Clark – Unfurla
“Music is like sculpture. It’s like trying to capture a moment of ultimate momentum, and distill it forever“. These are the words that accompany Chris Clark’s track ‘Unfurla’, released under his Clark alias. If such perspective is to be adopted, then the producer is the Auguste Rodin of his respective field. Drowned In Sound describes him as ‘a cut above most of his peers when it [comes] to sheer technical and compositional wizardry‘. After all it is no easy feat to land an album on Warp Records, an outlet that has released the works of dexterous artists such as Boards of Canada, Aphex Twin & Oneohtrix Point Never. ‘Unfurla’ is his 2014 release on the label, coming from his self-titled album. The Progressive Techno whopper has been adequately described as “a near perfect distillation of his oeuvre“.
What characterises ‘ Unfurla’ the most is the pulsating momentum that breathes with a continuous sense of unpredictability. The introduction combines a wet kick with a heavily-distorted bassline, reminding of Laurent Garnier’s 1997 classic ‘Crispy Bacon‘. Yet one minute in you are introduced to an extract of a grand piano being played through a hallway reverb-filter. The two concepts should not possibly co-exist in theory, and Clark’s ability to combine these is therefore impressive. Such elements manifest the spirit of Electronica and IDM genres, with the influence of Amon Tobin particularly noticeable. The ease at which the tone of the track shifts from Bastinov’s ‘Prisma‘-like leading synth to woodwind instrumentation breakdown is tantalizing. The final third of the track resists the temptation to return to its prior state, opting for a cello-leading outro that is more sombre in its tenor. Despite a runtime that falls below the six minute mark, the listener is left with a three-part story that satisfies the senses akin to a blockbuster flick. Continue reading
Guillaume and The Coutu Dumonts – Fair Is the Field
DJs such as Floating Points, Francesco Tristano and Oliver Coates reached the peaks of the Underground by transferring their formal musical training into the Electronic sphere. Another fine example is Guillaume and The Coutu Dumonts. Montreal-born DJ and producer studied latin and classical percussion, and even played in a live funk band prior to undertaking the decks. Now a recognised name in the scene, his previous education has granted him an edge when it comes to his production. Unsurprisingly, his byzantine sound has seen him perform alongside Luciano, M.A.N.D.Y and Visionquest’s Cesar Merveille. His enticement for experimentation has been noticed by the DJs who share his enthusiasm. Released in 2018 on Musique Risquée as A2 of his ‘Shouts, Moans And Significance’ EP, ‘Fair Is The Field’ is a wizardous marvel that demonstrates the level of Guillaume’s savoir faire.
At its simplest terms, ‘Fair Is The Field’ is Ibiza‘s answer to John Coltrane. The sense of freedom exercised by the floating key notes that are with the skill of Bill Evans is only matched by the accompanying saxophone. Less than a minute in, the listener is introduced to a bass you’d expect from Serialism Records. Guillaume’s sophisticated percussion work landed him a release on Watergate Records with 2015’s ‘The Drums‘. What is heard on ‘Fair Is The Field Field’ come to be no exception. The samples of wild birds hooting evoke a tingling sense of finding oneself in a venue situated out in the jungles of Ecuador. ‘I love this music..and it’s 24 hours a day…You hear the same?‘ asks a husky narrator’s voice, the music fading out into oblivion. The returning amalgamation of components throws a ramshackling synth into the mix. With a potency that would take Alice back down the Rabbit Hole to the Wonderland, the track is intoxicating even at the most sober state. Continue reading
Delano Smith – Dream Come True
Being in Ibiza over the summer, it was only natural to play some DC10 podcasts while lounging around the Ushuaia beachside. With John Dimas at the helm, I was sucker-punched once this track came up. Expecting to cop the L anyways, I Shazam’d fifty times to no avail. Recently, however after some serious digging on Soundcloud, I struck gold. It was none other than Delano Smith. The The Belleville Three are most well known in the Underground, but are not the only heavyweight trio to hail from The Motor City. Delano is part of Detroit Beatdown and The Beatdown Brothers. Consisting of himself, Norm Talley, and Mike ‘Agent X’ Clark the three fly the flag for the more deeper shade of Detroit. In an interview with Resident Advisor Delano defines Detroit Beatdown as being ‘Raw, minimal Groove’. Dream Come True exemplifies such perspective. The B2 on 3 tracker EP ‘Precipice‘, it was released on his own MixMode Recordings in 2012.
His label releases records that carry a dusty sound. ‘The Thesis‘, his EP with Derwin Hall being one such highlight that carries this aesthetic. Boomkat describes the Precipice EP record being ‘Solid, chuggy trax with that ounce of late night flavour – all warm chords and thick drums’. That’s certainly the case for the first two tracks. Delano flips the switch with this track though, as it is the chords that take the lead role. Speaking with Meoko, Delano’s claimed he is “looking to entertain the listener more with talent and artistry versus just beats and groove’. You can tell he’s got his ear in all the right spaces, as the chords truly hit the spot. Don’t get this mixed up – this is more of a tool than anything. Sitting on the same chord progression for a minute, it allows the DJ to mix it in with ease. This sets the tone for a late time City bar vibe with the jazzy saxophone samples. A unembellished bass note is plonked, seemingly satisfied to stay in the background. Metallically sheened chords of differing magnitudes reverberate. Yet it is the chords more than anything that win, rolling with decadence. Their potent rhythm would get the dancefloor swinging standing on its own.
Reflecting on the origins of techno, Delano claims the genre was born out of the electronic sounds of disco: Giorgio Moroder, Kraftwerk, Gino Soccio. Introduces to the cross Atlantic sounds by Electrifying Mojo, Smith was mentored by pioneer, DJ Ken Collier, who was the first to take whole parts out of tracks and layer others on top. This unquestionably birthed Delano’s desire to experiment. His first two releases came through using Yamaha RM1x and Motif, and to this day he’s maintained his fondness for analogue machines due to their retained rawness. This shines through in ‘Dream Come True’, revitalizing the very same authentic sound.
Queen Atom – COKA ZERO (Ahmet Sisman Remix)
Last year, I got to see what all the fuss regarding Music On Ibiza was all about. That night Marco Carola and Martinez Brothers played to a dynamic and booming Amnesia Terrace filled with jollity. ‘Take Money‘ by Guille Placendia & George Privatti & ‘Mind Bend’ by John Tejada, Justin Maxell & Daniel Bell were two tracks that were so diverse, yet plucked apart the dancefloor like a hurricane that’s hit a beach shack. Big Room Techno is normally be associated with renowned DJs Dubfire & Len Faki. A sound full of reverb, delays, cavernous bass and colossal kick intertwined with a biomechanic theme. Cocoon helped push a more experimental and tribal side of it too. One of the highlights was Ahmet Sisman’s ‘Hey Now‘. A sinister yet funky bassline and killer vocal it was an absolute belter. These attributes are brought onto his exquisite remix of Cesare vs Disorder‘s Queen Atom alias cut ‘Coka Zero’. It is a classy expedition of his signature sound, released in 2013 on the Blue Atom EP on Cesare’s own Serialism Recordings.
A mastermind in experimentalism yet leaving an unadulterated jack, Cesare himself is as adept at Big Room bangers. ‘Refuse Greed‘, and his Azimute cut ‘Extravaganza‘ are engineered to incite pure anarchy. The original is full of twangs, random UFO bleeps and what must be the record for the most amount of differing worldly drum samples. Ahmet strips most of it back, leaving a pounding 808 to drive the track. Martin Buttrich wouldn’t complain. Over the top a bongo drum pattern murmurs. It’s a more muddied take on the originals, bringing a sexier slick. What makes it defining, however, is the Turkish DJ’s astute use of vocal samples. The first minute introduces an unidentified vocal ghost in. Further down the track the closing hook of Pharrell and Jay-Z’s ‘Frontin’ glides in. As discordant drums are mixed in, a polished transition takes place. The acappella of Kelis’ ‘Bossy‘ then strikes with verve. This adds thrust to the track with the rhythm of the melody alone. Not the first time either, with the EEE cut doing the rounds. It’s an unbelievable culmination in all the elements, concocted by a true maven. 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
André Lodemann – Where Are You Now
Released in 2009 on his Berlin-based Best Works Records, André Lodemann’s ‘Where Are You Now’ is a triumph for uncompromised artistry. The DJ and producer’s versatility has been evident over the years, ranging from the tailor cut deep house cuts like ‘Don’t Panic‘ to downtempo, tranquil Freerange release of ‘Together‘. Yet the mind boggles when you realise that the very same hands were behind the today’s featured track, which has entertained the crowds of some of the biggest clubs in the scene. Masterfully maintaining an equilibrium between that which moves the feet, and that which touches the soul, the track is yet another top-tier German export. The latest release from Lodemann ‘The Deeper You Go’ sounds a return to progressive house with a fresh perspective. To anyone that listens to ‘Where Are You Now’, it should make it clear that this is something to be excited about.
Core to the track is the clash of synth-heath topline that flirts with ambient pads, and the conventions of a bassline-heavy tech-house romper. These two unendingly interchange throughout the runtime. The dominance of trance-inspired progressive house mainstream artists such as Deadmau5 has leaked some of its influence onto the track. Sylenth 1 patch synths will be familiar to those producer out there who have flirted with the VST. The delayed release of the leading synth that infiltrates the lower EQs sporadically creates a sense of tension that is elevated by the breakdown. Then around the 5.50 mark the kooky riff drops leaving the listener in ecstasy. The previously bellicose synths now join in the dance providing an amicable conclusion to the track, with the ambient soundscapes completing the communion of the trinity. A YouTube commentator described it ‘Like a deep house cousin to nthng’s ‘Oralage‘. Lodemann’s refusal to play to the rules is rewarding for the listener. Continue reading
Benjamin Damage – Up
The benefit of a Trance-tinged techno cut is that it can give a monumental lift to a set. In the same way that a Balearic soulful track melody does to a house set. Pig&Dan are probably the best in the game at making Techno-Trance hybrids that often grace fiery dancefloors. Such envisioning conceived by Benjamin Damage certainly helps thrust the clubs skywards to the highest levels of Paradise. A 2014 release on the now defunct 50 Weapons label, it motorcades enough bass to puncture readying chests. No wonder it featured on Illusive’s ‘Best of 2014’ list.
Lifting off from the start, the track is assembled with complete nuance. Due to Damage’s beginnings in the UK Bass scene, everything is programmed to a T. The drums are tightly knit. It ensures a small club can make the most of its impact as much as the Tomorrowland Festival main stage could. That UK Bass experience comes in handy with the low ends pounding. As though he’s just testing you, dribbles of the synth chords patter in. Getting more panoramic by the count, the track reaches full lift off. Like a NASA rocket ship taking off from Earth, the track then strips down the drums and bass for a exhilarating shower of synths. Clustered and twisted like the Greek mythology’s monster Hydra it displays its arms at full rage. It certainly will get you ‘Up’ should you even be sober. Continue reading
Maetrik – The Reason
With the advent of the internet, designated streaming services such as Boiler Room & Be.At TV have allowed limited amounts of FOMO to take place for those who couldn’t make the party. DJ Mag, Mixmag, and Resident Advisor have even jumped in on the act and ramped up their hold on the wall streams. Rarely do DJs get the chance to record live, nor purely of their own tracks. And it is hard to think of this ever taking place at a Cocoon Ibiza party. Eric Estornel, the American DJ more commonly known as Maceo Plex, Maetrik and Mariel Ito bucked this trend. In 2012, his Live at Cocoon Ibiza Mix CD did just this. ‘The Reason’, also released on Cocoon hits just after the crescendo of the mid point of the mix. Placed perfectly, it’s a belter ensuring serious dancefloor vehemence.
The track starts off with a low end synth stab lightly throbbing as though it’s a malfunctioned alarm of a spaceship. Panned, but slowed hats sit alongside groaning of shapeshifting mechanical clamour. Strenuous sub-bass, akin to a hydraulic breaker give the track serious poundage. Bells, which more sound like Notre Dame Church bells are struck hard. With the force of a MBL player hitting a home run it’s sequenced to help balance that nasty low end. Like on 2017’s smash ‘Ninex 7-C‘, Estornel displays exquisite, pulsating modulations. Grumbling and gurning, this heavy mid range has serious piercing venom. At it’s peak it shrills reverberates with so much power so much you get a cardio vascular workout just by listening. Maetrik loves a mutated vocal just like on ‘Herb House‘ or ‘Crush On Me‘. Amongst other ‘Reasons’ this one says ‘You’re the reason I can’t breath’, anybody listening live probably would be saying this back to Estornel. Supporting interstellar noises are paraded around to help this track stick to its extraterrestrial blueprint. Continue reading
Maceo Plex – Your Style
Spanish producer Maceo Plex’s come uppance in 2011 was well deserved. It came as a serious surprise after crate diggers saw years of producing techno bangers under his Maetrik monkier. It was a full 180 degree turn. Dropping sleazy deep and tech house on his Life Index EP, Crosstown Rebels seemed the perfect label. We first heard this cut on a Catz N Dogz podcast in Jan 2011, and were instantly blown away by it’s slinkiness and the precision in mixing. A sexy cut, it was one certainly curated for the lovers.
This though it certainly emboldened by the vocals. After stating, ‘Desperate for your love, I can’t sleep/I got all the love that you need’, the hook infectiously repeats ‘Girl I love Your Style.’ Spoken in a sordid manner, it is brilliantly supported by the heavy panting placed in synchronisation with the mid-range sounds. Wisps of air plume alongside airy synth stabs reserved for marbled fashion house hallway music. These plumes are like the steam blowing from a pressured factory valve, adding to the steaminess of the track. Maceo Plex’s tracks tend to use heavy mids, and use them for the melody like on ‘Mirror Me’. On ‘Conjure Dream‘, the jittery low mids in conjunction with the sweeping synths show just how in a different way. For Your Style’, it was very fitting for the time with it’s plonkiness yet tough and uncompromising style. No wonder it was released on Crosstown Rebels with that similar funk heard on Jamie Jones’ ‘Hungry For The Power’ remix. In keeping with his ethos of keeping this a bit sci fi, laser beams flutter in and out. It is because of this that the track could also be a warehouse party weapon. Continue reading