Monday, July 09, 2018

Odessa Calling EP - Swayzak (Rekids)

Title: Odessa Calling EP
Artist: Swayzak 
Label: Rekids
Cat Number: REKIDS123
Genre: Techno

A1: Odessa Calling
B1: Numbers Station

Swayzak releases have always had an epic scope and this double header is no exception. Using all available production tricks, both of these tracks seem to be playing well within themselves while emanating a confidence borne from a lack of urgency. Both ‘Odessa Calling’ and ‘Numbers Station’ saunter along, but take giant steps as they go. There is a lot going on between the lines as well; ‘Numbers Station’ is particularly characterized by emotive strips of sound which rise and fall before crashing into each other. It’s electronic ork battle music, mate. ‘Odessa Calling’ is a little bit more dubbed out and scales similar heights, but is less dramatic. It makes up for this however, by its progressive shape shifting as it evolves.

Flight 770 - Thee J Johanz (Ballyhoo Records)

Title: Flight 770 
Artist: - Thee J Johanz 
Label: Ballyhoo Records
Cat Number: BALL108
Genre: House

1: Flight 770
2: Night Of The Invisible
3: Thunder Over Tbilisi
4: Look At All Those Stars

I first came into contact with Thee J Johanz after buying ‘Move Your Butty’,  having first heard Nick Hoppner mixing it out of and into something else. It’s understated insistence struck a chord so I got curious. I know nothing about the man himself, but it comes as no surprise to learn that he has a rich heritage, having recorded on the legendery Irdial Discs back in the mid nineties. This release echoes of ‘Move Your Butty’; there is a similar adherence to spatial detail with the various sonic components having plenty of room to breath. Johanz Westerman knows how to get the juices flowing, and on the basis of this EP is a master of the sparse acid overlay, the 303 being omnipresent, (except in ‘Night of the Invisable’), but never overplayed throughout this release. Lovely stuff.

Monday, July 02, 2018

I See You In The Shrubs - Eyes Of Others (Paradise Palms)

Title: I See You In The Shrubs  
Artist: Eyes Of Others
Label: Paradise Palms
Cat Number: PP009

1: I See You In The Shrubs (12” Mix)
2: I See You In The Shrubs (Andrew Weatherall’s A Shrub From Outer Space)
3: I See You In The Shrubs (Donald Dust’s Other Thumper)

It’s easy to understand why this gets a remix from Andrew Weatherall; low slung groover meets stoner waffle which is on he one hand slightly whimsical, the other sonic attack. I suppose a lot of attention will be focused on AW’s remix, which is nice, but losing the original’s incantatory vocal riddim means losing a lot of charm. The voice does stay, however, but in isolated statements of intent. I’m feeling ‘Donald Dust’s Other Thumper’ more myself, which hollows things out and adds emphasis to the subtle layers of sharpened, dubbed kaleidoscopic effects. It’s a subtle pimping of the original in which the base elements coalesce perfectly.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

They're Coming - Delano Smith (Mixmode)

Title: They’re Coming
Artist: Delano Smith
Label: Mixmode
Cat Number: MM013
Genre: Deep House

1: They’re Coming
2: Safe Place

Impeccable grooves from Delano Smith, simple, reliable, effective. He’s peerless when it comes to the low sling dubby stuff, and that’s exactly what you get here. These two could form the backbone of a set for most of the night, such is their versatility. Another thing in their favour is their inherent drugginess; the subtleties which run riot over the top of this pair are on a par with the messiest house has to offer, and they are underpinned by an unerring drive. Fandabidozi!

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Metropolis EP - Kornel Kovacs (UTTU)

Title: Metropolis EP 
Artist:  Kornel Kovacs 
Label: Unknown To The Unknown
Cat Number: UTTU086
Genre: House

1: Metropolis
2: Babasonic
3: Panda

‘Metropolis’ is an instantly forgettable looped piece of house with a wanton female vocal. I imagine the radio version is there either because it’s got hit potential, or to save the listener from the longer rendering, which is twice the length. ‘Babasonic’ is far more interesting, as is ‘Panda’. Both tracks play with wobbly sonics and live in a nether region populated by lo-fi riddims, playful experimentation and a propensity to shuffle. I stopped at Corley Services on my way back from Liverpool a few weeks ago and the chap working at Burger King remarked on my Hot Haus tee shirt. I wonder if he would like this?

Dance Trax Vol 14 - Vin Sol (UTTU)

Title: Dance Trax Vol. 14
Artist: Vin Sol
Label: Unknown To The Unknown
Cat Number: DANCETRAX014
Genre: House

1: On Top
2: My Friend Is In The Main Room
3: Manage
4: Battery Leak

You know what’s coming: raw, rough-edged composotions which recall the golden days of US house trackiness. Heavily derivative they are, but no less substantial. Both ‘Manage’ and ‘Battery Leak’ explore the higher end, with jittery rhythms which mix acid, rubberoid bottom ends and hand claps into enhanced invocations of perspiration. ‘My Friend . . . .’ is no exception to the rule, but goes on a slightly different direction with its compression-led accordion stabs. It’s ‘On Top’ that grabs me the most though; a track which combines the best elements of the other three, and plops a spoken word sample on top for good measure. 

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Box It Ken EP - MadderModes (Dred)

Title: Box It Ken EP
Artist: MadderModes
Label: Dred Records
Cat Number: DRED006
Genre: Deep House

1: Box it Ken (John Osborne Remix)
2: Box It Ken
3: Appalachian Groove
4: Teil
5: Northwest Passage

Taking the original versions first: tracks two and three are quite rich and unctuous. ‘Appalachian Groove’ is a synth heavy builder which strikes out for the stars, peaking and fluctuating both randomly and controlled. Both ‘Teil’ and ‘Northwest Passage’ show different tribal inflections. Each are urgent; but while the former is busy and compact, the latter is more sparse and loping. Both versions of the title track dominate the package, and each has a slany on greatness; John Osborne’s is probably the more distinctive of the two, with a fuller sound, but there’s a drive about the original version which feels irresistible. Having said all of the above, what all of this boils down to is  that this is great drug music, and will sound great when you’re off your cake. No higher praise needed.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Ne0 Ge0 - Cygnus (Barba)

Title: Ne0 Ge0
Artist: Cygnus
Label: Barba
Cat Number: BAR016
Genre: Electro

A1: Zone Shifting
B1: Vertexing
C1: Ne0 Ge0
B2: Astronoot

Well this is nice. Cygnus, aka Philip Washington returns with his first release since 2016 and what a lush affair it is. Straddling a nether world of funk, electro, rolling, tumbling late night vibes and embellished with what feels like a sideways take on eighties jazz fusion in parts, this is an impressive, individual interpretation of everything that made that era great, while feeling completely contemporary. Does that make any sense? What’s even more bizarre is that this release has come out on a label from the country that gave us Dejan Lovren! Cygnus and Croatia take a bow. Possibly the best thing I’ve heard all year, and I’ve heard a lot. Vocoders rule!

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Pioneers EP - Derek Carr (Craigie Knowes)

Title: Pioneers EP
Artist: Derek Carr
Label: Craigie Knowes
Cat Number: CNOWEP10
Genre: Techno

A1: Acid Bath
A2: Anthenia
B1: The Pioneers
B2: Hanging On A String

Another week, another Derek Carr release, or at least that’s how it feels. Not that this is an inconvenience though as the quality control is continually high and the variety wide. Craigie Knowes, who are on a simultaneous, roll all of their own have chosen well as this four tracker emphasizes what a properly polyvalent producer the Irishman is. Touching on acid, (‘Acid Bath’), electro (‘The Pioneers’), and two distinct shades of gliding, emotive techno (‘Anthenia’ and ‘Hanging On A String’), this four tracker exudes energy and positivity. Mr. Carr sounds like he had a lot of fun making this record. And why shouldn’t he have had? These four weapons should raise the temperature and lighten the mood whenever they are deployed.

A Says Hello EP - Alton Miller (Release Sustain)

Title: A Says Hello EP
Artist: Alton Miller
Label: Release/Sustain
Cat Number: RS028
Genre: House

1: A Says Hello
2: Cool But So . . . 
3: Cool But So . . . (Chaos In The CBD Remix)
4: Below The Underdog

The last time I saw Alton Miller play was at a party in the bois du Vincennes in 1997 I think. He was on a bill that included Andy Weatherall, who, the promoter wasted no time in telling us, had to cancel because of a dental appointment. No one believed him and we were all a little disappointed. Fortunately Mr Miller was able to offer some deep house solace on the night and kept things ticking over, playing deep, soulful house of which this latest release is very much reminiscent. There’s not a lot of variety here, but quality control is high, with each track, including the remix, being of the sun kissed on the French Riviera variety, resplendent with percussive disco licks which send your brain back to a time when, in spite of the cold war, life seemed a little bit simpler and more innocent. I suppose it’s because I was a kid then. Ah, well , , , , ,

Monday, June 11, 2018

June 2018 Mix

Paradise Engineering – Galaxian (Return to Disorder)
Elements – John Shima (Firescope)
Visions – ANF (Naff)
July 5 – Robin Ordell (Hello, Repeat?)
El Malekon – Pol & Pot (Toi Toi)
Pulsatii Profunde – (SAM Remix) – Teleruic (Joule Imprint)
Metalurgic Funk Vol. 1 Track 3 – E GZR (Wania)
Rhe Caves – Feral (Hypnus)
Trance 13 (Trance Wax)
Sunset in Tulum – James Solace (Calisto)
Tears – Darren Harris (Ferox)
Asylum – Dawl (Tone Dropout)
005-1- Vlad Atapasu (Atipic)
Canadian (Thor Reconstruction) – Luminer  (We Play The Music We Love)
Severus – M.A.D. (Yoshi)
Star Seeker – Horoshi Watanabe (Select Kashiwa)
Permutation – VC118A (Frustrated Funk)

Friday, June 08, 2018

DontjusttalkaboutitbeAboutIt - JAI.MAHL (Midnight Shift)

Title: #DontjusttalkaboutitbeAboutIt
Artist: JAI/MAHL
Label: Midnight Shift
Cat Number: MNSX012
Genre: Techno

A2: #ICU
B2: # DontjusttalkaboutitbeAboutIt

The urgency and ambience that runs throughout this release is its most distinguishing characteristic. The track names help, and evoke Prince, but it’s all about the music which is dense, at times claustrophobic, and full of rhythm and soul. If there is cause for criticism it’s with ‘#UWILLNOT’ which although coherent, does feel a little overdone. ‘#ICU’ on the other hand, iwith its discordant swirls of dark sonic matter, is a masterpiece. Both ‘#dARE2mATTER’ and ‘# DontjusttalkaboutitbeAboutIt’ bookend a package which attempts the melding of the abstract within levels of cantilevered, collateral damage, all of which falls into place rather splendidly, in spite of itself. This package feels conservative for Jamal Moss, but it’s still light years ahead of most.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Klangbilder - Albert Van Abbe (Echocord Colour)

Title: Klangbilder EP
Artist: Albert van Abbe
Label: Echocord Colour
Genre: Techno

1: Klangbuilder 1
2: Klangbuilder 2
3: Klangbuilder 3
4: Klangbuilder 4

‘Klangbuilder’ has menace doesn’t it? The word is loaded and to call each track on a particular release the same thing, and award a number for differentiation adds to the tension. The first two tracks are funk fuelled frolic fiends, the first distinguished by what sounds like a string section, the second a stark bleepy number with a flat, bleak underlay. Albert could have left it at that, but then he goes all ambient on us, and tracks 3 and 4 are an exercise in patience that I could have done without. They’re ok, with the beat less 4 being more memorable. I was in the mood for dancing though.

The Revenge (Luca Lozano Remixes) - Radio Slave (Rekids)

Title: The Revenge (Luca Lozano Remixes)
Artist: Radio Slave
Label: Rekids
Cat Number: REKIDS120
Genre: House

A: Revenge (Luca Lozano’ How Bow Dis’ remix)
B: Revenge (Luca Lozano’ How Bow Dah’ remix)

Do you like it taut and bouncy, or lush and spacey? I suppose I must be getting old, or more touchy about these things, but is there no other way? Both of these remixes no doubt hit the spot on the dance floor, but neither does that much to tickle my fancy. If I have to choose then I suppose it’s B, with its slightly more introspective take; A feels limited. However, context is everything and, in the right hands this pair could be a deadly layer providing the catalyst for something more adventurous.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Retroactive (Pt 2) - Sir Lord Commix (R Time)

Title: Retroactive (Part Two)
Artist: Sir Lord Commix
Label: R-Time Records
Cat Number: RTM003
Genre: Deep House

A1: UR My Omen
A2: Fog Horn
B1: Chicago Jazz
B2: Motionvibe

A superbly-crafted Detroit/Chicago homage. From the obvious motor city leanings of ‘UR My Omen’ to ‘Chicago Jazz’, this is a release which while breaking no new ground, (not surprising, considering these tracks have been in circulation for some time now, on various lesser known releases), consolidates that which had been covered and, as its name suggests, has fun doing so. It was only last week that I came across my copy of ‘Evidence’ and gave it a good work out, and also noticed the not inconsiderable price it currently commands on Discogs. This made me smile, but some new material wouldn’t go amiss Mr. Sir Lord. 

Monday, May 28, 2018

Notions of Progress - 65D Mavericks (Surface)

Title: Notions of Progress
Artist: 65D Mavericks
Label: Surface
Cat Number: SF 65D 369.1
Genre: Techno

A1: False Prophets
A2: Cosmic Drift
B1: You Lost Your Mind
B2: Immovable (Dub)

There’s nothing wrong with a bit of spoken word. However, I’m left cold by that on ‘False Prophets’, a track which feels so contrived that I’m left thinking what might have been had the backing track been left to its own devices, and the whirring drone that filters in and out of been turned up a notch to dominate; it’s shouty and dated. Similarly, ‘You’ve Lost Your Mind’ feels recorded at the same squat session. ‘Cosmic Drift’ and ‘Immovable (dub)’ both dispense with the vocals and sound all the better for it. Having said that, the whole EP feels lazy and, in spite of the over ten year hiatus, rushed.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Traveller - Morphology (Firescope)

Title: Traveller
Artist: Morphology
Label: Firescope
Cat Number: FS011
Genre: Electro

A1: Distant Signal
A2: Second Light
A3: Farthest Regions
B1: Hidden Variable
B2: Memory Fragments
B3: Detached
C1: Pod Bay 8
C2: Bipolar Nebula
D1: Kernel Method
D2: Deutoros

The artwork, depicting a brutalist spaceship interior, of the type pioneered by the Nostromo, (minus the darkness), ensures that the music will not be of this world. And indeed it isn’t. Which leads one to speculate whether electro will ever feel earthbound. The track titles support the theory that it won’t happen any time soon, not if Finland’s finest electronic exports, along with Aleksi Perala, have anything to do with it. Concepts come and go, but nothing beats good old space exploration, particularly when it’s handled so sensitively. This album works because it gets the balance right time and time again by playing to its strengths. It never tries to be something it isn’t. It reeks of machine funk efficiency, the beats mainly being hard hitting, pausing for thought during ’Memory Fragments’, ‘Detached’, ‘Bipolar Nebula’ and slouching to a graceful finish with ‘Deuteros’. This is a solid piece of work, whose origins can be traced back to the lack of homework in Finnish schools, and the consequent free time thereof spent practicing on analogue hardware.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

First Floor

Just before I took off for Vietnam at the beginning of last month, I became aware of a new magazine ‘First Floor’, put together by stalwart scribe Tim Gibney. Now I hadn’t been in touch with Tim for a long time, but remember him from such websites as . . . errr, one that I bought an acid house t-shirt from when my youngest son was about three. He’s eleven now. Like many friendships born online, we’ve never met, but that option is still open. In any case, I felt emboldened enough to get back in touch and was very kindly sent a mag in exchange for these few words.

It’s a labour of love. This is apparent not just because of its physical format, but in the lack of advertising. The inside cover at either end is reinforced by the presence of Deep Explorer, but this doesn’t really count, as it’s cover star Dubbyman’s label. Dubbyman looks refreshingly un deep house on the cover, more like one of the Ramones minus the speed or smack. And of course it’s the interview with him which occupies pride of place in the magazine. It’s a long and entertaining read in which Dubbyman’s words are never subordinate to the questions being asked, as it should be. There are other lengthy chats too, with, amongst others,Jonno and Tommo, Johannes Albert, Arnheim and Sensible Soccers, which ends on the not unsurprising note that “Now we don’t play sensible soccer anymore.” 

Well that had me welling up as I recalled my forays into the earl days of gaming and my encounters with Sensi. Almost as affecting though, was the use of an ‘s’ on an uncountable noun, which gives me sleepless nights just thinking about it. 

All in all though, ‘First Floor’ is a fine read and will, I hope, go from Strength to strength. It’s nice to have and to hold something. You can only convincingly sip from fine crystal while holding printed underground dance music media, so lets have the second issue pronto please. Well done everybody involved.

Monday, May 07, 2018

Nemesis EP - Simoncino (Unknown to the Unknown)

Title: Nemesis EP
Artist: Simoncino
Label: Unknown to the Unknown
Cat Number: UTTU083
Genre: Deep House

1: Slave
2: Frontline
3: Oh Baby Now
4: Nemesis

The Unknown to the Unknown production line shows no sign of shirking, so with that in mind Simoncino steps up for his second release on the label. And while it’s a competent piece of work, it does feel a little one-dimensional. ‘Slave’ is the most up tempo track here, and easily stands out because of this. The other three each navigate a mid tempo kick and embellish it with varying degrees of synth- led melancholia. Of the three, I’m the most sold on ‘Frontline’, whose cosmic credentials soar a little higher than those of ‘Oh Baby Now’ or the title track. They’re all good compositions; it just feels like they could have spread their wings a bit more.

Scammell (Jay Bliss remix) - OCH (Autoreply)

Sunday, May 06, 2018

Phoenix - Generation Next (7 Days Ent)

Title: Phoenix
Artist: Generation Next
Label: 7 Days Ent
Cat Number: 7DAYSGN1006
Genre: Deep House

A1: Sundance Kid
A2: Roseland
B1: Jungle (10.10.15)
B2: Gold Scorpion

An EP which is sophisticated, low key and confident. Both tracks on the A side grind in traction at different tempos, making use of house friction to oil their respective gears. ‘Jungle (10.10.15)’ makes use of an answerphone message which opens up to envelop the track (it doesn’t really, but sounds like it’s supposed to). Both it and ‘Roseland’ do a good job of unintentionally redefining a fuggy, funky ambience sporadically reined in by a metronomic tourniquet. ‘Gold Scorpion’ is hewn from the ten commandments of melodic Detroit techno, but lacks the peaks and troughs, as well as the depth, to make it truly memorable.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

.elliot.project.006 - Frazer Campbell (elliot.project)

Title: .elliot.project.006
Artist: Frazer Campbell 
Label: elliot.project
Cat Number: .elliot.project.006
Genre: Deep House

A1 Dream
A2 Cant Handle This
B1 Raising Snakes
B2 Raising Snakes (John Osborn Drop The Sugar Remix)
C1 Exhale
C2 Don’t Ignore Me
D1 Cooper
D2 Final Good Bye

Whether this qualifies as an album I’m not sure. For me at least it doesn’t feel like one, and there’s a remix on it. I come not to bury though, but to praise, because this is a release that doesn’t try too hard and gets it right in every respect. Of course that will very much depend on a liking for momentum building deep house with irresistible grooves and the occasional use of disembodied voices to disorientate the hopefully hopped up dancer or listener. There are a variety of levels to filter one’s consciousness through, and all of the tracks are utilitarian, while being multi-faceted. The tempo is controlled and groovy until ‘Cooper’, which descends into a beat less sunrise ambience and in spite of its simplicity is one of the most affecting tracks on this release. ‘Final Goodbye’ continues the good work while picking up the pace a smidgen. Every preceding composition hits one sort of spot or another with an accurate pebble dashing of llengthened, layered bliss which occasionally borders on the trance – like, while retaining an intricacy that can be mesmerizing.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Brainfog - Steven Rutter (Firescope)

Title: Brainfog
Artist: Steven Rutter
Label: Firescope
Cat Number: FS012
Genre: Ambient/Techno

A1: Sleep Gives Freedom
A2: Statuesque
A3: Memories Of You
B1: Cracked Reality
B2: Degenerator
B3: Oracle Unleashed
C1: Squad Free Force
C2: First Degree Anguish
C3: Infinity Engine
D1: Binary Breakdown
D2: Takedown
D3: Hand In Hand

All albums are personal, but maybe this first solo effort from B12’s Steven Ruter is more heartfelt than most. Rutter’s ongoing battle with depression shapes both his life and his artistic output, some of the track titles on this release are proof of this so, I suppose an obvious question to ask may be how is his condition portrayed through his music? I imagine It’s difficult for anyone to say. However, what is clear is that it’s no bed of roses, but there are glimmers of light within the darkness. The pace of the collection picks up a little towards the end, with ‘Infinity Engine’ taking the tempo above second gear. Nevertheless, the dominant feel is intricately structured, introspective and reflective, with the deployed soundscapes maintaining a dignified distance between mind and matter. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

March 2018 Mix

Tripten – Luxus Varta (Brokntoys)
Visions of Vega – Jeremiah R (Voodoo Gold)
New Machines – Simulant (Tresor)
25 11 TE – Kuzma Palkin
Daviselim – Radiq (Memoria)
Grib – Ohm/Kvadrant (AE)
Tidelly Locked – Ekbox (Cabaret)
A New Day – Reggie Dokes (Psychostasia)
Perseverance – Miles Sagnia (Flyance)
Guidance (Calm) – Larry Heard (Guidance)
Seascape – Lazare Hoche & Traumer (Lazare Hoche)
On and On – Aril Brikha (Transmat)
River – Mary Yanex (KANN)
Transition – JS Zeiter (Ranges)
Circuit Rift – Junes (Galdoors)
Eye 2 Eye – Cosmic Messenger (Plink Plonk)
Abyss – Violet (Na├»ve)
Ready 4 Love – Corporation Mindfuck (Hard Beach Entertainment)
Strontium Dog 2 – Stingray 313 ([Naked Lunch])
Pyramids – Eversines (Depth Over Distance)
Orion’s Belt – Piktor (Subtil)
Whateverisness – Metamorphic Interface (Time Passages)
Palindrome Dub – Shuang Hua (Shuang Hua)
Audio Drive – Mark Ambrose (Minifunk)
Unofficial Discourse (Los Hermanos Remix) – Esteban Adame (Dolly)
Curve & Bend – Nopax (Dahlia)
Evolution 5 Technology (JTC Mix) – Series – A (Dark Entries)
Elevation – Sit (Sushitech)
Insanity Dub – Thor (Thule)
Timeline –Tim Jackiw (Slow Life)
Deep Core – Memphis (Memphis)
Exoplanet Vibe Cult – No Moon (Craigie Knowes)