A Certain Ratio have shared their seazing afrobeat-inspired track, ‘Afro Dizzy’, writtenaround drum samples recorded by the late Nigerian master percussionist Tony Allen. The new single is the latest clue of what to expect from their forthcoming studio album, 1982 – out on Mute on 31 March 2023.
‘Afro Dizzy’ features one of Manchester’s fastest-rising neo-soul musicians Ellen Beth Abdi, Though a newcomer to A Certain Ratio, it says a lot about the band’s progressive instincts that she’s already as central to the process as the members who’ve been there since the 1970s. For ‘Afro Dizzy’ she penned her own lyrics around a whirling instrumentalbased on a sample pack of drums by Tony Allen. ACR, who have long idolised Allen, had hoped to one day work with him, and wrote the music for the track just days after he died, in 2020.
Watch the video, an animation from artist and musician Tom Furse, and keep your eyes peeled for Tony Allen, who can be seen via archive footage.
To celebrate the release of the album, A Certain Ratio will be embarking on a UK tour throughout April – full details below.
A CERTAIN RATIO – 2023 TOUR 20 April – Edinburgh, Voodoo Rooms 21 April – Huddersfield, The Parish 22 April – Manchester, New Century Hall 23 April – Leeds, Brudenell 25 April – Nottingham, Rescue Rooms 26 April – Birmingham, Hare & Hounds 27 April – Bristol, The Exchange 29 April – London, The Garage
Before that, the band will be hosting a number of special Q&A / signing events in partnership with independent record shops in Manchester, Nottingham and London:
31 March – Manchester, Piccadilly Records – Q&A / signing 1 April – London, Rough Trade East – Q&A / signing 2 April – Nottingham, Rough Trade – Q&A / signing
A Certain Ratio have shared a new track, ‘Waiting on a Train’, the first to be taken from their forthcoming studio album, 1982, scheduled for release on Mute on 31 March 2023.
A Certain Ratio’s greatest strength has always been their unpredictability – “That’s what people like about us, they don’t know what’s coming next!” explains Jez Kerr – and this new track ushers that in via the slick and charismatic presence of Mancunian rapper Chunky . Chunky trades bars with the vocals of one of Manchester’s fastest-rising neo-soul musicians Ellen Beth Abdi, who you’ll recognise from the ACR live line up in recent years, resulting in a track unlike anything the band have made to date.
Watch the video for ‘Waiting on a Train’, directed by Rollcam Directors, produced by Joe Vickers with Jan Koblanski as Director of Photography: https://mute.ffm.to/acr-1982
‘Waiting on a Train’ began life as a lo-fi hip hop jam in the studio, and it made perfect sense to bring in both Chunky and Ellen – already good friends outside of A Certain Ratio.
“It worked really well, there’s great chemistry between them,” Martin Moscrop continues. “It’s got the right amount of pop, the right amount of surrealism, the right amount of moodiness. It just works.” Since they emerged from the hallowed grounds of the late 70s punk scene, A Certain Ratio have moved with gleeful disregard for boundaries of style and genre, their eye fixed firmly on constant progression. It’s an ethos that’s open-minded over all else, and that’s seen them take everything from experimental electronica to vintage funk, filtered through their own Mancunian lens.
Even by the band’s own standards, however, their latest studio album 1982 is multidimensional. It shoots off in every direction, whether via searing Afrobeat, mind- melting jazz breakdowns or moody electronic experiments. Recorded by the core ACR line up of Jez Kerr, Martin Moscrop and Donald Johnson, alongside Tony Quigley, Matthew Steele and Ellen Beth Abdi, soon after their 2021 triptych of EPs and 2020’s ACR Loco, the band’s pleasure at being together in the studio is audible and follows a series of dates that have seen them perform at a huge variety of festivals, including Womad, Wide Awake, Blue Dot, Green Man, Latitude and the Manchester Warehouse Project, in recent years.
And the album title? Although 1982 might conjure memories of the year that saw ACR put out both the acclaimed Sextet and the cult favourite I’d Like To See You Again, it’s more of a playful red herring than an invitation to nostalgia. Like all the band’s best ideas it emerged spontaneously in the studio when Martin was ad-libbing into a vocoder. “It’s called ‘1982’ but I wouldn’t say this album sounds anything like ‘Sextet’,” he points out. Adds Donald: “The title is just playful. People can take it whichever way they can.”
Looking backwards and forwards all at once, drawing on influences from across every spectrum, 1982 is a record that will reward a dedicated listener dozens of times over.
1982 TRACKLISTING (CAT # STUMM480) Samo Waiting on a Train 1982 A Trip in Hulme Constant Curve Afro Dizzy Holy Smoke Tier 3 Ballad of ACR Constant Curve
A Certain Ratio continue an incredible run of releases and touring, one that has marked a dynamic new phase in their career, with details of LOCO REMEZCLADA: a collection of entirely new mixes and reworkings of tracks from across their recent catalogue. Out on 5 November 2021 on double clear vinyl, triple sparkle vinyl, CD and digitally, the new album takes in 2020’s acclaimed ACR LOCO album alongside ‘Down and Dirty’ featuring Denise Johnson, taken from EPA, the first in a trip of EPs released this year: https://mute.ffm.to/acr-remez
LOCO REMEZCLADA features a diverse range of artists, each bringing their own take on the band’s material and list of remixers – which includes Dan Carey, The Orielles, LoneLady, Sink Ya Teeth, The Lounge Society, Lou Hayter, Skream, Colleen Cosmo Murphy and many more – were all chosen by the band, who explain, “We took time to consider who we’d like to have involved, who we admired, who we love hanging out with, who we couldn’t wait to hear what they came up with.”
Dan Carey’s ‘Down & Dirty (Mr Dan Remix)’ opens LOCO REMEZCLADA and the producer, songwriter, mixer and founder of Speedy Wunderground brings his inimitable touch to ‘Down & Dirty’, one of the last tracks ACR recorded with Denise Johnson who passed away unexpectedly last year.
Carey explains, “A long time ago when I was a teenager, I was out in Manchester and spotted a poster that said something about A Certain Ratio remixed by Norman Cook. At the time I didn’t really know what a remix was, who Norman Cook was, or who/what A Certain Ratio was, but somehow I knew it was worth investigating. As a result, I discovered ACR, figured out what remixes were, and started trying do my own. I’ve loved ACR ever since, and got pretty involved in production and remixing, so it meant a lot being asked to do this. It also meant a lot to work with one of the last vocal tracks that Denise recorded.”
Elsewhere on the album, Maps remix ‘Get A Grip’, The Orielles reimagine ‘Yo Yo Gi’, Sink Ya Teeth (who collaborated with ACR on the last studio album) take on ‘What’s Wrong’, Lou Hayter mixes ‘Friends Around Us’ and LoneLady gives ‘Bouncy Bouncy’ the 12” remix treatment.
A Certain Ratio announce the second EP in a series of three, ACR:EPC – out on 2 July 2021 on cornflower blue vinyl and digitally here.
The new EP, which focusses on the art of collaboration and is dedicated to Andrew Weatherall, launches today with ‘Emperor Machine’. ACR and The Emperor Machine’s collaboration came about after a chance meeting at an Andrew Weatherall Weekender outside Todmorden’s infamous Golden Lion. Andrew Meecham (aka The Emperor Machine) explains, “It was Martin who suggested we should maybe collaborate so I sent him a track I’ been working on and when I received the track back, I’ve got to be honest, I was a bit nervous because I’m an ACR fan and wanted to be so perfect. I put my headphones on, pressed play and it totally blew me away. It was just what I was hoping for and more.”
ACR are long-time fans – Jez and Martin often include The Emperor Machine in their DJ sets and describe the track as “a perfect collaboration of ACR & The Emperor Machine.”
Featuring the singles ‘Keep It Together’ and ‘Wonderland’, the four-track EP pays tribute to Denise Johnson who unexpectedly passed away in 2020, and marks their final recordings together. The EP centres around a joyous jam session from March 2020 when the band – Denise Johnson, Tony Quigley, Matthew Steele, Jez Kerr, Donald Johnson and Martin Moscrop – gathered at Oxygene in Salford for an informal weekend of studio time, in part to celebrate completing the mix of their first new album in over a decade, ACR Loco.
You can even hear the band cheering and Denise laughing at the end of ‘Down and Dirty (Jam 2), the band explain, “We wanted to keep all her laughter and our response in the track as it has such warmth and it highlights the real Denise, always laughing and smiling and full of passion.”
Following the track’s premiere on the BBC 6Music breakfast show earlier today, we’re pleased to share the video for the new track ‘Keep It Together’.
Manchester video makers Luke Logan (director) and Joe Vickers (producer) created the psychedelic video, which opens at Stockport Plaza.
“We wanted it to be set in the ‘70s so we invited ACR fans to dress up and become part of the video, among the extras that turned up were Calder Valley’s finest The Lounge Society and Lee from Manchester’s Heavy Salad. They arrived as funkateers, punks, soul boys and girls, hippies, post punks and prog rockers – and everyone looked amazing. The video is about overdoing it on a night out and trying to keep it together.” ACR
‘Keep It Together’ is the latest track to be taken from the forthcoming ACR:EPA, out on Mute on 7 May 2021. The four-track EP centres around a jam session recorded last year with Denise Johnson, sessions that unexpectedly became their last together after the much-loved and much-missed artist passed away several months later. Pre-order here.
We’re so disappointed that what should be a fabulous celebration of Denise’s life has to be limited under the current restrictions, so have already started planning an event in her memory, on her birthday next summer: 31 July 2021.
Her funeral will take place at the Manchester Crematorium, Southern Cemetery at 1pm on Wednesday 19 August.
Due to restrictions on how many mourners are allowed inside the crematorium grounds, well-wishers are asked instead to line the route that Denise will take (see below).
Close friends have been invited to gather in the grounds of the cemetery, with family making up the very small number of guests allowed inside the chapel. We respectfully ask that anyone not already invited should take their place in the lining of the route instead.
Family flowers only: donations in lieu of floral tributes please to either The Music Venue Trust or Age UK, quoting “In memory of Denise Johnson.”
It’s hoped that Denise’s service will be available to view online, either live or shortly afterwards. Details / links will be made available as soon as possible.
Everyone in Denise’s family has been stunned by how much love has poured from friends and colleagues around the country and from all corners of the world: they’ve found it so supportive after Denise’s sudden death, and their message to you all is, simply, “Thank you.”
Please line the route for Denise’s final journey: Starting at approx 12.15pm on Manchester Road in Whalley Range (at the junction of Stratton Road) her route will be straight into Chorlton past the former Baths, Chorlton Library, continuing by the four banks and down Barlow Moor Road by the bus station, over the tramlines at the junction of Mauldeth Road / Hardy Lane, and finally to Southern Cemetery.
A CERTAIN RATIO have shared a new track from their eagerly anticipated new album, ACR Loco. Revitalised by their most successful tour in over two decades, the band returned to the studio to record their first album in 12 years – due for release on Mute on 25 September 2020.
Listen to ‘Yo Yo Gi’ – an irresistible slice of ACR which fuses funk, techno and world music, in the way that only ACR can do – and watch the video, inspired by the Tokyo suburb it was named after from their visit earlier this year: https://youtu.be/pwW0DKsnT-I
The band have also announced details of a very special online event, An Evening with A Certain Ratio, on 25 September. To mark the album release, the band will play their new album in full at the Hope Mill Recording Studio following an exclusive premiere of their 2019 hit-laden gig for the Manchester Warehouse Project’s Haçienda night. The band will also be in conversation, with a Q&A (questions are invited from fans) and to finish, expect one of the band’s infamous ACR Soundsystem DJ sets. To book your ticket, visit: www.livefrom.events/ACR
ACR Loco was recorded by the core line up of Jez Kerr, Martin Moscrop and Donald Johnson with contributions from the ACR live line up – Tony Quigley on sax, Denise Johnson on vocals and Matt Steele on keyboards. Additional guests include Sink Ya Teeth’s Maria Uzor and Gemma Cullingford, Gabe Gurnsey (Factory Floor) and Manchester luminaries Mike Joyce (The Smiths) and experimental multi-instrumentalist Eric Random.
“This album is a culmination of everything we’ve ever done,” explains Kerr. The album distils the different directions and styles that have run throughout the band’s career – one that began in the late ‘70s with Factory Records first ever 7” release. “Digging into the past for the boxset [ACR:BOX was released in 2019 on Mute] must have rubbed off on us and influenced the current album,” says Moscrop. “I think it helped spark up our imagination. It allowed us to work in some of the past as we move forward into the future.”
Keen on the joys of collaboration and sharing, it makes sense that adding the ACR touch to other artists via a series of reworks led to their latest album taking shape. Recent reworks of tracks for the likes of Barry Adamson, The Charlatans and Maps saw the band return to the studio to unpick those original tracks. “The reworks were crucial,” says Donald Johnson. “They got us back in the studio and forced a union and a bond. They allowed us to start getting a groove again.” Kerr mirrors this. “We love doing the reworks because it’s just us doing our thing,” he says. “The three of us jamming is really the basis of it all. Once you get that groove there’s no stopping us.”
The new 10-track album is out on CD, cassette and limited edition coloured vinyl. The vinyl will be available in one of four colours: white, blue, red and turquoise, randomly packed, with each colour of varying rarity.
ACR LOCO TRACKLISTING
Friends Around Us Bouncy Bouncy Yo Yo Gi Supafreak Always In Love Family Get A Grip Berlin What’s Wrong Taxi Guy
Our beautiful and dear Denise has died suddenly at her home in Manchester.
She had been ill in the week prior to her death but told friends she was “much better” on Friday. She was found on Monday morning and the cause of death is not yet known.
Although best known, and famous around the globe for her work with Primal Scream on their albums Screamadelica and Give Out But Don’t Give Up, she first came to ACR’s attention when we heard her beautiful voice on ‘Just a Little More’ by Fifth of Heaven in 1988.
Shortly after, she worked with Martin Moscrop and Donald Johnson on an early Acid House track called ‘Acid to Ecstasy’ by ED209, released on Dave Rofe’s DFM label.
Denise also worked on Ashley & Jackson’s The Sermon and Solid Gold which Martin produced, before joining ACR in the studio to appear on the album ACR:MCR where her vocal skills come to the fore on ‘Be What You Wanna Be’.
The rest is history and historic for ACR, Denise then appeared on ACR:MCR (1990), Up in Downsville (1992), Change The Station (1997), Mind Made Up (2008), She had also been in the studio with us recently and her beautiful voice is on our forthcoming album ACR Loco.
She has been an integral part of ACR’s live line-up since 1990 and has appeared over 200 times with the band in those 30 years, adding her uniqueness to the ACR catalogue pre and post 1990.
She provided guest vocals for New Order, Electronic. Gay Dad and Bernard Butler, to name but a few. She was also a staunch Manchester City supporter, loved them with all the passion you could hear in her singing voice.
More recently, she’d been performing acoustic sets with guitarist Thomas Twemlow, featuring covers of great Mancunian songs by artists such as Cherry Ghost, 10CC and New Order. They opened their Bluedot 2019 set with The Carpenters ‘Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft’ – an appropriate choice for a gig in the shadows of Jodrell Bank’s Lovell Telescope. Her debut album, titled Where Does It Go, is due out in September.
She’s irreplaceable as a person and an artist, ACR are devastated at this loss, we’ll miss her infectious sense of humour and the soaring beauty and passion she brought to our music and our lives.