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DATE: 21.04.2007
LOCATION: Yalta club
EVENT: James Lavelle
TEXT: Irina Nikolova  PHOTOS: Dosio & Elena


"The ultimate mix is education and entertaining. People have to enjoy themselves but you also need to be hearing new things, breaking sounds, challenging what you know." – James Lavelle

This statement sums up everything you need to know and you have to expect when you go to see Lavelle playing out his records at a random club night. It is a quote that expresses a philosophy, a way of thinking, a way of life. Lavelle is a hopeless “music junkie” in his own words and he has a great ear for good and groundbreaking music. He has proven it with a number of fantastic mixes for labels such as Global Underground and Fabric in the past and with his outstanding work on UNKLE albums.

To be honest, I have never expected to see James Lavelle on two consecutive nights in Bulgaria an year and a half after I’ve traveled to Belgrade in order to attend one of his gigs in Eastern Europe at that time. Back then, he surprised me a lot with his selection of tracks and the “mental atmosphere” he created for the people. Now I already knew that he definitely couldn’t be called a predictable DJ.

The first Smirnoff experience night was held at Plazma, Plovdiv. The party started with a sinister and heavy sampled intro, followed by a remix James and his production partner Richard File did as UNKLE in 1999 for Blur’s song “Battle” of their album “13” – an all time favourite song and album of mine. Such a remarkable beginning of the night and a great surprise to me because I’ve never expected him to play exactly this remix of UNKLE. After the gloomy start he went into more danceable tracks, influenced by his latest passion for twisted minimal sounds like the once you can hear on a track called Treat ‘Em Mean, Keep ‘Em Keen by Lee Burridge and Dan F.
The mix continued with more progressive records and then went back into the dark minimal direction again with Sascha Funke - In Between Days, Andre Kraml - Safari (James Holden Remix) and later getting techy with the fantastic Machine Ate My Homework by Gavin Herlihy.

James is one of the few DJs that does not afraid to drop a rock record in the middle of a house music mix. And he did it with PJ Harvey - The Slow Drug. It’s true that people didn’t really get this of course (or at least few of them did) but in fact it didn’t matter because the song is HUGE! And he knew it…The whole thing with Lavelle’s eclecticism is a matter of perception, if you are prepared and willing to hear a rock record in the mix, it’s ok or even great for you... but if you aren’t and you’re not open minded enough, it just ain’t going nowhere for you. Lavelle is pushing boundaries, he tends to be eclectic and that’s definitely something he’s been criticized a lot about. Having said that, by the end of the night we got some U2 , Depeche Mode and The Beatles, with original versions of the songs and even an UNKLE edit of “Baby did a bad bad thing” by Chris Isaak.

A brief look around me and I was already aware of the fact that a group of jumping and dancing die-hardies had already formed some sort of a moshpit in front of the decks like people do at a rock concert. A guy was screaming in my ear: “Have you heard UNKLE’s Essential mix from 2002? That is such a class! ” I just smiled at him and dived again deep into those overwhelming sounds. The last track was Sasha’s remix of UNKLE’s In A State and everyone in the front row was singing along with Lavelle.

On the second night at Yalta, Sofia, he arrived around 3:00 am. The support from Juan was very nice and a lot more adequate than what I had heard from the residents at Plazma the previous night. James looked a bit tired. He did the Intro from the previous night and then went into the deepest minimal sound ever. This time we didn’t hear any rock or vocal tracks or UNKLE edits, it was a straight, conceptual, very focused and quite twisted minimal set. One of the highlights of the night was the intense and hypnotic track by Chelonis R. Jones - Deer In The Headlights (Radioslave’s remix). He had started with an idea and kept this direction for 3 hours without deviating from what he had in mind. All he was playing was music that leads you to a certain state of mind and takes you on a journey with highs and lows, music for your brain and not something you can dance to, a lesson, a life experience that goes back & forth, an educating programme in the nightclub. And exactly like when in school or uni, people that came just in order to be entertained left and only the once that were prepared to hear a lesson about the contemporary electronic music state, stayed in.

When he DJs, James Lavelle is a real challenge for the senses and the mind, a true innovator and a very complex person full of ideas and concepts. Like a fellow Lavelle fan concluded earlier the same week :“It’s just James. You either love him to death or you hate him with passion. With him there’s no such thing as the middle way”. And that’s the undisputed truth. I'm glad he came here and even stayed for two days.

by Jolly @ 05 May 2007, 00:34
It was one really different night at Yalta!
Amazing DJ !!! A party to remember!

P.S. track of the week: Unkle vs Autolux - "Unkle Surrender Sounds Sessions 4"
by Dosio @ 05 May 2007, 13:17
Photo album updated: There is a new photos from 20th of April @ Plazma club :-)

It was a great trip to Plovdiv and a very crazy night with James! He rocks! Regards to all the people I have been together at Yalta and Plazma too.
by Adriana @ 22 May 2007, 10:00
The Lavelle performans was extremly amazing.Indescribable feeling.....


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21.04.2007  (CE)