Kirk Degiorgio looks back one of the most important, well-loved mixes by the Guv'nor.
The last time I saw Weatherall was at a co-promoted Machine event, where I took time out from my set to check out his room. He greeted me in his usual friendly and approachable manner. When I looked out at the dance floor it was absolutely heaving to mid-tempo, bass-heavy house chuggers. This was serious business.
But it wasn't always about the dance floor. One of the early examples of how Weatherall achieved acclaim by cutting against the grain was his now legendary Massive Mellow Mix, from 1993. At 90 minutes, it was the perfect length and pace for the days of sharing cassettes between mates. Like so many others, that's how I first came across the mix. Even today it's the subject of debate and track ID spotting on various forums. It has over a quarter of a million views on YouTube.
Putting the mix in its 1993 context makes it even more remarkable. This was a period when dance music was breaking into the various splinter genres that define our scene right up to the present: techno had become split between the more melodic IDM precursors and the harder European club sound of super fast distorted beats and acid. The house scene, meanwhile, was moving into the commercial phase of the mid-late '90s, with the rise of superclubs such as Ministry Of Sound, Gatecrasher and Cream. The raves and underground events where Weatherall had honed his DJ skills were on the decline, yet he managed to retain his relevance through unique musical selections such as those featured on Massive Mellow.
Weatherall's formative years at the infamous early Shoom events play an important role in this mix. It has a blissed-out, Balearic, almost ambient vibe, personified by its gorgeous opening track "Ideas For Virtual Reality" by Anaconda. With its delicate acid line, tablas and childlike chanting, it's one of those tracks that lies on the right side of hippie deepness. (The Dutch release came via the newly-formed Basic Energy label, which Weatherall may have already been watching after its banging acid debut by Nicole).
Likewise, the second track in the mix—after a beautiful segue that skilfully takes into consideration the key of the tracks—may have been on Weatherall's radar because of the newly-formed German label Klang Elektronik, where producers Wuttke & Flügel were building up a reputation for quality techno and acid under the name Acid Jesus. "Levitation," by The Primitive Painter, was the ambient side project of Acid Jesus, and became popularly known as the track that used A Guy Called Gerald's "Voodoo Ray" vocal sample. From these opening tracks it's clear Weatherall was a B-side type of DJ, somebody who was interested in the flipside of an artist's output, delving deeper into the catalogue than the surface-level hit tracks other DJs focused on.
Dave Jarvis, from Faith/Moton Records Inc., knew Weatherall from his days working at the Beggars Banquet record store in Kingston-Upon-Thames back in 1987. "Andrew would go a different way than what you would expect of him," Dave says.
This came from Weatherall's open-mindedness and eclectic tastes. Not only would he attend hardcore soulboy weekenders in his youth, but he also knew his post-punk, dub and indie. Dave continues, "Andrew played and introduced me to some great artists such as Neu!, African Head Charge and the legend Mikey Dread. He was also a massive fan of the 4AD label who were part of Beggars Banquet. Particularly The Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance and Colourbox, who covered King Tubby's 'Baby I Love You So,' which was a big reggae/dub classic and a huge favourite of Andrew's."
"Friday was always Andrew's record-buying day and we'd often spend a few hours with some tea and biscuits and Andrew's wit and humour discussing the week's new releases and playing records. I remember him buying, out of the US import box, Phuture on Trax, Smokin' Gang on Hot Mix 5 and Mike Perras's Beginning Of Life on Bassic Records."
Dave Jarvis went on to co-run labels with Weatherall and, of course, deeply misses him. For this piece he revisited the mix, one of his all-time favourites. "listening again to Andrew's Massive Mellow Mix, it struck me how brilliant and timeless this still sounds some 27 years later," he said. "I love the dub-to-breaks, the abstract, dreamy, trippy techno."
Likewise for Dispersion PR and music management honcho Dean "Bearweasel" Muhsin, who first came across the Massive Mellow Mix at age 14. "I listened to it for the first time in at least a decade last year for obvious reasons, and the thing that struck me was that, contrary to my memories, it's not all that mellow," Mushin says. "There are some genuinely intense sections and I guess that's what made it so immersive. It wasn't a set to wash over you, it was a set to properly engage with."
It was a formative mix for Muhsin, who became a huge fan of Weatherall. "I was a kid when I heard Massive Mellow Mix. At the time, most of my listening was dominated by bootleg rave tape packs, but I'd just started listening to and taping the Essential Mix and had heard Weatherall's, a brilliant, occasionally slower-paced and altogether trippier affair that really set me off on one. I remember asking some older kids about him, and I was given a copy of Massive Mellow Mix after a bit of pestering. It must have been a copy of a copy of a copy (of a copy…) as the quality of the recording was fucking terrible, but the mix was brilliant and went on to soundtrack years of bus journeys around my hometown. It was a good few years before I managed to find out the tracklist, which definitely played a role in building up both the mix and this enigmatic Weatherall character [in my head]."
Alongside more tracks from The Primitive Painter album (this heavy inclusion likely factored into the reissue of the duo's only album following Weatherall's untimely passing in 2020), were two tracks by the late Susumu Yokota under the name Ebi. Both tracks come from Ebi's downtempo, psychedelic acid trance album Zen, a record that encapsulates the sound I most associate with Andrew: downtempo blissed-out acid with an edge that takes it out of the realms of clichéd trippiness and into a magical zone where you can dance—despite slow tempos—and retreat into your own private world.
Other tracks hinted at the dubby direction Weatherall was taking with his remixes and production work with Sabres Of Paradise, the trio he formed shortly before the mix was put together. Dubtribe Sound System's "Sunshine Theme" has that perfect mix of dub-influenced bass weight and sun-kissed top-line melody. Another leftfield choice is State Of Flux's downtempo, '80s synth pop-indebted "Mercury," off an EP that most DJs were buying for the acid track "O.W.G." (or in my case, the beautiful slice of European techno called "New Lanark"). One of my personal favourites on the mix is the epic "Untitled" track by Ian Pooley and Alec Empire from the Pulse Code EP—a breakbeat tune with tripped-out melodies and driving dance floor momentum, all based around a Can sample.
"We were huge fans of Andrew back then, starting with his remixes," Pooley told me. "As for the track, Alec and I have been friends since 1991, I would go frequently to Berlin and make music or DJ with him. He was booked to play live at Akademie Der Kunste and I spontaneously joined in for this track which we roughly prepared beforehand."
Other key tunes such as "Feary Tales" by The Keyprocessor and Some Other People's "Astralise" fill out the rest of the mix. It's easy to forget the approach of letting tracks play out almost in full in the current era, which sees DJs cramming dozens of tracks into short mixes for podcasts. Technology, of course, plays a part in that.
The Massive Mellow Mix, taken as a whole, is a perfect snapshot of the Weatherall signature style in the early '90s. Simple yet beautiful melodies meet heavy downtempo heavy chug, with a dark tinge of acid for mysterious colour. A deceptive mixture of intensity and delicate melody, light and shade—only a master could pull off a mix like this, with such a natural and obvious affinity for the music. We lost a one-of-a-kind artist.
Sun / 23 May 2021
 Hole In One - Spiritual Ideas For Virtual Reality
 The Primitive Painter - Levitation [Klang Elektronik - KLANG 1]
 Dubtribe Sound System - Sunshine's Theme (Sunshine's Remix) [Organico - ORG 004]
 State Of Flux - Mercury [Finiflex - FF1009]
 The Primitive Painter - Cathedral [Klang Elektronik - KLANG 1]
 Ebi - Chuu [Space Teddy - ST 007]
 Some Other People - Astralise [Infinite Mass - MASS 018 T]
 The Primitive Painter - Invisible Landscapes [Klang Elektronik - KLANG 1]
 Squid - Emprisoning Sound On A Piece Of Wax [Apollo - APOLLO 16]
 The Keyprocessor - Feary Tales [Eevo Lute Muzique - EEVO 008]
 State Of Flux - The News [Bold! Stars - BR 2009-1]
 Ian Pooley And Alec Empire - Untitled (Pulse Code E.P. Side A) [Mille Plateaux - MP 3]
 Ebi - Sou [Space Teddy - ST 007]