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 →
Nico Stojan has the ear to twist a pop culture track into an underground party artillery. His collaboration with Pele that produced ‘Stevia‘ combined a Eurythmics’ ‘Sweet Dreams’ sample with Latin American ballad vocals. Though he co-founded Ouïe Records with Acid Pauli, his fancy for antique samples differentiates him from Gretschmann’s psychedelic tinges. Turning a 1967 hit from The Doors into a tech-house tool though is an absolute tour de force. The DJ’s experience behind the Bar25 decks since the 90s have seasoned an unadulterated love for clean-cut house music.
‘Soul Kitchen’s unflinching energy that invigorates movement can be felt from inception. Crafted at a 123 BPM tempo, it falls in line between leisurely and pirouette. Stojan uses a reversed humming sample as an element of percussion to support the drum arrangements. The individual facets each deliver a crisp undertone. It as almost as if they are simultaneously dancing with each other. Extracts of vocal samples that range in pitching are layered with fidelity. Organ snippets, fade in and out to add some higher frequencies. Lurking in background throughout are the banal samples of people interacting in jubilant manner. The previously introduced organ now serves its purpose as the salient of the build up to the relapse into the groove that leads us home. Continue reading →
Glenn Underground – House Music Will Never Die (Glenn’s Afro Dub)
As the producer’s name suggests, Glenn Underground breathes for the underground scene. A descendant from the local pioneers such as Larry Heard and Lil’ Louis, he has taken the mantle of preserving the soul of House. ‘House Music Will Never Die’ is a heartwarming tribute to the dancefloors of The Warehouse, an anthem for the streets once ruled by Frankie Knuckles.
From the intro, clanging hats and cowbells pave the red carpet for the hefty synthesis of a robust kick & an eminent subbass progression. The power of dubbed bass gives the sound an elevated tier of thump. The super low ends that you’d find in a dub mix contrasts with the higher range in the melody. Paying his dues to the genre’s history, Chicago-born Cei Bei sings:
‘Originating from Chi-Town, House Music will never die.’
The singer often produces songs with lyrics that carry the essence of the early House music community. In ‘Dance Tonight’ he shouts out major world cities from the hotspot of Chicago. All is done with a sense of a virtuous spirit of fellowship immune from material greed. It is all about the music. Bei has previously collaborated with key players in the Illinois scene including Ron Trent, DJ Pap & Abicah Soul. His ability to combine serene with the vibrant vocally is transparent in Glenn’s Afro Dub here which gold-plates the production. Continue reading →
Normally reserved for any of the main strands of the underground electronic genres, sampling a Soul/RnB vocal is a frequent as expecting to see Kanye West tweet something controversial. Except for a Techno artist that is. The genius of Berlin based, Barnsley born Blawan however is contrary to this finding the nous to be able to twist hit track I Wanna Be Down by Brandy into this scrumptious techno floor killer released in 2012.
The main part of the track is certainly the pitched up vocal, fastened to the melody as fittingly as the embroidery on a Versace. It’s oozing the poise of Usain Bolt – it just knows it’s sitting on a win. Underneath this is a snaking, nasty and rasping electro-tinged lower mids and jaunty sub bass. Petite and palatable, the percussion on this cut is similar to the experimental experience delivered by John Roberts. Continue reading →