Brooklyn old-timers Francis Harris and Anthony Collins were a prolific production partnership under the guise of Frank & Tony in the mid 2010s. Part-owners of the taste-making New York label Scissor & Thread, their output was a melange of mature, tender interpretation of Deep House. Harris brought the exhaling texturing that complimented Collins’ percussion finesse. Pitchfork adequately claims duo were more “concerned with the sound of House music than its function“. In such, their tracks serve well for listening sessions and in-store DJ sets. Their 2012 track ‘Marigold’ found the perfect vocalist suitors in Bob Moses, a Vancouver duo that was christened by them. The NY veterans gave the Canadians their name, and their support on ‘Marigold’ kindly returned the favour.
Frank & Tony’s production notably interpreted the lower ends of EQ in a number of creative ways . While releases such as ‘What You Believe‘ & ‘Amedeo‘ brought a much more restrained approach, ‘Modest Season‘ & ‘Harmonium‘ came freshly baked from the academy of Basic Channel. In ‘Marigold’ they opted for a chugging bassline that is rich in flavour to open the track. True to form, however, soft keys reverberate in rotation to create a serene ambience. ‘All the way, all the way, all the way, watching this burn” the vocals repeat. Bob Moses’ mellifluous singing has made them a headlining act in the Underground scene, and a desired collaborator. Frank & Tony were blessed with an album’s worth of features back in early 2010s. The pads that eventually enter feel like a substitute for the Pacific wind, gently caressing the listeners ears. The vibe almost be described as a slower tempo, Western approach to Nu & Jo Ke’s – ‘Who Loves The Sun‘. It would comes as no surprise, therefore, to hear it feature at a sunset mix of Jose Padilla. Continue reading →
Before he became a DC10 mainstay, I saw Skream dosing out absolute piledrivers at Cable years ago, the Dubstep clubbing institution that was under the train archways near London Bridge. Carrying the virtuoso of genre-pioneers such as Benga and Kowton, it was in-your-face brash stuff. Looking at the scene’s most celebrated tracks however, such as Kode9’s ‘Samurai‘, The Bug’s ‘Skeng‘ and Joy Orbison’s ‘Hyph Mngo‘, the genre’s more mellow tracks can be just as commanding. Dutchman Dave Huismans, is the man behind the Dogdaze moniker, as well as the more 4/4 A Made Up Sound alias. Releasing on revered labels such as Tectonic and Delsin, as well as Red Bull Music Academy dubbing him as ‘inimitable’ is certainly an apt branding. Under his 2562 moniker however, you will find an artisan off-beat shake downs. ‘Embrace’ is one such track that stays true to its title, embracing a more finespun approach.
Dropped on fellow compatriot Martyn’s 3024 in 2009, it snuggly feels at home amongst other abstract-leaning musicians such as Leon Vynehall and Trevino. When chatting with Little White Earbuds about his favourite music to play when he feels down, he responded with Detroit’s Deep House legend Rick Wade. ‘Embrace’ certainly echoes such moody, powerful Deep House tropes. Beginning with a minor key, chords are stabbed hurriedly and delivers sentient vibrations. Dubstep is known by its half-time drum patterns, offering clashing BPMs between separated elements, creating a measure of space between the different layers of the track. The drums are raw and hollow, ascending and descending to variant notes on each half-beat. They share the vim of the bulwarking dub bass which drags itself into place like a stone into a quarry. Lastly, dusky pads serenely shimmer over the top adding to the meditative spirit that the chords bring. Continue reading →
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 →
Mike Grant – My Soul, My Spirit (Mr G’s Freedom Train Mix)
Born in Derby but now local to London, Mr. G is a true legend of the game. With releases on Rekids, Defected, Bass Culture, Holic Traxx, as well as his own label Phoenix G, the number of his releases is astronomical. None of these come at the cost of quality however. Cassy best sums up his production style in her description of his remix of Fred P‘s ‘Mystery of Fantasy’. ‘He’s in between house and techno, so for me, whichever direction I want to go in, he gets me there. Often if I’m unsure what to play next, it’s the ever-reliable Mr. G I turn to‘ she told fabric. His productions are the archetype for those which straddle House and Techno, much like Radio Slave & Joris Voorn. In their Machine Love feature Resident Advisor crowned him as ‘the literal definition of tech-house‘. His sound is as tough & punchy as MMA fighter Anderson “The Spider” Silva on the world’s most potent steroids. G’s output is consistently heavy on the drums to keep the jack moving like a marching band. At times, upon first listen of some of his tracks you would be forgiven for thinking you were listening to any Detroit producer of the Rick Wade and Delano Smith cloth. This remix of ‘My Soul, My Spirit’ is yet another capstone of his treasured discography.
Released in 2003 on Grant’s own Mood & Grooves label, it was G’s second remix of the very same track. ‘The Struggle of My People (Mr. G’s There’s Hope Mix)‘ was an inspirational call echoing the pulpits sourced from the DJ booth. A preaching from the biblical text James 1 so to speak. ‘My Soul, My Spirit’ is an effigy on freedom. Sublime swelling horns radiate providing an instant buoyant air. Coming from a West Indian background, G has a love for heavy sound-systems. This can be heard on the tough as a nail sub-bass. A dedicated fan of Akai MPC’s and Korg MS2000’s, the hats are capacious and built for Big Room play. Speaking with Ibiza Voice about his time spent working in the Derby record shop R.E.Records, he recalls opening up to music styles that included jazz, blues, boogies, soul, funk and disco. Saturated in funk, the bassline is one that The Sylvesters or Boney M would be proud of. A stringed pad that floats on top adds rays of sunlight. The breakdown features a whispering female vocalist preaching about liberty that compliments a dolloping of arpped keys, before shuttling back into the kick and bassline. A truly uplifting track. Continue reading →
‘There’s deep and then there’s David Alvarado‘ pronounced Resident Advisor on their review of his 2005 album ‘Transfiguration’, released on NRK Music. Checking out any of his releases that trace all the way back to 1993, you’d be hard pressed not to agree. Hailing from Los Angeles, David’s productions vary in form, yet maintain the same underlining semblance of Deep. ‘Worship’, the release under his Las Americas alias was picked up by Plus 8 Records founders Richie Hawtin and John Acquaviva. There’s a hint of tribalism in many of his productions that echoes the sound of Peace Division. His productions have seen him remix U2, as well as release on Strictly Rhythm, Ovum Recordings and Peacefrog Records. The 2002 LP ‘Mayasongs‘, however, surely is the apex of his musical mastery. The quintessential tracklist is of such high standard, we were at pains on selecting which song should be highlighted. ‘My Plea’, however, takes the crown due to its timeless eminence.
‘Beautification‘, another of the tracks from the ‘Mayasongs’ LP ended up being featured on The Lab 03 by Seth Troxler. A series which also featured mixes by Steve Bug, Loco Dice and Paul Woolford is acclaimed for the supreme cuts it features. Alvarador’s track is a cutting-edge, spaced out affair, bolstering rotating drums and spacey pads. Therefore, it is unsurprising that in conversation with Droid Behaviour David described his sound as ‘very delicate fragile… waiting to fill every corner of that space‘. ‘My Plea’ is the embodiment of such ethos, hitting you with lashings of a Mediterranean sunset party. From the offset you can notice the producer’s piquancy to obliterate the listener with delays and reverb, as the track’s introduction features a female vocal breathing. Layered on top is a Latin drum pattern, similar to one found on his 1998 release ‘La Selva‘. A single note jazz hat oscillates with filter astutely, while a female vocal echoes in as a guitar sample is strummed in. The pads that eventually enter are stringently applied, rising elegantly as a sonar zip completes the soundscape of an aquatic journey. Continue reading →
‘Background music can be inspiring if it influences your mental state in the right way’. Only so recently, Anthony Fantano gave ‘Kankyō Ongaku: Japanese Ambient, Environmental & New Age Music 1980 – 90‘ album a ‘decent 8’. Not bad for a guy who is usually deemed as a fairly harsh critic. For a mainstream YouTube reviewer to have their sights on such music you know it must be that damn good. Japanese Ambient has seems to have hit the crest of a wave. Crack Magazine ran a feature covering the hype. It featured Hiroshi Yoshimura, Yasuaki Simizu and one of our favourite, Midori Takada. Resident Advisor commenters went gaga over the rerelease of Takada’s ’Through The Looking Glass’. Tominori Hosoya is not an exclusively Ambient artist, but he’s a bloody good one. The label boss of TH Pressing, his productions have been expansive – ranging from Progressive Techno to House. Finding his releases on Brothers Vibes, Mixx Records and Snail Juice Records, his niche for all things deep has also landed him on Frank & Tony’s Scissor & Thread. Released in early 2019, ‘We Are Here’ is the third, Ambient cut on a mostly deep house EP release. Whatever feeling it was trying to evoke such titling, it is a track that definitely matches up to Fantano’s quote.
Unearthed Sounds describes ‘We Are Here’ as a ‘powerfully restrained piece that merges woody percussion with low key pads and field recordings to create a magical whole’. ‘Magical‘ is an understatement, maybe try ‘bewitching‘. Field recordings of waves crashing and birds chirping give an instant calming resonance. Brooding string pads then kick in sweeping back and forth as if it were chamber music for meditation purposes only. Echoing oriental percussions knock panoramically, stimulating the mind before it diffuses at the breakdown. Our first encounter with Tomi was on Nick Hoppner’s RA.463 mix. ‘Chihiro‘ carried a crystalline charm over the top of a frantic verve. Halfway through we are here, piano keys are played with subtlety in the same manner. It kindles emotion, and absorbs the listener into a deeper realm of consciousness should they choose. The track then peters out with layered chimes and wooden percussions. Running at 6 minutes 30 seconds, one can definitely wish Tomi had been influenced by an hour long experience on this one. You’ll be left optioning for the replay button on this one. Continue reading →
Fuse London’s notoriety is the result of not only its parties, but also a defined brand of Minimal and Deep House that will certainly be a catalyst for those who wanting harder but just as dubby. Though Dub Techno seems to have hit the same cannibalisation peak that Tech House had allegedly experienced in the late 1990’s (with many releases copying the Basic Channel formula), two producers still fly the flag with dazzling dexterity. Deepchord, and South African producer Brendon Moeller, also known by his Beat Pharmacy or Echologist aliases. Moeller first released under these monikers due to Francois K’s Deep Space Media and Third Ear Recordings paying good money in exchange of exclusively releasing for them. Though steering away from past associations in his latest LP ‘Storming Heaven‘, Echologist prior releases were Big Room Techno cuts distributed on Mord and Electric Deluxe. His collaboration LP with Matrixxman, ‘The Black & White‘ LP has been a go to for functional Techno for us. ‘Just A Ride’ however is a Dub Techno track made for the main stage. Dropping in 2010 on his own Steadfast label, it is as atmospheric as a track can come.
If you’ve ever come across his Beat Pharmacy cuts you’ll know Brendon loves to add more reverb than Sven Marquardt likes rejecting people at Berghain. On his impalpable remix of Appleblim & Peverlist’s ‘Over Here’, Clone notes that Moeller ‘submerges the original elements under layers of delay and echo’. We’d say that’s a mammoth understatement. From the off, flumes of compressed white noise spurt in all directions. This is a reflection of the EP cover that features a cyclone in the ocean. Horns played in a manner that elicit a manner of reflection cavort. Chugging and groovy the bassline is mixed to provide the synth with symphony. An monumental breakdown takes place mid track, preserving only the horns on display. The track than lifts off with extra warped layers of chords moving up and down their variant octaves. If you could describe a track as a sonic representation of an F1 jet flying through a distant nebular, then this would be your pick. No wonder why the trancey Techno producer Petar Dundov included it in his Resident Advisor podcast. Continue reading →
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.
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 →
Tale of Us – Alla Sera (Kettenkarussell Triangle Player Remix)
When Tale Of Us dropped their debut 2017 LP, Endless, it wasn’t what the public had come to expect. Resident Advisor claimed it contained ‘meandering music that tries desperately to tug at your heartstrings, but never quite gets a good enough grip’. Released on Deutsche Grammophon, a classical label starting in 1898 that has also released Moritz Von Oswald and Carl Craig’s classical reshapes of their electronic tracks, Tale of Us’ was a first fully original electronic release. Whatever your thoughts on it was, you can’t fault the effort of the duo trying something more beatless. Dropping on the remix LP, featuring remixes Rødhåd, Scuba, Sebastian Mullart plus other Afterlife label mates, Kettenkarussell x Tale of Us was a match made in heaven. Their brand of quaint, mystical house you can normally find in Giegling‘s roster that has included Edward, Dwig & Traumprinz, leaks its way on ‘Alla Sera’ to provide a sanctum for deep contemplation.
We first heard Kettenkarussell, a duo consisting of Herr Koreander & Leafar Legov, in 2010 on a Little White Earbuds podcast. They describe their music being ‘so easy to develop tunnelvision listening to their calming, organic style of hypnotism — maybe a bit like ‘witnessing the scenery shifts on a lengthy train journey atop that constant click-clack’. This hypnotism is found from the off, with the moody classical piano line, enveloping the ears with gravitas. It adds a nonchalant aura than to the originals as-hoc sullen, morose nature. Soundscapes pan across the track, with a nimble version of the IDM style bass found on Plastikman’s Closer LP. Hats latter across the top, quiet enough to give the other bleeps, thunder strikes and tiger screeches time to add to the abstract nature. The brooding pulsations before the breakdown truly makes this a homelisteners delight. Letting the piano do the talking again, in a minor harmonic. The track then takes a deep dive into the abyss of the mind, as the swirling, ghostly pads create a parabola around this magical world. Continue reading →