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Wild Cowley
…Sam Cowley appeared!

Gifts for the Music Enthusiast/Talentless Scenester

Like myself, you have probably spent the last few weeks either deliberating over potential Christmas presents or guiltily putting off thinking about what to get your loved ones. Other people are just far too hard to buy for. How to resist some form of scented soap for your mum, or bottle of whisky for your dad? Now if I was buying for myself or cared enough about any of my friends with similar taste, here are a few items I would snap up in a second.

The Ninja Tune XX Box Set

Ninja! Yo!

Ninja Tune is one of the coolest independent record labels that we can boast as a nation. They have a sprawling and magnificent back catalogue, which charts the fertile ground where electronic and bass music meet alternative Hip Hop.

At £100 their XX Box Set is definitely a gift for someone who bloody deserves it; but rest assured it is a solid investment, which will bring years of listening pleasure and serious music education.

All of the music in the package is 100% exclusive to the set and features: six CD compilations, six 7” singles, two 12” singles, membership to Ninja Tune VIP (which gives you access to a world of free music in the future), a hardback book and a Ninja Tune Family Tree poster and Artwork poster. Quite simply, it is an overwhelming amount of amazing music and paraphernalia. Maybe you could all club together and buy me it?

All the pretty discs

Gil Scott-Heron and Jamie XX ‘We’re New Here’ Limited Edition Box Set

Now this is quite an odd one: it is not actually available until early February, but hear me out. More and more in recent years I have been giving out presents that are either non-existent or unprepared for a number of months after Christmas (insufficiently infused Sloe Gin from last year and Vanilla Essence from this). IOU. presents if you will. While this certainly has more to do with my lack of foresight, I like to think that these are the gifts that keep on giving. When the recipient received the unfinished product or promise of future present, they will be almost as excited as if receiving the real thing (honest), they will have a few months of excited (not frustrated) anticipation and finally a glorious second Christmas once they are finally able to enjoy the finished/arrived present. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Anyway, to the boxset! If you missed out on Gil Scott-Heron’s powerful comeback album I’m New Here earlier this year, then what are you doing? Close this page [going via Sam Lewis’ fine post] and download/buy/beg/steal/borrow… now!

Right, hi there. Amazing isn’t it? Good. Now imagine that brooding, dark and minimal record remixed in its entirety by a master of brooding, dark minimalism. That would be sweet, no? Well imagine no longer. Jamie XX has had his way with the album and added a heck of a lot of stripped back dubstep and minimal electro. You can hear the first release, ‘New York is Killing Me’, here.


The Box Set itself includes: the CD album, a CD of instrumentals and beats from the album, two Heavy Weight Vinyl LPs in pink and green, and two Photographic Prints. If you pre-order the box set now you will also receive a free download of New York is Killing Me.

Some friends and I recently pre-ordered this for a friend’s birthday and he was so grateful it was quite frankly awkward. We didn’t know if he was going to cry, hug us or go to town on our genitals. You can recreate this flood of conflicting emotions by ordering the boxset here. Probably best not for family members though. It could get weird.

Novation Dicer Midi Controller

Button pressin'

My throbbing desire for this piece of kit can be best explained as the inverse of ‘a bad workman blames his tools’. I am not a good DJ, in fact I probably just straight up am not a DJ. But every fibre of my being wants these. If I had them I just know I would be releasing tracks on Ninja Tune by the time We’re New Here is released.

This is, of course, not the case. If I did own them, I would not have the first idea what to do with them, my ownership of them instantly sparking a serious depression as I realise the scale of my own talentlessness.

…But my word, how pretty. The idea is that you use them with other complicated technology that effectively turns vinyl turntables into a digital interface. They cue up samples loops etc. Now, I have a pretty shaky understanding of what I just said, but none the less I am very aroused.

So if you know someone who seems like they know their way around any form of DJ technology, they will probably weep tears of lust when presented with these. Sure they won’t be able to do a thing with them, but that is most certainly not the point.

Tonium Pacemaker 60GB Handheld DJ Console

Gadget Porn

Now this gadget ticks many of the same boxes as the Dicers. I have included them because a) I feel like I might be able to achieve some basic level of competence with it (and if I can do it…) and b) it is gloriously scenestery. The Pacemaker is effectively the DJ’s iPod, allowing you to do everything from practice mixing MP3s on the bus, to actually performing live from the palm of your hand. It is essentially the coolest DJ gadget ever invented.

Now, this is important. Have you watched Charlie Brooker and Chris Morris’ crushing satirical attack on modern culture, Nathan Barley? No? Well, you know the score. Off you go…


Right then. It’s just as relevant now as it was in 2005, it is basically dealing with the same phenomenon as the popular YouTube video ‘Being a dickhead’s cool’ and numerous recent articles attacking hipsters.

I invoke the “meaningless, strutting, cadaver-in-waiting” Nathan Barley for a reason. He was the proud owner of the Wasp T12 Speachtool which featured, amongst other things, twin MP3 decks with Scrubjockey Interface. However hard I try, I am unable to escape the spectre of Brooker and Morris’ satire. Even as I think ‘wow a handheld DJ console, that sounds amazing’, Barley’s rictus grin sears into my brain and I realise what a dreadful talentless hipster I truly am.

But come on, it looks well weapon.


About the author:
Sam Cowley is the kind of man who attracts
questions. Is he a good person? Is he a hipster?
Are the two things mutually exclusive? And, most
importantly, why is he so damn’ handsome? Like
any good man of mystery, he chooses not to answer
any of the questions, instead preferring to communicate
through the medium of tearing peoples’ underpants off
with his bare hands. Also, on his newly-founded blog.

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