It is wild to think that a decade has passed since Keysound began to stretch the creative boundaries of 130bpm Bass music. Indebted to the underground dubstep sound, the label’s notorious discography is treasured with releases such as Skream’s ‘Sweetz (2005 Flex)‘, LHF’s ‘Keepers of The Light‘ and Sully’s ‘Escape‘, just to name a few. While speaking to Red Bull Music Academy label-boss Blackdown claimed ‘dark 130’ was ”just a subheading in a blog post”. However, it has since evolved to become a tagline closely associated with the roster. “The Hunger” EP, Blackdown’s brand new release, comes as his fourth installment of the Rollage series. Transcending the boundaries of Jungle and Bass, the track is a culmination that demonstrates how far the London-based label has come since its inception in 2005.
The EP brings four tracks with manifold intensities that are uniformed by a shared tempo. ‘The Cycle’ takes the path of exploring the darker side of 130bpm rollage. Successive to the project’s atmospheric intro, the track is unapologetic in its ferociousness. A dystopian shade created by funerial pads is coloured by the laser-riddled soundbank that is featured spasmodically throughout the runtime. Blackdown’s journalistic background saw him interview Loefah back in 2009, where he highlighted his ardor for ”echoes of jungle’‘ in dubstep-fused tracks. Though the formulaic drum-patterns of the sub-genre may be absent in this instance, its mistified framework serves as an delirious prelude to a Jungle track mix-in. In such, the release is guaranteed to serve as a revered weapon by leading selectors in the scene.
Dimi Angélis & Jeroen Search – Our Life With The Wave
Russian poet Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov hits the spot when he writes ‘The breaking of a wave cannot explain the whole sea.’ Creatively speaking, this can translate to one inspiration inspiring an infinite amount. According to VICE, Mike Huckaby’s first My Life With The Wave sample CD provided 128 AIFF samples of a synth enthusiast favourite, the Waldorf Wave. There’s even a Discogs list of releases that was made with the first edition, listing 31 EPs alone. It lists some seminal Deep House producers such as Ernie, Dubbyman, Rick Wade and Tonni Lionni to use the pack. It’s Dimi Angelis and Joreon Search’s names however that raises the most eyebrows. Being two Techno leaning producers, you wouldn’t have coupled the pair with Deep House. However, the 2009 release on Hamburg label Smallville, is a glorious excursion in meticulous yet driving music.
Little White Earbuds describes the track as being ‘music so entrancing it becomes possible to lose all sense of time, until the dawn light begins to seep through the blinds‘. Earlier collaborations between the two, like ‘Sleepless‘ though in the more Detroit end of Techno, show that this duo are adept at both the discombobulating and functional spectrums. ‘Our Life With The Wave’ though is as powerful as two planets colliding. The verbose bass is wide and punching humming along with grace. Lower acid squelches melodically sit perfectly with the sub ass rumbles. The hats hiss panoramically, hypnotically spaced out distempering a place to get lost in. Dramatically, billowing chords are then delayed and panned, to then be held down theatrically. It’s an incredible contrast between the bass and mids that deserves true applause. Continue reading →
Butch – The Spirit feat. Hohberg (Adriatique’s 7am Remix)
The concept of a remix dedicated to a specified hour is a recurring motif in the Underground scene. Some examples include Christian Smith & Wehbba’s 3am Mix of Laurent Garnier Techno classic ‘Flashback, as well as After Hours’ ‘Waterfalls‘ (4am Mix) and Subb-an’s 5am Dub of ‘Move‘ . The idea behind the approach suggests that a certain sound in production can be association with a particular time of the night. Swiss duo Adriatique have tackled such approach in their remake of Butch’s Watergate Records release ‘The Spirit’. Coming from Butch’s 2015 album ‘Songs About Unconsciousness‘, the Adriatique remix deconstructs the original’s Big Room approach into something more contemplative.
Titled ‘The Spirit’, the track was influenced by the idea of collective essence. However, while Butch’s version feels like a tribute to the soul of clubbing, the Adriatique take is more introspective. The track is characterised by gentleness throughout, whether its the timid kick or even the piano rolls that hesitantly enter the frame at the breakdown. Though percussive samples add lighter shade to the mood, they play a secondary part to the gracefully looped arp. Core to the overall atmosphere is the ghostly pads that pierce the inner depths of the mind with a sense of saudade. In such, the intensifying progression of the original is replaced with a meditative reflection. This is further amplified in the extended 15 minutes edit of the remix that lets the listeners mind simmer in its sombreness. Continue reading →
‘I know a track is done when it draws out some emotion’ Johnny Fiasco told 5mag. The Chicago producer’s tracks tend to evoke emotion within the first few minutes. Releases such as ‘Kalimba‘, ‘In The Best Mood‘, ‘Last Word‘ and his remix of Slammer, Ivaylo & Renate’s ‘Invisible Solution‘ are tracks you can play for half an hour straight without clearing the dancefloor. Drenched in jazziness, his production always is a groove-filled affair, owing to his musical background. In operation since ’93, the Chicagoan producer found his releases picked up by the trend-setting Green Velvet, who offered the outlet of his Cajual Records label. Fiasco’s debut album Moody Grooves Vol. II came out in 1997, and with it a barnstorming, monster House opener ‘Set Me Free’.
Similarly to another Cajual track we’ve reviewed ‘Percolator‘, the influence of ‘Set Me Free’ on today’s Tech-House scene is quite uncanny. Starting with broken-beat drum, a hat is energetically played in tandem. ‘Take 5‘, Johnny’s release on prolific soulful house label of the early 2000s Om Records. showcased some unparalleled vocal sample work. It’s no different here, with the regurgitating staccato’d ‘Oh Oh Oh’s expertly chopped. Mutated stringed synths pour all over the top. Fiasco cites Michael Jackson’s ‘Rock With You’ as being one of his major influences, and you can certainly hear it here. The Unique Selling Point of the track, however, is its sonorant bass. Dirty yet funky, it wouldn’t fall out of place in a Hot Creations‘ Hot Waves compilation. An electronic piano loop mixes things up to keep a flavourful and colourful vibe to the track. Continue reading →
“The mysterious Hugh Betcha who features on Pan-Pot‘s newest single most likely takes his name from Canada’s sketch comedy masterpiece SCTV” writes RA reviewer Todd. L. Burn. ‘Hugh Betcha’s Night Gallery’, [an episode from the show], is an apt name for the type of atmosphere that ‘Charly’ creates over its nine minutes’. ‘Charly‘, was the now Techno-Don Pan-Pot’s first mega-hit. Released in 2007 on Anja Schneider‘s Mobilee it encapsulated the underground scene in it’s inveterate and spiralling style. Who is Hugh Batcha you may ask? None other than Mike Shannon. The Montrealer has been one of the most prolific producers and even pioneers. His name stands strong alongside the likes of Luciano, Akufen, Steve Bug & Jay Haze of the super early breedle Minimal sound synonymous with the mid 2000s underground scene. As well as releasing on his own label ‘Cynosure‘, Shannon’s prowess has linked him up with fellow Canadian labels Plus 8 Records, Wagon Repair and Dumb Unit, alongside international labels such as Half Baked and Meander. His collaboration with the Berlinian duo, however, isn’t his first love letter to ‘Charlie’, with ‘Charlie’s On The Dancefloor’ being a powerful display on what made the Minimal style explode.
Released in 2003 under his John Shenanigans alias, the track embodies a cardinal sense of funk that accents no matter the rations of analogue and digital within his production. Like in the Pan-Pot version, his vocals on ‘COTD’ is cheekily cocksure, making it’s presence known brashly. The vocals utter the words of the title slimily in repetition. As it’s spoken over a simple 4/4 kickdrum, an organic distorted piano bassline ricochets over four notes. It’s an incubating sound, evoking the feeling of finding oneself in front of a cackling fire in a decadent castle dining hall. Speaking with Deep Transitions he name-checks Soft Cell and Thomas Dolby as early inspirations. Certainly such eccentricity found in these artists can be relayed in this track. The Jazziness of the bass can be effortlessly overlaid on a Theo Parrish or Moodymann cut. Whirrs and springs murmur in the background. As a double-time snapping kicks in, the bass then adds a top layer as it ascends into the higher octave. The breakdown provides a section where the sub-bass hits on and off the beat, introducing an element of unpredictability. During the final half of the track, Shannon filters the kicks and a delay is added. Alongside the potent vocal, it is a peach of a finish. Continue reading →
Inspired to be the best by the death of his father at aged 13, it’s not surprising to see Adam Beyer as a Commander of the world’s Techno Army. Label boss of the indomitable Drumcode , as well as sub-label Truesoul, he’s never shied from releasing blistering and impactful music. He’s responsible for assembling The Avengers of Techno, consisting of names such as Amelie Lens, Joseph Capriati, Alan Fitzpatrick, Layton Giordano, Pleasurekraft, Bart Skils and Tiger Stripes. All the trailblazing DJs regularly release under his label. Though it may appear that he only brings function to the table with many of his releases, some such as those produced under his Concealed Project alias, as well as his remix of Mathew Jonson’s ‘Marionette‘ bring an edge. Deep and percussive, it is a hark back to his old days before his mammoth hits ‘Your Mind‘, ‘Teach Me ‘and ‘Stone Flower‘ conquered the festival scene. Debuting with ‘Drum Codes 1’ on Planet Rhythm, he brought a cutting-edge stuff with precision drum programming being pushed by Jeff Mills. It’s a common theme throughout all of his releases, including those under the 17th, Midas, Told Impression, Mr Sliff and Tall Guy aliases. Under this Concealed Project release however, ‘Untitled B2’ is a slice of sublime, eerie Techno.
Dropping in the year 2000 on the Swedish record label Svek, it came as part of the ‘Definition of D‘ EP. Speaking with Elektro Daily he recalls starting ‘Drumcode in ’96 [with the] idea to not release anything I wouldn’t play out. It began as a label for techno DJs and not so much for people to just listen to. But back then it was a lot more loopy and it was a bit harder and faster’. ‘Untitled B2’ is certainly as loopy, but due to the pads feels more melodic. Warping and gloopy, the bass is reminiscent of Claro Intelecto’s remix of Hardfloor’s ‘T2DAC‘. It sounds like a Nord Modular was used in the production, being morphed with delays, basic hats, field recordings of traffic. On every half-beat an aquatic siren plays, alongside a choppy, popping percussion. Though it’s a track that is consistent with many of Beyer’s early tracks being DJ tools, here the flip is switched. A brooding pad line kicks in, hauntingly and melancholically it tugs on more heart strings than most ‘melodic techno’ cuts. It’s the same line taken off his first release ‘Pattern 1’. As the energy is amped, it’s the perfect striking juxtaposition to Adam’s unyielding style. Continue reading →
The revival of the late 1980s New Beat sound has simmered below the surface of a variety of Underground trends for a while now. Returning at a lower tempo, its releases retain the squalling synths that crown the jolting sound. YouTube channel, label & party promoter Les Yeux Orange (translated as Orange Eyes), has been a notable supplier of tracks that fall under such strain. Proponents of the sound pushed by the French group include Romanian duo Khidja and Moscow-hailing Simple Symmetry, amongst many others. Yan Wagner’s Belgian Trip remix of Bagarre’s electroclash-inspired ‘Le Gouffre’ original is a copybook example of the modern take on the Belgian sound.
The track establishes a cadence from the get-go, with a high-cutoff synth that glazes over the kick. A quintessential reverb-infused snare and clap combo drub with no remorse. The evolving collection of high-pitch synths intermingle to create a symphony that feels Middle-Eastern inspired. However, Wagner restrains himself from ample modulation that would borrow heavily from Acid Arab’s toolkit. The vocals that enter around the three minute mark are irregular in delivery. Providing tremendous inflection, they remind of the Robotiko Rejekto’s 1987 EBM classic ‘Rejekto!‘. Reflective of the track’s spirit, Bagarre translates as brawl, while ‘Le Gouffre’ means the gulf. With a breakdown that scales down to a single element outside of percussions, the structuring of 101’s ‘Rock To The Beat‘ is dexterously applied. The end result is a sirenic admix of chaotic sounds that have been blended to chill the spine.
UK Garage was born out in the early 90s and had a heavy presence in the early 00s. DJ EZ, Artful Dodger and So Solid Crew all became British household names, as the genre’s 2-step, feel-good and palatable sound topped the charts. It is a sound that is still regularly peppered on top of sets by Dan Ghenacia, Shonky & Dyed Soundsystem‘s group Apollonia as well as Seth Troxler. With such substantial exposure, it would make any music nerd keen to trace down its roots, which originate from the East Coast of the US. And its influence features heavily in Lee Webster’s sound, with similarly delectable smatterings of soulful vocals. Tracks like ‘All Night Vibe‘ and ‘I’ll Be Your Toy‘ beseech one to call back to the era. ‘I guess my first introduction to underground dance music would have been the UK garage and US house scene in England.’ he tells Music Is 4 Lovers. It certainly seeps into his music. And it’s all unashamedly ostentatious. Much can be said of ‘Freaky Bitches’, with less of an influence of the aforementioned soul, but with just as much swing.
Released on the renowned Glasgow Underground label in 2012, the track was the A1 to a four pack that contained two banging Garage-inspired Deep House tracks. The EP also featured a timeless disco cut, showcasing Lee’s production prowess. ‘Freaky Bitches’, however is a no-hold-barred party cut that is akin to putting the pedal to the medal in a Lamborghini on the German Autobahn. Constantly rotating pitter-patter drums are mixed in with single note tribal drums & knocks. This masks the cheeky shenanigans which proceed to take place. In cue with the sub-bass, a manipulated vocal taken from Notorious B.I.G’s ‘Nasty Boy’, too naughty to repeat in this review, set a raunchy premonition. The track breaks down with delectable Deep House synth stabs. An acidic bassline, more deep and dirty than a Paradise DC10 party at 7am, kicks in and obliterates all that goes before it. A true party masterpiece. Continue reading →
Asquith and Deadbeat aren’t names you’d usually put together. The nostalgic nature of the former is a stark contrast of the latter’s dread Dub Techno. What they both share in common is an innate knack to provide a bruising kick. Will Ward’s ‘Space Bell’ is another release that carries such bombast. Described on Leisure System’s Bandcamp as an artist whose tracks portray ‘windswept techno’. Its brash sound serves perfect curation for events like Jaded at Corsica Studios, as is seen in this recorded set of his. Mixing in Truncate, Jones Kopp and Alex Bau, Ward selects cuts for the dishevelled patrons. Releasing EPs on Joton’s New Rhythmic and Audio Doughnuts, Will’s tracks certainly evince that of a seasoned composer. On ‘Space Bells’, however Will provides a cut to to follow a peak-time bomb at a cacophonous party.
One third of Circle Traps, Will was the central character who brought it all together. Speaking with The Trailer TV, he mentions being influenced by Fachwerk Records boss Mike Dehnert. The Berliner is adept at delicately sculpting a track, knowing masterfully where to position each element of sound. His tracks also diligently contain a perfect weight to them. Such influence oozes into ‘Space Bells’. It incorporates a triple note drum programming that is comparable to Leon Vynehall’s ‘Butterflies‘. Interlacing with the forceful drive of the drum, it is gratifying enough to just play the two as a tool. A fuzzy aura surrounds the track. Filtered hats give scents of white noise, creating a galactic atmosphere. The emotive bell patterns provide a petrichor palette similar to the tracks found on John Robert’s seminal LP Glass Eights. Brassy chords clamber, shrieking with trepidation. These sounds all feel grounded by the bass and drums, retaining a permanent swing to the track. Continue reading →
2011 was a formidable year for the Tech-House scene, as producers rode the crest of the 2010 wave well into the following year. Tale of Us released a mammoth remix of WhoMadeWho’s ‘Every Minute Alone‘. Solomun’s Vox Mix of Noir & Haze ‘Around’ catapulted him into the spotlight. Slightly under the radar, Get Physical released DJ T’s ‘Pleasure Principle’ remix compilation featuring interpretations from David August, Jimmy Edgar & Subb-an. One of the labels that was on everyones’ lips, however, was Hot Creations. Founded by a Welsh-Chicagoan partnership of Jamie Jones and Lee Foss, the label introduced us to heaters such as Danny Daze‘s ‘Your Everything‘, Miguel Campbell’s ‘Something Special‘ and the chart-topping Hot Natured’s ‘Benediction‘, all released within the same year. While Jones’ can be seen as more of a patron of the label, Foss’ late 2000s and early 2010s releases laid noteworthy support to the crew’s rise to success. Tracks like ‘Keep My Cool‘ & ‘U Got Me‘ are fine examples of the finesse traced in his early releases. Coming from his Starfruit EP, ‘Someone New’ is a time capsule of era when Foss was at the peak of his production game.
Deep, elegant & sensual are just some of the words that can be used to describe Foss’ signature style. His earlier discography tended to have an unadulterated approach to using lightly-processed analogue synth lines. Such is heard in ‘Someone Knew’, as 1980s Miami inspired soundscapes mollify into the intro that cuts the lower EQs. In conversation with the Night Bazaar, Foss tributes Funk groups such as Paul Simpson Connection to having a major influence on him. Noticeably, his new label Repopulate Mars‘ pushes track like ‘Freak You Right‘, which are more fubsy in percussion sidechaining. This is somewhat a departure from his earlier sound that’s epitomised in this track. The bassline serves as an ancillary, melting into the groove created by a fairly emollient layering of the drums. The overall sound tenderly seduces the listener, rather than overbearing with an in-your-face approach. Fundamental to most renowned releases, is the polished use of the vocals. Here he reworks an extract from Usher’s 1994 track ‘Think of You‘. ‘All the time I think of you, Holding on to someone new‘ brings a set of rather guarded lyrics. Yet the groove created by the remaining elements of the track pacifies the listener into a dance that’s filled with reflection. Continue reading →