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.
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 →
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 →
Last year, I got to see what all the fuss regarding Music On Ibiza was all about. That night Marco Carola and Martinez Brothers played to a dynamic and booming Amnesia Terrace filled with jollity. ‘Take Money‘ by Guille Placendia & George Privatti & ‘Mind Bend’ by John Tejada, Justin Maxell & Daniel Bell were two tracks that were so diverse, yet plucked apart the dancefloor like a hurricane that’s hit a beach shack. Big Room Techno is normally be associated with renowned DJs Dubfire & Len Faki. A sound full of reverb, delays, cavernous bass and colossal kick intertwined with a biomechanic theme. Cocoon helped push a more experimental and tribal side of it too. One of the highlights was Ahmet Sisman’s ‘Hey Now‘. A sinister yet funky bassline and killer vocal it was an absolute belter. These attributes are brought onto his exquisite remix of Cesare vs Disorder‘s Queen Atom alias cut ‘Coka Zero’. It is a classy expedition of his signature sound, released in 2013 on the Blue Atom EP on Cesare’s own Serialism Recordings.
A mastermind in experimentalism yet leaving an unadulterated jack, Cesare himself is as adept at Big Room bangers. ‘Refuse Greed‘, and his Azimute cut ‘Extravaganza‘ are engineered to incite pure anarchy. The original is full of twangs, random UFO bleeps and what must be the record for the most amount of differing worldly drum samples. Ahmet strips most of it back, leaving a pounding 808 to drive the track. Martin Buttrich wouldn’t complain. Over the top a bongo drum pattern murmurs. It’s a more muddied take on the originals, bringing a sexier slick. What makes it defining, however, is the Turkish DJ’s astute use of vocal samples. The first minute introduces an unidentified vocal ghost in. Further down the track the closing hook of Pharrell and Jay-Z’s ‘Frontin’ glides in. As discordant drums are mixed in, a polished transition takes place. The acappella of Kelis’ ‘Bossy‘ then strikes with verve. This adds thrust to the track with the rhythm of the melody alone. Not the first time either, with the EEE cut doing the rounds. It’s an unbelievable culmination in all the elements, concocted by a true maven. Continue reading →
In his recent Resident Advisor Exchange podcast interview, Blawan stated that the post-dubstep releases of the late 00s and early 2010s sound dated if listened to today. A fresh rewind does in many cases explain why a pioneer of the genre like Skream progressively adopted tech-house scene as his home. However, ‘Void 23’ the collaboration between Bristol’s Appleblim & Ramadanman is one of a few surprising exceptions to the rule. Released in 2010 on Will Saul’s and Ninja Tune’s Fink Aus Music label, it’s a collage of house, techno, electro and dub that stands the test of time where many have failed.
The intro gives the listener a hint that this is not your standard track, the first 30 seconds substituting a 4/4 drum beat loop with an extract of an airport background noise. The soundscapes that simmer into the picture are eldritch yet atmospheric. The eerie ambience invoked is reminiscent of Akira Yamaoka’s Silent Hill soundtrack. Slowly but surely the drums affix unto the energy created. Once the aura is brewed, a zesty bassline fizzes under the surface, never taking claim of the protagonists role. The breakdown that dissolves the existing elements into oblivion is crafted in a way that was ahead of its time. The use of indigenous percussion reminds you of an Innervisions release coming from the last few years. Rampa mixed with ÂME and a tint of Marcus Worgull. Yet the ‘drop’ which turns the track on its head dispels such direction. It rumbles with a rolling lick that funnily enough reminds of Benny Bennassi’s ‘Satisfaction’. However, the sound here is unapologetically underground, the second half of the track being a gift sent down by the tech-house gods.
Released in 2009 on his Berlin-based Best Works Records, André Lodemann’s ‘Where Are You Now’ is a triumph for uncompromised artistry. The DJ and producer’s versatility has been evident over the years, ranging from the tailor cut deep house cuts like ‘Don’t Panic‘ to downtempo, tranquil Freerange release of ‘Together‘. Yet the mind boggles when you realise that the very same hands were behind the today’s featured track, which has entertained the crowds of some of the biggest clubs in the scene. Masterfully maintaining an equilibrium between that which moves the feet, and that which touches the soul, the track is yet another top-tier German export. The latest release from Lodemann ‘The Deeper You Go’ sounds a return to progressive house with a fresh perspective. To anyone that listens to ‘Where Are You Now’, it should make it clear that this is something to be excited about.
Core to the track is the clash of synth-heath topline that flirts with ambient pads, and the conventions of a bassline-heavy tech-house romper. These two unendingly interchange throughout the runtime. The dominance of trance-inspired progressive house mainstream artists such as Deadmau5 has leaked some of its influence onto the track. Sylenth 1 patch synths will be familiar to those producer out there who have flirted with the VST. The delayed release of the leading synth that infiltrates the lower EQs sporadically creates a sense of tension that is elevated by the breakdown. Then around the 5.50 mark the kooky riff drops leaving the listener in ecstasy. The previously bellicose synths now join in the dance providing an amicable conclusion to the track, with the ambient soundscapes completing the communion of the trinity. A YouTube commentator described it ‘Like a deep house cousin to nthng’s ‘Oralage‘. Lodemann’s refusal to play to the rules is rewarding for the listener. Continue reading →
Lobster Theremin associate Gergely Szilveszter Horváth, better known as Route 8, has been unearthing various strands of deep house ever since his Mental Murder EP came out in 2013. His intoxicating lo-fi release ‘I Can’t’ helped the subgenre gain momentum in its emergence & the eventual schism that formed its own separate identity. Yet, the Hungarian producer’s releases such as ‘Floating Dub‘ and the Traumprinz-inspired ‘The Sunrise In Her Eyes‘ show that he’s got a particular knack for downtempo tracks. ‘Dry Thoughts’ is a 2014 release from Asquith‘s label, embodying the Budapest DJ’s proficiency for nonchalant production which does not sacrifice its rhythm.
Upon first pressing play the listener is treated to a swift harmonious sample that sounds like it was taken from a 1930s Hollywood’s golden age classic. This precedes a low-cut filter drum loop that is combined with a modest white noise extract to create a crispy feel. The track title does contain the word ‘Dry’ after all. Such compression hands the spotlight to the bass that enters the picture to fill the frequencies with its delicate looping. In his interview with XLR8R Horváth claims that coming across L.I.E.S Steve Summers’ Beats In Space session inspired him to experiment in underground sounds. Summers’ adroitness to elevate a picked element to become the axis of the track is a craft Route 8 has evidently been influenced by. Continue reading →
Tronik Youth – Never Said, I Never Said (Cabaret Nocturne Remix)
The underground world needs to finally recognise the puissance of Cabaret Nocturne. Belgian DJ & producer releases some of the most audacious tracks available at your favourite record store. A proponent of “dark disco” (according to the artist’s official page), Raphael de Sauvage’s discography shares a collective industrial, machinery-inspired underlining tone that is hallucinogenic. His most well-received release to date has been the slow punk masterpiece ‘Blind Trust’ – a track that still features in sets of top track-selector like Job Jobse.
This ‘Never Said, I Never Said’ remix shows the power of his signature, dark basslines. Pulsating with the menace of Ennio Morricone’s ‘The Thing’ OST, it would serve its duty as the opening track to the headlining Printworks’ set. The dawdling ,reverberating synth signals its triumphant command over the soundwaves, ever-increasing in its intensity throughout.
Sauvage’s production often incorporates a drum pattern that is closely aligned with live instrumentation. In such, his releases always receive an ecstatic response from the crowd when played in a set. The midpoint of the track gives the listener a short time to breathe, before drawing them back to the cortex of recondite sounds.
Japanese DJ and producer Satoshi Tomie was blessed with the opportunity to work with Frankie Knuckles on their 1989 release ‘Tears‘. Clearly the collaboration left an impression on the young prodigy. Nearly three decades later, you’ll find Satoshi release a banger that carries the spirit of Chicago. ‘Bassline’ is a direct descendant of the Dub Version of Mr. Fingers ‘Mystery Of Love‘. Except here we’re not getting a Kanye West hip hop interpretation, but an unfiltered house track.
With a no-nonsense intro, the track jumps into the main bassline quicker than a swarm of piranhas devouring its bait. This rolling structure persists throughout the rest of the track. Our favourite extract is the mid-track section where the bassline literally saturates. It’s erosion tickles the ears, meaning when the standard loop is brought back into play, the swaying crowd experiences its full impact. Dana Ruh’s remix takes a different direction, transforming the original into a deep house weapon that maintains an essence of zestfulness.
Satoshi’s production is akin to Kevin Saunderson’s sense of stabile structure. Ironically, for a student of jazz and classical piano (according to Resident Advisor), the track remains patterned. Perhaps the new generation of club-attendees need a fresh take on the soul of the 1980s classics. If that’s deemed to be the case, then ‘Bassline’ is a welcomed guide.