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