Thursday, 15 September 2011

Mosca - Done Me Wrong/Bax (NMBRS016)

The Numbers collective welcome Mosca for the imprint’s 16th outing with two cuts primed especially to move your feet. The Glaswegian imprint has been working up quite a storm in 2011, with high profile releases from Deadboy and Jamie XX, as well as being awarded a bi-weekly (every other Tuesday) show on Rinse FM. When looking at the label’s young but colourful back catalogue it soon becomes evident that there is no trend or single mould that unifies their output, a trait NMBRS16 pays testament to. ‘Done Me Wrong’/’Bax’ is unashamedly grounded in older forms of 4×4 garage and bassline, with Mosca delivering potentially his strongest material since his debut Square One EP on Night Slugs. Both tracks are clearly formed with the intention of setting dancefloors on fire.

The less hyped ‘Done Me Wrong’ sets the tone for the single on the A-side. The 4×4 kicks pound, unfurling into a skittered jacking rhythm with the help of sporadically arranged hats and alternating claps. Classic female vocal clips wail “you’ve done me wrong”, ascending in progression alongside those beautifully warm and ever rising synth lines. Then comes the bass drop on the minute mark, which is soon complete with an automatic spin back included for your very own convenience. The swamping bassline combines brilliantly with the shuffling rhythm and emotive vocal snippets, presented at its infectious best once the ambiguously shimmering synths subtly reprise towards the track’s conclusion.

The B-side is no filler, and in most cases, will be the track which most people remember this release for. It’s rough and ready, a seemingly far more upfront effort in comparison to the record’s opener. Consistent driving kicks set things off, swiftly joined by intermittent claps and tentative hi-hats. Smooth melodies are produced by the spacious chord arrangement, complemented by the memorable cries of the disembodied diva. A series of nervy, intricate chord stabs arise, taking full control of proceedings. However, it’s the drop that really does the damage on ‘Bax.’ On the MCs’ shout of “my DJ is live in the place” the punishing bassline goes to work, powerful and uncompromising. It’s a feature which dominates the airwaves for the track’s continued duration, adding suitable balance to the wonderful key stabs and soulful calls.

Very highly recommended.

Written for Sonic Router

Mosca - Done Me Wrong / Bax (Out 19th September on Numbers) by Numbers

Friday, 26 August 2011

Blawan - What You Do With What You Have (Forthcoming RS1108)

Of the plethora of young producing talents currently operating, none excite as much Blawan. 2011 has been a vital year for the man whose debut on Hessle Audio back in May of 2010 instantly turned heads. Fast forward a year and Blawan is seemingly established and much in demand, with a less than prolific but no less crucial catalogue of work. His work is dark and unrelenting, characteristics which have become all the more apparent in his recent exploration of acid and techno. Intricate drum patterning is forever at the heart, forceful and coarse with unremitting power.

The producer’s forthcoming 12” on R&S is sounding like his most refined work to date, an indication that he’s really found his ground. The title track, ‘What You Do With What You Have’, promises to be a modern classic, a dark and rough affair that will have floors shaking. The pounding rhythm is persistent, whilst menacing synth stabs pierce on the surface. Complete with an ingenious vocal sample, lifted from Moodymann’s RBMA lecture and pitched up to sound as ominous as the aforementioned stabs. On the flip will sit a track entitled ‘Vibe Decorium’. I’m yet to hear what the B-side has to offer, but I expect a further practice in uncompromising acid-tinged techno. A full review will be made after the 12”s release on the 26th September.

It’s what you do with what you have, you understand?

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Instra:mental/Boddika - Vicodin (Skudge Warehouse Mix)/Grand Prix (NL010)

The resurgence of acid tinged electro in 2011 undeniably stems from the work of Instra:mental. Al Green and Damon Kirkham have been prolific both in terms of their collaboration work as well as their flourishing solo projects which have inevitably taken great strides over the past few months. It’s fitting then that this split release on [nakedlunch] should be dedicated to a slice of both, with a Skudge reworking of Instra:mental’s brooding ‘Vicodin’ accompanying Boddika’s first effort since the outstanding 2727 EP on Swamp81.

Boddika’s inimitable sounds have drawn a number of deserved plaudits since his debut 12” on [nakedlunch] back in October 2010 (‘Boddika’s House’ b/w ’Syn Chron’), and ‘Grand Prix’ is testament to just how developed and refined Al Green’s production work has become. Quick fire drum machines align, generating a series of persistent kicks, rapid yet faint hats and powerful alternating toms. It’s the signature acid tinged bassline that sits upon the rigorous beat which really transforms the track. A flurry of dark corrosive lines build with severe energy, developing sounds not to dissimilar from engine’s revving on the start line of the grid. The red lights go down, and the harsh rhythm is reintroduced completed with 808 rim shots to complement the gruelling bassline; the race is underway. It’s relentless, carefully wearing you down and working you into an endless groove.

Skudge give Instra:mental’s ‘Vicodin’ the late night warehouse treatment on the 12”s B-side. The tempo is dropped to allow for the Swede’s to work their routinely monochrome magic. The rhythm patiently shuffles, defined by raw 4×4 kicks which are set against scraping hats and distant snares. ‘Vicodin’’s haunting hook is retained here, although it’s presented in a far more rasping and raw fashion compared to the original, matching the strict drum progressions as the track advances. It’s quite a contrast in style and tone to ‘Grand Prix’, but fits as an apt addition in terms of quality.

Written for Sonic Router

Boddika / Instra:mental - Grand Prix / Vicodin (Skudge Warehouse Mix) [NL010] Naked Lunch by Surus

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Recondite - Plangent #002

Berlin-based producer Recondite impressed with his opening release in the aptly named Plangent imprint back in February. It was an affecting record, displaying a menacing brand of techno filled with melancholy and dejection. However, this isn’t to say the record wasn’t designed to be heard on dancefloors. In fact, quite the opposite was intended as it appears. The effectual use of drum machines allowed for precise and deep rhythms that provided tracks with an extra groove, endowing the tracks with undeniable dancefloor potential. As suitable to home listening as it is to dark clubs. The follow up to Plangent #001 has arrived, bestowing a similarly despondent and pensive tone in what is an arguably more refined release.

The A-side holds the far more joyful and upbeat ‘Haptic’, the sound of which is rare in the production work of Recondite. Deep kicks set the marker, soon united with off-kilter toms and astute hats. The filtered synth lines are warm and lofty and neatly align with burly rhythm, leaving the rolling subs to do real damage. It’s a competent track, not outstanding, at least not in comparison the truly brilliant B-side this 12” has to offer.

‘Backbone’ opens proceedings on the flip. An unbending 4/4 beat is immediately established, with a storming bassline filling empty gaps. Incisive snares and pointed hats add a sense of uncertainty in their somewhat timid appearance, especially due to their juxtaposition with the driving kicks and bass. Delicate and downhearted synth chords superbly convey bleak emotions, offset by a raw and insistent drum patterns. The best is left to last on this record, with ‘Yield’ constituting Recondite’s finest work to date. From the off, we are presented with the early base upon which the track measurably progresses. The kicks this time around are less intimidating, with lasting snares and cushioned claps granting a smooth groove. This is suitably in line with the tender, yearning chord melodies which develop and advance with aching beauty. The bassline beats away, simmering just on the surface whist the chords overwhelm.

Plangent #002 details more evidence of the talents Recondite holds within his armoury. The first two tracks are sound efforts, but it is ‘Yield’ that really stands out as the records outstanding track. It isn’t as complete as #001, but the quality of the two tracks on the B-side is speaks for itself and suggests the producer has plenty to offer in the future.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Scion A/V Presents: Omar-S - High School Graffiti EP

It’s safe to say that this week has been an improvement on most others for followers of Omar-S. On Monday we were treated to his new and free EP High School Graffiti curated in conjunction with the Scion A/V imprint, which was soon to be followed by news of Alexander “Omar” Smith’s forthcoming album It Can Be Done, But Only I Can Do It.

The union of Toyota’s Scion A/V project and Omar-S is especially fitting given the producer’s roots in the Motor City, a trait which has left a longstanding mark on his production work. His back catalogue work is extensive, and in many ways can be seen as a metaphor for the 313 itself. His work is characteristically rough and raw on the edges, constructing rigid and uncompromising rhythms, whilst yet retaining real beauty and soul at its very analogue heart, often evoked through expressive chords and poignant vocals.

High School Graffiti is just as inimitable as his previous work, delivering intricate beats which are drenched in 303 acid line excursions and well as those introspective key melodies that are so damn effective. The highlight perhaps comes from the collaboration with Theo Parrish, Who's In Key, which generates a wonderful keys motif against a backdrop of tough kicks and Omar’s nippy and slight hats. You can download the EP by clicking here; it's quality material.

The legendary Detroit house producer will also be unveiling his follow up to the 2005 album Just Ask The Lonely with It Can Be Done, But Only I Can Do It. It will be release via Smith’s very own FXHE label which is by consensus one of the strongest house labels operating at the minute. You can preview clips of each track and pre-order now over at Phonica.

High School Graffiti EP:
1. Got The Drop On Dem
2. Gunup Runup
3. My Naffew Randy
4. Unitarian
5. Who's In Key feat. Theo Parrish

It Can Be Done, But Only I Can Do It:
1. Solely Supported
2. Supported Solely
3. Look Hear Watch
4. I Come Over
5. Ganymeade
6. You Wish
7. Over You Too
8. It Can Be Done, But Only I Can Do It
9. Nite’s Over Compton
10. Here’s Your Trance, Now Dance
11. Skynet 2 B
12. Bobien Larkin

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Cabin Fever Trax Vol. 18 (RKDS018)

The Rekids imprint has marked the 18th edition of its retro-house series of 12”s, Cabin Fever, by drafting in revered producer and label associate Mr. G for an outing. The Cabin Fever run has provided a number of class productions over the past three years since its conception in September 2008, staying true to its roots in straight house and techno experiments with each of its 17 previous releases. The latest addition doesn’t waver from this tradition, with label associate Mr. G delivering a record that is a perfect match for the sound Cabin Fever has carefully developed.

The record opens with ‘They Say They Play House’ on the A-side, immediately evoking a deep and soulful vibe. A firm four to the floor beat kicks away, uncompromising in its persistence. The tough rhythm is juxtaposed suitably by the alternating two key notes that tentatively gain ascendancy, timidly working beneath the pulsating rolling bassline. The rhythm contains subtle variations to keep things interesting, intermittently incorporating razor sharp hats and unremitting snares. It’s not so much the presence of these deviations that are so valuable, but their timing that renders them so effective. This is especially true in the case of the introduction of supple claps which delivers the track its full groove, timely in the moments leading up to the central vocal sample. The voice of an older African-American man resonates (as previously heard on Efdemin’s ‘Just A Track’), preaching the importance of the style he defines as “a feeling”. This is an altogether all too familiar component of many house records, but ‘They Say They Play House’ avoids such cliché in the manner it presents the voice, backed by an imposing rhythm and a stirring melody.

Whilst utilising a similar formula, the resulting sound on the flip is quite a contrast from the opener. ‘The Thin Blue Line’ is a more tense and upfront affair, closer to the analogue techno of The Analogue Cops at Restoration rather than the deep house induced on ‘They Say They Play House’. Raw 4/4 kicks are met by a determined bassline that continually wears away. Pointed hats contribute a sharper edge, a feature which is matched brilliantly by the nervous motif the incisive chord stabs generate. The track patiently develops in such fashion, building in anxiety with every clashing snare and the repetitive yet indecipherable vocal sample.

Cabin Fever Trax Vol. 18 represents what we’ve all come to love and expect from the Rekids series. Some may lament the distinct and unchanging direction; however, Mr. G delivers an impressive two track 12”, warming you up with deeper sounds on ‘They Say They Play House’ whilst making you restless with the edgy and raw B-side. Pressed on white marbled vinyl and completed with a thin blue line.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Chicago Damn - Let's Submerge (CHICAGODAMN001)

Anonymous producer Chicago Damn presents the Let’s Submerge EP on his newly formed imprint. The release follows his fine debut on Mark E’s MERC label, as well as his excellent contribution to Wolf EP 8 with ‘If I could’. Let’s Submerge is no slouch either, and displays the array of talents the artist in question has to offer. In terms of sound, its house music with soul and feeling, a pastiche to deep Detroit styles whilst retaining an original and sole edge to each record.

The title track opens up on the A-side. A firm 4/4 beat sets the tone almost instantly, laying the strict format upon which dark arching synth lines unfold. Tight hats align as the inimitable synths continue to tease, soon pressed into motion by irregular claps and an underlying bassline that will do the damage on dancefloors at peak time (in a similar fashion to Levon Vincent’s flawless ‘Man Or Mistress’). It’s an epic tense and patient builder that carefully crafts an indelible synth hook, one which leads the track throughout its 7/8 minute duration.

On the flip sits the slightly faster ‘I Cry’. As well as being quicker in tempo the track’s air and mood is of noticeable contrast, with the B-side carrying a far more pensive tone. A solid rhythm immediately hits, with 4/4 kicks matched on every second hit by crisp claps and completed by a flurry of gentle rim shots. The track swiftly develops into its full stride, marked no end by the beautiful melodies induced by undeniably effective key arrangements. The chords shimmer, coated by lofty synths that only help to evoke the soft yet contemplative sound. The ambiguity is wonderful, an element which really characterises the track. Deep subs add further complexity, enhanced by the repetitive and unequal whispers of ‘I’ from an indecipherable female. ‘I Cry’ is a brilliant effort. One listen and those melodies will forever play on your mind.

It’s an excellent house record, a 12” that will continue to be played for months and months to come. The A-side is upfront and enduring, whilst the serene ‘I Cry’ steals the show with the beauty it generates from its warm analogue construction. Killer 12” of late night house from the gifted upcoming producer.

Chicago Damn 001 - "Let's Submerge // I Cry // Let's Submerge (Max Essa Remix)" by Chicago Damn

Friday, 29 July 2011

Visionist/Lorca - W.M.I.D/Hold Back (LB002)

The recently formed Left_Blank imprint returns for its second outing in August, presenting two of the hottest prospects around at present. The promising label impressed on its debut with the ‘Nylon Sunset’ EP provided by newcomer Vessel, accompanied suitably by strong remix work from Bristol’s Peverelist. Stepping up for the follow up are Visionist and Lorca, young artists that have been growing in stature over the past few months. It’s a perfect fit for both artist and label, combining to produce a striking 12”.

Visionist (92Points, 502 Recordings, Diskotopia; his killer 'Mr 67' is now available for pre-order) opens things on the A-side in distinctive fashion. ‘W.M.I.D’ begins tentatively, with a carefully formed 808 rhythm gradually taking shape whilst downcast synth lines and vox’d sample (crying “what must I do”) craft a sound somewhat caught in the doldrums. This morose atmosphere changes almost instantaneously as the bass drop kicks in. The 808 rhythm takes dominant force, with deep kicks aligned by those inimitable cowbells, staggered claps and deft hats. Warm synth pads ascend with the increasingly prominent vocal loop, and surging subs work away beneath the surface. The rhythm is deadly efficient, and supplemented brilliantly by considered sampling.

On the flip Lorca takes full control with a track titled ‘Hold Back’. In contrast to Visionist’s opener which combines energetic 808’s with quick fire vocals, Lorca’s effort is far more relaxed, characterised by its spare rhythm and poignant chords. ‘Hold Back’ is a real stepper, built on spacious kicks which are balanced duly by supple claps and low-key hats. The open rhythms are complemented beautifully by soulful synth arrangements and a wailing vocal which tenderly rises and recedes throughout. Really strong work from Lorca on this one.

The two aforementioned tracks make up the 12” which will be released on 15/08/11. The digital release comes a week later, and will feature two additional tracks. The first is a remix of Lorca’s ‘Hold Back’ from fellow newcomer Valentin Stip. The French/Canadian producer offers a seductively warm refix, with glistened synths evoking dreamlike qualities alongside the filtered vocals and shuffling downtempo beat. Visionist and Lorca combine for the second addition, with the resulting work forming ‘Slapstickk’. The collaboration undoubtedly fits, combining frenetically shifting 808s with a shimmering synth key melody. It’s a very strong second EP from Left_Blank, one which demonstrates the talents of two fine producers.

LB002: Visonist / Lorca (Preview) - Forthcoming August 2011 by left_blank

Monday, 25 July 2011

Instra:mental/Trevino - Pyramid/Chip (3024-015)

3024 Recordings marks its 15th release with a split 12” featuring new material from incomparable duo Instra:mental and the lesser known Trevino. Martyn’s creative imprint has been invincible of late, releasing three original 12”s that suitably accompany the 3024 aesthetic Erosie has so distinctively established in conjunction with each sound. Addison Groove and Julio Bashmore offered the best of the West Country, whilst Damon Kirkham debuted his solo project under the alias Jon Convex last month.

Kirkham returns to 3024 once again, this time for a workout as Instra:mental alongside Al Green (Boddika). The duo curated the brilliant Resolution 653 LP back in April, and each has been carefully mapping their fledgling individual work over the past few months. The weight of this work is so great, and as displayed on the A-side of this release, it shows no sign of declining anytime soon.

‘Pyramid’ is a real electro stepper, relentless in the power of its analogue tools. Resounding kicks directly pave the way for subtle metallic hats, immediately forming a rigid and uncompromising rhythm. Quick fire toms intermittently feature, and Boddika’s corrosive 303 acid lines delicately warm beneath the surface, rising with every stab. The drop is forceful, a characteristic that undeniably defines this record. The driving kicks are met by hammering toms, whilst the abrasive acid synths carefully weave a succession of notes which construct a sound perfectly suited to the ruthless rhythm.

On the flip, Trevino marks his debut with ‘Chip’. Although the 12” may gain more attention due to its A-side, Trevino provides an impressive track for the split 12”. Syncopated bass kicks are interspersed with sharp claps, lending the track the swing and tuck of 2-step. However, the sound does not differ too greatly from the aforementioned ‘Pyramid’ with ‘Chip’ deftly building a surge of dark acid lines that ascend beside glistened synths.

3024 can do no wrong at present, consistently providing 12”s that are high on quality control as well as experimentation. It’s fast establishing a 3024 sound, one which is brilliantly matched by Erosie’s unique vision. Instra:mental have really delivered on this one, and Trevino aptly backs the brilliant opener.

3024-015 Instra:mental & Trevino by 3024world

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Unknown - Sicko Cell/Knock Knock (SWAMP014)

Six months after what can only be described as a relentless domination of the circuit, this year’s most anticipated and discussed record arrives. Talk has abounded the much documented A-side ‘Sicko Cell', relating to various issues and establishing fractions in the track’s reception. The most persistent question has seemingly been the identity behind the producer of the track, a subject which in all honesty shouldn’t have much too much of a bearing on the interpretation of music. However, it always has and always will. Has the anonymity of the producer contributed to the hype surrounding 'Sicko Cell'? Undoubtedly so, but I strongly believe a similar height of attention would have been paid to the track had the producer in hand revealed himself, purely based on the draw of the record.

Discussion of the tracks themselves have somewhat been underplayed due to the prominence of the previous matter, unfairly so as well. There is undeniably something special about this 12”. It’s not the fact an ‘unknown’ producer is behind the work, or the fact that Ben UFO and Oneman have been spinning the dubs since late 2010; there’s a real distinctiveness to the release. These are two memorable yet minimal killers, a fact proven by their 6 month sticking power.

This is particularly true in the case of ‘Sicko Cell’. It’s seemingly contradictory, combining challenging rhythms with the popular awareness of its sampling. The track’s introduction alarms, with various bleeps and razor synths providing layers for the eminent hypnotic vox’d line “I’m the information. Cocaine powder”. The bass kicks hit home earlier than anticipated, soon joined by shuffling hats and the Page sample. The track finally forms its full intricate 808 rhythm, with deep kicks offset neatly by padded toms and soft rim shots. A cold chord arrangement forms a deadly Detroit-esque melody, whilst cries of “too much” resonate in frenetic repetition. This measured build up leads to the track’s climax, a wonderfully twisted breakdown which provides its pinnacle. The vox’d sample directly repeats the opening line, whilst poignantly yearning synthlines provide the perfect foil for Neyo’s bewail “I’m so addicted”. It’s a brilliantly constructed track, causing damage on dancefloors through subtle rhythms and superb samples.

The B-side has been criminally overlooked for me due to the attention directed to ‘Sicko Cell’. ‘Knock Knock’ is an altogether warmer track, whilst still incorporating an introspective element to its sound. Sharp toms immediately align and set the order, whilst the beautiful brooding synthlines tenderly assemble a melody characteristic of this artist’s talents. Pounding bass kicks provide depth to the 808 rhythm alongside quick fire hats, and carefully cut vocal snippets contribute a lamenting tone alongside the ever rising and receding synths. This may just be the stronger of the two tracks in my opinion, skilfully balancing the strong rhythm with emotional melodies.

It’s a very strong release, one which will no doubt be remembered for a quite a while. The A-side will be for crowd pleaser for months to come, and rightly so. I do hope the underplayed ‘Knock Knock’ is given the attention it deserves in the near future. As per usual full marks to Swamp81 who provide yet another outstanding release, finished with typically flawless artwork and pressed on 180g vinyl. Purchase.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Vakula - Mama Said Go Slow/Deaf World (Dub) (SHEV001)

Ukrainian Vakula may just be untouchable at present. The young producer has patiently been building an impressive discography over the past few years, crafting a hypnotic and affecting sound with releases for Quintessentials, Uzuri, 3rd Strike and Firecracker Recordings. His distinctive brand of deep house is delightful, and was demonstrated at its strongest on his latest effort for the promising Unthank label. The three track EP was of the highest quality, combining shuffling house templates with expanding and altering melodies that overwhelm. His most recent release for the newly formed Shevchenko label, one named after the great Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko (although I like to think it was rather named in honour of Andriy Shevchenko, my favourite football player of all time - I'm an AC Milan fan), follows in a similar vein, with a hand-stamped white label providing two tracks of equal measure.

The A-side of the Shevchenko release is the glowing highlight on this 12”. The track titled ‘Mama Said Go Slow’ opens with a driving 4/4 beat supplemented by a flurry of sustained hats and deft snare hits. Minor acid synths bubble gently beneath the surface, gently rising and receding before being outdone by the introduction of absorbed chords. The sensuous melody induced by the Detroit inspired keys leads the line, subtly altering throughout whilst a low key soul sample is left lying in its wake. It really is a beautiful endeavour.

Deaf World’ (Dub) on the flip is a decidedly downtempo effort, somewhat subdued and tentative. A slow mo driving beat centres events, intermittently joined by quick fire hi-hats, lingering snares and sporadic crashing toms. Arcing synthlines emerge to claim dominance in the first half of the track, only to be gradually displaced on the track’s journey. A light and perhaps smoother arrangement of soft keys grows in stature, thoughtfully matching the previous synthlines with equal intensity. It’s a carefully constructed beatdown track, one which characterises the unique sounds Vakula initiates.

Mama Said Go Slow/Deaf World (Dub)’ is a fine effort, and further evidence of this flourishing producer’s talents. The A-side is very special, finding a perfect balance between fine tuned rhythms and introspective melodies that lend the track a further groove. Limited hand printed 12”; don’t sleep on it.
Mama said go smoothly by Vakula

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Jason Fine - Menage At Trois (FXHE)

FXHE continues build upon its impeccable reputation, one which will only be enhanced by the latest offering from Omar-S’ Detroit-based imprint. ‘Ménage At Trois/Jack Yo Bodda’ marks producer Jason Fine’s second outing on the label, and it’s an excursion in which he revisits the distinctive sounds of 90s US house/garage. It’s a sound to which he pays homage and yet updates, producing a 12” perfect for late nights and deep downtempo dancefloors.

The title track sits on the A-side and demonstrates the upbeat half of the release. A skittered pattern initially emerges, with incisive hats and pointed snares laying essential foundations for a seductive female vocal to softly arouse. The introduction of resonant kicks gets things moving nicely, assisted no end by the initiation of charming keys. The track builds nicely, with the booming kicks and on point hats forming a shuffling rhythm, whilst the smooth keys and whispered vocal sample contrast in their sensual sound. The track reaches its pinnacle once the vocal descends and the chord arrangements develop, incorporating further notes into the buoyant melody.

‘Jack Yo Bodda’ is an altogether moodier affair, a perfect fit for FXHE. Deep kicks are separated by light hats, underscoring the diva cries of “jack yo body all night long” over a wonderfully morose chord melody. Those signature jagged skittering hats mark a turning point, signalling the arrival of clashing snares, reserved claps and a grumbling bassline only Omar-S could produce. And don’t worry, that bassline takes full control. Jacking rhythms, soul drenched keys, and diva vocals emerge again, comprised to form a brilliant house record with a helping hand from Omar-S the best.

On the flip of the record you find the words “More Bang For Your Buck!!!”. A Statement couldn’t be more fitting for the quality etched on this 12”. Once again it’s another damn impressive record from the FHXE camp.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Funkbias - Last Forever/Heaven Sent (SWAMP012)

Swamp81 continue their exceptional run of releases with the debut release from Funkbias. The imprint's twelfth release presents the collaboration work between Zed Bias and Rinse FM’s Funk Butcher. The duo’s production work neatly fits the Swamp81 aesthetic, combining vibrant rhythms and neat chords with clipped vocal snippets. There’s something distinctive about the two tracks on display here, a sound quite unique and inimitable.

The A-side is the more identifiable, receiving regular play from Swamp head honcho Loefah, Boddika and Oneman over the past couple of months. ‘Last Forever’ is also most certainly the more upfront track of the release. A rugged rhythm pounds away, with bottom heavy kicks providing the base for precise layers of intricate percussion. Striking synthlines sporadically pierce the surface, whilst an unrecognisably frenetic vocal sample is scrupulously ordered. The elements combine with great efficiency, and the further additions of swelling basslines and sharp claps lend the track its full groove.

Switch to the flip and you’ll find ‘Heaven Sent’. There’s an infectious quality attached to this track which has led me to place the needle on the B-side more often than not. From the initial opening arises a series of soft piano chords that warm the high pitched vocal snippets and subtle toms. The drop takes things in a different direction, introducing the track’s shuffling polyrhythms against a backdrop of surging subbass. The tougher sounds of the multifaceted percussive arrangements take precedence, although it’s soon juxtaposed by the reintroduction of the uplifting chord melody. Crashing toms grow in power, and crisp claps fall on every fourth beat.

It’s an impressive debut from the duo; buy on sit material as per usual from Swamp81. Pressed on 180g vinyl with exceptional artwork from the gifted Will Bankhead (Trilogy Tapes, Honest Jons, Doldrums etc), it’s another essential Swamp 12”.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Addison Groove - Bad Things

Addison Groove is on fire. 2011 has marked an important year for Addison's production, prolific both in terms of quality and numbers. ‘Work It/Sexual’ set the tone, with Swamp81’s ninth release marking his strongest work to date. Shortly followed up by first-rate releases on Tectonic and 3024 (not to mention the white label remix of Photek’s ‘UFO’), the supply of Addison material has met its demand. The most recent signs indicate the Bristol-based producer has no intention of letting up on the works under his inventive moniker at present. Last month, Jackmaster included a new Addison dub in his mix for an audio/visual collaboration alongside Plomp&Clout, a track which demonstrates progression and experimentation with the ‘Addison sound’. Next up, a track entitled ‘Bad Things’ has begun to surface.

‘Bad Things’ is straight up killer, primed for the dancefloor. Rolling 808s weave with undeniable effect, deep bass kicks reverberating whilst rim shots sit somewhat closer to the surface. The rhythms progress and evolve throughout, proceeding to incorporate sharp hats and the legendary 808 cowbell. Strands of electro glistened synth stabs open every 8 bars, while invariable sub bass and quick fire Spank Rock vocal samples lend further weight to the precise beat. The sampling on this one cannot be underestimated, it’s a perfect fit.

Whether or not it will see a release remains to be seen. The only thing that is for certain is the fact that Addison’s stride will not be stopped.

ADDISON GROOVE - BAD THINGS by addisongroove

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Martyn - Masks/Viper (BF024)

Martyn is back with a single and sophomore album forthcoming on Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder imprint. Martijn Deykers is undoubtedly one of the most talented producers around, with a consistency of quality demonstrated throughout his multi faceted back catalogue. His debut album ‘Great Lengths’, released on his very own 3024 records, provided one of the highlights of 2009, with a sound much more ingrained in dubstep coming to the fore whilst simultaneously crossing over with garage and techno. ‘Vancouver’ and ‘Hear Me’ still sound as fresh as they did 2 years back, a trait which demonstrates their value. Since his debut LP, Martyn has carefully managed the release of following singles, maintaining the high standards that have gone before. ‘Miniluv’, included on Ben Klock’s Berghain 04 mix, may just mark his strongest work to date. The track is based around pounding kicks and skipping percussion, whilst dark basslines grind beneath the surface only to be overwhelmed by the beautiful melodic chords that develop in the latter stages.

The head of 3024 recordings will present his new material in October on an LP entitled ‘Ghost People’. On the subject of what direction the new material would take, Martyn commented, “People just like a certain sound and then they want more of that. But then when you give them more, they suddenly think you’re boring or one-dimensional. The best way to handle it is to not really listen to people, and just dictate what you want to do. Everyone has their angle, and puts on their mask forward. People use a shell to show who they want to be.” The earliest we’ll be able to perceive the new material will be in the form of a 3-track single, featuring ‘Masks’ as well as two variations of a track titled ‘Viper’. If ‘Masks’ is an indication of where Martyn has taken things with the forthcoming LP we could be presented with his finest work to date. A 4/4 beat thumps, the weight of which is balanced by crisp hats and timely claps. The pulsating percussion is suitably accompanied by a bassline that will delight dancefloors, whilst the progression of intricate key stabs generates an uplifting arrangement that places the track into full fruition.

‘Masks/Viper’ is will be available on 12” on 5th September with a digital release set for 1st August. Invariably, Martyn will deliver quality.


1. Masks
2. Viper (Ghost People Edit)
3. Viper (London’s Arches Edit)

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Teeth - Shawty & CNT/Lowcut Champagne

Matti Pentikäinen is very much on top form at the minute. The Finnish producer who operates under the moniker Teeth is responsible for a couple of the strongest releases to see the light of day in May and June. His debut came last month on Oneman’s 502 Recordings, a release which has firmly placed Teeth on the map. The eminent ‘Shawty’ was a real statement from the Finn, presenting an inimitable sound that cannot be defined through placement in an umbrella genre grouping. His second 12” was released at the beginning of the month, with CNT/Lowcut Champagne forming his follow up to ‘Shawty’ on Noppa Records. Two tracks of real quality were on display once again, sharing similar characteristics which helped to endear his debut. The sounds are introspective and brooding, yet simultaneously retaining features which endow the tracks with dancefloor compatibility, a quality Addison Groove has mastered on his latest releases. However, there is undoubtedly something special about Teeth’s early sounds.

Oneman copped an absolute killer in ‘Shawty’, and the risk taken on signing the track has justifiably paid off. After first listening, you realise there’s something definitive about the track. Its sensuality absorbs you, whilst shifting percussion underlies a sense of difficulty and anxiousness. The seductive vocal sample (Beyonce’s whisper of “shawty what your name is”) and stunning synthlines bring the heat, supported by deep pads and frenetic hats which lie beneath throughout. The tough garage rhythm that occupies in stages and surging sub bass bestows the track club suitability, albeit an uncomfortable one. The track sits at 147 bpm, a fair distance from the plentiful 128-130 somethings that have risen to prominence over the past 12 months. It’s an unusual tempo, one which lends to the track’s brilliance. A bold move on paper, it undoubtedly facilitates success. Backed by a powerful Falty DL remix, one which gives the original a run for its money, and a genius VHS inspired video, the overall package is excellent.

‘CNT’ makes an immediate impact through its razor sharp percussion, vibing off jukes kicks whilst hard drum hits weave a syncopated rhythm alongside the uncertain snares. A quick fire vocal sample intermittently pierces, gaining more prominence as the track progresses, sitting wonderfully atop the supple kicks. It’s the breakdown that marks the significant element here though, with the mood changing in an instant. Warm, hazy synthlines ascend and take dominance, juxtaposing the harsher sounds of the sharp beats. On the flip, ‘Lowcut Champagne’ is the more appealing of the two, pensive and melancholic in tone. The percussion is buoyant, recalling the intricacies of Joe. A heavy off-beat garage rhythm takes centre stage in phases, reminding us of the strength of Teeth’s percussive arrangements. However, the vocal clips and synths are utilised once again to produce an ominous atmosphere. A yearning diva cries “feel it”, softening the blow of every drum hit. The break allows beautifully morose synthlines to construct a melody of wonderful proportions, providing the track’s finest moment.

Two excellent releases from Teeth, with the promise of more quality forthcoming on Ramp, 502 and Noppa.

502:003 Teeth - Shawty/Shawty [FaltyDL Remix] by 502 Records

Teeth 'CNT' / 'Lowcut Champagne' NOPPA008 by stholdings

Friday, 24 June 2011

Kyle Hall - Down!

Kyle Hall takes it deep down for the latest 12” release on his Wild Oats imprint. The young producer heralding from Detroit has made some of the most affecting house music of the past couple of years, and his sound shows sign of development and maturity over this period. From his remarkable debut on Omar S’s FXHE to soulful control of the “Sun Goddess” EP, his work exudes quality. “Down!” demonstrates no sign of letting up on the quality control, with the infectious A-side constituting one of Hall’s finest productions to date.

“Get Down” builds with a solid 4/4 rhythm kicking away at 126bpm, each hit accompanied by the spacious clash of a snare. A deadly effective chord melody is the main drive behind the track, complemented beautifully by the recurring female cries of “let’s get down”. These elements continually filter in and out, recalling the disco-edits of Moodymann. On the flip, “Xero” is constructed with percussion as its very heart. Hall adopts Latin styled percussion here, composing a rigid hypnotic beat which is drenched in soulful keys characteristic of Detroit house. Hand stamped 12” on a limited pressing. Fine effort from KMFH.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Endian - Two Chords Deep (EMINDS020)

Electric Minds have delivered a fine 12” with a debut from a new producer operating under the alias Endian. Two cuts of deep house/techno occupy each side, downtempo and emotive efforts that bring with them a distinctive sound, one which presents the talent this previously unfamiliar artist possesses. It’s an extremely impressive debut, a release which marks by refined and considered tracks. After initial listening it becomes apparent as to why NonPlus+ have signed Endian to a release in the coming months (one of which one of the tracks can be heard in Paul Woolford’s recent FACT mix).

‘Two Chords Deep’ is patient and progressive on the A-side. A supple 4x4 beat is set out from the off, reserving the static synth for the backdrop. Hats soon collide between every deep kick, and the efficient two note chord arrangement begins its enduring journey. The addition of claps on every second beat completes the sum, giving the track its full lease of life. The two chords persistently work their way into your memory, effectively working up a groove in union with the driving rhythm.

‘Doze’ on the flip is a much more downtempo affair, with closer ties to deep house. Once again it’s a track which retains the patience of house, tentatively building over the near 7 minute duration. A consistent beat pattern is immediately established, low slung and polished with rounded kick drums. However, it’s the warm gazing chords that really strike, sitting beautifully above the more structured rhythms. The introduction of claps adds a further dimension, as do the latter supplements of crisp hats and the timid snare hits. Throughout all of this percussive development, the soft chords remain constant, ensuring the serene atmosphere engrained in this measured track.

This is a really strong debut release from Endian, confident and assured. Next up for the producer is a 12” on the accomplished NonPlus+ imprint, a release which will undoubtedly, and deservedly, introduce Endian to a wider audience.

EMINDS020 - Endian "Two Chords Deep" by electricminds

Marcellus Pittman - Nyrobi Knight

Rough and ready Detroit house from none other than Marcellus. His first EP on Omar S' FXHE imprint is one I've been lucky enough to track down on 12" after its original release back in June 2005. Member of The Three Chairs, Marcellus is unquestionably one of the finest house producer’s around, and his impeccable record of astounding releases is testament to such an assertion. I was first introduced to his work with the Unirhythm Green #1 release, a 12” which instantly initiated my adoration for his production. Raw, stripped programmed beats against soulful melodic progressions. His most recent efforts have delivered just as devastating results, with The Eastside Story EP and ‘On A Beautiful/By Your Side’ providing two of 2011’s strongest records. All this is established before giving the slightest mentioning the magnificent Midwest Advocates EP, a 12” which has the small matter of ‘Chicago Nights’ on its A-side.

His first self titled EP for FXHE is no less impressive, and in particular one track really displays the quality Marcellus has to offer. ‘Nyrobi Knight’ may just be my favourite Pittman track, and that is an achievement that really takes some doing. A meticulously programmed beat hammers with padded kicks, complete with persistent hats matching each hit. The track takes off once the rich one note chord works a progressive captivating melody (work that recalls the sounds of Theo Parrish), one which defines the track and leads the way for the introduction of afro-rhythmic percussion in sporadic intervals. It’s a beautifully raw and soulful track, one which displays his innate quality to produce house music that works the soul, body and mind. First class material.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Ben UFO Interview - Intruders

The guys at Intruders recently held an eclusive interview with Hessle Audio co-founder Ben Thompson, discussing everything from the '116 & Rising' compilation to Ben's personal feelings towards giving tracklists and the importance of vinyl. Ben's a really interesting and well spoken young man, and the interview is more than worthy of 15 minutes of your time.

Vakula - 'Unthank 2' (UNTHANK002)

The somewhat promising Unthank imprint (a sub-label of Firecracker Recordings) delivers its second release, and confirms that its opening wasn’t a one off. Faced with the challenge of following up Bakey USTL’s wonderfully deranged 'A Tender Places', you’d be forgiven for thinking that the second 10” would be underwhelming in comparison to its predecessor. However, Ukrainian producer Vakula delivers a 3 track EP of equal measure. Vakula’s effort may not be as unpredictable and challenging as Bakey USTL’s introduction, yet it exhibits a distinguished sound that borders on the lines of house and techno, weaving stunning contemplative melodies around uncompromisingly robust rhythms.

'Track 1' steals the show here, providing arguably the most striking track of the release. A steady underlying 4x4 beat pushes things along, whilst heavy bass kicks adds weight to the structured beat. Meticulous chord stabs soon accompany the aforementioned beat, soon displaced by in prominence by introspective synth arrangements, signalled by the introduction of a flurry of cowbells. The two melodies wonderfully interplay for a period, before the stunning arching synth lines take full control, flourishing in the absence of the beat. 'Track 2' is no less delightful, an altogether slower and shorter affair. A slow motion shuffling beat provides the direction for uplifting chords to dictate, backed by analogue fuzz in the distance. The B-side lifts the tempo as well as the mood. The beat is simple yet effective, playing second fiddle to the delicate melody that constitutes the opening half of the track. Drifting synths patiently rise beneath melody, receding as gradually as they appeared.

Each clear 10” is once again delivered in a silk-screened Japanese poly jacket, ensuring the release is an essential purchase. With more releases along these lines, Unthank will unquestionably become one of the most reputable independents around, especially with more tracks along the lines of the superb opener.

UNTHANK002 by Firecracker Recordings

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Addison Groove - Unknown

2011 has quite simply been a faultless year for Anthony Williams under his Addison Groove pseudonym. Three releases of real quality have surfaced in the space of a couple of months, providing material for a wide range of DJs whilst amassing superlatives from numerous music journalists and peers alike. From Swamp81 to Tectonic to 3024, Addison has always delivered excellence, perhaps the pinnacle of which is the sublime ‘Sexual’, a track that combines frenetic 808 rhythms with a sensual chord melody and hypnotic vocal sample. Addison’s sounds has continued to develop, becoming more refined whilst managing to explore further mutations, a progression ‘Make Um Bounce’ indicated on the Tectonic release.

The likelihood of Addison releases in the near future is unlikely after his prolific opening to the year. However, dubs seem to be surfacing, and will undoubtedly generate the same interest and excitement that predecessors ‘Sexual’ and ‘It’s Got Me’ sparked. The latest Addison track appeared at the end of the recent audio/visual collaboration between visual artist Pomp&Clout and Numbers head Jackmaster. The audio/visual mixtape itself is quite something, blending eclectic videos with outstanding mixing track selections from Jack Revill. Nonetheless, the highlight comes in the form of a new Addison Groove track that kicks in from 8:30 onwards.

This new track signals further experimentation, with Williams seemingly exploring sounds more indebted to house and techno, whilst retaining raw 808 patterns and quick fire vocal samples. A rolling 4x4 rhythm slowly transpires, with hi hats subtly filling the gaps in between. The 808 pattern gradually develops, patiently initiating bass heavy kicks and razor sharp toms. Delightful synth arrangements create a melody that harks back to Drexciya, forever keeping the cutting acid synths at bay. And the vocal sample completes the track, with the indelible female vocal reiterating “we like to fuck, yo ass up”. It may just be Addison's best work alongside 'Sexual'.

If that wasn't enough, Addison's remix of Martha and the Vandellas 1967 soul track 'Jimmy Mack' is quite simply something else. Williams' production under the Addison moniker is growing in strength if these tracks are a sign of things to come.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Blawan - 'What You Do With What You Have'

More heat coming from Blawan, just at a time when you'd be forgiven for thinking the young producer had given the best he had to offer for a while on the last two releases. 'Potchla Vee' - featured on Hessle Audio's '116 & Rising' LP - and 'Getting Me Down' represented the latest efforts in an almost faultless back catalogue from Barnsley born Jamie Roberts, a factor which he seems to take great care and detail over, quality over quantity. However, new material is surfacing, with a track titled 'What You Do With What You Have' according to Ben UFO aired on Hessle Audio's previous two Rinse FM shows. And my word it hits hard.

'What You Do With What You Have' follows a similar construction to that of 'Getting Me Down', yet somehow it seems to do with more bite and efficiency. Once again, we see a wonderfully lifted vocal sample acting as the heart of the track, with all other elements carefully weaved around Moodymann's distorted statement. This sample was founded in Moodymann's RBMA lecture, and the way in which Blawan has adopted the lines is nothing short of brilliant (click here to view the lecture - clip at 18:00). The track sets the vocal sample in a 4/4 house rhythm, built in signature style with interplay between various percussive layers - a feature prevalent in much of his previous production. 303 acid lines submurge the rhythm, complementing the manipulated vocals and driving beat with the dark melody each stab works to generate. It's the way in which the vocal sample is arranged that resonates, however, hypnotising you into a groove. Blawan on his finest form. Whether or not we'll be seeing this on 12" is unknown at present, but I'm hoping an R&S release is in the pipeline.

"But I’m going to tell you something. It ain’t what you got, it is what you do with what you have. It ain't what you do, it is how you do it, and that goes with anything. I don’t care if you are out here selling dope, do it well. I don’t care if you are out here selling pussy, fuck it well. It is not what you do, it is how you do it. Who gives a fuck what that motherfucker say? Who gives a fuck what that motherfucker say? You have to be comfortable with yourself at the end of the night. ‘Cause that motherfucker over there isn't paying your bills, that motherfucker over there, you don't know that motherfucker from Adam Scratch, you have to be comfortable in what you do. And whatever you do, do it well. When you leave here, what you do, do it well. It ain’t what you got; it is what you do with what you have." (Kenny Dixon Jr aka Moodymann)

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Hessle Audio - 116 & Rising (HESLP001)

For the past couple of weeks I have been relentlessly absorbing Hessle Audio’s latest addition to an already accomplished back catalogue. Hessle first LP comes in the form of the 166 & Rising compilation, a project which unties the label’s past with its present. The first CD and 3x12” is dedicated solely to new materials, the majority born from previous contributors to the label – although Addison Groove, D1 and Randomer all make their Hessle debuts here. The sheer volume of quality the label has fashioned since 2007 is quite remarkable, and when situated in a single release you begin to realise just how far the Hessle label has developed since its 2007 inception.

Label co-founders Ben Thompson, David Kennedy and Kevin McAuley have been at the helm, carefully mapping the direction of the imprint over the past four years. A total of 18 releases over the space of four years is less than prolific, however this in turn defines the Hessle way. In fact, it is quite remarkable that the trio have put together such a number of strong and innovative release, only pressing sounds they are thoroughly impressed by. The quality of each and every release is something to behold, a feature this compilation underlines in abundance.

The release is essentially split into two separate parts, although each is unquestionably related to its opposite. The 3x12” release points us in the direction of Hessle presents and futures. The vinyl pack is comprised of 12 new releases, with a varied mix of material selected. The A-side opens with Elgato’s sensual Music (Body Mix), a measured track which knocks away at 121bpm weaving weird and wonderful melodies around deep kicks and recurring percussive arrangements. Elgato’s opener is a real statement, contrasting Pangaea’s You & I on the second CD. The latter is more inclined to acknowledge roots in dubstep and 2-step, with a swinging rhythm drenched in anxious tones and layers that lend the track a strong sense of spatial atmosphere. This atmosphere doesn’t escape Elgato’s Music though, as track seemingly retains the stripped and distinctive ambience characteristic of numerous Hessle releases.

Blawan’s ‘Potchla Vee’ deserves special attention – although many would argue that is the case for all eleven tracks. It signals the work of a man on top form at present, perhaps even topping Getting Me Down. A pounding rhythm formed from extensive drum programming, complete bass heavy kicks and timely snares, is wonderfully offset by brooding synths that over roar beside an emotive female cry. It’s quite simply a contemplative killer. Addison Groove is testament also to the importance of electronic drum programming music, a trait that has become all the more apparent over the past 6 months or so – sounds pushed particularly by the likes of Swamp81, 502 Recordings and Hessle themselves. Fuk Tha 101 is very much situated in the current age, with Addison working a deadly 808 groove that will make dancers bounce. The quick fire Juke-infused sample repeatedly asserts “Fuk Tha 101”, a powerful combination which Williams manages to balance with a signature introspective melody, providing the track with room to breathe amongst the pounding 808 business.

Whilst acknowledging the new sounds and mutations that have descended upon the debated UK bass/dance scene in recent, the vinyl edition makes room for the D1’s Subzero, one of the most underrated dubstep dub’s out there. Its percussion is simple yet unquestionably effective, with an intimate interplay between snares and hi hats between the spacious left by each drowning kick. The track’s location in the centre of the new material is telling, and suggests the impact the style has had on this new generation of producers and sounds.

This concept is further explored when you compare the works of certain artists who have produced material situated on both sides of the release. Cosmin TRG may just be the strongest example of a producer whose sound has developed with current trends and mutations. Put You Down (released back in June 2008) harks back the low swung 2-step/garage of El-B et al - a style that obviously retains strong ties to the dubstep scene. The track’s propulsive 2-step rhythm acts as the focal points, around which sub lines forever simmer beneath a persistent vocal sample. Cosmin’s most recent addition is provided by Bijoux, a track with deeper ties to more recently explored house sounds. Bijoux carefully constructs effortlessly smooth rhythm that borders on the fault lines between house and garage, whilst a blissful chord melody induced, providing arguably one of the most soulful moments on the LP – although James Blake and Joe have just as strong a case.

I could go on discussing my love for the tracks featured on this compilation. I haven’t even yet mentioned the brilliance of James Blake’s efforts, or the refreshingly original efforts Joe has savoured for the label – new track ‘Twice’ is a highlight from the LP. However, it really isn’t about the individual tracks or artists featured here. This is a compilation, and something more is required than collating a number of tracks from various releases a label has put out, a facet one too many compilations have suffered from in the past. 116 & Rising evades such downfalls, and provides one of the most enjoyable listens you will experience in 2011. It is a fitting representation of the label, a unique imprint which in dictates a strong sense of identity and unity within its releases, a correlation which can established in relation to the first and second CDs. It’s a compilation which documents Hessle’s best work to date, but goes further in ensuring that the organisation of such material is structured to underscore the very distinctiveness of one of the UK’s finest independent labels. The 3x12 and 2xCDs are simply indispensable.

Praise should also be reserved for Will Bankhead (Trilogy Tapes), who has designed Hessle's finest artwork to date. If you're not familiar with Bankhead's work, get to know it. He's a regular on artwork for Honest Jons and the previous Doldrums releases (002, 003), the latter of which as so beautifully presented. It's the perfect meeting of art and music.


1. Elgato – Music (Body Mix)
2. Untold – Cool Story Bro
3. Blawan – Potchla Vee
4. Pearson Sound – Stifle
5. Joe – Twice
6. Randomer – Brunk
7. Pangaea – Runout
8. Cosmin TRG – Bijoux
9. D1 – Subzero
10. Addison Groove – Fuk Tha 101
11. James Blake – Give A Man A Rod
12. Peverelist – Sun Dance

1. Pangaea – You & I
2. Untold – Test Signal
3. Blawan – Fram
4. James Blake – Buzzard And Kestrel
5. Untold – I Can’t Stop This Feeling
6. Joe – Rut
7. Ramadanman – Blimey
8. TRG – Put You Down
9. Joe – Level Crossing
10. Pangaea – Why
11. TRG – Broken Heart (Martyn’s DMC Remix)
12. Ramadanman – Don’t Change For Me

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Jon Convex - 'Convexations' EP (3024-014)

2010 saw the emergence of Alex Green‘s (one half of Instra:mental) solo project Boddika, a trend which has continued with great success into 2011. Now the time has come for Instra:mental’s other half, Damon Kirkham, to launch his very own solo work under the alias Jon Convex. His debut EP has been signed by Martyn’s 3024 Recordings, a label which has grown in stature over the past few months, with strong releases from Julio Bashmore and Addison Groove firmly asserting the label’s glowing reputation. It’s quite a coup, and signals the second meeting of Damon Kirkham and 3024 after the former provided the backing vocals for Martyn’s ‘Natural Selection’ on 3024-002. Kirkham’s debut on 3024 induces a sound which differs from Instra:mental’s past work, whilst it shares the raw and distinctive analogue programming in terms of production style. Kirkham describes the Convex sound as “EPM (Electronic Party Music)”, a seemingly apt description in regards to the ‘Convexations’ EP.

The release opens with ‘Convexations’ and immediately establishes Kirkham’s intentions. A strong rhythm is built from the off, incorporating low slung kicks and firm pads, whilst trailing synths stream along in the distance. The track is forced into full effect by Yamaha acid tones, with subtle tom hits contributing further to the tracks impending momentum. The shuddering bassline is relentless, and the vox'd vocal sample provides a fitting supplement to the arching synths.

The B-side takes things in a very different direction with 'Falling Again'. A razor sharp 2-step rhythm kicks things off, soon to be ordered by the inserted heavy kicks. Vocal snippets recall the chopping and cutting of Todd Edwards, lending the track further garage traits, whilst faint keyboard stabs generate a metallic melody in the background. The track also explores more grounded territory during the break. The 2-step rhythm continues to roll, however things are rather mellow here. The vocal snippets are irregular and more reserved, whilst the melodic stabs are replaced by pensive synth lines It's a lovely effort, possibly the strongest of the three.

The final track is exclusively available on the digital release and will not feature on the 12" sadly. The quality on this one most certainly isn't lacking though. ‘Order into Chaos’ is the “first Jon Convex track the 3024 imprint heard and is responsible for their dogged pursuit of his signature”, admiration the track more than deserves. It’s the track which aligns most with the work of Instra:mental and Boddika, yet entertaining shrewd alterations. Rigid rhythms are encapsulated by corrosive acid synths that bubble and simmer throughout, with underlying TR1000 kicks driving the action for the track’s duration. It wears you down into working up a groove, deadly efficient.

Strong work once again from 3024, with fantastic artwork as per usual provided by inimitable Erosie. Convex delivers a beauty with his first effort, a sign of things to come. Out on 12" and digital on 13/06/11. Purchase.

3024-014 Jon Convex - Convexations EP by 3024world

Monday, 23 May 2011

92 Points - Visionist 'Mr.67' (PNTS001)

A new imprint is born. 92 Points is a label established by the Brixton-based We Are Dubist collective, conceptualised with the intention of joining "the dots between the rapturous heights of 1992 golden-era jungle, turn of the century champagne-bubbly garage, and the modern day mongrel forms that have been shutting down dances of late." Strong artwork and uncompromising experimental bass music is almost assured, undoubtedly so if the label's forthcoming first release is anything to go by.

The imprint will debut with Visionist's indelible 'Mr.67', a track much desired over the past few months after Oneman dropped the future anthem at Boiler Room #45. The hype surrounding the track has been heightened by extensive air time from the likes of Blackdown and Dark Sky, hype which the track promises to justify. Aligned with pounding 808 kicks 'Mr.67' is a driving force, with anxious cowbells and crashing toms working in conjunction with restless synth lines to evoke darker tones, completed by the instantly recognisable "It's the six-seven" vox'd vocal. It's an absolute killer, so make sure you keep your eyes peeled for the 12".

Visionist will also have releases coming on 502 Recordings, Left_Blank and Diskotopia following his debut on the newly formed 92 Points. To mark PNTS001, Visionist is offering 'A.E.O.M.' for free download from the 92 Points tumblr page. 'A.E.O.M.' is one of Visionist's strongest production's, a track combines strong rhythms with introspective breakdowns. The first half of the track is dominated by a powerful rhythm, filled with deep kicks, crisp cowbells and a repetitive vocal clip. However, as the track progresses, it takes a different turn, leaning towards a breakdown that moves things in a different direction. From beneath the sound 808 arrangements rises a soft female vocal, accompanied by sharp chord stabs that work an uplifting melody. 92 Points and Visionist in full control. It's the six-seven.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Blawan - 'Getting Me Down' (DOWN001)

Blawan's 'Getting Me Down' has been doing the rounds for a good few months now, ever present in the sets of Ben UFO, Pearson Sound, Joy Orbison et al. There's good reason too. It may just be Jamie Roberts' best work to date, although in all honesty both his debut on Hessle and his latest EP on the legendary R&S were outstanding, not to mention the sublime 'Potchla Vee' recently featuring on Hessle Audio's '116 & Rising' compilation, a track which gives this 12" competition in terms of quality. The vocal sample taken from Brandy's 1994 track 'I Wanna Be Down' both helps and hinders the track. A sample Roberts manipulates wonderfully, fitting perfectly alongside the pulsating rhythm, yet the element preventing the track from full release. Thankfully this one has seen a white label release, limited copies so act fast.

The track begins with a relatively understated introduction, with crisp hi-hats frequenting, whilst the vocal sample wails 'Down' repeatedly and acid synths slowly wear down the tone. The drop is something else. From here on in the beautiful Brandy sample takes over, structured through a typically up front and kinetic percussive arrangement from Blawan, a signature we have seen him produce on both 'Iddy/Fram' and the 'Bohla' EP. The uncompromising beat constantly kicks away, soon given real intention by the corrosive synths, which give the previously blissful vocals a darker edge. Blawan's been on fine form recently, and this 12" indicates that his continuing strides will not be stopped.

Huge 12". Don't sleep on this one.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

4th Measure Men / Omar S - 'Given(MK Dub) / Sarah' (FXHE001)

FXHE brings the heat once again with cuts from 4th Measure Men and Omar S The Best. FXHE have consistently provided quality control in the form of Detroit house 12"s for a number of years, showing no signs of holding up anytime soon. From label head Omar S to Marcellus Pittman and Kyle Hall, each release offers the best to come from Detroit. The imprints latest release sees an MK Dub of 4th Measure Men's 'Given' from 1993, whilst on the flip Omar S works his magic once again with a track titled 'Sarah'.

The A-side revisits 90s house sounds, building up a real groove in the process. A steady house rhythm is patiently constructed, with snares filling the gaps between the deep kicks. Claps and ever present snares interplay alongside the infectious diva cries of 'Given'. These elements are soon encapsulated in the strong 4x4 rhythm, with a lofty chord melody arising, acting as the track's hook when combined with the soulful vocal sample.

'Sarah' sits on the B-side, and it demonstrates Omar S in full control. A rigid house rhythm is firmly established, with pulsating kicks initiating the precise 808 arrangements which progress fluidly throughout. Trailing synths leave a mark, soon to be displaced by signature keyboard tones that animate the foreground for long periods, evoking a smooth melody that perfectly complements the rough and ready rhythm. Cowbells alarm intermittently, whilst crashing toms and hi-hats work their way in and out of proceedings beneath those wonderful keyboard stabs. Omar S on fine form as per.

Available now on 12". Essential FHXE print.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Doldrums Presents - Panorama Bar

On Saturday 21st May Doldrums will be presenting their third club night, descending upon Berlin to host Berghain's famous Panorama Bar. Peter O'Grady, Impey and Paddy O'Neill have really pulled the stops out for the label's third night, with arguably their strongest line-up to date. Although there won't be any heads from Detroit on this occassion, the night will include sets from none other than Floating Points, label head Joy Orbison, Pearson Sound, Ben UFO, as well as the prospect of a live set from the outstanding house master Kassem Mosse. Doldrums best yet.

It's quite simply unmissable if you find yourself in Berlin next Saturday. Will Bankhead delivers as per usual; quality work. Doors open at midnight, with no advance sale tickets.

Doldrums Presents:
Floating Points
Joy Orbison
Pearson Sound
Kassem Mosse (Live)

Monday, 9 May 2011

The Analogue Cops/Restoration Records - Mix/Interview

I have been a long time admirer of the Berlin based Restoration Records. Vinyl only limited releases pushing forward some of the finest efforts in house/techno over the past 4 years after being founded in 2007. The label was created by the Italian vinyl junkies Marieu and Lucretio, who produce both independently as well as collaboratively under the alias The Analogue Cops. Since the label's conception, there have been 12 releases, keeping the quality control high throughout. Of particular quality are the 7th and 12th releases, the former including to wonderful tracks from both Marieu and Lucretio ('Roots' and 'Where Are You'), whilst the latter signals the finest of the duo's work as The Analogue Cops (a killer 4-track EP which includes the outstanding 'Why You Love Me' and 'Wait A Second').

Vinyl records and analogue production are the only way for Restoration. The use of analogue machines in their production gives their sound a more interesting and unique feel, adding to the raw and ready atmosphere of the records. It's an approach that looks to the past, in particular Detroit artists such as Jeff Miles, Robert Hood, Theo Parrish, Omar S, Underground Resistance et al, in order to move forward, confidently leaving a mark of their individual sound. The label and it's artists are only growing stronger with time, with more releases to come in the near future, as well as new labels and collaborations being initiated by Marieu and Lucretio as detailed in the interview. The Analogue Cops have kindly put together an exclusive mix/interview, which you can download by following the link below. 1 hour and 9 minutes of pure, raw house and techno. All vinyl. Download. Undoubtedly one of the finest label's around.

The Analogue Cops/Restoration - Daily Bugle Mix


Hi guys, could you quickly introduce yourselves and the label.

Hello there, we are Lucretio and Marieu a.k.a. The Analogue Cops. We are the founders of Restoration records. We also run another label called Appointment together with the guys of Live Jam (Emg and John Swing). Recently we have started two new labels focused on our solo projects: Enlightened Wax (Marieu) and Machines State (Lucretio). We have been buying vinyls for a lot of years. We are Italian but we are living in Berlin, after a couple spent in Barcelona. We play vinyl only, we make music only with machines.

The label’s been running strong for a good few years now. What originally motivated you to start the label?

Basically, back in 2006, we felt a lack of good new music, and we decide to try to do something better, to do something like THEY used to do. So we bought a few machines and we started to learn.

How much of an impact if any has Berlin had on your sound and the label itself?

In Berlin, some people built a bridge to Detroit. And as we love the music from Detroit, this was the place where we had to come. Also, the things coming from the Basic Channel camp. Nowadays, the connection of the city with Detroit is not as strong as it was, but a lot of good artists live and produce their music there. Also there are a lot of great record shops and a lot of people who love electronic music. Furthermore, it's a great thing to have the possibility to listen to your own records in places like Berghain or Panorama Bar, because these places have a proper sound system, and so you can test your works there and improve yourself every time.

You obviously like to keep things analogue based when it comes to production, something I respect greatly and that adds a raw and unique quality to your work. What’s your production set up like?

No computer. A bunch of drum machines and synthesisers from the 80s, some more recent groovebox, a big sampler. Everything connected via MIDI with a hardware sequencer. We record our tracks live only on tape.

How are things developing with Restoration? Have you got any releases coming up over the next few months?

Having started two new labels for our solo works, we have focused Restoration on the release of our other projects. So, we will mainly release tracks by The Analogue Cops and by Third Side, our project with our talented friend Steffi. The next 12" on Restoration will come
out at the beginning of June and it will be a maxi single by Third Side and nd_baumecker. We have recently started to jam with nd and the result was great; we had big fun with him in our studio. We can do great stuff with Steffi and nd, we share a raw musical taste and we have a lot of common influences.

I’ve recently heard of plans of collaboration with Blawan, and I’m really excited by this prospect. Is this going to happen? If so, are you looking forward to working with him?

We have known Blawan since the Flash Forward party in Venice. He really likes our records and he really enjoyed the DJ set of Marieu when playing there with him. There was a connection with him since the beginning. He is one of the most talented youngsters in the
U.K. ...we think. So, we told him to come here in Berlin to jam with us at our analogue studio. He got very fast into our production style. We made 10 greats track together in 3 days. Some of these tracks will come out on some very good labels, we can´t announce where yet... :)...we can only tell you that it is a UK based label.

You've also recently started operating as Appointment and founded the label with the same title? What have you got planned for this project? The Moodymann remixes were brilliant.

Thank you, we are glad you like it. I think we made a very functional remix. Appointment is Marieu, Lucretio, and the guys of Live Jam (Emg and John Swing). They are good friends of us. EMG lives in Berlin and John Swing lives in London. But we are all Italian. We started releasing tracks on Live Jam, then, Decks Reworkx asked us for this remix. So we decided to start a label for the Appointment program: raw, minimalistic, experimental tracks. No information on the record, no name for the track. Only a stamp and powerful music. We do
music together on very quick intensive sessions when John visits us here in Berlin. Appointment 004 came out at the beginning of May. It is a very strong record.

What 12"s do you rate most highly at present?

Our favourite Restoration is always the latest one :). We are always reaching out.