Sitting at the intersection where Chicago house meets the East Sussex countryside; where analogue print processes write a love letter to analogue synths; and where Hacienda nostalgia meets fever dreams of the future, this is a journey into sound led by one guy you’d expect to be chaperoning you, and one you might not.
The Future is Now is the defiantly acid house product of a collaboration between graphic artist, print-maker and designer Anthony Burrill and DJ/producer Andrew Claristidge (of Acid Washed).
The longtime friends and often-time collaborators (Burrill has worked on the visual identity, sleeves and music videos for Acid Washed) bonded as many of us do over house, techno and ambient, old and new.
Having been the visuals guy throughout the relationship, last year Burrill half-jokingly, half-definitely-not-jokingly suggested they work on something a little different: the result being these blistering two tracks. One, according to Burrill, is the archetypal "club banger", while the other is a slightly more languid, lysergic lower tempo version. Both pay homage to those archetypal '80s and '90s club tracks that play with vocal samples, you know, like this.
"The idea was to make an acid house record but not just a slavish recreation, something a little bit different," says Burrill. "Luckily Andrew’s really good, so a lot of my role was jigging about in the background saying ‘that sounds brilliant, turn it up.’ It was almost like art direction in a way, setting a vibe and giving a brief.
"With any creative process, you have a rough idea of what you want and then while you’re working on it, it develops organically. Taking those methods and skills and applying it to a different medium unleashes a different part of your creative mind."
Recorded in Claristidge’s Berlin studio last autumn, Future is Now was created using largely analogue synths and drum machines (including a Roland TR-707, an MFB Nanozwerg, and Claristidge’s trusty Korg Mono/Poly), then processed digitally and combined with some less conventional sounds – including field recordings of chickens, gravel and other countryside accoutrements recorded by Burrill back in Rye, East Sussex.
"I didn’t want it to be only analogue, this nostalgic production," says Claristidge, "so after all the recordings were made we processed a lot of things through computers and give it a modern feel not to feel totally retro. Using limited machines lets you work more on the sound, and how great we can make it with just a few elements – a lot like Anthony does with his work. There’s a lot of play with dynamics and space."
Best known for his letterpress work and typography-led graphic pieces, this is Burrill’s first record, but far from his first dalliance with dance music. Few of his fans will be aware that in the late '80s, as a student in Manchester, he and some friends ran the short-lived Oldham rave Heck Ta Sea in a "stinky events room".
With Burrill’s flyer design, a hoard of Hacienda-loving student pals and a "really crummy sound system", its debut outing was a wild success that peaked with everyone going “absolutely mental” and a "binbag of money" for the organisers (not bad considering its £2 entry fee). Its success was its downfall, however, with a policeman showing up at one of the organiser’s mum’s house, and soon putting an end to all that.
The release, will be available exclusively from Burrill’s website in a limited edition of 300 vinyl-only copies, and each sleeve will be a unique screen print created by Burrill.