Late, lamented, left-field podcast series revives its archives
We're up to our ears in podcasts. The internet has grown positively lousy with 'em. Like the Hold Steady (sort of) said, everyone's a curator and most people are DJs.
Not all podcasts are created equal, however. When London's Sam Willis and Steve Nolan launched their Allez-Allez series, in 2006, it was intended merely as a means of promoting their fortnightly party of the same name. But Willis and Nolan happened to have better Rolodexes than many of their peers — better taste, too — and, as a result, Allez-Allez gradually grew into an archive of really rather exceptional mixes from a really rather exceptional batch of artists.
Hot Chip, Animal Collective, Prins Thomas, Lindstrom, Caribou, Four Tet, and Joakim all did mixes for the site; so did Legowelt, the Field, Ben Watt, Luke Vibert, Ewan Pearson, and dozens of similarly talented left-fielders. It wasn't just the names that made Allez-Allez worthwhile; it was the fact that so many of them used the series as a platform to play the kind of music they couldn't get away with in a club setting. Perc's "Psychic Animal Bandwagon Mix" eschewed his usual four-to-the-floor techno in favor of lysergic industrial and ambient; Roman Fluegel broke out David Bowie and Moondog. There was plenty of proper club music, too, including a Jimmy Edgar set recorded live at Berghain and a joyfully catholic mix in which Jackmaster dropped everything from Destiny's Child to Drexciya.
Last year, Willis and Nolan pulled the plug on Allez-Allez, closing out the series with a pair of their own mixes, solid as bookends. (The last track played was Khan and Julee Cruise's "Goodbye," naturally.) "It seems that Allez-Allez has achieved everything and more that it set out to achieve," they wrote, "and five years seems like the correct and neat time to bring the curtain down on the site."
Maybe their alias got the better of them, because this week they announced Allez-Allez' return — sort of. Acknowledging "the nagging feeling" that their archive deserved more than the digital dustbin, the pair have partnered with Mixcloud to present the series' entire archive for streaming online. That's 216 mixes in all, from the aforementioned names as well as Lone, Ada, Nathan Fake, Scuba, Kompakt's Tobias Thomas, Mike Simonetti, Optimo's JD Twitch, Balearic daydreamers Studio, and even a certain DJ Yours Truly, a.k.a. DJ Full Disclosure, a.k.a. me. (I contributed two mixes to the site, in its early days. The second one, #66, I still quite like. Don't bother with the first one.)
In an email, Nolan told me that the archive's revival "basically came about from quite a few people bending our ears about all those mixes not being available anywhere. At first we quite liked the scorched earth policy of just taking the site down and letting the mixes disappear from the net. But as time went on it began to seem a bit silly not have to somewhere for it the whole archive to rest (as it were)." Mixcloud co-founder Nikhil Shah "was happy to take on the job of cleaning up our messy files (with the help of some very diligent interns) and presenting it as it is."
One added benefit of having the mixes hosted on Mixcloud is the site's practice of tagging individual tracks in each mix and including purchase links for the ones that are available for sale digitally; presumably, we have the interns to thank for that.
Nolan says that he and Willis are entertaining the possibility of working together on a new project, but "it's still in the early days, though." In the meantime, Nolan is a regular contributor to Bleep's podcast series of electronic and experimental music; Sam Willis, a member of Kompakt's Walls, will release his debut solo album on the Halfmachine label in November. Download Willis' ruminative "Frozen/Circus," and dive into the Allez-Allez archives.