reviews

Spring 2012 round-up

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012 | Sounds | No Comments

2012 is only a couple of months in, yet there has been no slow in pace of new releases worth picking up. Here are a few things that I’ve been enjoying recently.

Dutch label Dekmantel offers the first in a series of releases celebrating it’s 5 year anniversary. Juju & Jordash’s contribution, ‘African Flower’, is the stand-out of the two tracks on the 12″. Another version of ‘African Flower’ was first included on the excellent Aesthetic Audio release from 2008 and has long been one of my favourite productions from the duo. The ‘Cosmic Dub’ included on the Dekmantel release, strips things down (compared to the Aesthetic version), giving the bass and guitar more room in the mix which furthers adds to the deep atmosphere of this track. Juju & Jordash also provide a remix, along with John Heckle for TR-One’s ‘Drum Dance’, on Apartment Records. All three cuts on this record are great; Juju & Jordash provide a more dubbed-out affair, Heckle gives us a swinging Chicago style remix and TR-One’s original gives us drum work-out for the first third of the record before breaking into some heavy chords & synth - highly recommended.

On the Detroit tip, Theo Parrish’s remix of Helium Robot’s ‘Jarza’ is one of the best things I’ve heard from him in a while. Sonically cleaner and with drum programming that is a lot more straight-up than most of Parrish’s productions - but there is no mistaking Theo’s sound in this excellent remix. Helium Robot’s original version of ‘Jarza’ as well ‘Crepitation’ are also recommended (although quite different from Theo’s translation). R&S teams up again with Juan Atkins to give us the new Model 500. Atkins is back to working solo (after working with UR members on the last release) and gives us two tracks that are reminiscent of his ‘Deep Space’ era material - a real return to form.

There’s been a lot of re-issues and compilations released over the past few months worth picking-up if you don’t have the originals (or enough money to buy them). First-up, Rush Hour, who always do a fine job with unearthing older gems, releases James Mason’s ‘I Want Your Love/Nightgruv’. The original released in 1996 has become quite sought after, fetching high prices on Discogs. ‘Nightgruv’ recorded in 1984 is a proto-house track that sounds a lot like Larry Heard. On the flip, ‘I Want Your Love’, is a slower boogie number - both tracks are so good that you can understand the previous high price tag. Rush Hour have also released a Burrell Brothers retrospective, collecting the finer moments from their Nu Groove releases. Included are some of my personal favourites like, Metro, Utopia Project and NY House’n Authority - some of the best house music around. Another New York house gem that has been long sought after, the Joubert Singers ‘Stand On The Word’, gets a re-issue from French label Favorite. Included is the wonderful Tony Humphries mix as well the more widely available (but equally as good) Larry Levan mix. New French label, Vibes and Pepper, gives us Claude Young and Terrence Parker’s ‘The 4 Play EP’, which was originally released on Claude Young’s Dow label in 1993. Four raw Detroit house tracks, two of which (the untitled a-side tracks) have not aged too well in my opinion, however the record is still worth picking up for the two great (untitled) b-side tracks.

Also seeing a re-issue, is Porter Ricks’ ‘Biokinetics’. Released in 1996 on Basic Channel sub-label, Chain Reaction, and now getting a much needed release on Type. Deep, immersive techno, that was (and still is) way ahead of it’s time and hugely influential for many producers and genres over the years - highly recommended. Italian producers, Donato Dozzy & Neel, gives us ‘Voices From The Lake’, another essential deep techno album. If you enjoyed Donato Dozzy’s album, ‘K’, then you’ll definitely enjoy what is on offer here. The album’s eleven tracks seamlessly build, giving it a live performance vibe and makes this a deeply compelling album that you’ll want to hear from start to finish.

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Recent records round-up

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011 | Sounds | No Comments

Jamal Moss’ Mathematics Recordings has consistently put out great music from new artists. Out of the latest batch of releases from the label, John Heckle’s ‘The 4th Dimension’ is really doing it for me. Continuing in the same vein as last year’s ‘Life On Titan’, Heckle provides four deep, raw Chicago inspired cuts. Mathematics also gives us an update of the acid house classic ‘Lack Of Love’ by Charles B and Adonis. Also, on the Chicago tip, Traxx releases ‘Rhythm Relics’ via his Nation label. A collaboration with D’Marc Cantu and Tadd Mullinix, with the Saturn V cut, ‘The Fresh Heir’, sounding very reminiscent of Virgo 4. Speaking of which, Virgo 4 are featured alongside a whole host of producers on Rush Hour’s, ‘Chicago Dance Tracks Vol. 1′. Compiled by Gene Hunt, the release features unreleased material taken from reel-to-reel’s given to Hunt during the 1980’s, and includes artists such as, Mr. Fingers, Steve Poindexter, Ron Hardy, Farley Jackmaster Funk and Lil’ Louis.

A couple of Detroit pieces I’ve been enjoying. First-up is a killer Scott Grooves remix of Norm Talley’s ‘The Journey’ on Third Ear. I had to check to make sure the credit was correct, as the remix sounds very much like Mike Huckaby rather than Scott Grooves. Omar S gets long time collaborator, Shadow Ray, to remix ‘Here’s Your Trance, Now Dance!‘. Shadow Ray doesn’t deviate too much from the excellent original, adding a rugged bassline and more bottom-end to great effect.

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K-S.H.E. - Routes Not Roots (Skylax)

Friday, April 8th, 2011 | Sounds | No Comments

After releasing a few limited 12″s last year, Skylax gives Terre Thaemlitz’s K-S.H.E. ‘Routes Not Roots’ a full release. The original Japanese release in 2006 via Thaemlitz’s private label Comatonse, has become quite sought after. Listening to this album, you can understand why anyone lucky to have the original, wasn’t about to sell it on Discogs. It’s all too rare that electronic music has a social commentary, however, ‘Routes Not Roots’ is not only a great deep house album but it’s underlining themes (about Thaemlitz’s experiences as a transgender) creates a much more emotive and thought provoking listen. Many of the tracks are deftly crafted using samples, much in the same style as KDJ, taking the original source material, re-interpreting and making it work in it’s own right. ‘B2B’ uses LNR’s ‘Work It To The Bone’ as the backbone to the track and adds a vocal-loop, sub-bass, lush organ and piano with great effect. Thaemlitz’s sample of ‘Another Star’, on the 13 minute long ‘Crosstown’, has to be one of the most inspired and interesting uses of a Stevie Wonder song - taking the uplifting original and giving it a melancholy twist. Not only is Thaemlitz respectful of the original but he makes it his own, and to do this from such a recognizable and widely loved song, is even more admirable. There are also a couple of lush beat-less pieces and interludes that pace the dance-floor orientated tracks. Thaemlitz’s productions are often compared to Larry Heard’s, a comparison which is quite appropriate when listening to this album. Although the two producers approach crafting music in different ways, the effect is same - for me ‘Routes Not Roots’ evokes the same feeling and thought provoking commentary as The It’s ‘On Top Of The World’. Highly recommended.

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Recent records round-up

Monday, February 28th, 2011 | Sounds | No Comments

There’s been no slow in pace for great music being released over the past few months. Here’s what I’ve been enjoying, including a few things that didn’t make it into my year end mix.

Kassem Mosse shows no sign of letting-up on quality releases. His latest offerings on Workshop and Kinda Soul both live up to the standard of Mosse’s previous outings. The Workshop EP, delves into deep house territory, with the untitled b side track being the stand-out. The ‘2D’ EP on Kinda Soul features the hypnotic track ‘Thalassocalyce’, which has a distinct Omar S vibe to it - you can see why Omar has released Mosse’s material on FXHE.

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Speaking of Omar S, he too has a couple of recent releases of note. The first, a collaboration with Kai Alce, which produces great results. The ‘Jive Time’ EP features three solid tracks, all with tough drum programming accompanied by archetypal Detroit melodies - pure late night vibes. Omar’s other release, ‘Here’s Your Trance, Now Dance!’ is a monster of a track, in a similar vein to ‘Psychotic Photosynthesis’, and no doubt will be just as popular.

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Also, on the Detroit tip, Delano Smith releases two tracks via his Mixmode label. Nothing too surprising, just simple, effective, driving house of the finest quality. Theo Parrish releases his ‘Sketches’ compilation through Sound Signature, which gathers all of the tracks from the 12″ series. The 12″s were very limited and also extremely expensive - something that was insightfully discussed over on ISM. ‘Sketches’ is a solid album, with highlights being, ‘Kites On Pluto’, ‘Thumpasaurus’, ‘Black Mist’ and the ‘Untitled’ track featuring Larry Mizell (of the Mizell brothers fame). A better job done with the mastering of the CD would have been nice - if the vinyl prices are going to be prohibitively expensive, then at least offer a quality alternative. Theo also gives us Read More and listen…

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Aril Brikha - Deeparture In Time - Revisted (Art Of Vengeance)

Saturday, February 26th, 2011 | Sounds | No Comments

Aril Brikha re-issues ‘Deeparture In Time’, on his newly launched Art Of Vengeance label. Originally released in 2000 on Transmat, Brikha’s debut album garnered a lot of praise, often cited as a favourite techno album by many. ‘Deeparture In Time - Revisited’ sees Brikha’s original album getting a re-master and also includes a second disc of unreleased material from the same time period. Ten years on, the deep Detroit-esque techno of ‘Deeparture In Time’ still sounds as good now as it did in 2000. ‘Groove La Chord’, obviously, was a huge track but the rest of the album is equally as good, with ‘Embrace’, ‘Otill’ and ‘On and On’ being personal favourites. What comes as a pleasant surprise is how good the bonus material is, most of which wouldn’t sound out of place on the original album. If you enjoyed ‘Deeparture In Time’ the first time around, then the re-issue is worth checking out, and if you are just discovering Brikha’s work then this album is essential.

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Record reviews catch-up

Monday, November 22nd, 2010 | Sounds | No Comments

I’ve picked up a lot of great records in the past few months, and have been slacking off on posting reviews, so here’s a quick catch-up on what’s doing it for me.

In a few releases Jack Hamill aka Space Dimension Controller has picked up a lot of attention. Last years full length, ‘Unidentified Flying Oscillator’, hinted at what was to come, fusing techno and electro with a distinct Detroit feel. This year has seen excellent releases on the resurrected R&S, as well Clone sub-label Royal Oak. The Detroit connection is present again with SDC’s remix of Anthony Shakir’s ‘Detroit State Of Mind’ - I can’t get enough of this remix.

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Laid continue their strong release schedule with their past few records. The untitled Kassem Mosse track (Laid 007) hits all of the right buttons with it’s tough Chicago style drum programming, and the Lawrence release (Laid 009) features three hypnotic tracks in his usual style, the highlight of which being the excellent ‘Dwelling On The Dunes’. John Roberts released his debut album, ‘Glass Eights’, via Laid’s parent label Dial. The album has been receiving a lot of critical acclaim, however, the album leaves me cold compared to Robert’s previous material on Laid
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Singles, Reissues & Comps (2010 Catch Up!)

Thursday, July 8th, 2010 | Sounds | No Comments

I’ve been slacking off on posting reviews in the first half of this year and there has been a lot of great music released, so here’s a few bits and pieces that I’ve been feeling from the past few months.

Dutch label, Rush Hour, have been on fire this year. Not only have they been putting out new forward thinking music, but they’ve also been responsible for re-releasing classic hard-to-find house and techno. The much talked about ‘Frictionalism’ release from earlier this year, collects Anthony ‘Shake’ Shakir’s works from 1994-2009, which is essential, as is the self-titled Virgo album and the Rick Wilhite ep’s. The more recent Boo Williams release collects the best tracks from three ep’s released on Residual in the late 90’s. If you enjoy Boo’s releases on Relief and Djax then this is a must. As for newer material, Tevo Howard delivers his updated acid house sound on the double 12″ ‘Crystal Republic’. Although nothing mind-blowing it’s definitely a grower and the crisp production sounds great. Also worth checking out is the 12″ from FaltyDL ‘All In The Place’. FaltyDL delivers his usual unclassifiable sound that brings together 2-step, house and techno.

If you’re into Nu Groove and the deeper side of NY house, the International Dee Jay Gigolo re-press of the Bobby Konders collection ‘A Lost Era In NYC 87-92′ is a must, complete with cuts like ‘The Poem’, ‘The Future’ and ‘Slackness and Sax’. Another must is Ron Trent’s ‘Altered States - Blak Tech Society’, which collects the three tracks included on the original 1990 Warehouse release, as well as remixes and other recordings from that period. Absolutely timeless and both collections providing much needed relief to original vinyl versions.

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Updating those deep sounds is Oakland’s Aybee and his Deepblak label. The forthcoming ‘Blaktropolis Vol. 2′ showcases new material from label regulars, Blaktroniks, Afrikan Sciences as well as Aybee, and also highlights some new artists; especially interesting is 17 year old Shen 7, who’s track ‘Void’, sounds beyond his years. Aybee also provided the thoroughly engrossing ‘Ancient Tones’ release on Seattle’s Further Records. There’s been a lot of interest around Further and their highly limited cassette only releases. At first I didn’t quite get the cassette only thing and the limitations that goes along with the format, however, a recent Resident Advisor article on Further provides some sound reasoning. For those without a cassette deck, it looks like Further’s vinyl experiment has worked out and we’re going to see the excellent ‘Ancient Tones’ on vinyl.

One of the key players of the genre defying sounds coming out of London at the moment, Floating Points, delivers (yet again) another massive record. ‘Peoples Potential’ has been doing the rounds for quite a while, however the flip side (’Shark Chase’) is where it’s at. It’s relentless jacking drums and bass, sound like it came straight out of mid 80’s Chicago. Absolutely devastating when played on a proper system. Other tracks meant for big systems, Levon Vincent’s ‘Double Jointed Sex Freak’, John Robert’s ‘White’, Mike Dehnert’s Dico EP and of course Wax 003.

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