Brandt Brauer Frick photo by Hans Martin Sewcz
Mix includes tracks from Theo Parrish, Machinedrum, Thundercat, Jan Jelinek etc.
STREAM: Cosmin TRG – “Echolab Disaster”
Cosmin TRG’s “Echolab Disaster” is one of eight exclusive tracks that appear on Brandt Brauer Frick’s DJ-Kicks mix. The track was pressed onto custom dubplate vinyl in order to be included on the mix, which was recorded live during a day session at Berlin’s famed Watergate club.
Daniel Brandt elaborates: “I met Cosmin through the Red Bull Music Academy, and we have been talking about various collaborative projects ever since. I was always into his rough sound and he’s a great DJ. That’s why we asked him to do a track for the Kicks, and the track he delivered was a perfect tune to have in the harder section of the mix. It also is the perfect follow up for the Bok Bok & Tom Trago track before it, to level up the energy even more, and mixes very well with the MMM track afterwards.”
More about the release:
There’s a common thread that runs through all of Brandt Brauer Frick’s music. It is this: interesting things happen at the interface of machine and hand-made music. The Berlin trio’s 2010 album, ‘You Make Me Real’, fused techno and classical. The 2011 follow-up, ‘Mr Machine’, saw them go the whole classical-meets-club hog with a ten-piece ensemble playing dance music live. Then, earlier this year, came ‘Miami’, a darker, more song-based collection exploring the same man-machine ideas.
The Berlin trio’s installment of the DJ-Kicks series does the same thing with a mix. Not for them the algorithmic rigidity of cutting and pasting tracks together on Ableton. They recorded the mix in one day, out of hours at Berlin’s legendary Watergate club, using only vinyl and dub plates. “We didn’t want to record it in our studio or at home, mainly because we preferred an intense session with limited time,” explains Paul Frick. “That feels more like a unique situation and it enforces the tension and the necessity to do it right. Because we mixed it live there are mistakes and flaws, some rougher transitions in there. We are not super technical DJs. We like it when you hear those imprecisions because it’s human. It feels like someone is behind the mix, rather than a computer.”
It’s a hugely inventive set, ranging from the deep house of ‘Electric Alleycat’ by Theo Parrish to classic techno in the form of ‘Transition’ by Galaxy 2 Galaxy and the post-dubstep / post-drum’n’bass / post-everything of ‘Now U Know Tha Deal 4 Real’ by Machinedrum. Daniel Brandt, Jan Brauer and Paul Frick started putting the mix together with a mammoth listening session. Each member brought in 25-30 tracks. They listened to all of them and chose the ones they all agreed on. A number of tracks were re-edited, for example ‘Australaborialis’ by Inkswel, where they extended the outro, looping it up because it fitted beautifully with Theo Parrish ‘Electric Alleycat’. All the tracks that they didn’t have on vinyl (because they hadn’t been released yet) they took to a cutting room in Berlin and had dubplates made.
One of the key themes is mixing 4/4 beats with more broken rhythms, such as the aforementioned Machinedrum ‘Now U Know Tha Deal 4 Real’. “That track is really special because it reminds me of the old school stuff that 4hero did before drum’n’bass,” says Daniel Brandt. “It’s not dub step, it’s not drum’n’bass, it’s not house, it’s not anything clear, but it has a really interesting approach.” The heart of the mix is ‘Transition’ by Galaxy 2 Galaxy feat. Atlantis, the Underground Resistence techno classic, a heady mix of rippling digital hooks, synth stabs and positive mindset lyrics. “There are several vocal tracks where the message is important to us, such as Galaxy 2 Galaxy,’ says Jan Brauer. “It’s got a very existential and positive message. It expresses perfectly something that we feel but which we could never have expressed ourselves. William Onyeabor ‘Better Change Your Mind’ is another track like that. It’s very different to what we do, but the message is totally how we feel about the state of the world and politics.”
Brandt Brauer Frick wrote three songs for the mix: ‘Bommel’, ‘Out Of Tash’ and ‘Hugo’, the last being exclusive. At the same time, five other artists also wrote tracks for the album: Dollkraut ‘Rollercoaster’, Le K ‘Abraz’, James Braun & Troels Abrahamsen ‘Wooden Knuckles’, Glenn Astro ‘How I Miss You’ and Cosmin TRG ‘Echolab Disaster’. Speaking about ‘Hugo’, the band say: “We’re known for using acoustic instruments, but there are lots of synthesisers in our music too. The main element in all the three tracks we wrote for the mix is a synth. ‘Hugo’ is something made for the dancefloor. Often we don’t think about the dancefloor at all, but that one we did.”
“I definitely think the mix shows a different side of us,” continues Paul Frick. “I think people will be surprised. When we started out we used to get compared to Steve Reich. You might expect a mix from us to contain a lot of minimal experimental music.” That said, Frick also thinks the mix also has a lot in common with their previous work. “Some songs are certainly very different from what we do, things we would love to express, but can’t or don’t want to do it the way it’s done in these songs,” he continues. “But actually you can hear a lot of elements that are similar to something we did or will do, but in our songs we mostly look for different sound aesthetics and would combine that element with something else. And the switch between 4/4 kicks and more broken beats is something we do a lot, on our records and on this mix.”
After all the conceptualizing, perhaps most importantly of all, the end result is that rare thing: a dance floor mix full of emotion. Interesting things happen when humans and machines meet.