How was 2017 for you? Rick Bull: A huge, confounding, heart-rending head-rush of a year. Personally, leaving Berlin after so many years, re-inventing myself as a music academic/community worker in Australia for a while, and now living in London, straddling the worlds of music education, performance and composition. More than ever, any sense of personal “career” seems like wasted energy — in the light of late-capitalism’s brutalist death-rattle and the rise of the extreme-right, arts-practice has re-assumed a rather less “aspirational” role in my life. I’m interested in arts/music as survival strategy more than ever. I couldn’t give a shit about revisionist acid-house, dub-techno or (insert cliché-x) for the sake of assumed “authenticity.” Let’s remember that keeping it ‘unreal’ is arguably more empowering than “living the dream.”
Highlights? Diving deep into the work of the late, great Mark Fisher. Remembering Kodwo Eshun. Weeping in stunned awe at the vitality of Linton Kwesi Johnson and Britain’s Black Diaspora. Realizing how fun sleep actually is. Feeling energized, inspired and deeply honored to work in music education with young people. Birthing the first Acharné album and remembering that the joy of music, for me, comes in witnessing it writing itself. Witnessing the much-needed voices of the likes of Holly Herndon, The Black Madonna and Honey Dijon rise radiantly in the nauseating “sea of bros. Seeing the way music-making tools, knowledge and power have been really democratized across once immutable class-lines is profoundly heartening. Discovering some inspiring trap, drill, grime and commercial R&B work. To start writing work for which makes me think of my dad and other’s with dementia.
Lowlights? Seeing how soul-crushingly white, male, hetero normative techno has become. Embarrassed and saddened by ill-considered comments from the like’s of Giegling’s Constantine, and more. 2017 felt like the year when those at the extreme edges voiced their Trumpian, Brexiteering, indignant juvenilities. It’s all been cause for a lot of self-reflexion on my behalf. I wonder how i might better speak of those I don’t commune with? Ultimately, though, the tragedy here is that many of us like myself were naive enough to assume that there’s ever been a Golden Age of PLUR. These voices have always been there – but I’m glad that at least now they aren’t permitted to endure without response. To paraphrase Birmingham’s finest, Techno “Will Eat Itself”
Song of the year? Oneohtrix Point Never’s “Child of Rage”
My close second is Drake’s skeletal dancehall gem “Blem”
What’s your New Year’s resolution? To laugh way more. To give less shits. To forget music in order to remember music.
Berlin via Sydney DJ/producer Rick Bull has earned a legion of fans for his brilliant exploits as Deepchild on labels like Get Physical, Face II Face, Thoughtless, and Trapez. Since 2014 he’s attained the highest of professional highs, including playing Berghain/Panorama Bar last in 2015 as Concubine with Noah Pred where he “felt both honored, elated and strangely disconnected afterwards – hovering 6 feet behind my body.”
A breakup, losing friends, crisscrossing around the world on tour and a new relationship led him to dive into new musical waters. He surfaced as Acharné, a stark, minimal/ambient project espousing gorgeous, emotionally vulnerable music intended to help him make sense of so many changes in his life.
Today Bull releases Archarné’s full-length debut, Innocence And Suburbia. He says, “It’s the rawest collection, sonically, I’ve produced in decades – reading more like a curious live-performance than a unified thesis. There are so many of these little sonic ‘fragments’ hidden in hard-drives, and here are some which felt adequate to share for now.
“It’s an offering to those I love in cities which have meant to much to me. To those who have taken me in. It’s a requiem of sorts too, and a celebration of strange new things to come. A farewell, a ‘thank you so’, and pause of drink in the wonder and ferocity of change.”
Here’s the world premiere of an exclusive mixed version of the album which Bull put together. Hit the play button and enjoy.
Deepchild adopts the mantle of prodigal son when it comes to expressing a laboratory-tested digital sludge. Like techno dirt sieved through a hi-spec filter, Rick Bull shakes up beakers, holds up test tubes to whatever light he can find and uses Petri dishes for turntables.
The scientific slant naturally serves tech/deep house cold as the Australian goes native in Berlin by grasping the sterile feel of up-down machinery, though Bull makes a good fist of adding warmth in places, coming up for air before moving down the next corridor. Doing its research far removed from civilisation also means Deepchild can plug in and fire away as abrasively as he wants. The icy blast of “Riyadh,” defined by a patent howl of wind in the distance, and the frankly magnificent battering “I Woke and You Were Smiling”, deliver two loud-as-they-like scavengers of the night, although “Rage” manages to hold itself together.
Bizarre manifestations of the familiar, presumably through isolation getting the better of its professor, rewires Christina Aguilera and Redman out of the boxing ring and into the scary webs of “Dirty Cutlery.” Another trademark has “Then We Dissolved” haunting in its hammering, releasing ghosts from their frozen state of playing dubstep’s mournful accomplice. Clinically, surgically sharp, yet always of a complete rhythmicity, Deepchild smoulders in every sense of the word. File under: Tiefkind, Gary Beck, Mr G