Calling Marcelle a DJ doesn’t wholly represent what she’s doing. (Three) turntables and a mixer is more the medium that she uses to create and share sounds, ideas and moments.
The same goes for her own productions. They don't have a fixed style, as can be heard on all five EP's released by the Munich label Jahmoni since 2016. They are free in attitude and music and cross boundaries between genres. Most tracks are a collision of ideas, a magically gritty, self-aware car crash as if Muslimgauze grew up in sunny Lisbon with the Principe crew as opposed to the grim North of England.
On her new LP 'One Place For The First Time' we find nine tracks brimming with ideas that ignore stale production norms. Sure, the pulsing drum 'n' bass-esque 'Hippies Use Side Door' is weirdly danceable, just like the cackling stomp of 'Respect Caged Animals', but can we dance to 'Technicians And Their Smoke Machines'? (Answer: We’d certainly enjoy trying). It's almost a jazz song, but like with everything Marcelle does, it's jazz from a different world and has proven to be a dancefloor smash when she’s played out the dubplate over recent months.
Marcelle's life-long love for far-out dub is clear in 'Dub (Dub)' and 'Respect My Snack Foods' is in the same 'educational' tradition as was the song about how to deal with constipation (olive oil!) from the 2018 'Psalm Tree' EP. Now we learn how to apologise. 'The Mother Of All Messes' (a UK newspaper headline about Brexit) introduces perhaps a more tender side, a comforting nursery rhyme plays while a muffled kick occasionally growls with distortion - as if it knows the importance of its place in the dance.
By the time the refrain of the intro track returns it seems to carry more significance, Marcelle has made her point quite clear. Defiant til the end… ‘Don’t touch the table!’ This particular sample is taken from Marcelle's legendary Boiler Room performance at 2018's Nyege Nyege Festival in Uganda where the MC of the event repeatedly declares that 'She Plays Vinyl' and therefore asks 'Don't Touch The Table!'. It goes without saying that the latter song is full of banging on the table noises.
The sleeve - as always with Marcelle - is very colourful and features photos of knitted egg cosies and images related to individual songs. It's a bit of a puzzle to find out which photo connects to which song, an enjoyable challenge, just like the LP itself.
Shining on lineups whether they’re cutting edge festivals, big clubs, touring circus shows or DIY garage venues comes naturally given she approaches all with the same mindset ('always the same, always different'), these causes are adopting her rather than the other way round.
Marcelle is a genuine innovator who remains inherently relevant by not following trends, not focusing on technicalities, having a sense of humour, dissolving obsolete structures, being excited, defying others rules while creating new ones, eschewing #tagline posers and ‘tasteless A&R wankers’, supporting artists that need it, supporting places that need it, supporting people who need it and not giving a fuck for as long as possible.
And HUGELY welcome living proof that you can excel in doing things differently and having a bloody good time n all.
James Marrs, London, March 2019