New Amsterdam resident Jonny Nash can be called unique in his kind. Originally hailing from Scotland, Nash – who goes through life as a musician, producer and DJ – developed a passionate love for music from a very early age on. Whilst buying his first turntables at 15, getting into jungle and drum ‘n bass right after that, he found out about the beloved music from Detroit and Chicago. Though it was the time Nash moved to Japan and met revered diggers like Chee Shimizu that got him into the – as he calls it – ‘weirdo disco/italo/cosmic thing’ (“we listened to a lot of Daniele Baldelli and Beppe Loda mixes”) he’s also known for nowadays. What followed was a time full of organizing his own parties with Shimizu (‘Discossession’), meeting and digging with Tako Reyenga (Music From Memory) for ambient and new age records after he moved back to Europe in 2005 and getting schooled on how to produce from Ralf Beck in Dusseldorf later on.
Now, years later, the crowd got introduced to Nash as part of the three-headed group Gaussian Curve (together with Gigi Masin and Young Marco), as the label boss of the well-famed Melody As Truth and the guy who just put out his new album ‘Eden’. It goes without saying that it’s a great pleasure to have Nash contributing to the Liner Notes series by Red Light Radio and Sonos, which is already the 15th on the counter. “The mix reflects a combination of some recent tracks I found, plus some pieces by artists who have had a big influence on my music”, Nash says about his addition. “Whilst my productions have tended to be on a mellow side, my DJ-sets really move all over the place.” Await a broad blend of artists including Urban Tribe, Moby, Jon Hassell, Shed and Tony Drake. Jump on board and dive in.
Words: Melisa Cenik
“Other stuff on this album is slightly a hit or miss, but I love this track. Since I just moved to Amsterdam, it’s a good way to kick things off”, Nash explains about his first pick for Jon Hassell’s ‘Amsterdam Blue’. That album he refers to is The Million Dollar Hotel, released on Island / Interscope as the soundtrack for the same-titled movie with music by artists such as U2’s Bono and Tito Larriva. “The track was written as an homage to Chet Baker and then submitted to the executive producer of the soundtrack: none other than Bono himself.”
Back to Hassell, who is and has been an inspiration to Nash and many other music heads around. The American trumpet player and composer is known for developing the musical aesthetic which we now know as ‘Fourth World’, that – as they say – ‘unifies ideas from minimalism, various world music sources and his unusual electronic manipulation of the trumpet’. ‘Amsterdam Blue’ is the dazzling ambient track that suits that explanation so well. Hassell is – simply said – a true genius.
From America to Japan with Koss: the ambient alter-ego of the talented producer Kuniyuki Takahashi. “Kuniyuki is a prolific artist who really is able to turn his hand to all sorts of styles, always with great attention to detail”, Nash points out. “As Koss he has recorded seven albums up until now, and ‘Town’ is a track from the latest one named Silence”.
Koss named himself after the American company that designs and manufactures headphones and produces under more names including Forth, Frr Hive and Newwave Project. The jack-of-all-trades was born in Sapporo (Japan) and made everything in between dub techno, acid house, drum ‘n base and downtempo (electronic) music. His list of productions is endless, the same goes for his talent to give his own touch to everything he makes. “Hopefully someday in the future we get to work on music together. We have talked about it for a few years but haven't been able to make it happen quite yet”, Nash adds to that.
His quite new album “Silence” was released in 2015 on the Japanese label Mule Musiq (earlier artists releasing on the imprint were DJ Sprinkles, Culoe De Song and Lord Of The Isles amongst others). With ‘Town’ Koss touches the ambient sides of his musical diversity, whilst the piano and flute play the bigger rolls in this part.
‘Sunchemical’ is part of album "Equator", which was released by the Dutch label Staalplaat in 1995 and is a combination of several genres including dub, downtempo and ambient. Nash: “I discovered their music through a compilation on the British Final Image-label. That release is called Nightlands and features tracks from Muslimgauze and Bourbonese Qualk amongst others. After checking out their solo albums, I really got into their sound. A bit fourth worlds, a bit On-U sound system and ambient techno; whatever it is, it works well. This track sums up their sound pretty well.”
“This has been with me for a long time”, Nash admits. “My first interest in electronic music came from buying the incredible Trance Europe Express compilation series. They featured a big booklet with loads of information of all of the featured artists and this sparked my interest in so many amazing electronic producers. I bought all three, and continue to listen to them to this day.”
‘Maus Mobil’ is part of Trance Europe Express 3 by the German band that formed in 1990 and were very active in that decade of time. The group – that was based in Cologne – was mostly known for their electronic pop and leftfield electronic music. Next to that, they owned their own recording studio, St Martin Tonstudio, which was often called the Academy Of St. Martin In The Streets. The duo was often described as Germany’s most defining and versatile electronic music projects by childhood friends (who also were born on the same day) Jan St. Werner and Andi Toma. A proper blend of IDM, krautrock, disco and ambient, with a heavy dollop of analogue synth sounds topping it off. ‘Maus Mobil’ has a drum ‘n bass vibe whilst the energy in the song literally goes all over the place. Nash cleary shows his love for the genre by putting this track on. Kick-ass stuff.
As Nash already told before, he quickly got into Detroit techno right after he discovered jungle and drum ‘n bass. This track by The Detroit Escalator Co. – better known as the multi-disciplinary artists Neil Ollivierra – is part of his second album Black Buildings released on Peacefrog in 2001. Ollivierra began his career as the promotor of The Music Institute; it was known as the legendary underground after-hours club that served as the pre-release audio testing grounds for labels such as Transmat, KMS and Metroplex. Production-wise, Ollivierra put out two albums (with ‘Soundtrack 313’ being the first) and put out four EPs. For ‘Black Buildings’, he created several acrylic oil paintings – which can now be found in several homes in the US - as part of the album project. The track ‘Point Of Entry’ is a delicious cocktail of IBM, ambient, cosmic down-tempo landscapes and techno.
Nash personalizes his choice for ‘Point Of Entry’ a bit more. “Ollivierra is one of my all-time favourite producers. You immediately recognize his productions within seconds when a track of him comes on; he has such a unique and well-formed musical language. His use of percussion and atmospheric chords just hits a sweet spot for me every time.”
Whilst staying in that exact vibe of the delicious cocktail from Ollivierra, Nash puts on Bionaut’s ‘Vitagraph’. Bionaut is the alias of Joerg Burger; a German electronic musician from Cologne. After he released many EPs and the album Frugivore on Eat Raw in 1993, Burger stepped into the world of dance music with his minimalistic, psychedelic and structured sound a la Brian Eno. ‘Lush Life Electronica’ – which is the album ‘Vitagraph’ is part of – was released on Harvest in 1995. ‘‘Vitagraph’ almost sounds like Isaac Hayes’ orchestral soul’ someone on the world wide web beautifully described. Burger made his music in an avant-garde way; stylish but with an edge.
“A recent discovery here”, Nash adds to that. “I’ve been digging around for records in this style recently, which is called melodic nineties IDM and / or electronica. There's a lot of shit, but also some real gems to be found. This Bionaut album is an example of something I stumbled across.”
“Yes, before going on to make pretty awful music for car advertisements, Moby actually made some decent tracks!”. Nash surprises with his pick for Moby (Richard Melville Hall), world widely known for his more mainstream pop music nowadays. His work touches on subject such as politics, religion and veganism, but back in the days he was fully focussed on trance and house music, with the aquamix of ‘Mobility’ being one of that tracks that was released during that period of time. A peaceful gem including twinkling sounds and house pads all over. His same-titled album came out in 1990 on the American label Instinct Records and makes a crossover between (deep) house and ambient. Who would’ve thought that of Moby, right? Nash: “For me this is the choice cut on the record, however the B side features his track "Go" which went on to sell huge amount of copies and was his first major dancefloor ‘hit’.”
Nash swops the old for the new and puts on ‘Summers Gotta End Sometime’, new work from “his favourite producer out there right now”: Bruce. “His stuff sounds really fresh, is full of insane sound design and unpredictable arrangements, whilst being really musical at the same time. I buy everything he does.” Nash’s words are a shot in the rose. Bruce is part of the Bristol based label Idle Hands (run by none other than Shanti Celeste and Chris Farrell), after he released records on Hessle Audio and Livity Sound back in the days. All labels are run by artists that have a big influence on the electronic music scene nowadays, which prove the talented skills of the British producer. His sound is a combination of ambient and techno, smooth and slow yet very up-tempo. Like Kudos Records described before: “Summers Gotta End Sometime” sounds like one of those come downs where everything is serenely beautiful, before reality of life kicks in once again.” And there they said it.
“It’s pretty special”, Nash continuous. “Each of the three tracks on this EP show a different side to his work, but "Summers Gotta End Sometime" is probably my favourite. I also have to mention that the Timedance label which he releases on is fantastic. Artists like Batu, Ploy, Lurka… all these guys are making exciting, experimental club music.”
After the new follows the new. Shed, who goes by the name of René Pawlowitz, is a German produce with many aliases that might have crossed your paths. To name a few: Head High, WK7 and The Traveller are all work by the mighty producer and DJ that Pawlowitz is. Born in Frankfurt in 1975, the now Berlin-based techno artist is responsible for a sound that lays in between a fusion of funk, break-beat and techno. His work was already to be found on highly anticipated Ostgut Ton and his own imprint Soloaction Records.
‘The Praetorian’ is part of a two-tracker released in 2012 on the late 50 Waepons label after he kept Shed in the shed for nearly a year-and-a-half. The track on the A –side was a teaser for his upcoming LP and crosses everything in between IBM, experimental and ambient. A dark but yet bright no-club-music-gem that creeps along in 4/4 time at 115 beats per minute. As well-praised reviews described: “Methodical violence which is tempered by flat-out synthesizer pads that billow around them, suggesting nineties ambient at its most rose-tinted.”
Nash: “I can't actually remember where I found this track, but I’ve been sitting on it for a year or so as I really wanted to put it in a mix. I love the power behind the production, which is balanced with the lush melodic elements Shed uses. It kind of hits a sweet spot between techno, dubstep and ambient, whilst still sounding totally original. I need to check out more of Shed's stuff for sure.”
Nash takes it to Japan with Suisho No Fune (which means ‘ship of crystal’ in Japanese): a band from Tokyo that focussed around the interplay of the two guitarists and co-founders Pirako Kurenai and Kageo. Starting their career in 1999, the band quickly extended with drummer Toshihiko Isogai, bass player Doronco and Tail. Suishou No Fune have something special: their music is largely improvisatory twin guitar explorations including vocals. Result? Jamming with legendary guitarist Keiji Haino multiple times and having toured the US and Europe a lot in the last couple of years. Their sound is often described as a mixture between psychedelic / space / noise rock and progressive shoegaze, which is exactly what is heard in their ‘Cherry’ (part of their album from 2005, released on Japanoise Records). “The original version of this track appears on the 2008 album ‘Prayer For Chibi’, however it has been completely re-recorded for a forthcoming release on Apparition Records”, says Nash. “It’s actually a label run by two friends of mine from London. The version I have included on this mix is the Apparition-version, which is scheduled for a release later this year.”
CS + Kreme is the musical marriage of Conrad Standish and Sam Karmel, both hailing from Melbourne, Australia. Up until now, the two men have only put out one release, which is this Liner Notes's 'Kreme' that saw the light in 2016. Standish and Karmel perfectly know how to create their own sound which is a reflection of leftfield electronics, ambient and electro. 'Devotion' is the first track on the 12" that was put out on the label Total Statis and gives ultra-dreamy, deep, cinematic and downtempo vibes. Nash: “I first heard their music when I played a live show alongside CS & Kreme and Wilson Tanner at Melbourne's Fairfield Amphitheatre in 2015, and I’ve been a fan ever since. The combination of 808, live bass and Conrad Standish's vocals works so well. ‘Devotion’ is probably my favourite track from their 2016 release on Total Stasis, their only release so far that I am aware of actually.”
Back to Detroit with Tony Drake, a mysterious producer from Detroit with only one album out there: ‘Texture’. Though ‘To Touch You’ is part of a bigger compilation named ‘Time: Space’, released by Derrick May’s legendary Transmat label back in 1999. The experimental techno imprint put out this 12-tracker with Tony Drake amongst artists like Microword, The Detroit Escalator Co., The Vanisher and May himself. Drake’s ‘To Touch You’ is a downtempo, ambient electro track with synths and 808’s included. Nash: “Drake is a bassist from Detroit, who was part of Derrick May's travelling band Hi Tech Soul alongside Aril Brikha, John Beltran and Neil Olliviera. His only release Texture has some great moments and is again a nice synthesis of Detroit techno with ambient and minimal touches. My favourite Tony Drake track however, is this one. The ”Time : Space" compilation was sort of an attempt to showcase the more ‘mellow’ side of the label and is well-worth checking out.”
A proper way to close off a mix with none other than Urban Tribe: the alias of DJ Stingray aka Sherard Ingram. Ingram is one of the most uncompromising producers and selectors and is known for playing his electro records at unbelievably fast speed, though with his Urban Tribe-project Ingram gets more on the slow side of things. His first ever releases were issued on Carl Craig’s labels Retroactive and Planet E, but he also signed with Mo Wax, where he released an EP in 1996. It was two years later that Ingram put out his full-length debut album The Collapse Of Modern Culture’ in collaboration with Carl Craig, Kenny Dixon Jr. (aka Moodymann) and Anthony Shakir, where ‘Nebula’ is part of. Nash on his last record: This album has been on repeat of late; perhaps it is a fitting soundtrack to the Brexit / Trump era we’re in at the moment. I just love the production on this record and the use of vocal and sax samples. It’s so raw and full of energy, like it’s some twisted interpretation of ‘trip-hop’. I've got so many favourite tracks from this release, but I keep coming back to ‘Nebula’ as a real genius piece of smudged out music.”