Brian Harden’s ‘Where You Are‘ oozes the Jack and pizzaz of your vintage Chicago House cut. ‘Delight Where You Are’ the vocal sample rings with the staple disco sample. At first glance, this style synonymous with Mike Banks, Robert Owens, Roy Davis Jr, Marshall Jefferson can seem a juxtaposition to the Rominimal sound. Listen a bit more thoroughly though and the two styles appear congruent. SIT aka Sideways Invisibility Theory is comprised of one of the most revered in the game, Cristi Cons and Vlad Caia. Appearing on the rerelease, this SIT remix is a one stellar cut. Cristi himself notably made heatwaves after his remix of Azimute’s ‘The Secret‘ released on Cocoon racked up more than 30,000 Youtube views before release. Individually they’ve released records on their own label Amphia, as well as similarly minded labels Meander and Serialism. Their first LP, Sideways was rich in experimentation, described by PlayedBy as ‘a groundbreaking definition of what we call the Romanian sound’. The duo hit a creative high point with their LP Invisibility Chapter on Sushitech. On this album, their Housier interpolations weaved into the nooks and crannies. In this remix, SIT elevate the original showcasing this shade of their production in full flight.
Chicago native Brian Harden’s original was released back in 2001on his The World Peace EP. It came out on Nite Life Collective, an outlet for jazzier cuts coming from the likes of Glenn Underground, Roy Davis Jr & Moon Man. In the same spirit, the release contained some sublime freeform jams. This is not surprising, considering Harden’s bio cites Herbie Hancock’s ‘Rocket’ as well as the music of Axel F, Paul Hardcastle and Miles Davis as inspiration. Listening to his atmospheric Deep House track ‘Chicago to Detroit‘ proves that he is a master of the dusky Detroit synth sound that partners modular keyboard work. With a chunky 808 bass and lush synths, it sounds as timeless now as it did back then. SIT up the ante on the remix making the elevating the staccato elements of the original. The bassline pounds with the rhythm and the force of a pitched down jack hammer. MIDI bleeps ascend with a sound of a Super Mario mushroom pick up. Chimed synths are looped, twinkling effortlessly. In a similar fashion to another track we reviewed by Sublee the synth’s intertwine compressed from the original, echoing out of time at will. The breakdowns nod to Harden’s composition, being interpreted with the same atmospheric descent. Continue reading →
Mixmag recently published an article regarding the homogenisation of Tech House. Ironically, the article’s author himself produces music that is fairly detached from the Underground scene. ‘Passable Tech House’ it has been dubbed, due to what Toolroom Records boss Mark Knight describes as a writers block of sorts, no one willing to take any risks. In it, Mannheim legend Nicky Curly labeled some of the curations as ‘repackaged EDM’. Taking a quick scroll of the output in question and you’ll be hard pressed to disagree. Amongst the constantly rising muck, however, you’ll always have your disruptive producers. One as such is Martin Buttrich. An engineer for Loco Dice as well as the rest of the Desolat crew, the German is one of the finest machinists in the genre. Remixing tINI’s Desolat-released ‘Blond Galipatte’, shows his brimming engineering skills on full display, as well as a penchant for groove. Dropped in 2013, it’s a fattened version of the original’s Minimal threadbare leanings.
Martin mentions his love for presets in an interview with Native Instruments, describing the easy use of Maschine. Using a simple preset percussion loop to get things kicking, automatically gets things rocking. It is similar to the bongo like percussion played in Clarian’s 2012 Life and Death release ‘Shine’. Thumped with the conviction of a Papua New Guinean tribal ensemble playing a war dance tune. A heavy lashing of reverb ensures it is ready for a Big Room Junction 2 festival vibes, as much as tINI & the Gang Ibiza beach parties. The more you listen, the more soundscape elements you can pick up. The hats sound of a tick ticking clock, starry keyboard stabs glimmer. Zipping alien and radar noises are bleeping in and out. Cut from the cloth of a TB-303, the undulating dense bass then marshalls it’s way to the front of the pack. Sequenced in the same beat pattern as the original, sampling female French vocals, and a playful chopped vocal seen on a Martinez Brothers‘ track keeps the listener on their toes.
Secretsundaze is a party & label synonymous with the deeper spectrums of House. Run by James Priestly and Giles Smith it has forever been pioneering sounds. Whether that be at one of their parties at Pickle Factory or Oval Space (originally it was at 93 Feet East), or through their label as Two Armadillos, they know their stuff. Speaking with Hardlife they state, ‘Its very important for us to get across that timeless element, that’s very much something we strive for with the label.’ On their 10th Year Anniversary CD (and Gile’s Little White Earbuds podcast), the aforementioned cut appears, certainly compatible with that. Anthony ‘Shake’ Shakir is one of the forefathers of House, and here he gets the remix treatment from Swedish artist MRSK. One half of the duo The Fishermen, MRSK delivers a deep but gnarling weapon.
It must be a big ask not to mess up one of the inventors of Techno. Opening up on the original a vocal tells how travelling across the world showed that music was the language of all. A downtempo number, tt’s whisks of streaky noises, ambient tones and future-Jazz sax give it that classic Motor City vibe. It’s an albatross cruising leisurely. Completely flipping it, MRSK pays homage by certainly making the listener travel, but like a Hawk. Dubby bass blasts the ear cavern engineered so well, you could even just leave loop as a tool. Similar vibe to an Enzo Siragusa or Fuse London Artist. Rubbery bass-synth stabs are then followed by some sublime synth work. What they both do well in synergy is reverberate back off each other causing trepidation. Stringed and airy ambient synths are slowly introduced building real tension, before a serious of flash-in-the-pan synths light the show up. Continue reading →
Looking for a banger that will absolutely shut the place down? There’s a reason why this one is called Da Groove Moov Mix. Hearing this thing play on a piece of Plastic is unreal, and unsurprisingly so. Like Herbert, Ricardo Villalobos and Rhadoo, all his tracks are made on analogue. Enrico even himself professes to ‘Own every type of machine their is.’ Often playing at Number 90 Hackney party Half Baked, shows true soul in his production. First released all the way back in 1995, Hypnotizer (Da Groov Moov Mix) was rereleased this year and sounds just as fresh now. Displaying a real 90s sound, it equally shows a resistant toughness that will captivate the dancefloor.
As soon at the track starts a skipping drum pattern ticks along to automatically boost the energy. In this interview with Play Wax, Enrico talks about the range of machines he uses. Kawai Q80, Atari ST512 and Cuebase 2.0 are all mentioned as only being abled to sequence MIDI events. And you can hear that in the bass. Hit in a 3 note sequence, it’s not too dissimilar to Asquith or other Lobster Theremin tracks. Hi-pitched guitar licks give it a luminous city lights identity. A sublime lyric then beseeches the dancefloor commanding you to ‘Hypnotize Yourself’. With what’s going on around sonically, this won’t require much effort. A classic mid-naughties synth fitting for an illegal warehouse rave gives it a full flavour. With an afrobeat breakdown halfway through, Enrico’s enterprising versatility in style shines through.
Just check out this clip of Zip playing at Factory Club, Barcelona. You can see the power of Enrico Mantini’s tracks with the volumnious B1 Hypnotizer (Virtual Hypnosis) being played out. Half Baked crowned him ‘one of the European founders of the deep house music’. ‘Da Groov Moov Mix’, with its dubbyness, surely influenced the formula of production for more dubbed out producers like Subb-an or Dyed Soundroom.
In his recent Resident Advisor Exchange podcast interview, Blawan stated that the post-dubstep releases of the late 00s and early 2010s sound dated if listened to today. A fresh rewind does in many cases explain why a pioneer of the genre like Skream progressively adopted tech-house scene as his home. However, ‘Void 23’ the collaboration between Bristol’s Appleblim & Ramadanman is one of a few surprising exceptions to the rule. Released in 2010 on Will Saul’s and Ninja Tune’s Fink Aus Music label, it’s a collage of house, techno, electro and dub that stands the test of time where many have failed.
The intro gives the listener a hint that this is not your standard track, the first 30 seconds substituting a 4/4 drum beat loop with an extract of an airport background noise. The soundscapes that simmer into the picture are eldritch yet atmospheric. The eerie ambience invoked is reminiscent of Akira Yamaoka’s Silent Hill soundtrack. Slowly but surely the drums affix unto the energy created. Once the aura is brewed, a zesty bassline fizzes under the surface, never taking claim of the protagonists role. The breakdown that dissolves the existing elements into oblivion is crafted in a way that was ahead of its time. The use of indigenous percussion reminds you of an Innervisions release coming from the last few years. Rampa mixed with ÂME and a tint of Marcus Worgull. Yet the ‘drop’ which turns the track on its head dispels such direction. It rumbles with a rolling lick that funnily enough reminds of Benny Bennassi’s ‘Satisfaction’. However, the sound here is unapologetically underground, the second half of the track being a gift sent down by the tech-house gods.
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.
If you’ve been a fan of the underground sound in recent times, there’s no way you couldn’t recognise it. If you’ve been a fan for a long time, it’s as distinguished as Beatport or Juno Download as the go-to for your track needs. With one of the most recognisable voices in the game, Mr V can be the difference between a good track, and a weapon. This track Set Me Free by Homero Espinosa is a fine example of his craft. He really is what Nate Dogg was to Hip Hop. 2016 saw hugetrack Take You There with Scottish Techno Dons Slam, dominating the big stages. However, he’s just as accomplished as a producer. With Releases on Defected, Strictly Rhythm, 8bit and Dessous he has a large répertoire within House Music circles. The Drum, however, is a massive shock to the system. A more techy excursion by the deep house don. Released in 2005 on Vega Records by Masters At Work member Louie Vega, The Drum is a purists delight.
As documented by Deep House Amsterdam, Mr V was influenced by ‘house, hip-hop, Latin, garage and disco classics, rhythm & blues and jazz.’ This track is made in homage to the instrument central to it all – the Drum. Being predisposed by the minimal revolution at the time, it is a real twist on his normal excursions. Bass Modulations similar to that on Konrad Black’s Devastator, instantly tantalise the sphere around the cortex. Expansive, slinky, sultry and heavy on the reverb it’s absolutely hellish. A shadowy devilish vocal, tells the listener ‘Let me take you on a trip, a journey.’ Ascending and cascading magical zings fuse in an out forming a molten lava like world in the way it drawls. Tribal drums are played to add verve, and as such the vocal narrates ‘Feel the Drum, as it touches your soul’. It is all said as though the narrator is the ringmaster of the show. The journey then takes another sunny twist by adding in supreme deep house keys, which could’ve easily been played by Charles Webster or Atjazz. It makes for an ultra-hallucinatory expedition.
Heiko Laux feat. Diego Hosteller – Canis Major Pt 1
Recently seeing Azimute and Perlon legend Sammy Dee at The Egg London, they were hippocratic to the noobs. Playing relentless minimal bass driven cuts, such as DJ Sneak, Egoexpress & A Guy Called Gerald. Once Green Velvet’s ‘Thoughts‘ hit, the dancefloor hit a height of deranged lunacy. The place was a true sweatbox, fans of Stanley’s would’ve enjoyed. Heidi Laux’s ‘Canis Major Part 1′ is one such that is bass driven, but nostalgically harks back to mid 00’s minimal engineered for such parties. As mentioned in this interview, Heiko always has a theme for his tracks. The benevolent feeling gotten from the unfathomable buzzing noises Fernweh was created on the tension surrounding the Arab world in 2014. Dropped on Josh Winks’ Ovum in 2013, ‘Canis Major’ is battle ready for those in-flight Watergate nights.
Also operating under Offshore Funk for more free spirited affairs, Heiko Laux cuts are for dancefloor drive only. The bass is crafted for such, muted and flat, it is still heaving in it’s expanse. Fan’s of Martin Buttrich & Guti will appreciate. Chords stab on the same notes as the bass to add for the groove, moving up the note scale 2 notes to help get bodies uncomfortable. Similar to Guy Gerber & Shlomi Aber’s ‘Sea of Sand‘ in the way the synths crackle, super bleepy keys jilt. It’s ultra erratic perfectly balancing the freaky nature of the track. Steamy hats add to this, and as he is also inspired me all audio noises, adds in faint field recordings of birds chirping. Quick laser stabs are fitting with ripple effects for a guaranteed warped out party. Continue reading →
Imagine being born in South Africa, then coming-of-age in London & finally finding dwelling in Berlin. The sense of a permanent home would become a foreign concept. Which is why the leading chant of Portable’s ‘Albatross’ ‘Which way, which way’ can be interpreted to be a call of a diaspora generation, open to new directions. Self-released in 2013 by now sadly dormant Süd Electronic label, the frostiness of the Cold War lingering in Portable’s now permanent home’s history with the spark of Alan Abrahams heritage. The end result is an oeuvre of creativity.
The track opens with a bunch of glass bottles being hit with the summon of Luther from The Warriors. Accompanying them is a delicate pad synth, resembling of a Moodyman record that timidly enters the picture. The swing of the bassline that kicks in is characteristically South African, dynamic yet loosening. The drum work is more cadenced than that of the European compatriots. See Culoe De Song’s remix of Goldfish Feat. Monique Hellenberg – Call Me for reference. Unlike his work under the Bodycode alias, where Abrahams takes a more Jazzmatic approach to the tracks structure in the similar vein to Kettenkarussell, ‘Albatross’ is more linear. A vocalist as well as a producer, Portable provides the solemn questions which carry the spiritual pursuit of Burning Spear.Continue reading →
DJ Sprinkles – Grand Central Part I (Deep In the Bowels Of House) (MCDE Bassline Dub)
We all need our ‘insurance policy’ tracks. DJs playing this at 4am in a club, will boost of a verve jaded dance floor. Akin to Nitrous Oxide being pumped into a speeding Nissan GTR on The Fast & The Furious. Motor City Drum Ensemble provide just the treatment. This 2009’s release on Japanese label Mule Musiq was the first B side to DJ Sprinkles’ ‘Sisters, I Don’t Know What This World Is Coming To’. Deep House in nature, with the precision of a tech jam, its a compelling and incisive journey. Throughout, it is all encompassing, showcasing all hues of bass and mids as well as reminding us why MCDE is so revered in House and Disco circles.
Unlike his ‘Raw Mix’, with it’s breaksy bass and wonky synths, this is a driving brutal 4/4 affair. Carl Cox, Marcel Dettmann or Chris Leibing could’ve even sneaked it in a more darker set. It’s called a ‘Bassline Dub’ for a reason. The hats set a real pace, with MCDE using Einstein intelligence to warp them on the 8th beat. A dampened field recording of being right next to a Boeing 747 take flight, eloquently lifts the track off. Vaulting in like a Hummer landing after hitting a 45% ramp at speed, comes the bassline. Gargantuan and glorious, it’s panoramic dubs commands the listener to move. The way it filters in and out, and is delayed and echoed truly makes it an immersive trip. Over the top are drumstick-against-table like stabs. The breakdowns are cinematic, just leaving the percussive barebones, with ambient strings, and otherworldly charms found in a Visionquest track.