Mystic Bill – U Wont C Me
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
Clark – Unfurla
“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
Meg Ward – Chief
‘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.
Frank & Tony feat. Bob Moses – Marigold
Brooklyn old-timers Francis Harris and Anthony Collins were a prolific production partnership under the guise of Frank & Tony in the mid 2010s. Part-owners of the taste-making New York label Scissor & Thread, their output was a melange of mature, tender interpretation of Deep House. Harris brought the exhaling texturing that complimented Collins’ percussion finesse. Pitchfork adequately claims duo were more “concerned with the sound of House music than its function“. In such, their tracks serve well for listening sessions and in-store DJ sets. Their 2012 track ‘Marigold’ found the perfect vocalist suitors in Bob Moses, a Vancouver duo that was christened by them. The NY veterans gave the Canadians their name, and their support on ‘Marigold’ kindly returned the favour.
Frank & Tony’s production notably interpreted the lower ends of EQ in a number of creative ways . While releases such as ‘What You Believe‘ & ‘Amedeo‘ brought a much more restrained approach, ‘Modest Season‘ & ‘Harmonium‘ came freshly baked from the academy of Basic Channel. In ‘Marigold’ they opted for a chugging bassline that is rich in flavour to open the track. True to form, however, soft keys reverberate in rotation to create a serene ambience. ‘All the way, all the way, all the way, watching this burn” the vocals repeat. Bob Moses’ mellifluous singing has made them a headlining act in the Underground scene, and a desired collaborator. Frank & Tony were blessed with an album’s worth of features back in early 2010s. The pads that eventually enter feel like a substitute for the Pacific wind, gently caressing the listeners ears. The vibe almost be described as a slower tempo, Western approach to Nu & Jo Ke’s – ‘Who Loves The Sun‘. It would comes as no surprise, therefore, to hear it feature at a sunset mix of Jose Padilla. Continue reading
Schneider & Galluzzi feat. Florian Schirmacher – Too Late To Land
In Maceo Plex’s recent Time Warp mix, the American DJ played a track dedicated to the festival’s 25 Year Birthday. He’s certainly not the first to have dedicated a track for such special occasion. Think Da Hool’s ‘Meet You at the Love Parade‘ or Mike Huckaby’s ‘The Tresor Track‘. Heck, type in Berghain into any streaming platform and you’ll come across hundreds of tracks titled after the notorious club. Already having the maestro Moritz Von Oswald dedicate the track of the year to their label, Cocoon really outdid themselves by dedicating a whole LP to the concept, Cocoon Morphs Tokyo. Hosting three parties at Japanese venue Womb, it featured exclusive bangers by Ricardo Villalobos, Tiefscharz and Guy Gerber. The highlight of these cuts, is Galluzzi and Schneider’s weapon of mass Minimal Techno destruction, ‘Too Late To Land’. Hearing the two collaborate for Minimal heads equals the creation of a DC vs Marvel movie for comic book fans.
The LP is also a celebration of the world-renowned German photographer and artist Andreas Gursky and Sven Väth. Andreas has been responsible for the design of Cocoon Club in Frankfurt, as well a many of the set designs featured at the Cocoon Parties. The cover art features a shot of the crowd below a poker-dots laced silver sheened curtain that draps over the dancefloor. The aesthetic is sonically replicated in the track. It starts with an ascending filtered chopper noise that harmonises with the modulation. Clever. Any producer wanting to learn more about the art of subtle glockenspiel percussion needs to rampantly study this track. The two so effortlessly displayed here click perfectly to give it soul. The muddied bass line bobs up and down in toe. Capping the track off though is the metallic, wonky, robotic synth stabs that darkens the tone. Similar to Schneider’s collaboration with Jay Haze ‘Acai‘, these are dialled up fifty notches to give the listener a jolting experience. Coupled with the drawled vocal saying ‘It’s too late to land‘ it leaves you in agreeance that you’ve gone way too far to stop the trip into outer space. Continue reading
Audiojack – Inside My Head
The Guardian ran an article in 2011 titled ‘How dance label Crosstown Rebels bounced back‘. Didn’t realise it had fallen off. A label that has ebbed and flowed with the times, there’s no denying it has also been a trendsetter, launching the careers of Jamie Jones, Seth Troxler and Art Department. Head Honcho Damian Lazarus has been on a run of sorts recently, with the punishing releases coming from the Arthur Baker & Rockers Revenge, as well as the atmospheric Aether. The same newspaper recently featured the leading contender for ‘world’s greatest party‘, Get Lost based in Miami. With Audiojack’s ‘Inside My Head’ we could have one of the track of the year’s on our hands. Releasing EPs on 20/20 Vision, Tsuba and Hot Creations, the duo’s style is uncompromising in it’s lean rawness. So it comes as no surprise that their latest Tech-House release reached number one on the Beatport Charts. The Ibiza-based, Leeds-raised duo bring their best in what you can only describe as euphoric.
Listening to the Audiojack’s 2016 release ‘Vibrate‘ proves that the lads are exemplar at providing heavily echoed vocals. The track opens up with a female vocal that’s sampled from Cuba Gooding’s disco-funk classic ‘Happiness Is Just Around The Bend‘. Echoing ‘There’s something going round inside my head‘ the vocals are spacey and add to the kindred nature of the track. ‘We knew the vocal back from an old progressive track in the 90s, but why it suddenly kept looping round Jamie’s head we don’t know” explain Audiojack to Magnetic Mag. ‘Now it’s your turn to endure the loopy repetitive vocal of this low swung proggy groover‘. The Wurlitzer keys bring this spellbinding wall of synth that brings a trancey atmosphere. It’s akin to ‘that‘ track from Solomun’s Cercle set. The boys truly love their production. Speaking with 6AM Group about their infatuation for Native Instruments, they state ‘Max4cats recently brought out a semi modular plugin called Pallas which is so much fun routing one thing into another and modulating stuff in strange ways to get some really out there sounds‘. These quaint sounds can be traced in the track, combining manipulation of guitar strings, western Asian percussion and screeches of a jet engine. Unadorned yet devastating. Continue reading
Tiger & Woods – A Lovely Change
Marco Passarani & Valerio Del Prete have been actively operating under the Tiger & Woods alias since the early 2010s. Opting for a lower BPM chugger sound, solidified in their Golden Bear EP, they show no shortage in the funk department. Initially keeping their identities a mystery, they have since headlined events such as Disco Express and Discopanettone. In such, the duos’ fancy for the sound that roamed Studio 54 is self-evident. ‘A Lovely Change’ is a track that reminds us why their 2011 track ‘Gin Nation’ gave them the breakthrough needed. Sharing a dazed, roseate sound both tracks paint the dancefloor with a ray of sunshine. Released on the good-vibrations aficionado Gerd Janson’s label Running Back, it falls neatly in the middle of their latest LP release AOD.
The new album, short for “Album Oriented Dance” pays homage to Tiger & Woods’ predecessors. Tracks such as ‘01:00AM‘ & are ‘The Bad Boys’ are love-letters to the genre of Italo Disco. Their most intact imprint of the project, however, is ‘A Lovely Change’. Mingling aestival percussions, balsamic ambience and standout vocals it is sure to colour the sound of many upcoming summer parties. According to Running Back’s album description, the project is glinted with cleared samples from “the Roman institution that is Claudio Donato and his Full Time and Goodymusic emporium“. In a way this is a revival to the approach that gave the Italians a foothold in the scene. Speaking with Tiny Mixtapes, the collaborators claim there to be a “huge difference between using samples and making edits“. In ‘A Lovely Change’ the vocals bring Sade’s ‘Diamond Life’ to mind, soothing the soul in a similar fashion to Soul Clap & Ahmed’s ‘Give It Up‘. For those familiar with the Balearic sounds of Alfredo Fiorito the breezy, pacific effervescence of ‘A Lovely Chance’ fosters a throwback. However, despite all the nostalgia, the production does not sound dated, with an updated concision that was absent in a lot of the 1980s Italo output. Continue reading
2562 – Embrace
Before he became a DC10 mainstay, I saw Skream dosing out absolute piledrivers at Cable years ago, the Dubstep clubbing institution that was under the train archways near London Bridge. Carrying the virtuoso of genre-pioneers such as Benga and Kowton, it was in-your-face brash stuff. Looking at the scene’s most celebrated tracks however, such as Kode9’s ‘Samurai‘, The Bug’s ‘Skeng‘ and Joy Orbison’s ‘Hyph Mngo‘, the genre’s more mellow tracks can be just as commanding. Dutchman Dave Huismans, is the man behind the Dogdaze moniker, as well as the more 4/4 A Made Up Sound alias. Releasing on revered labels such as Tectonic and Delsin, as well as Red Bull Music Academy dubbing him as ‘inimitable’ is certainly an apt branding. Under his 2562 moniker however, you will find an artisan off-beat shake downs. ‘Embrace’ is one such track that stays true to its title, embracing a more finespun approach.
Dropped on fellow compatriot Martyn’s 3024 in 2009, it snuggly feels at home amongst other abstract-leaning musicians such as Leon Vynehall and Trevino. When chatting with Little White Earbuds about his favourite music to play when he feels down, he responded with Detroit’s Deep House legend Rick Wade. ‘Embrace’ certainly echoes such moody, powerful Deep House tropes. Beginning with a minor key, chords are stabbed hurriedly and delivers sentient vibrations. Dubstep is known by its half-time drum patterns, offering clashing BPMs between separated elements, creating a measure of space between the different layers of the track. The drums are raw and hollow, ascending and descending to variant notes on each half-beat. They share the vim of the bulwarking dub bass which drags itself into place like a stone into a quarry. Lastly, dusky pads serenely shimmer over the top adding to the meditative spirit that the chords bring. Continue reading
Brett Johnson – Missing You
Though it might be known as the home state of Rodeos, Ford F150s and the Republican party, Texas has also birthed a number of accomplished producers. Unrelated to the Canadian techno–maverick Mathew Jonson, Brett Jonson is part of a cabal of DJs hailing from the Southern state that includes Maceo Plex and Convextion. Speaking candidly with XLR8R about the state of the underground scene, Jonson observes that ‘We live in strange times, where people are famous for being famous, and a person’s hype often outweighs their actual talent‘. Commenting on dilating issues such as ghost production and pay-for plays gigs, he’s a music man. There’s clearly a special vitality in Brett’s productions. With a prolific amount of releases on labels such as Freerange, Cynosure and F Communications, Brett’s productions are a combination of moreish, euphoric and funky. And none more so than his 2009 release on the EP of the same name, ‘Missing You’.
Tracks like his remix of My Favourite Robot’s ‘Still In My Heart‘, or his own release ‘Get It Together (5am Dub)‘ showcase unbridled skills at walloping Tech-House bass. Brett’s versatility is on full blast in ‘Missing You’. Eight Tracks describe the track as ‘a gloriously melancholy cut that successfully bridges Brett’s affinity for potent house rhythms, Detroit-bred bass lines, and decidedly deeper intentions‘. It starts off with a timid kick and cymbal partnership that synergises with a crunchy percussion sample. Similarly to Andre Lodemann’s ‘Where Are You Now‘, measured bells are chimed. Sequenced stringed pads add to the melancholic nature with the plodding bassline allowing the rest of the track elements to shine. Brett speaks about being influenced by R&B in an interview with the Dallas Observer. Here, a vocal sample akin to 112 can be heard as the bass jumps an octave. What follow is truly mesmeric, as the strings caramelise, drooping with subtlety. Like his Visionquest EP ‘The Secret Place‘, ‘Missing You’ is elegantly eerie. Continue reading