The PAN artist recalibrates club music.
Lee Gamble views club music a bit differently than most people. At the tail end of 2012, he released two full-lengths—Diversions 1994-1996 and Dutch Tvashar Plumes—that marked him as a producer whose past dance-floor experiences influenced his work in strange and imaginative ways. On Diversions 1994-1996 this meant sampling his collection of jungle mixtapes in order to "extract, expand upon and convey particular qualities emblematic of the original music." The result was a collection of anxious ambient pieces where the jungle template was stripped of its beats and the uneasy atmospherics were amplified. Dutch Tvashar Plumes, meanwhile, was an intriguing mash of techno and avant-garde electronics. The record showed Gamble capable of building complex soundscapes out of sonic bric-a-brac. Both records were put out on Bill Kouligas's PAN, a label whose cerebral approach to the release and presentation of electronic music was a snug fit for Gamble. This week, the label will release his fourth album, KOCH. "I tried to make a record that allowed me to explore what I do more fully," says Gamble below. KOCH is recognisably his work, but its drums hit just a little bit harder, and its textures burrow just a little bit deeper.
It's both surprising and gratifying that Gamble's DJing feels like an extension of his music, something he shows emphatically on RA.433. It's a disorientating session that eschews linearity, not so much a journey as a stumble through a hall of mirrors—look out for sound effects, locked grooves, edits and dubs along the way.
What have you been up to recently?
I've been working on my live set and a live A/V set with Dave Gaskarth, who has made the videos to my PAN releases to date. DJing out and doing my monthly NTS radio show, also cooking when I get time! And trying to take in a healthy amount of news without it completely beating me up. Art/music can be a great form of escapology from the "real world," but I never want to stray into a blind faith in anything.
How and where was the mix recorded?
It was recorded at home in North London on two 1210 MK2s I have had for many years, one Pioneer CDJ850, a Numark CDMix2 and a Vestax mixer. I made a few versions over a week, then ran through the final a few times so that I could catch it in a live take.
Can you tell us about the idea behind the mix?
As always, my approach to DJing (in a club or not) is contextual. I never play stuff I don't like to work a room, but I'm aware of the role of a DJ, so I also look to move into different music types that hopefully work at that given time or in the particular place I'm playing in. So, with this mix, I kind of tried to make something that included some of the music I have been influenced by, and also how that has translated into newer stuff which I'm into and can use as a DJ in a club setting. Trying to get some of these influences in there (also from different time periods) but keeping it still (in some ways) like a set you could play in a club—that's the trick for me.
I also wanted it to feel "live"—in the sense of clashing things that aren't necessarily made to be mixed together, which I like to do when DJing. I generally have a rough idea of stuff I might want to play when I go to a club, but like the idea of that changing dependent on the mood of the place at the time. So there is electroacoustic music, early and modern computer music, '90s UK bleep stuff, '00s electronica, house, techno, new drum & bass…
Tell us about your new album. How long were you working on it, and what was the creative process like?
KOCH and the Kuang EP are made up of old and new music I've made over the past few years. Some of it was made well before Diversions or Tvashar, some of it was made very recently. I have a lot of stuff, so for me, it's always a matter of, over time, sculpting the records together. That entails artwork, text, music, sounds and processes until it starts to feel like a "thing"—part technical, part concept, part language. If an older track fits, then I'll use it; if the record needs something I don't have, I'll make it (or attempt to). But it's the culmination of work since the first two PAN records. Hopefully it's a development on them in some way, dragging elements of those records along and introducing newer aspects, too.
KOCH is the longest record I have made. I wanted to pressure myself into doing something larger. Diversions and Tvashar were really well received, which was cool, so I thought I shouldn't hide behind them. I tried to make a record that allowed me to explore what I do more fully. If that works, that's great; if not, I take the faults on the chin and work from there.
It seems like you've found a good home for yourself at PAN. What is it about the label that suits you? Would you say PAN has affected your sound?
PAN has a holistic aspect I like and is really important to what I do. I work really closely with Bill on the artwork of these records, and he trusts me to get on with what I do. So rather than "affected," I would say "allowed." Which is no less important.
What are you up to next?
Working on my live show, also working on my A/V show with Dave Gaskarth, DJing as much as possible. I have some more back-to-back sets with Ron Morelli coming up, enjoying doing my monthly NTS show, continuing to make music, writing some larger-scale works that are outside of music.