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.