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25 Years Of Aficionado compiled by Jason Boardman & Moonboots
25 Years Of Aficionado compiled by Jason Boardman & Moonboots
25 Years Of Aficionado compiled by Jason Boardman & Moonboots
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25 Years Of Aficionado compiled by Jason Boardman & Moonboots

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A celebration of 25 years of the underground Manchester club night 'Aficionado' run by Jason Boardman & Moonboots.

Side A

A1, Held By Trees - In The Trees (Ambient)

A2, Stanley Clarke - desert Song

A3, Jan Akkerman - Ode To Billie Jo

A4, Alan Debray - Concierto de Aranjuez

Side B

B1, High Tower Set - Departure Lounge (Nothing To declare)

B2, J Walk - (Exclusive)

B3, Canyons - Akasha (Begin Remix)

B4, Waves - Summer Sunday

B5, Mudd - Summer In The Woods

Side C

C1, Trevor Herion - Love Chains (Instrumental)

C2, Korallereven - Honey Mine (Lissvik Remix)

C3, Georgio Tuma With Laetitia Sadier - Through Your Hands Love Can Shine

C4, Superimposers - Seeing is Believing

C5, Cecilio & Kapana - Someday

Side D

D1, Teacher - Cant Step Twice On The Same Piece Of Water

D2, Kalima - Shine On (Vibrazonic Dub Mix

D3, Haggis Horns - The Traveller (Part 2)

Frequented by the great and the good from the Manchester underground and beyond. Celebrated by music heads from Lancashire to the White Isle, always different, never the same.

French thinkers Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari in their landmark work of philosophy A Thousand Plateaus created a vast systematic meditation on connectivity. When applied to creativity, such an approach can help detail and categorise all possible variables and account for how great things emerge, stabilise, then disappear. Deleuze and Guattari talked of lines of flight - new trajectories sometimes establishing temporary creative plateaus or assemblages which can be productive or destructive but are ultimately unstable and constantly subject to change and mutation. The trick, they said, is to achieve a balance between the poles which mark the limits of stability and change while strata and sedimentary layers form, and to be fleet of foot; reactive. And unsentimentally so. Survival isn’t guaranteed.

Carried on their own lines of flight and intersecting some twenty-five years ago, Jason Boardman and Moonboots constructed an assemblage of their own - a place to play away from suffocating mainstream club culture. They’d clocked each other as kindred spirits, both running from the accepted rules of engagement at that time.

Typically reductive and characteristically succinct, Moon considers their no-plan-plan to be a makeshift plateau which evolved organically: “All we did was try to play good records one after the other without any consideration for fashion. And people wanted that.” Alternative approaches were not unknown at the time, but Aficionado, as Jason and Moon’s Sunday sessions became known, pressed the reset button with unique resolve.

Jason elaborates: “It was 1998 when we started. It was our own 'fuck you’ to the Super Club regime - almost everywhere then. The ‘anything goes’ Balearic ethos was in abeyance. It wasn’t cool at the time, but we both just wanted to keep that original spirit alive. ‘Keep it open’ had always been my approach to DJing - even from playing at Youth Clubs as a teenager. No rules or generic constrictions. Play anything that you like from any era, any style from any time. We always encouraged our guests to dig deep and play outside of their comfort zones, their usual styles.”

Aficionado reserved the right to apply the brakes and offered the same opportunity to their guests in terms of avoiding stultifying ‘sets’ and routine dance floor button pushing. At the same time, Jason and Moon were also adept in responding to the hedonistic excess which often erupted by playing music likely to facilitate random outbursts of dancing on tables on a school night. Aficionado never settled or coalesced into something readily identifiable and easy to sell.

Regular contributors quickly realised there was a freedom here which expected exploration of the most cobwebbed corners of the collection. The trick was to do something that hadn’t been done before - to play a record which might make these genuinely genre-less sonic adventurers double take. But beware of reissues. There was always the prospect of punishment - wearing a record sleeve on your head if you were discovered to be playing one. This was never done out of elitist snobbery (the rigorous one-upmanship of the northern soul scene is the root of a clubland obsession with originals) but rather designed to bring us all down to earth, to keep it light despite a deep musical commitment. I recall we laughed a lot on many of those nights.

Central to the identity of Aficionado are the very different approaches of Jason and Moon. There’s definitely a space where they symbiotically chime, but their personalities are very different. Moon is an observer, inhabiting the periphery. For him, participation must be negotiated on very particular terms. And increasingly so. He’s not being difficult; he’s uniquely principled. He’s a purist, an aesthete like no other. Jason is a blaze of visceral energy. He’s never less than infectiously enthusiastic about music, with an abiding desire to find the new, the ‘old new’ and the unknown. He’ll unearth amazing noises under your nose and in the most (un)likely of places - pop b-sides you’ve discounted for decades - already lost releases which have fallen between generic cracks.

It’s an enduring relationship, a Balearic bromance perhaps, over thirty years old. I’ve seen them fight occasionally over the daftest of things (usually when pissed) but they’ll hug and make up before anyone has registered the source of the disagreement. Jason recalls how they met: “We kept bumping into each other in Decoy and other digging spots in the city. We had similar tastes. We would swap tips. I saw him as a kindred spirit and admired that he could play the dance floor game, but had far more esoteric interests - both musically and culturally - mirroring my own.”

“I imagine it was probably in E-Bloc we first chatted,” says Moon. “It’s so long ago. I don't remember a time I didn't know JB,” he adds with unexpected affection. “We just get on. Jase sometimes has to put up with ‘Moodboots’, and I sometimes have to watch him fall asleep behind the decks when he's drunk. He's much more switched on to ‘modern' stuff than I am now. He manages to put it all together really well. Crafty bugger…”

Jason believes he understands the longevity of the relationship: “We don’t live in each other’s pockets. We still don’t plan anything and we’ve never discussed a musical philosophy. There’s just a level of trust. Of course, we piss each other off sometimes. But he’s unique. He has such in-depth knowledge. There’s great taste and immaculate programming. And attitude, of course! He's one in a million and I'm lucky to have been on this journey with him.”

So many changes of location would be certain death for some clubs. But the core idea, the ethos, is so strong that it endures. Confirmed ’Nado enthusiasts will find them wherever they land. And there have been many Manchester venues.

For Jason, Sundays at Zumbar were special: “‘It would get very deranged. A cranky Citronic double deck console and very lo-fi, but a real vibe. Free pizza! At Fat Cat we got offered a proper wage - credit in the straight world! A basement by the Canal’.

Moon concurs: “Zumbar was crackers - Sunday became the essential day to go out for our lot. But my two favourite ’Nado venues were Arch in Hulme and Fat Cat. People who’d been up all weekend would turn up spangled. Some bods stopped going out on Saturdays and made Sunday their big night out. Did these people have jobs? Very, very funny times…”

The lovingly crafted musical mystery tour you have in your very hands may not, considering its pleasantly hypnagogic intent, reflect the madness of these now distant memories. There are other compilations of other ’Nados you’d hope may come, which might reflect those Zumbar Sundays, those Bacchanalian table-stomping, deranged disco dancing times of yore. But we’re older now and considerably more responsible. And this is what we need right now - a temporary respite from a world almost capsized. A mood, a meditation created by masters of their craft. Odd socks from disparate global locations making new sense side by side. An assemblage, if you like. A thread through many different kinds of thinking. A new picture pieced together from the lost pieces of many jigsaws.

And what of the future? There seems, unsurprisingly, nothing so conveniently fully-formed as a plan. And the plateau has now dissipated. Dissolved. Aficionado is healthily homeless and unmoored. There seems no existing desire to fix the idea in place at any known geographical location. Occasional gatherings of the tribes will undoubtedly take place in the future - at such times as may be needed. For now, these two firm but resolutely unsentimental friends return to their own lines of flight, the plateau seemingly dissolved.

Moon reflects warmly and without sadness: “As much fun as it was, it's a young man’s game now. I'm too old and cantankerous to DJ anywhere anymore, let alone consider a weekly residency.” Jason leaves things a little more open: “We built something that lasted and in certain senses the mission is complete. The idea of ’Nado - doing what you really believe in despite the prevailing logic of the time - is just as important as any event could be. But never say never…”

john mccready