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 →
Hitler. Churchill. Mussolini. Some of the deceased names Latvian writer and intellectual Konstantin Raudive claims to have spoken to. A luminary of his field, Konstantin used Electronic Voice Projection – a parapsychological tool to apparently help hear from the dead. It’s something that must’ve stirred Londoner Oliver Ho to don the moniker Raudive. ‘There’s the idea that certain rhythms used in voodoo can evoke spirits’ he tells The Ransom Note. ‘I love that, and I like to approach making my music in a similar way’. Oliver is a multi-dimensional experimental musical genius. As one half of Post Punk-New Wave band The Eyes In The Heat, his love for Alternative Rock certainly has seeped into his music. He first made belting Techno under his birth name, his debut EP The Gathering being released in 1996. Now making music under his Broken English Club alias he’s playing more Noise and post-Industrial tinged Techno with the likes of Regis, Silent Servant and James Ruskin. Under his Raudive name, however, he strikes some of the most potent minimal concoctions. Steeped in hypnotism, they certainly harks back to the Raudive spectre. His remix of ‘Please Easy’ may not conjure spirits in a supernatural sense, but it certainly will help any DJ tighten their grip on a dancefloor locked in the groove.
Under his Szenario monkier, Ed Davenport’s original is full of plonks, wonks and a bassline synonymous with mid-noughties Minimal Techno. Raudive takes things a bit deeper, using his interlocutor skills to regenerate the track. Stripped back to a off-kilt percussive ‘pop’ noise, it is played in double time, then triple time. Ho has done similar on his Audio EP banger, ‘Turn It Off‘. The bass is perfunctory, but works well with its simple, rippled squelchy jabs. It’s similar to Phil Keiran’s smash record released on Cocoon ‘I Think I’m A Monster’. A presence of random laser shots, bell chimes and alarms jolt at the ear. The USP of the track is the Middle Eastern vocal sample. A bit more than just a vocal, it is twisted to become a chant which Resident Advisor says ‘make the hairs on your neck stand up.’ It is as seductive as a UKIP Leave Campaigner door-knocking in Middlesbrough. Oliver claims to love it when ‘a human voice gets mutated and we loose the linguistic part of it, that the more animal parts of our brains get activated; that we still know it is a voice even when we can’t tell what word is being said’. With the way it’s mixed, these vocal mutations carry the track in this instance. At 124bpm it spellbinds and the DJ will certainly show no penitence for releasing this sultry caprice.
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 →
Heiko Laux feat. Diego Hosteller – Canis Major Pt 1
Recently seeing Azimute and Perlon legend Sammy Dee at The Egg London, they were hippocratic to the noobs. Playing relentless minimal bass driven cuts, such as DJ Sneak, Egoexpress & A Guy Called Gerald. Once Green Velvet’s ‘Thoughts‘ hit, the dancefloor hit a height of deranged lunacy. The place was a true sweatbox, fans of Stanley’s would’ve enjoyed. Heidi Laux’s ‘Canis Major Part 1′ is one such that is bass driven, but nostalgically harks back to mid 00’s minimal engineered for such parties. As mentioned in this interview, Heiko always has a theme for his tracks. The benevolent feeling gotten from the unfathomable buzzing noises Fernweh was created on the tension surrounding the Arab world in 2014. Dropped on Josh Winks’ Ovum in 2013, ‘Canis Major’ is battle ready for those in-flight Watergate nights.
Also operating under Offshore Funk for more free spirited affairs, Heiko Laux cuts are for dancefloor drive only. The bass is crafted for such, muted and flat, it is still heaving in it’s expanse. Fan’s of Martin Buttrich & Guti will appreciate. Chords stab on the same notes as the bass to add for the groove, moving up the note scale 2 notes to help get bodies uncomfortable. Similar to Guy Gerber & Shlomi Aber’s ‘Sea of Sand‘ in the way the synths crackle, super bleepy keys jilt. It’s ultra erratic perfectly balancing the freaky nature of the track. Steamy hats add to this, and as he is also inspired me all audio noises, adds in faint field recordings of birds chirping. Quick laser stabs are fitting with ripple effects for a guaranteed warped out party. Continue reading →
Minimal can emerge under many different shapes and forms. Whether that be house, tech or funk orientated. Cesare vs Disorder is one such producer who likes to dabble with a range of styles. Maybe growing up in his native Brazil, where there is much to catch the eye, inspired such pluralism. Whatever the influence is, it sure does work. Responsible for one of the quintessential labels within the Minimal scene, Serialism Records, Cesare delivers yet another banger here. This one was released on the seminal Vakant Records, responsible for key records from Tolga Fidan,Alex Smoke and Mattias Tanzmann. A perfect fit. His Apparena Jazz EP had a Perlon mainstay Spacetravel remix. Strong and punchy, a paradigm for a 5am set at Studio Martin. ‘Dinner with Bogdan’ was our main draw however. We purchased the vinyl by the power of this track.
Rolling in like a Rominimal Rhadoo romper or Trommel release, the bass is at its warbly and wonky optimum. Rubbery and loaded in funk, the bassline is finely crafted for a party at Club De Visioniare. The definition of free thinking, but suave. Shimmering, and echoed synths are dolloped in, causing a gnarly ripple effect. Much like watching water ripple when dropping a stone in a still forest stream. Murky drawn out synths come in and out in the spirit of a Rick Wade track. The hats, however, give the track stacks of ammunition to push and pull the energy of the dancefloor. Continue reading →
Swiss producer Dachshund’s ‘Somehow’ straddles the line between Minimal and Techno in the mould of Radio Slave. Released in 2006 on Lee Van Dowski & Quenum’s label Num Records, it featured on the Floating Jesus EP. Cutting edge throughout, it’s an track that brings four seasons into one – cold, deep, warm & spritely. We first heard this track on a Ministry of Sound Australia Discotek CD, mixed by Mark Dynamix and D. Ramirez. Surrounded by other low-slung sluggers, it carried a hint of ‘dark flair’ not normally seen in Dachshund’s other tracks such as ‘Ready’, ‘Oppressors’ or ‘Give U Luv’ on Vitalik Records. The quality of the sound engineering blew our minds.
Strings reserved for a Hitchcockian thriller like the Norman Bates classic are featured from the start to give an instant sense of excitement that combines with tremor. Surrounding this is a swirl of minimal bleeps bubbling like oil in a deep fat fryer. Coming in from the distance is a cacophony rumbling like a Mac Truck engine, which then twists and flanges before detonating into life. The added weight of the sounds, ushered by the bass, give the track a real ‘Jack’. It’s a heavy affair – one for clubs filled with smoke and strobe lights filling all the spectrums of the low ends of the soundsystem. Continue reading →
As one half of the formidable Production/DJ duo Azimute, Quenum is a well known name within the Minimal appreciation circles. Co-producing one of the greatest Minimal tracks of all time in 2003’s collaboration with Luciano, ‘Funky Orange‘, as well as seminal collaborations with other Swiss collaborators Daschund & Lee Van Dowski. Quenum’s cuts tend to be as inventive as a Russian Sports Chief’s denial claims during a doping probe. We first heard ‘Vault Element’ in 2008 on a Sven Väth’s Ninth Season CD, and it was a track rather unconventional even for the conceptive genre of Minimal. Ever since, it has been one of our go-to tracks when introducing a novice to Minimal Techno.
‘Vault Element’ makes one feel like they’re encased within a vault which in this context is the dancefloor. In the majority of his tracks Quenum lashes the mix with a plethora of percussion and it’s no different here, with the melody carried by a noise created through a hollow but aluminous object hitting a desk. Chopped up mutant voices belch ‘time’, adding a real sense of eeriness to compliment the off kilt piano stabs. As soon as your ears start to gauge what’s going down is when the the track truly unravels. Piercing the cerebral like a vengeful mob hitman are the strident laser stabs. Sounding like they’re meant for a hard trance track, slowed down these have the force of a plasma beam intentionally placed to send the dancer into a galactic trance. Continue reading →
Fuse London is a slow-burning Minimal, Tech House and Deep House label that’s on a gradual rise to the top. Carrying as much force as a glacier down a mountain – its steady pace is eating up all it encounters. Central to it all is the theme of using a husky dubbed bass. The vocal on this 9 minute mark of founders’ Enzo Siragusa & Seb Zito Sankeys Ibiza set, ‘If it sounds forced I won’t do it’ pretty much sums up the label philosophy to date. Released in 2014 Anthony Difrancesco’s ‘Level 3’ seamlessly matches this cushy sound, showcasing the beauty of underground music. Its a setting of various sounds kept in unison by a locked groove.
Murmurings of people and field noises in the back ground lift the senses from the off. A signature Fuse dub bass kicks in with fervid shuffling hats. Strings appear from nowhere sounding like they’re from a Stravinsky musical. Harps begin to strum, crescendoing up and down through the track while adding a faraway vibe to the track. You might have expected a standard Deep House cut, yet the teched out synth stabs, which sound like an intoxicated robot, rubbish that thought away instantly. What’s being played is a 3 note major-minor-major pattern in recurring short bursts. This ensures the dancer is back on the ground head down, fandangoing side to side. Continue reading →
Scorched Earth (Barac’s Interpretation) – Konrad Black
Released on the more minimal minded Berlin based Meander Label, Romanian producer Barac delivers a delicious dancefloor ’Interpretation’ of Konrad Black’s Techno, Breakbeat and IDM concoctions. And that’s the thing – it seems to be an interpretation of the 3 tracks on the EP, making it extra special. The final result as deejay.de says is ‘ a deep and hypnotic journey through space’. If you like hypnotic minimal, you will love this track.
Barac is one for using experimental sounds and still keeping them dancefloor ready. Streamlining and refining the grating low end of Sycho Te Alyn, on top of this a lot goes on. There are harpy charms, cricket noises, 16-Bit video game alarms, zips and bongos amongst other mystical noises. It’s packed yet all played in synergy and at the at the right time. It’s an incredible trip ‘down the rabbit hole’ kind of experience. All the while keeping in line with the original track’s experimental sounds with their use of field recordings. On top of this the epic cinematic strings from Sycho Te Alyn that seem to blanket all these noises. As though they descend from high to conduct the symphony, reminding it to keep in order with it’s restrained nature. Continue reading →