Red Bull Music Academy – Closing Night

We say adios with one last night of Academy anthems at New York’s most talked-about new venue, Output. Brooklyn’s own Ron Morelli and his L.I.E.S. crew will open the night with an evening of ambient and experimental dance, followed by a L.I.E.S. club night with more “outsider dance” (© Ben UFO) courtesy of label cohorts Legowelt, Beautiful Swimmers, and Marcos Cabral. Meanwhile, Jersey house don Kerri Chandler, Cobblestone Jazz’s Mathew Jonson, champion selecta Mosca and the Red Bull Music Academy Allstars will be manning the decks in Room 2 for a farewell session in the finest of styles. 37 nights, 236 artists, 8000 anthems, 1 city: it was our utmost pleasure, New York, see you soon on a dancefloor in a galaxy not so far away.


Thanks to Ben UFO, the music released on L.I.E.S. (aka Long Island Electrical Systems) finally has a name: outsider dance. Run by Ron Morelli out of Brooklyn, L.I.E.S. puts out records by tried and tested mad men like Legowelt as well as new-school spectacles like Svengalisghost, Steve Moore, Delroy Edwards, and joint ventures such as Two Dogs in a House. Preserving and caring for vinyl culture, the music and ethos of L.I.E.S. equally embraces the politics of Chicago house, punk DIY, noise rock, modular synth dreams, smart art-school moves, and gut reactions. Exciting, refreshing and anything but boring, this is probably the label that the late Arthur Russell or his contemporary equivalent would like to be on.

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Welcome to the weird and wonderful world of The Hague’s Danny Wolfers. Legowelt began producing music in the early ’90s when the adolescent autistic schoolboy came in sporadic contact with the sounds of Detroit and Chicago. One night he came across a band called Unit Moebius on the radio—a punky mix of raw freaked-out lo-fi Chicago trax and deep Detroit jams. Shocked and in awe, he heard that this music came out of the very same city he lived in. Legowelt’s first vinyl for Unit’s label, Bunker Records, became an instant cult hit. From then on, Legowelt was unstoppable from tracks like “Disco Rout” to the imagined soundtracks on his Strange Life Records. Apart from collecting vintage music-making machines, Legowelt has been playing live all over the world for the past few years, often together with Orgue Electronique, the infamous Bunker Team, and most recently, Xosar.

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Beautiful Swimmers

Ari G and Maxmillion Dunbar have been sending alien dancefloors into a new orbit for a few years now, ever since their first Beautiful Swimmers single, “Swimmer’s Groove,” came out in 2009 on Dunbar’s own Future Times record label. The Washington, D.C., pair have crafted a cast-iron reputation as purveyors of cosmic-disco strangeness with their productions, remixes, and genre-crossing DJ sets, where there’s plenty of proto-house psychedelia, new-age revelation, and classic talcum-powder euphoria thrown around. Maxmillion Dunbar has pushed himself into a well-respected solo trajectory with two LPs and a bunch of EPs for labels like RVNG Intl., Ramp, and L.I.E.S., but it’s his teamwork with Ari G that really brings out the sub-aquatic humor that informs their collaborative grooves. Understanding the dynamics of crater-sized subwoofers, the duo have lent their unique aesthetic to remixes for Teengirl Fantasy, Soft Rocks, and Mo Kolours, among others. As the rest of the planet wakes up to their surreal world, they’re more than happy to continue on their wide-eyed underwater adventure.

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Marcos Cabral

When it comes to telling the story of Marcos Cabral, where does one begin? You could say he is best recognized as one-half of the DJ and production duo Runaway with disco-house maestro Jacques Renault. Before there was Runaway, though, Cabral made his mark as an artist and nightlife enthusiast in New York’s early house and techno scene, working at Syntax distribution and producing for German imprints like Trapez. After decades behind the decks and making music, Cabral is certainly showing no signs of slowing down. In addition to co-running his well-regarded label On the Prowl with Renault (and their edit sub-imprint, Party Breaks), Cabral recently launched an outlet of his own, Hamilton Dance. On top of all this hype, he’s recently released tracks on homegrown imprints such as the much-hyped L.I.E.S and the subMercer Underground Series.

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Willie Burns

This New York–based producer, label head, and DJ has been steadily doing his thing since the early ‘00s. By day Willie Burns, aka William Burnett, runs Brooklyn’s vinyl mausoleum the Thing, but by night he could be making tracks under one of several aliases. Well known for his errant DJ sets, his WTBS show on Newtown Radio, and the occasional synth-heavy beat oddity as Speculator, it’s his Willie Burns alias that has been sneakily stealing the limelight recently. As the world catches up to his leftfield proto-house stylings on labels like Ron Morelli’s L.I.E.S. and Will Bankhead’s the Trilogy Tapes, word of his ability to condense that classic-house euphoria, re-imagined for today’s global secret-warehouse scene, has spread like wow on tape, prompting an unexpected remix for Erol Alkan & Switch for last year’s “A Sydney Jook.” Combined with his output as Grackle on Legowelt’s Strange Life label, and the constant stream of top-draw 12"es on his own W.T. Records (from colorful producers such as Hunee, Sir Stephen, and $tinkworx), and it’s clear that Willie Burns is fully immersed in today’s electronic frontier.

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Bookworms is one of the many artists who have recently found a home for their outsider techno/house on Ron Morelli’s L.I.E.S. imprint. His track “African Rhythms” broke through to capture a spot on Resident Advisor’s Top 50 Tracks of 2012, but Bookworms’ history with dance music started long before that in San Francisco. It was there where he became a part of a DJ/producer crew called Solos Records. Eventually everyone moved away from the Bay Area, and Bookworms made his way to New York where he moved in with his old friend Steve Summers. This connection led him to Morelli and the aforementioned record on L.I.E.S. What comes next? That’s anyone’s guess, but if that 12" is anything to go by, we have plenty to look forward to.

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Jahiliyya Fields

Jahilyya Fields is an experimental electronic project by Staten Island native Matt Morandi. Heavily influenced by free jazz, Morandi released the Unicursal Hexagram album on Ron Morelli’s L.I.E.S. imprint last year to underground acclaim. It was new age music with a heavy amount of bite, an ambient record that demanded your attention at every turn. Morandi has always had wide-ranging tastes. He attended raves in the late ’90s with Morelli, while pursuing various band projects throughout the next decade. When Morelli was invited by Morandi to hear some of the dance tracks that he was working on, the L.I.E.S. boss was immediately drawn to the more abstract work. Those tunes, described by Morelli as “crazy, early, pulsing synthesizer music, but really jagged at the same time and totally emotional,” eventually became part of Unicursal Hexagram and have made him one of the label’s most intriguing producers (on an imprint full of them).

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Shawn O’Sullivan

Shawn O’Sullivan is a true modern-day techno maker, taking influences from as many non–dance music genres as the more obvious dancefloor cues. His work as part of Led er Est and Further Reductions may go some way toward explaining this. O’Sullivan brings a punk/noise/DIY attitude to the genre that has been called “as ungentrified as techno gets” by Spin magazine’s Philip Sherburne. The subject of that particular quote was O’Sullivan’s effort for Anthony Parasole’s the Corner imprint, a label that is keyed into the current wave of NYC imprints, like L.I.E.S. and WT, that are throwing the rules out the window. (It’s somehow little surprise that O’Sullivan has found a home on all of them in the past year or so, under his own name and with his Vapauteen alias.)

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Kerri Chandler

Kerri Chandler is a pioneer and a walking juxtaposition of the old and the new. His style and the type of music he plays have remained relatively constant for a number of years, and yet, in many ways he can be said to be one of the most innovative artists around. Growing up with a DJ dad made the club a home away from home, and Kerri stepped up to the controls at an early age. He’s done soulful US house for more than two decades, and he does it his way, New Jersey style. Also an accomplished engineer and producer, Chandler has long been interested in manipulating sound and using new technology. Reel to reel tapes, 12"s, CD turntables, and even laser beams—it seems the man could connect a car battery to a platypus and still get a good sound out of it.

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Mathew Jonson

Having stepped out on labels like Itiswhatitis, Perlon, and Minus, Mathew Jonson has stomped loudly yet elegantly through the world of techno. A piano and percussion maestro from a young age, this Vancouver native turned Berliner combines a training in musicality with proper analog outboard action, finessed with his teenage hobby of sound programming and sequencing—all with the mindset of a true club rocker. Proof of this can be found in Mathew’s live sets with his Cobblestone Jazz and Modern Deep Left Quartet ensembles, as well as in his gutsy A&R decisions for his own Wagon Repair label. He’s also an in-demand remixer, having applied his signature sound to artists as varied as the Chemical Brothers, Plaid, VCMG, Richie Hawtin, and Moby.

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Mosca could not have survived 30 years ago. His first release in 2010, the Square One EP that kick-started the Night Slugs label, was just a continuation of a long-standing love affair with all types of club music, from deep house and techno to rowdy dancehall and early grime. Mosca’s refusal to stick to one or two sounds doesn’t make life easy but there are common threads that link his work; his sense of rhythm and groove is perhaps the key, the element that stops that heavy UK bassline from weighing too much. Mosca seems to enjoy even more freedom as a DJ, his wildly unpredictable sets pitting Angolan kuduro against 2-step, or combining Wu-Tang with slow house. With national radio backing and pirate-station support from across the world, Mosca doesn’t seem to be going anywhere but forward.

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