Alibi V.23 No.26 • June 26-July 2, 2014 

Show Up!

Deep in the Juju

Oakenfold broadcasts Trance Mission

Paul Oakenfold moves the masses.
Paul Oakenfold moves the masses.
Courtesy of artist

“I was deep in the juju then. I was chasing the train!”—Howard Moon, “The Mighty Boosh”

Jägermeister and trance music go together. At least the mad admen responsible for marketing Paul Oakenfold’s summer tour think so. It’s a sorta Trance Mission if you get my drift. Oakenfold’s tour drops in on Burque on Friday, June 27, under the aegis of the huntmaster’s favorite digestif and as part of a concert series deemed “The Ultimate Summer of Music.”

On the event poster, Oakenfold stands triumphantly above an array of turntables while an inexpressibly large crowd looms below and in front of the prolific DJ. He's wearing a skull-and-bones t-shirt and raising his hands as if preparing a blessing or an incantation. Above him float a couple of names; the font signifying the liqueur mentioned above is only slightly bigger than his own larger-than-life name.

[Oakenfold] has labored for years to bring the ethereal danceability of his genre to the world, stopping along the way to garner kudos from a wide swath of music critics, rocanrolers and curious listeners.

Ironically it hasn’t been all swooning acolytes and bottles of brown cough syrup-like booze for Oakenfold; the artist has labored for years to bring the ethereal danceability of his genre to the world, stopping along the way to garner kudos from a wide swath of music critics, rocanrolers and curious listeners.

If you’re unfamiliar with Oakenfold’s oeuvre, I might mistake you for Howard Moon at the DJ’s upcoming gig. If, on the other hand, you grok his greatness, I might say you are very, very Vince Noir as we both head for the dance floor in some sort of trance.

Oakenfold got his start as a purveyor of others’ tunes, becoming a fixture at Covent Garden pubs and clubs in the late ’70s. Someone or other recognized the dude’s keen ear. By 1984 Oakenfold was working in A&R at Champion Records.

Besides being the mellow fellow who signed DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince, Oakenfold did double-duty as the across-the-pond rep for Beastie Boys as he continued to experiment with the fascinating possibilities of the acid house pouring out of Chicago and drifting across the Atlantic toward his own genre-shifting, electro and jazz-inflected shores.

As years became decades, DJ Oakenfold founded Perfecto Records, traveled to Ibiza to soak up the Balearic beat, was influenced by the regional music of southern India and became a master of the remix. As a consequence he ended up working with just about everyone in the music biz.

Oakenfold is jazzed.
Oakenfold is jazzed.
Courtesy of artist

Long considered the symbol of Radio One’s polyphonic dominance as arbiter of UK musical culture, Oakenfold’s remixes of U2, Happy Mondays and Massive Attack recordings proved more popular and “Even Better than the Real Thing” to listeners on the other side of the eastern ocean, setting in motion an ascendancy that put him at the center of the British electro universe.

From there all paths led to the USA. As the 21st century loomed and then overtook the known world with a buzz and a twitch, Oakenfold’s presence was felt stateside at such seminal electro events as Cyberfest 2000 and Moby’s Area Festival.

Afterward the now-transfixed and expansively creative DJ hopped back across the pond to Peter Gabriel’s studio, recording his first album Bunkka in 2002. Featuring Perry Farrell, Nelly Furtado and Ice Cube, Bunkka continues to demonstrate an elegant experimentalism and drifty brilliance more than a decade later. And with the likes of Hunter S. Thompson speaking life into tracks like “Nixon’s Spirit,” this work defines Oakenfold’s ability to bring divergent voices out of the rocanrol aether, molding them into a form that is cohesive yet memorably twisted and inevitably trance-inducing.

I can’t even describe in words what Oakenfold did with Radiohead’s “Everything in its Right Place.” You’ll just have to listen for yourself. The point here is the thin, otherworldly film of his musical vision; it blankets much of what's commonly regarded as popular, post-millennial music.

From ads for Toyota automobiles to a legendary gig with the Boston Pops, Oakenfold has continued to reach out into the void to pick out, elaborate and obsess over the sounds made by fellow humans interfacing with electronic musical instrumentality.

Oakenfold’s latest transmission from electro-land, Trance Mission—from the midst of his ongoing jazz trance—dropped on Friday, June 20. This collection covers classic trance tunes in the traditionally deconstructive, ultimately and intuitively lyrical Oakenfold fashion.

Speaking recently to Billboard about this endeavor, Oakenfold said, “The idea was to let people hear these wonderful tracks that were a big part of our lives growing up and maybe even check out the originals. ... I don’t know if this current generation has ever heard any of these tracks. They’ve only been in it a few years and maybe only know EDM, and this could be a good start for them to get into something a little deeper.”

Oakenfold brings his ambitious and elusively tasty electronic explorations to town on Friday, June 27, at Sunshine Theater (120 Central SW). This all-ages show revs up at 8pm, and tickets are 15 bones. With or without the implicitly trance-y inclinations provided by the huntmaster’s favorite after-dinner drink, this concert will be totally awesome, whether you fancy yourself a bit like Vince Noir—entranced by the whole idea that music didn’t even exist before the advent of electronica—or more like jazzy ol’ Howard Moon, who's lost deep in the juju and chasing the train.

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