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.