There’s something starkly mathematical about Eduardo de La Calle’s haunting new production that I can’t quite put into words. Maybe it’s down to the sheer brute, electrical force that ignites its machine generated grooves, or maybe it is the way I’m plugged into listening. Either way this is a brisk, grainy experience that never falls short of feeling intriguing, compelling even, in all sorts of excellent ways. One of which I imagine is a reference to the classical minimal composers such as Steve Reich on the brilliant, Amplitude Morphology. The brutal architectures of Echo Reminders follows with stabbing keys illuminating an unforgiving tomorrow. Leaving, Tribute to Scott Roggo feeling the funkiest of the three – if that’s the appropriate word – channelling classic Acid notation across eight minutes of unquestionable pleasure.
A stunning production of music from relative newcomer Thales Boutroumlis. Beginning with the title track, Perpetual which positively simmers with the sort of energy to tempt you into oblivion this release for Poker Flat hits all the right notes reaching for hints of melody and proportion, while actively exploring an array of electronic sensory delight. Capturing the imagination is key here as the sounds create a wealth of images in the mind but these are never far from the drums that fuel movement either. The equally impressive, Aether follows this time with tougher basslines igniting the airwaves while resolutely brisk drums take care of the rest amid the pulses of Acid. Excellence.
Another great release of energy from Roush. This time it’s the turn of Spanish producer/ DJ’s Disaia who deliver their trademark sounds via a fiery, engaging rush of emotionally charged rhythm and melody. Just the one version to contend with here, but then this says it all as it is. Tough drums, insistent hi-hats plus rolling, fierce bass do all the work as soulful vocals provide the icing to the already generous prize.
Six years may seem like a long time to wait, and it is, but here we are with the launch of Sid Le Rock’s beautifully realised new album: Scenic Route. What strikes you instantly is the playful sense of fun that the tracks are infused with, as in it sounds like this was a pleasure to create and then to record for the artist. Accompanied by the excellent singles Slowpoke and Hiraeth the album is an exploration of simmering electronics which at times feels deftly funky, at others probing questioning the nature of things, such as on Morgenfrisk. The brilliantly titled, Mud Puppy is one of the more introspective, deeper tracks which provides a neat contrast as part of the listening experience. Then there’s the punchy Acid of Eggo, or the breezy melodies of First Kiss (Vanilla Edit) to choose from too. With an expanded running time of sixty minutes it’s fair to say that all corners of sonic pleasure are tested and in turn this fifth album is a very welcome addition to the number.
I like Edgar De Ramon’s no-frills yet compelling and completely exciting approach to creating music. Answer, poses questions via its edgy voice over which is underpinned by the single word, Acid – so you may guess at what it’s all about. Musically it’s pounding, repetitive and brutally funky. And is accompanied by a hand-clap fuelled acapella in the form of the Tool Mix, plus a second track, Justify which plays friskier, fizzy rhythms over yet more probing and energetic escapades in stereo. It’s all first rate and is the artist’s first release on his own new imprint, TUTU. Which by the way is also providing a percentage of the release to the worthy organization ‘Provocant La Pau’.
With cynicism and self-interest all the rage nowadays it is easy to forget there was once something else to occupy all your precious time, exciting perspectives both inwards and outwards towards the world, alongside the people that surrounded you. Looking back from the gaze of popular myth Punk has become such a loaded word now that it is almost outweighed by its own definition. It either means a bloated accumulation of vomit or spit, defined by acting dumb, restoratively repeating the same clichés… or by a more positive shout against things you want to see actively changed, which was about being forward-thinking and constructive – more about liberating thoughts, not confining them. The formers’ meaning has been swallowed up by the lazy journalism stating that in the race towards a nostalgic nirvana there really only was one, or maybe two, bands which really counted in the grand scheme of the promised rebellion. The question deserves to be asked in that process: why have Crass largely been ignored in the re-telling of Punk history? Especially given that like every other movement, or collection of ideas centred on youth, the passage of time alongside the mainstream of public consciousness absorb, soften and twist the original meaning to suit their own needs. Rendering moments as fashion accessory, or worse still advertising soundtracks selling corporate product. After all, it’s easy to package anger as good for business, adding clicks to the bait. Those independent, DIY train of thoughts which had traversed all of the important points in time from The Beats through to House Music’s original spirit are as keenly relevant now as then. And through the passage of time it is Crass who have remained most closely bound to those ideals. In today’s world it seems almost inconceivable that a group of people would actually bother to take the time to form a union of political ideas, coupled with fiercely demanding music to ask and probe at questions which were just as important to any concept of age. In one word, Crass.
Like no other UK band from that original era, begining in the late seventies, what was said was meant. What was played was also meant. You never get to question integrity: Or are they selling out? Or they too commercial now? Are they just rehashing the same old dream? Are they simply generating money? Are the headlining Glastonbury? What happened to the original ideal? These questions never got to be asked because none of them applied. The band stopped in 1984. And all of that is something quite unique in the days of money counting for everything and where popularity contest is a welcome game.
In one sense Crass were initially musically defined and limited by the angry growl that Punk shot against the world of boredom and conformity. Perhaps neatly summed up by: Do they owe us a living? Of course they fucking do! But that first blur of anger soon gave way to something more creatively and sonically stimulating. Listen to the opening Asylum on The Feeding Of The 5000 with its brutal combination of freeform feedback and pointed words for a start. Or their John Cage inspired use of ‘silence’ amid the virulent thrashing of They’ve Got a Bomb. They were different to almost everyone else at the time, not just because they fused ideas and modes of living together with a particular way of delivering that musically, but also you were extremely unlikely to see them bothering TOTP live, via video, or otherwise at anytime. Unlike many of their contemporaries they weren’t pretending not to be popstars under cover of a fake story.
Stations Of The Crass and Feeding Of The Five Thousand (The Second Sitting) were their first two studio album releases, with the irony of Best Before 1984 forming a compilation of some of their most cherished numbers.
The point of these re-releases is twofold. You can now hold physical copies of either CD or the freshly pressed Vinyl, not something which has been was available to experience unless you sought out the originals’ second-hand. You will also get to unfold the accompanying life sized artwork in your hands, which formed an integral part of the story of sounds and visuals. Plus, that you have the promise of the music sounding as it was conceived, stripped free of the production process’s applied decades ago. Working with One Little Indian Records this first in a series of re-releases have been remastered by Alex Gordon along with Penny Rimbaud at Abbey Road Studios.
With so much excellent new music around these days it makes you wonder why anyone would want to bother living in a re-edited past. This dangerous fusion of smouldering electricity coupled with the sort of pounding kick drum to die for is just one example. Opening with the title track, Binary which explores repetition in explosive fashion as wired and wonderful sounds intertwine with drums and a lone voice intoning, repeat. And yet this inventive, insightful arrangement of the source elements is much more than mere simplicity as the production creates an unworldly sense of itself reaching far and beyond. The riotous, Coast To Coast follows with commanding piano strikes fuelling a rush towards the dancefloor, leaving the exceptional Niko’s Apartment to end. I say exceptional because although the drum-break has existed the world over in a million different guises its use here, when combined with these sublime, emotionally charged pads and taught Detroit styled bassline causes unique results. And then again you will also hit repeat.
Returning to Belfast’s Extended Play is always a pleasure. And with this new release from Tabb both label and artist have excelled themselves. Music should always be exciting whether that pleasure is up or down and Tabb produces those sensations all in one as playful synthesizers lean on heavy-duty rhythms and gritty drum machines. A contrasting sense of yearning is also to be uncovered beneath the jaunty keys that inform Just Arrived as booming kicks, crisp hats and a rigorous genre busting approach all ratchet up the allure. Close To You comes then excites with an almost eighties approach to electronic melody, while the very wonderful bizarreness of Bricked completes via tempting, syncopated basslines dishing out a nod to Hi-Nrg in true downtown, in the heat of night, fashion.
Disclaimer: Ron Trent. There I’ve stated it. The man who has created some of the finest House Music since I fell in love with his sublime treatment of Braxton Holmes - 12 Inches Of Pleasure way back in 1992 (Emotive/ Clubhouse Records). And who now interprets Jungle By Night’s ‘Spending Week’ with invested passion, producing soulfully realised music that tastes history and infuses the present with it. Lifted from the band’s fifth album: Livingstone this journey’s through notes of Jazz and Funk blending seamlessly across summer days and warm, breezy evening affairs like no tomorrow with robust horn blasts, vigorous drums and punchy eighties styled keys all working up a fever. Japan’s Kuniyuki is up next reworking, Loveboat with a wash of chiming funkiness that tingles with melody and positively pulsates via trumpet and finely-tuned drum machines. Jungle By Night are set to play Earth, Hackney on Friday 12th April. Be quick.
Julien Jabre’s strange, compelling twists of fate ignite Samana like an explosion of colour as tripped out, serene melodies join the words anthem and creative together just like they were always meant to be. In the end this is music for the soul that isn’t easily slotted into boring categories for limited imaginations. It just kind of is. The Levant Mix is that good, charged by the breath of heady voices and cumulating in a sense of transcendence – with or without drugs. The Lazare Hoche edit reworks the drums providing a pounding tribal quality to the rhythms while letting the keys sizzle and delight further. Finally, Far at Sea throws the rulebook out altogether sequencing seductive beats with an undulating funkiness that will cause smiling at the very least. Welcome back.