Sporting names like DJ Rail Replacement Bus Service and DJ Mangove, the Disco Ma Non Troppo collective have gained a reputation for defying genre boundaries. Packing Oxford venue The Cellar to the rafters for club nights with an uninhibited sense of fun, dancefloor oddities provide the soundtrack as DJ sets segue from dub to disco, hardcore to EBM. Providing another public service via their carefully curated YouTube channel, it’s a place where the obscure and the unconventional coexist, keeping true to an overarching eclectic spirit which defines all that is DMNT. In fact, we dig their uploads so much that it was a no-brainer to give the channel a bit of love, inviting the crew to write some words on a few of their favourite uploads.
1. Księżyc – Gdzie, Ty Byla
It makes a certain amount of sense to start with this – the very first thing uploaded to YouTube on the channel. It’s a beautiful, gossamer piece of music – Meredith Monk plus doleful Slavic folk sensibility. Księżyc (Polish for “moon”) were a short-lived experimental folk group from Poland, who reunited in 2014, not long after Penultimate Press’s reissue of their eponymous, difficult-to-find 1996 album.
This track (the title of which translates as “Where Have You Been”) is sadly not on the Penultimate Press reissue, although the stunning “Chodz” is. Finally tracked down a copy of this a while back!
2. Jackie Robinson – Do You Really Wanna Go?
Between the goofy synth lead and the (borderline) Mitteleuropean diva vocal, this is more or less the sound of the Disco Ma Non Troppo club night. The four of us – Matt, Joel, Lewis, and Dan (me) – started DMNT in early 2016, utterly convinced that somewhere between the unpronounceable name and the reasonably uncompromising music policy, we’d flop horribly (but have a great time doing it).
The idea was to put on a night that catered for the whole span of our tastes, where we’d be equally at home playing ambient music as we would early ’00s grime, folk music as jungle – and lots of disco. Single-genre nights make very little sense in a world where the sort of cultural chasms between different scenes and styles have been utterly eradicated by the internet, and the hope was that we could bring a whole range of music together in a sort of vaguely coherent way.
As it turns out, the nights in Oxford have been more successful and more fun than we could have ever imagined, and we’re taking the night to Bar a Bar in London in October.
3. Larry Chernicoff – Heart of the City
Not entirely sure how I heard this first, but as soon as I’d listened to the Youtube upload of the whole Gallery of Air album, I sent it to Fergus Clark from 12th Isle. He ensured that the first track ‘Woodstock, NY’ saw the light of day on the Miracle Steps compilation on Optimo Music (compiled by Fergus and JD Twitch).
This cut, however, might be even better: a driving, modal jazz-y track that just keeps getting better and better (the searing synth line that’s just a fraction too loud in the mix, the marimbas, the endlessly repeating piano chords, etc etc.) This is very much what early doors at the DMNT club night sounds like.
Larry Chernicoff is an entirely self-taught musician who worked with the likes of Frederick Rzewski and Anthony Braxton. When I messaged him to buy some of his stock of Gallery of Air, he seemed genuinely moved that people were still taking an interest in his work all this years later.
4. Світлана Няньо & Олександр Юрченко – Знаєш як, розкажи II
I moved to the Ukrainian capital Kyiv in March, and have started haphazardly negotiating my way around the strange musical landscape of the former Soviet Union. This is in a similar vein to Księżyc, taken from a vanishingly rare, privately-released cassette (“Знаєш як, розкажи”, tr. “You know how, so tell”) from 1996. Skittering cowbells and a delicate vocal give way to cries of something resembling anguish.
Recommended for fans of the Ihor Tsyombrovsky reissue last year on Vladimir Ivkovic’s Offen Music.
5. Robbie Basho – Cathedrals et Fleur de Lis
I’m not sure this is even close to my favourite Basho song – it’s not even the best recording of this track – but the intensity and immediacy of those first few chords is staggering. I tend to sound daft when I talk about music, especially music as involuted and complex as Basho’s, but the vertiginous beauty of just about everything he wrote is absolutely staggering.
For anyone who hasn’t seen it, Voice of the Eagle: the Enigma of Robbie Basho – which should be seeing a DVD release soon (if it hasn’t already) – is well worth a watch.
6. Madrid Groove – Suave
Uploaded this a few days back – also a DMNT club spin. Between the fulsomely-OTT piano playing and the ridiculous MIDI trumpets, this sort of speaks for itself. I can’t help hearing “Johnny Marr” instead of j’en ai marre somewhere in amongst the breathy French vocal. This is the stuff that all four of our tastes coalesce around, straddling the line between accidental genius and bargain bin forgettableness.
I bought this online from an elderly Spanish man who used to be a fixture in the 60s ye-ye scene, and was responsible for first bringing the Beatles to Spain. He very sweetly bundled the record with a whole photo album and several facsimile copies of a magazine he’d edited back in the ’60s. Record collecting would be nothing but object fetishisation without the human element that goes with it.
7. B12 – Hall of Mirrors (Mix II)
This is a throwback to a more innocent (and probably happier) time spent devouring 90s techno, before the Pandora’s box of Discogs and record stores was well and truly opened. It’s a relentlessly pretty, stripped-back mix of the B12 classic. The original 12” of this continues to elude me, although I’ve got the self-titled Musicology EP, and once managed to find Likemind 002 in a £1 bin in Oxford (of all places).
8. DMNT Club Night Promo Video II
This video was produced by the supremely talented Matt Woodham.