Release Date: 15th April 2022
ARA-U & Radioactive Man turn a bad situation into a great collection of tracks with their latest collaborative release The Houghton Blues EP. Across two sides of vinyl on ARA-U's NO STATIC / AUTOMATIC label, the accomplished electro innovators once again serve up pure analogue vibes and raw machine funk.
When cult Norfolk gathering Houghton Festival was cancelled in 2019 because of high winds, this pair had just bought some booze and were already on their way. After a moment's sadness, they decided to turn bad news into good and head to the studio to work on some tracks. For the next two days, they stayed high on music as their Prophet, 101, 808, 303, and the Juno synths whirred and flashed.
ARA-U, of course, is the UK-based Venezuelan and longtime live specialist. He runs his own NO STATIC / AUTOMATIC label and, like Radioactive Man with whom he has already collaborated on the Plastic Attack EP, he is a master of his machines. dBridge, Posthuman and Alienata have all played his music before now and he remains at the heart of underground electro.
Right there with him is Radioactive Man, who has a career spanning 30 years, labels like Warp and many seminal collaborations from Two Lone Swordsman with Andrew Weatherall, with dBridge as dBRm and Billy Nasty as RadioNasty. He is a hugely prolific producer who has kept the quality levels high across five solo albums and countless EPs. He now heads up his own Asking For Trouble label and continues to innovate in the studio thanks to his live approach to making music.
The opener 'Sounds Like Prince' is electrifying from the off with its neck-snapping drums and perc and squelchy synth lines. It's potent and powerful and perfect for packed dance floors. The superb 'Machines Chit-Chat' is a deeper cut with cosmic synths. The drums still bang, but with wide-open spaces around them which are detailed with subtle hits and sci-fi motifs.
'What Happened To The Stash' is as dark and urgent as someone who has indeed lost their stash. It's got paranoid lines spiralling around the hurried groove in an inquisitive fashion while the booming bass drives forward. It's high-grade dance floor tackle then closer 'The Houghton Blues' brings a sense of machine soul that will melt your heart. The smeared chords, pixelated pads and melancholic robot sounds all coalesce into something as brilliant as it is beautiful.
ARA-U puts it best when he says, "This EP has all the moods and the jam really made sense. It has the funk, the stomper, the deep and the raw.”
A1. Sounds Like Prince
A2. Machines Chit-Chat
B1. What Happened To The Stash
B2. The Houghton Blues