Founded over a decade ago, CDR (Create, Define, Release) began when Tony Nwachukwu, a member of Attica Blues, saw his runnings with Mo’Wax and then Sony music come to a close. Seeking to create a positive venture where he could air his musical works in progress while also offering a platform to younger artists, he drafted an outline for the project.
Tagging CDR as “The Night of Ideas and Tracks in the Making” Tony Wach recognised the need for a co-pilot so called in his friend and “fellow man of height”, Gavin Alexander. Together they hosted the first London CDR session at the Embassy bar in 2002, followed by a brief run at Bridge & Tunnel. CDR soon found its literal and spiritual home at Plastic People, a club notorious for its music focused atmosphere and much (app)lauded acoustics.
Since those early days CDR sessions have maintained a balance of blending established pros with individuals who juggle day jobs with an unquashable desire for making music. Uniting in the underground scene, all these talented folk seem to share a disdain for restraining creative ingenuity at the expense of commercial pressures.
Over the years, audiences at CDR have been treated to pre-pre-release plays of songs that went on to achieve plenty of international airplay. Three notable underground hits include Bullion’s ‘Get Familiar’, Floating Points’ ‘Love Me Like This’, and Simbad’s ‘Soul Fever’. Back in Autumn 2010, Mark Pritchard also memorably delighted the crowd for a guest selection packed with tracks that, a few tweaks later, went on to make up his Harmonic 313 and Africa Hitech Warp releases.
Part of Tony’s original vision for CDR was to provide a platform for artists to develop their skills within a likeminded community. With untold success stories (of varying scale) this has become a reality. Regular attendees and friendly faces, Floating Points, Mr Beatnick, and Oriol are three super-skilled individuals to have helped hone their distinct sound through CDR and subsequently establish themselves. To list a comprehensive roll call of artists or acts to have attended would take far more than this brief text.
Although Plastic People remains CDR’s London base, sessions take place across Britain and beyond. Nationally, CDR events frequently happen in Bristol, Birmingham, Derby, Leicester, Nottingham and at numerous festivals.
Moving further afield, Paris hosted the first overseas CDRs back in 2005. Sessions were also set up in Barcelona, Caracas, Tel Aviv and Sydney. Most recently, Copenhagen has also become a frequent host city.
CDR Berlin was established mid-2011 and its popularity has since snowballed. With Dirk Rumpff and John B. Savary running things, guests to have shared their audio insights include Henrik Schwarz, Modeselektor and Theo Parrish. Highlights of each Berlin session are broadcast on RBMA Radio and Soundcloud.
2011 also saw CDR tour India. Made possible by support from The British Council’s Connections through Culture programme, workshops and CDR events took place in Bombay, Delhi, Bangalore and Kolkata. For audio, video or more details of CDR’s Project India and any past CDR ventures, please peruse the Projects page.
In addition to the CDR clubnight format, various acclaimed guests have joined Tony to facilitate additional technical workshops, production tutorials, label showcases or artist Q+As. Two such specials are CDR Knowledge and Beats Sunday Dinner. These events allow attendees to experiment and learn how to use all manner of gizmos with specialists on hand to assist as required.
From floor to shelf…
Back in 2005, CDR branched out with a label, burntprogress. The premiere release consisted of a 10” vinyl EP (which speedily sold out!) and 15-track CD, 1.1 (including a special LP-style edition). Amongst others the album featured songs by Aaron Jerome, Daisuke Tanabe, Dobie and Soundspecies.
Fast-forward to 2009 and the follow up release dropped, 2.1. For the second album Tony and Gavin sifted through oodles of songs amassed in the CDR vaults before selecting their choice contributions.
Both “various artist” albums astutely captured the array of talent attending CDR at their respective times. For artists included it makes the late nights starring at computer screens worthwhile.
One act who have attended CDR since the Bridge & Tunnel days are Soundspecies. Having sonically matured in parallel to CDR’s growth, and as a well-known part of the supportive community, it was a logical move for Soundspecies to release their debut LP on burntprogress. Most of the twelve tracks on the group’s self-titled album were developed, tested and tweaked through airings at CDR London sessions.
Throughout CDR’s existence no pressure has been put on producers to conform to mood, style or tempo. As a result, each session presents truly original and stimulating electronic music. Boundaries are crossed, and genres shattered. While trends have come and gone – echoing the sonic shifts of the past ten years – styles and tempos continue to be explored with all manner of BPMs being chartered.
Having watched an idea grow into a reality and furthermore a blueprint for others, CDR continues to progress. With cities across the UK and scattered over the globe participating, the time has come to centralise and track the innovative musical progress. Create, Define, Release…