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 →
Seth’s output isn’t as strong these days but there was a time when he released banger after banger. ‘Trust‘, the Tech-House bomb with Tiefscwarz unfurled tribalism Luciano is now more associated with. ‘Hurt‘, in collaboration with Matthew Dear aka Audion although Emo Minimal, brings an essence of soul. This track however is straight into the realms of Brian Eno alternate reality. One listen is all it will take to go into another realm. Dropped in 2008 on Crosstown Rebels, ‘Love Never Sleeps’ keeps a Minimal blue print but heavily nods towards the Deep House leanings that was welcomed with aplomb towards the end of the 00s. Seth is a Tier 1 headline act these days you can guarantee will play at Burning Man & TomorrowLand. However a regular at Circo Loco DC10, Time Warp, Sonar, Fabric (often doing a b2b with Craig Richards) & Romanian Minimal Festival Sunwaves, the big stage performances have never taken the polish off his underground roots. This is most displayed in this track.
Coming from Detroit, you know that hypnotism is going to be present. Even just the drawl itself is hypnotic. First Heard on a Nic Fancuilli Global Underground CD, I was fascinated by its charm from the start. Heavy-knit bass plays buoyantly in a simple 2-note pattern. It’s thwacked with the loud thump of an Osunlade or Green Velvet cut. Scraps of warped synths hack at the track. Groaning with the growl of a pissed off blue wale, the synths are cinematic. Picture watching a Mission Impossible and the shot panning across a city with a countdown to the end of the world. They instil a sense of dread throughout the track. Various chopped vocals are on display. All short and all ghostly. The first two sound like a man high on Nos, saying ‘Let’s go’ and ‘Never Mind’. The second is an Aretha Franklin female lifting swirling ‘ahh’s’ in the air. It’s said as though the listener is stuck in a dream-like state of David Lynch creation. The whole concoction makes it feel as powerful as voodoo with the way it bewitches.
Matthias Agyuo spoke on the state of mid-00s mnml in his monumental hit, DJ Koze’s remix of. ‘Minimal’. ‘Got no grooves, got no balls’ he sang. This track however see’s a real shift away from that accusation. It must’ve been as fresh as fresh cut grass. His ventures with Lee Curtis, Shaun Reeves and Ryan Crosson as Visionquest saw further musical exploration. These days, he’s not making much music, having to balance his packed out tour schedule with the running of his Shoreditch BBQ restaurant Smokey Tails. If he is, it’s usually as Tuskagee with the Martinez Brothers. More would be good.
Cuban-American producer Maceo Plex’s comeuppance in 2011 was well deserved. It came as a serious surprise after crate diggers saw years of producing techno bangers under his Maetrik monkier. It was a full 180 degree turn. Dropping sleazy deep and tech house on his Life Index EP, Crosstown Rebels seemed the perfect label. We first heard this cut on a Catz N Dogz podcast in Jan 2011, and were instantly blown away by it’s slinkiness and the precision in mixing. A sexy cut, it was one certainly curated for the lovers.
This though it certainly emboldened by the vocals. After stating, ‘Desperate for your love, I can’t sleep/I got all the love that you need’, the hook infectiously repeats ‘Girl I love Your Style.’ Spoken in a sordid manner, it is brilliantly supported by the heavy panting placed in synchronisation with the mid-range sounds. Wisps of air plume alongside airy synth stabs reserved for marbled fashion house hallway music. These plumes are like the steam blowing from a pressured factory valve, adding to the steaminess of the track. Maceo Plex’s tracks tend to use heavy mids, and use them for the melody like on ‘Mirror Me’. On ‘Conjure Dream‘, the jittery low mids in conjunction with the sweeping synths show just how in a different way. For Your Style’, it was very fitting for the time with it’s plonkiness yet tough and uncompromising style. No wonder it was released on Crosstown Rebels with that similar funk heard on Jamie Jones’ ‘Hungry For The Power’ remix. In keeping with his ethos of keeping this a bit sci fi, laser beams flutter in and out. It is because of this that the track could also be a warehouse party weapon. Continue reading →
As one half of the formidable Production/DJ duo Azimute, Quenum is a well known name within the Minimal appreciation circles. Co-producing one of the greatest Minimal tracks of all time in 2003’s collaboration with Luciano, ‘Funky Orange‘, as well as seminal collaborations with other Swiss collaborators Daschund & Lee Van Dowski. Quenum’s cuts tend to be as inventive as a Russian Sports Chief’s denial claims during a doping probe. We first heard ‘Vault Element’ in 2008 on a Sven Väth’s Ninth Season CD, and it was a track rather unconventional even for the conceptive genre of Minimal. Ever since, it has been one of our go-to tracks when introducing a novice to Minimal Techno.
‘Vault Element’ makes one feel like they’re encased within a vault which in this context is the dancefloor. In the majority of his tracks Quenum lashes the mix with a plethora of percussion and it’s no different here, with the melody carried by a noise created through a hollow but aluminous object hitting a desk. Chopped up mutant voices belch ‘time’, adding a real sense of eeriness to compliment the off kilt piano stabs. As soon as your ears start to gauge what’s going down is when the the track truly unravels. Piercing the cerebral like a vengeful mob hitman are the strident laser stabs. Sounding like they’re meant for a hard trance track, slowed down these have the force of a plasma beam intentionally placed to send the dancer into a galactic trance. Continue reading →