Sometimes collaborations can take years of nurturing to come into fruition and hit the record store shelves. Such was the case for the latest High Hoops EP release Tokyo Horoki Part 2. Having graduated from Red Music Academy in 2013, Nic “Pleasure Cruiser” Liu found himself proofreading artist interviews for Tokyo Digital Music Syndicates‘ now defunct Wasabeat digital download music store. Amongst those many interviews two stood out; one was with Soichi Terada and the other with Keita Sano. After being told by fellow office colleagues that it would be ‘muzukashii’ to meet up with Keita (let alone book him for a gig), Cruiser persisted to message the Okayama-hailed producer regularly on Facebook and receiving the odd response.
Eventually, summer came and gave Cruiser the chance to see Keita play at Oppa La, a high-rise venue in Fujisawa just south of Tokyo that has hosted respected names such as DJ Nobu, KZA & Force of Nature. The day involved drinking beers, munching on the club’s Japanese curry and dancing to Ray Mang‘s effortless weave of house, disco and techno. With the sun beginning to set things turned psychedelic. As Cruiser watched the sea peacefully lap the shore with his friend Raul, he spotted a fellow foreigner. Jokingly trying to work out why the ‘English language tutor’ would be hanging out here, on closer inspection it became clear that this was none other than the Prins Thomas. The Norwegian space-disco wizard was standing next to Kenji Takimi who was about to sign Keita to his label Rett I Fletta. Continue reading →
In our commentaries, we’ve rightly (or wrongly, depending on who you ask) proclaimed Drumcodeism to be the predominantly influential form in the world of Techno today. Candied, yet euphoric, it feeds the symbolism of what social media represents today. Fleeting yet memorable. 10 years ago though, that face was a different beast. Integral to the rise of the Berghain sound, Sandwell District was Techno’s tour de force. An international supergroup made up of Function, Female, Silent Servant and Regis. Needing no greater accolade, Billboard Magazine, of all places, give the underground heroes props where it is due stating ‘Sandwell District’s influence on underground techno can hardly be overstated’. Going on to say their style is ‘deep, dark, hypnotizing beats that kick up an introspective and brooding energy with minimal clutter’ it accurately describes this magnus opus of mixing. They gave all Resident Advisor fanboys a Holy Grail of a mix with this one.
Overall, the podcast carries an over arching droning yet epically cinematic feel to it. We know that the term ‘journey’ gets brandished about, but this is the definition. The deep space feel reaches a peak when Marcel Dettman’s edit of the crew’s ‘NA/VVARIENCE III‘ makes the listener feel like they’re on the dusty desert planes of a post apocalyptic moon that’s just been devastated by war. Bleak yet beautiful. The thing that makes this mix so great is it spans many eras of Techno. Kicking off what must be a top contender for greatest sequence of 6 tracks mixed. First, Choice’s iconic 1992 track ‘Acid Eiffel’. Second, Moritz Von Oswald’s rework of ‘Watamu Beach‘. Third, Peter Van Hoesen’s ‘Face of Smoke‘ which by this point you’re saying to yourself ‘Lord save me, this is so good my brain is melting’. Fourth, a track by Robert Hood released once again in 1992 ‘The Vision‘ before mixing in the fifth and sixth – DVS1’s ‘Running‘ with the acapella of Daniel Bell’s ‘Losing Control‘. Heavy Duty much? You betcha. Continue reading →
As small of an island it may be, Iceland has produced some real pacesetters for the world of music. Sigur Ros, Björk and Exos are just some the names that can be drawn from the hat. ‘Being super bored and stuck on an island…could be the answer’ claims Bjarki, the latest international export from the country’s Underground scene. Another longstanding name that has been bubbling above the surface levels since the mid 1990s is the Reykjavík duo GusGus. A collaboration of Biggi Veira and Daníel Ágúst, the act has been responsible for a number of deviceful hits that include ‘Arabian Horse’ and ‘Over’, as well as a a memorable King Britt remix of their track ‘David’. Their signature parading sound is often affiliated with powered vocals. ‘Fuel’, however, further spotlights the duo’s instrumentation capabilities. Coming from their 2018 album ‘Lies Are More Flexible’ it is a slow-footed synthesis giant.
Released by Oroom, the track can be best described as being a 110 BPM fusion of Trance, Ambient & Electro. Biggi claims the introduction to the acclaimed Belgian composer Jean Michel Jarre‘s album ‘Oxygen’ broadened his perspective to the possibilities of musical composition. The sound of that particular era is returned to here. The track echoes the aesthetic of the album that aims to explore ‘strange chord structures and arpeggios of the old synth wave stuff back in 78-82‘. Subversively, however, elements of future sounds are incorporated, with 1990s Progressive House breakdowns taking centre stage. Transcending of genres has always been common trait for the duo, bolstering a discography that includes everything from synth pop to dub techno. The track’s underlining feature that glues all the fragments together is the perpetual modulation. Shifting its form even through the introductions of Cattáneonian vocals and layered synths, the ever-changing intonation gives the track its spirit. Continue reading →
Leftereis Kalabakas aka Lee Burton is part of the new wave loop-based contingency of producers. And for the diehards out there, they get it right 99 percent of the time. $50 2-side EPs on Discogs are quite the norm. Tasteful yet groovy, the sound is typified by its ease of mixing in and out of practically any track. Part of the fabric, Sakro’s ‘No Time to Explain‘ was a bomb when it came out. Lee Burton has certainly fanned the flames of such sound with his cracking releases on John Dimas’ Elephant Moon and Dorian Paic’s revered raum..musik. Things weren’t always like that for the Greek producer, being first a guitarist and bassist for progressive rock and jazz-rock fusion groups. His debut LP, ‘Busy Days for Fools‘, was a rock/house/experimental mash-up where his musicianship truly shone. Matthew Dear and Bob Moses would approve. Such meticulous craftsmanship can be heard on his naughty downtempo track, ‘NDN’.
‘NDN’ featured on the 2017 ‘Various Artist’ EP that was released by DisDat, a New York based label owned by Elon Admony. Drawing experience from being an instructor at SAE Institute, Burton’s track is a masterclass at making so many elements sound so nominal. Speaking with Clubber Greece, Kalabakas claims his must-have machine has to be the Roland Juno 106. ‘It was the first analog synth I took since 2008 and I think I’ve used it I think it what I’ve written ever since’ he tells the magazine. That Roland minor synth line is heard from the start with a minor keyline oozing opulent class. This is music primed for The Ritz as much as a Williamsburg’s pop up bars. As a breakbeat drum pattern adds swing, tumbling triangle percussions provide that nighttime feel. This track is a funk lover’s delight. There is a G-Funk element to the bass, with real playfulness in its intent. The end result is very reminiscent to one of our other tracks we loved, The Abstract Eye’s ‘Nobody Else‘. Stringed synths overlay, whilst additional alien sounds thrown into the mix add to the after-hours sound.
Lee Burton has truly found his sound with feel good-bangers such as ‘15 30 (The Jam)‘ and the heady-tripper ‘W.S.Y.A’. Despite this, we would certainly not get in his way if he wished to release an LP of downtempo bangers equal in quality to ‘NDN’.
It is wild to think that a decade has passed since Keysound began to stretch the creative boundaries of 130bpm Bass music. Indebted to the underground dubstep sound, the label’s notorious discography is treasured with releases such as Skream’s ‘Sweetz (2005 Flex)‘, LHF’s ‘Keepers of The Light‘ and Sully’s ‘Escape‘, just to name a few. While speaking to Red Bull Music Academy label-boss Blackdown claimed ‘dark 130’ was ”just a subheading in a blog post”. However, it has since evolved to become a tagline closely associated with the roster. “The Hunger” EP, Blackdown’s brand new release, comes as his fourth installment of the Rollage series. Transcending the boundaries of Jungle and Bass, the track is a culmination that demonstrates how far the London-based label has come since its inception in 2005.
The EP brings four tracks with manifold intensities that are uniformed by a shared tempo. ‘The Cycle’ takes the path of exploring the darker side of 130bpm rollage. Successive to the project’s atmospheric intro, the track is unapologetic in its ferociousness. A dystopian shade created by funerial pads is coloured by the laser-riddled soundbank that is featured spasmodically throughout the runtime. Blackdown’s journalistic background saw him interview Loefah back in 2009, where he highlighted his ardor for ”echoes of jungle’‘ in dubstep-fused tracks. Though the formulaic drum-patterns of the sub-genre may be absent in this instance, its mistified framework serves as an delirious prelude to a Jungle track mix-in. In such, the release is guaranteed to serve as a revered weapon by leading selectors in the scene.
Dimi Angélis & Jeroen Search – Our Life With The Wave
Russian poet Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov hits the spot when he writes ‘The breaking of a wave cannot explain the whole sea.’ Creatively speaking, this can translate to one inspiration inspiring an infinite amount. According to VICE, Mike Huckaby’s first My Life With The Wave sample CD provided 128 AIFF samples of a synth enthusiast favourite, the Waldorf Wave. There’s even a Discogs list of releases that was made with the first edition, listing 31 EPs alone. It lists some seminal Deep House producers such as Ernie, Dubbyman, Rick Wade and Tonni Lionni to use the pack. It’s Dimi Angelis and Joreon Search’s names however that raises the most eyebrows. Being two Techno leaning producers, you wouldn’t have coupled the pair with Deep House. However, the 2009 release on Hamburg label Smallville, is a glorious excursion in meticulous yet driving music.
Little White Earbuds describes the track as being ‘music so entrancing it becomes possible to lose all sense of time, until the dawn light begins to seep through the blinds‘. Earlier collaborations between the two, like ‘Sleepless‘ though in the more Detroit end of Techno, show that this duo are adept at both the discombobulating and functional spectrums. ‘Our Life With The Wave’ though is as powerful as two planets colliding. The verbose bass is wide and punching humming along with grace. Lower acid squelches melodically sit perfectly with the sub ass rumbles. The hats hiss panoramically, hypnotically spaced out distempering a place to get lost in. Dramatically, billowing chords are then delayed and panned, to then be held down theatrically. It’s an incredible contrast between the bass and mids that deserves true applause. Continue reading →
Butch – The Spirit feat. Hohberg (Adriatique’s 7am Remix)
The concept of a remix dedicated to a specified hour is a recurring motif in the Underground scene. Some examples include Christian Smith & Wehbba’s 3am Mix of Laurent Garnier Techno classic ‘Flashback, as well as After Hours’ ‘Waterfalls‘ (4am Mix) and Subb-an’s 5am Dub of ‘Move‘ . The idea behind the approach suggests that a certain sound in production can be association with a particular time of the night. Swiss duo Adriatique have tackled such approach in their remake of Butch’s Watergate Records release ‘The Spirit’. Coming from Butch’s 2015 album ‘Songs About Unconsciousness‘, the Adriatique remix deconstructs the original’s Big Room approach into something more contemplative.
Titled ‘The Spirit’, the track was influenced by the idea of collective essence. However, while Butch’s version feels like a tribute to the soul of clubbing, the Adriatique take is more introspective. The track is characterised by gentleness throughout, whether its the timid kick or even the piano rolls that hesitantly enter the frame at the breakdown. Though percussive samples add lighter shade to the mood, they play a secondary part to the gracefully looped arp. Core to the overall atmosphere is the ghostly pads that pierce the inner depths of the mind with a sense of saudade. In such, the intensifying progression of the original is replaced with a meditative reflection. This is further amplified in the extended 15 minutes edit of the remix that lets the listeners mind simmer in its sombreness. Continue reading →
‘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 →
“The mysterious Hugh Betcha who features on Pan-Pot‘s newest single most likely takes his name from Canada’s sketch comedy masterpiece SCTV” writes RA reviewer Todd. L. Burn. ‘Hugh Betcha’s Night Gallery’, [an episode from the show], is an apt name for the type of atmosphere that ‘Charly’ creates over its nine minutes’. ‘Charly‘, was the now Techno-Don Pan-Pot’s first mega-hit. Released in 2007 on Anja Schneider‘s Mobilee it encapsulated the underground scene in it’s inveterate and spiralling style. Who is Hugh Batcha you may ask? None other than Mike Shannon. The Montrealer has been one of the most prolific producers and even pioneers. His name stands strong alongside the likes of Luciano, Akufen, Steve Bug & Jay Haze of the super early breedle Minimal sound synonymous with the mid 2000s underground scene. As well as releasing on his own label ‘Cynosure‘, Shannon’s prowess has linked him up with fellow Canadian labels Plus 8 Records, Wagon Repair and Dumb Unit, alongside international labels such as Half Baked and Meander. His collaboration with the Berlinian duo, however, isn’t his first love letter to ‘Charlie’, with ‘Charlie’s On The Dancefloor’ being a powerful display on what made the Minimal style explode.
Released in 2003 under his John Shenanigans alias, the track embodies a cardinal sense of funk that accents no matter the rations of analogue and digital within his production. Like in the Pan-Pot version, his vocals on ‘COTD’ is cheekily cocksure, making it’s presence known brashly. The vocals utter the words of the title slimily in repetition. As it’s spoken over a simple 4/4 kickdrum, an organic distorted piano bassline ricochets over four notes. It’s an incubating sound, evoking the feeling of finding oneself in front of a cackling fire in a decadent castle dining hall. Speaking with Deep Transitions he name-checks Soft Cell and Thomas Dolby as early inspirations. Certainly such eccentricity found in these artists can be relayed in this track. The Jazziness of the bass can be effortlessly overlaid on a Theo Parrish or Moodymann cut. Whirrs and springs murmur in the background. As a double-time snapping kicks in, the bass then adds a top layer as it ascends into the higher octave. The breakdown provides a section where the sub-bass hits on and off the beat, introducing an element of unpredictability. During the final half of the track, Shannon filters the kicks and a delay is added. Alongside the potent vocal, it is a peach of a finish. Continue reading →
Inspired to be the best by the death of his father at aged 13, it’s not surprising to see Adam Beyer as a Commander of the world’s Techno Army. Label boss of the indomitable Drumcode , as well as sub-label Truesoul, he’s never shied from releasing blistering and impactful music. He’s responsible for assembling The Avengers of Techno, consisting of names such as Amelie Lens, Joseph Capriati, Alan Fitzpatrick, Layton Giordano, Pleasurekraft, Bart Skils and Tiger Stripes. All the trailblazing DJs regularly release under his label. Though it may appear that he only brings function to the table with many of his releases, some such as those produced under his Concealed Project alias, as well as his remix of Mathew Jonson’s ‘Marionette‘ bring an edge. Deep and percussive, it is a hark back to his old days before his mammoth hits ‘Your Mind‘, ‘Teach Me ‘and ‘Stone Flower‘ conquered the festival scene. Debuting with ‘Drum Codes 1’ on Planet Rhythm, he brought a cutting-edge stuff with precision drum programming being pushed by Jeff Mills. It’s a common theme throughout all of his releases, including those under the 17th, Midas, Told Impression, Mr Sliff and Tall Guy aliases. Under this Concealed Project release however, ‘Untitled B2’ is a slice of sublime, eerie Techno.
Dropping in the year 2000 on the Swedish record label Svek, it came as part of the ‘Definition of D‘ EP. Speaking with Elektro Daily he recalls starting ‘Drumcode in ’96 [with the] idea to not release anything I wouldn’t play out. It began as a label for techno DJs and not so much for people to just listen to. But back then it was a lot more loopy and it was a bit harder and faster’. ‘Untitled B2’ is certainly as loopy, but due to the pads feels more melodic. Warping and gloopy, the bass is reminiscent of Claro Intelecto’s remix of Hardfloor’s ‘T2DAC‘. It sounds like a Nord Modular was used in the production, being morphed with delays, basic hats, field recordings of traffic. On every half-beat an aquatic siren plays, alongside a choppy, popping percussion. Though it’s a track that is consistent with many of Beyer’s early tracks being DJ tools, here the flip is switched. A brooding pad line kicks in, hauntingly and melancholically it tugs on more heart strings than most ‘melodic techno’ cuts. It’s the same line taken off his first release ‘Pattern 1’. As the energy is amped, it’s the perfect striking juxtaposition to Adam’s unyielding style. Continue reading →