A man of many guises
Lord Sabre, The General, Captain Chug, Guv’nor… Andrew Weatherall is many things to many people. He’s a man with a cult following who lap up his every move and is so adored by them he might as well be known as Uncle Andy. Part of that is because he’s utterly reliable, a man who is always on form, always there when you need him, and happens to be just as nice and friendly in person as you would hope for your hero to be.
His appeal is that he mixes the highbrow with the low brow, which means he might quote Nobel Prize winning French author Patrick Modrian one minute, but then recounts a tale about snorting drugs the next. Despite great success—none less so than one of his earliest projects working as a then largely unknown producer on Primal Scream’s widely acclaimed 'Screamedelica' album—he continues to downplay his own ability with statements like “there is always a naivety to [my work] ‘cause I’m a bit of a three-chords-on-the-piano-and-ask-someone-to-play-it-better kinda merchant.”
Right now, he’s in his cosmic biker disco phase and is as revered for his Edwardian outlaw look as he is his music: ‘Chug’ is a sound that prowls along at around 110bpm with tobacco stained grooves, filthy guitar riffs and sleazy synths that are as macho as they come but with the sort of celestial melody that makes it accessible to all. Since the late eighties, though, he has been through many different sounds and scenes. Working as The Two Lone Swordsman with Keith ‘Radioactive Man’ Tenniswood, he produced a body of work that people still gush over decades later. It blended IDM, drum & bass and ground-breaking electronics into subversive future soundtracks.
At the same time, his DJing ability is second to none. He is a master of mood and tempo and can play for umpteen hours on end without losing his thread. He remains utterly in control and follows perfect narrative arcs that seem to suggest he can plan hours into the future. He knows just when and how to ramp it up, and makes it seem so easy that you think you could do the same. But you cannot.
For proof, see standout mixes like those in his Bloodsugar series from the mid-nineties. Dubby, basic channel techno was his staple then, before indie, rockabilly and country rock defined albums like ‘A Pox on The Pioneers’ as he began to experiment with his own voice. A leaning towards electro and disco, then followed and gave rise to labels like Bird Scarer, and at the same time a love of folk birthed his Moine Dubh label and a series of essential 7”s.
Importantly, though, his entire discography is unified with an underlying sense of deep cut groove, rhythm, chord progression and structure that means you can trace a line from Two Lone Swordsman right up to The Asphodells—his live band and studio project alongside Timothy J FairPlay. Always an ideas man who refuses to tread the same ground over and over. He is someone who always seems to make the right choices and never chases in: he could have dined out on the success of his work with Primal Scream for an entire career, but instead takes risks and isn’t afraid to alienate people. But as it happens, he never does, ‘cause Weatherall fans are proper music lovers, rather than fly-by-night hype hounds. For that reason alone, he is truly an electronic hero.
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