TF Archives

Neil Landstrum

Author: Andrez
Sunday, January 1, 1995
These days Scotland's biggest cultural landmark would appear to be the film Trainspotting, and after the recent elections the country is on the verge of its first attempt at self-determination since James I assumed the English throne in 1603. Things are afoot in the UK's far north, and one individual grafting his own particular route is Neil Landstrumm.

Historical Highland romps like Rob Roy, Braveheart and Highlander continue to shape our impressions of that ambiguous country north of England's border as a place boasting just clans, kilts and a sporran or two. But here in Australia we really should avoid such pitfalls - I mean we're the nation best known for its kangaroos, billabongs, lager and yobs.

The music industry around us in turn acts as a microcosm of this cultural disinformation plague, because if magazines like Muzik are to be believed Australia's biggest musical inroads have been made by people like Rolf Harris, INXS, Kylie Minogue and Dannii Minogue.

Scotland suffers a similarly inane and patronising vision from abroad and especially from south of the border. Ostensibly the UK's last bastion of white-gloved happy hardcore, one man in particular is set to subvert these perceptions, and while he may hark from Edinburgh he runs a label called Scandinavia. Strange things are afoot from the land that spawned the domestic bagpipe.

Neil Landstrumm has been making music for over six years. His soundscape infringes upon the cutting edge of electro - it's flanged-out, metallic techno with an underlying funk groove that's hard to resist in spite of itself. Alongside such peers as Cristian Vogel, Luke Slater, Tobias Schmidt, Surgeon and The Advent, Landstrumm pioneers a soundscape that's just as challenging as it is infectious; it pushes the perimeters of the groove while creating new sounds and techniques within the broader spectrum of this thing called techno.

Of late his name has been a familiar one to those of us interested in this domain, cutting numerous singles and remixes along with albums such as 'Brown By August' on Peacefrog and 'Understanding Disinformation' on Tresor.

Yet in spite of such a prolific amount of music in recent years, there's a fundamental lack of knowledge surrounding the creative synod who is Neil Landstrumm - so I find myself asking the most boring question first: how did this man first get into making music, and why-

"I really listened to no music at all before techno and electronic music," admits Neil. "I was still at school when acid house went off, so it wasn't until 1991 that I really got into it and then back-tracked. I fell in love with the Sheffield and Leeds bass and bleep sound and the newer American techno - [Richie Hawtin's] FUSE project, Dan Bell, Joey Beltram and so on. I decided to make music as I saw that you couldn't really get anywhere DJing."

So what was the specific attraction of the electronic soundscape- "For me it's the only constantly interesting music. It changes all the time."

Since the recent elections in the UK there're now no Conservative seats in Scotland at all and there's talk of semi-autonomous home rule. How does this Edinburgh resident feel about that- "I think it reflects perfectly the mood here - fed-up being ruled by London when we could clearly do the job better ourselves. Scotland has had it tight for years - so hopefully the UK will be dragged into the twentieth century and out of the English public school boys club."

A few months back Neil told Eternity magazine that - although he's tired of doing live PAs - it's "important to keep doing it because I feel that's what true underground techno is - it's instant, it's for the moment . . ." As 1997 meanders on, do these sentiments still hold true- "The problem with doing live PAs is that your equipment gets damaged," Neil explains. "I've had my TR-909 electrocuted and countless keys and switches broken. Another drawback is that club promoters don't or won't pay more for