Often referred to as a veteran of London nightlife, Andy Blake’s commitment to his craft is undisputed.
His long-term loyalty to the scene connects him with an impressive list of promoters, DJs and venues, creating a network that stretches far beyond the south London home of his own party, World Unknown. Blake’s record collection is a varied and invaluable archive, reflecting the interests of someone who has spent time, money and energy over many years. For this YouTube session he explores the vast catalogue and related tracks of Miami-based house label, Murk Records.
To create a playlist with such a strong combination of classics and hidden gems is testament to his dedication, and depicts a DJ who pays close attention to his peers. Kick back and read on, then catch him in action at Varkala Festival, 12-14 August just outside London.
“Most DJs seem to have an artist or label that, for them, sums up some kind of essence of house music. For me it’s Murk – Ralph Falcon and Oscar Gaeten – and all their related associates, aliases, labels and remixes.
Basslines for days, the sultry and sweaty sleaze factor ramped up to 11 a hell of a lot more than most can manage, plenty of plaintive soulful brilliance in the lyrical content, and vocal performances both male and female, and, maybe most importantly, those soul-shredding open hi-hats. Fierce, gritty, rasping and straight to the point every time they make an appearance.
I reckon I’ve got over a hundred of their 12″s – not including the all-important doubles that you really need to properly get your murk on. I’m always hearing ones I don’t know and remembering ones that I still haven’t got round to picking up, even now, all these years on. This ten could easily have been fifty, or more.” – Andy Blake
1. The Fog – Been a Long Time
We may as well start with a bona fide, across the board classic. This one has been remixed and reissued many many times, but for me, the original vocal and dub have everything needed to turn a dancefloor upside down and inside out, especially when wound in and out of each other for a while.
2. Bugged Out – Deep Double Acid
Mid-90s acid with a killer tension/release build up at the front end. Not one I play all the time, but massive every time I do.
3. Hex – Tricky Jazz (Techno Dub)
The vocal is a really cool, skippy, swingy hip-house joint but the dub goes somewhere else entirely. Hypnotic in the extreme, and a big tune for plenty of DJs over the last quarter century.
4. Pequena Habana – Slammin
This rocket ride of a track keeps on layering up from the get-go, a huge World Unknown peak time monster back at the Loughborough Junction arch. I had it in my bag for a warehouse gig at Hope Works in Sheffield last weekend, played for 3.5 hours and somehow didn’t get round to playing it. Listening to it now I feel very very daft, note to self time…
5. Beloved – Rock To The Rhythm Of Love Remix
Equally adept on remix duties as on their own material, this one shows them working toward the more subtle end of the scale.
6. Mission Control – Outta Limits
“Deep” is a word that gets bandied about a fair bit, and fairly often without much cause, but this is an occasion where it’s the perfect description. One of a number of occasions where the chaps fuse Tim Leary’s breathy LSD instructionals, a soulful vocal hook and the rest of the Murk toolkit to devastating effect.
7. Dsr – Exhume
Another one deserving of the “d” word. If aliens made house music it could very well sound like this.
8. Karen Pollack – You Can’t Touch Me
They’ve got a real way of working with chopped up vocal snips, and here they combine that skill with a really good vocal performance to great effect. There are a bunch of slightly varying remixes of this one, and I have such trouble deciding which one I like best that I tend to bounce a few of them together for an extended workout.
9. Erasure – The Moon The Stars, Murk Monster Mix
Definitely a wee bit brash, but sometimes that’s just what’s called for. Big room sound factory-style sonic shock and awe, that causes as much trouble in a sweaty red light basement as it does in a big festival arena.
10. Dee Lite – Pussy Cat Meow
That chopped up vox trick again, a big rubbery b-line and Lady Miss Kier meowing. Not much to fault there, then…
Andy Blake plays Varkala Festival, 12-14 August at Park View Farm, Reading. More info here.