Johnny Fiasco – Set Me Free
‘I know a track is done when it draws out some emotion’ Johnny Fiasco told 5mag. The Chicago producer’s tracks tend to evoke emotion within the first few minutes. Releases such as ‘Kalimba‘, ‘In The Best Mood‘, ‘Last Word‘ and his remix of Slammer, Ivaylo & Renate’s ‘Invisible Solution‘ are tracks you can play for half an hour straight without clearing the dancefloor. Drenched in jazziness, his production always is a groove-filled affair, owing to his musical background. In operation since ’93, the Chicagoan producer found his releases picked up by the trend-setting Green Velvet, who offered the outlet of his Cajual Records label. Fiasco’s debut album Moody Grooves Vol. II came out in 1997, and with it a barnstorming, monster House opener ‘Set Me Free’.
Similarly to another Cajual track we’ve reviewed ‘Percolator‘, the influence of ‘Set Me Free’ on today’s Tech-House scene is quite uncanny. Starting with broken-beat drum, a hat is energetically played in tandem. ‘Take 5‘, Johnny’s release on prolific soulful house label of the early 2000s Om Records. showcased some unparalleled vocal sample work. It’s no different here, with the regurgitating staccato’d ‘Oh Oh Oh’s expertly chopped. Mutated stringed synths pour all over the top. Fiasco cites Michael Jackson’s ‘Rock With You’ as being one of his major influences, and you can certainly hear it here. The Unique Selling Point of the track, however, is its sonorant bass. Dirty yet funky, it wouldn’t fall out of place in a Hot Creations‘ Hot Waves compilation. An electronic piano loop mixes things up to keep a flavourful and colourful vibe to the track. Continue reading
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
Cajmere – Percolator
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
Burnski & Robert James – Malibu
‘A whispering, crawling monster for the house floor.’ as described by De Bug. Going by what I saw in 2013 at a Back to Basics Party, with Acid Mondays & Frenchy at Leeds venue The Garage, Burnski certainly likes his monsters. Banger after banger he played wild cuts without cease out of a half-sawn car shell. It was a sight to behold. Robert James is another name closely affiliated with the term ‘wild’. Charged with running the podcast series of Jamie Jones’ Paradise brand, he is also closely associated with the Leeds underground scene. One of the biggest hits of summer ’10, ‘Malibu’ is a Hot Creations staple cut. Made during swift rise of the the label co-owned by Lee Foss & Jones, it was the fourth release on the label’s rich discography.
At 125bpm, it feels like it is travelling at a more mellow 120 bpm pace due to the Disco flavours at play. It was this that was Hot Creations USP, before it morphed into the ‘monotonous-ket-house’ category. From the offset, groovy and chic bass flirt with each other in a laidback manner. A drum pattern which sounds straight out of garage band gives it real boom bap. Vocal snippets give it an alien feel before cool ‘oohs and ahhhs’ gently cruise in gradual expansion. The bass then takes a beat twist before extra ghostly vocals echo in and out. These vocals are real sexy and certainly pay homage to feel good Ministry of Sound classics served by such as Kings of Tomorrow, Soul II Soul or Moloko. The magic really takes place when a bright and all-encompassing trancey pad sweeps in. It is every so slightly filtered, adding the tech vibe to the track. It Is truly unique and doughty. Continue reading
Doomwork – Independence (Original Mix)
Lots of Tech-House these days have the druggy funk baselines seen on a Hot Creations Release, or a more heady approach by Get Physical. Independence, by Italian duo Doomwork flips the script a bit like a Christopher Nolan movie in the director’s prime.. The 2012 Cocoon release has a latin vibe, but a heady vibe making one feel as the title says, Independent.
Crafted for the 8pm timeslot of an outdoor rig in the height of summer, right when things are starting to heat up, in rolls a simple dubbed bassline with swaying Congos and percussion over the top. Added into the melody are two minor key mediterranean sounding melodies, filtered guitar loop Instead of using the bass for the low slung nature, Doomwork drench the rest of the surroundings with a vocal that creeps in with the drawl of Playboi Carti and Future. Continue reading