Mathew Jonson – Marionette
Although we don’t like to emancipate in the underground, there are a still a few ‘trophies’ one can nod too. Closing at Time Warp. Playing at CircoLoco, DC10. And, of course, playing at Room One fabric. To get an even better nod, was to get a slot on their acclaimed Mix Series. Omar S, Shackleton, Ricardo Villalobos and Peter Inspires all had mixes that featured their own cuts. Mathew Jonson’s is different however. Not only did it feature exclusively his own production, it came from a recording of him playing live at fabric. His set was so good that the fabric team decided to put it on a mix cd. Being in awe of such a producer and DJ, the quality of his tracks made this decision easy. From the genre-defining ‘Decompression‘ (released on Minus), to ‘Dump Truck‘, a product of his collaboration with Danuel Tate and Tiger Dhula as Cobblestone Jazz, Jonson has many strings to his bow. And they all shine the brightest. His 2017 collaborations with The Martinez Brothers and Martin Buttrich were certainly an escapade in unadulterated dancefloor fun. What Jonson is most notable for, however, is his brand of emotive, bare-laden, minimal cuts. ‘Typerope‘, ‘Learning To Fly‘, and ‘New Identity‘ all summon such branding. None more than ‘Marionette’ though. Released in 2005 on his own Wagon Repair label, the track is the ultimate in chiaroscuro disposition.
Don’t get it twisted, Jonson is the major-domo of inculcated synth stabs and manipulation. Where others bearing such style may seem a tad ostentatious, knowing his background indicates he is one for for untrammelled experimentation. Beginning with a splurge of synth stabs, the melody is played with the subtlety of a classically-trained pianist. These notes are, however, performed with the sinisterness of Sergei Prokofiev. Syncopated in the highs, mids & lows they’re a reflection of Jonson’s freewheeling Jazz heritage. In conversation with Roland he remembers receiving his first piece of analogue back in 1986, a collection of MT-32 sound module, PR-100 sequencer and an HP-3000 electric piano. The SH-101, however, is the main weapon of choice for his music and was ‘used in combination with the JX for Marionette’. If you hold a preference for blippy minimal, I would steer clear. An ample kick then kicks in giving instant vivacity. Using an Ensoniq DP4+, ‘Marionette has a modulating distortion that slowly mixes between wet and dry signals’. It’s a momentously disorientating effect. Chopped hats with a touch of reverb flutter to add to the headiness. His tracks ‘Symphony for The Apocalypse’ and his remix of Joel Mull’s ‘Begun The End Has’ are moulded with similar mordant tones. Eery string synth pads warp in and out munificently, adding to the cinematic effect. To describe it as mystifying would be a criminal understatement, even sibylline one might say. Continue reading
Pig & Dan – Plex
‘If Techno has a gateway drug, it’s probably Drumcode’ states DJ Mag. ‘If you hear it, and dig it, you’re probably hooked; no turning back.’ The label, whether people admit it or not, is certainly the port of entry into the genre for those transitioning from more commercial styles or wishing to understand what functional Techno is. From its humble beginnings in 1996, it is now a juggernaut of a label, criticised by some as being too commercial. Whilst the label’s releases have attracted millions of listeners, you cannot deny the ear for Adam’s talent spotting with Amelie Lens, Bart Skills and Sam Paganini’s incredulous releases. Pig&Dan have without a doubt played their part in solidifying the its status as Techno’s premier label.. Meeting back in 1999 on a flight back from Mallorca, their music stretches from Balearic downtempo to minimal techno releases on Cocoon. The tracks that’ve brought most acclaim, however, have been their banging Techno rompers. Magnetic Mag proclaimed ‘Growler’ their release on Diynamic as being ‘rightfully hammered at nearly every single night at every single club in every major city across the globe’. You could claim their Drumcode output to be even better. Tour de force releases ‘Mexico‘ and ‘Devotion‘ were an incredible run up to their smash hit collaboration with Adam Beyer, ‘We Are E‘. Returning now with a freshly-baked in 2019 ‘Plex’, Pig&Dan seem to hit Pluto heights of out-there-ness.
The duo’s ‘Pick Me Up‘ on John Digweed’s Bedrock was one of our 2018 Tracks of the Year. Being unashamedly a trance track, it was complemented with a customary hefty kick. Their run that year was continued with the brash ‘Reset Your Bassline‘. Pig&Dan love to use a Moog for their basslines. ”Brutally punishing” can only describe the one in ‘Plex’ as it pounds alone in sync with the sub bass and shuffling percussion, reverberating panoramically. Off-key, two note celestial radar samples bleep creating an exigency that demands one to listen. Using a Roland System1 for most of their synths, their productions sound so much greater than the cost of their parts. Most-coveted Trance tracks like Nalin and Kane’s ‘Beach Ball‘ or Energy 52’s ‘Cafe Del Mar‘ have a nonchalant, positive connotation that uplifts the crowd. Sven Vath’s ‘Harlequin‘, however, has more darker tone that is also represented in ‘Plex’. Metallic and gnarling, the mesmeric, multi-layered synth lines instantly evoke euphoria, seesawing down the octave in a staggering manner. The tracks elements then dissolve, leaving behind a whipped synth that’s revved back and forth, teasing with what’s to come. As a delicate kick enters back in the whipped synth throbs feebly, before a cosmic percussion lands with thunderous roar. It gradually progresses to amalgamate all the remaining elements for a sublime and electrifying finale. 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
Billy Turner – Flush
When we reviewed Doomsday By UK rising Techno sensation Billy Turner, we didn’t realise we’d be reviewing him again so soon. But then I saw his incredible set at London festival Eastern Electrics. When even the mrs keeps saying ‘Oooh I really like this’ you know it simply needs to be done. Distributed by Social Experiment Records, ‘Flush’ is yet another absolute weapon in his ever-expansive arsenal of hits. Released recently in August 2018, it is a hypnotic and doozy slammer. Last year, Social Experiment’s Head Honcho Johnny White aka Art Department picked him out as the one artist to look out for this year. ‘Flush’ certainly asserts this as it unfurls its hazy sound.
In his interview with London Warehouse Events, Billy describes being influenced by darker vibes. With his remixes of Anja Schneider, Dense & Pika, Arnaud Rebotini already in the bag, Flush crafted a new meaning of such concept. Taking inspiration from likes such as Markus Suckut or Planetary Assault Systems, his signature bounding bass is expansive and rumbling. Gyrating percussions start building a tension to the track. Metallic murmurations hummer in the back, similar to those seen on his belter ‘Doomsday’. Furious hats snippet in and out whilst mangled shrills pulsate. Robert Hood talks about what real trance is in his Red Bull Music lecture. ‘Flush’, is a showcase in that. Luxuriously smooth, the whooshes are like cascading flumes of smoke coming from a Icelandic Geyser. The fervid pads send the track down into a whole new realm, bringing an acquiesce for more.
You can see why it was released on the label. Listening to Art Department’s ‘Renaissance‘ or fabric mixes, you’ll appreciate he enjoys a deeper tech set. With other artists like the profound DJ Qu, as well as prodigals Moreon & Baffa being released, ‘Flush’ is a great fit. Our select track to punish the dancefloor.
Beck – Cellphone’s Dead (Ricardo Villalobos’ Entlebuch Remix)
It is always a good sight when producers step out of their comfort zone and remix tracks from other genres. Superpitcher has arguably been one of the best, time and again interpreting playlist tracks into party-ready cuts for the dancefloor. Hot Chip made a steady transition from Indie to Techno. Rarely however is it a minimal remix. This track, widely regarded to be made by Priku on the mysterious EEE outlet (Our theory being East End Edits sub label of East End Dubs’ Eastenderz). An edit of a Depeche Mode’s ‘Little 15’, it attaches a minimal beat to the original melody orchestrated by an organ. It’s an excellent exercise in the stripping back of a track. Ricardo Villalobos’ is a fine remixer, and his morphing of Thomas Dolby’s 1982 new wave release ‘One of Our Submarine‘ shows he has no bounds when it comes to remixing. As Crack Magazine has put, he’s a ‘creator of some of the most ambitious and outright bizarre electronic constructions of the last 20 years’. Audaciously pushing the boundaries, he has cooked up cuts that extend up to 40 minutes long in runtime. A common thread, however, underlining all is that they’re all analogue, and they all carry a distinct sound. Villalobos ups the ante on the uniqueness of this Beck track, ‘Cellphone’s Dead’. Originally a White Label release in 2007, it neighbours an Ellen Alien remix on her own BPitch Control. A compelling escapade in the genius of sampling, it’s an incredible showing of what you can do if you become a master of it.
A 15 minute odyssey, it begins with a chugging bass synonymous with his cuts. You really need to play his other cuts to appreciate it fully. Using polyrhythmic latin flare, the percussive knocks and flutes bring a swing to the track. It’s the critical path he uses to build the rest of the track with, just as Luciano, Lucien or Mirko Loko would. An 8-bit loop sends a charge through the foundation of the track, which then proceeds to use a mashup of vocal snippets from the original. ‘One by one I’ll knock you out’ says the childlike vocal, as Beck proceeds to say ‘Cellphone’s dead, lost in the desert’. It paints a perfect picture of feeling lost, not only in the groove but at a fabric London party it may get played at 2 am. Harmonised choral ‘hums’ in the background are played in a way that elevate the track like a chambré synth. The whole composition is wacky in a way that a DJ Koze track is. Continue reading
Check Your Buddha(Original Mix) – Sunpeople
Everyone needs that perfect Monday track. Minimal legend Peter Ford aka Baby Ford and his good mate Thomas Melchoir are absolute masters at making them. Baby Ford released this cut in 1998 on his own Trelik Records it is a timeless track however, and sounds straight outta 2005. Even veering on the cusp of Microhouse from the early 00’s, with it’s snippets of sound synthesising to telescope your mind to another time & place.