Upfront 002 / October 31, 2014

Air Texture

A new audio mix series where we call upon the most interesting artists/DJs/record labels and ask them to peer into the near future. How they take it from there is entirely open to interpretation. James Healy, founder of label Air Texture, presents this mix with forthcoming material from the likes of Biosphere, Reagenz and BNJMN, as well as bringing many influential, out-of-print releases back into play once more: a vividly-realised deep dive into the world of experimental electronic, ambient, and New Age.

About this mix

In Brooklyn circa 1995 it was dangerous at the first L Train stop Bedford Street; dangerous, and exciting. Art crews would squat abandoned factories for weeks at a time, creating weekend long “sensory environments” where performance art, DJs, video, sculpture, food, and interior architecture all had equal weight. Students seemed to be putting down their brushes in earnest to experiment with turntablism and audio collage. With an eye towards the DIY minimalists of 60/70s era NYC – artists like Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, Carl Andre, and Gordon Matta-Clark – and with an ear tuned to rebel musical spirit – John Cage, La Monte Young, Eno, Boogie Down, and Planet Rock – aesthetically savvy DJs would create all night audio journeys to huge crowds.

The programming covered anything and everything: classical, hip hop, ambient, dance, world music, spoken word, to the latest electronic from England, Germany, Detroit, Chicago, and New York. These were true storytelling experiences that changed my views about what DJing and music performance could be forever. Air Texture celebrates those nights and the global community at large who create music out of category: some call it ambient, others experimental; off the dance floor but still in the electronic music family, it’s an important foil to the all night rave.

I chose electronic music innovators from the last three decades to show a lineage, as well as important labels in the 90's that really pushed ambient music forward. I reached for older selections including: German composers Klaus Schulze (Tangerine Dream) and Holger Czukay (Can);FFWD (one of Robert Fripp's hardest to acquire collaborative albums); influentials 90s labels such as Astralwerks, plus the now sadly out-of-print Instinct and EM:T. All can be considered vital in laying the foundation. On the forthcoming side of things we have Reagenz (Jonah Sharp of Spacetime Continuum and Move D) presenting live material due out next year, some BNJMN from Air Texture IV, a deeply moving piece from Brooklyn originator sound artist DJ Olive, and a special cut from Air Texture V by Biosphere. I tried to create the mystery and optimism of those storytelling sets in this mix for Boiler Room. Thank you BR for the opportunity to present this mix of new, favourite and rare material.

Air Texture

Boiler Room says...

One of the most welcome musical trends in the decade so far has been the championing of what might have previously been passed over on grounds of taste, or relevancy — and with it, a total assimilation of everything back into the conversation. The boundaries have been completely dissolved, and perhaps the biggest benefactor in all this has been a softer side of electronic music. Shorn of stigma, the sounds of New Age, ambient and various concomitant derivatives have been brought in from the cold, and are thriving once more.

For all the negative affiliations surrounding this more passive strain - think rainforest-themed deep relaxation tapes, or tacky muzak pumped through faceless hotel foyers - its (gently) beating heart has always relied on a lifeblood of broad sounds, textures and tones pooled to paint richly evocative soundscapes. From Jon Hassell's exotic 'fourth world' to the extraterrestrial exploration of Pete Namlook's Richie Hawtin-approved FAX+49-69/450464 label, the intended transport and transcendence have been achieved by a egalitarian worldview when it comes to points of reference.

US based label Air Texture adopts a similar stance. Curators and artists tapped up for its compilations come from all over the map: Ricardo VillalobosDeadbeat, LegoweltThe Field, Jim O'Rourke, Emeralds' Steve HauschildtHieroglyphic Being and Atlas Sound are amongst the more well-known names, and pay testament to the diversity of Air Texture's craft and vision.

We tapped up founder James Healy to mix the second Upfront, who asked for more flexibility in looking over his shoulder while keeping one eye fixed forward. The idea was to bring influential, rare and sometimes out-of-print records into play, to sit against and compliment as-yet-unheard pieces by the most celebrated disciples of the sound/ethos - and throw in some choice cuts from Air Texture IV, out this week, for good measure. In the grand spirit of things, who were we to disagree?

Gabriel Szatan

Gabriel Szatan

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