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by Don Crispy

Electraglide

Kraftwerk

In between Japan's massive summer trance fests and its big New Year's house parties comes a chance to take a broader look at electronic music. Launched in 2000 by Beatink–which distributes key techno label Warp in Japan and has also booked electronic acts for the Fuji Rock Festival–Electraglide this year has scored a coup by booking German techno innovators Kraftwerk.

Metropolis managed to track down English DJ/producer Andrew Weatherall–known for his work with Two Lone Swordsman and as Primal Scream producer–and asked him to characterize the influence of Kraftwerk and preview the gig, where he is booked as closing DJ.

“Hearing [Kraftwerk album] Autobahn for the first time when I was 11,” he recalled by phone from England, “was my first introduction to electronic music. Even at that early age I realized they were coming from another planet. They've been a massive influence on people's musical consciousness even if they don't realize it.”

Andrew Weatherall


The unconventional song format that ditched pop music's verse-chorus-verse orthodoxy, the minimalist vocals, the lack of a “star” persona, and most of all the synthetic vocabulary of sounds: all these are essential elements of dance music that can be traced back to Kraftwerk's pioneering innovations of the '70s.

Weatherall, meanwhile, is no slouch himself, having been one of the lynchpins of the London acid house scene before going on to remix acts like the Happy Mondays and Primal Scream. He also contributed to the development of ambient techno through his work with the Sabers of Paradise and, more recently, Two Lone Swordsmen.

Right now, however, Weatherall says he is focusing on his new label, the charmingly named Rotters Golf Club. The label has just released his new mix album, From The Bunker, which Weatherall says is “a good introduction to the label and what we do. It's pretty eclectic but with a common spine.”

The album is rather driving and upbeat in comparison to the more atmospheric work of his Two Lone Swordsmen material, and Weatherall says he'll be playing tracks off it at the cavernous Makuhari Messe venue. “I never plan sets totally,” he adds, “but it would be foolish for me not to play my product in front of 20,000 people.”

Weatherall describes his approach to DJing as follows: “I don't play my records just because they're my records. It has to feel right at the time. At Liquid Room I played for eight hours. I started with dub and ended up in techno, but with a few hours to play in front of a bigger crowd it's a different sort of set. You've got to be a bit more direct. And when you're going on as the last DJ the buildup has been done for you, so subtlety sometimes goes out the window. It will be predominantly electro and techno based.”

The DJ, who will be going on in the wee hours, says playing last has its good points. “I do actually play better when I'm a little bit tired,” he explains. “Because when you're hyped up sometimes you can get impatient, but when you're tired, you can work out where you fit in. I don't just turn up and try and stamp my identity on the gig. I'm part of an evening. With Electraglide, I'll listen to the music all night, and then maybe 30 minutes before I go on I'll start formulating a set in my mind based on what's gone before.”

Also on the bill are DJs UK house duo X-Press 2 (who recently scored a hit with the house track “Lazy” featuring ex-Talking Heads leader David Byrne), Sasha of progressive house team Sasha & Digweed, recent European house phenom Tim Deluxe, “sonic terrorist” Squarepusher and local force Y. Sunahara, both of whom will be on hand with live sets.

Electraglide takes place at Makuhari Messe on December 13. See concert listings for details.

credits: Beatink