TAKE 10: TWITCH (OPTIMO)
Ten influential records from the mighty Twitch
This Take 10 feature could almost have been invented to showcase the Optimo duo's magnificently eclectic influences. Renowned for their legendary Sunday night sessions at the Sub Club in Glasgow in the nineties and noughties.
“Almost nowhere beats a night out in Glasgow for raw energy and an unbridled passion for music,” says Optimo's Twitch — their love affair with Glasgow continues with 'Optimo: The Underground Sound Of Glasgow', mixed by JD Twitch, aka Keith McIvor, and out now on Glasgow Underground.
Taking in tracks by assorted Glasgow-associated producers such as Funk D'Void, Naum Gabo, 6th Borough Project and lord Of The Isles, amongst others, it's a comp that continues the noble Optimo tradition of unearthing eclectic, unexpected dancefloor gems.
Here's ten influential records that, over time, got Twitch twitching in ecstasy...
01. JANET KAY 'Silly Games'
“This was a huge pop hit the summer I first got a radio. My sister and I used to wait with excitement for it to get played, and didn't know it was a 'reggae' record. We just thought it was great pop music. Ultimately it led to a deep, deep love of all forms of music from Jamaica that to this day shows no signs of abating.
“Jamaica's influence on music is unquantifiable; nearly all modern music I love wouldn't sound how it does without the production techniques pioneered in Jamaica, and its DNA runs deep through almost every strand of British music — even if it isn't immediately identifiable. Reggae taught me about space in music and of course, space is the place!”
02. ARCHIE SHEPP 'Blasé'
“I guess I'd call this 'astral jazz', and it takes me to places no drug ever could. It's out-there but sexy as hell, and instantly sets an incredible mood. I've never understood clubs that go straight into pumping dance music when the doors first open. That first hour or so when people are coming in is, to my mind, as important as the peak hour, and setting a mood and getting to play different music is a sheer joy.
This often featured in the first hour of music we'd play at our weekly Optimo nights.”
03. ROBERT RENTAL 'Double Heart'
“I love this guy's music an insane amount. Mr Rental only made a very small amount of music but it is all wonderful and totally unique. This came out on Mute Records in 1980 and all the early singles Mute released from '78 - '82 have maybe had more influence on me than any other label's releases.
“When I was a teenager my dream job would have been to work at Mute. Cleaning the toilets would have sufficed. All these years later, I still find those early records inspire me an enormous amount.”
04. SEVERED HEADS 'We Have Come To Bless This House'
“Sure I love Kraftwerk, but MY Kraftwerk were an Australian band called Severed Heads. They really taught me what was possible with electronic music and technology; taking in beautiful transcendental electro-pop such as this and 'Dead Eyes Opened' through to out and out weirdness, music concrete, crazy experimental stuff and complex song-based electronics. The production on many of their records still blows my mind, but what was most important about a lot of the electronic music innovators back then was that there was no blueprint for what they were trying to do.
So much modern electronic music tries to fit into a particular niche, sound palette and production-wise. If it sounds a little odd or technically 'wrong', it may get rejected — which seems to terrify a lot of producers. I'm always looking for those 'wrong' tracks.”
05. LIAISONS DANGEREUSES 'Los Ninos Del Parque'
“When I first started DJing, I was on a mission to turn people onto electronic music at a time when people here were very resistant to it. I'd often have people come up and ask, 'Why are you playing this drum machine shit?' or saying the music had no groove or no soul. It took the arrival of house music before people really got it, but it always baffled me how people could think music like this lacked soul or funk.
This German act oozed funk out of their sequencers and controlled their machines, rather than being controlled by them. This is one of a handful of records that was crucial to the birth of techno.”
06. DENISE MOTTO 'I M N X T C'
“This is possibly the first house record I bought, although I didn't know it at the time. It came into the import shop I'd frequent and fitted in with the other electronic music I'd buy, but also sounded different. It was starker, sexier and more hypnotic and kept talking about 'Jacking your body to the beat'. The girl in the shop said it was 'Chicago jack music' and that was how these records were initially known here until shortly after the term 'house music' started to filter through, and it became apparent that something new was definitely going on. Adonis later jacked this bassline for 'No Way Back', and one of the very first attempts I had at mixing records was going back and forth between those two tracks.”
07. 69 'Desire'
“Simply one of the most beautiful pieces of music — electronic or otherwise — ever made. When Carl Craig is on peak form he is almost peerless, and his best tracks still sound as if they were beamed in from the future from some other universe. I had the good fortune to see him perform this live last year, and was almost overcome with emotion. Oddly, there was very little dancing going on while this was played, and I heard people saying the beat wasn't hard enough. I like hard rhythms but if that is the pre-requisite for something being a great dance track then that seems a little sad to me.”
08. THE DESPERATE BICYCLES 'The Medium Was Tedium'
“This is an extremely lo-fi post-punk 7-inch from 1977 that I first heard in the early '90s. Some of my very favourite music was made in the post-punk era, where everything was permissible and no idea was deemed too crazy. This song was particularly inspiring as it contains the line,
'It was easy, it was cheap, go and do it!' in reference to making and releasing records. They were right, it was easy and cheap(ish), and that mantra has inspired me to run record labels ever since.”
09. FELA KUTI 'Egbe Mi O (Live)'
“I could pick any number of Fela tracks but today I'll go for this one. Sometimes I'll play African music in my sets but even when I don't, listening to so much African music has definitely informed what I play from a rhythmic point of view.
I'm fascinated by all forms of rhythm from all corners of the globe and while sometimes a straight ahead simple 4/4 beat can be devastating, a whole night with no rhythmic variation will leave me cold.”
10. DINOSAUR 'Kiss Me Again'
“I didn't like this when I first bought it. I had just discovered the joys of Arthur Russell and found this in a second-hand shop in Paris. I got it home and just didn't get it. A few months later I tried again and played the other side, and rays of knowing light shined down from the heavens and I stayed up all night playing it on repeat. It turned out the A-side was a sanitised watered-down version that the record label had insisted went on the 12-inch but the B-side was Arthur Russell's original, wild rollercoaster ride of a track. I wish I'd turned it over sooner.
“I was determined this would become an Optimo anthem but it's hard in Glasgow (or most places for that matter) to keep a dancefloor's attention over the course of a 13-minute track. So I cut out a five-minute chunk of it, which took me about one minute to do, and it became maybe the all-time Optimo anthem. It remains my desert island 12-inch single.”
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