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 Webster – Freaky Bitches
UK Garage was born out in the early 90s and had a heavy presence in the early 00s. DJ EZ, Artful Dodger and So Solid Crew all became British household names, as the genre’s 2-step, feel-good and palatable sound topped the charts. It is a sound that is still regularly peppered on top of sets by Dan Ghenacia, Shonky & Dyed Soundsystem‘s group Apollonia as well as Seth Troxler. With such substantial exposure, it would make any music nerd keen to trace down its roots, which originate from the East Coast of the US. And its influence features heavily in Lee Webster’s sound, with similarly delectable smatterings of soulful vocals. Tracks like ‘All Night Vibe‘ and ‘I’ll Be Your Toy‘ beseech one to call back to the era. ‘I guess my first introduction to underground dance music would have been the UK garage and US house scene in England.’ he tells Music Is 4 Lovers. It certainly seeps into his music. And it’s all unashamedly ostentatious. Much can be said of ‘Freaky Bitches’, with less of an influence of the aforementioned soul, but with just as much swing.
Released on the renowned Glasgow Underground label in 2012, the track was the A1 to a four pack that contained two banging Garage-inspired Deep House tracks. The EP also featured a timeless disco cut, showcasing Lee’s production prowess. ‘Freaky Bitches’, however is a no-hold-barred party cut that is akin to putting the pedal to the medal in a Lamborghini on the German Autobahn. Constantly rotating pitter-patter drums are mixed in with single note tribal drums & knocks. This masks the cheeky shenanigans which proceed to take place. In cue with the sub-bass, a manipulated vocal taken from Notorious B.I.G’s ‘Nasty Boy’, too naughty to repeat in this review, set a raunchy premonition. The track breaks down with delectable Deep House synth stabs. An acidic bassline, more deep and dirty than a Paradise DC10 party at 7am, kicks in and obliterates all that goes before it. A true party masterpiece. 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
Audiojack – Inside My Head
The Guardian ran an article in 2011 titled ‘How dance label Crosstown Rebels bounced back‘. Didn’t realise it had fallen off. A label that has ebbed and flowed with the times, there’s no denying it has also been a trendsetter, launching the careers of Jamie Jones, Seth Troxler and Art Department. Head Honcho Damian Lazarus has been on a run of sorts recently, with the punishing releases coming from the Arthur Baker & Rockers Revenge, as well as the atmospheric Aether. The same newspaper recently featured the leading contender for ‘world’s greatest party‘, Get Lost based in Miami. With Audiojack’s ‘Inside My Head’ we could have one of the track of the year’s on our hands. Releasing EPs on 20/20 Vision, Tsuba and Hot Creations, the duo’s style is uncompromising in it’s lean rawness. So it comes as no surprise that their latest Tech-House release reached number one on the Beatport Charts. The Ibiza-based, Leeds-raised duo bring their best in what you can only describe as euphoric.
Listening to the Audiojack’s 2016 release ‘Vibrate‘ proves that the lads are exemplar at providing heavily echoed vocals. The track opens up with a female vocal that’s sampled from Cuba Gooding’s disco-funk classic ‘Happiness Is Just Around The Bend‘. Echoing ‘There’s something going round inside my head‘ the vocals are spacey and add to the kindred nature of the track. ‘We knew the vocal back from an old progressive track in the 90s, but why it suddenly kept looping round Jamie’s head we don’t know” explain Audiojack to Magnetic Mag. ‘Now it’s your turn to endure the loopy repetitive vocal of this low swung proggy groover‘. The Wurlitzer keys bring this spellbinding wall of synth that brings a trancey atmosphere. It’s akin to ‘that‘ track from Solomun’s Cercle set. The boys truly love their production. Speaking with 6AM Group about their infatuation for Native Instruments, they state ‘Max4cats recently brought out a semi modular plugin called Pallas which is so much fun routing one thing into another and modulating stuff in strange ways to get some really out there sounds‘. These quaint sounds can be traced in the track, combining manipulation of guitar strings, western Asian percussion and screeches of a jet engine. Unadorned yet devastating. Continue reading
tINI – Awakenings Easter Special
If you’re a Techno pilgrim walking down the annual path of brain-warpdom to each major festival, up near the peak of the list will be the Dutch Awakenings Festival. Based in a club that hosts parties, the event is located in Eindhoven, usually at the gloriously imposing and mammoth venue of Gashouder. If you come across tINI & The Gang videos that have featured Daniela La Luz, Bill Patrick or any others of the crew, where tINI made her name, you’ll discover a completely different setting. In this set, however, she delivers an enchanting warm-up set which is more gloopy lava than a forceful flamethrower.
In her recent interview with RA Exchange, the Munich-born DJ states ‘I don’t do sub genre’s, just House and Techno‘. Clinging to the fundamentals, her style transcends all labels and is sedative, if not immersive, at times. Weaving through the dub techno leanings of Moreon and Baffa’s ‘Cloud 15th‘, Terekke’s ‘Bank 3‘ brings a lo-fi filtered Deep House to bring comfort to the ears. An ID-less track on 26 mins brings a East End Dubs like buoyancy that operates with a sensuality due to it’s nonchalant vocal sample. Looking by the amount of ‘Track ID’ comments on Soundcloud, it’s a track which some may sell a liver for. Going a bit left-field on the 40 minute mark is the classic Underground Resistance mix of Maurizio’s ‘Ploy‘. The second half of the mix get’s a bit more jacking and viscous on the drums with bangers by EMG, Mr Tophat & Art Alfie and Paul Jackson. Scattering flakes of trippyness on top, tINI finishes with Josh Wink’s classic ‘Don’t Laugh‘, a track that ironically features a vocal of a guy laughing his head off. Continue reading
Igor Vicente – Mystericordia (Ryan Crosson Remix)
Being part of a collective that was once referred to as “House music’s most lucrative supergroup“ is some feat. Such was the title given to Visionquest in the early 2010s. Part of the renowned ensemble alongside Lee Curtiss & Shaun Reeves (as well as formerly Seth Troxler), Ryan Crosser has always shared his crews ambition to push the boundaries of textures, while retaining an enthralling rhythm. His own production can be best described as a liquefaction of Techno, Tech-House and Minimal. None is more evident than in his 2014 remix of Igor Vicente’s ‘Mystericordia’, an unapologetic revelry of the mind-expanding sounds.
Igor Vicente’s original takes a more subtle approach, maintaining alluring mellowness throughout. Crosson’s interpretation on the other hand awakens the spirit of modern Detroit, elevating the intensity into benumbing levels.Conjuring up his contribution to Visionquest Records Bricolage EP, Crosson claims to source sound samples from the mundane, everyday life. “I used field recordings from the street, sometimes people would be doing construction on my building” he explained to Vice back in 2014. Nonetheless, the DJ’s processing in the studio interprets the banal in a aphotic fashion. The first half of the track is an amalgamation of white noise, isolated grand piano notes and comatosed vocal echoes. A misty, aquatic atmosphere often associated with his longtime collaborator and friend Cesar Merveille has clearly rubbed off on Crosson. Meanwhile, the spaced-out thumping of a kick repeatedly increases in tempo. This is almost a reflection of the dancer’s heartbeat, about to enter a delirious state. Once the standard 4/4 looping of the drumming percussion clangours into the mix, its impact is thunderous. The heavy sidechaining of the choleric bassline dynamites the listener into the extrasolar. 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
Maayan Nidam – Don’t Know Why
‘To influence a person is to give him one’s own soul’ proclaimed Oscar Wilde in his bookThe Picture of Dorian Gray and Other Stories. That can certainly be said of the indomitable Perlon Records. With a propensity to release experimental and obscure cuts, it’s possibly the most influential Minimal label of them all. Releases such as The Mole’s ‘Lockdown Party (DJ Sprinkles’ Crossfaderama)‘, Minimal Man’s ‘The Chicken Store‘, and Binh’s ‘Noah’s Day‘ are just drops in the ocean of the many far-fetched bombs released. A lot of their cuts like Margaret Dygas’ ‘Even 11‘ are purely for after-hours or headphone listening only. Many of these have been release on their Superlongevity series. Seeing label stalwart Sammy Dee drop cuts by Egoexpress and Guillaume & The Coutu Dumonts at The Egg last summer was a reminder why their acclaimed Get Perlonized parties receive such high fanfare. Their more conventional 4/4 releases certainly get equally as much praise. Israeli by birth, a Berliner via New York and Amsterdam, Maayan Nidam is a producer synonymous with trippy drugged out releases. Having previously released albums on Candeza, and Powershovel Audio, her most recent third LP ‘Sea of Thee‘ landed on Perlon. ‘Don’t Know Why’ was her first of four releases on Perlon. A groggy affair, it is quintessential for DJs looking to calm things down on the dance floor whilst keeping a stomp.
The track chugs at a 120 BPM, much like how Clive Henry plays his sets. Woody drums tap away giving a makeshift off the cuff jamming production. Feel-good tambourine claps jingle with brightness. It displays power in its raw simplicity, much like Motown tracks like Marvin Gaye’s ‘How Sweet It Is‘ or Bill Wither’s ‘Kissing My Love‘. Alongside this is the powerfully floppy electro-tinged bass. It’ll ensure not one body stands stiff in the building. Basslines like this make tracks skittish. Audion’s fine catalogue as well as Tommy Vicari Jnr’s phenomenal ‘Moy Lally In D‘ bring a similar rubbery dance. Due to the slower BPM, the cut makes it the nifty DJ tool to transition out of an Electro or Nu Disco cut. The longer the track goes, the louder the womps get. It’s a jolting experience. Rickety pianos tinkle in, bringing a countenance to the shindiggery. Being an odd incision, it’s one normally heard in the overcast weather soaked music of Christopher Rau, Moon or Benjamin Brunn. This works, however, and you can see a Ricardo Villalobos’ type figure playing along whilst on the dancefloor. Or in this case, singing along to the drawling ‘Don’t Know Why’ Vocals. An intoxicating affair.
Maayan’s Boiler Room sets are well stocked in similarly funkadelic tracks. Unfortunately the cameraman doesn’t give the crowd much attention, because they’d surely be locked in Alice’s Wonderland. Nidam has stated that her music is inspired by the phenomenon of dreams. Whatever dream breathed life into this track was certainly one of untroubled spirit.
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