A couple of weekends ago, I found myself stood in a darkened room, dressed head to toe in pagan robes, playing odd and inspired chill-out records. Stretched out in front of me, and my TR13E DJ colleagues, were punters dressed in ’90s rave gear, mostly stretched out on LazyBag inflatable sofas. The lighting flickered blue, green and red, while a projection lit up the wall behind us.
For someone who has long been obsessed with the ambient house sound of the late ’80s and early ’90s, and of course the chill out room movement it grew out of, it was a particularly special occasion. This was Alfresco Disco’s second Rave of the Decade event, and this chill-out room – tucked away in what is normally the market canteen at Washingpool Farm in Easter Compton – was the culmination of eight months of work.
I initially approached the Alfresco Disco crew about the idea of hosting a chill-out room at one of their events earlier in the year. It was at a Dirtytalk party. The TR13E collective, which also contains my friends and DJ buddies Legendary Tone, Spice Route and Andy Payback, had planned on doing an ambient after-party for that particular event, but our venue had fallen through at the last minute. We returned to the concept at the next Dirtytalk event, putting on a trippy after-party in the dingy basement of an LGBT bar in Old Market, Bristol. On the back of that, and subsequent drunken pleas to the Alfresco crew to buy into the idea, I was obviously thrilled when they gave me the heads-up that they wanted it to form part of the colossal Rave of the Decade.
I should put on record my thanks to the Alfresco Disco collective – and particularly Frankie and Lucas – for being so open to the idea. Although ambient house now has a higher profile than it has in many years, very few event promoters are open to the idea of having a chill-out room at their events. Instead, most prefer another room (or two, or three) of straight-up dance music. While that’s their choice, I think that they’re missing a trick: after all, chill-out rooms were a big part of dance music culture during its’ most vibrant phase. Props, then, to Alfresco for embracing the idea wholeheartedly, and for allowing myself, Tone and Spice Route (Andy was otherwise engaged) to set out our sonic manifesto over seven hours. They also booked Mixmaster Morris to headline the room, which was fitting given his legendary status as a chill-out pioneer. Hearing Morris heap praise on a rework I’d done of one of his old Irresistible Force tracks was also rather special.
I’d done quite a lot of work in preparation for the set. Over the last few years – and particularly in the last six months – I’ve been hoarding home-made field recordings, spoken word samples, and unusual records. I’ve combined many of these elements on special TR13E ‘adjustments’ – ambient house style remixes, re-edits and ‘translations’ of tracks created specifically to play in these kinds of sets. Sadly I only got to play a small selection of the 80 or so I currently have at my disposal, but hopefully we’ll be hosting chill-out rooms at festivals and events in future, so they’ll not go to waste.
While preparing for the Alfresco Disco event, I recorded a straight-to-tape mix featuring a selection of these adjustments. It’s called Adventures Beyond The Otherworld – Trip 1, and you can listen to it using the embedded Soundcloud player below. For those who would like a taste of what we played at the event itself, that is also included further down the page.