“I just love emotion in music, I don’t really care what genre or style it comes under, to be honest” Eagles & Butterflies stated in his interview with Pulse Radio. The lush, abstract production that evokes emotion has received endorsement from labels which share his philosophy such as Noir Music, Bedrock & Southern Fried. Incorporating elements of Electronica and IBM, his sound connects the “sense of hearing… to other senses“. His latest EP release ‘Imitations of Life‘ is a return to Innervisions this year after his track ‘X‘ previously featured on Secret Weapons Part 8. With the cover featuring a plastic bag set against the background of molten lava, the statement of this being something unprecedented is clear. The leading track ‘SKETCH 7’ exemplifies his refined layering of a “complex sound world” that is ravished with grandeur .
With an opening drum arrangement that features a live instrumentation snare, an organic sound akin to Will Saul’s ‘Drama‘, leans towards the hallmark of House. The rolling bassline melts into the preceding streams of delight created by aggrandising sforzando. Having previously remixed the renowned Italian composer Ludovico Einaudi’s ‘Elements’, Barratt’s enthusiasm for complex chord-progression goes unchallenged. In such, he joins his contemporaries such as Tale of Us, Henrik Schwarz and Max Loderbauer who have offered their interpretations of Classical music releases. Such free-spirited note alignment is heard in ‘SKETCH 7’, as well as his Get Physical 2015 release ‘Sounds of Colours‘. The imperceptible phasing of topline synth drifts from one ear to the other. This adds to the already established kaleidoscopic dazement. Similarly to Patrice Bäumel’s remix of Khen’s ‘Land Of Goshen’, the track allures the listener to lose themselves in the moment with its Balearic euphony .
‘To influence a person is to give him one’s own soul’ proclaimed Oscar Wilde in his bookThe Picture of Dorian Gray and Other Stories. That can certainly be said of the indomitable Perlon Records. With a propensity to release experimental and obscure cuts, it’s possibly the most influential Minimal label of them all. Releases such as The Mole’s ‘Lockdown Party (DJ Sprinkles’ Crossfaderama)‘, Minimal Man’s ‘The Chicken Store‘, and Binh’s ‘Noah’s Day‘ are just drops in the ocean of the many far-fetched bombs released. A lot of their cuts like Margaret Dygas’ ‘Even 11‘ are purely for after-hours or headphone listening only. Many of these have been release on their Superlongevity series. Seeing label stalwart Sammy Dee drop cuts by Egoexpress and Guillaume & The Coutu Dumonts at The Egg last summer was a reminder why their acclaimed Get Perlonized parties receive such high fanfare. Their more conventional 4/4 releases certainly get equally as much praise. Israeli by birth, a Berliner via New York and Amsterdam, Maayan Nidam is a producer synonymous with trippy drugged out releases. Having previously released albums on Candeza, and Powershovel Audio, her most recent third LP ‘Sea of Thee‘ landed on Perlon. ‘Don’t Know Why’ was her first of four releases on Perlon. A groggy affair, it is quintessential for DJs looking to calm things down on the dance floor whilst keeping a stomp.
The track chugs at a 120 BPM, much like how Clive Henry plays his sets. Woody drums tap away giving a makeshift off the cuff jamming production. Feel-good tambourine claps jingle with brightness. It displays power in its raw simplicity, much like Motown tracks like Marvin Gaye’s ‘How Sweet It Is‘ or Bill Wither’s ‘Kissing My Love‘. Alongside this is the powerfully floppy electro-tinged bass. It’ll ensure not one body stands stiff in the building. Basslines like this make tracks skittish. Audion’s fine catalogue as well as Tommy Vicari Jnr’s phenomenal ‘Moy Lally In D‘ bring a similar rubbery dance. Due to the slower BPM, the cut makes it the nifty DJ tool to transition out of an Electro or Nu Disco cut. The longer the track goes, the louder the womps get. It’s a jolting experience. Rickety pianos tinkle in, bringing a countenance to the shindiggery. Being an odd incision, it’s one normally heard in the overcast weather soaked music of Christopher Rau, Moon or Benjamin Brunn. This works, however, and you can see a Ricardo Villalobos’ type figure playing along whilst on the dancefloor. Or in this case, singing along to the drawling ‘Don’t Know Why’ Vocals. An intoxicating affair.
Maayan’s Boiler Room sets are well stocked in similarly funkadelic tracks. Unfortunately the cameraman doesn’t give the crowd much attention, because they’d surely be locked in Alice’s Wonderland. Nidam has stated that her music is inspired by the phenomenon of dreams. Whatever dream breathed life into this track was certainly one of untroubled spirit.
‘If credibility means producing the same track over and over again, I’d rather stay unpredictable’ Roman Flügel told Little White Earbuds. Producer hailing from Darmstadt is the definition of an allomorph. Ambient, Techno and psych-punk all feature in his fabric mix. Listening to his most recent Boiler Room mix, we were captivated as he incessantly played abstract tunes. His albums, released on Dial Records, Hypercolour and ESP INSTITUTE indicate a nomothetic inclination. These were a huge departure from his microhouse masterpieces released under his Soylent Green alias on Playhouse. This is a reflection of his career to date, with more aliases for his styles of production than a Mafia boss on the run. 2010 was a memorable year for Roman. ’How To Spread Lies’ was described by Pitchfork as ‘one of this decade’s most effective pairings of melancholy moods and dance-floor kinetics’. This release alongside ‘Brian La Bon‘ on Live at the Robert Johnson, made a powerful triumvirate with the return of his Roman IV alias on Running Back. It was first used by Roman back in 1995, resulting in a few releases on German label Ladomat 2000. This alias is used for his more ordered 4/4 cuts. On ‘Lucy’, Roman manages to forge another creative aberration within the musical landscape.
Flügel told Fact Magazine that his “education clearly antagonized everything that popular music stood for, not to mention techno. It was all about craftsmanship, discipline and attention to detail‘. This can all be heard in ‘Lucy’. Entering with all chips on the table, Roman fantasticated polyrhythmic composition. Running Back is a label that is synonymous with a more disco-influenced jack to it. ‘Sa Caleta‘, the B2 on the same EP ‘Lucy’ was released on, is a fine example. ‘Lucy’, is aesopian of such thinking bringing an ‘uh’ female vocal sample. A 2-step drum pattern tighter than a CIA security protocol impressively provides that added jack. It has more crunch than Dwayne Johnson bellyflopping into a pool of fresh Doritos. Featly, a descending seven note bass line plods away. It is a compelling contrast to the reverie brought about in the mids. A quadruple time synth flitters away, bringing a brumal feel to the dancefloor. The way it synergises with the echoing vocals in the background brings an extra nimbus of intrigue. Panoramic synths stabs warp in and out, shimmering at will like a teleport soundbite, gorgonizing the listener into infinity.
Our love affair for Roman Flügel began back in the day when Alter Ego’s ‘Rocker‘ was running the airwaves. A huge electro crossover, just like Gehts Noch? and Anthony Rother’s ‘Father‘. As Flügel remarks in his interview with THUMP, first and foremost he’s a fan of music. In his track ‘La Paloma‘, for example, he draws influence from an 1800’s Cuban ballad. Such seasoned understanding of music can be heard it in ‘Lucy’.
Brian Harden’s ‘Where You Are‘ oozes the Jack and pizzaz of your vintage Chicago House cut. ‘Delight Where You Are’ the vocal sample rings with the staple disco sample. At first glance, this style synonymous with Mike Banks, Robert Owens, Roy Davis Jr, Marshall Jefferson can seem a juxtaposition to the Rominimal sound. Listen a bit more thoroughly though and the two styles appear congruent. SIT aka Sideways Invisibility Theory is comprised of one of the most revered in the game, Cristi Cons and Vlad Caia. Appearing on the rerelease, this SIT remix is a one stellar cut. Cristi himself notably made heatwaves after his remix of Azimute’s ‘The Secret‘ released on Cocoon racked up more than 30,000 Youtube views before release. Individually they’ve released records on their own label Amphia, as well as similarly minded labels Meander and Serialism. Their first LP, Sideways was rich in experimentation, described by PlayedBy as ‘a groundbreaking definition of what we call the Romanian sound’. The duo hit a creative high point with their LP Invisibility Chapter on Sushitech. On this album, their Housier interpolations weaved into the nooks and crannies. In this remix, SIT elevate the original showcasing this shade of their production in full flight.
Chicago native Brian Harden’s original was released back in 2001on his The World Peace EP. It came out on Nite Life Collective, an outlet for jazzier cuts coming from the likes of Glenn Underground, Roy Davis Jr & Moon Man. In the same spirit, the release contained some sublime freeform jams. This is not surprising, considering Harden’s bio cites Herbie Hancock’s ‘Rocket’ as well as the music of Axel F, Paul Hardcastle and Miles Davis as inspiration. Listening to his atmospheric Deep House track ‘Chicago to Detroit‘ proves that he is a master of the dusky Detroit synth sound that partners modular keyboard work. With a chunky 808 bass and lush synths, it sounds as timeless now as it did back then. SIT up the ante on the remix making the elevating the staccato elements of the original. The bassline pounds with the rhythm and the force of a pitched down jack hammer. MIDI bleeps ascend with a sound of a Super Mario mushroom pick up. Chimed synths are looped, twinkling effortlessly. In a similar fashion to another track we reviewed by Sublee the synth’s intertwine compressed from the original, echoing out of time at will. The breakdowns nod to Harden’s composition, being interpreted with the same atmospheric descent. Continue reading →
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 →
Oriol Riverola is a fascinating figure in the underground scene. Having entered the frame in 2009 with his afro-disco release My Old School EP, the Barcelona man is now best know under his John Talabot alias. His career includes releasing on the prized Indie label Young Turks, touring with The XX and establishing a well-respected label in Hivern Discs. Electronic Beats describe his production as “four/four electronic music [that is] emotional rather than [a] physical trigger”. More recently, his collaborative project Talaboman with Axel Boman has produced picturesque releases like ‘Loser’s Hymn‘ and ‘Dins el Llit‘. Talabot’s 2016 Permanent Vacation release ‘Voices’ encapsulates the Spaniard’s pursuit to make music that is about “creating an experience or recalling a[warm] memory“.
Hivern Discs releases are often characterised by their pitched percussion layers. Tracks such as JMII’s ‘Bailar‘ give the patterns their own identities. Similarly to Round’s “Glass“, at the core of ‘Voices’ stands its cadence. The modulation of the female voice samples pulsate at various tempos and sequences of notes. Halfway in, the breakdown of the track removes all but the visceral chantment which echoes with its accompanying reverb into the listener’s soul. The feeling is mutually chilling as it is stirring. Though the drum loop return to retain its position within the framework, it is the subtle bass stabs permeating around the 5 minute mark that give the ultimate climax of euphoria. Gerd Janson’s Version Conga edit adds more groove, arguably at the expense of the original’s emotion.Continue reading →
Walt J – Reborn (DJ Qu’s Journey Towards Birth Remix)
XLR8R ran an editorial on DJ Qu back in 2011. The New Jersey native was quoted claiming ‘House and Techno used to be one thing. Now Derrick May is techno and Kerri Chandler is house, but I never saw a difference’. Such way of thinking is one that plays out in his productions. The Strength Music Recordings boss is perfectly adept at making Techno as he is Deep House. ‘Slinkily motorik drive’ Boomkat calls ‘Get Sum‘, which is his powerful delineation of a Oval Space peaktime heater. ‘Eden’ is a Deep House cut with tenebrous atmospherics, and a shamanic bounce that would be a Oxford Dictionary description for a forest rave like Gottwood Festival. ‘Party People Clap’ was probably his breakthrough track. With 2562 to Ellen AllIen bring it out of their crate, it blew up globally alongside the accompanying remixes found in the EP. And on this remix of Walt J’s ‘Reborn‘, he straddles the two tags with superiority. Released in 2010 on Curle Recordings, it’s a lean but heavy-duty version of the original.
Sampling Mr Fingers’ iconic ‘Can You Feel It’ hit, ‘Reborn’ is a carnivorous track. It’s enjoyed to this day, with Version 2 making this years Electronic Groove’s ‘Top 15 Tracks Played at Movement Torino‘. While the original bolsters the hats that are played with the vigour of Varg Vikernes taking the lead, DJ Qu’s subtle filtering of the hats let the rest of the track shine. The ticker tape sample with the echo synth give the track instant thrust, like a derailed train moving at a crushing pace. Adding layer upon layer of harmonisation makes it a symposium of staccato notes. All intricately laced together, the track is an amaroidal punch to the ear. Filtering the disparate notes, it really takes flight when the ticker notes are crammed in at double time. Once the listener is cruising at full pace like a Jet Stream, wooden kootz jink at will. Meanwhile, the phenomenal ‘Next To You’ vocal is suppressed to the max. The whispy nature helps carry the picture that one is flying to full effect. It is as though Nina Kraviz took some Nitros Oxide whilst doing Yoga. The go-to track to take the dancefloor sky high. Continue reading →
Moodymann, also known as Kenny Dixon Jr., is a prophet of Detroit. Motor City has long produced a line of father-figures for a music scene that craves substance. The Electrifying Mojo, Chez Damier & Theo Parrish, are just some of the names on the list. The spirit of Detroit combines spiritual essence with the stark contrast of the often harsh living conditions experienced by its people. Few have come close to infusing such soul through sampling in a majestic way as Kenny Dixon Jr. has. If you need proof just listen to ‘Ya Blessin’ Me‘ or ‘Sunday Morning‘. He’s graced stages worldwide from Rex Club to Dhërmi Beach in Albania, yet claims East Side of Detroit as his favourite place to visit. Moodymann’s ‘I Need You So Much (Runaway)’ came part of his acclaimed Black Mahogani album released back in 2004 on Peacefrog Records. A gentle reminder that the DJ behind the project is a guru of Deep House.
The track begins with crowd talking sampled from Marvin Gaye’s ‘Got to Give It Up‘. Dixon Jr. is well know to be a fan of the Soul singer, releasing a tribute track “The Day We Lost The Soul” in 1995. However, there’s also a connection to be made with Motown’s Detroit roots. After all, the genre takes its name after the Motor City. Moodymann is an ambassador for his city through and through. In fact in ’Forgotten Places’, he calls out the geographically local areas where he likes to hang out. The piano keys, saxophone and the bass guitar combine for what appears to be a Jazz improvisation at first. This a recurring feature of the producer’s releases, seen in his other tracks like ‘People‘. The DJ’s performances back home often integrate a live local band. However, a crisp kick here provides the rhythm that partners with what sounds like a man clapping in a bar to the beat. Roberta Sweed’s vocals are like honey running into your ears, melting into the wholesome atmosphere created. Finally, the producer stamps his mark as his own vocals give a shoutout to the lead vocalist. Extravagant yet soulful, the track is a gift from a talent blessed by the heavens above. Continue reading →
The contribution by the Netherlands to music created with a computer cannot be underestimated. The three royalties of trance who ruled the airwaves of the scene were all Dutch. The current posterboy of EDM proudly wears his country’s orange colours when performing mainstage. However, the nation’s influence on the underground scene is equally as impressive. Dekmantel and ADE festivals bring thousands of pilgrims who gather to pay their dues at its annual gatherings. Renowned Amsterdam-based Red Light Radio radio hosts global trailblazing DJs ranging from John Talabot to Danny Daze. The range of the local DJs hailing from the Low Lands comprise of veterans such as Boris Werner & Legowelt, respected crate-diggers like Antal and emerging talent including Job Jobse, Benny Rodrigues and of course, Young Marco. Marco Sterk, the face behind the last alias on the list, has been slowly turning up the heat on the production cooker over the years. Released on Greco-Roman in 2017, his remix of Roosevelt’s breakthrough track ‘Sea’ is the culmination of his halcyonic interpretation of Deep House.
Marco’s signature sound combines soft percussion work akin to Nu-disco and Italo Disco cuts, with euphonious melodies. His Welcome To Paradise (Italian Dream House 89-93) Vol. 1 compilation is a retrospective, shoegaze house melodies that are a perfect fit for a hazy afternoon. It’s also a fair reflection of his production. With an infectious chord-progression dancing along to the rhythm conducted by a gentle kick, his ‘Sea’ remix incorporates the leading synth from the original with ease. While the elements separately lack modular sophistication, their effortless coherence is sonically rewarding. Tints of melancholia colour the 1980s palette that paints a landscape of Arpeggios. Young Marco portrays a tranquil scenery with the mastery of Wes Anderson’s direction.
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.