I like music which can’t easily be described. It means there is more depth and curiosity hidden within, more aspects to uncover. It’s hard to pin down Gabriel Vitel’s heady whirl of cosmic psychedelia amid the tough, shuffling drums until the warm, bluesy vocal hits full on around mid-way, then things fall readily into place. That basslines rather killer too, alongside the mind-expanding guitar and celebratory sense of occasion. Ole Biege’s excellent remix reworks the elements transforming them into something altogether deeper, while again highlighting the smouldering impact of the voice.
Introspection has not been in short supply this year. Neither have feelings of loss, melancholy or even hints of joyous release. Perhaps I’m not quite ‘selling’ this to you, however this a great album fully worth your undivided attention. Beginning with the shimmering Night Effect which stuns via a causal whir of excitement as layers of sound build, lift and drop into sequence – breath-taking, emotional, eloquent. Aka Daniel Herrmann then proceeds to dazzle with each number supplying a rollercoaster of pulsating notes to inspire waves of thought. At mid-point Bubble Cell leans on a heavier intention as does the temptation of the final Cosmic Noise, though in-between Effective Height implements beauty, while Side Bands twists a tripped out Pink Floyd through the imagination of electrical interference. Perfect.
Some books you just race through I guess fired up by the excitement of reading about what you love. In this case House Music and if you find yourself here you’ll know the feeling. Jesse Suanders who history records as producing the first House release: On & On in 1984 (co-credited to Vince Lawrence) charts the history of the music beginning with the diverse set of influences which informed its formation.
In turn the pure style of Disco is said by Jesse to begin with MFSB: Love Is The Message. While also saying that House Music was very much a phenomenon attributed to his native Chicago, which included the post-punk and European records also feeding into the mix, along with new drum machines, synthesizers and of course American Disco to create what became recognised as the House sound.
The intimate testimony of those who populated the clubs are what defines this book lending the pages an excitable, I was actually there, dimension which befits the energy of the story rather than a dry retelling. The chapter and verse on the Windy City documents plenty of detail you would be hard pressed to find elsewhere, creating much more depth and nuance than is usually described, expanding what happened in people’s lives and how that fed back into the clubs. To say that lives were lived as part of an underground culture would be the truth. The vital importance of radio is also highlighted as a medium of communication beyond the clubs, and in particular the significance of certain shows.
In ways with what has happened because of the Covid 19 pandemic in 2020 it all feels / seems like a world away. Then again those who danced, DJ’ed and ran clubs in the late 70’s through to the 1980’s couldn’t observe all this on a screen, they had to experience it in person.
Ron Hardy’s history beginning at Den One in the city is a fascinating read, and it’s most welcome that other Dj’s and clubs are also rightly namechecked for posterity. So often with stories like this people and places get left out when in fact they were key parts of the picture. Robert Williams’s story is also invaluable and the detail of The Warehouse with Frankie Knuckles and then subsequently Music Box with Hardy are, once again, wonderfully involving. Likewise Jesse’s own story.
By chapter 5, House is then being talked about in terms of its global impact as further testimonies from the UK to Europe and beyond relive how the music effected those invloved, leaving the final section to expand into the broader terms of Rave Culture.
However, for me it’s the time and space occupied by the early days in Chicago which are the most fascinating, partly because I wasn’t there but also because it sounds like they were having the time of their lives. This is an invaluable book.
Let’s start with Sohna and its exploration of depth, tone and emotional resonance as Saudade’s probing, rhythms reveal way more about the artists mind-set than any simple genre description ever could. Funk is key to the production of carefully crafted percussion adding fire to the arrangement, but not before the warm swirl of emotional pads subsume you by the breakdown. The punchier drums and keys of O Samba follows with the tempting addition of vocal amid more synthesized intensity as layers build and fall. Keys again feature prominently on As Ondas with stabs cutting deeply, leaving the addictively bizarre twist of O Funk to complete this stunning release with words I can’t quite describe.
It’s those records which standout most which often do the most to satisfy the scrutiny of time. Hannes Bieger’s electrifying circuitry sets the tone for Juan Hansen’s breathy, spine-tingling vocals of which we could always do a lot more of. Musically the bubbling Acid infused basslines sitting in amongst the crisp array of pulsating drums and buzzy stabs only serves to cap this very fine piece of music off perfectly. Next, the freaky stereo of Ashes follows with brighter keys sounding excitable but have to say you do miss the human touch of voice after experiencing what went before.
It just occurred to me that Absolutely Everybody which opens this superlative release almost sounds like DJ Pierre exploring a parallel universe in Jazz. Listen to the bassline alongside the chords and the way they twist and turn capturing the excitement of musical repetition, yet all feels organic, naturally evolving as the blasts of horn add texture to the gently pulsating rhythm section. Sublime. Clear, then proposes a delving into memory with keys plus further sumptuous bass defining warmth and a mindfull of remembrance. While, Head Pressure again sees the extraction of beauty in notes as haunting basslines accompany richly emotive piano and more, leaving the free flowing eloquence of Landcare to finish this wonderful musical testimony.
Launching this brand new escapade the devilish rhythms of Portorico stoke the fires of Latin infused energies provoking the word Party, then multiply. Mondo Grosso follows with darker drums plus bass seizing the stereo and shaking it some, while the grainy beats of the excellent title track drive close encounters of nasty bass alongside dangerous voices into a wealth of heavy-duty distraction. Last though not least the warped disco of Defending sees that the curtain has finally been called on a world of crazy excitement, owing little or nothing to the dull proposition of clique.
Members of the nervous deposition should tune immediately into Simon Hinter’s exhilarating release of life-assuring energy. Who doesn’t love the touch of classic camp as delivered on the title tracks fiercely demanding vocal which simmers across a defining punch of House, Jazz and funk in three equal measures. The taste continues with the gorgeously introspective Heaven & Hell as deeper chords alongside the tease of smoky moods sense late-night escapades, brisk percussion then informs the breezier Lifestreams coming complete with vital touches of Loleatta in the mix. Looking Back, ends by sequencing the historic thread from then to now via a whir of musical keys, plus accompanying filtered elements, suggesting there’s still some hope left.
Put simply. Unequivocally. Without shadow of doubt. Spencer Parker delivers the kind of explosive music with Babeh babeh babeh babeh that makes you want to find yourself on a 1990’s dancefloor, although let’s hope that can be replicated safely and soon. The drums are unmistakably robust, dirty in grainy ways that define the beauty of analogue as organ stabs alongside the flush of human voice adds a tender, soulful quality to the otherwise brutal nature of it all. I’m in this (until I die) then delivers a jazzier, more playful flavour as meandering basslines and scat-like vocals twist and turn to complete more celebratory excellence.
Within moments Feelings From The Depth Of My Soul seems like home. Strange the way music has the power to do that sometimes but the layering of sparse keys is done so well it becomes a comfortable place to find yourself. The breadth of the album suggests a lost and found yearning which encompasses both a haunting melancholy but also an understated delight that things can occur in unexpected ways. The sumptuous bass and re-assuring swirls and drums of Esmarelda are a case in point, floating across the sea of stereo, while the proceeding Redemption gets tougher in turn. The soundtrack then unfolds playing with moods, rhythms and intensity such as on the percussive and spectacular 42ha252. Looping, soon resolves that unease via sequences of chiming notation, leaving the wonderfully titled The Space Between Words time to explore that very subject in searing, soaring ways.