Thursday, 23 September 2010

Seven Wonders - 'Crazy' (DFL)

Head nodder, shoulder shudder. That's exactly what I've been doing for the past 2 hours with this track on repeat. Old school garage really is wonderful, and when done correctly, there isn't another genre I prefer. Seven Wonders' (made up of DJ Injekta and Zed Bias) 'Crazy' is an example of top quality garage, it has all the elements I could ever ask for in garage. If your wondering what the sound is like, I'd compare them more to Groove Chronicles and R.I.P Productions, with a smooth yet dark sound, and of course incredible disembodied diva vocals.

I couldn't ask for anymore from 'Crazy'. The track tentatively builds to the 1 minute mark, with the gradual introduction of a beautiful 3-notes synth chord melody, soft tapping percussion and a sub-bass that threatens to kick off at any moment. The track enters it's full swing after 1 minute, with a skittery, stepping garage beat and diva vocals plus the inserts of MC Juiceman introduced to accompany the aforementioned elements. The track gets darker as it progresses, with a heavy bassline grumbling beneath the garage beat after the track reaches 2 minutes. This darker sound provides a lovely contrast to the blissful diva vocals and synth melody, both elements complementing each other well in the production of a dark but uplifting sound. A wonderful track, which I can't recommend to you enough. Simply listen.

Taking Flight: Disclosure

Check out the Taking Flight feature on Disclosure at the Take Flight Club website by clicking here. The young duo have recently released their first single, 'Offline Dexterity', on Moshi Moshi Singles Club, and if this is anything to go by the boys have a big future in music production. We managed to catch up with the guys to discuss their production work as well as whether or not their will be any more releases on the way shortly. Their sound plays with elements of 2-step, garage, dubstep and house as well as R&B inspired diva vocals. Think along the lines of Joy Orbison and George FitzGerald. You can check out the brilliant lead track of their debut single 'Offline Dexterity' below. Enjoy.

Offline Dexterity - Disclosure by disclosuremusic

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

SBTRKT & Sampha - 'Evening Glow'

'Evening Glow' is a work of real talent. Inexplicably this release slipped past my guard back in June, a concept I still fail to understand due to the fact that SBTRKT and Sampha are producers I admire, as well as the fact Ramp is without doubt one of my favourite labels and is always guaranteed to release quality material. 'Evening Glow', track two of the brilliant 'Break Off' EP, grabs you immediately, and you can't help but submit to its brilliance once the dreamy dub sound subsumes you after the drop. I'm so pleased I came across this track.

'Evening Glow' "goes slow" as the opening male vocals establish with almost immediate effect. The track patiently builds over a period of two minutes, the track growing with the increasing presence of a bubbling sub-bass, increasing layers of synths and handclaps as well as the more prominent impact of the female vocals. The track then comes to a halt, with the short interlude of a lovely synth chord arrangement, which is then drowned out after the drop when the track reaches the 2:10 mark. It's from this point onwards that the track makes its real impact, creating a lovely dreamy dub sound which is impossible not to appreciate. The slow, stepping garage beat lays the foundation upon which the incredible synth line melody is placed, providing for me the highlight of the tracks production. The wailing female vocal clips accompany the wonderful melody perfectly, with the percolation of the beat and bass complementing the blissful melodies nicely. 

It really is a lovely track, one well worth listening to below. 'Break Off', the lead track of the EP, is also worth listening to. You can preview the rest of the EP and purchase it if you decide to do so by clicking here. I couldn't recommend 'Evening Glow' highly enough, dream away.

SBTRKT + Sampha - Evening Glow by samphamusic

Monday, 20 September 2010

Stussy Deluxe F/W 2010 Lookbook by Ari Marcopoulus

Stussy Deluxe (an extension of the Stussy brand which focuses upon more classic designs) present their fall/winter 2010 collection in an adventurous yet beautiful lookbook. The decision to call in acclaimed photographer and filmmaker Ari Marcopoulus is one which had made this lookbook so special. The balance between the quality of photography and the exposure is perfect, displaying Marcopoulus' exceptional photographic talents as well as aptly presenting the styles incorporated in Stussy Deluxe's fall/winter 2010 collection. The lookbook shows delivery of high quality in both areas, with the stunning landscapes and brilliant portrait shots from Marcopoulus acting as the perfect layout to present Stussy Deluxe's impressive line.

The line represents designs that are created with the seasonal weather in mind, with a worker wear ethic to a fair amount of the line. The design of shirts in the line looks to be of great quality, with great variety in both durable checkered shirts and well as plain buttoned down styles. The fit of the shirts looks really nice from photos, with the shirts hanging off the body slightly and sleeves tailored to the perfect length. The jackets, although I don't believe they have as much as an impact as the shirts, are impressive. Thick and well-fitted, the design of the jackets you can see below is fantastic. The long fit, two chest pockets and toggles combine to create a lovely design, one which is only enhanced by the well chosen colourways (beige/orange & navy/blue). Denim is also a strong point in this fall/winter collection. With a nice selection of straight and slim fits, darker denim dominates the lookbook images, with the highlight for me being the turned-up denim jeans isolated in an image nearing the bottom of the lookbook.

A fantastic concept. Stussy Deluxe have really delivered in terms of their fall/winter 2010 collection as well as the stylistics of their lookbook thanks to the ingenious idea of having the extremely talented Ari Marcopoulus shoot the collection. There are some real strong points to the collection, especially the design of the shirts which I would recommend looking into further. The collection should be available from Stussy's website sooner rather than later, which you can check out by clicking here.

Stussy Deluxe F/W 2010 Lookbook by Ari Marcopoulus -

Saturday, 18 September 2010

xxxy - 'Every Step Forward' EP (ELIM005)

The 'Every Step Forward' EP represents the work of an artist whose production work is improving upon every release. xxxy has been busy in terms of production this year, having releases on the Mindset and Infrasonics labels, as well as a future release on the brilliant Brighton based Well Rounded label. 'Every Step Forward' is released on the relatively new Fortified Recordings, a Glasgow-based label run by Electric Eliminators which supports high quality dance music. This is a vow they have kept to with 'Every Step Forward', which shows progression in xxxy's production techniques, with the 4 tracks on the EP blending between house/garage/dubstep. Without doubt his best work to date.

The opening track 'This Much' immediately kicks things into action, a 6 minute epic. The track has the slow building progression associated with house music, with the shuffling garage beat and warm house chords that rise with every last beat providing the basis of the track. These elements slowly build alongside one another as well as the emotional wailing female vocal clips, which adds further to the sense of a mournful edge in the track. The bassline begins to rumble beneath these elements, and does so most effectively when the lovely acid melody is introduced after 2 minutes. This sets the track in full swing, a cut which will no doubt be a killer on the dancefloor at the end of sets, something it's 140 bpm tempo ensures. A track tinged with a sorrowful tone provided most effectively through disembodied diva vocals crying beautifully "you love someone this much", yet one which is lifted by it's swinging beat and warm chords, this track is emotional music made with the dancefloor in mind. 

'Just For Me' is another very strong production, and a complex on that. It begins immediately with the manipulated vocal chants which are well arranged, layered on top of a syncopated swinging beat and handclaps as well as a soft house chord motif. A surging bassline is introduced after 1 minute, as well as a interesting 808 drum pattern which recalls the work of Addison groove after 1 min 50 secs. From here on in the track becomes more regimented and structured in it's style, something which reaches its height when the track reaches 3 minutes and chants of 'Just For Me' are repeated over a the lovely drum pattern and distinct acid basslines. The wonderful warm house melody is reintroduced not long after this point, providing a nice foil to the harder sounds of the beat and bass. A well produced track, that experiments with styles and does so successfully.

'Turn' is the track which most fits the genre of UK garage most suitably. It starts unexpectedly with a flurry of synths which sound similar to the works of Zomby. This surging sea of synths is cleverly worked into a skittery garage beat, which provides the track an appeal with garage heads. This is an appeal which is further cemented when the beautiful arranged 4-note piano melody is placed in direct contrast to the frantic synths which are forever constant. 'Turn' isn't 'future garage', it's purely UK garage in 2010, a past genre which seems to be resurging with speed today (C.R.S.T, Falty DL, George FitzGerald etc...). 'Flew' is more indebted to the realms of dub-techno, with a strong syncopated rhythm and a myriad of synth work. The sparse beat is backed with  bubbling synths that draw some similarity to those heard in A Made Up Sound's past work. This is placed in conjunction with a repetitive vocal clip and a dub chord melody that fits perfectly with the rhythm and vocal work.

'Every Step Forward' experiments and combines different styles of UK bass music, and xxxy shows a skill and a certain confidence in doing so. The tracks are both suited to home listening as they are to being included in DJ sets for underground clubs in London, Bristol etc. xxxy has created a brilliant EP that shows a step forward in his work, a unique combination of house, garage, and dubstep that results in emotional dance music. You can preview/purchase the EP on MP3 or 12" by clicking here. Enjoy.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Introducing Breach - Take Flight Club

You can check out my recent interview with Breach (aka Ben Westbeech) up at the Take Flight Club website now by clicking here. Just off the back of his mesmerising tribal-esque single 'Fatherless', which tentatively bridges the on the borders of dubstep and house, I was lucky enough to catch up with Ben over the phone. We got talking about everything from when the Breach alias and production style was initiated through to his future plans for the Breach project as well as his up-coming solo releases. He is undoubtedly one of the most talented UK bass artists, a reputation which 'Fatherless' has cemented for now, but I have a feeling it will be his future releases which will leave a greater mark on the underground scene. Look out for more features to come on Take Flight, there's plenty more in store over the next few weeks. Enjoy.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Jam City - 'Refixes' EP (NSWL004)

After first hearing Jam City's debut 'Refixes' EP I was lost for words. This debut is beyond words, the best way to explain my thoughts/feelings towards the EP is that the delicate needle of my turntable hasn't left the surface of the beautiful 12" vinyl since I purchased it around a week ago. The EP was originally released back in mid August, but my uptake of the EP has been delayed due to my hesitance to purchase or even listen to releases on the Night Slugs label, one which doesn't sit too well with my tastes in past experience. A bad move I must admit. I have been deprived of this wonder for a month, but my word it was more than worth the wait. 

Jam City is a relatively unknown young London producer, who has no previous releases to his name. Hype, however, has been quick to surround the young man in circles over the past few months, and this EP is evidence of why he has been receiving countless tips for future success. The style of the EP is hard to pin down, although I would suggest that it leans more towards the ever distinguishable UK funky/house fragment of the UK bass scene, but with a greater sense of maturity and control. The 'Refixes' EP does exactly what its title suggests, so we are still yet to be given any of Jam City's original work. He takes 3 tracks, 'Ecstasy' by Endgames (downtempo funk),  'Let Me Bang' by DJ Deeon (ghetto house, juke), and 'Shut The Lites Off' by DJ Bone (house), and transforms them into his own artifact. The selection of tracks to 'refix' is excellent, almost as good as the production of the 'refixes' themselves.

Deciding on a favourite track was a near impossible task, but purely on its instrumental excellence, it has to be the leading track, 'Ecstasy' refix. 'Ecstasy' is a wonderfully produced work, one which manages to employ a certain restraint and balance throughout whilst threatening to erupt at any moment, especially on the couple of rare occasions where a heavy grumbling bassline becomes animated below complex percussion and synth stabs. The distant sound of bongo patters are ever present in the background, accompanied by an almost constant snare hit. The one element which completes this track, and provides it its real swing is the surging synth arrangements, which complements the beat pattern brilliantly. This track is at times verges on the grime elements of UK funky with its raw natural sound, but the excellent arrangement and construction of the synths and beat render this something more peculiar, an other worldly record in the world of UK funky which sets a new standard and tone. Outrageously good. 

'Let Me Bang' is a brilliant effort, a great re-working of the original track. The original stepping 4x4 beat is kept in tact with the shuddering bass, but Jam City adds layers of percussive elements to make this rhythm slightly more complex, and seemingly ever rising synth lines which keep you on edge in conjunction with the infrequent vocal clips sampled from the original ghetto house track. The EP is rounded off by 'Shut The Lites Off', probably the weaker of the 3, but still a magnificent effort, and one which would receive much more acclaim had the other two attempts not been so well produced (although in fairness each track is a beautiful re-working in its own right). 'Shut The Lites Off' is a tense affair, with the spare presence, or lack thereof, of a drum beat leaving this track on edge, animated rather by Joe (Hessle Audio) styled percussion, incredible glitch synths that recall the work of the beat scene in LA, and darker synth basslines which provide much of the tense atmosphere for the track's duration. The sounds combine with a deep male vocal clip that creates a sound like no other, one which takes you on a journey of angst and terror, although the light relief is occasionally provided in the form of the light outer space glitch synths.

A wonderful debut by an extremely promising young artist. Still we are yet to hear any of his own original material, but these refixes are more than evidence enough that Jam City is one of the most talented producers in UK bass music. There will now be a further weight of expectation on his up-coming future releases, an expectation I think he'll meet with relative ease, or maybe just he'll blow them away as he as done his beautifully worked debut. Thank you Jam City. You can click the link below to listen to or purchase the EP on 12" at Boomkat.


Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Carhartt - F/W 2010 Lookbook

Carhartt 2010 fall/Winter collection is slowly working its way into its flagship stores as well as specialist independent retailers around the UK. The American brands creation of active apparel with a streetwear aesthetic is something which I have loved for a number of years now, with the previous few collections real standing out ahead of other streetwear brands for both quality of material and style. Judging by the lookbook promoting their fall/winter 2010 collection, this season's line will not be lacking in the quality which has preceded it.

Shirts. Sweatshirts. Carhartt specialise in creating them, as displayed in this collection. The designs may be simple, but the fit, materials, comfort and styling are some of the best around in my opinion. The selection of shirt styles is excellent, with great variety in terms of different designs, materials and fittings. The Flagstaff and Wing shirts are particularly impressive, 100% cotton chambray and denim respectively, both featuring two chest pockets. My favourite of Carhartt's shirt collection though is without doubt the Fairdale shirt, made of 100% cotton flannel; a soft cloth that offer long lasting durability. The shirt is also a lovely fit, sized that little bit bigger around the body, and is offered in 3 different colours (cress, polar and lemon).

In terms of sweatshirts, great variety is provided once again, with thick heavy gauge materials and simple designs preparing us for the imminent winter months. My favourite design is the Chase Sweatshirt, a plain but brilliantly styled and comfortable sweatshirt. The thick sweater is made of 80% cotton and 20% polyester sweat, and is offered in a total of 10 colours (all of which can be viewed at their website). This sweatshirt is perfect for the cold months ahead, and keeps you warm with a lovely aesthetic style and fit. The Capital Sweatshirt is also a highlight, following similar principles to that of the design for the Chase Sweatshirt. It is once again plain, but the heavy 100% cotton material ensure this is a sweatshirt of high quality, further strengthened by its brilliant fit: a long slim fit design which is perfect for those of you over 6ft. This sweatshirt is a little less colourful than the Chase, offered in only the 5 different colourings on this occasion. 

Carhartt have also performed well in terms of producing high quality trousers/denim and thick winter jackets in this collection, but it is really the high quality of their jackets and sweatshirts which clearly steal the show. I would recommend their products to anyone; high quality long lasting materials which are aesthetically sound and fit perfectly. Let's put it this way, it would be wrong not to purchase one of Carhartt's shirts or sweatshirts. You can check out the full line and information on goods now by clicking here. You can view the F/W 2010 collection in the lookbook images below. Enjoy.

Carhartt F/W 2010 Lookbook: