it, and how was it for his first time. Digging deep in his memory banks, Archer tells his tale of ”going back to a friends flat when I was quite young after a club night they set-up was cancelled, about 100 clubbers and the DJs from the club ended up back there, getting very drunk in this tiny flat, including all the DJs from Back to Basics and Shindig. Far far better than the club and went on till the wee hours.”
When you think about how the market has changed since 2000 with mp3’s being the ‘big’ thing, peer-to-peers (p2p) sharing music to one another through highly advance means that once were done by recordings from tape-to-tape, so when opening a series that may not see many buyers in a market that’s unstable in shifting units, how many labels would consider such a gamble?
I would then be told otherwise as Archer explains his beliefs that the music in the downtempo mix isn’t too obscure for people. “A lot of the public are very knowledgeable about music, especially GU’s buyers.” There’s a market for everything it seems and GU believes that they have tapped a market that’s still uncharted in the compilation market.
For those who have the first volume of the “Afterhours” or “Transmission” DVD, you saw visuals created by The Forth (the side project of Archer and Elliot). Optics for an audio experience, this continues with the second release of “Afterhours” with the help of “GU’s up and coming designer Chris Lamb and sometime collaborator Dave Jones” says Archer. He goes on and tells how they worked very closely with Trafik on the musical choices, and how much time and effort went to film the pieces that you see on the bonus DVD. As Archer puts it, “all the films are perfect to put on after you have listened to the CDs or just as visuals on the T.V. or in a club.” This all sounds intense to me.
When we get more involved about how Trafik decided on the singles, I had forgotten that the label gave an open call to producers of the world to send in their work for consideration on the project. It wasn’t until Andrew brought it up that I recalled all of this.
Describing the ordeal, “It took a long time to find the right tracks for this CD; we worked on it with GU and all listened through about 1000 bits of music from CD, vinyl, online, music people had uploaded and even some old DAT tapes.” His response to the number of entries to the project would even astound his expectations. “The response we got from asking people to post tracks was amazing, with about 200 being sent in” and from the ones that were sent via the labels message board they had selected “three that really fitted with the whole mix.”
When we get to talk about the musical partnership that Andrew has with John, he bluntly says that ”it’s a good working environment,” then cheekingly adds the addition of “grey hairs, bags under our eyes, and anti-social habits” comes up quite frequently when describing this relationship.
Trafik’s site Loft Music houses a death star stylee just as their studio. Near fully operational, you’ll find that the duo’s workspace is built with one main control room situated with a secondary smaller one so when there are other projects had, they can each work on them without any problems. To them, “just sit (ting) in the main room coming up with dark and evil sounds all day” helps them sleep easier each night.
Lots of fun I’m sure, having your own personal toys to play with, Andrew also brings up his and John’s current collaborations with Stel (from Audio Therapy) and that John is hard at work under his aliases of Avator and Spector. On the horizon will come a re-release of “Bullet” that follows the path of Sasha’s “Involver” that will carry a bonus 2nd disc of new club material from Trafik, but worry not, the second disc will also come as a stand alone.
So then I ask Andrew when he and John would take a nice break away from their death star studio and away from the hours in front of the computer monitor because all work and no vacation can make grown men crazy. You know, soak up the work they’ve done. “Not for a while, there is far too much to do. Might take a few days off to go to Ibiza in the summer and I am sure John will be jetting somewhere too.” Busy as always, but always having fun at it.