Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Shadowplayers: how Factory Records created great music against all odds

"The only alternate to the spectacle becomes the spectacle of the alternate. Discuss."
Factory Newsletter #1

Coming across the FAC.DANCE compilation at Rotate This was one of the highlights of the month. The sleeve notes, written by the walking DJ encyclopedia that is Bill Brewster, mentioned a book for those who needed to know more about New Wave and post-punk music: Shadowplayers: The Rise and Fall of Factory Records, by James Nice. I needed to know more. One library trip later, it was mine.

As the title suggests, Shadowplayers goes into exhaustive detail on the origins and early beginnings of Factory Records, the anarchic, under-managed, pretentious shambles of a label that nevertheless was responsible for some of the greatest artists and records in the late 70s and 80s. Joy Division, New Order, OMD, A Certain Ratio, the Happy Mondays and countless other New Wave/electronic acts were born from Tony Wilson's vision of a Manchester movement that would spearhead a new wave of Northern culture and sophistication.

If you're the kind of person like me who likes to obsess over details and obscure knowledge, you need to read this book. Not only does it paint a clear picture on the origins of early electronic music as we know it, but it exposes you to artists who you've likely never heard of. Section 25's "Looking From a Hilltop" sounds like a present-day Detroit techno homage, despite being recorded by a pasty-white English band in 1984.

Marcel King's "Reach For Love" was a funky Paradise Garage favorite in 1985, after being produced by the same guy who fronted New Order (bonus points if you don't have to check wiki for his name).

Anyways, you can check out the full FAC.DANCE song list here; share your favorites below and try to incorporate some of these songs into your mixes. It beats playing whatever shit's on Beatport's 'most popular' list...

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