Three brand new tracks adore this latest release from Carlos Mena and as you might well expect they combine the words: deep, pounding yet evocative House music. The release opens with the self-explanatory Bang It which has Osunlade intone its title until you well and truly receive the message. Musically its edgy fusion of scratchy beats plus pulsating stabs that will see this placed firmly on the dancefloor, and is accompanied by an instrumental should you so desire. Elegba then explores tribal percussion, expressive chords/ vocals and even fretless bass, while Deep Forever More returns to a clash of more challenging electronics alongside a spoken message that resonates in timeless fashion.
This EP’s title is tailor made for those who like it deep, tough and forward-thinking. Indeed the title track: Illusion is quite something, verging on excellence. Driven by a rich amalgamation of dark, brooding beats, probing bass and a smouldering vocal that cuts to the chase this first-rate arrangement of imaginative sounds stamps Tribal, House and even Techno boxes. Complimented neatly by the Everything version, and then by the contrasting fizzy electronics of Wolves this proves to be yet another notable release from Kittball.
Another intriguing production to bring to your attention is this three track release on James Dexter’s relatively new Inermu imprint. Opening via the smoky Disco flavours of Fatback which blends sampled subtlety just as much as it does pounding beats, there is something just that bit different, more creative going on here. The even friskier Queen then sets pulses racing with deeper repeating intensity, while the final number To The Blues may well hint at their influences and features another fiery bassline amid a frenzy of drums and voices (assisted this time by James Dexter).
Continuing to breathe a blast of fresh air into the genre Toy Tonics aren’t afraid to reference the soul of the past while slamming headlong into the future. Back In The Days, lays down a life-affirming slice of Disco to ignite the party with a voice over reminiscing about the title. Jugendstil, gets down and funky with fiery organ hits and sassy percussion fuelling the fire, while next +++ provides latinesque rhythms amongst the filtered madness going on. Humbled, not surprisingly takes a deeper turn with moody chords worked out over hotly infused beats. And finally, the excellent Native Riddim appears as a vinyl only treat with glorious piano pulling the heart strings over shuffling drums.
Hinting at the Windy City yet blowing out the cobwebs are these three fully charged productions from Neverm!nd. Channelling engaging bass and keys throughout the stereo picture the warm tones of The Womb repeats until you’re completely hooked in. Showdows, then provides an edgier groove including sizzling sound effects, undulating moods and smoky voices. However, it’s the excellent Mobiers that provides the standout here care off a super slinky groove plus killer bassline, which is again complimented by large vocals and endless repetition, leaving the Higuchi remix to inject a shot of energy into the tempo to finish.
Digital release Beatport: January 27
Breaking Through The Pain Barrier EP
An epic arrangement that reflects Paul Cottam’s life with multiple sclerosis and as you can guess from the title that isn’t always a good experience. Never the less the music seeks to provide a reflective, invigorating trip into the sights of night-time with layers of rhythm and loops of sound creating a striking, almost haunting soundscape which proves hard to put down. The flip-side then has Encephalomyelitis Disseminate fusing House bass together with punchier beats, although proving to be just as atmospheric, all of which is eventually compounded by grittier Acid attitude.
Kicking off the New Year Mobilee sister imprint Leena has Kevin Yost supply another killer production. This deceptively uncomplicated number shoots straight to the heart of the matter with heavy-duty bass providing an irresistible lesson in low down theory. Accompanied by layers of haunting vocals and tough drumming alongside cutting synthesizer stabs Don’t Give In is much more than the sum of its message. I Don’t Get It, poses an unforgiving question which only underpins the moody electronics on sequence, with the third and final More, More replying via a more expansive production that is high on sounds with a certain jazzy, funkiness providing a suitably fine ending.
Life imitating Art as title track ‘Drowning in Irises’ is inspired by Van Gogh’s Irises painting. Equally impactful is Dance Spirit’s tough fusion of sharp percussion and bottom-end intensity alongside the fizzy addition of caustic synth lines transporting it all onto another level entirely. The sense of the otherworldly is continued with the addition of stabbing voices accompanied by a more blissful breathy ambience. The creativity then proceeds into Unfold with its darker tones settling into biting psychedelic sounds while contrasting melodic vocals lend this its own distinct edge. Completing is, In Between Spaces which marries minor pads together with gritty touches to produce something, again, rather wonderful as a result, swirling with ambience yet far from easy.
Rotten City Files/ Records
We like the breath of fresh air. And both originals define punky attitude along with a refreshing injection of life. Overdrive, sees the Madrid based trio deliver on the promise with moody rhythms augmented by fuzzy guitar plus an ice-cool vocal delivery. Addictive, certainly. The Jamie Paton remix retains that sense of occasion while blending it over pulsating electronic beats to devilish effect. The equally exciting Sriracha simmers with a kind of joyous melancholia that hints at 1980’s New Wave, and with an excellent remix from II Est Vilane who crash sleazy euro-disco into it this is all too hard to resist. Which then only leaves In Flagranti to hit Chipotle with a heavy dose of Acid frenzy for the bonus track.
Yo Yo Honey Groove On (DJ Pierre Wildpitch Remix) Black Sugar Music
First things first. This is an all-time House classic (not in the overplayed sense) but what else can you call it? So ok, you may be wondering why this has been credited to YoYo Honey, who released their debut album in 1992. The simple answer is that Pierre remixed Groove On for the album, however as it bizarrely wasn’t used the record company allowed him to release it under his own name for Emotive Records in 1994. Now that’s been cleared, try this and relive all that sizzling, looped intensity for yourself, and if you’re in the enviable position of hearing this for the first time – lucky you!!!
Great production from Terry Francis that combines an effortless funkiness together with a probing forward-thinking texture of sounds. Intistars, opens the EP with insistent beats hooking up with taught bass, and a flash of old-time vocal samples lending this a mid-eighties cut-up flavour. The excellent title track follows with darker moods explored via an addictive Detroit styled bassline accompanied by an array of captivating sound effects punctuating the probing arrangement. Two first rate remixes compliment the original, one from Darren Roach & finally a punchy Joseph S Joyce version.
Another great release from VIVa this time sees Majesty deliver five feisty new jams that wear his references proudly. The not so subtle Pump Actions starts with a rolling bassline, a classic Disco stab and punchy vocal edits that will breathe life into even the most jaded out there. Full of life and energy the likewise Body Rock follows in a blaze of sirens and fiery snares. Next, Thump does exactly that via fizzy drum machines, while the ultra-funky swing of Money Clip gets down with no delay. Which leaves the shuffling intensity of Master System to end with an imaginative blend of moods and styles.
How did you team up to form 12 Stories and where did the name originate from?
We’ve know each other for a couple of years and made an EP as Inxec & Mark Jenkyns for Leftroom Recordings. 12 Stories is respectfully a totally different concept and we are trying to lay focus without and pre conception. The name comes from Chris trying to be clever.
Your excellent new release: Bright Lights on VIVa MUSIC features a striking vocal from Digitaria. How did that come about?
Mark & Daniella (Digitaria) had been talking about doing something, and the vocals that she had recently sent gave us the idea for Bright Lights.
Can you talk us through how you produced the track – including any favourite studio software/ hardware you like to use?
Not really it’s a secret.
Who would you say are your main influences both old and new?
Mark: One of my biggest influences is Matthew Jonson and to date, is still my favourite producer.
Chris: My Little Brother, he got me into making electronic and he’s the only person who truly tells me if my stuffs shit.
How do you feel about the current replaying of old sounds from the late 80’s/ early 90’s: positive or negative for Dance music?
Well if it’s done right. Then well done. Obviously a rave horn isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, my mum included. Marks mum is full on rave horn friendly.
What’s the story behind your current Night Obscure EP for Hot Creations? And where did the inspiration come from for that production?
This reverts back to us forming, and this being the first ep signed, was probably catalyst behind 12 Stories progressing and being BLESSED enough to sit here doing this interview…
How has 2015 been for Yoruba Records, and can you tell us about why you have decided to launch Yoruba Soul?
The year has been great for the label. Every year has its challenges, today’s main challenge being vinyl production turn around, however we have been lucky, also splitting up manufacturing helps. Yoruba Soul was born from a long need to separate the non-house music on the label. There are nearly equal amounts of non-dance material on the label however these releases get lost as most know Yoruba for house music mainly. The label also gets mistaken as Yoruba Soul as that’s been the branding of my remixes, so Yoruba Soul was fitting and familiar. My idea was to simply create a 7″ sub label dedicated to all things other than dance music. I decided to instead base the labels format on double gatefold 7″ as it was something I’d not seen before.
The excellent debut release on Yoruba Soul from Miles Bonny ‘I Bring You Love’ pushes atmospheric boundaries. How do you feel about it, and what attracted you to signing the songs?
Miles and I have been kindred for some time now, I’ve been a fan of his for years and we are both from Missouri. He joined me on tour in Australia a few years back and we always spoke of him doing something for the label. It took us about a year to get here, mostly due to the design of the dbl 7″. I’m very happy with the release as it opens stage doors but doesn’t dictate the shape of the rooms. Yoruba Soul will be anything soulful, be it with a beat words or even music in the basic sense for that matter.. It’s a simple exploration of sound and another vehicle for my family to express themselves without the boundaries of the 4×4.
How do you feel about the art of song writing in recent years – and also in terms of how dancefloors react to them around the world?
There is very little song writing going on in my opinion, most things are repeats of something already said or heard. That being said, as always there are many new artists pushing the boundaries. I suppose it’s what you’re being served. I am a music fiend so I look for the unknown. Most I think are the opposite. Those things their fed are without soul or song. In terms of the dance floor, it’s changed a bit..normally people go up for vocals and certain emotion in the song, today that’s replaced with the break down, build up crap, however organic wins over hype every time. One can never deny a good feeling.
Can you tell us about your studio set-up and how you balance your day between work and life?
My studio is mostly analog gear, I record and edit with logic. I balance work and life simply. It’s one and the same. I’m never doing just one. Recording happens when the inspiration comes. Running the label(s), 24/7, managing the artists 24/7 .. it all falls into the life category. It’s one event for me.
What is your favourite instrument – do you own one?
Can you tell us about your latest Mix on Soundcloud: No Sleep?
Basically couldn’t sleep while in Paris. Woke up decided to make the mix to distract sleep. Always nice to create when everything around is calm
Outside of Dance music which artists have you been listening to most?
There is music playing 24/7 in my life so I can’t say one artist plays over another, but to name a few this week and presently on my mind., floating points, abbollina, dornik, sounds of nature, the dramatics just to name a few
What are your plans for 2016?
Take a break, finish my album and spend as much time in nature as humanly possible
Your latest release for Hot Creations is excellent ‘Pinball’. Where did the idea come from for the track and can you talk us through how you produced it?
In the first step we were looking hard for an interesting bassline to make up the track, much like how we began our successful tracks ‘Take Some Time’, ‘Get This!’ or ‘Spunk’ for example. We did find a couple of interesting sounds that when we mixed together and played around with really excited us. Then we followed the unusual sequence of claps and percussion and by that point building the track up became quite simple as we felt we had secured most of the winning elements.
You also have music coming out on Gruuv, Noir, VIVa MUSiC and more. How would you describe your relationship between DJ’ing and Producing – could one work without the other?
Yes, there are a lot of good DJs around that don’t produce very much but these days’ producing has become a full part of a DJ’s job. We’ve been doing this with a lot of passion for so many years and the difference is that in comparison to the early days you produced a track to promote it in the club and not necessarily with your own name on it because what counted was to be a good DJ… today you have to make tracks to promote yourself, so in that sense the scene has completely changed. But that’s ok – if we are known around the world because of our productions then let’s go!
Italy has a long and important history with Dance music. What were your earliest encounters with the music, and who were you first inspirations?
We get into Disco Music and Funk since we were very young. We always loved that kind of sound and at the time Giorgio Moroder was our hero and everything he produced together with Pete Bellotte as Donna Summer, Munich Machine and all the albums under his own name. Other great artists of that period were Gregg Diamond, Kraftwerk, Dennis Coffey, Chic and Vincent Montana Jr – just to name a few!
You DJ all over the world, do you find that people like different sounds in different countries?
Honestly no! We always bring our own sound and generally it goes very well. In recent years promoters calls us because they know our tracks, of course, so they expect to hear that kind of sound during the night and the audience seems to appreciate it
How do you feel about the importance of song writing now as compared with the past, and its relevance in today’s music?
If you have a good songwriter and singer it’s always worth taking risks. It also depends on the target you want to achieve. The main thing is to always have a great idea and a great song and if you do not have that it is better create a good track instead. This is a rule that was true yesterday and still is today.
For sure it would take more effort, energy and investment to produce a song instead of a club track with some spare sample voices here and there, but obviously if is a good one it will have a much longer life and better chance to have success .We use to do that in the early 2000s when I produced as Bini & Martini together with Gianni Bini. We are very open minded, so maybe in the future we will do some features as well if we find the right partners.
Can you tell us about your studio and a typical working day there?
We have a really basic studio and work with Logic and both analog and digital instruments. We listen to lots of music and everything inspires us, including old tracks, samples, or whatever brings us some energy and strong emotions. We don’t have any rules, though we often start from a strong bassline, a simple percussions or listening to a DJ set from some of our heroes that inspires us.
What plans do you have for 2016?
We produced a lot of stuff throughout the last six months that will get released between now until March next year. At the end of this year we have releases on Hot Creations and Gruuv as well as remixes on VIVA, Time Has Changed and Noexcuse. Then from January onwards we will have releases on Suara, Material, UNI and a remix on King Street of the anthem Johnny Dangerous ‘Beat That Bitch’ – a track that we really love, so we were really excited to get our hands on it when we were asked to do it. We are also working on a collaboration with Anek that will probably be release on early 2016.
As DJ’s, besides Italy where we do most of our gigs, we have already scheduled Berlin, London and Ginevra for the beginning of the next year so we’re looking forward to it!
Delivering not so much crash, bang, wallop as this is much more nuanced than that this multi-textured production from Atapy effortlessly moves on more than one creative level. Not to say that this still doesn’t pack a tidy punch as it does via a pounding kick drum and deep throbbing bassline but its chiming, undulating atmosphere’s enhance an altogether more thoughtful perspective. Daniel Wilde supplies an excellent remix with darker tones working up a much more tense arrangement of the track, although that sense of ambience is still wisely included on route.
Dave Martins, Mimanos
Only Love / Carillon des Marionnettes
The fifth release from Marionnettes is a rather lush, deep affair in the shape of Only Love by Dave Martins and throws up all sorts of surprises along the way. While the beats and bass groove along most effectively it’s the effected repeating vocals and twanged guitar sounds that really enhance the rich atmospheres. This is late-night listening which contains a real bite. Next is Carillon des Marionnettes and is a joint production from Dave Martins & Mimanos that opens with a cinematic, almost Spaghetti Western like theme – or have I completely lost the plot – which drops in an unsuspecting beat around the four minute mark but none the less always feels imaginative, probing and quietly edgy.
The Salsoul Orchestra Story
40th Anniversary Collection
Groove Line Records
WOW! Three cd’s worth of the Salsoul Orchestra. Or, to put it another way, heaven on earth. The clue is of course contained within the title: Salsoul from the infinitely influential record label for a start, secondly the word Orchestra and all of the musical prowess which accompanies the noun. I love that you can simply switch the music on, then get lost in a world of soaring strings, driving beats and bass, and yes occasionally sleazy, though always sensual, uplifting lyrics. At times there’s the sheer romance of it all, at others hard and heavy grooves drive it all home. Needless to say if you haven’t yet experienced the soulful joy of ‘Take Some Time Out (For Love)’ featuring Jocelyn Brown or the classic rhythms of Shep Pettibone’s mix of ‘Ooh, I Love It (Love Break)’ then here’s the chance. A wealth of talent informed the orchestra’s production’s and remixes too from Larry Levan to Tom Moulton to Walter Gibbons. And, with arrangements from the likes of Vincent Montana Jr., Bunny Sigler, and Patrick Adams this newly remastered exploration of their sights and sounds from 1975 to the early eighties is both exceptional and essential.
“Music is the direct access to the soul” sounds like a good a place as any to start this review of Oskar Offermann’s spellbinding new long player. Fuelled by an undulating funkiness the album delves into all sorts of landscapes which reach ambient depths to edgier heights. Sometimes purely atmospheric without the reliance on beats, sometimes up-tempo and energising such as on ‘Carol’s Howl’ there really isn’t any identifiable rule book being followed – good. What you do get is an exciting travelogue of gritty, booming, speech laden, probing, emotive music which embraces funky breaks as much as it does sizzling electronics. Further.
To label this as merely ambient may do a disservice to the rather glorious, beautifully textured music that lies within. However, let’s go with Pop Ambient, although as the selection of tracks doesn’t display any melodic resonance perhaps that doesn’t quite accurately describe what’s going on either. Never mind. This 2016 edition of the long-standing series of atmospheric brilliance maintains breath taking standards as distinct layers of sound lift and drop all five senses with immaculate precision. The second track typifies the inclination with who else but The Orb’s epically charged ‘Alpine Dawn’ stretching sonic boundaries via all sorts of expanding ideas. You will also find the caliber of artists such as Stephan Mathieu and Mikkel Metal alongside Max Würden’s deeply involving ‘Unterwasser’. A truly wonderful compilation of music which talks its own melody.
Can you tell us the story behind choosing the name Winter Son as an alias?
It just came about from living in Manchester and having a particularly exciting Winter a few years ago! Most people enjoy the summertime and the sun, but I’m more into those November nights that are crisp and cool. I was going to events and gigging a few times a week and it just seemed to fit!
Your current release ‘Tribal Rhythm’ is huge everywhere. How did you first team up with co-producer Jozef K, and how did the track end up ion Kim Ann Foxman’s Firehouse imprint?
Ah, wasn’t sure it was huge to be honest! You don’t really get to see the outside and impact of the music you make when you’re in the inside the windowless studio.
I met Jozef during *that* Winter and we started sharing techno, new wave punk stuff and industrial tracks, kind of gathering some kind of inspiration playlist. We thought it’d be fun to see if anything worked in the studio together, and I guess we never stopped since then.
Kim had played some of his stuff in the past and we debated sending her the track, but we got the courage to drop her a line. She loved it instantly anyway, I’m not sure what the panic and anxiety was about looking back!
Can you talk us through how the track was originally produced, and any favourite studio items you like to use?
It only really took a day on that track, it was very much a jam with a few choice pieces of kit. It started off with a beat on the 808 with kick drum and toms, and then we sampled a piano chord I made to create the stabbing lead sound. Then came more development on the percussion side and a 909 hi hat to round the drums off. Bizarrely, the track doesn’t have a bassline, which is I think it’s most interesting feature! We found that taking the bass out gave space to the other elements, and it allowed the track to breathe freely. Jozef had this cool little vocal line written in his phone voice messages and contacted Flora about a guest appearance, and the rest is history!
The 808 and 909 drum machines are incredible beasts to use, they’re so intuitive and user friendly (if I can say that)! I’m also really into my SH-101 synth for arps and ‘bubbly’ sounding basslines.
Your remixes display a welcome flair of musicality. Where did this come from? And who are your main influences musically?
I don’t really come from a DJ background as I grew up playing guitar, piano and drums, so I think that really feeds through into how I think about making music. I like to perform as much as I can, and I’m really into giving music a lot of drama and showmanship. Some people talk about analogue equipment and digital soft synths, but I like to call them all ‘instruments’, because that’s what they are! I also like to include unusual instruments and instruments that aren’t typically associated with house and techno, like the guitar. I’ve recorded guitar on almost every track I’ve made, even if it’s buried way down in the mix. I even played classical guitar on a remix I did for Saytek (it’s at the end, and was my first actual track as Winter Son!!).
My influences come wide and far, I can pull ideas from everywhere when I’m writing. I LOVE metal – I grew up playing in metal bands and practice speed metal guitar techniques every night! When I was 16 I started getting into Aphex Twin, Boards Of Canada and ambient music, and I think I saw a point where the two could meet.
Your recent remix for SDXN on Frontier Records (released on Oct 26) is another departure focusing on the instrumentation rather than the rhythm section. How was that created and how do you relate your music to creating atmospheres, compared to working with more structured beats?
I had an idea a few months ago to make a track with no kick drum or real beat behind it, so I thought this might be a good chance to try that out. The original has some lovely parts to it, so I had a lot of scope to work with even with no beat. Like Tribal Rhythm, it was pretty much a jam session, and just involved turning up instruments up and down when I wanted them to come in and drop out. It was so much fun making a big lush soundscape and not focusing on a build or drop.
How would you describe Manchester Clubs at present?
It’s brilliant here, it’s very much (and has always been) alive. I’ve always thought you can ‘feel’ the city when you’re here, and I haven’t felt it in many other cities. Things are still operating in very much the DIY frame of mind. It’s awesome that within a mile you can go see Chez Damier or Lee Gamble or Rival Consoles, there’s some serious variety. Obviously, you’re spoilt for choice sometimes, which is the downside.
Can you tell us about your set-up for playing ‘live’ and how are you finding audiences reacting to the experience?
I’m taking as much as I can carry to gigs at the moment! I have my 808 and 909 drum machines (both over 30 years old and as grumpy as they sound), drum pads and a laptop full of all kinds of sounds. It’s kind of a DJ/live hybrid at the moment, and if drums are your bag, you’ll absolutely love it. The sound of the drum machines through a good system absolutely shreds the venue to pieces. I also have the drum machine sounds loaded onto percussion pads for some extra battering, which I very much enjoy giving
I think because people can actually see me playing something they can relate to the music more, it’s quite a visceral experience, which is what music should be in a live context. If I go and watch someone play I don’t want to see them looking bored or staring blankly into space, I want to bond with them and feel the energy they’re putting into the performance.
What are your forthcoming plans going into 2016?
Me and Jozef have finished and signed off a good few EPs, and we’re waiting for these to come! We can’t wait to announce release dates and that kind of thing. Sometimes music ‘burns a hole’ in your hard drive just as money does in your wallet – you can’t hold it in and need to spend it!! We’re going back into the studio this Winter too.
Hopefully I’ll find time to do another beatless remix too!