We can certainly resonate with the curators of XLR8R. Their Best of 2018: Tracks featured some of the most endearing releases of this decade. Traumprinz’s DJ Healer robotic Ambient cut ‘Great Escape‘. Leon Vynehall’s experimental downtempo ‘Envelopes (Chapter VI)‘. Hypnotically intricate Sublee’s ‘Irealis‘. The rerelease of So Ingawa’s minimalist ‘Logo Queen‘. All of these tracks carry a common thread of dreamy warmth. One of the highlight tracks on the list which struck a chord above all others was Abacus’ ‘Basic Amounts’. Also known by his real name as Austin Bascom, it’s the DJ and producer’s first release since 2011. As XLR8R says, with the recent years of drought ‘you’d be hard pressed not to think he was retired’. Abacus’ first releases came from Chicago-based labels. Ron Trent and Chez Damier’s Prescription Label and Guidance were the outlets of his earliest releases. The Toronto-native’s discography also bolsters more soulful cuts under his A:xus alias, eventually leading him to start his own Re:Think Recordings. Tracks like 1995’s ‘Decadent Dub‘ on Derrick May’s Fragile showcase his exemplary skill to bring danceability. Released over 20 years later, ‘Basic Amounts’ shows that Bascom’s still got more than enough left in the tank.
Distributed by James Duncan’s (of Metro Area fame) ripping Innermood Label, the track fits right at home. Each of the label’s release so far has carried a semblance of the old-school, with majestic use of soulful samples. Abacus’ cut opens up with with various criss-crossing vocal samples that bring about a solicitous emotion. 5mag describes the track as having ‘full, rich drums filling up the speakers like they’re just poured on in there, an Afro-Latin flavor that serves as the pendulum swing for Abacus’ hypnotic vibes.’ The producer’s Chicago influence shines on a ten note organic bassline that dawdles with nonchalance, sounding like it was played on a Clavinet. Rootstrax ‘Harlequin‘ comes to mind. Horn-like pads that you’d find on a Rick Wade cut bring an uplift. Compressed and abstract, the synths transcend into the metaphysical, expanding the space of the frequencies. Wiggling rigorously like a 303 line, yet bringing a mellow touch of tenderness. The end result is a perspicuous concoction which achieves its aim to bewitch the dancefloor. Continue reading →
Circa 2007 back in Oz, I came across this dope Progressive track track by a Melbournian named Lewie Day. The track was called ‘Alright’, and it got lost in the abyss of my old Hard Drive. Out of sight and out of mind, I never really looked out for other music from him. Fast-forward to 2016 I was seeing Bjarki play at The Pickle Factory. Conversing with a fellow Aussie about the scene back home, I asked him about Lewie Day. More shocked than a Euromillions lotto winner, I proceeded to find out that Day operated as Tornado Wallace. How did I not know that he was the founder of Melbourne Deepcast, a podcast behind one of my favourite releases of 2010. Anyhow, for a man battling against the tide of Happy Hardcore, Hardstyle, Electro House and Dubstep I was proud to say the least. His follow up release on Delusions of Grandeur (the sister label of Freerange Records run by Jimpster) featuring a dope Linkwood remix, ‘Always Twirling’ was Tornado Wallace’s reminder that he was here to stay.
Talking about both monikers in his interview with Juno, Lewie claims ‘Tornado kind of opened up as I was making music less about a druggy sound and more of a drinking mocktails by the pool sound.’ I would add that it’s a pool fluoresced by the moonlight, as the scattered hats spray around like a lawn sprinkler. Single note keyboard stabs are placed meticulously on beat, with a sampled disco guitar rift quietly strumming in the background. All of a sudden, the reason why the track gets it’s name hits for cortex. Melting and folding into each others company, panned chords twirl revolvingly at a slowed paced to take full effect. Once the pads kick in, you feel at full flight over the clouds as it soars the higher registers. A vocal sings ‘Back to shake em down’ as ‘You broke my heart, because I couldn’t dance’. A breakdown of epic proportions then takes place with Wallace displaying some supremo synth work glittered with minor key swirls. It’s like a painter dipping it’s bush into gloops of paint, ensuring there’s as much drag as possible as it paints over the canvas. The bass is a groovy affair with slackened disco flair to keep things chill.
At 116bpm, it is a cushd track great for mixing in with Disco or Deep House. Bringing variety to what Lewie has recently releases, such as the IDM displayed on ‘Lonely Planet‘ and more indigenous sounds of ‘Kakadu‘. Whatever direction he does take, however, it is always maintained at the highest of heights when it comes to music craftsmanship.
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 →
Galcher Lustwerk’s I Neva Seen is a hip-house track with a twist. The track’s deep, with the vocal stirring into the beat like warm milk pours into espresso to form a perfect flat white. Short but strong, punchy and velvety smooth. Whizzing to the upper stratosphere of the underground in 2013 via his ‘100% Lusterwerk’ mixtape of his own originals, I Neva Seen is a true head boppin cut. Like some of Burial’s jams, some tracks are ideal for a walk in an urban environment. This is one.
Silky smooth chords sway in lazily, making the listener feel relaxed. It has an old school feel but feels brightened by the hats and knocks in the background. Field recordings of a wave kicks ensuring the track sounds extra wavy. Galcher’s use of vocals are too dope. Clearly influenced on the leaned out rap style of fellow New Yorker A$AP Rocky, Glacher raps about being blown away by a girls drug habit, across town, midtown and down town. Something ‘I Neva Seen’ before he alludes. A fitting companion for the beat.
Dope Ambient vibes for your Monday Morning from Japan’s Hiroshi Yoshimura Soundscape 1 Surround. Released in 1986, but feels fresh in 2018. As the album artwork suggests, the soundscapes are very aquatic. The sounds are efficiently mellow and unpretentious. For anyone that is a fan of Brian Eno’s work, this will be a real treat. The influence of the English ambient master can particularly be seen in ‘Time Forest’ – where the synth sounds echo Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks.
Checkout Discogs for the rest of Yoshimura’s pioneering discography.