HAPPY ENDING: We Toast Optimo’s Final Night At the Sub Club With Five of Our Favorite Mixes and a Stack of Old Flyers

“And now silence,” wrote DJ/producer Rory Phillips late Sunday night. “R.I.P. Optimo (Espacio). The last of the U.K.’s great weekly parties.”

Phillips should know. As one of the residents of London’s long-running (and dearly-missed) Trash night alongside Erol Alkan, Phillips spent nearly a decade being the British answer to JG Wilkes and JD Twitch. That’d be two of self-titled‘s favorite DJs of all time, the guys who opened our ears to Arthur Russell, Sun City Girls, Carl Craig, Lee Hazelwood, the Langley School Music Project, Black Devil Disco Club, Ricardo Villalobos, the Bush Tetras, Basic Channel, Os Mutantes, etc. etc. And that was just one double-disc mix: 2004’s How to Kill the DJ [Part Two], one of the few CDs we absolutely refuse to remove from our collection. Why? Because it’s a crash course on every (sub)genre known to man, mixed impeccably and without a trace of snobbery.

That’s the thing about Optimo–despite their ridiculous record collections, they’ve never looked down at us. They’ve remained educators through and through, from such equally essential mixes as Walkabout, Psyche Out and Sleepwalk to side projects like Wilkes’ Naum Gabo duo and Twitch’s Betty Botox alias. Not to mention the following five Podcasts, which we’ve uploaded along with and some of our favorite flyers from Optimo’s 13-year run. For the full story behind Optimo, be sure to check out this excellent Resident Advisor feature.

JG WILKES (courtesy of Resident Advisor): The mix was recorded in my studio at home right at the very start of January. I had been DJing almost every night from New Year’s Eve through to the 6th of January and was pretty much clubbed out. The mix was going to have no drums at all but I started messing around in this almost trance like state and this is what came out. I was also going through relationship break up hell and was only listening to Cumbia and heart wrenching torch songs so it’s possibly fortunate for your listeners that the mix didn’t go down that route, although both of those sneak in there somewhere. A couple of the records in the mix are perhaps suffering from night club fatigue (drinks spilled on them etc.) so apologies if the fidelity is a little low in a couple of places.

JD TWITCH: This podcast is called “Synth Summer” and is a selection of (guess what?) synth based music from around the planet. It covers a broad range of styles and a broad time span – from 1980 to some tracks that haven’t been released yet, and that may indeed never see the light of day. It is a dj mix but not a club mix. The flow is the way it is so as to be a listening experience rather than for the dancefloor, even though all the tracks are “dance” tracks. Wherever possible, as much of each track as possible has been included.

There is no tracklist as we think in this day and age with the abundance of mixes available on the internet that people often judge something based on the tracklisting rather than actually listening to it. If anyone really wants to know what a particular track is, we will be happy to tell them.

The mix was recorded using two turntables and a laptop. Wherever possible the original vinyl was used but some of the tracks don’t exist on vinyl. Track one (which we would like to thank Mr. James Holden for providing us with after searching for it for many years) only exists on a cassette from the early 80s so please excuse the fidelity, although it actually sounds pretty fab considering. A tiny bit of post mix editing was done as one of the tracks skipped during the recording and the levels were a little askew in a couple of places. The mix contains 17 tracks, lasts just over an hour and the download is a 192kbps mp3 and is 84.5mb. Enjoy.

JGW: This podcast is called “(All this talk of Disco…) The Jerking Back and Forth Mix”. The title (part-borrowed from a from a Devo song) is an indication of the type of involuntary body responses provoked whilst enjoying these songs as well as the sound itself. The new stuff and the old stuff, the local stuff and the stuff from very far afield is united here through a kind of “loose is tight” jerking rhythm and DIY spirit we love.

Although all tracks are at their original tempo and of course not “mixed” as such, there is however some kind of a flow (be it a “jerking” one) to the podcast.
Again there is no tracklist for reasons outlined in the notes for “Optimo Podcast 01” but again, if anyone really wants to know what a particular track is, we will be happy to tell them. Collected over the past 30 years or so, none of the music is (that) hard to find.

The podcast was recorded using turntables, then the levels balanced here and there in Protools. The mix contains 20 tracks, lasts just under an hour and the download is a 192kbps mp3 (80.9mb). Enjoy.

JDT: This Podcast is called “Take a stroll through your mind” and is a selection of songs with a psychedelic feel from around the world. All of the music is from the late 1960s and early 70s (1967 – 1975) when psychedelic sounds spread to all corners of the globe. There is something about the warmth and the tone of this music, especially that fuzz guitar that sends me into ecstasy. It make me feel as if I am wrapped in cotton wool. While psychedelic music can often sound like a bunch of stoners making a freaked out racket, all of the songs here are exquisitely joyous, beautifully crafted pieces of music, often with ideas and production that still sounds ahead of the curve. Not all of these tracks are intentionally psychedelic, but all have that certain something that can transport one to another place and another time.

All the tracks were recorded from vinyl and in some cases the records aren’t in tip top condition or were fairly poor pressings to begin with (especially the African records), so apologies for the fidelity in a few places. Hopefully the wonder of the music still shines through.

Once again we aren’t making a tracklisting available for the podcast but if you want to know what anything is, feel free to get in touch and we will let you know. None of the tracks are mixed but are all segued together.

In order, the tracks are from the following countries – USA / Zambia / USA / USA / USA / UK / Algeria / Egypt / Brazil / Nigeria / Mexico / Mexico / USA.

The mix contains 13 tracks and lasts 69 minutes and the download is a 192kbps mp3 (90mb). Enjoy.

JGW: Towards the end of 2009 I had a car accident. My car was destroyed but thankfully my two kids were unharmed and I only suffered whiplash and a few bruises. The crash left me thinking a lot about my connection with the hunk of metal I spend 2 or 3 hours a day in during the week and sometimes even longer at the weekends. We often do long drives through the night to our gigs in UK and when abroad we’re regularly car passengers driving between cities or to and from airports. A lot of this time we’re running late, tired, stressed, staring vacantly out the window stuck in traffic or if we’re lucky, asleep. I thought it would be fun to podcast some tracks about cars and what they mean to us.

The mix is certainly not intended as a eulogy of the open road or a soundtrack to cruising the highway in search of your dreams. It’s not “driving” music, rather it’s a collection of favourite tracks and sounds about cars and driving. Clunk-Click every trip…

The podcast was recorded using turntables, then the levels balanced here and there in Protools. The mix contains 18 tracks and a few effects added for fun, lasts just under an hour and the download is 75mb. Enjoy.