Following the electronic trickery of Mark Broom and James Ruskin’s Fear Ratio podcast we continue to furrow the deeper edges of electronica and techno as Autechre tour DJ, Rob Hall delivers a stunning pan-genre mix, delivered with supreme precision and aplomb. Featuring artists such as Vatican Shadow, Claro Intelecto, Shed, Girl Unit, Blawan, Lighter Thief (Mark Broom), A Made Up Sound, Cosmin TRG, Martyn, Mike Denhert and more, Rob weaves through the electronic music spectrum with the purposeful touch of a true maverick. Both challenging and booty shaking, Rob manages to blend the cerebral and dancefloor in a way that few others can.
Rob Hall’s style is unique and stems from almost 20 years of uncompromising passion for all things electronic; music and otherwise. The distinct and refreshing sound that is characteristic of Rob’s performances can be attributed to the breadth of his taste and his confidence as a selector. There is a strong element of curatorial judgment evident when you hear one of his seamless sets, yet this is seemingly at odds with the diverse and atavistic nature of the music he chooses to expound. It is nigh on impossible to pigeon hole Rob, as his taste is defined not by genre, but by a highly personal capacity to edit, based on experience and his broad knowledge of production and programming. This clear but complicated stance is a product of a very specific context and associations.
Rob began his career at techno night Megatripolis held weekly at the legendary London venue ’Heaven’. His first of many appearances there was with Autechre in the summer of 1992. Since then Rob has played both ends of the spectrum in the UK, from small crowds in intimate venues to huge numbers at clubs and festivals including The Orbit, Phoenix, Glastonbury, Glade, Bestival, Bloc Weekender and All Tomorrow’s Parties. Concurrently there was a steady increase in Rob’s air miles collection as he garnered an international reputation for his particular brand of technical entertainment.
Rob’s connection with the aforementioned Autechre is a long established one. They have been his most valued friends and his biggest supporters. He has played as support DJ on most of the Warp duo’s tours over the last 12 years, from their Tri Repetae album tour in 1995 (their first), through to the Confield, Untilted, Quaristice and most recently their Oversteps World tours (Europe, USA and Japan).
Back in 2001 another of Rob’s long term friends and supporters, Andrew Price of respected New York electro / techno imprint ‘Satamile’ gave him the opportunity to play a monthly residency at his weekly ‘Static’ night in New York. This was the impetus that drove forward solo US tours, eventually hitting Miami, Seattle, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Detroit and Chicago with his shifting, pulsing styles.
Rob has contributed to numerous productions, remixes and live sets as part of the Gescom project; a collective that includes a diverse range of producers, from Autechre and Mego artist Russell Haswell to Skam Records’ Andy Maddocks, Darrell Fitton (Bola), and Mike Williamson (Made). This grouping is also the backbone to the highly revered and respected Skam Recordings, (www.skam.co.uk) the label where Rob worked as part of a small but dedicated team, consistently releasing interesting and innovative electronic music to great acclaim.
Rob has also actively promoted and been resident DJ at numerous club events in Manchester since 1995; contributing to the collective spirit that drove the scene forward in his home city. A desire to promote the music he admires and respects lead to invitations for artists like Aphex Twin, Plaid, Boards of Canada, Squarepusher, and Berlin's Pole, to play in Manchester, often for the first time.
In 2007 Rob embarked on an ambitious project, to record and release, via free download, a year long collection of 12 very personal DJ mixes, each one only available for that month. A series that was highly acclaimed by the thousands of people who eagerly downloaded them each month before they disappeared into the ether.
Robs’ style, though specific, encompasses a broad spectrum of what would be elsewhere classified as genres. As such, despite being incredibly selective, he is open and receptive to new patterns and sounds in music. Similarly, new technologies are consumed; digital DJ interfaces have allowed Rob to diversify and expand upon the range of audio and technique he employs to deliver the well calibrated sets for which he has become acclaimed.
Tracklist EPM Podcast 36 – Rob Hall
01. Vatican Shadow. - Church Of All Images (Regis Remix). < Blackest Ever Black >
02. Forward Strategy Group. - Elegant Mistakes. < Perc Trax >
03. Martyn. - Red Dancers. < Monkeytown >
04. Mike Denhert. - M10. < Fachwerk >
05. Claro Intelecto. - Control. < Delsin >
06. Dark Sky. - Ruk. < Monkeytown >
07. A Made Up Sound. - Take The Plunge (Beat Mix). < Amus >
08. Shed. - I Come By Night. < 50 Weapons >
09. Cosmin Trg. - Vertigo. < 50 Weapons >
10. Lighter Thief. - Like Dat (Kirk Degiorgio Remix). < Beard Man >
11. Mr 76ix. - Pod2. < Skam >
12. Native Funk. - 1980. < Night Vision >
13. Girl Unit. - Ensemble (Club Mix). < Night Slugs >
14. Wee Djs. - Fame. < Scsi:Av >
15. Peter Van Hoesen. Transitional State 2. < Time To Express >
16. Aiken. - First Balance. < M_Rec >
17. Blawan. - Peaches (Coronation). < Clone Basement Series >
18. A Made Up Sound. - Malfunction (Despair). < 50 Weapons >
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Q&A with Rob Hall
1.Please give us a quick run through the mix. Why did you choose these particular tracks?
I compiled a playlist of tracks from the roster of labels EPM looks after or works with and then compiled the tracks one at a time based on which track was the best fit to the previous one. I also kept an ear on how the journey was unfolding and factored that broader sense of where I’d like the journey to go into to my choices. I had hoped to have a better balance of old and new in the end, but I'm liking a lot of new music at the moment so I ended up focusing mostly on that.
2.What is it about Manchester and electronic music?
I can’t speak for the musical heritage of an entire city, besides we already have someone who does that job in Manchester, his name is John Robb ;-). To be honest, geography and local pride don’t factor in too much for me, too restrictive. Good tunes come from all over the place, including Manchester, but I'm just as fond of the electronic music that came from Sheffield or Detroit.
3.Is there an art to playing ‘electronica’ without loosing the dancefloor?
Definitely, although there is an art to playing pretty much any style of music and keeping the attention of the people on the dancefloor. Having a balance of good taste and a good judgement of pace and energy is mostly what sets apart a good DJ and a bad DJ.
4.What has been your involvement in the Gescom project?
I'd say 'some involvement', yeah, I'd say that was a fair description, I might be overplaying it a bit though. I do that.
5. If you had to pick a moment whilst on tour with Autechre after all these years what would it be?
Impossible, too many, spend a day with me and I might recount a few tales of touring, I do that too. I've noticed I laugh a lot when I am on tour. Real belly laughs and tears!
6.Have you ever thought of setting up a music blog?
The idea of me writing about music and getting mixes from people is so funny. I rarely read music journalism, and I almost never listen to recordings of mixes or podcasts by anyone to be honest. I prefer to hear DJs live in a room full of people in real time as it is happening.
7.Rob and Sean from Autechre sign up to present a new children’s TV show based on ‘Cheggers Plays Pop’. What would be the theme tune?
Eh? Dunno, maybe Anvil Vapre?
8.What will you do when you hang up your headphones?
I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.
9.Which new artists are currently catching your ear?
Anyone who is making post-dubstep or bass-techno, or neo-house. I like hyphenated genres best! I'm always riding the cutting edge me. Honestly though, there’s loads of great music coming from young UK producers right now, best time in underground dance music in a long while. Tracks by some of them are included in the podcast.
10.Please give us your top 10 favourite UK electronic tracks:
No. It'll have changed by the time I narrow it down to 10.