Scotland is the home of the brave—famed around the world for its fine whisky, tartan kilts, beautiful highlands, a castle built on a volcanic plug (Edinburgh), the Loch Ness Monster, Irn-Bru, Sean Connery, Billy Connolly, Trainspotting, and, of course, Braveheart. Meh, enough with the cliched stereotypes already!
The beating heart of electronic music in Scotland is Glasgow, with such notable spots as The Sub Club and The Arches playing host to some of the world’s leading and underground talent week in and week out. It’s hard not to mention Soma Records when discussing the growth of Scotland’s dance music. Now in its 20th year, Soma’s catalog has featured a diverse range of output including The Black Dog, Slam, Ewan Pearson, Alex Smoke, Funk D’Void, and Silicone Soul.
Although Glasgow is the epicenter of the scene, smaller pockets do exist, such as the beautiful city of Edinburgh (now home to the legendary Underground Resistance techno whiz Rolando), and other metropolitan areas including Dundee and Aberdeen. Every summer, Scotland invites the world’s elite electronic talent to perform at festivals such as Rock Ness (as the name would suggest, taking place on the banks of the quite epic Lock Ness Lake) and the T In The Park Festival (where the Slam tent served as the home to Daft Punk’s first performance in the land of the Scots).
For a country of such modest size and population, Scotland has given rise to a considerable number of famous musicians, and not least, a wealth of dance producers who have done more than their fair share contributing to the evolution of house and techno. This week’s Power of Ten focuses its attention on some of the fine electronic music and labels that have emerged from Scotland over the past couple of decades (a considerably difficult task to accomplish with just ten tracks).
Graeme Clark (aka The Revenge) has become something of an international hot property in recent years with his unique take on nu-disco and house. One of the original re-edit masters of the scene, his edits of Hot Chocolate, Stevie Wonder, and Alessi Brothers (yup, that aces rework of “Savin’ the Day” from the Ghostbusters soundtrack) are still excellent dancefloor party numbers. A few years on and his productions have been featured on a healthy list of labels such as Get Physical, Future Classic, Instruments Of Rapture, and Strictly Rhythm. “Rainbow Road” is a sexy and soulful deep house workout, with an epic string section to boot.
Yes, it’s The Revenge again, this time with fellow Scot and long-serving muso-hombre Craig Smith under their superb 6th Borough Project guise. They’ve had some absolutely wicked releases recently, and “Do It To The Max” is still one of my personal favorites—an effortlessly sleek and slo-mo nu-disco number. Class!
Kode9 (aka Steve Goodman) is another famous Glaswegian producer in the world of dubstep (the good sort that is). As any self-respecting dub-head should know, Goodman is the man behind the scene-defining Hyperdub imprint, where his fine work has introduced the world to the likes of Burial, Zomby, and Darkstar. As a producer, Goodman is already well past his second album, and let’s not forget the top-notch slew of singles the man has penned under his Kode9 moniker. “You Don’t Wash” is a particular favorite, even though it is quite removed from the darker and more atmospheric dubstep that Goodman is known for. Instead, the tune offers up something that sounds much more appropriate for a festival tent setting, featuring a full-on shuffle, slightly ghetto-tech beats, a punchy electro bassline, and washy synths that make it altogether more accessible for house and techno DJs (like something you’d more likely hear coming from the Dirtybird label).
Quite possibly one of the most exciting young talents to emerge from the UK in recent years, at only 21 years of age, Glasgow-based Lewis Roberts has been gaining a significant amount of attention with his productions as of late. His style exists beside 2-step garage, but with a much more soulful and emotive quality that belies his years. It’s no wonder that his SoundCloud page has received such a heavy amount of listens and that the young producer has already contributed an impressive live mix for Bolier Room. “4D” captures his style perfectly, a fragile melodic trip punctuated by subby tones and broken beats.
With the impending release of Carl Craig and KiNK remixes for “Azure,” it seems fitting that the original version of one of Slam’s classic tracks is featured here. This cut is an epic piece of techno where arpeggiator grooves and melodies open up and intertwine. For me, “Azure” quickly became one of the most distinct songs to rise from the forward-thinking Sonar Festival when it was first released back in 2007.
Harvey McKay has emerged from Glasgow’s clubbing scene to become a name to watch out for, consistently putting out sick, chunky-as-fuck techno productions that absolutely rattle the foundations of any club (make sure to check out his releases on labels such as Adam Beyer’s Drumcode and 8 Sided Dice). “Showface” is surely one of McKay’s best cuts—the simple use of a soulful sample just works so well against the pounding rhythm. Pure big-system fodder!
Funk D’Void originally hails from Glasgow, yet for the past decade he has been based in Barcelona. He has become a familiar name in dance music, producing superbly crafted techno over the years, and, more recently, turning out impressive tracks under his Francois Dubois guise. “Diabla” is quite possibly one of my favorite techno records that’s ever been made—classic in every sense and utterly timeless, its beautiful melodies and immensely huge bassline still make this record more than appropriate for an end-of-a-festival type set.
Silicone Soul is another of Scotland’s famous dance duos. Its ”Right On, Right On” tune (released in 2001) became a Balearic-inspired anthem and a subsequent commercial crossover. In addition, the duo has been responsible for a number of excellent albums and remixes, and even contributed some fantastic dance music to the world through its own Darkroom Dubs label. Its remix of Schatrax should remain on permanent rotation—a lovely slice of deep, emotive tech-house.
Another young man to emerge from the Glasgow scene in recent years, Hans Bouffmyhre and his Sleaze label have featured excellent releases from the likes of Shifted, Alan Fitzpatrick, and Samuel L Session to name but a few. His own Sibling Rivalry EP features the standout track “Identical Vocal Chords,” an atmospheric, stripped-down, big-system techno beast.
Vince Watson needs little introduction for those who know their techno. The Glasgow resident’s contribution to the genre has been simply remarkable in the past 20 years. The man is responsible for seven albums (the most recent being Every Soul Needs A Guide) and a ridiculous amount of singles and remixes. Watson’s tracks resonate with a sense of soul and musicality, and, considering he comes from a classical background, his productions have always leaned towards a classic techno aesthetic. Taken from his most recent album, “Found What I Am Looking For” is a soundtrack-esque melodic trip through strings, Rhodes, and xylophones.
*Purchase all the songs discussed here over on this Power of Ten Chart.