In a word, excellent. But then again, outstanding would also do. Have to say 2020 have excelled themselves with this release and of course the producer DOKTA whose fiery, informed blend of heightened tension generated by this array of unnerving synthesisers has really set the bar high when it comes to forward-thinking, probing at the edges music. Basically I love the fact that you have absolutely no idea what’s going to happen next, and that’s an idea all to rarely played out these days as the music unfolds. Two remixes with an up-tempo Jay Clarke turning it all upside down. And from Seth Troxler who alongside Bas Ibellini highlights the vocal aspects care of haunting yet beautiful treatments and the eventual inclusion of dark, gritty bass that only serves to re-imagine it all over again on their inspired version.
Whitesquare’s unforgiving yet thoroughly pleasurable The Block opens out this new EP to all sorts of exciting possibilities. Fuelled by an in your face Detroit stab which informs the drum machines upon which it relies this startling production renders subtlety redundant. But then this so richly deserves to be played LOUD that you could be forgiven for doing so and on repeat. The appropriately named, Sound follows suit this time with an unnerving sequence of events that builds tension into an art form via rumbling low-end theory offset by unfussy percussion. Excellently remixed by Ralph Lawson & Rui-Z who proceed to strip it all down and then rework the pulsating rhythms applying fizzy electronics and a delicious heightened edge to the number.
This stunning release from the label engages you on many different levels flying the flag somewhere in-between haunting and spiritual. Black Soda’s unnerving voice only serves to heighten the tension created by youANDme’s dark fusion of terse electronics and while this may not always be a comfortable ride it most certainly is a captivating one. A Dub and Acid mix accompany the original again sitting you at the edge of imaginative forward-thinking atmospheres. The Hyenah remix then explores warmer elements of rhythm on a welcome relaxation of all that simmering tension, while the equally engaging ambience of the Morning Light version provides similar pleasure.
Release: September 30
After the Storm
You could use the adage: method in the madness here but that doesn’t quite get to where it needs to be. Sascha Dive’s forceful repetition drives into the heart of the night with an unsettling combination of whirring, synthesized sounds and undulating bass hits along with spoken echoes plus brisk drums. All of which induces a kind of hypnotic wonder that you will either plug into gaining the sonic rewards, or not. Ion Ludwig supplies the remix with a succession of deep, pulsating low-end notes and a warm rush of keys defining extra possibilities that surprisingly make you forget about which genre to attach to the music you’re listening to.
Lost In The Storm
Excellent production from the main-man Ralph Lawson who sets the controls to stun on this fiercely underground arrangement of sounds. Setting aside the five remixes which accompany the original this smouldering combination of dubbed chords and sizzling drums breathe fresh impetus into the electronic soundtrack, bravely defying your expectations with this percussion fueled gem while satisfying your thirst care of its brooding ‘Storm’ ignited sound effects. The remixes then all play on, and around, the theme with the enviable list beginning with Hector Couto, Barem, Shaun Reeves, Fernandos and ending up with Rui-Z. Leaving you with the suitably abrupt Storm FX to finish.
Gari Romalis begins his own label Future 1701, alongside Subwax Distribution, with the this typically pounding yet soulfully rewarding set of numbers. The Quarentine Mix of People Under The Stairs begins this set of four care off its warm, oversized kick-drum amid a gentle wash of atmospheric keys. Itz Krazy (Word) follows with a perkier tempo which again engages emotive keys alongside the thumping rhythm section. Next, God of Dawn supplies suitably expansive, filtered ambience across this captivating production, leaving the undulating electronics of Hard Limiter (Trading Spaces Mix) to end this notable debut from the imprint.
Omnidisc Swim Series
Label head Danny Daze begins the Omnidisc Swim Series with this release from amazing French producer, Sebastien Bouchet. And happy to say it’s rather excellent. Take ‘Sailor’ which begins the EP in earnest with the sort of unfussy groove that proves to be hyper funky as uncomplicated, sassy percussion and bass notes produce magic in succession. Next, Jeff Goes Riot again hits you with heavy-duty basslines this time over nagging synth lines as ice-cool vocals feed off occasional warm chords. Etna, then feels fused with electricity as soaring synthesizers prove bright and seductively breezy over commanding electro beats. The atmospherically charged Pacific Seb ends on moodier notes which are by no means any less rewarding on what has to be said again is an excellent EP. Next please.
By way of an explanation: ‘Slow Futur features two jugglers (Elsa Guérin and Martin Palisse) on a treadmill (8 x 2m) which carries them along a neon light installation which delimits the choreographic space as a kind of space-time tunnel: the hyperspace.’ Lifted from the performance of the same name are these four tracks from Zombie Zombie aka Cosmic Neman, Etienne Jaumet, Dr Schonberg which not only highlights the labels inquisitive nature but also the musician’s creative impulses. Hyperespace, starts the exploration with organic feeling machines producing an enthralling blur of sounds accompanied by the demanding beat of drums. The excellent, futuristic strains of Extra Life proceed via pumped-up rhythms next, while the title track then eases down into a different trance. Finally, the brilliant Blue Screen ventures into ambient territory albeit a darker one with haunting sights and sounds completing a great release.
Release: Vinyl & CD April. Digital May 2016
Richard Burkinshaw and Jamies Rial aka Audiojack deliver this creatively intense set of three productions for their long standing residence at 2020. Which thankfully for us sees the duo in a more playful mood with the mind expanding Fluent opening proceedings via a pulsating, uber-cool funkiness which is not only thinking forward but very definitely hypnotic in the process. Stutter, then tears at the envelope with more energy injected into its insistent hi-hats, accompanying syncopated bassline plus off the wall vocal edits. Leaving the aptly titled Vowels to continue the theme by twisted the French language around darker flavoured drums and their sparse arrangement to produce yet another intriguing sequence of ideas.
Release: May 9
Conceived as an aural tribute to the ‘Hansa recording studios’ on Köthener Straße No. 38 in Berlin, this long player courtesy of Matt Edwards (aka Radio Slave) and Thomas Gandey (aka Cagedbaby) not only boasts purely live instrumentation but also the transcendent atmosphere of the music produced. Hansa was made famous by the likes of David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Tangerine Dream and Depeche Mode, amongst many significant others and is obviously a hard act to follow with the album taking its main inspiration from Bowie’s 1977 masterpiece Low. The result is a suitably stunning experience which blends a rich mixture of beats and percussion augmented by an intense musicality that is as far away from the mindless repetition of Tech House as you could imagine. Indeed, you could for example say that the piano played on Piano 2 Variation 4 has been spiritually guided. Or, try soaking up the haunting, ambience triggered by Hansa itself complete with taught electro drums, while the concluding title track ends on a wash of Fender Rhodes echoing your imagination to hear the excellence all over again…
release: September 15
HEAR DIS SOUND (Remixes)
Hipp-e and Halo’s distinctive release from just under ten years ago now gets revitalised via an excellent set of remixes transforming this gem directly into 2014. Beginning with Yousef’s great version that sets addictive organ notes against a fiery backdrop of hypnotic percussion and pulsating beats this is built for the repeat button. The Space Coast take is next combining sparkling synths and tough bass, followed by Sneak’s relentless attack on the senses. Franck Roger’s outstanding funky bassline driven remix then scores high, while DJ Buck adds a cool Disco flavour with a twist. Craig Richards then defies expectations by dropping the tempo into darker territory with a heavy dose of sound effects, leaving Adam Shelton to pick up the pace once again with another suitably punchy rendition that rocks the floor. All good.
Surpassing the computer functionality of the title this strips it back to basics via a pumping House beat and accompanying bassline. Not quite so sure about the vocal line despite its obvious catchiness but then there is always a great Dub version to contend with. Or, the excellent PBR Streetgang Remix which transforms the vocal into filtered nirvana via an array of swirling synths and an ecstatic arrangement. Second track, The Project delves deeper again with a detuned vocal loop, as does the addictive The Pattern which is complimented by a first rate rhythm section.
release: September 11
Everything (We Are)
Wolf + Lamb Records
What’s not to like about this. After all if breathy vocal deliveries and syncopated basslines backed up by punchy drumming are your thing then this is just right on the opening, ‘Miss White’. While the title track has a restrained yet slightly epic feel to it care off a rousing chorus line backed-up by Dave Robertson’s vocals and atmospheric instrumentation. Who then re-appears as Cameo Culture for the remix by adding a funkier attitude to the proceedings. Finally, Second Fiddle again weaves the delicate vocals through a musical fabric that sounds playful and enjoyable.
release (digital): September 15
For one of the most emotive intros around please press play. Nail’s 1997 classic ‘Time For Change’ opens with timely piano notes and warm pads to set the soulful scene on what then soon alters to something altogether darker, deeper: LIT ‘Brown Dwarf’ (Hyena Stomp Red Giant Mix). Not a problem of course as the music proceeds to traverse the full scope of House taking in everyone from Robbie Hardkiss to Rob Mello, while winding up at Brett Johnson’s extremely sublime ‘Slow Down Baby’ (Severino Remix 2012) – yet another album exclusive. As you’d expect from the label the music doesn’t easily slip into any particular cliché, which along with the diverse nature of Severino Panzetta’s stellar selection only lends the album its unique strength. Recommended.
release: November 5
This Odd Parents and Maceo Plex combination does of course hit all the right buttons when it comes to hard-hitting House music, twisting together computer-funk rhythms from one extreme to another. The obscure nod to melody, introduced towards the end, comes via a sinister sounding vocal loop which lets the acid synthesizers sizzle away underneath while feeling never less than funky. Mark E supplies two versions with his ‘Remix’ giving it a spacey mood, plus the stunning ‘Future Doom Remix’ which delves deep into classic keyboard sounds over the course ten minutes, and has that rare quality of transporting you somewhere else entirely via the use of sound alone.
release: November 5
Francesca Lombardo’s effervescent journey into sound is nothing if not completely captivating, relying upon strange evocations and weird twists of fate. Eyes, is an amazing piece of music that stands well apart from most other releases that you will hear in the coming months, not least of all because it speaks its own language in terms of originality and use of instrumentation. It crosses acid rhythms along with dark pads, invigorating beats and the occasional vocal treatment speaking in volumes. Wander and Wonder, featuring Julien Riachi’s delicious voice then adds a funkier edge to the array of pulsating sounds, and again locks you into another excellent production. When words are not enough…
release: November 5
No Equal Sides is one of those knowingly satisfying tracks which are tailor made for the dancefloor. It’s a simple enough premise but a devastatingly effective one none-the-less as deep, pulsating bass builds over reviving keys and shuffling beats to induce the desired effect. What more can be said: this works! Next, Tunnel Vision begins with sci-fi electronics but then develops into an unexpected, and very impressive vocal cut which you will find yourself returning too repeatedly. Dished out over smoky, broken beats and reversed chords these spoken words are direct enough to offset the spine-tingling atmosphere created by the music. In Principle, finishes by again playing with shuffled rhythms, although this time aided by moodier stabs and techno bass that sit strangely somehow in-between jazz and funk.
release: November 9
It feels good to be alive. That’s how this album makes you feel. New single, Open For Service states the intention with breezily accessible disco being the order of play. But not one to sit still Crazy P transport you through a series of changes that incorporate all thats been good in dance music from the past number of decades. Two things are patently apparent: 1) the playing is par excellence 2) Danielle Moore’s vocals are hot – listen to The Unbearable Lightness Of Being for lessons in soul. This leads neatly onto the fact that this album is about impressive songs and emotive music, and that’s a good place to be at in 2011. Plenty of other tracks of note too, love the Womack (I think) sampling Heartbreaker and Eruption which so obviously epic it hurts. As they used to say back then, a touch of class. 9
album released Sept. 19
Roots Panorama aka Deetron and Ripperton must love living life on the edge if this vibrant clash of noise is something to go by. You will need to listen really intently to the Deetron mix of Three otherwise you might lose yourself in the midst of fierce techno rhythms and a killer House bassline, with an array of insistant electronic sound filling in the spaces between. And just to make the point again, a Beeetz version follows – you get the need for the three eee’s now. The Ripperton mix then destroys the template to get deeper with yet more devastating bass and this time classic piano which come together in a priceless, uplifting moment. 8
released Sept. 26