“SONG FOR EWE” is the feature where artists & music people beloved by VELVET SHEEP choose an obscure song they’ve been listening to that day. Today’s guest is very exciting indeed. My interest was piqued and my ears originally pricked for the sounds of ace DJ/producer Daniel Avery when he was endorsed by my DJ hero (and his too I suspect) Andrew Weatherall (much missed). Having seen the tweets during the recent Tim Burgess Listening Party for “Drone Logic”, an album I voraciously snaffled on vinyl complete with “Divided Love Two” mixtape, it transpires that handing Weatherall a CD-R of the song “Drone Logic” and then finding out it had been a hit when “he called me the next morning: “That thing you gave me… it was the biggest record of the night” was a real game changer for Daniel Avery.
The noise well and truly flies high. He got signed to Phantasy Sound via similarly cracking track “Need Electric” and with similar kindred spirit (as much punk as technohead) Erol Alkan at the controls, a classic was born, on the floors of Fabric, on the carpeted floors of my suburban semi and in the wider, rougher hewn world outside.
It’s possibly my age but I am a sucker for the 303, for Acid House, for Phuture Trax, Warp Records, LFO, “Testone”, “Let’s Get Brutal”, Forgemasters and A Guy Called Gerald. Avery encompassed them all, with the relentless drive of Alkan and the pure vibes of Weatherall. I was sold for sure, making sure I downloaded (for money, since I am Gen X) Gabe Gurnsey remixes, Audion remixes, Perc remixes, Avery remixes of Audion – you name it, plus I made sure I got his studio partner in crimes Ghost Culture stuff too. Daniel Avery’s name was a jumping watermark of quality.
2018’s “Song For Alpha” was more ambient lo-frequency oscillation than the Sheffield warehouse vibes of “Drone Logic” but it was a cipher of Avery’s agility, and a nod to his longevity. Not just a great DJ, a top notch album artiste with a true identity, a rarity in electronica.
Pre-Covid this year, it was exciting enough that Avery had announced a collaborative album with Alessandro Cortini (the Nine Inch Nails keyboardist/guitarist/bassist who Avery had toured the US with) – which was full of blissful ambient dreamscapes, but then post Lockdown we had the (welcome) surprise announcement that there was a new drop – the “Love + Light” album, recorded only weeks previously and released quicker than expected because given what we’ve all crashingly realised – life is too short.
It was a strobe light in a tunnel we haven’t found the end of yet, but it’s a baked-in classic that provides moments of reflection and sparks of freneticism. I’ve been aiming to get a “song for ewe” from our man for a while, and the stars have happily collided, so I’m mega chuffed to welcome to Velvet Sheep – Daniel Avery!
Here’s a banger that is a real pivot point of “Love + Light” – “Dream Distortion”.
It’s fair to say that “Love + Light” falls firmly between the two stalls/two squalls of “Drone Logic” – with up tempo, indignantly furious bangers like insistent double header “Searing Light, Forward Motion” and “Infinite Future”, and the righteous and beauteous ambient moments redolent of “Song For Alpha” like the appropriately named “After The Fire” or “Katana” which with its wobbling undercurrent is a kissing cousin to “Projector”.
As a result of this being a techno tale of two cities, it’s an album about the best of times and the worst of times, befitting of circa:now. I was keen to find out which side of the yin and yang Daniel’s song choice would fall, and it’s veered towards the quiet rather than the riot, but this truly is a tune with a tale, with a sting in the tail. Without further ado, this is Daniel Avery’s “song for ewe”…
“Akira Yamaoka – Laura Plays The Piano
I love an underdog story. In the late 90s the Japanese video game developer Konami formed a group of previously under-performing employees which would become known as Team Silent.
Following the zeitgeist of the time, the group were tasked with creating a horror game that would sell well to mainstream western audiences. Team Silent, however, wanted to do things in their own style and after one too many arguments, Konami stopped wasting their energies and pushed the team to one side.
This decision ultimately meant that the band of misfits could follow their leftfield vision to create a quiet, atmospheric piece of psychological horror called “Silent Hill”.
The team was understaffed but each member used their inexperience to their advantage, namely in the case of composer Akira Yamaoka who had previously only worked as a sound designer but was able to create a score that was truly memorable and affecting.
“Silent Hill” was a surprise hit and Konami upped the budget and scale for the game’s sequel, allowing the team even more artistic freedom. “Silent Hill 2″ is considered a modern classic and its soundtrack, from which this piece is taken, a defining masterpiece from an artist unwilling to deviate from his vision.”
THANKS SO MUCH DANIEL!
“Love + Light” is available now digitally via Phantasy Sound (with physical copies to follow on 16th October) and you can get it here.
I’ll leave you with my favourite of the album, the descriptively monikered “Searing Light, Forward Motion”…
Here’s a “song for ewe” by someone who has worked with Avery, the equally brilliant Gabe Gurnsey (Factory Floor)…