Bill Brewster is a bit of a legend amongst more discerning dance music fans. He's known for playing things a little bit leftfield and was playing disco (along with everything else) some time before it's current return to favour. Crucially, together with Frank Broughton, he wrote what is pretty much the definitive book on the history of DJing - Last Night A DJ Saved My Life (on Amazon.co.uk here - note this link is affiliated and earns the blog money if used).
Between them Broughton and Brewster put a big focus on 'programming' (I.e. the selection of tracks and the sequencing of those tracks into a meaningful order) over technical wizardry or, in some instances, technical capability.
In other words it's what you play that counts, not how you play it. I got into a conversation today about the old 'Super Clubs' of the late 90s and was struck by how things have moved on. Most of them no longer exist (replaced by supper clubs perhaps?!) and yet the nightlife of many towns seems better, if anything. There's less of a focus on superstar DJs and six-hour sets and more of a focus on the tunes. And in my mind, that's what it's all about.
Brewster's latest work is a mix album in the Late Night Tales series. Following on from Tom Findlay's excellent Music For Pleasure release of last year this new one sees Bill add his own concept: After Dark. In his own words, that means it's a compilation of "dance music for people who know how to make love". In other words, it's slow and classy.
Brewster plays to form, and as always it's what he plays that matters most. From the opening track - Marti Caine's seductive disco number Love The Way You Love Me (a track here on CD and digital for the first time) - this is a set of music with little concern for genre or era. Linus Loves' 2004 disco-house track flows from the opening track into the theme from the BBC's 70s TV show Quiller, originally released on the BBC Records and here in an unreleased edit form. It's probably most recognisable for having been sampled extensively by The Avalanches and it's an avant garde slice of disco-jazz insanity.
Rare remixes of tracks from the Doves and Twin Sister are woven into the mix yet don't interrupt the flow, which varies across the mix but retains a dubby disco and funk edge. Phillipe Zdar provides a mix of Machistador, a track by the mysteriously named -M- (he's actually Mathieu Chedid, son of French singer Louis) - it's gloriously funky but manages to be so without loosing a slightly grimey edge, only adding to the appeal. Sleazy guitar solos freak to a thick disco beat that transports you to a dirty basement after-party in New York.
There's plenty hidden away in this mix and it's a densely packed journey that will take a while to fully consume. I:Cube's mix of Beach Towel by Karma is a distorted, mechanical epic, soaring ambient melodies rising up from soft bouncing bass lines and François K's mix of Herbert Moon's Blow Your Body is a deep and cosmic space-jazz track, full of ambience and vibes.
It's occasionally off the wall but it's impossible to resist the pure passion and sheer DJ geekery that Brewster has crowbarred into After Dark. He's made an experimental, sensual and sophisticated dance record for lovers of quality dance music.