A rare live mix from the legendary DJ.
Like most larger-than-life tales, the legend of Harvey built up while he was away, largely unseen, stuck without a green card in the States. Fans passed around bootlegs supposedly recorded at Moonshadows in Malibu. Obsessives on message boards whispered about the time he played all 60 minutes of Manuel Gotsching's E2-E4 at a gig in Hawaii. The myth was fueled by grainy footage of Harvey playing Laid Back at Sarcastic, sun beaming through the windows.
Harvey Bassett understands the power of this sort of mythos, of always keeping them wanting more. He's sat for a precious few interviews, trashed the decks and a Bozak mixer at an Australian festival (he paid for the damage—"I just felt it wasn't entertaining to watch an old lady make pizza," was how he explained his behavior), and has released only about ten official mixes over the course of his multi-decade career. When Harvey puts out a mix, he makes it count. 2001's Sarcastic Study Masters Volume 2 and RA.300 were way out ahead of the selector trend—the former a sublime mix including the likes of Antena, Severed Heads and Logic System, the latter largely consisting of obscure psych rock. But the Harvey who made those mixes is not the Harvey of 2020.
Now, Bassett wears vintage Brioni and a gimp mask in GQ and headlined the 5,000-capacity Printworks venue in London. Even in LA, he's gotten too big for the illegal warehouse scene and instead ended up DJing festivals like Coachella and marquee events like Guy Gerber's annual Rumors block party, where the two-and-a-half hour Live At Rumors—his first official live mix in nearly five years—was recorded. What the cult of Harvey wants to know is whether he's still got it.
The first two hours of the mix should be required listening for any DJ who wants to learn how to properly warm up a room. Highlights include a slowed-down Frantique's "Getting Serious" and Larry Heard's warm, moody remix of Jack Cutter and Lowell's "No Matter." In the past few years, Bassett has focused his digging not only on obscure gems from the past, but also overlooked B-sides from recent records that become absolute bombs in his hands. With all the oft-repeated cliches about DJs controlling the room or playing tracks in a manner that elevates them, rarely do you hear it documented the way it is on Live At Rumors.
Of course, Bassett is a DJ who understands his job as making the people in front of him happy. With Gerber up next, the third part of Live At Rumors gets linear, faster, more big-room. Cuts from Talaboman and Mehmet Aslan segue perfectly into Patrick Cowley's hi-NRG rave-up, "Get A Little," yet Harvey's personality is less apparent in this section. Throughout the set, the ghosts of dance music's past emerge—Jascha Hagen's "Afternoon Of A Faun" uses a timeless Walter Murphy sample, Satoshi Tomiie's "Bassline" nods to Fingers Inc. "Mystery Of Love" and L.E.B. Harmony's cult classic "Feeling Love" uses iconic Moroder-esque arpeggiation. Every time Harvey is behind the decks, he's summoning legendary figures from the past. His charismatic approach and golden ear have earned him a place within the pantheon of the greats.