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 →
Neversea, like Sunwaves is the annual mecca for all Minimal Techno aficionados. Neighbouring the Black Sea, both festivals are in the beating heart of the scene Romania. Mixmag chronicles “the compelling power of Romanian minimal, a lean and intricate style popularised by frequent Ricardo Villalobos-collaborators RPR Soundsystem (Petre Inspirescu, Raresh and Rhadoo)”. It comes as no surprise therefore that the country has become the “staple in the planet’s finest dance parties, placing the nation firmly on the dance music map‘. This Premiesku set, recorded live by the Mixmag team in 2018 is a mirror reflection of such grand depiction. Celebrating the scene, the mix is infectiously groovy.
Livio, Roby & George G comprise Priemesku and bring an avant-garde perspective when it comes to the ‘Live’ performance DJs. Speaking with Electronic Groove they asserted to ‘really believe that a live act should be based on live jamming and using real instruments‘. Well these fellas take it to the supreme by designing three distinctive, custom-made hardware consoles. Each consists of parts from various machines that have been completely rewired, modified and re-patched. The recording first starts out with some intricate filtered synths and a muddied rolling bass. After some Chicago House influenced jams, at 16th minute comes their own release ‘And Other‘. It opens up with fluttering delayed horn stabs with echoed sonar sounds to create an epic soundscape. Continue reading →
Curtis Jones is a legendary figure in the underground scene. Those outside of Chicago are most likely to recognise him by his multidimensional alias Green Velvet, a name which under which he released techno hits such as ‘La La Land‘, ‘Flash‘ or more recently, the Drumcode distributed, ‘Space Date‘. Famed for supporting spiked green mohawk hairstyle that compliments his always-fresh shades, his production has always been as spectacular as his flamboyance. His lasting influence on the tech-house scene can still be heard today. Remix of his ‘Bigger Than Prince‘ added powder to Hot Since 82’s spectacular ascendance to the international scene. A demonstration of Jones’ authority on the scene. ‘Perculator’, the follow-up to his debuting EP Underground Goodies, however, remains to be one his best works in a discography that extends all the way back to 1991. Released under his newly formed Cajual Records, the then recent college dropout probably had no clue that he’d be playing the track to an ecstatic Amsterdam crowd 20 years later.
Jones’ has an ear for integrating infectious vocals on his production and this track is proof. Simple, yet addictive, they roll of the tip of the tongue with ease. This makes his performances particularly engaging, especially as you’ll often find the DJ leading the crowd through his microphone chants. ‘It’s time for the percolator‘ is repeated with unpretentious enthusiasm. A rolling, filtered percussions accolade the g-funk synthesiser taken from Dr Dre‘s notebook. The protagonist, however, is the spuming topline sample that gurgles at a healthy BPM of 126, defining the track’s choppy, freaky nature that is a perfect marriage for the dancefloor. A nostalgic echo of the carefree 1980s Chicago house parties, of which many young Jones’ would have been part of. The type of track that will have you downing a pot of coffee at 4am. Continue reading →
Marshall Jefferson – Open Our Eyes (Marshall’s Elevated Dub)
Everyone in the underground scene has come across Marshall Jefferson’s ‘Move Your Body‘ before. The anthem, a definitive Trax Records release lead by Curtis McClain’s vocals, embodies the free spirit of 1980s Chicago House scene. At times, referred to as the Godfather of House Music, Jefferson unquestionably was pioneer heavily involved with the nurturing of its early progress. Being a friend and collaborator of Frankie Knuckles, and the producer behind DJ Pierre’s groundbreaking ‘Acid Tracks‘ EP project are just some of the extracts from his CV. His 1988 release on the New York label Big Beat Records ‘Open Your Eyes’ offers a more gossamer take on production.
The track is an exhibition of a polished Jefferson drum programming, with the producer noted to have been an enthusiast of the Roland TB-303 back in the 80s. The profuse bass line used sounds very similar to Mr Fingers’ (aka one of the father’s of Deep House Larry Heard) 1985 release ‘Mystery of Love‘ that has more recently been sampled by Kanye West in his track ‘Fade‘ featuring Post Malone. The innocuous, yet poignant lyrics repeat ‘Open Our Eyes, Give Us The Light‘. The Elevated Dub offers a crunch that is more club-ready for a a crowd that have gathered for a shared communion of dance. Continue reading →
Glenn Underground – House Music Will Never Die (Glenn’s Afro Dub)
As the producer’s name suggests, Glenn Underground breathes for the underground scene. A descendant from the local pioneers such as Larry Heard and Lil’ Louis, he has taken the mantle of preserving the soul of House. ‘House Music Will Never Die’ is a heartwarming tribute to the dancefloors of The Warehouse, an anthem for the streets once ruled by Frankie Knuckles.
From the intro, clanging hats and cowbells pave the red carpet for the hefty synthesis of a robust kick & an eminent subbass progression. The power of dubbed bass gives the sound an elevated tier of thump. The super low ends that you’d find in a dub mix contrasts with the higher range in the melody. Paying his dues to the genre’s history, Chicago-born Cei Bei sings:
‘Originating from Chi-Town, House Music will never die.’
The singer often produces songs with lyrics that carry the essence of the early House music community. In ‘Dance Tonight’ he shouts out major world cities from the hotspot of Chicago. All is done with a sense of a virtuous spirit of fellowship immune from material greed. It is all about the music. Bei has previously collaborated with key players in the Illinois scene including Ron Trent, DJ Pap & Abicah Soul. His ability to combine serene with the vibrant vocally is transparent in Glenn’s Afro Dub here which gold-plates the production. Continue reading →
Chicago Legend Theo Parrish has a reputation for delivering outlandish, yet sleek cuts. Always off kilt, his distinctive sound stays recognisable. Mixing in the Jazziness that symbolises much of the Chicagosound akin to contemporaries like Ron Trent, ‘Heal Yourself and Move’ is something special. It’s meditative. Released in 1998 on his classic album ‘First Floor’, distributed by the ground-breaking UK label Peacefrog Records, this track is the pinnacle of electronic and organic synergy.
The 118bpm makes the aura woozy from the off. It’s a low key affair, the improvised sounding midi bass trembles for 40 seconds before a sub bass and salt shakers kick in and out. It makes you want to stretch out and get ready for a good dance. The pace increases with the background clicks growing in whilst a man who sounds like he’s warming up in the background hums. Together you get an intoxicating mix, the overtone plonky keys providing a real experimental edge. Continue reading →
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.
Decadance – On And On (Fears Keep On) (Italoconnection Mix)
If you study the history of Chicago House scene long enough you’ll find that pioneers such Ron Hardy and Frankie Knuckles were densely influenced by Italo Disco. The sub genre swayed the parties of mainland Europe throughout 1980s. A clear crossover can be heard by such and the Chicago scene explosion that followed and conquered the rest of the world.
You’ll find clear similarities, three elements in particular. A thumping kick, topline melodies and often, a resilient bassline that adds resilient drive to the track. What separates Italo from the music of Robert Owens and Larry Heard is the manner of the vocals. Chicago House masters used (at times chopped) vocals to concuct rhythm and a call for a collective dance or spiritual unity. Italo Disco songs, on the other hand, offered romanticism, in the form of emotionally-vulnerable singing. These are songs of love and heartbreak, as shown in ‘On and On’. Continue reading →
Sometimes you have to remember to give the classics the due they’re owed. Though millions have heard this Joe Smooth – Promised Land track on GTA San Andreas’ fictional house radio station SF-UR, many are unaware of its legacy on the history of house music.
Smooth’s inspiration for the track came to him while touring in Europe with Farley “Jackmaster” Funk. Together they spread the good news of house amongst its newfound followers. Smooth, being almost a Moses-like figure, found himself leading the fans across to a new world of the underground that replaced the thirst for violence with love.
The production of the track is of course is immaculate. Chicago house drums accompany crispy-clean hi hats. Smooth even plays arounds with toms halfway through the track. The vocals are choir-like, preaching the message of inclusivity. Smooth certainly lives up to his name with a record such as this.
Let’s hope that in the future, house producers will remain to be inspired by the spirit of this track. We need more electronic music that is equally forward-thinking as it is spiritually rich.
Master C & J feat Liz Torres – Don’t Let Love Pass You By (D’Julz Edit)
There was a time in the early 1989 when it felt like the world was at Liz Torres’ feet. Underground success elevated from collaboration with the pioneers of Chicago house scene Master C & J. Her debut album “The Queen In the House” was scheduled to be released by Jive Records. This would see her propelled into the mainstream eye.
Yet, history would prove to be unkind for Ms Torres. Though the singles “If U Keep It Up” and Loca both reached top 10 of Billboard Charts, albums’ delay and poor promotion saw the house vocalist fall of the map.
Her return with “Your Love Is All I Need” decades later in 2013 was a nostalgic tribute to what could-have-been had the album reached its audience at the time of its release.
Torres’ legacy remains strong amongst most dedicated and educated house fans. Her vocals rising from the past and finding their way into edits and remixes. We decided to give one of them a spotlight with an interpretation by the French master of edits D’Julz. The producer takes the original’s mellow, summery feel and chops the vocals combining it with a Korg M1 organ to create a bouncy groove. D’Julz Edit breathes life back to the masterful original.