If this man ever stops cranking out music, I’ll have to assume that he’s either
b.) lost several limbs
c.) dead of blood loss related to removal of several limbs
d.) nearing triple-digits in age and taking a well-deserved sabbatical.
Introducing Ron Hardly, whom several of you already know as Nattymari. Paying homage both in name and in primal, hammering house track(s) to Chicago house DJ, Ron Hardy, The House Sound of Chicago is 5 tracks(x) worth of old fashioned, bare bones, strobelit, straight-up house.
Briefly, Ron Hardy was one the founding fathers of house music, taking over The Warehouse after Frankie Knuckles left in 1982(!). (Just to give you some idea how far back house goes… Back far enough that Hardy made his own reel-to-reel edits and then, you know, played them back on a reel-to-reel as part of the mix. He also was one of the first DJs to seriously fuck with the EQs when DJing, bottoming out the bass to drown the high end or dropping the low end to ride the treble. And he devised his own method of playing records backwards, which involved rotating the needle upside down and dropping the wax on a cylinder that allowed the record to rest on the needle. So, shove that in yer noise-hole, everybody who’s ever said “DJs just play other peoples’ records. I don’t see what the big deal is.”)
To set the scene for Ron HardLy’s work, here’s the original Ron Hardly behind the decks (including the inverted one) and reel-to-reel working his magic. (The reversal happens at the 3:20 mark).
And here’s one more, which leads off with the mechanized, minimal banging that we’ll see tribute being paid to below:
The title says it all. Hardly gives off the same sweat-pouring-down-the-walls vibe that Hardy exuded during his sets, relying on a mixture of deep, soulful house and brutal, simplistic beats, the latter of which is sometimes dismissed by critics as “track-y.” As in, more a “DJ tool” than an actual “song.”
The pioneers of house, however, had their hands full producing even simplistic, “track-y” shit. Early drum machines were anything but precise, requiring the operator’s full attention to crank out anything resembling an unwavering 4/4 beat. Cobbling together a rudimentary drum track often meant several hours of dicking with presets and hoping nothing would wobble out of alignment.
Case in point: DJ Sneak’s anecdote about the genesis of his classic house track You Can’t Hide from Your Bud:
“One day in 1997, Sneak promised his friend and fellow Chicago DJ Derrick Carter a new 12-inch for Carter’s label Classic, then spent hours fruitlessly laboring over a basic, bustling four-four beat. Finally, Sneak gave in and smoked the J he’d had stashed for later in the day. When he came back inside, he carelessly dropped the needle onto a Teddy Pendergrass LP, heard the word “Well . . . ,” and realized, “That’s the sample, right there.” He threaded Pendergrass’s 20-year-old disco hit “You Can’t Hide From Yourself” through a low-pass filter to give it the effect of going in and out of aural focus, creating one of the definitive Chicago house singles. “An hour later,” he says, “I called Derrick and played it over the phone: ‘I’ve got your track.'”
Nattymari/Ron Hardly has never been shy about his preference for music to work out “wrong,” so despite today’s handy toolboxes and their metronome-like precision, he’s paying homage to the “basic, bustling four-four beats,” the track-y result of dozens of man-hours. And track-y or not, it makes the house move:
While the whole EP is worth a listen, the standouts are tracks 2-4, each one of them a simultaneous throwdown/throwback, enjoyable on their own terms, but even more so with a little history behind them. For an artist best know for destruction and distension of other peoples’ beats, it’s a bit of a blast to hear him deploy something at full speed.
Check out the full EP at Aural Sects. While you’re there, admire the fully stocked digital shelves and pick up something for the kids. (I recommend the Thoed Myndez, the Nattymari:Obliterated and the Aparition. This is not to disparage the other artists on the roster, but for every album I listen to on the back nine, another release [or two] has been uploaded to take its place. [OK, here’s a couple more: DJ Deathray and the mammoth, 61-track Icepunk compilation.]