Upfront 023 / May 11, 2015

Rhythm Section International

Our very own Bradley Zero steps up with a bumper Upfront: disparate sounds and locations joined up under the Rhythm Section umbrella.

About this mix

I've got an intrinsic drive to always be surrounded by good music. I was making mixtapes on my Fisher-Price tape player before I could tie my shoelaces, and at the dawn of the digital revolution, my Dad was one of the first people to get a CD writer, so i made a few bucks selling counterfeit compilations back in the 90’s.

This led to me being the guy trying to soundtrack every possible situation, from hogging the iPod at the houseparty to choosing the perfect accompaniment to a dinner with friends or the right track to watch the sun set. You could call this obsessive. I feel uneasy with silence. Eventually I made the initiative to start a radio show back in '09 in an attempt to share these impulses with a wider audience. It all comes down to sharing, and I feel a very real, impulsive desire to share good music with people.

Now that the radio and club gigs are a pretty firm fixture in my life, my discovery of new music revolves around this. I’m always listening to new music, every day in most of my spare time, to the point where it actually becomes quite tiring. Because – let’s not forget – there’s a LOT of bad music out there, an incredible amount of garbage; regurgitated, uninspired rubbish. I feel it’s almost become my job to filter this endless tide of content into something palatable, fulfilling and who knows, maybe even life changing. I’m on a constant search for truth, and if I stumble upon some hidden truths, then it's my job to proclaim them, to shout it from the rooftops and share it with as many people as possible.

My A&R process for the label – if you can call it that – has evolved naturally from there. (I don’t even know what A or R stands for...I could Google it, but I’m real busy.)

So this mix is composed of entirely unreleased material: there's about ten forthcoming RS INTL tracks included; a bunch of new work from artists who’ve released with us; and then a few unmastered, undecided tracks thrown in for good measure. On top of that there's a few bits and bobs from heroes, friends, peers and labels I’ve got to know over the past few years.

This one is less about the mixing and more about a presentation of where we are at sonically, and a high five to the international community that made it possible. Fasten your seatbelts!


Bradley Zero

Boiler Room says...

Think global, act local.

It's becoming some of a hollow trope as of late, but in the case of Bradley Zero's Rhythm Section, the mantra still holds. You broadly know what you're in for when popping round Canavans: low lighting, low slung vibes and (speaking from experience) low scores on the tables. There are few established nights that can match it for a convivial and homely atmosphere; but filtered down into that apparent effortlessness is a careful curation of globestradding guests and a refreshing lack of definition in the dance.

Unsurprisingly, that's been the overarching narrative for the namesake imprint to date – Bradley's even gone and handily added an 'International' just to double-underscore the point for those not paying attention at the back.

Rhythm Section Intl's smudging of sonic touchstones and geographic points of reference marks it out as a clear frontrunner in a thriving, though increasingly cluttered, South London set. Not to say the blossoming of yer 22ayys, Churches and Wholemeals can be solely attributed back to it, of course. But when it comes to this micro-scene, paradoxically both free-floating and firm-rooted, RS Intl sets the bar. Which makes sense after all, given its founder's future role as a ambassador/councillor/MP for Peckham (watch this space, genuinely).

His Upfront is by some distance the longest in the series to date. So long, in fact, we assumed there must have been some older cuts slipped in to supplement the 100m runtime. Not so: it's all forthcoming, and all gold. It's typically loose, funky and mixed (in the Red Light Radio booth, fyi; proof of a busy man) with a winsome flair. The mix begins with a dense, whirring palate-cleanse and ends with neo-soul hiccups, otherwise skipping through RS005 and RS006, fresh material from office favs Henry Wu, Max Graef and Dego, plus plenty more ??'d goodies besides. Kudos, too, for the best back cover design yet.

That tracklist reveals a pertinent point: the gaggle of disparate names shouldn't really make sense clustered together, but somehow do; it feels definably 'like' Rhythm Section. That's down to Brad's fine-tuned ear and restless enthusiasm, but also an unerring dedication to putting his friends on. When Boiler Room pivoted into its second phase last year, that came into even clearer focus. From plonking Andras Fox in Gilles Peterson's basement with a bag of unheralded Aussie ambient to spin, to giving the world a keyhole look inside the Bavarian delights of Public Possession's store, or even preaching the gospel of the Hut from Vancouver well before the rest of us had cottoned on – he's always looking to support and spread the music and the message, as far as wide as possible. It's a winning approach.

As the global-local scales tip increasingly to the former, we'll likely be seeing less of him around BR HQ. But pride makes the occasional twangs of longing a lot easier to swallow. As far afield as Rhythm Section carries Bradley, joining disparate dots on the map in his own inimitable fashion, you know that at heart he's still family. And when you boil it right down, that's the most important thing of all.

Gabriel Szatan

Gabriel Szatan

Gabriel is one of the show programmer/hosts, and BR's Editor-in-Chief – somehow.