Lee Foss – Someone New
2011 was a formidable year for the Tech-House scene, as producers rode the crest of the 2010 wave well into the following year. Tale of Us released a mammoth remix of WhoMadeWho’s ‘Every Minute Alone‘. Solomun’s Vox Mix of Noir & Haze ‘Around’ catapulted him into the spotlight. Slightly under the radar, Get Physical released DJ T’s ‘Pleasure Principle’ remix compilation featuring interpretations from David August, Jimmy Edgar & Subb-an. One of the labels that was on everyones’ lips, however, was Hot Creations. Founded by a Welsh-Chicagoan partnership of Jamie Jones and Lee Foss, the label introduced us to heaters such as Danny Daze‘s ‘Your Everything‘, Miguel Campbell’s ‘Something Special‘ and the chart-topping Hot Natured’s ‘Benediction‘, all released within the same year. While Jones’ can be seen as more of a patron of the label, Foss’ late 2000s and early 2010s releases laid noteworthy support to the crew’s rise to success. Tracks like ‘Keep My Cool‘ & ‘U Got Me‘ are fine examples of the finesse traced in his early releases. Coming from his Starfruit EP, ‘Someone New’ is a time capsule of era when Foss was at the peak of his production game.
Deep, elegant & sensual are just some of the words that can be used to describe Foss’ signature style. His earlier discography tended to have an unadulterated approach to using lightly-processed analogue synth lines. Such is heard in ‘Someone Knew’, as 1980s Miami inspired soundscapes mollify into the intro that cuts the lower EQs. In conversation with the Night Bazaar, Foss tributes Funk groups such as Paul Simpson Connection to having a major influence on him. Noticeably, his new label Repopulate Mars‘ pushes track like ‘Freak You Right‘, which are more fubsy in percussion sidechaining. This is somewhat a departure from his earlier sound that’s epitomised in this track. The bassline serves as an ancillary, melting into the groove created by a fairly emollient layering of the drums. The overall sound tenderly seduces the listener, rather than overbearing with an in-your-face approach. Fundamental to most renowned releases, is the polished use of the vocals. Here he reworks an extract from Usher’s 1994 track ‘Think of You‘. ‘All the time I think of you, Holding on to someone new‘ brings a set of rather guarded lyrics. Yet the groove created by the remaining elements of the track pacifies the listener into a dance that’s filled with reflection. Continue reading
Brett Johnson – Missing You
Though it might be known as the home state of Rodeos, Ford F150s and the Republican party, Texas has also birthed a number of accomplished producers. Unrelated to the Canadian techno–maverick Mathew Jonson, Brett Jonson is part of a cabal of DJs hailing from the Southern state that includes Maceo Plex and Convextion. Speaking candidly with XLR8R about the state of the underground scene, Jonson observes that ‘We live in strange times, where people are famous for being famous, and a person’s hype often outweighs their actual talent‘. Commenting on dilating issues such as ghost production and pay-for plays gigs, he’s a music man. There’s clearly a special vitality in Brett’s productions. With a prolific amount of releases on labels such as Freerange, Cynosure and F Communications, Brett’s productions are a combination of moreish, euphoric and funky. And none more so than his 2009 release on the EP of the same name, ‘Missing You’.
Tracks like his remix of My Favourite Robot’s ‘Still In My Heart‘, or his own release ‘Get It Together (5am Dub)‘ showcase unbridled skills at walloping Tech-House bass. Brett’s versatility is on full blast in ‘Missing You’. Eight Tracks describe the track as ‘a gloriously melancholy cut that successfully bridges Brett’s affinity for potent house rhythms, Detroit-bred bass lines, and decidedly deeper intentions‘. It starts off with a timid kick and cymbal partnership that synergises with a crunchy percussion sample. Similarly to Andre Lodemann’s ‘Where Are You Now‘, measured bells are chimed. Sequenced stringed pads add to the melancholic nature with the plodding bassline allowing the rest of the track elements to shine. Brett speaks about being influenced by R&B in an interview with the Dallas Observer. Here, a vocal sample akin to 112 can be heard as the bass jumps an octave. What follow is truly mesmeric, as the strings caramelise, drooping with subtlety. Like his Visionquest EP ‘The Secret Place‘, ‘Missing You’ is elegantly eerie. Continue reading
Portable – Albatross
Imagine being born in South Africa, then coming-of-age in London & finally finding dwelling in Berlin. The sense of a permanent home would become a foreign concept. Which is why the leading chant of Portable’s ‘Albatross’ ‘Which way, which way’ can be interpreted to be a call of a diaspora generation, open to new directions. Self-released in 2013 by now sadly dormant Süd Electronic label, the frostiness of the Cold War lingering in Portable’s now permanent home’s history with the spark of Alan Abrahams heritage. The end result is an oeuvre of creativity.
The track opens with a bunch of glass bottles being hit with the summon of Luther from The Warriors. Accompanying them is a delicate pad synth, resembling of a Moodyman record that timidly enters the picture. The swing of the bassline that kicks in is characteristically South African, dynamic yet loosening. The drum work is more cadenced than that of the European compatriots. See Culoe De Song’s remix of Goldfish Feat. Monique Hellenberg – Call Me for reference. Unlike his work under the Bodycode alias, where Abrahams takes a more Jazzmatic approach to the tracks structure in the similar vein to Kettenkarussell, ‘Albatross’ is more linear. A vocalist as well as a producer, Portable provides the solemn questions which carry the spiritual pursuit of Burning Spear. Continue reading
A Sagittariun – Carina (October’s Full Body Mix)
Bristol is a hub of musical innovation. The place that helped birth, Jungle, Dubstep & UK Bass and is madly in love with Breaks. There have been producers who like to mix with the Spiritual like Fred P. Space, like Jeff Mills. DJ Richard on harsh aesthetics in the surrounding New York State where he grew up. Efdemin on anything that goes in front of his eyes and ears. A Sagittariun’s fixation however is on, (as you can tell by the name) Astrology, and Dreams. An A2 on the 2012 Carina EP, October deliver’s a ‘Full Body’ mix to take Carina (Original Dream) to a more intense focused Dream. If the original is the Wispy Cloud like Milky Way, this is the bottom of the grand canyon.
Like fellow Bristolians Asusu and Ramadanman, October uses knock like percussions on each beat. It has that 2 Step feel often heard from UK Dubstep. Shakers keep the worldly music scene of the Original. Celestial synths rail across from left to right like those found in a Conforce track. A dubby, muddied bass heaves like a monster of lore awakened from it’s slumber. It rattles like it’s in a procession, a ritual around the fire. The Originals Synth lines are flipped, played in the minor painting set set hues similar to Robag Wruhme’s remix of Red Sky by Audision. The metallic sounds of Levon Vincent’s Games We Play is what October loves to play with. Played in wonky patterns, they do a dance of decadence. The whole thing is a triumph in heads down ‘we here to dance’ like tune. Continue reading
Axel Boman – Purple Drank
I once saw Axel Boman perform a set in 2014 at Corsica Studios, in Room 2, shirt off behind the decks raving as hard as the crowd. Playing trippy Tech bombs, he seemed just like a normal punter having the time of his life. In your face, brash, technical tunes was the name of the game. ‘Purple Drank’ is such a contrast to such playing style, it’s like comparing a Rhino to a Jellyfish. Released in 2010 on DJ Koze’s Pampa Records, Purple Drank is a syrupy concoction reflecting its namesake.
Sweet and sticky like Promethazine and Candy hybrid, the vocal is a recollection of the woozy night before. ‘I woke up with your name on my lips’ it recollects. The way it’s said though, implies the night before was a sordid affair, one best not for the cameras. Southern rappers Bun B & Slim Thug would’ve been proud. The vocal is shocking just like the organ riff. Bright but dark it slowly seeps into the mix before expanding into a trance-like manner. Picking up pace with the echoed vocal, it turns into a ferocious canopy of sound, a whoosh similar to Scuba’s ‘Adrenaline‘. Continue reading
Galcher Lustwerk – I Neva Seen
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.
Youandewan – Youandme (On My Mind)
When the real Dubstep was in it’s heydey, boy oh boy did it come off well. Melting other styles like 2 Step, Jungle and Garage it was a blank canvas for creativity. Released in 2011, Youandewan uses a nostalgic nod to the 2 Step days with this cut and its brilliance still can be shined through to this day.
Dubstep hats kick in over a smooth sub bass that has real baritone like character. It’s only one note, but the chords played give the track that 7pm Summer in south London feel. Beautiful Rhodes piano chords looped over the top make it sound pretty, akin to something played by Moomin, Christopher Rau or Pantha Du Prince. It helps make the track ‘Deep’, helping a DJ to mix it in with more function deep or tech house. Continue reading