- Andrew Hill
MALL GRAB is precocious London-based Australian Jordon Alexander, known for his recent residency on Rinse FM, his Alone EP (amongst a shelf-load of other releases), and a choice line in back-of-the-cupboard house. He’s also running a sub-label (Steel City Dance Discs) for Bristol’s Shall Not Fade. Busy bee, as anyone who’s seen one of his sets will attest. But before he starts bouncing behind the decks, there are hours of local talent to dance through first. Turning up during PIERS (Garrett, of Melodic Distraction fame)’s set just after midnight, it’s a heady mix of Latin beats. Rhythm might have your two hips moving but a run of Shazz’s El Camino and Art Alfie’s Easy To Love in quick succession has convinced some people in the crowd that they’re in possession of a tripartite pelvis. With such an appealing foundation, he gets away with spinning some real noise over the top – tuneful screaming and Shepard tones. Mmm, contemporary. Resident DJ ANDREW HILL takes over with a more submarine sound, bass from a locked room. His sound’s more brutal, despite funk in the bass. Perhaps the joins are messier, but he confronts the crowd with a noise which defies them to back down, to go harder. They do, and they carry on into the main man’s set, which opens with spare, layered percussion. It’s a while until there’s even a hint of any melodic material. When the sounds upstairs do open, they’re unashamedly 90s, and that’s probably what this crowd wants. Not for nothing has he described his mixes as “mildly celestial, hella stoned introspections”.
Truth be told, the first hour isn’t revelatory for this very reason. A matter of taste, of course, but it’s in hour two that things hot up, with a wider tonal palette, and the sound of machinery gone awry. After that spare opening, the rattle of loose parts becomes a bona-fide offbeat. Showing us this framework, giving us time to absorb it, he wreathes it in squelching eighth notes. Admittedly, his playlists are hard to fathom (they don’t appear much online either), but given his prolific output and obvious love of music, might as well enjoy it. To say the crowd are pleasantly surprised is… an understatement. I don’t even have to ask why it’s popping. An energetic Irishman volunteers his critical opinion. “It’s not electronica with everyone pushing, it’s not techno with no one caring. It’s like, disco, with everyone dancing!” That would be an ecumenical matter, but he’s bang on about the spirit of disco. Add that to the outpourings of a young man who has, one strongly suspects, ring-modded his kitchen utensils and you have reason enough to keep an ear out for Mall Grab. You’ll be hearing him again.