To the heads that know, Lory D is up there with the all-time greats. One of the chief instigators of the ‘Sound of Rome’ – a phrase he’d later send up – in the 80s-turn-90s, he took the embryonic sound of Detroit and Chicago and splattered it together at velocity with various iterations of ramped-up European rave and hardcore, both as a producer and head honcho of the Sounds Never Seen label. His sets at 69, an infamous club situated just outside of Glasgow, are the stuff of legend (as you’ll read below); take the adage about The Velvet Underground‘s legacy and repurpose it for an entire generation of Scottish DJs, producers and label owners and you’re close. The dude gets more juice out of a 303 than pretty much anyone else on earth, except maybe Aphex Twin. Even then, it’s a close call.
Richard D James is a pertinent point of comparison, as well as various members of Underground Resistance and Drexciya/Dopplereffekt’s Gerald Donald: all shrouded in thick layers of mystery, regarded as borderline-unapproachable and absolutely-unfuckwithable masters of their own unique domains. Yet in spite of gushing admiration from those well-acquainted, Lory D’s name is nowhere near as prominent internationally.
Take Jackmaster, for example. Over the years he’s laid down tribute megamixes, talked his productions up at every opportunity, and even signed his music to two separate labels; one of them, of course, being Numbers, who we’re teaming with to bring you a no-doubt-riotous showcase next Tuesday in Glasgow. You might know Numbers? They release music and put on amazing shows – including one this Friday at Sub Club – from time to time. They’re næ bad.
Lory D’s records may be easier to track down, but the man himself remains as elusive and impenetrable as ever. His aesthetic may no longer be a meld of petulant teenager and 90s alt/grunge overlord – although recent press photos have more than a touch of Stephen Malkmus about them – and he may no longer spend spare moments terrorising Italian cooking show hosts alongside fellow noisenik Leo Anibaldi but his potency as both a producer, DJ and live annihilator have not waned, even after a quarter century in the game.
It’s high time you got better acquainted with the Roman maestro, so we’ve enlisted six of the best to help parse the legend of Lory D. Best buff up before next Tuesday.
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MARCO PASSARANI [Final Frontier]
It’s pretty difficult to spend only few words about a man who has been one of my major influences back in the early days of techno scene. I was lucky enough to live in Roma and witness probably the best techno DJ around. Back in ’90 and ’91 we used to have amazing guests every weekend, from Joey Beltram and Mundo Muzique to Frankie Bones to Frank De Wulf – but still Lory was the one that really showed us the future.
A lot of Roman DJs were amazing those days, but Lory always made me freak out more than others. I remember a rave party about halfway between Roma and Naples in the early 90s. My friends and I were exhausted and had to find a way to go back to Roma but Lory was playing at 5am and, well, we couldn’t leave as Lory was mixing incredible tracks one after each others. I remember this mix of Klein & MBO’s “Dirty Talk” and Armando’s “100% Of Dissing You” which is one of my earliest lessons in ‘rave-mixing’. It was another planet, and still is.
The first time I actually saw him in person, I was DJing a private party in an area of the city called ‘Monte Mario’ when he showed up. I was just a quite young kid – 16 maybe? – just beginning, while he already was very popular among the DJ world. The man my friends used to call “Montagna Sacra” was looking at the turntables – I got shy; or more accurately, scared!
I’ve the chance to work with him quite many times throughout the years, and no matter how the performance has changed, from turntables to computer, he always surprised me. He still does, every time.
A good memory comes from inside his studio. There was this one time that this track he played me blew me away so much that I had vertigo! I never knew if the track came out, but that was definitely one hell of experience. It had some kind of shifting LFOs on a string, with some sort of ultra-low bass that almost gave me the same feeling of a wonky landing on a plane. It was incredible.
Yet another is when we were discussing how to do a party in a club, and he wanted to pitch the idea of a night featuring only ultra slow pitched-down early 90s techno tunes. Some kind of other space and time idea. It’s a shame we never did it. If I remember correctly, Lory had an obsession with the TURBOSOUND system. No matter what, at some point of a conversation this was always coming out.
We’ve all gone in various directions over the years, but I’m really happy to hear that Lory is partnering with our Glaswegian friends for a Boiler Room. He’s in the best hands possible.
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GRANT WILSON-CLARIDGE [Rephlex Records]
Lory, along with Leo Anibaldi and the D’Arcangelo brothers, has remained at the forefront of Italian techno and the ‘Sound of Rome’. He pioneered harsh squat party darkcore in the beginning, moving to crystalline electro and house numbers nowadays.
I was after Antisystem on vinyl for about seven years and still rinse it today. When it came to getting his tracks together for a Rephlex release, like most things we did, we made a list of our favourites and whatever coincided in both lists was released. Pre-Internet, the music on Sounds Never Seen was gold dust to find; even pre-Discogs it was still pricey, so was well worth compiling for those concerned elsewhere.
Respect is due.
In the mid 90s I worked in Ambient Soho Record Shop, and one day a longhaired rocker guy came in, handed me some promo records, and walked out again. I looked at them and read the name Lory D and immediately ran out of the shop and chased him down the road to tell him how much I loved his releases. He was very surprised and didn’t seem to speak much English. Luckily nobody stole the till while I was out.
I think the whole Roman scene from the beginning of the 90s is really undervalued – although, it’s good cos I can still pick up Leo Anibaldi records for okay money. Lory D ones seem to be expensive though. Go figure.
To all of Leo, Marco & Fabrizio & Max, Sandro Galli, Marco P, SNS and Lory: maximum respect.
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I knew Lory D at the end of ’80s from hip-hop concerts and electronic nights in Roma. He was a key figure even at the time: a guy with a vision. I remember clearly like yesterday a DJ set he did at the first gig called ‘Rave’ in Roma in 1990. He played a mix of electro, New Beat, Detroit techno, acid and freestyle that was amazing. It was like a kick in your face and in your brain. The main characteristic of his music, even when he mixes, is to be hard and mental at the same time. A very difficult attitude to maintain!
At the end of ’89 I opened a recording studio in Roma with my old friend Eugenio Vatta, a keyboard player and sound engineer. Lory and I met through a common friend and we got one with each other. He liked a lot to draw and the logo of his label was graffiti-like, but more futuristic: Sounds Never Seen was born!
“Every producer would have cried to produced that calibre of music, but for him it wasn’t enough.”
Lory had always tried to go further. To escape from the rules, but always with a plan, a vision. He was, and still is, very hard on himself and his collaborators. He never wants the first option; he’s a real perfectionist. I made some tracks which I was proud of, and at and first he wanted them for SNS. We started promo, but then he decided the opposite and the tracks were published by another label. At first I was disappointed, but he was right: they were cool, but not for SNS. It was a very good lesson as a producer.
I stayed with him a lot of the time, and remember so many tracks that I thought of as amazing that he’d delete right in front of my eyes after a whole day and night of work – he thought they weren’t enough! Every producer would have cried to produced that calibre of music, but for him it wasn’t enough. That’s why his productions are so rare. It’s why he is a true genius.
One of the funny thing we did together was the presentation of his amazing album Antisystem for BMG sellers and executives in Roma, who were planning to distribute the record. We came into this room dressed like almost warriors – very Public Enemy like – and played one track that was like hell for them. The frequencies were so loud and deep that the woofer of one of the speakers blew out. We tried to avoid laughing, even though it was very hard. Then we went away with no words, while the suits looked at us like aliens. It was very ‘Anti-system’! [Laughs]
We always had a great time. I’m very happy that my hero is also a very close friend.
Jack was in the same boat as me at the time we first heard the man’s music in Rubadub. Lory had really flicked our switches, and we had to hear more of this stuff! Tracks like “Fludoiscki” blew me away with its raw power, and it still does. Me and my pals all used to call Lory‘s music ‘Portamento Spaghetti’. I still don’t know exactly what that means but i think it kinda suits the music – although I can’t now remember if it was actually Lory who told us that’s what he called it, or if we just made it up!
“The first time in Scotland was a life-changing event for us all”
The opportunity to actually see Lory D came at the Blitz Festival: starring a whole host of Roman talent, including of course the bold “LORY FUCKING D”. Jack, myself, Calum and a whole load of other mad Glaswegians headed over and he absolutely blew us away. His set was deep, dark and just perfect for losing yourself in. A mental vortex, just like the records.
The first time in Scotland – at 69 – was a life-changing event for us all. The intensity was ramped up further than when in Rome, possibly due to the intimate size of the club, and it being on our home turf with all our friends there to witness it for the first time, coupled with fact Lory was feeling the love from the crowd. It just went off! On the occasions he’s been back to play, each and every time it building on the last in terms of intensity. Safe to say he goes down as one of our all time favourite guests, as a live act and once out the blue as a DJ (not that it was a problem, seeing as he was an ex Italian DMC champ).
Throughout most of these earlier times we met him and hung out at clubs and peoples houses, sometimes for two or three days at a time, hardly a word would be spoken between us and him, due to the language barrier. Instead we would just give knowing winks, high-fives, pats on the back etc. It didn’t matter: there was deep understanding and appreciation between us all that went beyond mere words. That’s why I say music really is the universal language.
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It’s hard for me to put into words just how much I love Lory D. I’m not the most eloquent or erudite of chaps so I guess i’ll just tell you the story of how we came to know him and eventually release his music.
I first heard of Lorenzo D’Angelo when a mysterious record arrived in Rubadub from the Italian distributor Final Frontier, run by our friend Marco Passarani. If something came from these guys you usually knew it was good gear, but this one was the fucking boy. It was called 9 Tracks 4 A Fine Road-Hog. The title track went on to be a serious anthem at 69 and being licensed to AFX‘s Rephlex label alongside other tracks from the Sounds Never Seen catalogue. It was basically a mini LP but was sold for £7.50 which was the standard Rubadub price for an import single at the time. I guess Lory didn’t care about the money, he just wanted the music out there.
The vinyl industry wasn’t exactly booming at this time, but Martin [McKay] put this record on over the house system and by the end of the first track the record was sold out. People were buying two copies at a time; I had never seen this happen before. The whole shop was grooving away, everyone smiling at each other. Every track was completely different from the last. Every tune was funky, incredibly well mixed and produced, each with it’s own personality, and all completely different from the last.
Fast forward a few months and outside Sonar by Day we were handed a flyer for a festival taking place in Rome. I was standing with Spencer, and we were freaking out because the line up looked crazy and suited exactly what we were listening to at the time. The cherry on top was Lory D’s first live set in Rome in 10 years. We booked up for it as soon as we could scrape up enough money for flights. The festival ended up being a bit of a disaster because of a huge power cut throughout Rome – the whole city went down during a huge storm. Lory wouldn’t play. We were devastated, but we dragged ourselves back to the venue the next day in the slight hope that with the power restored, the festival would continue and Lory would be rescheduled.
We had no idea what Lory looked like, but Calum had spotted a big Italian guy walking around with an SNS chain. He excitedly reported this to us and we figured that must be Lory. It was on: Lory would play and our holiday to Rome was saved. To be honest we started stalking him around the festival a bit. Calum was taking photos of him from afar on the sly. We were complete fan boys. If you’ve not gathered it yet, we were by this time obsessed. Just from that one record. He absolutely crushed the place with his live set. There seemed to be a load of old Italian heads there losing it alongside our gang of young Glaswegians.
We reported back to Glasgow to confirm that this guy was as good live as he was on tape, and Martin booked him for 69 not long after. Cue more stalking, and me bringing my minidisc player to record his set with his permission. To this day that set is one of the best things I’ve ever heard in a club.
By this time we had hatched the idea of starting out own record label, which ended up being called Wireblock. We had an old email address for the man so we hounded him for demos, but never had any luck. Following the set at 69, Dan from DABJ booked him for his party named Monox. Lory played a kind of live-DJ fusion for two hours (I recorded this as well but I’m sure the file is lost). I approached Lory at the end of his set and we managed to strike up some conversation despite both of our obvious lacks of English language skills. Turns out he had received the emails but just didn’t like the Internet much.
He handed me a CD; I’ve no idea if he brought the CD for me or if he had been using it in his set. I swerved the afterparty so I could go and listen to the CD as soon as possible. Every track was a 10. From this we forged a relationship and released some of those tracks and more on Wireblock. This was huge for us. We had a few ideas and demos to launch the label with but then this incredible CD landed in our hands and we just knew Lory had to be our first release. It was fate.
We’ve often spoke about how Lory should be a bigger more established artist touring the world every weekend, but the truth is he doesn’t give a fuck about all that. He doesn’t care about money, doesn’t care about fame. He just cares about the music.
“That’s Lory. And that’s why we love him.”
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