Reviewed by Adam Corner Source: (Kruger Magazine)
You know how it is - you get in from work, pick up your post, stick the cooker on to fry some bacon, forget that you've turned the hob on, put your pile of post down for a second, and WHOOSH! You've only gone and set fire to the post, endangering your life and your fitted kitchen in the process.
'Not leaving your Mary Anne Hobbs on' jokes aside, you could forgive the warrior queen if the last thing she wanted to do, having almost frazzled her flat, was chat to me about the latest happenings in dubstep, techno and electronica. But Mary Anne Hobbs is no ordinary gal. She's Radio 1's underground Evangeline, and she's enthrallingly enthusiastic about everything…
Mary Anne Hobbs is the voice of all things leftfield and bassy on Radio 1. Although perhaps not possessing the immediate cult status of John Peel, she certainly plays a lot of music he'd approve of - her show in the wee small hours regularly hosts the sharpest electronica, dubstep, and grimey bass line thuds. On the eve of releasing her second compilation, Evangeline, for Planet Mu, Mary Anne is ideally poised to deliver an assessment of the current state of play in the world of the weird. And if anything, it's better and even more diverse than her previous compilation Warrior Dubz, which has a more conventional dubstep feel.
"The dubstep scene has made quantum leaps in the past 18 months - artists in this scene just don't seem to understand the meaning of the word 'boundaries'. It's just a melting pot, and I've tried to reflect that on the new album - drawing parallels between the dark sonics," says Mary Anne. And a melting pot is most certainly what Evangeline is - featuring everything from Wiley at his sketchy best, to newcomer Ben Frost's astounding piece of electronic atmospherics 'Theory of Machines', to the untouchable DJ Pinch doing his best Burial impersonation on 'E Motiv'.
But Mary Anne doesn’t just showcase these folk - she's close friends with a lot of them too. She explains: "Pinch is the loveliest guy - one of the first people I met in the scene, and he gives so much to the show, and the dubstep community in general. He's genuinely a dubstep founding father - while Fwd was starting up in London, Pinch was running a label called Pretext with Peverelist (fellow dubstep producer), which was the precursor to Tectonic (Pinch's all conquering record label). I've got nothing but pure respect for Pinch - he's one of the best producers and deepest deejays. He played the bravest set I've ever heard at DMZ, which is notoriously dark and heavy. He just played super meditative. People stared with their jaws on the floor, the forums were buzzing the next day."
Mary Anne came across the aforementioned Ben Frost, meanwhile, when a listener threw down the gauntlet for her to do a 'beatless special' on the show, which she christened the Beatless Experiment. "Ben Frost was the final track in the show, when we finally bought the beats back in. He's an eccentric character from Iceland, with the weirdest album cover ever - it's like a photo of a horse, upside down having an operation, with green bags covering its feet," the DJ describes.
As well as the forthcoming compilation, Mary Anne is curating (for the second year running) a stage at the electronic mecca known as Sonar, held in Barcelona. She recounts: "Last year we had Skream, Kode 9 and Spaceape. It was a vast outdoor area, which really caught me unawares - the sort of place Faithless play! In fact, the Beastie Boys were playing on the stage next to us - so it was a massive space. People were so into it, we think there were 8-9,000 people watching Skream. It must have been the biggest dubstep crowd ever, and we couldn't believe it worked so well outside of a humid club environment… it was a biblical crowd!"
This year, she's taking Flying Lotus - "an outstanding live performer who grew up within the Coltrane family, and architect of a phenomenal bass sound, he melts jazz and hiphop into the dubstep sound and is an incredibly vibrant live performer" - and Mala, who Mary Anne describes as "untouchable. He's got an exclusive set of dubs that no-one else has got. It's the most intense soul music".
Clearly, Mary Anne is someone who genuinely loves her music - a fact reflected in the name she chose for the new album; "Evangeline is a female interpretation of the word 'evangelist'," she chuckles, "which is something I regularly get accused of being... "
So long as she's preaching the good word of the leftfield and the underground, though, nobody's complaining.
Mary Anne Hobbs - Evangeline - is out now on Planet Mu.
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