Synthesist Mark Shreeve Has Died At 65

British synthesist Mark Shreeve died August 31, 2022, at the age of 65.

Shreeve was part of the first generation of synthesists inspired by the ‘Berlin School’ music of Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream.  He was prolific as a solo artist, starting with Embryo and Ursa Major in the ’80s, but is probably best known to synthesists for his work in modern Berlin School groups Redshift and Arc.

Redshift (Mark Shreeve, Julian Shreeve, James Goddard, Rob Jenkin, Ian Boddy) built on the late ’70s sound of Tangerine Dream and created its own take on the classic Berlin School sound – less experimental than first generation Berlin School artists, but often more polished and melodic.

The group released over a dozen albums, starting with the self-titled Redshift:

The music was composed and arranged by Mark Shreeve. Redshift’s music owes an obvious debt to ’70s Tangerine Dream, contrasting ambient soundscapes with melodic sections, driven by propulsive sequenced Moog modular basslines. But Shreeve dug deep into the space carved out by TD albums like Phaedra and Rubycon, and demonstrated that there’s a lot more interesting musical territory to be explored.

Shreeve also paired with fellow British synthesist and DiN label founder Ian Boddy, releasing a great series of albums as Arc.

Arc released a series of sophisticated second-generation Berlin School albums, most of which document live performances by the duo. Here’s an excerpt from 2009 from Arc’s live performance on the Stars End radio show, from WXPN Philadelphia:

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Shreeve’s best known work, though, would be as one of the writers for Samantha Fox’s ’86 debut hit, Touch Me (I Want Your Body).

The hit came about as a bizarre stroke of luck.

“It was originally a 13-minute piece of ‘cosmic’ music dating from 1982,” explained Shreeve in a 1995 Sound On Sound interview. He put it together using a Sequential Pro One, Yamaha CS-30 and a Dr Rhythm drum machine.

“I didn’t know anything about the structure of pop music at all. Most of my compositions back then were about 15 minutes long.”

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“When I was doing the Legion album, we started working up this track with all the others, but with the idea that we’d have some vocals on it,” he added. “They called in John Astrop, a producer and writer who had also been in a pop band. He went downstairs and came back with the ‘Touch Me (I Want Your Body)’ words. I thought to myself, ‘No one is going to buy this stuff in a million years’ — boy, was I wrong!”

The song was an international hit, peaking at #4 on the Billboard charts in the US.

“In these days, when so much live electronic music consists of a guy staring into the light of a laptop screen,” notes Echoes host John Diliberto, “It was a joy to watch Mark Shreeve bounding about his large modular synthesizer, throwing switches, moving patch cords, and twisting knobs, shaping and shifting his interlocking cycles of sound in real-time.”

Yamaha MODX+ Introduction & Overview

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The latest Yamaha Synths Tech Talk takes an in-depth look at the new MODX+ synthesizer.

Hosted by Senior Product Specialist Blake Angelos, the session features Yamaha experts from around the world, sharing their take on the new synth.

The MODX+ is powered by the same technologies found in Yamaha’s flagship MONTAGE synthesizer, including the AWM2 (Advanced Wave Memory 2) sample and synthesis engine and the FM-X (Frequency Modulation) synth engine. MODX+ Motion Control gives you simultaneous control of up to 128 parameters.

The three new synthesizers in the MODX+ line feature 1.75 GB of internal flash memory, an upgrade of 75 percent compared to the original models, giving you more space for custom samples and synth sound libraries. The MODX+ synths also offer more polyphony, with 128- note stereo AWM2 and 128-note FM-X polyphony.

See the Yamaha site for more info.

Learn more here:

New Roland Store, ‘The Music Store Of The Future’, Opens In London

Roland Corporation has announced the opening of a Roland Store in the heart of London’s Denmark Street, an area known for its connections to the UK music scene.

While previous Roland stores have largely been a store-within-a-store in Guitar Center stores around the US, the London Roland Store is standalone, designed to give customers access to the full range of Roland and BOSS products.

Roland says that they also plan to make classic products available via the Store. 

Regular onsite workshops and masterclasses, along with post sale ‘care sessions’, are available to help customers get the most from their gear.

The store will also feature Roland’s proprietary Audience Specific Experience (ASX) technology, where the store’s lighting, audio and video content are tailored to your individual taste. They say that this is an opportunity to experience the music store of the future.

David Vazquez, CEO of Roland Europe says “We’re delighted to be able to support our customers in central London, and our retail partners nationwide, by showcasing an exciting range of Roland and BOSS products in a brand new Denmark Street showroom.

Denmark Street is often described as the birthplace of the British music industry, where iconic artists such as Elton John, The Rolling Stones, Sex Pistols and David Bowie lived and made music.

The store is now open at 10 Denmark Street, London.

New Music From Brian Eno – ‘We Let It In’

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Brian Eno shared the music video for We Let It In, from his upcoming album FOREVERANDEVERNOMORE, which is scheduled to be released October 14th, 2022.

FOREVERANDEVERNOMORE is the 22nd solo studio album from Eno and the first since January 2017’s Reflection. The new album sees Eno working in song mode, with singing on the majority of tracks.

With We Let It In, though, Eno seems to finding a middle ground between the approaches he’s used with his ambient music and his vocal albums.

It’s available now to pre-order.

Premiere: Current Value ‘Weight’

Current Value will release his new album, ‘Platinum Scatter’ via Prague’s YUKU label this month. Listen to ‘Weight’ below. 

The prolific German drum & bass producer describes his latest 14-track release as his “most conceptual body of work to date”, innovating around the dark, neuro-influenced sound he’s become known for throughout his three-decade career. The abrasive beats of his recent releases on Critical Music and Terminal remain, but like 2021’s ‘The All Attracting’ LP on YUKU, the rhythms frequently break from the grid. Amid strobing flashes of synthetic melody and distorted bass, drum patterns rumble, roll and collapse with avalanche intensity. It’s like listening to the smouldering embers of a drum & bass album; the genre is recognisably there somewhere, but its surface is burnt away, revealing something strange, fractured and new. 

Speaking about the release, Current Value, aka Tim Eliot, said: “I designed this album to be something of a focused journey that should work equally as a cerebral listening experience as much as it should function in clubs.” Most of the tracks here are definitely still fit for the dancefloor: ‘Greed’ erupts with a rapid, technoid pulse and dizzying acid squall; ‘Anchor’ sounds like an alien’s interpretation of footwork with a relentless gabber climax; ‘TNM’ and ‘Running State’ are deep-in-the-rave weapons that will disorient and delight peak time ‘floors in equal measure.

Elsewhere, ‘Deep Mind’, ‘Transcript’, ‘Fallout’ and the title track flash, buzz and shatter with a head-scrambling brutality. No track on this album is without its moments of light, however, and often, even in their most violently percussive moments, synthesised atmospheres, melodies and moods glow up from the depths. It’s a testament to Eliot’s dedication to innovation that, tens of releases into his career, he’s still finding new ways to excite and surprise. It’s no wonder he’s found fans in everyone from Aphex Twin and Amon Tobin to Björk.

‘Platinum Scatter’ will be released on 15th September. Pre-order it here

DJ Q announces new album, ‘Est. 2003’, with Todd Edwards collaboration: Listen

DJ Q has detailed his first album since 2014.

Set for release through Local Action on 23rd September, ‘Est. 2003’ includes 11 tracks, mostly based around UK garage. Vocalist Shola Ama features on the record, in addition to Local Action label affiliates Finn and Sharda.

Todd Edwards is also listed as a collaborator on new single, ‘Sweet Day’, which you can listen to below.

A press release shared alongside the album’s announcement said there are “no unnecessary concepts or narratives, no needless experimentation” on the album, adding: “It’s simply DJ Q, at the top of his game, flexing on everyone for a water-tight 36 minutes.”

The new album follows 2014 LP ‘Ineffable’, which Local Action also released.

Local Action is marking its 10th anniversary this year, and released a compilation marking its first decade of operations earlier this year.

Revisit DJ Mag’s 2019 feature on the label here.

Red our cover story on collaborator Todd Edwards, from earlier this year, here.

Fever AM announces fifth anniversary compilation with Mor Elian, Ayesha, Pariah, more

Mor Elian and Rhyw’s Fever AM label has shared details of a new fifth anniversary compilation, called ‘It’s Not A Bug, It’s A Feature’.

Set for release on 30th September, the 12-track record includes new music from a number of artists connected to the label, as well as some newer names to the imprint. In press materials, the label says people can expect “soundsystem-tailored bangers with a surreal twist, for DJs that like to keep the crowd on their toes”.

Among those who’ve contributed tracks to the record are Pariah, Ayesha, Xen Chron, Peder Mannerfelt, MSJY and Gacha Bakradze. Mor Elian and Rhyw, who announced his new EP ‘Honey Badger’ on Voam last week, also each provide a new production for the release.

Listen to Pariah’s contribution to the record, ‘Squishy Windows’, below.

Check out Fever AM co-founder Rhyw’s contribution to DJ Mag’s Recognise mix series, from July, here.

Earlier this year, Mor Elian released an album under her Alloy Sea alias, called ‘XOOMIN’.

Artist designs instrument that allows you to create music by painting

A Kansas City-based musician has created an instrument that allows you to create music by painting.

The instrument, dubbed the Coloratura, was devised after multidisciplinary artist and musician Camry Ivory began wondering what it would be like to paint with music, according to a new interview in KCUR 89.3. The instrument is devised from an easel with a metal canvas, 12 brushes and pots of paint. Long wires connect the brushes to a circuit board, and each brush conjures a different sound when it touches the metal canvas.

Ivory began developing the instrument in 2015 as part of a one-off project and has been refining it ever since. “I just thought it would be cool to have a musical paintbrush to be able to create both music and art simultaneously,” she told KCUR 89.3.

Before developing the Coloratura, Ivory’s main instrument of choice was the piano, but she said that she found playing it too “one-dimensional”, and ultimately decided to take a friend’s suggestion of learning a new instrument to the extreme.

Writing on Coloratura’s website, Ivory said: “My initial inspiration for creating Coloratura was the overwhelming desire to incorporate visual elements into my performances as fluidly and spontaneously as I create my music, and to interact and respond both visually and musically to changes in the audience, the venue, or the elements.”

Every performance made using the Coloratura, its website adds, “has a unique piece of music and a unique piece of art as the end result”.

Check out some videos of the Coloratura in action here, and read more about the project via Coloratura’s dedicated website.

Watch Björk rave in a mushroom underworld in ‘Atopos’ music video

Björk has shared a video for the lead track from her forthcoming album, ‘Fossora’.

The new single, ‘Atopos’, features contributions from Gabber Modus Operandi’s DJ Kasimyn and a bass clarinet sextet, who also appear in the video.

You can watch the visual, which is directed by London-based filmmaker Viðar Logi, below. In it, Björk is seen dancing in a fungal forest while wearing a mask.

The track itself draws on gabber music, which Björk says she enjoyed listening to when putting on small gatherings for family and friends at her Iceland home during lockdown. She first revealed early details about the album in an interview with The Guardian last month.

‘Fossora’ will be released via One Little Independent on 30th September. Björk revealed the album’s release date and artwork last week.

At home with: Billy Nasty

When Billy says that “Tortured and Electrix both did really well, and I think were definitely some of the defining labels of that time”, he’s right, but by the mid-2000s, dance music was reeling from the impact of the digital revolution. Record shops, labels and distributors were going out of business every month and Billy’s labels suffered just like everyone else. “Basically, it was the digital boom, where record shops were going bust owing money to distributors who were owing them to the labels. By 2006 techno and vinyl were dirty words, no one liked electro and it was a bit of a battle to claw back the rest of my stock from the company that took over my distributor.” Like many, Billy found himself trying to set up a new print and distribution deal for his labels in an economic environment that had decided vinyl was finished. It was tough going for a while and he eventually put both labels on hiatus, concentrating instead mostly on his first love, DJing. 

“It was upsetting because I wasn’t active with the labels and stuff but I was still DJing through all this. You know, I always do exactly what I want: I’ve always tried to stick to what I do, and just like fashion goes round in circles, you find that people move on to new artists and then all of a sudden, they came back round to where you are. Once the dust settled from the digital explosion, I thought ‘I’m just gonna carry on doing exactly why I always did’. I just thought, ‘I fucking miss working on the labels’, so I relaunched them.” Billy jump-started both Tortured and Electrix in 2013 and while vinyl sales are no longer at their 1990s levels, the renewed popularity of both labels with DJs and dancers alike prove that the underground still wants quality electro and techno on wax. 

Looking back over his career as he sits surrounded by vinyl in his flat, Billy Nasty is a man content with what he’s achieved and enthused about what lies ahead. “I feel super lucky to have been in the music business, to have had jobs in record shops and become a DJ — because if you like your work, then it’s not really work. I’m in the shop listening to records all day and if I didn’t have the shop I’d just be at home listening to records all day. DJing and having my own record shop — I couldn’t be happier.”

Most of all, as the world opens up again Billy’s excited about returning to hauling a record trolley from airport to airport as he continues his ongoing journey by DJ to share the finest electronic music with the world. As we leave, he gives us the quote that sums up the clearly inappropriately named Mr Nasty: “There’s just something really beautiful and positive about putting people on to music, sharing music with people: it’s a real positive, spiritual thing to do.” 

* Billy Nasty’s record shop The Vinyl Curtain can be found at 47A St James’s Street, Brighton.