Post #8: “The Twelves: BBC Essential Mix” – Don’t stop the dance

the twelves
What if I told you that you can play three tracks at the same time and still make it sound amazing. Well, maybe you can’t, but The Twelves sure can. Be prepared for two hours of serious dancing, lyrics shouting and effortless smiling.

Hola people !

Today I take you one more time on the other side of the Atlantic for a carnival full of cheerfulness, smiles and dance moves. Yes, it is a carnival since today’s mix comes from two guys based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. They go by the name of The Twelves, and their BBC Essential Mix will make you dance for the next two hours.

First off, let’s talk about the BBC Essential Mix. The Essential Mix is a weekly radio show that started broadcasting on BBC Radio 1 on the 30 October 1993. It is (and has always been) hosted by Pete Tong, who will celebrate the 20 years of the program later this year. Its principle is simple: 2 hours of dance music, non-stop, without adverts, mixed by one single electronic music act (a DJ or producer or sometimes a band), broadcasted from 2 to 4 am during the friday/saturday night. Since its beginning, the show has gained recognition and prestige; DJs and artists are now honored to record an Essential Mix. Its history is more than rich and virtually every major electronic artist has recorded an Essential Mix over the years.

BBC Radio A's Essential Mix (taken from BBCR1 website - click on the picture to browse)
BBC Radio A’s Essential Mix (taken from BBCR1 website – click on the picture to browse)

Would it be the House pionners (DJ Pierre, Franckie Knuckles, Marshal Jefferson), the Detroit legends (Jeff Mills, Derrick May), the french touch guys (Daft Punk of course, Air, Dimitri from Paris, Cassius), or techno big names such as Richie Hawtin, Sven Väth or Carl Cox (sometimes broadcasting live from Ibiza), they have all been on the show. The british scene is of course well represented with Sasha, Paul Oakenfold, John Digweed or Judge Jules appearing regularly over the years. With the 00’s electro artists got their 2 hours of fame too: Radio Soulwax/2manydj’s, David Guetta (in 2005), Justice or Erol Alkan for exemple. With such a great and diverse heritage, one understands why it is such a privilege for a DJ to record an Essential Mix. It is not just a 2-hour mix: it is the BBC Essential Mix, broadcasted worldwide on the BBC network, to a potential enormous audience. During the recent years, some DJs have seen a big rise in their popularity after a great Essential Mix: Brodinski, Maya Jane Coles, Nicolas Jaar (see here), Rustie or The Twelves back in 2009 all got praised for their performances. With the growth of the internet in the early 00’s, the BBC radio appeared online and now you can find easily every past mix you want (for streaming at least). That is like an endless gold mine to dig into, something like a bit more than 1000 shows to listen to.

A few words about Brazil now, where The Twelves hail from. João Miguel & Luciano Oliveira belong to the burgeoning brazilian electro scene alongside acts like Database (who released a couple of EPs on Kitsuné) or Mixhell (who play the Soulwaxmas parties every year alongside the 2manydj’s). Both of them come from São Paulo, which is commonly regarded as the clubbing capital of the country, with many clubs and an up-to-it crowd. It is home to some key artists: DJ Marky and his drum’n’bass sound (very popular in the UK) or Gui Boratto, of Kompakt fame. They are now well established figures and run the global club circuit every week-end. You can read more about São Paulo clubbing scene overe here on ResidentAdvisor.

The infamous D-Edge club in São Paulo (taken from ResidentAdvisor)

Back to the music now. The Twelves cut their chops in 2007 and 2008 through numerous remixes. Their frankly incredible, sad and happy at the same time, beautiful rework of ‘Nightvision’ (originally by Daft Punk) has brought them fame on the blogosphere in 2007; while their bouncy remixes for M.I.A.’s Boyz and La Roux’s In for the Kill got them known through the electro-pop scene. They also remixed bands like The Virgins, Phoenix, Two Door Cinema Club or The Black Kids, most of them being featured in their Essential Mix. Last but not least they put together some pretty insane mixtapes (The Twelfth hour, Episode II) which I highly recommend if you like their Essential Mix.

The Twelves deliver a combination of high-energy electro, with hints of disco and house, making for a great club-friendly and super danceable electro-pop. As they say themselves, they like to play tracks that “do not work that much on a club vibe” and remix them live by adding all sorts of sounds like violins, lasers, vocoders and lots of drums, especially toms and repeated cymbals. It feels like you are at the Rio Carnival, marching along a drum corps playing your favorite songs. Pure bliss !

 The Twelves: Nightvision

The Twelves Essential Mix is nothing less than 2 hours of complete fun. It is fuelled with higly contagious energy and delivers a succession of amazing tunes, a sort of permanent mash-up and giant bootleg. Tracks follow each other quickly (it counts 63 in total, so that makes an average of 2 minutes per track), timeouts are cleverly positioned – but you just won’t stop dancing anyway. Virtually every parts are reworked live, from the drums to the voices.
Here is for a short description of the mix. It kicks off strongly with their remix for Fever Ray, then goes into an utterly fantastic double mash-up superimposing the voice part of Fences by Phoenix, over a Rapture track first and then the amazing Look For Love from disco legend Cerrone. Only 5 minutes in and it is already mind-blowing. But wait one more minute and you will hear how Kratwerk (on the vocoder) combines perfectly with Da Funk from Daft Punk. You just can’t stop dancing. After a crazy remix from ‘Ce Jeu’ by french artist Yelle, you get the mad ‘Two Takes It’ from Mr. Oizo, which totally corresponds to the party atmosphere the Twelves have set up. A few seconds later an amazing transition leads up to the (in)famous ‘For Your Love’ by Chilly, reworked and beefed up by the duo, creating another tremendous mash-up with the ‘I Don’t Wanna Be A Freak (But I can’t Help Myself)’ voice part from disco band Dynasty. Another awesome transition later and you get to hear the Twelves truly magnificent take on ‘Reckoner’ by Radiohead: pure magic. And as you were about to calm down for a second, they wake you up with their amazing remix of ‘Walking On A Dream’ by Empire of the Sun.

The Twelves (taken from their facebook page – click to access)

I think I’ll stop here for the tracklist otherwise it is going to take hours. The mix is a list of their influences: from Michael Jackson, Chic and Donna Summer to Kraftwerk, the Chemical Brothers, Mr Oizo and again the Daft Punk. To me, it is like every track is a highlight of the mix. Plus the transitions are absolutely fantastic (mash-up style), and I reckon you should pay great attention to the instrumental tracks in-between the more famous remixed pop songs: they are often shortened to fit the mix, but they are pure gems. Up The Glitter by Eddie Tour (that saxophone riff), Power by Patrick Alavi (what a bassline), Stop by B.W.H. (an essential italo-disco tune), Voyager by Daft Punk (one of their most under-rated songs, that makes up for another incredible mash-up with Indeep – Last Night A DJ Saved My Life) are some exemples of those hidden treasures.

Going straight to the last 20 minutes of the mix which are quite epic; starting with the eternal ‘Trans-Europe Express’ by Kratfwerk, The Twelves continue with their fabulous remix of The Black Kids. Then they literally tear things apart with their crazy edit of ‘House of Jealous Lovers’ from The Rapture, followed by the famous Justice remix of Scenario Rock (“Disco, disco, disco”) and… ‘Aerodynamic’ by Daft Punk. But it has yet to explode, and their electro-heavy mash-up of Boys Noize and Basement Jaxx does just that. What a finale. And you still have got three last tunes to go: their remix of the beautiful ‘Eleanor Rigby’ by the Beatles and their tremendous cover version of Nightvision, before one last song: their killer remix of La Roux’s In For The Kill. Pffffiuuu, what a mix.

(tracklist on the soundcloud page)

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