Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Selections from We Will Live Again - John Daly (All City Records)

Title: Selections from We Will Live Again
Artist: John Daly
Label: All City Records
Cat Number: ACJD12x1
Genre: Deep House

1: Into The Northern
2: Touch The Sun
3: Dawn
4: Milestones
5: Don’t Ever Stop Loving Me
6: Wild And Free

A sincere and poignant statement accompanies this release. Daly lost his father to cancer, and this music was composed during the time he slipped away. The aftermath of this event was an epiphanic time for him insofar as the importance of his father’s musical influence was concerned. Half of the forthcoming ‘We Will Live Again’ album is present on this release, and it’s a turbulent selection. Listening to bits I’m reminded of ‘Inner City Life’, especially when the vocals kick in. However, this is just a general impression. Having said that, breakbeats are the dominant motif across these compositions, as well as an occasional bass-heavy undertow. The pieces are well-realised and full of character, a reflection, no doubt, of Daly’s emotional state at the time.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Mantras for the Travelling Souls - Fred P & SMBD (Modern Dialect)

Title: Mantras For The Travelling Souls Vol. 1
Artist: Fred P & SMBD
Label: Modern Dialect
Cat Number: MD001
Genre: Deep House

1: Angel Dust
2: Pulling Strings
3: Matralude 1 (Vinyl Only)
4: Hybrid 
5: Mantralude 2 (Vinyl Only)
6: Angel Dust (SMBD Dub) (Digital Only)

You may recoil at the mass of deep house that comes out on a weekly basis. You may also wonder what constitutes the genre, seeing a lack of depth in most releases, and then recoiling at the additional adjective “soulful” thinking it’s one too many and completely unjustified. The music under scrutiny here is of a type that links The Loft to Berghain; in which there’s sincerity, aligned with a contrasting refinement and rawness, which is dynamic, distinct and diverse. I doubt that a more vivid shade of the genre is being released at the moment. I’m reasonably well-versed regarding Fred P, not so with Simbad, who has released under the SMBD alias since sometime last year. so it would be interesting to know exactly who did what here. The ends have justified the means though, whoever is behind what.

A recent Fred P mix I'm enjoying.

Berga Magic EP - Frak (Hypercolour)

Title: Berga Magic EP
Artist: Frak
Label: Hypercolour
Cat Number: HYPE074
Genre: Techno

A1: Tarpaulin
A2: Berga Magic
B1: Monogram
B2: Making Control

An interesting press release accompanies this four tracker, in which Frak get compared to Devo, amongst others, as an example of performance art. I imagine this will be lost on most, but will feel comprehensive in print. Not to worry as the music is interesting enough to compensate, being a dense collage of analogue bleeps, beats and fuzz of slightly varying tempos. Both ‘Monogram’ and ‘Making Control’ fall into the concise bracket, with barely room to maneuver between the beats the space is sought through compact syncopation. ‘Tarpaulin’ and ‘Berga Magic’ on the other hand, contain more space and, ergo, more elongation. It’s six of one and half a dozen of the other here, but it’s very well realised and original.

Monday, September 03, 2018

Alternative Hypothesis EP - Ben Buitendijk (Oblique Music)

Title: Alternative Hypothesis EP
Artist: Ben Buitendijk
Label: Oblique Music
Cat Number: OBQ008
Genre: Techno

1: Contamination Zone
2: Stardust
3: Alternative Hypothesis

I had no idea who Ben Buitendijk is until I heard a track he did for Steve O’Sullivan a while back called ‘Promised Land’, which showed his dubbier side. He also did a splendid mix in the same vein for the Mosaic boss’s excellent mix series. (And I reviewed a past collaboration here). Well, in contrast to the Mosaic stuff, this release has a harder edge, but only really comes out all guns blazing on ‘Contamination Zone’. Both ‘Stardust’ and ‘Alternative Hypothesis’ are sparser, more minimally cosmic cuts, and owe a debt to Jeff Mills. All three tracks float on their own momentum and the production is top notch. Subtle and effective stuff.

Sunday, September 02, 2018

A Drexciyan Legacy: CB2 Norfolk Street 1/9/18 Cambridge

Last night Emmanuelle and me popped out and found our way to CB2 on Norfolk Street. I work in Cambridge so I parked the car where I do on a normal day; a walk of around 15 minutes between us and the bar. Mill Rd was bustling, with its many restaurants seemingly doing brisk business. Once we got towards Norfolk Street though, I was struck by how relatively quiet the area was. Not to worry. We reached the bar, got drinks and went upstairs. The room was small, cozy but, at the time we arrived, empty except for a small group on a table ahead of us, and the gentlemen controlling the proceedings. No matter. The music was great, the visuals suitably impressive and the ambience relaxing. 

I chatted to Laurence Fisher, the brains behind “Motherchip Connexion” an electro night in Cambridge which puts on occasional soirees, mainly at The Man in the Moon, and he spoke as only an enthusiast can regarding the current state of play concerning his taste in music and trying to put it across to the good people of Cambridge. Under no illusions as to the size of the task regarding staging an electro night in the city, he was very friendly and good humoured, but also realistic. I’ve never attended one of the Motherchip nights, and was told that they do ok, but only really fill up for the last hour or so. When this happens they go off, but venue restrictions cut them off in their prime. 

Back to last night; Laurence was joined by Eddie Symons, aka Nullptr aka Bovaflux, and while we were there the music was being played  on some sort of Traktor device. We were content to sit, sip and enjoy the infallibly good sonic treats which flooded through the speakers. The place did start getting busier and happy to say, but there was a very obvious absence of more X chromosomes. Two girls did come to the top of the stairs at one point, but then disappeared. Anyway, we only stayed for an hour and a half, and it might have got busier later on. The conversation on the next table was getting very deep at one point, with one lad earnestly asking the others if they’d red Kodwo Eshun’s ‘More Brilliant Than The Sun’, possibly as a result of me trying to explain to Emmanualle the afrofuturist references within the Drexciyan legacy. 

Nifty little handout from last night.

Saturday, September 01, 2018

Dust And Haze - Valya Kan (Work Them Records)

Title: Dust & Haze
Artist: Valya Kan
Label: Work Them Records
Cat Number: WorkThemRecLP001
Genre: Techno

1: Leave
2: Machine Soul
3: Promises
4: Sick
5: A Perfect Emotion
6: Smoke In The Cockpit
7: Time Capsule
8: Acid Hotel
9: Berlin Mornin’ Summer
10: Promises Dub
11: Saturday 1542

So often the concept of the album is debunked by a lack of understanding as to what it actually is. ‘Dust and Haze’ strays well clear of this and treads a careful, eponymous path through the potential conflicts between different auditory turfs in order to effortlessly rise to the occasion and demonstrate that patience is not only a virtue, but is an essential prerequisite both on the part of the artist and listener. This is a piece of work in more than one sense of the expression; it’s not a collection of highs and lows, rather a sonic smorgasbord of understatement. It clearly goes for the jugular on tracks like “Acid Hotel’ and ‘Sick’, but its power is no less potent on ‘Leave’, ‘’Machine Soul and ‘Promises’, in addition to those other compositions in which a singular sense of nuance and subtlety prevails.