John Shananigans – Charlie’s On The Dancefloor
“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
MR TC – Golden Gate
Retrofuturism is used to define “the use of a style or aesthetic considered futuristic in an earlier era“. Artists such as Bruce McCall, Frank R. Paul and John Harris painted their visions of the new world. At times, the concept is used for stylistic vision found in Hollywood narratives. The film industry has produced movies like ‘Metropolis‘, ‘Brazil‘ and Stanley Kubrick’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey‘, each offering their interpretation of the future. A sci-fi environment, of course, needs its own soundtrack. Progressive, psychedelic rock bands such as Pink Floyd formed space-age worlds full of anachronisms. Pioneering Jazz musicians such as Herbie Hancock propagated the branch of Afrofuturism. His 1975 album titled ‘Flood‘ features an album cover featuring an African-American astronaut. Yet none of the music genres come close to fitting as well as the electronic genre. The futurist world of technology gave birth to its soundscapes. Kraftwerk’s album Radio-Activity is an artefact in this respect. Forty years down the line, faint echoes of its phantasm can be traced in modern releases. Judging by his tracks Thomas Clarke, also known as MR TC, is a cum laude student of the German collective. ‘Golden Gate’, his release on Jennifer Cardini’s Correspondant 06 Compilation. The LP combines “palpitating ambience [with] chuggernaut technoid trips“. It is this year’s time travel back to 1970s Düsseldorf.
The track begins with drum instrumentation best described as downtempo Carl A. Finlow. The underscoring arpeggio moves along in an ascending order. Its analogue sound comes close to matching the 1980s soundtracks of Halloween 3 or Videodrome. The lackadaisical tempo gives of a sense of banality. One can imagine a scene of a lonesome robot carrying out its duties on an abandoned starship galaxies far away. All the while random spurts of ray gun and machinery samples lurk in the background. Then enters the liquid sine bells, accompanied by echo and reverb. The nautical sound feels almost doleful, contrasting with the dispassionate laser stabs. The dichotomy between emotion and enginery is united by the kick. The question, however, arises whether this kick belongs to the beating of the heart or the motor of the machine. This concept of man vs. machine was explored by labels such as Dubfire’s SCI+TEC. Using presets that intentionally sound nostalgic, MR TC creates an exhibition of retrofuturist aesthetic that is captivating. Continue reading
Enrico Mantini – Hypnotizer (Da Groov Moov Mix)
Looking for a banger that will absolutely shut the place down? There’s a reason why this one is called Da Groove Moov Mix. Hearing this thing play on a piece of Plastic is unreal, and unsurprisingly so. Like Herbert, Ricardo Villalobos and Rhadoo, all his tracks are made on analogue. Enrico even himself professes to ‘Own every type of machine their is.’ Often playing at Number 90 Hackney party Half Baked, shows true soul in his production. First released all the way back in 1995, Hypnotizer (Da Groov Moov Mix) was rereleased this year and sounds just as fresh now. Displaying a real 90s sound, it equally shows a resistant toughness that will captivate the dancefloor.
As soon at the track starts a skipping drum pattern ticks along to automatically boost the energy. In this interview with Play Wax, Enrico talks about the range of machines he uses. Kawai Q80, Atari ST512 and Cuebase 2.0 are all mentioned as only being abled to sequence MIDI events. And you can hear that in the bass. Hit in a 3 note sequence, it’s not too dissimilar to Asquith or other Lobster Theremin tracks. Hi-pitched guitar licks give it a luminous city lights identity. A sublime lyric then beseeches the dancefloor commanding you to ‘Hypnotize Yourself’. With what’s going on around sonically, this won’t require much effort. A classic mid-naughties synth fitting for an illegal warehouse rave gives it a full flavour. With an afrobeat breakdown halfway through, Enrico’s enterprising versatility in style shines through.
Just check out this clip of Zip playing at Factory Club, Barcelona. You can see the power of Enrico Mantini’s tracks with the volumnious B1 Hypnotizer (Virtual Hypnosis) being played out. Half Baked crowned him ‘one of the European founders of the deep house music’. ‘Da Groov Moov Mix’, with its dubbyness, surely influenced the formula of production for more dubbed out producers like Subb-an or Dyed Soundroom.