We are delighted to announce a brand new series of eclectic mixes to coincide with features and interviews on Off The Record. The series is also a chance for us to shine a light on some of the lesser known talents out there that we’re feeling and to explore numerous genres of music.
The first in the series comes from Berlin-based DJ and producer Blind Observatory. His productions, which have been picked up by such labels as Gravitational, I/Y and Smoke Machine in recent years, are a unique fusion of science fiction influenced techno and old-school electro sounds, and these sentiments are also mirrored in his dynamic DJ sets as well. Enjoy the journey!
Check out the mix, interview and full tracklist below.
Hey David, thanks for joining us for the very first Off The Record mix! Can you tell us about your mix – were there any particular ideas or themes behind it?
Thank you so much for having me and letting me contribute to the series!
For my tracks and studio mixes, I always try to find astronomical phenomena that I can translate into music or compile a soundtrack for. In this case, its a sequence of images I found that were part of a simulation showing what would happen if a star’s trajectory would lead it too close to a black hole. So the mix is slowly building up momentum and moving straight ahead towards a centre of gravity right there in the middle of the set just to get torn apart, disintegrate and eventually dissolve into a gas cloud throughout the second half.
Are any of the records in this mix recent discoveries? If so, where did you stumble across them and what drew you to them?
Yes! Besides some all-time favourites such as “Nightstalker” and “Karine” most of the tracks are new entries to my collection or records I was buying especially for this mix. “Pea Soup” by Kowton, for example, had to be in there just for sampling Smoke City’s “Underwater Love” which would fit perfectly into the remix of “Phobos” that follows after.
A lot of the tracks I picked because they play with their own time signature. The kick drum running on half the bpm while all the other elements appear to be twice as fast as the initial tempo like in Anthony Linell’s “Bridges In Flames” or “Spirits In The Rain” by Wata Igarashi. The tracks by Voiski and ASC being completely off the grid and somewhat challenging with their measurement based on thirds?
Can you remember your first musical memory?
Not the first one but one of the strongest musical memories I carry with me is a very distinctive melody that has been used in a German healthcare tv commercial in—I just checked it—1992. It featured a family walking down a beach and the visual of the beach and the music somehow interconnected to an extent that I would hear it whenever I went to the beach. Given the fact that I grew up at the seaside my mind must have replicated this piece a lot throughout my childhood. And it wasn’t until 2005 that I could identify the tune when I found a remake of it on Klimek’s “Listen, The Snow Is Falling”. The credits would state it was Erik Satie — Gymnopédie #1. There it was; I finally could add a name (and luckily a few more bars) to my inner coastal soundtrack.
Funny how the mind works and how music can help in writing and reading memories. I think about this a lot when I’m in the studio or preparing my bag for gigs. After all, I am soundtracking someone’s night and I would always want to make sure that the music I dish out helps writing memories of it.
Who or What was it that first got you interested in DJing?
My brother used to be a DJ and he would always give me his latest mix-tapes. I remember I got Christian Morgenstern’s LP “Hawaii Blue” on CD from him for my 18th birthday and started to collect records not long after.
How do you feel the clubbing scene in Berlin differs to that of London and some of the other major cities in the UK?
The main difference that comes to mind is definitely the duration of parties. London has so many restrictions to its opening hours. Some sets I play in Berlin would last longer than a whole party in London. On the other hand that also means that the energy of a night can be much more compressed and intense in London. In Berlin it’s not uncommon to listen to the sonic equivalent of a single animated gif for half the day.
Could you share with us a couple of your all-time favourite records?
Chris Korda — Man Of The Future
This has never left my bag since 2004 despite the fact that I might have just played it three times ever. There are two tracks on it that I just can’t get enough of:
“Bones” has it all; polyrhythms, a temple flute, weird vocals and it is structured in three acts. There is so much going on its almost silly but still has this mysterious and almost eerie atmosphere to it. So otherworldly. I remember reading that she wrote a piece of software to somewhat randomise the outcome of the lead synth on every one of its repetitions in the third act — so there is also a little bit of process art going on.
“Sensitive Data” on the same ep is just really, really beautiful. There is not much more to say.
Abstract Thought — Hypothetical Situations
“Bermuda Triangle” just never gets old. This was one of the first records I ever checked in a shop in 2003. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough pocket money with me and when I came back the other day it was already gone. Friends got me the album a couple of years ago for my birthday and I am always happy when I get the chance to play it.
Philippe Cam — Karine
This is a timeless masterpiece. No track in my collection is more fun to mix with other tracks. I am happy that “Techno without a kick drum” has a little revival and that there are some more tracks like this coming out lately.
How do you like to shop for records these days… in shops or online?
I buy mostly online. I grew up in a town without good record shops and when I started getting into DJing it was also the time of the first online record stores popping up. Right now, living in a city that is frequented by so many people with such an amount of knowledge makes it hard to really go find something special in the shops. Maybe I also just don’t have the patience to endlessly scroll through crates.
Can you tell us a little about your studio setup – is there one specific bit of kit you couldn’t live without?
I am not such a gear head. My computer still is my most important tool even though I bought a Vermona DRM and a Moog Mother. I focus more on ideas and concepts that I can turn into music rather than the aesthetics of it or how it is made. However, I just bought a Korg Wavestation just because it reminds me so much of some mid-90s movie soundtracks. Probably a silly idea to invest in this kind of obsolete technology. But then again its just a lot of fun to play around with it and it has a very particular sound that you won’t hear either in old nor new records as it was most likely too expensive at the time and is completely outdated for today’s standards.
We’re big fans of your recent releases on Gravitational – can you tell us what else you have coming out soon?
Thank you so much! Well, first of all, “Uprise” by Kinematika that you can find in my mix will be the next release on Gravitational. I am so enthusiastic about this track and I just finished working on a remix of it. The other big thing is an album that I am working on for quite some time now. For me, this is a really intense creative process and a little overwhelming at times I have to admit as there are so many ideas that have to be tied together. But its also so much fun and fulfilling.
Dasha Rush — Sail Away To Her
Nmesh — 夕暮れがやってきた
Kinematika — Uprise
Kenji Kawai — Nightstalker
Kowton — Pea Soup
Faltin — Phobos (Gowentgone Rework)
Voiski — Sound Of Distance
ASC — Gravity Distortion
Anthony Linell — Bridges In Flames
Kangding Ray — On Sleepless Roads
Sebastian Mullaert — Every Moment, I Am
Philippe Cam — Karine
Wata Igarashi — Spirits In The Rain
JASSS — Theo Goes Away
Varg – Blue Line 2 (112 Fridhemsplan) ft. AnnaMelina & Vanity Productions
Primal Code — Allysum
Steffi — Continuum Of The Mind
Donato Dozzy — Cleo