Paste Magazine discussed in 2018 how the Modern Rock genre has been left soul-searching whilst Post-Punk is thriving. The fractured nature of Post-Punk lead to the formation of many sub-genres. Synth-Pop, EBM, New Wave being just some that preserved its parent genre tropes, whilst interloping with electronic unorthodox sounds. These in turn gave birth to a wide variety of sounds including Italo, Bass, Techno, Cold, Dark and Minimal Wave, all of which edify each other. Listening to Peggy Gou, and even Jamie Jone’s recent remix of Teddy Pendergrass’ ‘Life Is A Song Worth Singing’, demonstrates that the style has hit the upper echelons of the underground dance scene. Desert Sound Colony, aka Liam Wachs, seems to be as fluid as any in carrying such sound. The Londoner seemed to be an ideal fit with his first releases being manufactured for Scissor & Thread. With hints of Indie & more angular Rock, they shared similarities with Bob Moses and Clockwork releases on the label. Black Light Smoke’s ‘Firefly‘ showed more ambition, however, and certainly Desert Sound Colony seems to have hit a power-boost upon hearing. ‘Lose My Rhythm’ is a track by a man at the peak of his powers. It unmistakably stands heads and shoulders, if not above, the rest.
Liam has also released under the moniker of DSC. ‘The Sorcerer‘, his 2017 release on Holding Hands Records was one that showcased his more experimental side. It had an abstractness, but minimal leaning of a Roman Flügel project. ‘Coming Round‘, released just a year later, was a return to his regular Post-Punk productions. A dance-floor belter, ‘Lose My Rhythm’ sounds like a product coming from the same studio sessions. A voluminous kick drum starts the track off before a warbling bassline kicks in. Vocals hum chorally. Sounding like a lovechild of Roland 909 and KORG MS-20, the gyrating melody is mesmeric. As one YouTube comment points out, the track sounds like an updated version of Belgian New Beat producer Richard H Kirk’s ‘Never Lose Your Shadow’. Guitar is plucked, before the main vocal enters. ‘When I Lose My Rhythm I Feel Alive’ it echoes with revelry. Naturally this paints a picture of a dancefloor bedlam. The punk influence kicks back in from the simple guitar picks heard in the breakdown. It all hits the nail on the head as it picks back up with crystallising splintered synth stabs kicking in. Hectic stuff. Continue reading →
Skee Mask’s 2014 debut release ‘Serum’ was a statement. Distributed by Ilian Tape Records, the EP featured a post-apocalyptic fusion of breakbeat with dub techno. The resulting sound was a “spacey, angular techno…that is stylistically bold“. The face behind the mask is a Bavarian beatmaker Bryan Müller. Taking inspiration from William Basinski, Shed & Autechre his production skills belong to a seasoned veteran. Four years later, the Munich-hailed producer’s latest album ‘Contra‘ is Müller at his vertex. Resident Advisor described the 12-track release as a piece of craft that makes “drums delicately dance..[and] percussion sing“. Bringing a delicate balance between ambient interludes and outright ridiculous set grenades, the project is a riveting listening experience. At its core, ‘Dial 247’ is a techstep track that brings the ferociousness of a thousand sharks being torpedoed by an RPG.
The track’s entrance sends tremors down your spine, as shuddering kick fills the space consigned to oblivion by hollow bells that sounds like they’re taken from 28 Days Later. In his previous releases Skee Mask refused to conform to the pulse of a 4/4 beat. In such, his drum patterns tend to manoeuvre through the electronic soundscapes with the rara avis of Aphex Twin or Lanark Artefax. Here the leniency towards an IDM structure is substituted with a heavy-hitting dosage of breakbeats. They pump the adrenaline of an escapee that’s just climbed over the walls of a psychiatric institute. Manipulating every plugin at hand, the listener hears the percussions being filtered, reversed, chopped and screwed. Stinging saw synth surfaces the waters while an extraterrestrial bangarang mutates its outlandishness. The latter half of the track introduces ambient pads which rather than calming the environment increases calamity levels. ‘Dial 274’ is a total revelation, reshaping “techno and jungle templates, warping them into something altogether more refreshing“. The strongest influence, however, is the 1990s drum and bass subgenre of Techstep. Its releases such as Dillinja’s ‘Tronik Funk‘ or Bad Company’s ‘Planet Dust’ share the same dark, sci-fi mood that is fitting for soundtrack to a movie like The Matrix. Likewise, an obvious parallel to the dystopian outer space created by B12 can be drawn. RA’s top 50 tracks of 2018 list featured cuts like Beta Librae’s ‘Problem Solving Program’ or Pangaea’s ‘Bone Sucka‘, hinting at another revival of unorthodox drum patters that are supported by a dense sub-bass. If this carries over into 2019, Skee Mask is sure to be one of its leading trailblazers. Continue reading →
‘Techno is a poor attempt to substitute robot sounds for what was once actual instrumental and artistic human expression’ stated Ryan Walsh in 2012, writing for the Daily Collegian, ‘It’s not as pure nor as genuine a music experience’. It’s a damn shame that he’s never listened to this track in question, ‘The Vox Attitude’. As described by Juno, the cut is ‘swung heavy with booming warehouse rhythms and nerve jangling cut up vocals’. Collectively, it is these two elements that keep it pure, released at a time when techno lost its way slightly. Magda realised the power of this, and seeing it rollick in after a Drexciya cut during her Boiler Room mix was a memory I will never forget. Released on the Swedish label Färden Records in 2010, it received its own re-release on Eerie Records. Sounding like no other, it is just as brutal now, as Sonja Moonear showcases in her Replay Madrid mix.
Another weapon of mass destruction released in the same year was the era-defining ‘Convolution‘ by Stockholm duo Skudge. Dubby with hints of deep house, it paraded an incredible fierce diva vocal demanding ‘Give it all up’. A similar vocal takes the forefront of Shuttle’s track, chopped up to say ‘YOU’ with a spectred gaze which then echos. A low-end sub bass stomps the track, with shuffling hats flickering over the top. Hypnotic bongos enter the background, played in double time. It extrapolates a steamy Brixton Electric night with Luciano at the helm. Supremely acidy, fettered modulations of a protist nature infiltrate the fray, rising up and down with the tide. With the reverb on overload, infectious lower mids sound like underwater pulses emanating from a submarine. The spherical nature of the track adds substance to Marco’s claim in his interview with Inverted Audio that ‘Producing tracks is a cinematic experience’. The apodosis of this entire concoction is a dancefloor losing itself. Continue reading →
Detroit Electro is a scene deserving of an academic module itself. An offshoot of the iconic city’s techno second wave, the subgenre offers some of the rawest pulsating bangers. Aux 88, a fellowship of Tom Tom (Tommy Hamilton) and Keith Tucker (DJ K1) hold a strong claim to its crown. Search ‘Detroit Electro’ on Google and you’ll find that the first result is Tucker’s essentials guide to the genre. Released by the criminally underrated Direct Beat label, ‘Direct Drive’ is a historic artefact of the duo’s legacy.
Original released in 1995, the track is an alchemy of Miami Bass and Detroit techno. With a BPM close to 140, oscillating energy pounds to the core of the inner bone. One of the first things you come to notice is the combination of the thrumming hi-hats and Southern Rap influenced claps. Sinister soundscapes reminiscent of an Italian giallo movie synergise with a thumping bassline deserving of a Need For Speed track-listing. ‘Trans Europe Express‘ is undeniably a direct influence here, however, Aux 88 add an element of inner city grittiness. Its no wonder that the resulting track is highly sought after by DJs old and new. Continue reading →
Konrad Black & Art Department – Graveyard Tan (Version 2)
Art Department’s infectious house releases meant they were the underground scene equivalent of Orlando Magic with peak Shaq x Penny Hardaway of the early 2010s. Had you entered an one of Hackney’s hot spots in summer of 2011 you would have found the crowd singing along to the lyrics of “Without You”. On Graveyard Tan they collaborate with the versatile Canadian producer Konrad Black. The track, released in 2012 on the No.19 Music label, is so thumping your neighbours’ cousin will be asking for the Track ID. The artists synergism results in a cutting-edge release. The preeminence of a thundering bassline combined with raw synthesiser sound conceives a firecracker.
This Gregor Tresher track and Goliath from the bible both have one thing in common – they’re frightening giants. You can see why this track EP released in 2015 on John Digweed’s Bedrock Records has a slingshot on its cover. Like David used it against Goliath, this weapon of a track when flung at a crowd is like an asteroid crashing at Earth with such force there’s no way of stopping it. Its akin to trying to stop a raging bull while being stuck in a straight jacket.
This track is super-rare, we could only trace it down to a single YouTube channel dedicated to underrated house gems. If the production sounds like a track from the rave era then its probably because this is actually a 1994 release, as part of the Lonely Tribe / Ambidextrous 12″ record.
Produced by a duo consisting of Fabric resident Nathan Coles & legendary Terry Francis himself, ‘Lonely’ doesn’t take itself too seriously. And that’s probably the best thing about this banger. Simple chord progression that is flirtatiously sprightly, supported by clarion secondary synths and deep pass. Combining all the necessary ingredients for a successful house track, ‘Lonely’ carries a charisma that is infectious.
You can definitely see this being played at peak hour in Room 2 at Corsica Studios. There’s a bit of Pleasurekraft vibes coming of the track, in particular the ‘Got A Feeling’ edit of the German DJ duo. This would also fit nicely in a Catz n Dogz summer set too.
If you’re eagerly waiting to get your week started with a vibe, even if you’re home alone, then ‘Lonely’ is the one to do it.
Power-house trio Mandar flip Another Source into a tasty, club-centred deep house track that incorporates 1990s ambience onto a heavy sub-bass foundation. Letting the groove breathe for the first four minutes of the track, the producers take the concept of a remix seriously here. In fact, its difficult to recognise the original hearing this interpretation. However, letting the remix take its own direction pays off. The end result is a real banger that deserves some serious replay-value.
Mandar collective includes Lazare Hoche, Malin Genie, and S. A. M aliases. Together, they combine an impressive French-Danish-Dutch crossover origin. With releases such as these, the trailblazers are proving a point that the future of the deep house underground scene is in capable hands.
Burnski’s original sounds like a track crafted to pick up the tempo in a lounge environment. You can check it out here.