Retrofuturism is used to define “the use of a style or aesthetic considered futuristic in an earlier era“. Artists such as Bruce McCall, Frank R. Paul and John Harris painted their visions of the new world. At times, the concept is used for stylistic vision found in Hollywood narratives. The film industry has produced movies like ‘Metropolis‘, ‘Brazil‘ and Stanley Kubrick’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey‘, each offering their interpretation of the future. A sci-fi environment, of course, needs its own soundtrack. Progressive, psychedelic rock bands such as Pink Floyd formed space-age worlds full of anachronisms. Pioneering Jazz musicians such as Herbie Hancock propagated the branch of Afrofuturism. His 1975 album titled ‘Flood‘ features an album cover featuring an African-American astronaut. Yet none of the music genres come close to fitting as well as the electronic genre. The futurist world of technology gave birth to its soundscapes. Kraftwerk’s album Radio-Activityis an artefact in this respect. Forty years down the line, faint echoes of its phantasm can be traced in modern releases. Judging by his tracks Thomas Clarke, also known as MR TC, is a cum laude student of the German collective. ‘Golden Gate’, his release on Jennifer Cardini’s Correspondant 06 Compilation. The LP combines “palpitating ambience [with] chuggernaut technoid trips“. It is this year’s time travel back to 1970s Düsseldorf.
The track begins with drum instrumentation best described as downtempo Carl A. Finlow. The underscoring arpeggio moves along in an ascending order. Its analogue sound comes close to matching the 1980s soundtracks of Halloween 3 or Videodrome. The lackadaisical tempo gives of a sense of banality. One can imagine a scene of a lonesome robot carrying out its duties on an abandoned starship galaxies far away. All the while random spurts of ray gun and machinery samples lurk in the background. Then enters the liquid sine bells, accompanied by echo and reverb. The nautical sound feels almost doleful, contrasting with the dispassionate laser stabs. The dichotomy between emotion and enginery is united by the kick. The question, however, arises whether this kick belongs to the beating of the heart or the motor of the machine. This concept of man vs. machine was explored by labels such as Dubfire’s SCI+TEC. Using presets that intentionally sound nostalgic, MR TC creates an exhibition of retrofuturist aesthetic that is captivating. Continue reading →
Moodymann, also known as Kenny Dixon Jr., is a prophet of Detroit. Motor City has long produced a line of father-figures for a music scene that craves substance. The Electrifying Mojo, Chez Damier & Theo Parrish, are just some of the names on the list. The spirit of Detroit combines spiritual essence with the stark contrast of the often harsh living conditions experienced by its people. Few have come close to infusing such soul through sampling in a majestic way as Kenny Dixon Jr. has. If you need proof just listen to ‘Ya Blessin’ Me‘ or ‘Sunday Morning‘. He’s graced stages worldwide from Rex Club to Dhërmi Beach in Albania, yet claims East Side of Detroit as his favourite place to visit. Moodymann’s ‘I Need You So Much (Runaway)’ came part of his acclaimed Black Mahogani album released back in 2004 on Peacefrog Records. A gentle reminder that the DJ behind the project is a guru of Deep House.
The track begins with crowd talking sampled from Marvin Gaye’s ‘Got to Give It Up‘. Dixon Jr. is well know to be a fan of the Soul singer, releasing a tribute track “The Day We Lost The Soul” in 1995. However, there’s also a connection to be made with Motown’s Detroit roots. After all, the genre takes its name after the Motor City. Moodymann is an ambassador for his city through and through. In fact in ’Forgotten Places’, he calls out the geographically local areas where he likes to hang out. The piano keys, saxophone and the bass guitar combine for what appears to be a Jazz improvisation at first. This a recurring feature of the producer’s releases, seen in his other tracks like ‘People‘. The DJ’s performances back home often integrate a live local band. However, a crisp kick here provides the rhythm that partners with what sounds like a man clapping in a bar to the beat. Roberta Sweed’s vocals are like honey running into your ears, melting into the wholesome atmosphere created. Finally, the producer stamps his mark as his own vocals give a shoutout to the lead vocalist. Extravagant yet soulful, the track is a gift from a talent blessed by the heavens above. Continue reading →
Madrid-hailed Miguel Barrios possesses a rare singer-producer combo that has enriched both sides of the coin. Working under his Pional moniker, he has spent the last decade featuring on a number of respectable underground labels. Most recognised from his fellow Spaniard John Talabot’s ‘Destiny‘ track, his vocals hold an empyrean quality that would grace the lead of an indie band. The chameleon-like approach to production, likely owed to his multi-instrumentalism, ensures his production is forever on a mission to reinvent itself.
Young Turks associate’s latest release ‘XME’ is his first on Phonica Records, a label that holds a special place in our hearts. Displaying his signature sound that fuses morose with rhythm, its comes as A1 track of the EP. In the spirit of releases from his fellow Hivern Discs compatriots, tracks from Pional tend to brandish drum patterns that sound greatly agrestic. The tribal drum used in substitute of a snare on the track gives it a verve that feels Mother Natured. Warping, low cutoff bassline cambers in rhythm, giving guidance to the synthlines that dazzle the show. Continue reading →
Pretty crazy to think that guys like Benny Rodrigues can go from releasing tracks like ‘Sweet Potatoes’ to Papa Sven’s last summer favourite ‘Hor‘ under his ROD guise. That’s the beauty of underground electronic music though – like a chameleon it supports a range of shades and forms yet still retains the same soul. However building a track with Quince, the author of some high-octane jackin’ tech tunes over the years, was always going to strike gold. Quince & Benny Rodrigues combined in 2006 but released the resulting track in 2010. Distributed by Smallville Records, it’s an ideal fit for the label’s quaint and delicate Deep House cuts. The added dubbyness, however, elevates it to a place that none other can climb. Ultimately making you feel like you’re stuck in a dream.
Space Travel 303
The track is a musical opus dedicated to the Galaxy. With all that’s going on, each element swirls together to create a truely atmospheric experience. Delayed kicks play on every off beat along a simple xylophone beat. Fast Roland TB-303 hats sound like crickets in the forest, as a plodding bassline surfaces. Once you start to get your head around the ambience, a deep acid line spirals into the mix. This is before lush & serene pads kick in fully enveloping all the proceedings like mist within a forest. Beautiful and harmonic, the flutes elevate the track towards a mid-song break down. Emotive chords play autonomously, bringing reverie closer to reality. Continue reading →