LY – Back 2 Zanzibar (King Street Mix)
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
Theo Parrish – Heal Yourself and Move
Chicago Legend Theo Parrish has a reputation for delivering outlandish, yet sleek cuts. Always off kilt, his distinctive sound stays recognisable. Mixing in the Jazziness that symbolises much of the Chicago sound akin to contemporaries like Ron Trent, ‘Heal Yourself and Move’ is something special. It’s meditative. Released in 1998 on his classic album ‘First Floor’, distributed by the ground-breaking UK label Peacefrog Records, this track is the pinnacle of electronic and organic synergy.
The 118bpm makes the aura woozy from the off. It’s a low key affair, the improvised sounding midi bass trembles for 40 seconds before a sub bass and salt shakers kick in and out. It makes you want to stretch out and get ready for a good dance. The pace increases with the background clicks growing in whilst a man who sounds like he’s warming up in the background hums. Together you get an intoxicating mix, the overtone plonky keys providing a real experimental edge. 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.
Model 500 – I Wanna Be There (Original Mix)
Juan Atkins’ Model 500 project is one that is not just an alias, but an alias that embodies the culture and concept of classic Detroit techno with its futuristic leanings. Released in 1996 on R&S records it is one that just does not get old, with it’s infectious vocals and it’s journeying through a year 4000 city-world feeling some Techno tracks can give you.
Cruising at pace, it’s airy synths that swell around the simple bass line don’t seem top filling at first, but this is deceptive through the way that it’s filtered. It is like a space ship corkscrewing, and by this giving it a real momentous force. For Model 500, Juan does his own vocals. The looping vocal tells the listener ‘I wanna be there, be with you’ validates the track sounding as though it is trying to get to get to it’s destination at rapid speed. Wooden flute sounds flutter in and out, adding an extra layer of Detroit musicality to the track with it’s jazziness. It’s very heady, helping the track feel a sense of freedom like the space craft is weaving and out of the city scape. Continue reading
DA Rebels – House Nation Under A Groove
Jamie Jones & the Hot Creations crew reputation for releasing chunky funky tech house basslines undoubtedly come from production akin to DA Rebels. The DJ duo are Chicago house patron saints, made up of Curtis Alan Jones aka. Cajmere aka Green Velvet and Lidell Townsell. Together they carry a legacy of essential early-house releases that paved the road. You can find quite a few Townsell solo releases on the iconic house label Trax Records, including this acid melter. Jones’ residue is self-evident to those interested in the genre.
Its mind-boggling to think that the track was released all the way back in 1989. Released as part of DA Rebel’s D.I.U. (Deep In Underground) cut, this is unapologetically a house track. Continue reading
The System – You’re in My System (Atmospheric Vocal Mix)
The Kerri Chandler, Jerome Sydenham bomb of a track ‘You’re in My System’ made it’s way back into my train of thought during Seth Troxler’s 2018 Timewarp mix. The track is a great mix of NYC house, making one want to get up, get glammed and get out.
There’s not much spacing for mixing from the start of the track – it gets going straight away. The classic deep house synths you can tell were made by Kerri. Perfect for a classy Mayfair cocktail bar.
Round Two – New Day (feat. Andy Caine)
The Godfathers of Dub Techno, Basic Channel aka Mortitz Von Oswald & Mark Ernestus all hail from Berlin. Here they deliver what must be one of the most compelling pieces of music in the history of Deep House. Off the back of a string of memorable releases made in under their Basic Channel, Maurizio and Rhythm & Sound guises, the vision and execution to compose such a variant release under the Round 2 guise confirmed that these producers were as legit musicians as they come.
Made in 1994, the track tells a story about an on and off relationship. Starting with a dubby sub bass, and a bassy melodic pad similar to that of a Chaz Damier or Ron Trent cut. Once the warm, drawn out pads come in, you can sense something special is about to take place. As though sunrise is about to hit the beach. The vocal that then proceeds to just calmly stroll into party surely must be the best Deep House vocals in existence.
Liaison D. – He Chilled Out (Club Mix)
Though the rhapsody of 1990s rave culture is no longer with us, its spirit lives on through the sets & releases of current DJs. One of the most important relics left behind is John Digweed and Sasha’s Northern Exposure mix released in 1996. The iconic release oozes transcendental essence that was so prominent throughout the decade. Exceptional mixing is combined with an inclusion of some refreshing selection of tracks. It is in such a context, that Liaison D. – He Chilled Out feels almost like a lost track from the duo’s mix. The new age-influenced intro ambience mirrors Keiichi Suzuki’s Satellite Serenade used by the DJs as their opening track.
Joe Smooth – Promised Land (Club Mix)
Sometimes you have to remember to give the classics the due they’re owed. Though millions have heard this Joe Smooth – Promised Land track on GTA San Andreas’ fictional house radio station SF-UR, many are unaware of its legacy on the history of house music.
Smooth’s inspiration for the track came to him while touring in Europe with Farley “Jackmaster” Funk. Together they spread the good news of house amongst its newfound followers. Smooth, being almost a Moses-like figure, found himself leading the fans across to a new world of the underground that replaced the thirst for violence with love.
The production of the track is of course is immaculate. Chicago house drums accompany crispy-clean hi hats. Smooth even plays arounds with toms halfway through the track. The vocals are choir-like, preaching the message of inclusivity. Smooth certainly lives up to his name with a record such as this.
Let’s hope that in the future, house producers will remain to be inspired by the spirit of this track. We need more electronic music that is equally forward-thinking as it is spiritually rich.
DVS1 – Evolve [Hush 01]
As one YouTube comment put it DSV1 – Evolve carries a “bassline like liquid gold“.
With this first release on his label Hush, DSV1 brings a techno track that rattles the core of your brain, taking you on a trip that does not require hallucinogenics to take you higher. One wonders how many warehouse parties played this banger back in the summer of 2011. Throwback Thursday tracks are on the menu. #tbt
Listen to it here.