Hi-Five: Slam

With the release of a new compilation, the Glasgow techno giants salute their hometown sound.
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It's easy to take Orde Meikle and Stuart McMillan, the Glasgow-based DJ and production vets together known as Slam, for granted. After all, since the duo's beginnings in the '80s, theirs has been one of the most consistent partnerships around, through both their DJing and productions—not to mention their label, Soma Quality Recordings, which has itself been one of the the electronic-music world's most dependable entities. Such consistency can sometimes breed indifference—but to overlook Slam and Soma would be a mistake. Meikle and McMillan may never have had the kind of flash that brings jet-set notoriety, but there's a treasure trove of gems in their lengthy discography—think of the emotive bleep-soul on their remix of Dot Allison's 2010 song "Cry," for instance, or 2007's quietly majestic "Azure." And then, of course, there's 1993's "Positive Education," that sweeping, world-conquering track that some have credited as being the first tech-house track (though that distinction is obviously up for argument).
Another reason to bow down to Slam: Nearly three decades after teaming up, Meikle and McMillan—as well as Soma—are as vital as ever. Last year, the pair releasing Reverse Proceed, a set of original works that spanned the Slam sound, ranging from gentle, soothing ambiance to their tried-and-true, propulsive-techno aesthetic. And now Slam has compiled Slam presents Transmissions: Glasgow, just released on Soma. The compilation serves as a loving tribute to Glaswegian electronic-music producers, boasting tunes from Puddledub, Deepbass, Harvey McKay, Gary Beck, Clouds and, of course Slam themselves, among others—and like Reverse Proceed, its scope is wide, with a vibe that ranges from soothing bliss to prime-time pump. But Glasgow is a musically fertile town, and you can't squeeze everything into a single CD—so Meikle and McMillan have thoughtfully bestowed another quintet of tunes from their cherished city.

Slam's "Five Favorite Homegrown Electronica Jams"

Simple Minds "Theme for Great Cities" (Virgin)
We have always loved the Simple Minds productions, up to the New Gold Dream album. In Glasgow during the '80s, there was a myriad of alternative clubs playing everything from punk and new wave to early electronica, synth-pop, ska, etc. to an equally varied clientele, where a number of Simple Minds tracks would be played in one night. The string line in this is just fantastic and totally anthemic—courtesy of their keyboard player, Mike MacNeil—and was sampled, along with a Freddie Mercury sample, to great effect in the Corporation of One's (DJ Freddy Bastone) “The Real Life” on Smokin’ Records out of New York in the '90s—big tune for us around that time. This original just holds so many memories for our whole crew from back in the early days.

Lord of the Isles "Western Electric" (Permanent Vacation)
A fantastic piece of atmospheric ambient music, infused with the sounds of a Scottish machair. These guys are super talented—not so prolific, but truly quality producers. This song takes you back to childhood holidays on the wild west coast of Scotland, just a few hours drive from Glasgow—often rain soaked and windy, but totally stunning, beautifully bleak scenery. Though only lasting just over two and a half minutes, it's moody, deep and haunting—a truly exceptional journey in sonics and emotions.

DJ Q "Going Forward in Reverse" (Filter)
A brilliant release from our friend, Glasgow DJ Paul Flynn (a.k.a. DJ Q). He's in self-imposed musical retirement—we’re still trying to coax him back for something on Soma in the future, so watch this space. This is a slowish, breakbeaty slice of hypnotic splendor, drifting over you in waves—we just loved this the first time we heard it. Dark and hypnotic, it's a timeless classic, and is still played in our warm ups to this day. He used to produce on a totally hardware-based set up, sequencers and drum machines—a man of the "one take"—but what a sound he had . He's a true innovator of the Glasgow scene, and sorely missed, even today.

Percy X x Bloodsugar "-3" (Magnetic Mix) (Soma)
A great collaboration between Tony “The Tan” McKinnon and Andrew Weatherall—slow reggae-infused electronica drenched in strings and trippy vox samples. It's the sound of two great musicians producing a tune that sounds like neither of them—almost Balearic, but not in the bad way, the good way, '90s-stylee. It's a great hot summer night soundtrack, drifting and haunting—yet another Soma single that we feel has stood the test of time, and still has a story to tell, from two artists who are impossible to pigeonhole and are consistently veering away from the overground.

Kode9 "2 Far Gone" (Hyperdub)
Glasgow-born but London-based, Steve Goodman has cruised the underground, never giving an inch in his musical vision. This song, on his own Hyperdub label, is a classic, with Detroit-esque analog drones and hypnotic vocals driving journey. Not really releasing too much in the digital realm, he prefers the vinyl path for his releases—so sometimes doesn’t get the exposure he deserves. But he has plethora of other top releases under his belt, if you can track them down—a true visionary, in our humble opinion.

'Slam presents Transmissions: Glasgow' is out now on Soma; click here to purchase.