‘It’s not Hip Hop or House, its Hip House‘ proclaimed Fast Eddie in his 1989 classic ‘Hip House’. Almost thirty years later, the spirit of his track lives on. Newcastle-based DJ Meg Ward is fairly fresh to the inner-side of the underground scene, having been DJing in clubs for a year and a half or so. Holding a residency at Cosmic Ballroom’s weekly Tuesday night out “Ill Behaviour”, she’s also starting to cause a ruckus outside of the North, travelling to places around the country while playing feel-good groovers to the believers. This has given her the opportunity to support her heroes that include Bellaire, Folamour, Mark Blair and Kettama. ‘Chief’ is her most recent release on Genesis, reviving the convivial vibes that Eddie preached about.
Hitting with infectious ferociousness of Karizma‘s festival favourite ‘Work It Out‘, ‘Chief’ is a track that is mature in it’s opening. The track’s lifespan begins and ends with a heavy-injection of filtering. Not only making the transition easier for the DJ in charge, but also providing the track with a character of its own, especially when the intensity that perseveres is introduced. ‘Hip Hop and rap, yeah that’s where my heart’s at‘ Lords of Underground vocals taken from ‘Chief Rocka‘ chant with magnitude. The idea for the track came from Meg playing around with synths while listening to old school hip-hop, a genre she is particularly fond of. Accompanying it is a chopped-up collage of keyboard notes transported from back from a 1990s Thomas Bangalter set. Contagiously irresistible, it precedes the use of reversed snare reverb that hurdles the vocal into oblivion to inaugurate the breakdown. To complete the coronation, a DJ Pierre-inspired acid bassline melts what is left of the listener’s brain, making this a perfect weapon for peak-time set at a House-head festival. DJ Deeon would approve. Continue reading →
Marco Passarani & Valerio Del Prete have been actively operating under the Tiger & Woods alias since the early 2010s. Opting for a lower BPM chugger sound, solidified in their Golden Bear EP, they show no shortage in the funk department. Initially keeping their identities a mystery, they have since headlined events such as Disco Express and Discopanettone. In such, the duos’ fancy for the sound that roamed Studio 54 is self-evident. ‘A Lovely Change’ is a track that reminds us why their 2011 track ‘Gin Nation’ gave them the breakthrough needed. Sharing a dazed, roseate sound both tracks paint the dancefloor with a ray of sunshine. Released on the good-vibrations aficionado Gerd Janson’s label Running Back, it falls neatly in the middle of their latest LP release AOD.
The new album, short for “Album Oriented Dance” pays homage to Tiger & Woods’ predecessors. Tracks such as ‘01:00AM‘ & are ‘The Bad Boys’ are love-letters to the genre of Italo Disco. Their most intact imprint of the project, however, is ‘A Lovely Change’. Mingling aestival percussions, balsamic ambience and standout vocals it is sure to colour the sound of many upcoming summer parties. According to Running Back’s album description, the project is glinted with cleared samples from “the Roman institution that is Claudio Donato and his Full Time and Goodymusic emporium“. In a way this is a revival to the approach that gave the Italians a foothold in the scene. Speaking with Tiny Mixtapes, the collaborators claim there to be a “huge difference between using samples and making edits“. In ‘A Lovely Change’ the vocals bring Sade’s ‘Diamond Life’ to mind, soothing the soul in a similar fashion to Soul Clap & Ahmed’s ‘Give It Up‘. For those familiar with the Balearic sounds of Alfredo Fiorito the breezy, pacific effervescence of ‘A Lovely Chance’ fosters a throwback. However, despite all the nostalgia, the production does not sound dated, with an updated concision that was absent in a lot of the 1980s Italo output. Continue reading →
Mike Grant – My Soul, My Spirit (Mr G’s Freedom Train Mix)
Born in Derby but now local to London, Mr. G is a true legend of the game. With releases on Rekids, Defected, Bass Culture, Holic Traxx, as well as his own label Phoenix G, the number of his releases is astronomical. None of these come at the cost of quality however. Cassy best sums up his production style in her description of his remix of Fred P‘s ‘Mystery of Fantasy’. ‘He’s in between house and techno, so for me, whichever direction I want to go in, he gets me there. Often if I’m unsure what to play next, it’s the ever-reliable Mr. G I turn to‘ she told fabric. His productions are the archetype for those which straddle House and Techno, much like Radio Slave & Joris Voorn. In their Machine Love feature Resident Advisor crowned him as ‘the literal definition of tech-house‘. His sound is as tough & punchy as MMA fighter Anderson “The Spider” Silva on the world’s most potent steroids. G’s output is consistently heavy on the drums to keep the jack moving like a marching band. At times, upon first listen of some of his tracks you would be forgiven for thinking you were listening to any Detroit producer of the Rick Wade and Delano Smith cloth. This remix of ‘My Soul, My Spirit’ is yet another capstone of his treasured discography.
Released in 2003 on Grant’s own Mood & Grooves label, it was G’s second remix of the very same track. ‘The Struggle of My People (Mr. G’s There’s Hope Mix)‘ was an inspirational call echoing the pulpits sourced from the DJ booth. A preaching from the biblical text James 1 so to speak. ‘My Soul, My Spirit’ is an effigy on freedom. Sublime swelling horns radiate providing an instant buoyant air. Coming from a West Indian background, G has a love for heavy sound-systems. This can be heard on the tough as a nail sub-bass. A dedicated fan of Akai MPC’s and Korg MS2000’s, the hats are capacious and built for Big Room play. Speaking with Ibiza Voice about his time spent working in the Derby record shop R.E.Records, he recalls opening up to music styles that included jazz, blues, boogies, soul, funk and disco. Saturated in funk, the bassline is one that The Sylvesters or Boney M would be proud of. A stringed pad that floats on top adds rays of sunlight. The breakdown features a whispering female vocalist preaching about liberty that compliments a dolloping of arpped keys, before shuttling back into the kick and bassline. A truly uplifting track. Continue reading →
The Dekmantel official site describes Palms Trax as “the undisputed people’s champion” who brings the triad of “warmth, heart and a pinch of insouciance too“. Truly, it would be difficult to the imagine the festival’s 2019 line up without Jay Donaldson’s alias being placed near top. The vicious spirit of the annual event has been synonymous with the English DJ who’s energy and life-affirming approach to mixing has made him a fan-favourite. His 2019 Dekmantel release ‘To Paradise’ is the latest chapter of Palm’s varicoloured catalogue. Reflective of the festival’s main stage sound, there is no question of a doubt that the Dutch collective have fully adopted the Englishman into the family.
Boomkat calls the track a “deep Euro house-style jacker“. Resident Advisor options for a “throwback Italo-infused house record” description. The serotonin-pumping multi-layering of shrilling melodies accompany the meeker interpretation of the drum looping you’d expect from a Rush Hour release. Considering Donaldson’s father is a “fan of Maurice Fulton“, it comes as no surprise that his soon has a knack for the good vibes that carry soul. In interview with DJ Broadcast, Palms describes Talking Heads’ ‘Remain in Light’ as being one of his favourite albums of all time. Drawing influence from the band-associated decade, an archetypical 1980s bassline becomes the focal point of ‘To Paradise’. Its ever-changing levels of intensity and chord-progression breathes it life of its own. The producer’s blues & jazz upbringing trickles down in the continues evolution of the track. Though mastered with magnificence, the analogue elements are recognisable. You can almost imagine Palms performing it live on a vintage Casio keyboard. Although, such concept for the official video of the track can only bring a smile to your face. The outro of the song fades into a sun-kissed ambient outro that spellbinds the listener for almost two minutes. In such finesse conclusion, the seventh level of heaven is reached. Continue reading →
Massimiliano Pagliara – Everything That Happens Is Supposed To Happen
Establishing an equilibrium between the downtempo and the groove is feat not easily attained. Maintaining intensity at the expense of a higher BPM requires high level of prowess. Young Marco, John Talabot & DJ Koze are just some of the producers we’ve covered who deserve accolade in this respect. Although the speed of the track can arbitrary (after all Marcel Dettmann savours playing Techno at a lower BPM), certain producers make the conscious choice to release their originals in such form. Massimilano Pagliara is another, with his 2009 Live At Robert Johnson release ‘Sometimes At Night‘ establishing him as a connoisseur of slower tempo production that maintains the vibes of a memorable party. ‘Everything That Happens Is Supposed To Happen’ is a 2014 release coming from his ‘With One Another‘ LP. Paying ‘homage to the past while simultaneously pushing the boundaries of dance music into the future‘, it is a deserving introduction to a DJ who finds comfort in his own lane.
The symphonies of Pagliara are often characterised by their Mediterranean flair. ‘Harmonize‘ is a prime example of his use of mellifluent strings that carry the legacy of Italo Dream House. His love for vintage drum machines is put on display here as the loops sounds unrefined by processing. The analogue bassline used looks to be revived in his recent release ‘Feel Like‘, coming from his latest LP. The DJ professes to becoming “addicted to machines” upon buying his ‘first analog synth, a Roland SH-101‘. Massimiliano’s track titles are often poetic in tone, with ‘Flying Away From You‘ & ‘As The Night Breathes’ being some of the names amongst a richly lyrical list. The elegiac melody of ‘Everything That Happens Is Supposed To Happen’ reflects such undertone. The cadence and the contagious rhythm, however, prevents the track from being desolate. As the Juno main chord pads enter with relentless rhythm, the listener becomes fully immersed in the musical world of Massimiliano Pagliara.Continue reading →
Being in Ibiza over the summer, it was only natural to play some DC10 podcasts while lounging around the Ushuaia beachside. With John Dimas at the helm, I was sucker-punched once this track came up. Expecting to cop the L anyways, I Shazam’d fifty times to no avail. Recently, however after some serious digging on Soundcloud, I struck gold. It was none other than Delano Smith. The The Belleville Three are most well known in the Underground, but are not the only heavyweight trio to hail from The Motor City. Delano is part of Detroit Beatdown and The Beatdown Brothers. Consisting of himself, Norm Talley, and Mike ‘Agent X’ Clark the three fly the flag for the more deeper shade of Detroit. In an interview with Resident Advisor Delano defines Detroit Beatdown as being ‘Raw, minimal Groove’. Dream Come True exemplifies such perspective. The B2 on 3 tracker EP ‘Precipice‘, it was released on his own MixMode Recordings in 2012.
His label releases records that carry a dusty sound. ‘The Thesis‘, his EP with Derwin Hall being one such highlight that carries this aesthetic. Boomkat describes the Precipice EP record being ‘Solid, chuggy trax with that ounce of late night flavour – all warm chords and thick drums’. That’s certainly the case for the first two tracks. Delano flips the switch with this track though, as it is the chords that take the lead role. Speaking with Meoko, Delano’s claimed he is “looking to entertain the listener more with talent and artistry versus just beats and groove’. You can tell he’s got his ear in all the right spaces, as the chords truly hit the spot. Don’t get this mixed up – this is more of a tool than anything. Sitting on the same chord progression for a minute, it allows the DJ to mix it in with ease. This sets the tone for a late time City bar vibe with the jazzy saxophone samples. A unembellished bass note is plonked, seemingly satisfied to stay in the background. Metallically sheened chords of differing magnitudes reverberate. Yet it is the chords more than anything that win, rolling with decadence. Their potent rhythm would get the dancefloor swinging standing on its own.
Reflecting on the origins of techno, Delano claims the genre was born out of the electronic sounds of disco: Giorgio Moroder, Kraftwerk, Gino Soccio. Introduces to the cross Atlantic sounds by Electrifying Mojo, Smith was mentored by pioneer, DJ Ken Collier, who was the first to take whole parts out of tracks and layer others on top. This unquestionably birthed Delano’s desire to experiment. His first two releases came through using Yamaha RM1x and Motif, and to this day he’s maintained his fondness for analogue machines due to their retained rawness. This shines through in ‘Dream Come True’, revitalizing the very same authentic sound.
‘To influence a person is to give him one’s own soul’ proclaimed Oscar Wilde in his bookThe Picture of Dorian Gray and Other Stories. That can certainly be said of the indomitable Perlon Records. With a propensity to release experimental and obscure cuts, it’s possibly the most influential Minimal label of them all. Releases such as The Mole’s ‘Lockdown Party (DJ Sprinkles’ Crossfaderama)‘, Minimal Man’s ‘The Chicken Store‘, and Binh’s ‘Noah’s Day‘ are just drops in the ocean of the many far-fetched bombs released. A lot of their cuts like Margaret Dygas’ ‘Even 11‘ are purely for after-hours or headphone listening only. Many of these have been release on their Superlongevity series. Seeing label stalwart Sammy Dee drop cuts by Egoexpress and Guillaume & The Coutu Dumonts at The Egg last summer was a reminder why their acclaimed Get Perlonized parties receive such high fanfare. Their more conventional 4/4 releases certainly get equally as much praise. Israeli by birth, a Berliner via New York and Amsterdam, Maayan Nidam is a producer synonymous with trippy drugged out releases. Having previously released albums on Candeza, and Powershovel Audio, her most recent third LP ‘Sea of Thee‘ landed on Perlon. ‘Don’t Know Why’ was her first of four releases on Perlon. A groggy affair, it is quintessential for DJs looking to calm things down on the dance floor whilst keeping a stomp.
The track chugs at a 120 BPM, much like how Clive Henry plays his sets. Woody drums tap away giving a makeshift off the cuff jamming production. Feel-good tambourine claps jingle with brightness. It displays power in its raw simplicity, much like Motown tracks like Marvin Gaye’s ‘How Sweet It Is‘ or Bill Wither’s ‘Kissing My Love‘. Alongside this is the powerfully floppy electro-tinged bass. It’ll ensure not one body stands stiff in the building. Basslines like this make tracks skittish. Audion’s fine catalogue as well as Tommy Vicari Jnr’s phenomenal ‘Moy Lally In D‘ bring a similar rubbery dance. Due to the slower BPM, the cut makes it the nifty DJ tool to transition out of an Electro or Nu Disco cut. The longer the track goes, the louder the womps get. It’s a jolting experience. Rickety pianos tinkle in, bringing a countenance to the shindiggery. Being an odd incision, it’s one normally heard in the overcast weather soaked music of Christopher Rau, Moon or Benjamin Brunn. This works, however, and you can see a Ricardo Villalobos’ type figure playing along whilst on the dancefloor. Or in this case, singing along to the drawling ‘Don’t Know Why’ Vocals. An intoxicating affair.
Maayan’s Boiler Room sets are well stocked in similarly funkadelic tracks. Unfortunately the cameraman doesn’t give the crowd much attention, because they’d surely be locked in Alice’s Wonderland. Nidam has stated that her music is inspired by the phenomenon of dreams. Whatever dream breathed life into this track was certainly one of untroubled spirit.
‘If credibility means producing the same track over and over again, I’d rather stay unpredictable’ Roman Flügel told Little White Earbuds. Producer hailing from Darmstadt is the definition of an allomorph. Ambient, Techno and psych-punk all feature in his fabric mix. Listening to his most recent Boiler Room mix, we were captivated as he incessantly played abstract tunes. His albums, released on Dial Records, Hypercolour and ESP INSTITUTE indicate a nomothetic inclination. These were a huge departure from his microhouse masterpieces released under his Soylent Green alias on Playhouse. This is a reflection of his career to date, with more aliases for his styles of production than a Mafia boss on the run. 2010 was a memorable year for Roman. ’How To Spread Lies’ was described by Pitchfork as ‘one of this decade’s most effective pairings of melancholy moods and dance-floor kinetics’. This release alongside ‘Brian La Bon‘ on Live at the Robert Johnson, made a powerful triumvirate with the return of his Roman IV alias on Running Back. It was first used by Roman back in 1995, resulting in a few releases on German label Ladomat 2000. This alias is used for his more ordered 4/4 cuts. On ‘Lucy’, Roman manages to forge another creative aberration within the musical landscape.
Flügel told Fact Magazine that his “education clearly antagonized everything that popular music stood for, not to mention techno. It was all about craftsmanship, discipline and attention to detail‘. This can all be heard in ‘Lucy’. Entering with all chips on the table, Roman fantasticated polyrhythmic composition. Running Back is a label that is synonymous with a more disco-influenced jack to it. ‘Sa Caleta‘, the B2 on the same EP ‘Lucy’ was released on, is a fine example. ‘Lucy’, is aesopian of such thinking bringing an ‘uh’ female vocal sample. A 2-step drum pattern tighter than a CIA security protocol impressively provides that added jack. It has more crunch than Dwayne Johnson bellyflopping into a pool of fresh Doritos. Featly, a descending seven note bass line plods away. It is a compelling contrast to the reverie brought about in the mids. A quadruple time synth flitters away, bringing a brumal feel to the dancefloor. The way it synergises with the echoing vocals in the background brings an extra nimbus of intrigue. Panoramic synths stabs warp in and out, shimmering at will like a teleport soundbite, gorgonizing the listener into infinity.
Our love affair for Roman Flügel began back in the day when Alter Ego’s ‘Rocker‘ was running the airwaves. A huge electro crossover, just like Gehts Noch? and Anthony Rother’s ‘Father‘. As Flügel remarks in his interview with THUMP, first and foremost he’s a fan of music. In his track ‘La Paloma‘, for example, he draws influence from an 1800’s Cuban ballad. Such seasoned understanding of music can be heard it in ‘Lucy’.
We can certainly resonate with the curators of XLR8R. Their Best of 2018: Tracks featured some of the most endearing releases of this decade. Traumprinz’s DJ Healer robotic Ambient cut ‘Great Escape‘. Leon Vynehall’s experimental downtempo ‘Envelopes (Chapter VI)‘. Hypnotically intricate Sublee’s ‘Irealis‘. The rerelease of So Ingawa’s minimalist ‘Logo Queen‘. All of these tracks carry a common thread of dreamy warmth. One of the highlight tracks on the list which struck a chord above all others was Abacus’ ‘Basic Amounts’. Also known by his real name as Austin Bascom, it’s the DJ and producer’s first release since 2011. As XLR8R says, with the recent years of drought ‘you’d be hard pressed not to think he was retired’. Abacus’ first releases came from Chicago-based labels. Ron Trent and Chez Damier’s Prescription Label and Guidance were the outlets of his earliest releases. The Toronto-native’s discography also bolsters more soulful cuts under his A:xus alias, eventually leading him to start his own Re:Think Recordings. Tracks like 1995’s ‘Decadent Dub‘ on Derrick May’s Fragile showcase his exemplary skill to bring danceability. Released over 20 years later, ‘Basic Amounts’ shows that Bascom’s still got more than enough left in the tank.
Distributed by James Duncan’s (of Metro Area fame) ripping Innermood Label, the track fits right at home. Each of the label’s release so far has carried a semblance of the old-school, with majestic use of soulful samples. Abacus’ cut opens up with with various criss-crossing vocal samples that bring about a solicitous emotion. 5mag describes the track as having ‘full, rich drums filling up the speakers like they’re just poured on in there, an Afro-Latin flavor that serves as the pendulum swing for Abacus’ hypnotic vibes.’ The producer’s Chicago influence shines on a ten note organic bassline that dawdles with nonchalance, sounding like it was played on a Clavinet. Rootstrax ‘Harlequin‘ comes to mind. Horn-like pads that you’d find on a Rick Wade cut bring an uplift. Compressed and abstract, the synths transcend into the metaphysical, expanding the space of the frequencies. Wiggling rigorously like a 303 line, yet bringing a mellow touch of tenderness. The end result is a perspicuous concoction which achieves its aim to bewitch the dancefloor. Continue reading →
Imagine driving your Chrysler LeBaron convertible down the palm tree-filled streets of Miami in the late evening of a 1983s summer night. As roller-skating girls giggle in the shadow of the neon lights you tune through the radio stations to come across Gary Gang’s ‘Making Music’. The final piece of the jigsaw completes the picture. The track was released in 1983 by Radar Records, a label responsible for some infectious disco-funk gems such as Toney Lee’s ‘Reach Up‘ (check out the incredible music video) in its short-lived existence. Makin’ Music is a prime example of the fusion between electro and disco that that was experimented on by the of the fringe of dance music back in the early 1980s. The end result is an electrifying voyage filled with reverberating arp bass that Giorgio Moroder would be proud of.
The Dub Version elevates the track’s performance in the club setting. Adding muscle to the original mix, the dub spotlights the laser-focused arpeggio. This gives the cut a timeless edge that stands the test of time. Its no surprise therefore that Morgan Geist and Darshan Jesrani, the names behind the Brooklyn-based house and nu-disco duo Metro Area featured it in their fabric 43 mix. The jocular drum work is inherited from the forefathers of 1970s disco scene such as Cerrone & Patrick Cowley. The feature of the flute, later immortalised by Frankie Knuckles, is borrowed from a soundtrack of the off-kilter movies that characterised the preceding decade. The contrast between its tranquilizing melody and the track’s robust energy creates a vortex of daze.Continue reading →