“Mixes of club music can be quite fatiguing”, says Ali Wade. While he doesn’t DJ as much as he used to (“it’s a distraction to making music”), he still buys tracks he likes to hear loud at a party: “mostly deep, broken techno such as Donato Dozzy and Livity Sound”. For the 36th FIBER Podcast he made a selection pulling together favourites from the past year combined with older key influences like Aphex, Autechre and Jega: “it was important the tracks had space to breathe and traverse a range of moods”.
Ali Wade has been involved in electronic music, as DJ, promoter and journalist, since the 90’s. The cities where he lived have been of influence on his musical development, but it was his uncle who sparked his interest in electronic music and with whom he still swaps music today.
“My uncle set the bar pretty high when I was eight or nine – he introduced me to Jean Michel Jarre, Tangerine Dream, Herbie Hancock. I listened to a lot of US punk and indie until raves arrived in Plymouth in the early ‘90s. Then I got into techno and DJing, mainly through the UK free party scene and labels such as Rising High, Warp and Rephlex.
I moved to Nottingham and went to lots of huge outdoor parties thrown by deep house crews DiY and Smokescreen. Around that time I’d also regularly travel to techno parties like House of God in Birmingham, The Orbit in Leeds and Lost in London.
After Nottingham I lived in Bristol, which had a massive influence on me musically. We put on some parties with help from Bristol sound systems that were pretty experimental musically – such as Toxic Dancehall, which fused breakcore, jungle, IDM, noise and proto-dubstep. I’d buy 2-step, electro and early DMZ 12s from Tom Ford (Peverelist) at Rooted Records. Tom’s responsible for putting out some of my favourite music from the past decade, so there’s a strong nod to Bristol’s current crop of labels and artists in this mix”.
Listening to Wade’s album ‘Geomorphology’ it becomes clear that ambient music is a great influence. Asking about pivotal albums in his musical development, Ali mentions Surfing on Sine Waves by Polygon Window, Surgeon’s Basictonalvocabulary, Autechre’s Amber and Jon Brooks’ Walberswick. Especially the latter has been an important influence for getting into modular synths:
“Anthony Child (Surgeon) introduced me to this record. Brooks made Walberswick with a Buchla 200 Series Music Box. Discovering his music aligned with me getting into modular synthesis, so I’d say he’s been the biggest single influence on much of the music I’ve made since then”.
At FIBER Festival 2017 Ali brought his modular rig and treated the audience to an intense show. Performing with this instrument brings forward a quality that also connects to his visual inspiration sources: “The compositions have a plant like quality and grow and evolve […] and they can’t shrink again”, Ali explains in the festivals’ recap video.
This interest in evolving patterns also comes forward in his visual work for which Ali Wade is also known due to his collaborations with Anthony Child. For this he draws inspiration of psychedelic and optical art, by Yayoi Kusama and Bridget Riley. Generative art based on natural processes by artists, such as, Jonathan McCabe and Paul Prudence is also an important source. “I’m also a big fan of collage artist John Stezaker – he’s a master of taking minimal, contrasting elements and interlocking them to create portals into other worlds.”
These influences are also an important element in the artwork that accompanies this podcast: Dahlia is a lamp made by Finnish artist Janne Kyttanen. Kyttanen uses generative design based on nature’s mathematics. Geometrically arranged beams of light pulse from a burnt, textured background. “The juxtaposition of intricate rhythms and melodies with a smearing of frazzled, decaying elements is what draws me to a lot of tracks and DJ sets – the right balance creates music much greater than the sum of its parts”.