Switched On – VLSI live @ The Marquis – BUNKR & Echaskech

VLSI @ The Marquis, Dalston

by Ben Hogwood

If atmospheric electronic music is your thing, the VLSI label have it in abundance – as they demonstrated in the dark recesses of the newly refurbished space downstairs in The Marquis on Dalston High Street.

The label is run by Dom Hoare and Andy Gillham, who together are Echaskech. They positioned themselves mid-evening in a packed schedule, giving a superb set of concrete-heavy beats, fulsome bass and impressive widescreen vistas, creating urban panoramas under moody skies. The music of the duo (below) has aged with impressive surety since their arrival nearly 20 years ago, complementing their descriptive music with sharply voiced keyboards and some intricate and brilliantly realised rhythm tracks.

BUNKR – Brighton’s James Dean – is an excellent addition to the VLSI roster, and his headline set was notable for its creators energy and passion at the controls. As with Echaskech, he makes descriptive music of real substance, and if anything his viewpoint has a wider perspective. He does this through spacey keyboards and sonorous melodic lines, while the beats were reassuringly solid once again. Dean’s live tweaking served up a treat to remind us how good his two albums for the label – The Initiation Well and Graveyard Orbit – really are. The evening at the Marquis was ideally paced, punctuated by involving and stimulating DJ sets from just b & Rossscco, alternating deep breakdowns with bigger, rolling beats.

This was an invigorating night, punters wreathed in smiles as they enjoyed the darkly tinged music and celebrated the creativity of a label that deserves to go a long way. Make sure you have a listen to their latest offerings below – including music from Octavcat, who also made a strong impression at the night but unfortunately Arcana was not on hand to tell you how much!

Switched On – Awamu Together festival

A nod in the direction of the Awamu Together festival, due to take place over the long weekend of 29-31 July 2022. All profits from the festival go directly to the Awamu charity’s work with vulnerable women and children in Kampala, Uganda, which explains the festival hashtag, #fundraving!

Together 2022 will once again be set on a farm surrounded by the Chiltern hills, with the location made available to ticket holders nearer the time.

The line-up is tempting to say the least, with – among many others – Echaskech, BUNKR, Steve Cobby and Alucidnation all confirmed. The instruction on the festival website is to take Monday off, with appearances from Bunty & Jomotopia, The Mauskovich Dance Band, Bill Brewster, Yidah and Tom Blip all scheduled on the Sunday.

For more information, and to buy tickets, head to the festival website

Switched On – BUNKR: The Initiation Well Remixed (VLSI)

reviewed by Ben Hogwood

What’s the story?

BUNKR’s album The Initiation Well proved to be one of the sleeper electronic hits of 2019, showing off the ability of Brighton’s James Dean to present an album of really well thought out electronica.

Now as a companion piece he has commissioned an album’s worth of remixes, with eight very different interpretations ranging from Digitonal to preston.outatime.

What’s the music like?

Both calming and invigorating, in equal measure. The collection is presented in a logical order, so we begin with a dreamy Digitonal remix of For The Birds, setting the scene beautifully as the track is left in suspension, bisected by a soft piano.

Fujiya & Miyagi do a typically fuzzy take on Solitary Drift, with added flutter and distortion that suits it really well – and their own half-whispered vocals. Octavcat then ensure Solar Wings takes off with its broad chords and busy rhythm.

The upfront, block beats of preston.outatime take Left For Dust to a tougher dancefloor, while Jonathan Krisp gets some acidic squiggles going against the slow moving backdrop of The Initiation Well itself. East Of Eden acquires more bleeps and movement, a really nice glitchy bit of techno applied by Lextron, while the remix of Docking Procedure finds Infinite Scale going under the surface with a head-nodding bit of dub. Finally label heads Echaskech apply their typically robust beats to a heady remix of Left For Dust.

Does it all work?

Yes. Importantly this set of remixes works as an album too, such is the intelligent arrangement of different tempos, textures and beats. All the BUNKR originals are complemented but remain recognisably the work of Dean himself.

Is it recommended?

Very much so. If you liked the original album you’ll find this imaginatively realised remix collection complements it perfectly.