Monday, June 01, 2020

Confinement Diary 4: David Guetta v Racism

Dream Static - Quaid (Apron Records)

Title: Dream Static
Artist: Quaid
Label: Apron Records
Cat Number: AC06
Genre: Downtempo/Urban Ambience/House

1: Mirage
2: Private Myths
3: 2Desire
4; Binary Starr
5: idreamtaboutyouagainlastnight
6: Dream Theme
7: Mystery feat. Shepherd
8: Latent Heat
9: Chimera Interlude feat. Shepherd
10: Uncanny Valley
11: Dinner With Angela
12: City Of Dreams

The direction followed by Apron Records is an interesting one. Like the previously reviewed ‘Joy Of Missing Out’ by Zopelar, this collection by Quaid documents a similar funk-fuelled diorama, but operates at a different pitch. It’s not as laid back, but that is a question of degree. The vignettes herein pass through the ears of the listener evoking transitory, kinetic feelings. There are recognizable fragments in the mix, such as the Public Enemy evoking siren in  ‘Binary Starr’ and the Ron Trent influenced swirl of ‘Latent Heat’. A pervasive eighties gloss holds sway on ‘Uncanny Valley’, ‘Mirage’, ‘Private Myths’ and ‘City Of Dreams’, accelerating on ‘Dinner With Angela’, while ‘Desire’ feels like something Onehotrix Point Never would have come up with under his Games guise a few years ago. Never less than engaging, this is a sophisticated collection of dissolute sonic facets to soundtrack these uncertain times.

The Oceanic Depths Of Jupiter - Techmarine Bottom Feeders (EPM Music)

Title: The Oceanic Depths Of Jupiter
Artist: Techmarine Bottom Feeders
Label: EPM Music
Cat Number: EPM83
Genre: Electro

1: The Oceanic Depths Of Jupiter
2: A Quagmire Of Confusion (AUX 88 Remix)
3: Squid Ink Posse
4: Sons Of Thunder (Ectomorph Remix)
5: Tactical Sub-Mission (Outro)

An aptly titled release, as the Bottom Feeders go deeper than was previously thought possible on the title track, which is an eloquent piece of aquatic electro that pulses like a blue whale’s heart. ‘Squid Ink Posse’ rolls like only a serious cephalopod can, while the outro lifts one of the more atmospheric elements of ‘The Oceanic Depths . . .’ and emphasizes it. AUX 88 opt for after-hours low rider cruising vibes on their frictional funky remix, while Ectomorph’s is all compartmentalized urgency. It’s a nice package, in which the remixes don’t stand out.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Luke Vibert Presents Amen Andrews - Luke Vibert (Hypercolour)

Title: Luke Vibert Presents Amen Andrews 
Artist: Luke Vibert
Label: Hypercolour
Cat Number: HYPELP015

1: Pressure
2: God
3: Animen
4: DBC 1
5: Bass Kick
6: Ready
7: Sirius
8: Big L
9: Better Breaks
10: New Bust
11: Ready Again
12: Strange
13: Bad Boy Acid
14: Lower

I thought I’d leave this album to play in my bedroom, pop down to watch ‘Primates’ and snuggle back up to it after. However, it had finished by the time I got back, which surprised me. Then I looked at the track lengths, and surmised that in spite of the number of tunes on this release, brevity is everything in the hardcore continuum. There’s no benefit to stretching a point. Enshrining the  Amen break, these brief glimpses of a cartoon parallel world take some basic elements and amplify them to devastating effect. I can’t out it any better than the press release (which is rare) “14 slabs of raucous breakbeat bangers, riddled with cool as fuck samples and bass bin shattering sub”. I like everything on this album, with the samples often deciding which I like more. Current favourites are ‘God’, ‘Ready’, ‘Sirius’ and ‘Bad Boy Acid’, all of which make me piss myself. Actually, the whole album does, but some tunes reduce me to greater levels of incontinence than others. It’s a glorious, cohesive mess.

Nepotik Remixes - Uj Pa Gaz (Tici Taci)

Title: Nepotik Remixes
Artist: Uj Pa Gaz
Label: Tici Taci
Cat Number: 

1: Nepotik (Jason Peters Remix)
2: Nepotik (Boy Division Hi NRG Remix)

I’m delighted to discover that Uj Pa Gaz is from Albania. (Or he says he is. Who knows really?) At first I thought Phoenicia or Byker Grove . . . and then my thoughts turned to Enver Hoxha and not being able to get through customs with a beard, except a Lenin goatee. All of this builds great context, but this is a remix package, not the original article. So what am I on about? Jason Peters and Boy Division, that’s what. Both remixes are jaunty, uptempo versions. Boy Division just had to come up with a Hi NRG version, what’s the point of their existence if not? And the result is an italo-inflected, piano-led piece of heaven with a vocodered  “Nepotik” being the cherry on top. Jason Peters’ remix is equally good. It’s a little heavier and druggier and you might have a few unexpected “turns” while listening to it, but I imagine that’s the point.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Diaoul - Theo Muller (Lumiere Noir Records)

Title: Diaoul
Artist: Theo Muller
Label: Lumiere Noir Records
Cat Number: LN029
Genre: Dense Claustrophobic Chug

1: La Sentence Est Irrevocable
2: I Thought
3: Utopia
4: Diaoul
5: Diaoul (A Strange Wedding Remix)

There’s a lot of interesting music coming out of France at the moment. No sooner had I finished reviewing ‘Ramp Age EP - Security DJ (Raw Culture)’ then my thoughts turned to this, the latest on Chloe’s Lumiere Noir. And while this doesn’t follow the same route, there are similarities in design. The pace is measured, the atmosphere is edgy and the production dense and layered. These are all excellent qualities and serve to illustrate how important it is not to play safe. The various tracks fluctuate in intensity all while keeping the bar high. At times it’s the stuff of nightmares: ‘Utopia’ sounds like anything but, while offering glimpses of salvation. ‘I Thought’ is a determined drive though a science fiction interzone, ‘Diaoul’ a soundtrack to sacrificial shape throwing, (the remix adds funk and retains menace), and ‘La Sentence Est Irrevocable’ a grim march across a bleak, haunted hinterland.

Ramp Age EP - Security DJ (Raw Culture)

Title: Ramp Age EP
Artist: Security DJ
Label: Raw Culture
Cat Number: RWCLTR013
Genre: Techno

1: Ramp Age (Asymmetrical Vocal Rev)
2: Domestic XS
3: Domestic XS (Cardopusher Remix)
4: Ghettonite
5: Club de Hashishins (+Rawmance)
6: Nessun Ricordo Dub

You can feel the sweat dripping off the walls as you listen to this very intense sextet. The beats grind themselves into your consciousness and fester like residual shockwaves, emitting power long after they’ve been extinguished. We’re talking the dark side of chug here, a soundtrack to accompany you across a minefield. The tracks are rigid, acidic, tracky stompers overlaid with effects, all of which are designed to disorientate. ‘Ghettonite’ and ‘Domestic XS’ eloquently summarise prime Relief era beat science, the latters’ remix raising the bar a little bit higher still. ‘Ramp Age’ is threatening and confrontational, but not as weird as ‘Club de Hashishins (+Rawmance)’, which draws on the psychedelic souk to go deep into the listeners neural nether regions. Brilliant, warped stuff which should carry a mandatory public health warning.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Burdens Down (Remixes) - Scan 7 (Elypsia)

Title: Burdens Down (Remixes)
Artist: Scan 7
Label: Elypsia
Cat Number: ELY076
Genre: Techno

1: Burdens Down (DJ Deep & Roman Poncet Remix)
2: Burdens Down (Mark Flash Remix)
3: Burdens Down (Orlando Voorn Remix)
4: Burdens Down (Orlando Voorn Underground Mix)

The original from 2017 is a gospel-tinged soul stomper which highlights the vocals of Maurice Jackson. The remixes herein, with the exception of the DJ Deep/Roman Poncet collaboration, also emphasise his velvet larynx, but even though there is an effort to strengthen the instrumentation, it all feels compromised. There’s only so much you can do to toughen up production under these circumstances without sounding derivative or just wrong. There are traits of hi-tek soul throughout this package, but both Orlando Voorn’s interpretations, and Mark Flash’s fall short, and It’s the ‘Groove la Chord’ functionality of Deep and Poncet’s effort which bears most fruit.

Origins - Foul Play (Sneaker Social Club)

Title: Origins 
Artist: Foul Play
Label: Sneaker Social Club
Cat Number: SNKRG001
Genre: Hardcore

1: Finest Illusion
2: Survival
3; Dubbing You
4: The Alchemist
5: Feel the Vibe (Again)
6: Feel The Vibe
7: Screwface
8: Ricochet
9: Ricochet (No Stopping The Remix)
10: Ragatere

This is a compilation of early EPs by Foul Play and, as such, serves as a valuable document of hardcore/rave during the early nineties. Within these grooves it’s possible to observe the transition from breaks to drum and bass which to an onlooker like myself is so subtle but so critical. Not to worry. There’s no doubt that the music collected here represents an important moment in electronic music history. The music is dark and loaded right form the start, not a second is wasted, each track being a compressed distillation of old skool hardcore vibes and all incorporated influences. The music must have sounded so far ahead of its time back then because it still does, even though the samples used induce a feeling of otherworldly familiarity partly because a lot of the auditory blueprint has become pervasive in pop over the last decade or so. There’s nothing here that doesn't scream innovation while, at the same time being very much of a time and place. Rewind to a warehouse or railway arch within easy access to a local council estate, while going fast forward into the future. 

Friday, May 22, 2020

Some Questions For Eli Verveine

When I think of DJs whose sound I would like to emulate, or I feel that they are playing music in the way I would like to be heard if I had a similar profile, Eli Verveine is a name that immediately springs to mind. From Switzerland and with a global reputation, she is someone whose sound is broadly characterized by depth and groove. When I listen to her sets I am immediately reminded of the classic south London/Croydon approach to shaping techno and house. If it’s deep, warm, danceable and embellished with machine funk and the production isn’t overcrowded, it’s in. These very flexible, accommodating parameters allow a wide variety of music to be incorporated into a typical set, albeit with relatively specific standards to be met, and she has become adept at satisfying these criteria due to her impeccable taste and intuition. I sent her some questions a while back, which I almost forgot about until we entered this period of lockdown, so I pounced while she probably wasn’t as busy as normal, and she was kind enough to get back to me. 

How would you describe your DJing philosophy?

I love the fact that music is a universal language, that you can travel almost everywhere in the world and that you can find this magic that connects people on the dance floor.
I see everyone on the dance floor including myself as unified: we are traveling together and it is a pleasure to steer us through the night with my musical vision.

How many great DJs are also great producers? Who are the first names that spring to mind?

Hmmm. That`s a tough one. To be honest - no names come to mind, since there are a lot. That`s why I will leave it unanswered. 

Which time do you most prefer to play a set and why? 

Every time has its charm and I basically love all of them. Although the time that gives you space for experiments and a kind of musical freedom are the morning hours. That`s why they are especially dear to me.

How aware are you of having any technical skills regarding your DJing? Is this important, or is it all about the music?

When I started DJing I thought technical skills were the most important. It was a time when everybody played vinyl and you had to learn to how beat match. Nowadays I can only laugh at my naive view.

Neither the technical skills alone nor the music make you a good DJ. It`s a combination of many things and skills together. Like how you can read a dance floor, how you combine the records, how much you feel what you are playing. This, combined with technical skills, and you are on your way to becoming a good DJ. Experience might be an important factor too.

Why do you think your ‘Carebear’ mix blew up in the way it did, and how helpful are online mixes to getting your name out there?

I think it was a combination of different factors that came together. After I recorded "Carebear " I burned it on cd and handed it out to friends. It was my first recorded promotional mix ever and I put a lot of thought into it after refusing to record anything for several years.

I had a homepage back then, where the mix and the playlist were posted.  Somehow Chris from the mnml ssgs blog stumbled upon it, posted it and also asked me to record a podcast for his blog. Which happened to be my very first recorded podcast, so to say.

In my case, online mixes helped a lot in getting exposure and recognition on a larger scale. 
Mixes are definitely important, especially if you don`t  have any releases.
Nowadays the Internet is flooded with mixes, so it`s also more difficult to get attention through it.

Your sets have been described as “timeless”, (mnml ssgs 2008), and draw “on music from the past 15 or so years”, (RA 2012). How innovative do you think house and techno are right now and do you have a favourite period?

I think nowadays it is more difficult to be innovative in house and techno since - at this point - they are very established genres, nonetheless, what you can do is add your personal touch or flair. My favourite period would probably be the one between the years 1996 - 1999, even though I can always find great & timeless music in every period of dance music.

How many records do you have and how many do you need? How important is it to keep up-to-date with what’s coming out and where do you do your shopping?

After my last move, I got rid of more than half of my collection. I still have a big shelf full of records, around 2000.
I have to say that it was not the easiest task, but at the same time it was also very liberating. Now I have space for new music and the records that I own are all favorites.

In the RA interview which accompanies your podcast, you mention how important it is to have “(great/special) moments” on the dance floor. Could you elaborate on this and how you, as a DJ, can create them?

I think you're misquoting me in that RA interview :)
The special moment mentioned was more of the result of a good crowd, good music and a good sound system. Nonetheless, one of the best things if not the best thing at a gig is when your vision portrayed in a set as a DJ coincides with what the crowd wants: this midpoint between where you want to reach with your journey and what the crowd wants - THAT is the special moment that I strive for.

In the same interview you describe yourself as a nerd. How important is it to be one in your position? 

I don`t think this matters at all. Just be yourself.

Which DJs would you go out of your way to hear play?

DVS1, Dan Bell, Marc Schneider...just to name a few

Could you do an all time top five?

Kinda Kickin' - DJ Boom (Phonography)

Starlight - Model 500 (Metroplex)

Dr Bootygrabber - Detroit Grand Poobahs (Detelefunk)

Tick Tock - Chiapet (Yoshi Toshi)

Sandcastle (Mike Huckaby Remix) - Precession (Ferox)

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Refractions - Hans Berg (UFO)

Title: Refractions
Artist: Hans Berg
Label: UFO
Cat Number: UFO006
Genre: Deep House

01: Spiral
02: Something Delicious
03: Something Delicious (Johanna Knutsson Remix)
04: Cascade

A trancetastic release that is both subtle and powerful. Both ‘Spiral’ and ‘Cascade’ go for the jugular: the former a voluminous, undulating rocket to the outer limits, the latter an airy, break beat propelled elastic flange monster. ‘Something Delicious’ in both guises is more subdued; the remix a darting, haunting, melodic, low key percussive workout, the original a soundtrack to a more organic, Devonian environment where the world is starting to wake up. Each track intones beyond its limits and, in doing so, evokes distant worlds of both inner and outer space.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

A Path Of One - Beyun (Vault Wax)

Title: A Path Of One
Artist: Beyun
Label: Vault Wax
Cat Number: VWX002
Genre: Techno

1: Be Here Now
2: Face Your Mirror
3: The Rains Will Pass
4: Lifted

This is a release built on a combination of acid highlights, tribal percussion and sweeping strings. ‘Be Here Now’ is perhaps the most grandiose sounding tune here, lifting itself to crescendos which sustain themselves on a foundation of bass and dissonant keys. ‘Face Your Mirror’ is a manic 303 driven journey into the heart of darkness, while both ‘The Rains Will Pass’ and ‘Lifted’ lighten the mood by allowing space within the grooves and positivity to take hold. All in all, this Detroit-indebted release will have its uses in the mix.

Kraftwerk’s Forgotten ‘Autobahn’ Animated Video

Black To Techno