Billboard 12 October 2002
Oct 12 2002
James Lavelle discusses the Global Underground 023 Barcelona mix in the October 12 2002 issue of Billboard.
Lavelle Helms Latest Global CD, By Craig Roseberry
At 28, James Lavelle is an established underground cult hero. The tireless producer/remixer/DJ is also the founder of Mo'Wax Records, which helped launch the careers of DJ Shadow and South—as well as U.N.K.L.E., Lavelle's own side project.
On Oct. 15, Global Underground U.K.—handled by Studio Distribution in North America—issues Lavelle's 023 Barcelona, the latest installment in its trailblazing Global Underground DJ-mixed series. According to Lavelle, who is managed/booked by Shane Egan of London-based David Dorrell Management, Barcelona was the ideal setting for this two-disc set.
"For a European city, Barcelona is far more progressive and forward-thinking musically," Lavelle explains."The people are very passionate about music and respond to a much more experimental or daringly original sound.
"They idolize DJs like Carl Craig and Richie Hawtin," he continues. "So I felt it would be the perfect location for me to create a musical experience or journey that captures the energy of the club environment while still being a pleasurable listening experience at home."
Taking cues from mentors like Norman Jay and Gilles Peterson, as well as the classic sound-system style of early Soul II Soul and the Wild Bunch (which later evolved into Massive Attack), 023 Barcelona finds Lavelle constructing a haunting, vibrant, and expansive cacophony that echoes the gritty underground pulses of London's famed West End.
The set seamlessly traverses a heady arsenal of intergalactic grooves, where underground hip-hop meets breaks and funk and soul are funneled through a panorama of house, dub, and just about anything else that makes a body move.Throughout, Lavelle captures the subversive and adventurous energy of his weekly DJ residency at London's Fabric club.
"My style is all about creating a theme or mood that builds coherently," James offers. "I just fill my [record] crate with whatever great music I receive or buy, because I know it will work for me. I'm not into the whole 'trainspotting' aspect of DJ culture.At the end of the day, it's about the quality of music you play and how you sequence the various records to communicate with your dancefloor."
Disc one of 023 Barcelona is laced with introspective and pensive hip-hop-inflected grooves and builds to an upbeat, breakbeat-driven sonic assault, featuring tracks from DJ Shadow, Leftfield, Layo & Bushwacka!, Sasha, and Daft Punk's Thomas Bangalter. Disc two is more explosive and unpredictable, representing the peak period of one of Lavelle's DJ sets.Opening with a decidedly acidic and percussive tribal sound (Pitch Black's "Underground Sound"), the masterful Lavelle effortlessly switches musical gears, paving the way for trance, progressive house, and abstract experimental rock (courtesy of Hybrid, Lee Burridge, and Doves).
"Our goal is to enlighten and expose Global Underground's consumer base to James' longstanding musical lineage and incredibly diverse sound," Global Underground U.S. label manager Chris Barbour acknowledges. "At the same time, we'll be introducing the series, as a whole, to his fan base."
According to Barbour, Global Underground's goal is to "consistently expose audiences to the wide array of unpolluted and forward-thinking dancefloors from around the globe. And James' set completely encapsulates that vision. This compilation truly pushes the envelope and breaks new boundaries for us, and we intend to market it with that same eclectic and unique spirit on many fronts."
To illustrate this point, Barbour points to a limited-edition long-box package—containing a bonus DVD (the short film James Lavelle: An Eccentric Englishman, capturing the artist's trip to Barcelona)—that will also be available. Barbour says consumers will also be reminded of Lavelle's first beat-mixed set, Fabriclive: James Lavelle, which Studio released in the U.S earlier this year. Special "radio-play" mixed CDs will be serviced to college, commercial alternative, and mix-show radio. Globalunderground.co.uk will also offer special musical mixes, as well as interviews with Lavelle.
Barbour says Global Underground intends to increase Lavelle's visibility in the U.S. market by "connecting all the dots" of his career. According to Graham Ryan, manager of record shop/café Halcyon in Brooklyn, N.Y., 023 Barcelona should easily increase the scope of Lavelle's fan base."James is a well-respected veteran," he says."His early Mo'Wax releases were classic, and U.N.K.L.E. and DJ Shadow were breakthrough records for him. With this new collection, Lavelle could easily become the next big DJ."