Wednesday, 25 July 2007
I have been a fan of Erol Alkan and all of his many guises since I started listening to electro way back in the summer of 2003. Granted, the music genre of electro-house had exploded onto the scene long before then, and so in no way am i claiming to be a pioneer or a discoverer or anything more than a big fan, but I have to give myself some credit for aligning myself with him in particular.
Before the last 12 months, Erol was probably best known as being a DJ whose creativity behind the decks knew no bounds. Calling on his mash-up background during his early year, a typical Erol set would always be comprised of cutting edge electro inter-spliced with retro hits and kitsch songs. The only recurring theme from watching him play, was that every set would be unique and massively enjoyable.
Then, in the past year, Erol seemed to take the conscious decision to focus less on DJing and redirect his attentions to making, instead of playing, music. At the same time as he ended his long standing residency with the London based student night TRASH, he began to churn out more remixes of increasing complexity and technical musicianship. At one end of the spectrum, you have the growing, repetitive, explosion of Franz Ferdinand - "Do You Want To" - and at the other. the minimal tech inspired - Scissor Sisters "I Don't Feel Like Dancing" or Hot Chip's "Boy From School".
In addition to this, Erol has turned music producer for the likes of KLAXONS, THE LONG BLONDES, THE MYSTERY JETS and most recently LATE OF THE PIER.
And then, as if that isnt enough to fill your day - Erol has begun to create his own music in the form of BEYOND THE WIZARD'S SLEEVE (BTWS). This is the area of his attention, which I am most interested in, because it is almost a complete departure from anything he has ever done - and the results are fantastic.
It is difficult to find a tag that suitably describes the genre of BTWS - but if forced, I would describe it as Electro-Psychedelia or ElecPsych (which sounds more like a university course) or something like that. Whatever combination of letters you might use, the mash of these two words is clear, as are the influences. Calling largely on the LOVE - FOREVER CHANGES album, on Pink Floyd and on the BEATLES, the combination of Richard Norris and Erol Alkan attempt to reinvigorate a musical scene that came long before many of Erol's fans were born, Psychadelia.
While other contemporaries are exploring the distortion of the beats within electro (Justice and Kissy Sellout), or pushing towards bigger crescendo beats (Soulwax, Digitalism and Simian Mobile Disco) or realigning their sound with the minimal techno wave that is washing through London, Erol seems to be doing all of these, and then just a bit more.
In addition, not being content with putting his own spin on this musical genre with the music he makes, Erol also remixes in that style with exciting results. So far they have churned out some delightfully trippy versions of songs by such artists as:
Peter, Bjorn and John
Badly Drawn Boy
and of course Love
If you are yet to hear these remxes, hop onto Hype Machine (www.hypem.com), right now, befoe you finish this article, to learn more.
And to complete the circle of Erol's career so far, it is now possible to see BTWS perform an electric live set. Earlier in the year, in the Park section of Glastonbury, I found myself dancing to yet another Erol set, but this time in the midst of echoey guitars and trembling voices with BTWS. The results, as any Erol fan will be glad to hear, are still the same. Never has the dance world had such a consistent performer upon whom to rely.
If you need more convincing...get yourself to the FIELD DAY (http://www.fielddayfestivals.com/) festival in Victoria Park in mid August, to see what the fuss is all about!!!!