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 →
The early 1990s was an interesting time for the New York underground scene. Larry Levin was living his final years, seasoned clubbers reminisced about the good times of Studio 54, while Garage House moved across the Atlantic to the United Kingdom. Then came Moby, and brought a fresh dimension of ‘rave’ into the mix. A lonely inhabitant of an abandoned factory based in skid row outskirts of Manhattan’s Lower East Side, he was inspired by fringe culture. A regular DJ at the Mars Club, he introduced the locals to his innovative sound. Though ‘Go‘ birthed the producer’s career, ‘Next Is The E’ was always the set-starter, according to his 2016 autobiography ‘Porcelain‘.
The track opens up with a drum pattern similar to 1980s Hip Hop hits such as Big Daddy Kane’s ‘Ain’t No Half Steppin‘ or Eric B. & Rakim’s ‘Paid in Full‘ that simmered its influence into 1990s. A hyperkinetic bass loops, an inheritance of Moby’s teenage years involvement in DIY punk bands. A masterful use of stripped down, sampled vocals have painted Moby’s picturesque discography. In ‘Honey‘ he sampled Bessie Jones, Boy Blues’ ‘Joe Lee’s Rock’ laid the fundamentals for ‘Find My Baby‘ & Vera Hall’s voice conducted ‘Natural Blues‘. Here he combines male ‘Heart-beating‘ chants with female ‘I Feel It‘ and ‘Yeah‘, all which sound related to the other. The breakdown, however, is the highlight of the track. Stripped of the bass, the kick and soft hi-hats accompany radiant ambient pads. Moby is gifted in soundscapes, none more evident than in ‘God Moving Over The Face of The Waters‘ which scored as the OST for Michael Mann’s 1995 movie ‘Heat‘. The melody coalesces, with repetition of ‘These are the odds‘ to raise the dopamine levels before all comes crashing into a drop. The preluding elements collide with the new vocal chants to complete a collage of rhapsodies, all dancing in unison to bring down the soundtrack of paradise.
Galcher Lustwerk’s I Neva Seen is a hip-house track with a twist. The track’s deep, with the vocal stirring into the beat like warm milk pours into espresso to form a perfect flat white. Short but strong, punchy and velvety smooth. Whizzing to the upper stratosphere of the underground in 2013 via his ‘100% Lusterwerk’ mixtape of his own originals, I Neva Seen is a true head boppin cut. Like some of Burial’s jams, some tracks are ideal for a walk in an urban environment. This is one.
Silky smooth chords sway in lazily, making the listener feel relaxed. It has an old school feel but feels brightened by the hats and knocks in the background. Field recordings of a wave kicks ensuring the track sounds extra wavy. Galcher’s use of vocals are too dope. Clearly influenced on the leaned out rap style of fellow New Yorker A$AP Rocky, Glacher raps about being blown away by a girls drug habit, across town, midtown and down town. Something ‘I Neva Seen’ before he alludes. A fitting companion for the beat.
New York. It’s a cold winter night of 1994. Most of locals get their music from the radio, or from mixtapes swapped with friends. The Brooklyn Bridge shooting brought terror, yet could not break the spirit of a true New Yorker. Digable Planets won a Grammy for Best Rap Performance bringing pride to the city. It is in such context that the Manhattan-based Nite Grooves record label released LY’s ‘Back 2 Zanzibar’. The uplift given by the King Street Mix fleshes out the jazzy sound of the original. This is a track that depicts the streets of New York filled with narrow alleyways, neon-sign filled bars and active night time activity.
“New york, new york”
The lyrics are simple “Lets go to the Zanzibar” being rehearsed like a graduation speech. Yet the contrast between the uptempo beat and the melancholy synths brings thought into the dance. Bringing out the raw spirit that characterises the decade, the drums sound primitive yet crispy. Above it all, the saxophone, an instrument associated with New York’s Jazz greats such as Henry Threadgill & Lee Konitz, is given a free-roam. It is almost as if LY uses its independence as symbolism of the city’s nature. In the home of the Big Apple and the Statue of Liberty, you’re in charge of your will. Continue reading →
Mood II Swing feat. Fonda Rae – Living In Ecstacy (Groove Mix Edit)
Maxed out in musicality, Francois K’s 1996 mix of Mood II Swing’s Living In Ecstacy is a classic track with the bright light vibes lightening up any dancefloor it hits. As stated in Fact magazine, Mood II Swing have a “uniquely percussive syncopation to the groove.” Always with a swing, there something a little off kilt about each track which make them shine louder than most, just like this one. Francois K empties the track of a bit of percussion, and ups the bass for a true masterpiece. It is a true reflection of an uptown New York City feel finely tuned for plays in legendary club Paradise, Pacha, Rex Club or even his own Deep Space party.
Fred Peterkin’s Black Jazz Consortium alias is one he says he uses for making music which resnates exactly how he feels. BJC music is a melting pot of house, tech and jazz making it such a spellbinding project. Look to The Future was a track on his 2007 album RE:Actions of Light released on his Soul People Music label, and in line with all of Fred’s material it’s deeper than the Mariana Trench.
Eerie and extraterrestrial, synths sounding like filtered screeches of a Banshee hovering over earthy low end plodding bass. Peterkin loves a good bongo, and the those played in this track truly bring it to life slamming the other weird elements down with it for dance floor grooving. Ambient pads cruise in underneath a deity like vocal chanting ‘look to the future’. It’s a great amalgamation of jazziness and Michael Mannesque movie soundtrack.
Going by the vocals, Fred must have been feeling a bit philosophical when making this cut. ‘Look to the Future’ is a call to action for the listener to dive into a meditate state. Also Perfect for a low lit dance floor at 5am when the dancers are looking to stay lucid that bit longer.
Not to be confused with Marc Kinchen, Sweden-based M.K. VII (also known as Mark Seven) has been releasing music since the late 90s.
Fast-forward to 2016 and you’ll find that the spirit of the 90s NY house scene has remained to be an integral part of M.K’s production.
The vocal sample is based around the recreation of a telephone conversation cut up live on NYC Kiss FM’s legendary Tony Humphries. It feels like a nostalgic throwback to the golden era of New York’s underground scene.
The layering of the track is simple, yet effective. Synths sprinkle down halfway through to mark the subtle excitement of knowing that memories will be made.
So the track is perfect to play when marking the transition from your warm up to the main event of your night out.