Riton Unleashed, New Radiohead, Homelands Launches, London Xpress Celebrates

Grand Central Unleashes Riton

As Manchester hip-hop duo Rae and Christian prepare for a forthcoming set of U.K. live dates, they are basking in the success of Riton, the latest acquisition for their Grand Central label.

Riton, aka Henry Smithson, is a 23 year-old DJ/producer from Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the north of England. A runner up to Mr. Scruff as best DJ at Manchester's coveted City Life awards last year, he is a somewhat esoteric addition to the largely hip-hop centric Grand Central roster. "The tunes I've been making are different from most Grand Central releases because I've taken what they've been doing and merged it with my influences," Smithson offers.

At just 16, he made his DJ debut at famous Newcastle club Shindig, playing with resident DJs Scott and Scooby. "I was hosting the back room which was a mix up of everything -- pretty much what I still do now," explains Smithson, who subsequently enrolled in a music technology course. In 1998, as a part of the course, he set up his own label, Switch Records, to facilitate his releases. The first release was "People," a track that was eventually licensed to Rae and Christian's Mixmag mix compilation album, released last year.

Smithson says that upon encountering Mark Rae in a club, "I gave him a couple of my [12" singles] and he was very interested." Rae was so interested that he offered him the opportunity to move to Manchester with a view to making an album for Grand Central. "It was brilliant to get a break with Mark Rae because Grand Central was one of my favorite labels," he adds. Taking up a day job at the city's infamous Fat City record store, he crashed at Rae's flat and set about further establishing himself as a producer.

His impressive debut album, "Beats du Jour" -- due out June 4 in the U.K. -- was completed over a six-month period and is comprised of off-the-wall constructions straddling the boundaries of breakbeat, disco, and deep house. "Take Control," Riton's first single release on Grand Central, came out earlier this year.

Now a resident DJ at Manchester's hip Friends and Family nights and also a regular at Fat City's Electric Chair nights, he will be supporting Rae and Christian live June 13 at London's Shepherd's Bush Empire and the next night at Ritz in Manchester. Additionally he's been asked to play June 4 on Coldcut's XFM "Solid Steel" radio show, and in September on Nuphonic's influential "London Xpress" show on the same station.

Brand New Radiohead

RadioheadRadiohead will release "Amnesiac," its new Parlophone album, June 4 in the U.K. The album was constructed from a selection of tracks taken from the same recording sessions in Paris, Copenhagen, and Oxfordshire (where the band originally met) that produced the Grammy-winning "Kid A." First single "Pyramid Song," Radiohead's first since 1998's "No Surprises" (a No. 4 hit in the U.K.), got its British release this week.

Following up last fall's European tour, the group will travel worldwide this year, taking the much talked about Beta Band (which will on July 16 release its "Hot Shots II" album in the U.K. on Regal Recording), along for North American dates.

Homelands Launches Summer Festivals

The first big event of the U.K. summer festival season comes this weekend in the form of Homelands, taking place May 26-27 in the Hampshire countryside.

Indie pop band Pulp will host the new Desperate arena, with the band's Jarvis Cocker and Steve Mackey as resident DJs, co-headlining alongside Orbital. Also featured in this arena will be Parrot (All Seeing-I) and Barry 7 (Add N to X). Homelands organizers expect 50,000 clubbers to attend this year.

London Xpress Show Celebrates First Anniversary

Popular weekly radio show "London Xpress" celebrates its first anniversary on alternative London station XFM with a May 27 party in London's East End. The radio show, during which guest artists have free reign to play whatever music they want for two hours, is the work of producer Dave Hill's trendy Nuphonic record label.

Playing in two rooms at the party will be DJs who have contributed to "London Xpress" shows in the last 12 months, including Groove Armada, David Holmes, and Justin Robertson, as well as dub producers Pressure Drop, who will perform live. An accompanying compilation album featuring exclusive contributions from Bjork, Holmes, and Groove Armada will be released June 4 in the U.K. on Nuphonic.