It’s not often, in fact it is very rare that we review two releases from the same label in the one week but Yulia Niko’s inevitably stunning new single merits it. I’ve probably said this before too as for me important music feeds the soul with imagination, emotion and even radical discourse (personal or otherwise). The thought processes that occupy Man like Star ignite all of those attributes with each sound and rhythm being carefully selected for maximum effect. This is musically soulful but also probing, questioning the nature of things via its spoken, cinematic voice-over alongside an array of musicality. Two remixes accompany the original, both excellent, with Farid Odilbekov’s rugged bass fuelled version feeling particularly tempting, as indeed is August Artier’s sizzling, percussion-packed take that never fails but to excite with the keys and voice all adding extra punch in context.
Let’s begin the new decade at this point. Like House Music never really died, it just altered mutating into new, equally exciting forms. And you get that feeling as the bass and drums kick into gear on Forward, suggesting a yearning fed by rigorous rhythms and tough, hard-edged production values. Funky yet technological. Backward, doesn’t do so but points at ways forward via emotive voices alongside pounding beats, all creating a sense of resonating space. Finally, Per Hammar remixes Backward highlighting seductive, breathy vocals plus a definitive sting in the percussive tail as underlying sounds unfold to heighten, then explode tension.
Welcome to Magazine Sixty, Alex. What your feelings are on the current state of streaming, downloads and how the future looks for the record industry?
Streaming is a reality for record labels, I think the way to stay relevant is to diversify the brand.
What inspired you to set up the label in the first place? And can you tell us about what the name means for you?
I used to be a former Spanish diplomat and I was travelling and exchanging ideas and points of view with many interesting people. I decided to change the bureaucrats for legendary house producers and immerse myself in the music world.
The label name is a wordplay tributing to my former career as a diplomat.
You currently have a roaster of over 300 artists, which is obviously impressive. What do you think attracts so many artists to releasing music with you?
Deeplomatic was born with the idea of unifying the best house music artists into one label. I think the reason why so many artists want to release music with us is the quality and sound of the tracks that we release.
How would you describe the process of A&R? What do you look for when signing music – is an artist’s profile an important factor?
The main factor for us is quality and style because we want that fits in with the current releases, obviously, the artist’s profile is an important factor that we take into consideration.
What are your thoughts on creativity within electronic music currently? And how do you feel about the emphasis on nostalgia?
My favourite style of music and where I take inspiration from is disco and funky, so the style of music that I lean forward to now is space disco, combining all of my old favourites with new interesting beats.
How did you first get into Dance Music? And which clubs/ DJ’s initially inspired you?
I bought a pair of second-hand 1200 Technics Turntables when I was 13, didn’t know much about what I was doing at the time, all I wanted was to experiment with music somehow…
Rick Wade, Terrence Parker, Gene Hunt and Jesse Saunders were some of the first DJs that inspired me because they were some of the original creators of house music, and for that reason they were the first artists that we wanted to release music with on Deeplomatic.
Outside of music who/ what influences most?
I like to travel to strange and remote locations, and I’m also a technology freak.
And finally. Can you tell us about the first releases for 2020, and your plans for label moving forwards?
We are currently working on another compilation album collaborating with stalwart artists in the house music scene, so keep an eye out on that.
At the core of the music created by Afterlife life exists somewhere between lost and found. Looking inward, forever reaching out. Capturing moments as if they were yours to live, a shared experience if you will. The title track, Naif can be located on a sunny upland offsetting its sunshine rhythms with brushes of grainy Dub, alongside a pulse of deep bass – translating Jamaica via Chicago. And that early House influence can also be witnessed on the proceeding, Si Si Si with its Knuckles styled bassline, slung low, amid a cascade of finely tuned snare-drums. As with all the numbers here it’s in the detail where you find the magic crafted, with thought process and imagination set free to live and breathe. The quietly epic, To The Beach is perhaps self-explanatory, yet as bliss unfolds there are hidden depths to be discovered in the breeze of Balearic charged warmth. Dune, completes via a sassy shuffle inspired by the world of rhythm (from Talking Heads to The Beatles) which sees the artist redefine a playful approach to life. Here, Now and After…
Describing music can sometimes seem like the impossible dream. But this hazy invocation of past influence melded to a robust contemporary attitude sounds particularly stunning. Fearless sequences the sort of heavy-duty drums most can only dream of while, perhaps an overly familiar, voice punctuates the rhythms with deep bass and the rest igniting the field of stereo. Never dull, always exciting. Enzo Leep’s excellent remix plays testament to the creative mind as beats are broken adding a cool, funky essence while atmospheric pads lend it all a distinctive air. Continuum, then exercises history further with fresh percussion plus melodic stabs tastefully exciting mood and release, leaving Tripmastaz to inject an otherworldly vibe into the rolling assortment of drums and bass on this second first-rate remix.
Ending 2019, just as excitedly as we began it, the succession of new electrical impulses transmitting over the past twelve months are also set to charge throughout 2020. Implying future vision is what we seek to do at Magazine Sixty, rather than re-tread past glories, and so Nesker introduces January with this timely, reflective vocal neatly contrasted by the blur of captivating synthesizers alongside taught, punchy machine drums which in turn are fuelled by the human touch of melody. A subsequent Instrumental provides that option too, leaving the self-explanatory message of Hope to complete via the suggestive, insistent whir of brassy technique.
As one year closes and another opens Loot again explore the path to rhythmic nirvana, this time via a set of fiery productions from Ayala. It’s all about the drums on Ecoute as they work it up to fever pitch, extracting every nuance of energetic percussion in the process. Only coloured by occasional voices plus splashes of organic sounds but by the time the rugged bassline injects itself you’re already lost in it all. Quatri strips matters down for deeper introspection as the whir of looped keys and emotive chords add a different perspective on this first-rate remix. Primal, then returns to source with chiming arpeggios lending a sense of melody to the punctuating arrangement of breathless ideas. Leaving Rancido’s excellent remix to finish by incorporating a soulful intensity alongside a sprinkling of cutting electronics which pepper the arrangement with spine-tingling possibilities.
The Afternoon Remake of Brightest Dark is quietly sublime playing like a series of futures all rolled into one neat idea to launch this new imprint by BLOT! Its ever evolving landscapes of futuristic sound capture emotion perfectly as each fresh layer adds depth to the procedure, soaking up an array of influence yet defining its very own place. The Original Mix is actually more robust, although I’m going for the subtleties of the former. The self-explanatory, Fortune Favours The Rave not surprisingly tingles with grainy, igniting attitude via its range of synthesizers which both hit melodic heights while expanding the horizon of imagination.
The word here is breath-taking. Literally. Expanding time to a total of four hours this undulating landscape of motion is bliss unfolded. Eloquently exploring the far reaches of stereo movements evolve in meditative ways over each of the four parts, defining a series of works spanning four years in creation by Ben Vida. Again this may clash with convention as neither drums nor melody are employed in the process and yet feels all the more free for it. Your imagination is paramount here and is left to find its own path as synthesized sound feels at once peacefully poignant, while contrasted by being forcefully robust. There is nothing remotely lightweight about this experience. Perhaps, this will be the most challenging situation you may find yourself in as the completing moments of part four seek out the past, rooted firmly in the future.
It can be painfully apparent when music is this good as it transcends the dullness of everything else around it. Peter Oakden aka Frederick has produced something that is both soulful (in the real sense of the word) and yet challenging, vibrant. Understated drums and the gentle roll of keys create a questioning atmosphere for Take My Hand with which the emotive vocals fit perfectly in. The wonderful 6th Borough Project version then adds heavier kicks alongside Detroit flavoured basslines, all of which provide a warmer glow to the arrangement while retaining the essential essence. The chiming resonance of Looponic follows with deeper moods explored via the first-rate All Is Well edit, leaving the rigorous rhythms of Ruled By Fire to complete with a heady sequence of flashing keys and uplifting moments care of Selina Campbell’s soaring vocals.