Illbient. It's a bit of a dirty word. Blame DJ Spooky. Everybody else does.
To be honest, he probably deserves it. But if you strip away the
ego and the over-intellectualization and simply listen, you'll likely
find some mighty tunes. Asphodel's seminal Incursions in Illbient
remains one of the trippiest documents of the mid-'90s, a master class
of moody dub-wise tunes from four of the genre's most popular acts.
The Abstrakt Wave party featured those artists (Sub Dub, DJ Spooky,
Byzar, We) and many more than that in its short nine month run.
Held on a Sunday evening in Manhattan's East Village at a place they
dubbed The RV, it became a meeting point for the genre's practitioners
to spin wide-ranging sets that did just about anything but
make people dance. That, you see, was beside the point.
Instead, illbient was all about turning on, tuning in and dropping out.
Joints were smoked, great conversations were had, plans were hatched.
It was artists being artists. Given the room to stretch out, the sets at
Abstrakt Wave would often be a subtle contest to find the weirdest record
of them all. (DJ Olive usually won.) And to mix them together into
a sonic soup that was all-encompassing.
This month's promo mix is from Sheldon Drake, who has put together a mix
that he reckons he would have played at Abstrakt Wave in 1996. He's
the first DJ to have actually played at the party that he's celebrating.
But who else to dive deep into the unenviable task of rescuing illbient
from the dustbin of history? At more than 70 tracks and
two hours, he's been nothing if not exhaustive in his argument.