It is nigh-on impossible to avoid the impact Ben UFO has had on dance music over the last decade. Through his radio and DJ sets, as well as the Hessle Audio imprint that he co-helms, he has emerged as a musical luminary, blending phenomenal technical craft with an almost-unmatched ear for brilliant music, regardless of time or genre.
It should come as no surprise that his 13-week XOYO residency has boasted a highly eclectic range of guests, a chance for Ben to reflect his own tastes and introduce partygoers to new artists and DJs. Bookings included, but certainly weren't limited to, electro champion DJ Stingray, Metalheadz's DJ Storm and emerging Egyptian selector Zuli.
Fittingly, Ben finished his residency last Friday with fellow Hessle Audio label-heads Pearson Sound and Pangaea, embarking on a five hour set in XOYO's basement that weaved through genres and styles in an eclectic yet cohesive fashion.
Here are 10 of the finest tracks from the trio's set:
1 Solitary Dancer 'Heroine Dub'
The trio kicked off the proceedings at 11pm with a range of d’n’b and jungle gems: Ben previously explained on Facebook, "I spent my late teens and early 20s dancing to and obsessing over this music - it's the reason I started DJing".
The tempo was brought down skilfully, without sacrificing any of the mood. 'Heroine Dub' is a low slung banger, a marked yet fascinating departure from the producer’s prior releases that got the party moving in the right direction.
The track was released on Glaswegian imprint Optimo Trax: the label’s founders, JG Wilkes and JD Twitch, played the fifth week of Ben UFO’s residency under their Optimo (Espacio) moniker. Lively.
2 Ploy 'Ramos'
London-based DJ and producer Parris explained, "Ploy can’t not make a fire beat" and since the latter's debut release in 2016 (on none other than Hessle Audio) his tunes have become go-to tools for DJs wanting to spice up a dancefloor.
His latest EP on Timedance is no different and lead cut ‘Ramos’ is every bit as wonky as the Spanish CB’s World Cup haircut. The track got a much better response though.
3 The Other People Place 'Let Me Be Me'
When ‘Lifestyles of the Café’ was repressed on Warp last year, it re-introduced the world to James Stinson’s stunning music, a bittersweet reminder of what the world has missed since his untimely death in 2002. It’s a testament to his legacy that his Drexciyan electro still works dances in 2018.
4 Tin Man 'Giving It To You'
'Giving It To You' is a shimmering slice of analogue acid that's driven by a rhythmic chug and doused in a gelatine 303 bassline. For those interested, Tin Man’s Acid Acid LP, containing ‘Giving It To You’, has recently been re-issued as 'Acid Acid Acid' with extra unreleased material produced around the period included. If it's nice, spell it thrice.
5 Pangaea 'Bone Sucka'
Probably Hessle’s most banging and club-centric release in some time, not that there's anything wrong with that at all. When it came bowling through the system it instantly took proceedings to dizzying new heights with its rave-inflected samples and behemoth bass.
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6 Troublesome 'Some Girls' (Steve Gurley & Al Brown Remix)
While the Hessle boys cast their sonic net far and wide, they are rooted in a blightly sensiblity that shines through in their selections. UK Garage, in particular, has served as a pivotal reference point for the trio and often features in their sets, providing a broken counterpart to more linear house and techno tracks.
Take Steve Gurley & Al Brown's remix of 'Some Girls', a 2-step bubbler laced with Troublesome's rowdy vocals that provided an oil-slick change in pace and style.
7 Surgeon 'Earth-Sinking-Into-Water'
Released recently on Surgeon's latest project, 'Luminosity Device', 'Earth-Sinking-Into-Water' is a brutal yet pared-back track that that cranked up the energy in the room, its ballistic rhythms matching the slowly rising tempeature in intensity. Not the worst way to cap off a heatwave though.
8 LSDXOXO 'BURN THE WITCH'
When discussing the tracklist to his RA.500 mix in 2015, Ben UFO explained, “A lot of my favourite moments on dance floors this year came via tracks which I felt could be used to open things up and change course—those tracks which can feel like coming up for air after periods of intensity, which can disrupt any sense of linearity and make you feel as a dancer as though anything could come next”.
With its looped piano, Baltimore club bounce and Missy Elliot sample, 'Burn The Witch' did just that, moving out of a techy stretch without breaking a sweat. So, so good.
9 DJ Tre 'It’s House Hybrid'
An electrifying, attention deficit footwork jam that took most people by surprise. It ticked away manically before exploding into some extremely rowdy breaks to a raucous response. Another track, another Hessle wildcard.
10 Klute 'Leo 9'
The last segment of the set was set aside to a series of nuclear drum ’n’ bass and jungle selections, a glowing end to a fantastic residency. Klute’s 1999 release 'Leo 9' filled the room with its soaring melodies and crisp drum patterns, the track managing to feel featherweight yet armed to the teeth. Long live Ben.
James Ball is a freelance journalist, follow him on Twitter