Over the years I’ve occasionally stepped away from the music blog to DJ at various festivals and parties. To be honest, there’s nothing worse than a new music blogger DJing. The dance floor isn’t the place for discovery. That’s why, in about 99% of the cases when I’ve stepped up to the decks I’ve not used the name Breaking More Waves and tried to do something different away from the blog and all other DJs.
This explains why I once went under the name DJ Hojo Hits (a ‘tribute DJ’ in a big wig and leopard print suit who originally played nothing but the hits of 80’s synth pop star Howard Jones) to the Sunday Best Forum Allstars (a collaborative effort bringing together a bunch of strangers off the internet and seeing what happens). Then there's my latest and most favourite project to date – Birdsong DJs – which is essentially an ambient DJ set allowing me to play the likes of Nils Frahm, Max Richter, The Orb, Brian Eno as well as tracks that stretch way longer than would normally be allowed - this year at Bestival I opened with a 45 minute piece of gentle French-synth ambient music. Over the top of the largely instrumental tracks I add lots of birdsong - which sounds especially effective when played in the heart of a forest.
At Bestival this year my quiet 'tweets-not-beats' set on the Thursday night set at The Frozen Mole stage created a quiet and relaxed space away from the carnage and full on dance party madness around the rest of the site. It was the only time I’ve ever DJ’d where I’ve had people come up to me and ask me what the tracks I was playing were called and thanking me for what they described as a beautiful moment. What started as a bit of a joke ended up being very special.
Which leads me on to Erland Cooper. Earlier this year Erland released Solan Goose, his beautifully calm and meditative album formed through and inspired by the landscapes and nature of the Orkney Isles and in particular the birds of the island. Its timing was perfect; two tracks on the record, namely Maalie and the title track now form some of the core of the DJ Birdsong set. If you haven’t heard this album yet, I’d recommend finding some time and quiet space to listen to it.
Now Cooper returns for autumn with what he describes as his late-night studio experiment. The Nightflight EP is an electronic reworking of the tracks Solan Goose, Cattie-Face and Shalder. From Orkney’s Simmer Dim (twilight), Grimleens (half-light) to Mirk (deep darkness) all three tracks are stunning. Taking graceful ambience as their starting point each track evolves into something painted with techno beats and electronic splashes of mind-melting colour. Fans of Jon Hopkins will no doubt approve, the EP possessing the same sort transcendent beauty, even when the pummelling gets hard, as it does on Mirk ,which sounds as if it’s heading towards destruction.
I’m already thinking of using one of these tracks to close out future DJ Birdsong sets. Play the EP for the up moments and then come back to earth with the Solan Goose album.
Simmer Dim (Video)