RIP Ninja Tune Forum

This week saw the closing of an online community that has nourished me over the years.

The forum on the website of record label Ninja Tune was one I've visited since 2001. When I first moved to Wagga and didn't know anyone, it filled a considerable gap in my life.

Then when I bought a computer and started playing with audio software, the remix competitions organised by members of the Forum introduced me to many techniques. For a number of months the stems that made a song would be uploaded and then later it'd be fascinating to hear how different producers had manipulated the material.

Over the years other projects developed as a result of posts on the Forum and many of the best were based on a simple creative constraint, much like the Disquiet Junto that I engage with each week.

The 64-bar Challenge was one of the better-known, which sets a length for a track with an agreed BPM. Results were even prepared by Ninja Tune luminary Keven Foakes, who now handles the DJ Food-moniker that was first an outlet for the Ninja Tune label's founders Coldcut.

(I've recently contributed a couple of tracks to a new Challenge and it was interesting for me as the BPMs chosen weren't those I normally use.)

The Seven-minute mixes were another good project, where the goal was to provide an overview of an artist or band within that time constraint. I enjoyed sharing Beck's breaks, some of Skunkhour and the INXS mix below.

Another project was Cut And Run, which involved a four-bar conribution with the first overlapping on the previous contributor and the last overlapping with the next. The result is brief but gives a taste of the different approaches.

And, finally, the Remix Chain. We're currently working through the fifth of these collaborative projects, where each person remixes the last in a Chinese whispers-style. The title Shinobi Cuts is a play on Ninja Tune but in recent years with conversed more on Facebook than the Forum, so I guess that shows one of the challenges to online communities in recent years.