Upfront 080 / September 5, 2016


An absolute ripper of a mix – inspired by a drug epidemic, no less.

About this mix

Recently a stretch of Broadway Ave two blocks from my apartment in Brooklyn was the epicenter of a K2 epidemic.

Though marketed as a legal weed substitute, K2 is a virulent and unpredictable substance with none of weed's mellowing qualities. Sold primarily by one drug-front deli adjacent to the train station, the street scene turned hectic, with dozens of people screaming, fighting and passing out in their filth at all hours. It was intense.

It's an eerie experience to walk through such chaos daily. Countless commuters and neighbors, myself included, zig zagged amidst the bedlam, the human toll in our periphery. It was everywhere, but tuned out, and I might only really notice how bad it had gotten when a friend, or worse my mom came to visit. Then you'd see it through their eyes.

Human misery is not inspiring and it weighed on my mind. Lots of techno artists tease out dystopian themes in their work, but I was in the midst of a literal, micro-dystopia and felt helpless and disheartened. It was not cool, and I found myself picking songs that circled these themes: "Dirty Needles," "User," "Substance Abuse," "Off the Grid" etc. The result captured some of the mood, if not of the primary participants, than of my own sideline perspective.

Recently a law went into effect prohibiting the sale of K2, and the police have swept the area clean. It's an uneasy relief; you can't help but wonder where the people went, if any suffering was alleviated, or if they were just pushed out of the way and are suffering somewhere else.

Daniel Martin-McCormick

Boiler Room says...

Ital's shift away from the more tactile tunes he first made his name with on 100% Silk, and toward a meaner sound, exemplified on last year's Gang of Ducks EP, isn't too much of a surprise. The murk remained, but the mood darkened.

Besides, techno rules the roost now in a way it didn't in 2011. And this mix, similar to Volvox’s slamming club set earlier this year, is the sound of techno taking back America.

The 30-heavy tracklist carries curveballs (on paper) from Oneohtrix, The Upsetters and John Coltrane, plus classic material from the alter egos of Richie Hawtin, DJ Sprinkles, Mr G and more. Was the idea of reaching to another self deliberate, given the inspiration of being out one's head? Probably.

Alongside a really cleverly executed theme, you've got a healthy amount of Lovers Rock originals and exclusives to come peppered throughout; for our money, the forthcoming Tower B release is one of the best 12"s of the year. They slot naturally in amongst the old classics – which says a lot about the state of Ital and Aurora Halal's claim on the second half of 2016 and 2017 to come.

P.s. First, and likely only, time I've got to use "human misery" as a metadata tag. So there's that.

Gabriel Szatan

Gabriel Szatan

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