I love music that plays somewhere in that glitterball-lit realm between disco, house, dub, funk, rock 'n roll, and pop. This site will host mixes I've made and songs I like that dance across the genres. Let me know what you think. And if you've got a party or night you'd like moving to this sound, drop me a line on rorychallands (at) gmail (dot) com.

The Final Frontier

Space. I think it's the best trick dub ever taught modern dance music. The sonic experiments of a handful of blisteringly stoned studio technicians in Jamaica in the 1970s exploded like a sub-woofered depth charge through the emerging street sounds of London and New York. Disco, hip-hop, electro, and then house all carried the ball passed from King Tubby, Lee Perry et al.

The tools are easy enough, but the effects are massive. A drenching of echo... a touch of reverb... and suddenly you're not in a musically flat plane anymore. You're in three dimensions and they stretch to the distance. Much rock music often sounds confined, like each instrument played comes from the same point in space as all the others. Dance music isn't immune from this problem either, but I often feel at its best it's braver at blasting through the studio walls to see what's outside. It has dub to thank.

I've chosen two songs I think use space particularly well. The first is Baby I Love You So by Colourbox. It wears its dub credentials firmly on its sleeve. In fact it's a cover of perhaps the best known dub track ever, King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown. But Colourbox weren't grizzled Kingston rastas, they were two ex-punks from south east London excited by the musical possibilities of sequencers and samplers. In Baby I Love You So from 1986 they drop a mournful vocal over that monstrous bassline. But woven through are the echoing horn stabs and gunshot ricochets from old Western films that really turn this into the wonderful, cavernous beast it is. A year later they'd flip club music on it's head as M|A|R|R|S with Pump Up The Volume, the first UK house single to reach the top of the charts.


Next up is a much more contemporary track, the decidedly chilly Johan Agebjörn remix of Glassy Candy's The Chameleon. The icy synths and Ida No's monotonously seductive cooings about suicide set the tone. But then the song starts to slip away from you into the distance. No, it's not slipping away... you're following it... down into a vortex of sound that's so hugely spacious it's actually claustrophobic. This is one of those pieces of music that's beautiful and creepy at the same time. I went to see the Swedish vampire film Let The Right One In recently, and it's hung itself upside down next to this song in the same cold corner of my mind.


My Juicy Soul

Now this song really fizzes. I think it's the combination of the drums and the piano. It's jazz, certainly, but there's a direct funkiness here a lot of jazz lacks. Every time I play this my hips involuntarily start to move. They can't help it.

Nina Simone had such a formidable voice its not that often you find her willing to let it take a back seat. But on Jelly Roll she initially lets her fingers do the singing for her. When she does open her mouth it's a burst of joy. Nina often sang about the difficulties of being black. But here it's all about the good stuff: eating sweet potato pie from the pan, drinking gin in sips, digging all the new sounds...

And of course it's about sex too. "I could go for a ride on your sweet jelly roll, but I wouldn't give nothing for my juicy, juicy soul. Aint that bad? Aint that black? And aint that fine?"

Jelly Roll is on a wonderful Simone compilation which majors on her blues and jazz output, and avoids all the ones you've heard a million times before. I recommend it. Click on the links under the music player to buy it.


The Solar Flare Mix

DJs often get a bad rap. It's just playing other people's music, of course. And in these days of mixing programs and auto-syncing, most DJs can't really be arsed to mix. Fuck it, just press a button. That's what I do.

But for some DJs, the best ones, mixing is just a side issue anyway. What's really important is (and this is going to sound straight out of Pseud's Corner...) 'the Journey'. The legendary Larry Levan couldn't really be bothered to mix most of the time. It didn't matter. He was worshiped because his sets at the Paradise Garage took dancers on an odyssey through the night. He would ride them through disco, psychedelic rock, funk, european new wave, electro... anything. But it wasn't just genre box-ticking. He was the custodian of a mood.

I wouldn't ever compare myself to Larry Levan. I don't have the genius, the club, the sound system, the scene, or the drug habit. But I do try to give my mixes a structure, a flow that attempts to mirror the dynamics of a whole evening out. Of all the mixes I've done to date I think the Solar Flare Mix nails this the best.

It starts how I would want to start my perfect evening: sundrenched, slightly woozy, tropical. Antena's Camino del Sol is the sound of cocktails on sun loungers and relaxing in the last rays. The Balearic atmosphere continues through the dubby remix of Paul Simon's classic Diamond's On The Soles Of Her Shoes and JJ Cale's hip shakingly sexy Ride Me High.

When Alice Smith sings about the sun going down in Love Endeavor, it's time to stir and get the dancing shoes on. Under Escort's Starlight the disco really gets moving, before the DFA turn Justin Timberlake into Superstition-era Stevie Wonder. Then things get a little darker.

Optimo's breakbeat rumble makes Chris Isaak's yearning voice the perfect expression of laser-spangled dancefloor infatuation. Kathy Diamond gives you the woman's perspective - dancing as a declaration of independence, before !!!'s cautionary tale of taking hedonism too far. For LCD Soundsystem, the abandon of the musical moment makes you feel like a teenager.

And then it's morning. And you've possibly ended up with someone a bit too young. Is that wrong? Who cares, it's been a good night.

Antena: Camino Del Sol (Todd Terje Edit), Holy Ghost: Walk On Air (Sun & Moon Mix), Tangoterje: Diamonds Dub, JJ Cale: Ride Me High (Joakim Edit), Alice Smith: Love Endeavor (Maurice Fulton Mix), Escort: Starlight, Justin Timberlake: My Love (DFA Mix), Optimo: Wicked Turntable Games, Newcleus: Jam On It (4Track Reference), Kathy Diamond: All Woman (Maurice Fulton Mix), !!!: Must Be The Moon (Emperor Machine Mix), LCD Soundsystem: Sound Of Silver, Junior Boys: In The Morning (Hot Chip Remix), Junior Boys: In The Morning