The revival of the late 1980s New Beat sound has simmered below the surface of a variety of Underground trends for a while now. Returning at a lower tempo, its releases retain the squalling synths that crown the jolting sound. YouTube channel, label & party promoter Les Yeux Orange (translated as Orange Eyes), has been a notable supplier of tracks that fall under such strain. Proponents of the sound pushed by the French group include Romanian duo Khidja and Moscow-hailing Simple Symmetry, amongst many others. Yan Wagner’s Belgian Trip remix of Bagarre’s electroclash-inspired ‘Le Gouffre’ original is a copybook example of the modern take on the Belgian sound.
The track establishes a cadence from the get-go, with a high-cutoff synth that glazes over the kick. A quintessential reverb-infused snare and clap combo drub with no remorse. The evolving collection of high-pitch synths intermingle to create a symphony that feels Middle-Eastern inspired. However, Wagner restrains himself from ample modulation that would borrow heavily from Acid Arab’s toolkit. The vocals that enter around the three minute mark are irregular in delivery. Providing tremendous inflection, they remind of the Robotiko Rejekto’s 1987 EBM classic ‘Rejekto!‘. Reflective of the track’s spirit, Bagarre translates as brawl, while ‘Le Gouffre’ means the gulf. With a breakdown that scales down to a single element outside of percussions, the structuring of 101’s ‘Rock To The Beat‘ is dexterously applied. The end result is a sirenic admix of chaotic sounds that have been blended to chill the spine.
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 →
Paste Magazine discussed in 2018 how the Modern Rock genre has been left soul-searching whilst Post-Punk is thriving. The fractured nature of Post-Punk lead to the formation of many sub-genres. Synth-Pop, EBM, New Wave being just some that preserved its parent genre tropes, whilst interloping with electronic unorthodox sounds. These in turn gave birth to a wide variety of sounds including Italo, Bass, Techno, Cold, Dark and Minimal Wave, all of which edify each other. Listening to Peggy Gou, and even Jamie Jone’s recent remix of Teddy Pendergrass’ ‘Life Is A Song Worth Singing’, demonstrates that the style has hit the upper echelons of the underground dance scene. Desert Sound Colony, aka Liam Wachs, seems to be as fluid as any in carrying such sound. The Londoner seemed to be an ideal fit with his first releases being manufactured for Scissor & Thread. With hints of Indie & more angular Rock, they shared similarities with Bob Moses and Clockwork releases on the label. Black Light Smoke’s ‘Firefly‘ showed more ambition, however, and certainly Desert Sound Colony seems to have hit a power-boost upon hearing. ‘Lose My Rhythm’ is a track by a man at the peak of his powers. It unmistakably stands heads and shoulders, if not above, the rest.
Liam has also released under the moniker of DSC. ‘The Sorcerer‘, his 2017 release on Holding Hands Records was one that showcased his more experimental side. It had an abstractness, but minimal leaning of a Roman Flügel project. ‘Coming Round‘, released just a year later, was a return to his regular Post-Punk productions. A dance-floor belter, ‘Lose My Rhythm’ sounds like a product coming from the same studio sessions. A voluminous kick drum starts the track off before a warbling bassline kicks in. Vocals hum chorally. Sounding like a lovechild of Roland 909 and KORG MS-20, the gyrating melody is mesmeric. As one YouTube comment points out, the track sounds like an updated version of Belgian New Beat producer Richard H Kirk’s ‘Never Lose Your Shadow’. Guitar is plucked, before the main vocal enters. ‘When I Lose My Rhythm I Feel Alive’ it echoes with revelry. Naturally this paints a picture of a dancefloor bedlam. The punk influence kicks back in from the simple guitar picks heard in the breakdown. It all hits the nail on the head as it picks back up with crystallising splintered synth stabs kicking in. Hectic stuff. Continue reading →
“I just love emotion in music, I don’t really care what genre or style it comes under, to be honest” Eagles & Butterflies stated in his interview with Pulse Radio. The lush, abstract production that evokes emotion has received endorsement from labels which share his philosophy such as Noir Music, Bedrock & Southern Fried. Incorporating elements of Electronica and IBM, his sound connects the “sense of hearing… to other senses“. His latest EP release ‘Imitations of Life‘ is a return to Innervisions this year after his track ‘X‘ previously featured on Secret Weapons Part 8. With the cover featuring a plastic bag set against the background of molten lava, the statement of this being something unprecedented is clear. The leading track ‘SKETCH 7’ exemplifies his refined layering of a “complex sound world” that is ravished with grandeur .
With an opening drum arrangement that features a live instrumentation snare, an organic sound akin to Will Saul’s ‘Drama‘, leans towards the hallmark of House. The rolling bassline melts into the preceding streams of delight created by aggrandising sforzando. Having previously remixed the renowned Italian composer Ludovico Einaudi’s ‘Elements’, Barratt’s enthusiasm for complex chord-progression goes unchallenged. In such, he joins his contemporaries such as Tale of Us, Henrik Schwarz and Max Loderbauer who have offered their interpretations of Classical music releases. Such free-spirited note alignment is heard in ‘SKETCH 7’, as well as his Get Physical 2015 release ‘Sounds of Colours‘. The imperceptible phasing of topline synth drifts from one ear to the other. This adds to the already established kaleidoscopic dazement. Similarly to Patrice Bäumel’s remix of Khen’s ‘Land Of Goshen’, the track allures the listener to lose themselves in the moment with its Balearic euphony .
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 →
Last year we crowned Nina Kraviz’s exhilarating Time Warp 2018 set as one of the best featured at the festival. The more recent Eiffel Tower Cercle mix swanked unapologetic raucous Techno with shades of Acid. Elephantine basslines synthesized with a touch of elegance, a sound with which the Russian DJ has been more recently associated with. Her 2017 release ‘You Are Wrong‘ radiates toxic arpeggio lines that mollify the listeners’ ears. Meanwhile ‘Hi Josh‘ rockets you to a distant Nebula with its 16 minute runtime full of Minimal bliss. And none more evident than in ‘IMPRV’, the third track found on the majestically titled Without A Moment’s Notice, An Octopus Appeared And Devoured Everyone In Sight EP. The pioneering TRP001 release of her then newly-found label трип, ‘IMPRV’ is a cannonade coming from a maverick DJ reaching the peak of their game.
During Kraviz’s formative years she released hypnotic Minimal, Tech-House and Deep House cuts. They were fitting for the peak time of a house party as much as the bowels of fabric. Her shift towards harder styles mutates perfectly on this track. Growing up in the harsh climates of Siberia must have given Nina a robust attitude that’s reflected in the track. A husky, rolling bassline that’s supported by clunky hi hats stampedes like a steam train. In the spirit of producer’s hits such as ‘I’m Going To Get You‘, ‘Pain in the Ass‘ and ‘Ghetto Kraviz‘, vocals contribute to the layering of the track. In this instance, the viscid delay repetition of inaudible chanting adds to the tenebrous melody that hovers faintly in the background. Trance-inducing soundscapes that entice you to move. Charlotte De Witte, Chris Liebing and Marcel Dettmann would proudly endorse. The latter half of the track introduces an Acid bassline you’d expect from 1990s 303 Techno cut such as DJ Misjah & DJ Tim’s ‘Purple Road‘. Nina is fond of higher tempos seizing control of her sets’ second halves. It comes as no surprise there that the track clocks in at a 129 BPM. Opening up a quantum hole in the process, this is a brooding track used to consolidate the DJs dominance over an enraptured dancefloor. 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.
THE Nova Dream SEQUENCE – Dream 3 (DJ Yellow’s Abyssal-ienation Remix)
King Britt truly made waves in the electronic scene via his seminal 2003 remix of GusGus’s ‘David‘. It was released on Ovum, who he co-founded with Josh Wink. Though he’s been making quality tunes since the early 90’s, class is permanent. He still churns out the bangers to this day like on his Dub of Manuel Tur’s ‘Maybe Next Lifetime’ on Freerange Records. As well as creating House cuts, he’s manned the turntables for Grammy nominated hip-hop avant-gardist’s Digable Planets, producing one of my favourite Hip Hop albums ‘Adventures in Lo-Fi‘. His pre-eminence of drum machines and musician ship has seen him craft cinema scores for Michael Mann. King’s 2007 The Nova Dream Experiment album was ahead of its time, seamless melodic dreamy experience interweaving through IDM, Minimal and Melodic Techno. Compared to King’s version of Dream 3, Alain Ho aka DJ Yellow builds what is a nightmare. Completely reshaping it, and building on the devilish vocal, it’s murk breeds the emotion of a dank club at most intense.
King Britt & DJ Yellow released Alienation 3.7 on Yellow’s Poussez! label. Juno describes ‘The sound design here [being as] brilliant as is the fantastic programming, resulting in two ass shaking, mind altering journeys into the netherworld’. Clearly it was constructed during the same studio sessions, being called ‘Abyssal-ienation Remix’. It certainly sends the listener into the Abyss. After a hasty defending 3 note sax snippet, the track instantly sends you into another world. Haunting synths glide over pulsating acid synths which feel sound sharp like heavy rain. Undulating gothic pads Wolfgang Voight and Brian Eno may assemble, steeped with emotion float. It’s indicative of the atmosphere of trepidation at hand. Lawrence’s Sten alias has the same vibe. The haunting synths then take the fore as the track breakdown, and uses the sinister vocals. ‘I can feel your heart beat, as you move, and groove’ it says in a drooling languid manner. Bleepy drums kick back in, ensuring the dancefloor patrons stay in the zombie like stasis they would’ve already been induced in. Continue reading →
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 →