There’s something uniquely magical about the way Rhodes can translate human emotion into a celebration of the conflict between happiness and sadness. The opening bars of Soul Spectral testify to that very point as depths are reached by the pressing of keys. Followed by the shuffle of Laroye’s soulful percussion and the punctuation of organ stabs, accompanied by Greg Paulus’ haunting trumpet, this is a masterclass in realisation. The dancefloor flavour of Sanguine then greets you via funky drums which are quickly offset by a much deeper, probing set of synthesisers, perhaps making the music more about thought than dance (which is just as important in my book). The elegant keys which again infuse the closing number, Think Of You Always play out in evocative ways as the serene sense of Jazz compounds the sounds in all sorts of imaginary ways. After all, music doesn’t get much better…
Peanuts or Noodles the word salt occupies a significant place at the heart of the music. Either way Victor Mendoza’s consumption and celebration of all things wonderful plays like a beautiful, teasing cooperation of keys, drums, bass and horns alongside signature Vibraphone which blasts and punctuates the swinging rhythm section to perfection. What’s not love about this? As the Latin vibes then evaporate towards the reach of summertime Nacho Marco’s remix proves to be all the more remarkable transforming the original into a fiery, fusion of Detroit ignited Techno of the sterling, funky, musical variety.
Welcome to Magazine Sixty, Alton. Let’s start with some of your early musical memories which inspired your path to DJ’ing and producing? Are there a particular songs heard on the radio, or elsewhere, that struck a childhood chord with you?
Hello and how’s it going Magazine Sixty. Yes indeed there were lots of songs that pulled me right in. As a very young kid I listened to the radio every day when I was preparing for school in the morning. In the 70’s every there was fusion of different genres of music being played on the stations that played R&B. I was listening to lots of James Brown, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, Stevie Wonder. Bands and artists at this time were very prolific and it seems like the tunes just kept coming. Too many songs to list but I do remember that the things that peaked my interest were fusion. Steely Dan and Parliament Funkadelic. They were and still to this day are masters of fusing different styles of music that created their own sound.
Your new single is: From The Future EP on Roots Underground Records. Can you talk us through how you produced one of the tracks? Do you have any favourite software/ hardware you always use in the creative process?
I have been using Logic for a very long time. It’s the simplicity in using the software and the sound that I get that keeps me loyal. I use the Retro Synth that come with Logic religiously. I most always start with programming drums first and create melodies from the way the drums flow. Everything starts from the drums.
You have mentioned Ken Collier and Luomo being an important influence. Can you tell us about the music he was playing and what is was about the club that left such an impression?
Ken was a pioneer. He was our Larry Levan. That 1st impression is the one you remember and last the longest. Going to Luomo was my 1st experience inside a true dance club. The sound, decoration, people and the energy that I experienced that night and at that age was life changing. Ken was playing post-disco dance music along with New Wave and imports from Europe and it was incredible. The music reflected the times as it always does.
How would describe the legacy of the Music Institute in Detroit’s history? Are there any lessons you feel could be applied to today’s club culture?
The Music Institute was ground breaking as we bridged the gap between the iconic dance club and the future of things to come, that being Techno and how it became a worldwide phenomenon. Keep it simple. It has always been about the music and the sound. They are the only elements that matter. If those 2 key elements are done well people will commune in the spirit of dance which is the highest form of expression. Without that there is no party. It does not matter how many people. I have played to 40-50 and we got down!!!!!
Seth Troxler said recently that he felt a lot of European dance music was more cerebral, less about Soul. How do you see it?
I have heard and played some incredibly soulful music coming from Europe. There is still incredibly soulful music coming from Europe. I think it’s more about the individual artist and what they are saying artistically. You find what you seek. Do black people make soulful music? Yes we do. Do Europeans make soulful music? Yes they do but not in large numbers. Soul is about what resonates within.
Outside of Dance Music what other Art inspires what you do – in terms of any writers, poets, film-makers, painters etc?
Everything!!!! You said it. Writers, films, painters, dancers. Everything. I can’t make music if I can’t feel the expression that from one’s art or things that I see or experience every day.
(Pre-Covid-19) Where do you get your music from, are there any record stores you would recommend, or is all on-line these days. What are your thoughts on music streaming and the ways artists are able to make a living from music?
All over the World. I really love Moods Music in Atlanta. When I am there I always just go and sit, listen and take in the vibe. It’s a beautiful store!!! Cosmic Arts in Brooklyn is a super dope store!!!!! Again the vibe is spectacular. I buy music that resonates to me and speaks to me as an artist and a DJ. Everything does not speak to me and hence I have never owned a huge record collection. I buy things on-line as well. I think it’s a good thing if an artist can make money.
And finally. What things are you most looking forward to in 2021?
A continued and fruitful musical journey!!!! I finished my album for Sound Signature last year so looking to get things moving in regards to making it fly. Hopefully Covid will cease to keep me from plane hopping and playing some tunes in a city, country, village, town, island near you!!!!
Talking of revolutionary fervour, Stop The Silence injects the fire of much missed energy into their provocative statement of intent. Accompanied by pounding drums and bass there is an urgency to it all which focuses thoughts on the future with Aluria’s words delivered via the force of Punk attitude. Followed by an excellent Dub version highlighting the melodic chime of punctuating keys amid the resolute intensity of the assaulting rhythms. Next the GMJ remix feels that touch deeper reworking the elements into an ever evolving tease of the senses.
Release: March 1
If the unpredictable nature of the universe intrigues you then this release of cosmically charged particles from Berllioz is sure to set your imagination alight. Three probing numbers each grasping for answers while searching out the defiant space between rhythm and electronic sound in equal measure. Mo’orea begins and ends with hypnotic grooves exciting the synapsis over the course of a grainy infusion of drums and smouldering array of keys. Faka’urea then sequences the flair of Electro into the drum machine programming to be offset by a blur of voices, leaving the brisk tempo of Aphetidae to finish via pulverising interference plus undulating rhythmic sweeps underpinned by a more blissful sense of ease as pads quietly introduce themselves.
Release: March 1
Gene Tellem reveals an openness in her music by inviting you to share the joy and celebration of each emotionally charged number. Four tracks ignite the airwaves beginning with Ain’t Got Everything and its rolling, rhythmic impulsions of funky bass playing alongside a heart-warming expanse of soulful pads and notes all topped off by the whispered breath of human voice. Mind Reader then plunges deeper as a more rugged bass feds into a whirl of keys and stabbing vocals suggesting other worlds to find, followed by Jenifa Mayanja’s excellent reworking of Aint Got Everything which contrasts the soulful elements via a fuzzy twist. Finally, 2nd Time Around completes by revisiting the classic words kick & drum, slung low, this time offset by fizzy hi-hats and a wealth of probing synth lines.
Release: February 26
You could count on the fingers of one hand (maybe two at a stretch) the number of reggae records I’ve reviewed since Magazine Sixty began five plus years ago. Not quite sure why that is because I’ve always loved the sounds and their influence. What caught my ear here was both the unmistakable vibes of Aaron Neville’s 1973 funky gem Hercules and also the sheer breezy, good-times sunshine and smiles nature of it all. Second are the superlative Ashley Beedle and Darren Morris aka North Street West Holyvoodou versions which add some serious crunch, plus deeper impact of bass and swing to the productions, across a series of versions that include a brilliant Dub (of course).
Release: Februaury 26
Outstanding. Music which explodes the myth of nostalgia by crisscrossing influences, while being plugged into the here and right now, is where it is always going to be at. Tobias Schmid dives into past reference points then fuses them excitedly together via a soaring, searing invocation of bursts of electrical energy like life depended on it, Acid 672. Reminiscent of the brilliance of past European music and yet completely 2021. As is the proceeding PVSHL-202PVSHL-202 which hits you with shimmering waves of synthesised rhythm coupled with a brutal, lush intensity. As does Tensnake’s Quarantine Remix of Acid 672 probing at edges, adding a heavier feel in notable contrast. Leaving the grainy, risky elements of Glimmer Schwarzes Kerosin to cause friction with the senses while ending this excellent release via the flair of creative illumination.
Walking the talk of times reflection this Joanna Law number from almost twenty years ago feels every bit as life-assuring in 2021. As you soak up all of those good time Latin rhythms it’s hard not to picture the melody of sunshine warming your psyche, igniting the breath of harmony perfectly. Produced by Simon Law and released as part of the singers forthcoming retrospective Rhythm Of Years. I love this.
Released: February 22
buy / listen https://www.junodownload.com/products/joanna-law-song-for-theo-radio/4935172-02/
Located in-between the gentle wash of spine-tingling Rhodes and Angelala’s sensuous vocal is the soul of this latest release on Jesse Saunders, Broken Records. Accompanied by an unfussy arrangement of punchy drums and smouldering bass this feels just right for the arrival of breezy late nights/ early mornings. Col Lawton then adds a tougher rhythm section to his remix while retaining the emotive flavour of the original, leaving the BB Hayes Tech House version to syncopate the bassline adding even more weight to the production.
Release: February 24
Buy pre-order http://www.traxsource.com/title/1520447/Deeper