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 →
Who would have thought that Ben Klock would drop a set under 130 BPM? Repping the Resident Advisor booth at this year’s DGTL Amsterdam, the Berghain resident delivers a masterful ‘House Set’. DGTL has spread its wings to deliver finely curated festivals under its branding in places such as Barcelona, Madrid, Sao Paolo, Tel Aviv and as far west as Santiago, Chile. DGTL is known for its cutting-edge ability to blend Music with the Arts. This year’s installation collaboration with Ace & Tate is proof. Seeing as Klock himself is also renowned for his amalgamation of live production and music, as seen in his Photon parties, the set he provides here is one for the ages.
Though it’s been labelled as a ‘House’ set, it can be more accurately described as diluted Techno. Ringing up the curtain with a dark tense beginning, the magician DJ seems to lock a chastening groove over the dancefloor. Dropping Marco Shuttle’s ‘The Moon Chant‘, the Berliner follows up with cuts from the stellar New York label L.I.E.S., as well as Mandingos ‘Another Dub On Earth‘. Succeeding comes DJ Hell’s drum-focused 1998 classic ‘Jack The House’, a nasty malapert track that will send the most rigid of dancers into lunacy. Laying down full on breaks near the half way mark, things go full alien EBM on the Identified Patient’s ‘The Female Medical College Of Pennsylvania‘. Close to the wrap up Klock goes full Berghain mode with Biemsix’s ‘Clear‘ serving some sublime Dub Techno. The German veteran then finishes off with Kevin Yost’s irrepressible, time-transcending track ‘It’s Getting Bigger‘. For those familiar with the Techno titan, the set may feel more flaxen than his usual raucous sound. We see this is a testament to Klock’s savoir faire.
iO Mulen is part of a cabal of producers that includes Janaret, Ion Ludwig & Lowris, who straddle the line between the Romanian interpretation of Minimal and Deep House. Bewitching as much as it is functional, the sound is a certified crowd pleaser at its best. iO also part of a faction of DJs like like Tommy Vicari Jnr, East End Dubs and Traumprinz who tend to release purchase-on-sight records coveted by Discogs fiends. Listening to any of these producers’ tracks makes it’s pretty easy to see why. Having previously featured on labels such as Apollonia and Diynamic to name a few, it comes as no surprise that the Ukrainian found his way to One Records. Introduced by the great John Dimas, it surely is a shrewd move by Adam Shelton and Subb-an. ‘Na Latnem’ had already been signed to another label, but it was so good that Shelton begged for it to be released on his own outlet. Coming out in 2015, though it served as a B side you’d be satisfied if it had a full A side to itself.
The track kicks off with energetic drums and hats that resemble a live feel. Bursts of whistled air plumes give it a light tone. However, it’s deceiving in form as what comes next is bone-rattling. Replicating many of his other tracks, the bass is punishing, bulldozing the ears opting to be held rather than staccato’d. It’s the definition of what one may refer to as a ‘dance floor roller’. “I love to work with samples for arrangements by adding Roland Juno-60 synthesizer and Roland TR-909″ the Ukrainian told Magazine Sixty. Utilising horned samples, Mulen then elevates the track with pads drenched in reverb that permeate the Ibizan sun at dusk. Yes it’s a tool, but an epizootic one at that. Continue reading →
In the early 90’s, the UK underground scene was all about Acid House. The ‘Second Summer of Love‘ that coloured the summers of 1988 & 1989 saw the rise of Danny Rampling and Paul Oakenfold, with the trademark TR-303 sound squelching away to pulp away clubbers minds. Ibiza acted as the middle man of sorts, introducing the sound to the European audience. Though Chicagoans Ron Hardy and DJ Pierre can be attested as the founders, William Torres best known as Mystic Bill formed part of the second wave to push the sound. The artist was present at parties such as Phuture Shock and Medusa’s, central to Chicago’s Acid House history. However his sound doesn’t just stop there. After taking a 10 year hiatus from releasing output, it seems Mystic Bill is enjoying a second wind. Taking cues from Larry Heard, akin to our previously reviewed Satoshi Tomiie‘s ‘Bassline’ sees ‘U Wont C Me’ as a obligatory House track for all DJs.
‘You Won’t C Me’ was released in 2015 on Snuff Tracks found on the EP of the same name. Phonica Records describes it perfectly a being a ‘powerful spoken word chant greater than the sum of it’s parts‘. The track begins in a familiar fashion to ‘Bassline’, with it’s bassline however using a major chord change in the final 8 beats of a 16 bar. Oscillating hats bring a frenetic contrast to the tracks 120bpm nature, having hollow percussive jabs add the jack. With ogling eyeballs donning the front cover of the EP, it fits the eery pads which pirouette slowly. This forma a sound taken out of a 1970’s horror movie. Dense on the reverb, an echoed keyline adds to the heady nature. A hypnotic vocal then speaks in a monotone way repeating ‘You See Me I’ll Be Gone, Thought Your Love For Me Was Strong, Now The Love You Had Is Gone, Now I Must Be Moving On.’ It’s very vanilla, yet insanely powerful alongside the myriad of sounds. Continue reading →
“Music is like sculpture. It’s like trying to capture a moment of ultimate momentum, and distill it forever“. These are the words that accompany Chris Clark’s track ‘Unfurla’, released under his Clark alias. If such perspective is to be adopted, then the producer is the Auguste Rodin of his respective field. Drowned In Sound describes him as ‘a cut above most of his peers when it [comes] to sheer technical and compositional wizardry‘. After all it is no easy feat to land an album on Warp Records, an outlet that has released the works of dexterous artists such as Boards of Canada, Aphex Twin & Oneohtrix Point Never. ‘Unfurla’ is his 2014 release on the label, coming from his self-titled album. The Progressive Techno whopper has been adequately described as “a near perfect distillation of his oeuvre“.
What characterises ‘ Unfurla’ the most is the pulsating momentum that breathes with a continuous sense of unpredictability. The introduction combines a wet kick with a heavily-distorted bassline, reminding of Laurent Garnier’s 1997 classic ‘Crispy Bacon‘. Yet one minute in you are introduced to an extract of a grand piano being played through a hallway reverb-filter. The two concepts should not possibly co-exist in theory, and Clark’s ability to combine these is therefore impressive. Such elements manifest the spirit of Electronica and IDM genres, with the influence of Amon Tobin particularly noticeable. The ease at which the tone of the track shifts from Bastinov’s ‘Prisma‘-like leading synth to woodwind instrumentation breakdown is tantalizing. The final third of the track resists the temptation to return to its prior state, opting for a cello-leading outro that is more sombre in its tenor. Despite a runtime that falls below the six minute mark, the listener is left with a three-part story that satisfies the senses akin to a blockbuster flick. Continue reading →
Tiga & The Martinez Brothers – Blessed (Dirty Mix)
Jerome Sydenham’s ‘My Pet Gorilla‘, Munkie’s ‘Progression‘ & Skrillex’s ‘Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites’ have the ignominy of all branding the same fate. They’ve all received under 2 on Resident Advisor’s rating system. It was a debate of many a commenter before the site took the decision to close the section down in early 2019. Most of the time you could roundly concur with RA writers’ thoughts. However, on this cut we must strongly put a case against their 1.7 rating. A meeting of three minds with the modus operandi to deliver vernacular fun was always going to sprout forth discombobulated funk-outs. Canadian veteran of over 20 years and head honcho of Turbo Recordings, Tiga has always brought his tongue-in-cheek approach. With staple releases heavy on the low-end like ‘Pleasure From The Bass‘ & ‘Hot In Here‘, it seems to contrast the nature of The Martinez Bros more Big Room hits. This makes for a collaboration straight from the vox populi. The two Puerto Ricans bring a shuffling vibe built for all-night partying. On ‘Blessed’, they all combine with Tiga to bring back a more minimal cut that truly does the business.
“These tracks are tougher, funkier and weirder than 99.3% of contemporary dance music, and it’s all because we were brave enough to get sincere and real.” Tiga told Electronic Groove. And it is these elements that make you recall the sound of mid-00s Minimal Techno. A bouncing, largesse bass drives forward like the best unsanitary Minus or Vakant release. Having previously worked on solid collaborations like ‘Bugatti‘ featuring GOOD Music boss Pusha T, Tiga knows how to spin a hip hop lyric on top of a 4/4 beat. The Martinez Brothers likewise layered down a dope interpretation of Jay-Z’s ‘H To The Izzo‘. In ‘Blessed’ it is Tiga who serves an inspirational bar lyric, reminding the the listener that they are blessed simply because they woke up this morning. Fuzzed hats sizzle alongside static robotic percussive clicks. The track is full of funk with the bass and hats alone, but the trio truly flex their muscles once the melody kicks in. A torrent of delayed, stretched and echoed bleeps, fiercer and more metallic than Rebukes recent hit ‘Along Came Polly‘ ascend and descend interwoven at will. With Tiga’s warped lyrics shimmering in and out, it is a bewildering experience. Continue reading →
‘It’s not Hip Hop or House, its Hip House‘ proclaimed Fast Eddie in his 1989 classic ‘Hip House’. Almost thirty years later, the spirit of his track lives on. Newcastle-based DJ Meg Ward is fairly fresh to the inner-side of the underground scene, having been DJing in clubs for a year and a half or so. Holding a residency at Cosmic Ballroom’s weekly Tuesday night out “Ill Behaviour”, she’s also starting to cause a ruckus outside of the North, travelling to places around the country while playing feel-good groovers to the believers. This has given her the opportunity to support her heroes that include Bellaire, Folamour, Mark Blair and Kettama. ‘Chief’ is her most recent release on Genesis, reviving the convivial vibes that Eddie preached about.
Hitting with infectious ferociousness of Karizma‘s festival favourite ‘Work It Out‘, ‘Chief’ is a track that is mature in it’s opening. The track’s lifespan begins and ends with a heavy-injection of filtering. Not only making the transition easier for the DJ in charge, but also providing the track with a character of its own, especially when the intensity that perseveres is introduced. ‘Hip Hop and rap, yeah that’s where my heart’s at‘ Lords of Underground vocals taken from ‘Chief Rocka‘ chant with magnitude. The idea for the track came from Meg playing around with synths while listening to old school hip-hop, a genre she is particularly fond of. Accompanying it is a chopped-up collage of keyboard notes transported from back from a 1990s Thomas Bangalter set. Contagiously irresistible, it precedes the use of reversed snare reverb that hurdles the vocal into oblivion to inaugurate the breakdown. To complete the coronation, a DJ Pierre-inspired acid bassline melts what is left of the listener’s brain, making this a perfect weapon for peak-time set at a House-head festival. DJ Deeon would approve. Continue reading →