Gerardo Delgado and Quinn Whalley slipped into the world of dance music like a couple of punks crashing a house party—crude, scruffy, with an F-U attitude that made them stand out. Rolling out one sleazy acid riff after another, slurring distorted lyrics that are half Alan Vega, half Iggy Pop, the duo play unique and outrageously catchy house music, and they do it with a style that makes other live acts look like squares.
There’s something to be said about an artist making deliberate attempts to remove themselves as much as is possible from the creations they make in contemporary music. It’s a rather bold move in a climate seemingly fed by the cult of personality, be it on either underground or popular wavelengths; with so many artists attempting to market themselves as reliable brands and personalities, it feels increasingly rare these days that a producer willingly hides behind the curtain as a way to focus attention upon the music they create rather than using masked anonymity as a tool to feed the cult.
A small, UK-based DIY operation calling themselves Paranoid London emerged in 2007 with a single-sided 12″ and a clear, no-nonsense mission statement that left no questions as to what they were doing: ‘We Make Acid’. That single, credited to One Last Riot, was a rough, raw throwback to classic throbbing warehouse synthesis featuring Chicago house pioneer K Alexi Shelby on vocals, chanting the titular A-word over a track that seemed to nod to Alexi’s own 1989 classic ‘My Medusa’. This structural template – conjuring new acid tracks with vintage gear while respecting the roots of their creative heritage via collaborations with some of the forefathers of their sound – became a key component to the Paranoid London modus.
After one further 12″ featuring the soulful voice of Chicago scene vet Paris Brightledge, One Last Riot vanished for a few years only to reemerge in 2012 with a pair of blink-and-you-missed-’em singles that sparked a fresh wave of interest in Paranoid London – now the name of both the label and the collective centered around production duo Quinn Whalley and Gerardo Delgado. One of those singles, ‘Eating Glue’, featured a newcomer from NYC named Mutado Pintado who delivered a beguiling, off-the cuff spoken monologue that reimagines LCD Soundsystem’s droll tirades as influenced by King Missile’s John S Hall circa ‘Detachable Penis’ rather than the caustic cynicism of The Fall’s Mark E Smith. It was ‘Paris Dub 1’ that really made people pay attention, though; the track’s stark, kinetic minimalism featured one of Brightledge’s most warm yet gripping vocal turns, floating atop a commanding wallop that turned heads and moved asses.
The label’s analogue purist code – no promo, no CDs, no downloads, no nonsense – is a policy exercised religiously by the duo, much to the frustration of many heads with modernity on their minds. What’s clear is that the music does indeed stand on its own, and impressively so; many of PL’s productions slot in seamlessly with many of the classics of the Chicago scene’s Trax/DJ International/Transmat salad days. While the work of contemporary acid producers like Tin Man and Recondite aesthetically revisits and pays homage to the compositional majesty of producers like Larry “Mr Fingers” Heard, Paranoid London’s approach is more akin to the perverse industrial thump and squelch of Green Velvet, or the stripped and serrated rough rides of Adonis.
Thomas Numan is the founder and one of the resident DJ of Synthetic. He got indulged by house music and the vibrant clubbing culture of the mid 90s. When he moved to London in the end of the same decade, he came across new sounds that were totally relevating for him. The strong local Techno scene and the Electro/electroclash revival, started shaping a new personal direction. A few years later, he started buying records and got his hands on his first turntables. Soon after, he began organizing parties both in London and his hometown, Thessaloniki.
Since returning there, he got busy playing vinyl only DJ sets and throwing underground parties. His musical style is beyond specific genres. His moto is that ‘there is always the right music, for the right place and time’. The same principle about musical versatility applies to his recent project, called Synthetic. The mobile party organization has most notably presented artists like Juan Atkins, Robert Hood, Surgeon, DVS1, Steffi, Helena Hauff, Gerd Janson, Legowelt, Delano Smith & Palms Trax among many more.