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Heineken Starlight: UNKLE, Benjamin Damage
October 21 2016 - October 22 2016
Described once as the Hunter S. Thompson of DJs, James Lavelle’s career has spanned the last 18 years, and at 32 he remains as individual a figure in contemporary music as he was as a teenager, when he first gate-crashed his way in with the genre-shattering MoWax records. Back then he was obsessed with early street culture, DJing with Gilles Peterson at That’s How It Is (the legendary club which lasted over 10 years), working with the visionary designer Nigo on Bathing Ape, and launching a label in MoWax. Now he divides time between his internationally-renowned DJ career, his UNKLE act with singer/producer Richard File, and a brand new independent set-up: Surrender- All, which combines music, fashion and art.
The DJing takes him to clubs like Womb in Tokyo and Fabric in London (which he was resident for 5 years) and he has been involved in working with designer Antonio Berardi. UNKLE are readying their third album after the international success of ‘Psyence Fiction’ and its follow-up, ‘Never Never Land’. And Surrender is a new creative centre that connects everything Lavelle is interested in – a record label, a studio, a clothing line– to one, independently-run axis. “There’s a whole new set-up. Trying to keep everything as simple as possible,” says Lavelle bursting as ever with ideas.
“Benjamin Damage is the innovative UK techno producer who became a key part of Modeselektor’s 50 WEAPONS imprint back in 2010. It was a partnership which spanned half a decade, ending only alongside the closure of the label late last year.
His 2013 debut solo album “Heliosphere” received rave reviews and featured “010x”, described by Marcel Dettmann as the ‘track of the summer’ and given the remix treatment from Robert Hood, Truncate and SCNTST. At the start of this year, the likes of The Chemical Brothers and Bestival curator Rob da Bank tipped him for great things in 2016.
As the first artist (outside of Modeselektor) to release on the label it was apt that his album “Obsidian” was also the last one on 50WEAPONS, bringing the label to a fantastic close…
“[Damage] lays down a grave beat that, Shed-like, toggles around reverberating 4/4 and breakbeat rhythms. Pads, bass patterns and lead synths slowly emerge from the rumble, configuring in ways that riff on early-’90s hardcore and the mind-bending melodicism of IDM. Swaddled in layers of hiss and corroded gauze, Damage never seems to be simply rehashing the past. He instead repurposes cavernous warehouse techno as something sweet, vulnerable and, frequently, very catchy.” Resident Advisor