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)