Andrew Weatherall

Trying to home in on the best of Andrew Weatherall’s work is a sanity-testing project. This is a man whose contributions to music were spread across many hundreds of hours of solo and collaborative releases, remixes and production work, and many thousands more hours of wildly diverse DJ sets – and beyond that there was also creative writing, journalism, anecdotes, visual art, styling, archival efforts, curation and more. And none of these were merely side projects, they were all knitted into his process, into the culture that Weatherall inhabited and created around himself. 

As his friend of 30+ years, David Holmes, put it: “music was just something Andrew did, albeit brilliantly, but ultimately he transcended that.” Or to put it another way, Weatherall’s commitment to the culture was so absolute that everything he did, down to random phrase-making and the way he dressed, was a contribution to it. In one sense, each thing was an addition to a fantastically complex, multidimensional gesamtkunstwerk, in another it was just the output of someone who once described the common thread connecting his work as being the fact that “I really, really like making things.”

He was making those things long before he became the DJ / producer he’s best known as. Contemporaries from Windsor – the commuter belt town to the West of London he grew up in – fondly remember LSD-fuelled post-pub sessions in the early 1980s, where Weatherall’s collection of Krautrock, postpunk, roots and dub, northern soul, disco and more was the soundtrack. Then in 1986, his friendship circle formalised itself around the Boys’ Own brand with a party and a fanzine, which pulled together the mischievous banter of football terraces and soul weekenders with a musical evangelism spanning everything from Trouble Funk to Big Audio Dynamite, the Pogues to Psychic TV.

As voracious, switched on hedonists, Boys’ Own were perfectly placed to receive and redistribute the Balearic and acid house sacraments, and became a crucial nexus in the establishment of modern dance culture in the UK. With ecstasy added, their parties became the stuff of legend, and playing at them and at foundational clubs like Trip and Shoom, Weatherall established a reputation for not just being able to string together unlikely or incongruous tunes but to blend them into something greater than the sum of their parts. He also got his first taste of the studio – ripping up genre and technique rulebooks and reworking the likes of Happy Mondays and Primal Scream’s tracks into lasting club classics.

Working initially with studio engineer Hugo Nicholson, Weatherall launched into a golden period in the first couple of years of the 1990s. Remixes for the likes of Jah Wobble’s Invaders Of The Heart, James, Finitribe, My Bloody Valentine, Saint Etienne, The Grid, The Orb, One Dove and of course Primal Scream poured out, each time mixing new configurations of breakbeats, dub basslines, slowed down house hypnosis and more often than not signature ringing timbales. This period crested with the release of Primal Scream’s Screamadelica in late ‘91, about two-thirds Weatherall / Nicholson produced – and probably still the highest profile release associated with Weatherall’s name. 

At the same time, he was rocketing into the international DJ big league, playing anything from hands-in-the-air Italo-house to deep dub – and post-Screamadelica Weatherall was as in demand as just about any remixer in the world. In 1992, however, he executed the first of the major sharp left turns that would initially get him a reputation for obstreperousness, but would ultimately prove to be core to his creative longevity. Along with new studio partners Jagz Kooner and Gary Burns, calling themselves Sabres Of Paradise – with a label of the same name and a club night dubbed Sabresonic – he moved away from Balearic optimism and towards minimalism, moodiness and an increasing love of techno and proto-trance. 

Even with this darkness and experimentalism, his profile continued to skyrocket: had he continued brand-building, Weatherall could have very easily have become a global megastar DJ on a par with Richie Hawtin, Laurent Garnier or Carl Cox. But again, he swerved away from the spotlight. Sabres the band released two albums, one remix collection and untold remixes, but by ‘95 Weatherall was moving on, going deeper still sonically and moving towards the shifting mesh of creative partnerships that would define his work thereafter. He tested the waters with Lords of Afford with David Hedger, Bloodsugar with On-U Sound keyboardist and musical Zelig David Harrow, and most lastingly, Two Lone Swordsmen with Keith Tenniswood.

And the clubs and collectives multiplied too. As techno became harder and brasher in the late 90s, the Bloodsugar night pulled in the opposite direction, diving into lower, slower, more meditative depths that saw it pre-empting the “minimal” explosion of the 00s by half a decade. Haywire Sessions provided a platform for Two Lone Swordsmen and allies’ collisions of electro with UK dub soundsystem bass and spatial manipulation. The Double Gone Chapel saw Weatherall playing raw old rockabilly singles. First the Emissions family of labels and then the Rotters Golf Club stable put out work by his aliases, collaborations and strange friends. Each time these things were rooted in very specific times, places, social milieus. 

And on it went. After the 2004 Two Lone Swordsmen album From the Double Gone Chapel Weatherall would increasingly incorporate his own unadorned, untrained vocals and grittily poetic writing – informed by The Fall, Nick Cave and many generations of outsider rock. This would become a running thread through both solo records and those as The Asphodells with Timothy J Fairplay. In the 2000s, his abiding love of post-punk and proto-techno allowed him to casually smash out punk electronics alongside the best of the electroclash and nu rave generations. The various strands that had always been there in various phases or individual tracks – dub, breakbeat, goth, rockabilly, house and so on – now flowed into and out of one another as constants, combining and recombining in ever new hybrids. 

People were constants too. In the 2010s, for example, a reconnection with Nina Walsh – formerly Weatherall’s romantic and business partner in the Sabres days – resulted in Walsh’s becoming his studio engineer for band production work, co-producer as Woodleigh Research Facility, and co-convener of the Moine Dubh label and event series, which incorporated folk, poetry and an emphasis on hand-produced artefacts into its ethos. Another reconnection with Sean Johnston, who had recorded for the Sabres label in the 90s, led to the A Love From Outer Space club and DJ partnership beginning in 2010, which defined a steady stepping sub-122bpm cosmic dance sound and nighttime ritual around which a passionate family of clubbers gathered, and which Johnston continues today. 

And there’s more. There’s always more with Weatherall. The Music’s Not For Everyone NTS radio show where he could play anything from scratchy old gospel to galactic scale synth jams. More or less straightforward production work for the likes of Fuck Buttons, Friendly Fires and Warpaint that created 21st century alt classics. The Convenanza festival in Carcassonne, Southwest France, which Bernie Fabre set up with Weatherall to join all of these threads together, which still continues. The writing, the woodcuts, the looks, the presentation of mystical ideas (“gnostic sonics!”)… and what’s more, Weatherall was still in full flow right up to his death at the start of 2020, so the volume of work just kept on accumulating at a dizzying rate. 

This guide can only ever be a small window into the vast world that Andrew Weatherall built and expanded throughout his lifetime. But hopefully it gives a hint of the interconnectivity of that world. It includes as many DJ mixes as studio works, because the two things were inseparable: the various flavours of sets he played and residencies he held as a DJ acted as crucibles for studio projects and vice versa. And there were plenty of sets and projects that bridged gaps between specific styles or eras too. The hypersocial nature of the world Weatherall operated in means that friends and fans have documented and archived a huge number of his sets – again rooting them in time and place – most notably on the “Weatherdrive” online archive and the affiliated Flightpath Estate community. Even in death, Weatherall contributes to various subcultures – and by investigating his work and following its golden threads into his influences, record collection, collaborators and wider musical world, the minute you engage, you are building and shoring them up too. There’s a lot of deep magic in the way that Weatherall worked, but turning just listening to his work into a creative act in itself might just be his greatest spell of all.

Joe Muggs

FACT’s 30 Greatest Weatherall Remixes

Andrew Weatherall
FACT’s 30 Greatest Weatherall Remixes cover

Shamelessly putting my own curation work in here – but really, such is the embarrassment of riches in Andrew Weatherall’s remix catalogue alone, that the only way to map it out is to follow your own taste. This was put together in 2014 to mark the launch of the Convenanza festival and spans the previous 25 years of remix work. As with the Heavenly Weatherall Remixes From the Vault compilations, the overwhelming sense that emerges listening through to these in order is of continuity across the decades. Though there’s organic and electronic, goth and psychedelia, soul and techno, and it crosses all kinds of tempos and rhythms, it feels like it’s all part of one grand work.

Andrew Weatherall at Dekmantel 2019

Andrew Weatherall
Andrew Weatherall at Dekmantel 2019 cover

Much as Weatherall loved to touch many bases in his work, he was also capable of fierce focus – as on this set which is all the kind of slow electronic disco / electropop sound inspired by the odder corners of 80s Balearic DJing and especially by the “cosmic” style of Italian maestro Daniele Baldeli. It rises and falls, it ebbs and flows, but it never tries to push towards any kind of peak or release: the diametric opposite of EDM’s cheap rushes, it’s tantric dance ritual, and maintains the pleasure principle exquisitely for three and a half hours. It’s also another sad reminder that when Weatherall died in February 2020, he was taken from us in full flow – there could, and should, have been decades more from him.

Versus

The Sabres of Paradise
Versus cover

1995 was peak breakbeat in the UK – jungle, trip hop and big beat were all on the ascendent and still creatively fertile. Of course, Andrew Weatherall had been a breakbeat manipulator from his first remixes half a decade before, and effortlessly showed that he could fit into what was happening and still maintain originality. Rounding up fellow mavericks Depth Charge, the then very new Chemical Brothers, Nightmares On Wax and LFO to remix tracks from Haunted Dancehall, he casually dropped one of the defining releases of the year.

MT002

Andrew Weatherall
MT002 cover

Released in May 1993 as an official Sabres Of Paradise mixtape, this has been copied and re-copied, sold and uploaded under so many different names that it’s achieved semi-mythical status. It perfectly captures the beginning of Weatherall’s lifelong love affair with techno, and also the exact point just before techno and trance completely separated from one another. It spans Detroit (Blake Baxter), Rotterdam (Speedy J), Edinburgh (Twitch & Brianstorm’s remix of Ege Bam Yasi’s “Variation”) and beyond. In tracks like Psychick Warriors Ov Gaia’s “Exit 23” and Evolution’s “The Experience of Taking a Step Into Someone’s Dream”) it contains some of the most LSD-drenched sound of its era, and Weatherall’s blends are uncannily perfect, challenging even someone who knows the records well to find where one ends and the next begins.

Blood Sugar 3

Andrew Weatherall
Blood Sugar 3 cover

Weatherall first starting cultivating the Blood Sugar sound for funky, ultra-minimalist techno around 1995. The recording alias Blood Sugar with David Harrow only released one EP on Weatherall’s Emissions label in ‘96, but the DJ identity would continue through into the early 00s – when the rest of the world finally caught up. The most famous recorded Blood Sugar mix was probably the first, broadcast as a BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix again in ‘96, blending the Berlin dub techno of Basic Channel with jacking Chicago house grooves. But it’s on this mix from ‘98 where the distilled essence is most perfectly displayed. Dub space, endless gliding grooves, and unbelievably trippy subliminal flickers and ripples all create a feel that, a full five years later, would dominate European clubbing… by which time, of course, Weatherall had already moved on.

ALFOS Phonox 21/02/20

Sean Johnston
ALFOS Phonox 21/02/20 cover

This six and a quarter hour recording is one of the most emotionally charged DJ mixes in history. Andrew Weatherall died just four days before he and Sean Johnston were scheduled to play Phonox in Brixton – one of the regular venues for their A Love From Outer Space (ALFOS) club night. Johnston was extremely reluctant to continue but the ALFOS community had other ideas: swept along on a huge wave of love, support and heartbroken celebration, he had no choice but to continue it as a tribute event. From the live version of Joe Jackson’s “Stepping Out” that starts proceedings, the sense of atmosphere is palpable, and Johnston faultlessly voyages through ALFOS and Weatherall classics, never rushing anything – although there are explosive moments as when Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s “Welcome to the Pleasuredome” ups the energy level massively. And the sense of collective joy and sorrow as it all culminates with Weatherall’s mix of Primal Scream’s “Come Together” is almost unbearable.

Sci-Fi-Lo-Fi Vol. 1

Andrew Weatherall
Sci-Fi-Lo-Fi Vol. 1 cover

It’s an act of wonderful Weatherallian perversity to make his 2007 mix album for a much loved techno label – Glasgow’s Soma – mainly rockabilly. To be fair, the Sci-Fi-Lo-Fi series was touted as an “influences” series, and what’s more it perfectly illustrates the way that Weatherall was able to apply DJ logic to more or less any sound, so there are layers of logic to this too. It kicks off with a first half of old, raw American twang from the likes of Link Wray and Charlie Feathers, takes a swerve mid way through via T Rex and The Fall, then ends with anything goes electro-dub-rockabilly including his own early vocal experiment “Feathers,” a remix of Primal Scream, and a bit of old favourites The Cramps and Killing Joke. It’s an object lesson in deconstructing the false binaries between purism and eclecticism, influence and innovation and scholarship and fun.

Music’s Not for Everyone [2nd January 2020]

Andrew Weatherall
Music’s Not for Everyone [2nd January 2020] cover

The Music’s Not for Everyone show, roughly monthly on London’s NTS Radio from 2014 on, was one arena where Weatherall really spread his musical and mystical wings. The huge sonic variety and wryly bumbling presentation style often drew John Peel comparisons, but there was always a cosmic tendency and club-trained DJ’s sense of structure and dynamic that made it very much its own beast. Never was that clearer than on the penultimate show, a new year “ritual designed to help you reflect and re-arm your psychic weaponry for the battles ahead.” It’s a live mix of the most truly sublime modern space rock, new age synth explorations and heads’ classics like Terry Riley and Don Cherry’s legendary 1975 Köln performance – interrupted only by a brief interjection from Weatherall: “Dusting the ornaments on the mantelpiece of your mind.” It’s a wonderfully foolish phrase, but also absolutely apposite description of one function of the music: you come out of the two hour ritual feeling cleansed and sparkling.

Essential Mix [13th November 1993]

Andrew Weatherall
Essential Mix [13th November 1993] cover

Starting off this mix with a heavyweight dub mix of Killing Joke’s “Requiem” by Thrash (then of The Orb) was a monumental statement of intent. This period, following the first Sabres Of Paradise album and the launch of the Sabresonic club, could have been the moment Weatherall became a global techno megastar, but as ever he swerved off piste at every opportunity. This mix does build to the very greatest techno tracks of the moment, but the way it seamlessly does so from such a cavernously deep downtempo beginning is a masterclass in how to escape genre without ever losing focus.

Nine O’Clock Drop

Andrew Weatherall
Nine O’Clock Drop cover

Truly an era-defining compilation, this one. Nuphonic records was best known for a very British strain of deep house in the late 1990s, but this collection Weatherall made for them in 2000 looked back to the postpunk, industrial and proto-techno he and his friends listened to in the early-mid 1980s – named for the fact that they would all drop acid at 9pm on a Friday night regardless of whether they were together or not. Featuring the likes of 23 Skidoo, Chris & Cosey, ACR, William Orbit’s Torch Song, its punk-funk-electro-dub sound would become defining of the 2000s as the decade went on, especially via the likes of DFA / LCD Soundsystem, but at the time it felt like an immense breath of fresh air.

Tiny Reminders

Two Lone Swordsmen
Tiny Reminders cover

A classic example of how Andrew Weatherall consistently brought underground ideas to bigger audiences. By 2000, most of his peers from the original acid house days were punting out more or less mainstream house, techno and trance to the masses. Weatherall, however, together with Keith Tenniswood as Two Lone Swordsmen, was delving into glitchy IDM, UK dub sonics and the Black mystical Detroit electro of Drexciya, and somehow proving that this intensely weird and deeply-rooted music was still viable party soundtrack. Tiny Reminders remains their masterpiece.

Heavenly Remixes 3 & 4: The Weatherall Remixes Volume 1 & 2

Various Artists, Andrew Weatherall
Heavenly Remixes 3 & 4: The Weatherall Remixes Volume 1 & 2 cover

The stroke of genius with these two double albums is not making them chronological. Just the beginning is remarkable: the sensuous 1991 birth-of-prog-house remix of Sly & Lovechild segueing into a 2017 spaghetti-western-goth-dub remake of Mark Lanegan‘s “Beehive” pretty much gives you the measure of what you’re going to hear thereafter. Over 16 remixes from Saint Etienne to Confidence Man, Flowered Up to Gwenno, you’ll hear Weatherall visit and revisit these core elements in different configurations and with different moods over 30 years — somehow (as John Peel said of The Fall), “always different, always the same.” Whether he’s just himself or in one of his partnerships like Two Lone Swordsmen or Sabres Of Paradise, who are both represented here, Weatherall built a musical world that you can explore forwards, backwards, sideways or any way you like and still find strange, stoned stimulation. The fact that every single one of these tracks appeared on the same record label is boggling enough, that they represent only a drop in the ocean of the man’s remix work is barely possible to grasp.

Convenanza

Andrew Weatherall
Convenanza cover

It’s funny that Weatherall is never really thought of as a front-man in any sense – as a DJ he never performed or leapt about, and his greatest fame is from his studio work. But in among his vast production catalogue he can also boast three stone cold classic albums which centre him as singer-songwriter: viz, Two Lone Swordsmen’s From the Double Gone Chapel, The Asphodells’s Ruled by Passion, Destroyed by Lust and this solo LP from 2016. Co-produced with Nina Walsh, at the same time as they were creating the Moine Dubh label and Woodleigh Research Facility material, it’s rather less dark than its predecessors. Where the TLS album was harshly gothic and the Asphodells shot through with nightlife sleaze, Convenanza certainly has sorrow and shadow galore, but it’s also more mystical, Weatherall settling into his old wizard role with aplomb, repeating cryptic phrases in simple melodic patterns like incantations.

Masterpiece: Created by Andrew Weatherall

Andrew Weatherall
Masterpiece: Created by Andrew Weatherall cover

There are few better officially released records of the prolificness and interconnectedness of late period Andrew Weatherall than this 3CD mix put out by Ministry Of Sound in early 2012. It’s jam packed with the remixes Weatherall was doing for alternative rock bands (Grinderman, The Horrors, Wooden Shijps), various iterations of his collaborations with Timothy J Fairplay that would culminate in The Asphodells’s Ruled by Passion, Destroyed by Lust album eight months later, and all kinds of friends and allies. Goth, electro, house, psychedelia and the rest all dreamily weave around one another to a slow, steady, four-to-the-floor pulse, and gradually the coordinates of his world are mapped out.

Live at the Heavenly Sunday Social [4th Sept 1994]

Andrew Weatherall
Live at the Heavenly Sunday Social [4th Sept 1994] cover

Weatherall once again showing that whatever others were up to at a given time, he could do even better. The UK sound of “big beat” by the late 90s would become a thing of clunking cliché, but in 1994 it was still new and riotous fun – a rowdy, eclectic offspring of the indie-dance explosion of 1989-91 – and its epicentre was the Sunday Social run by Heavenly Records. Weatherall was already in a breakbeat frame of mind at this point, as The Sabres Of Paradise’s second album Haunted Dancehall showed. But where that was deep and eerie, this DJ set is non-stop party heaters, even as the tempo remains low. Hip hop old (The Fearless Four) and then-new (Craig Mack), re-edits of The Clash, early Chemical Brothers (then still the Dust Brothers before confusion with Mario Caldato and co forced the name change), gurgling acid, James Brown cut-ups all flow into one another to create absolutely monstrous fun.

Black Notebooks

Andrew Weatherall
Black Notebooks cover

Yet another side to Andrew Weatherall was revealed shortly after his death when his studio accomplice Nina Walsh shared a set of YouTube playlists he’d compiled to help inform their work. They were made under multiple usernames as Weatherall, never a digital native, kept creating accounts then forgetting the logins – but fans have since compiled them into a single list. The tracks compiled lean to dark Americana, heartbroken 80s indie and psyche/garage rock curios but vary wildly, with big left of centre names like Nico, Captain Beefheart, Bob Marley and Leonard Cohen butting up against obscurities and new music like Rival Console’s wide-skies electronica and Moonlandingz’ sleaze ballad featuring Rebecca Lucy Taylor aka Self Esteem. The eighties tracks from Aztec Camera, Durutti Column and 4AD acts create a beautiful circularity with the recommendations pre-acid house Weatherall used to make in the Boys Own fanzine, and the overall effect of the playlist is of a glimpse into the psyche of the man at his most introspective.

Qualia

Andrew Weatherall
Qualia cover

The core quality of Andrew Weatherall’s work is that he made profundity inseparable from FUN. It was there in his description of the club experience as both a transcendent collective gnostic ritual and “just a fucking disco.” And it’s here in his last solo album, from 2017. QUALIA is almost all instrumental, rooted in Weatherall’s beloved post-punk (most conspicuously The Cure circa Seventeen Seconds) and Krautrock, all hypnotic repetition and gloomy twangs. But from the repetition of a sonorous “HELLO!” through opening track “Evidence the Enemy” through untold outright silly boinging dub echoes and synth wobbles, there is endless playfulness, tomfoolery and hilarious mischief.

The Screamadelica 12" Singles

Primal Scream
The Screamadelica 12" Singles cover

Screamadelica is a messy album, frayed round the edges, different manifestations of a band (trad rockers, dancefloor warriors, zoned out dreamers) jostling for centre stage, and a multitude of voices making themselves heard: not just recently added musicians like keyboardist Martin Duffy and powerhouse singer Denise Johnson, but rave weirdos still learning to feel themselves round a studio like Hypnotone, The Orb and of course Andrew Weatherall. It’s appropriate given that messiness, that some of the greatest music being made in the process – including, with glorious perversity, the album’s title track – didn’t appear on the album itself but on 12” singles around it. This collection of those singles and offcuts is particularly notable for four peak early Weatherall moments. The “Scat Mix” of “Don’t Fight It, Feel It” brings cascading pianos to the fore, for total rave joy. “Screamadelica”, the track, is an extraordinary 11-minute vocoder funk chugger with Denise Johnson in starring role. The Weatherall instrumental of “Shine Like Stars” is a fantastic head-nod breakbeat groove. And best of all, the harpsichord riff and asteroids-colliding percussion in the “American Spring Mix” of “Higher Than the Sun” is one of the most truly narcotic pieces of music ever committed to recording media.

Morning Dove White

One Dove
Morning Dove White cover

Everything around this Scottish’s trio’s only album radiates sadness. Dot Allison‘s mournful croon, the country-tinged songs of intrigue and suspicion, the dark chamber dub production of Andrew Weatherall in his first full album production role… And it’s all compounded by the fact that record company and interpersonal wrangling, and pressure on the record to be a pop success, left it surrounded by bitterness and recrimination, and the band never followed it up. But it remains, now just as much as when it was made, incredibly beautiful: hopes, dreams and love just as much part of its makeup as the darker emotions. The word “bittersweet” could have been invented for Morning Dove White.

Haunted Dancehall

The Sabres of Paradise
Haunted Dancehall cover

Having pulled back from indie-dance and Balearic into a more starkly electronic world with Sabresonic, Andrew Weatherall, Jagz Kooner and Gary Burns then broadened their palette back out a year later with this album. It’s still recognisably the same murky electro-techno-dub but it comes with dusty hip hop beats (including courtesy of Portishead who reworked “Planet D” here), funk rock (“Theme”), Duane Eddy / Cramps guitar twang (“Tow Truck”) and true to the title, actual haunted dancehall rhythms (“Wilmot”). The musical logic in this expansion out from Sabresonic’s hermetically sealed world is dazzling, and the ambition can still knock you sideways no matter how many times you hear it.

127 to Facility 4

The Woodleigh Research Facility
127 to Facility 4 cover

Good luck finding this one – it was released in two runs of 100 uniquely packaged vinyl copies, one lot sold in person in an Art Car Boot Fair in 2018, and the other via the Woodleigh Research Facility Facebook page at the end of 2019. But such was the way with Andrew Weatherall, and particularly his latter work with Nina Walsh – there was a strong belief in objects, in making, in rooting things in time and place. It also so happens it’s up there with Weatherall’s best work. Certainly its skeletal electro is among his most electronic and most minimalist music, certainly in the same galaxy as The Sabres Of Paradise’s Sabresonic – albeit with a little more sublimated Cure and Joy Division influence.

Peppered With Spastic Magic: A Collection of Two Lone Swordsmen Remixes

Two Lone Swordsmen
Peppered With Spastic Magic: A Collection of Two Lone Swordsmen Remixes cover

OK let’s not ignore the unfortunate title: even if it is intended to use the s-word in its original sense of jerky or random movement, not the ableist slur, it was as crass to use it in 2003 as it would be now. That aside, this is an immense collection of reworks by Andrew Weatherall and Keith Tenniswood. It’s a marker of how unjudgemental the duo were about musical categories that their source material can include fairly middle-of-the-road indie / soft rock (Starsailor, Texas), techno mainstays (Slam, Luke Slater, Alter Ego), alt-country (Calexico), hip hop / trip hop (Stereo MCs, Howie B) and on and on. The remixes, though, connect these things effortlessly: not simply by applying a house style to them, but by getting into the deep sonic essences and wiring them into the TLS mainframe.

Fabric 19

Andrew Weatherall
Fabric 19 cover

Yet another example of how Andrew Weatherall was consistently able to absorb the best of what was modish in underground club culture at any given time, make it completely his own, and contextualise it in much longer, deeper sonic currents. In the case of this 2004 mix, it’s shot through with the continental European sounds that joined the aftermath of electroclash, glitchy minimal techno and electrohouse: Steve Bug, Ricardo Villalobos, Robag Wruhme, John Tejada, Marc Romboy and so forth. But starting the mix off with older postpunk and electro, and ending it with Weatherall’s Two Lone Swordsmen remixing Villalobos in goth style, followed by a Joy Division cover by old friend David Harrow, puts all of that stuff in a whole different frame to usual, and essentially turns it into Weatherall music.

Tarot Sport

Fuck Buttons
Tarot Sport cover

Andrew Weatherall has spoken of how onerous was the task of listening to Andrew Hung and Ben Power aka Fuck Buttons’s electronic noise repetitions as he produced and mixed this album. But the results are sublime. Weatherall’s involvement in FBs’ 2008 second album was a stroke of genius, bringing the pleasure principle of the dancefloor into their sonic barrage, creating a beautiful gnosis for those who dive fully into the sound. So oddly accessible and affecting did he make it, in fact, that two tracks ended up being played to a vast global audience in the Danny Boyle-directed London Olympics opening ceremony. The album raises the tantalising possibility of what might have transpired if Weatherall had followed this rabbit hole all the way and gone into more abstract and experimental sound still than his usual fare. It wasn’t to be, but here he roundly proved that if he’d wanted to go harder and heavier with his own work, he very much could have.

Sabresonic

The Sabres of Paradise
Sabresonic cover

This was the sound of Andrew Weatherall making the first of the sharp left turns away from the spotlight and towards the shadows that would characterise and sustain his remarkable career. By 1993 he could have followed acid house contemporaries like Carl Cox and Paul Oakenfold into the global DJ mega league — but instead he chose to duck down underground, embracing minimalist techno and his most gothic impulses, remixing obscure world music records as much as or more than the big indie bands of the time, signing to WARP, and making this album. With studio partners Jagz Kooner and Gary Burns he crafted a digital haunted house, full of horror movie chime melodies, deep dub bass, percussion that skitters and runs down your spine, and general gothic atmospheres. From the quivering 15 minute centrepiece “Clock Factory” to the chase-through-the-night techno of “Still Fighting” and “Inter-Lergen-Ten-Ko” it switches up and down energy levels, but keeps that shadowy, fearful aesthetic consistent throughout. It’s by no means inaccessible mind — after all, the bonus “Beatless Mix” of “Smokebelch II” would become a huge and endlessly compiled chill out classic — and it signalled Weatherall as having a career way deeper and longer than just being remixer du jour. But it still sounds gloriously dark and odd even now.

Ruled by Passion, Destroyed by Lust

The Asphodells
Ruled by Passion, Destroyed by Lust cover

Andrew Weatherall may have been an impossibly prolific and brilliant producer and remixer from the late 80s on, but it took him a while to step out of the shadows and perform on record. He didn’t release under his own name or sing publicly until 2006’s Bullet Catcher’s Apprentice, but it was really this collaborative album with Timothy J. Fairplay when he came into his own. The album is a fantastic, slowly-chugging moodily crypto-Balearic fusion of post-punk, rockabilly, dub, acid house, The Cure, The Fall, New Order, John Betjeman and all sorts of other good things, with Weatherall archly musing on cities, sleaze and ageing in a half-conversational chant. Its centrepiece is a cover of A.R. Kane‘s “A Love From Outer Space” — the song which gave Weatherall and Sean Johnston’s long-running club night (or “gnostic communion”) its name — which perfectly captures the sense of existing in a long lineage of misfits.