Listening to the opening numbers from A Certain Ratio and 23 Skidoo confuse the very idea of post-punk recasting it more as post-funk. It was always an odd expression to begin with anyway, slightly ill-fitting yet also neatly apt to describe the flame of inspiration which fuelled Punk’s ethos while defiantly creating something altogether new in its wake. Almost as quickly as Punk became an expression it became a clique some could not escape from and in many ways this excitable, radical fusion of all things past, present and future was/ is all the more satisfying in retrospect. Bill Brewster’s thrill-seeking journey throughout the timeframe sees a perfect collision of guitars, synthesizers and political theory all rolled into one. So much so it’s hard to imagine now that contemporary music was once quite so varied, so experimental, so anti. As today’s industry feels like an industry in itself, a never ending spin on its own refection. There is something uniquely refreshing going on here.
John Cooper Clarke’s Post War Glamour girls is an all-time favourite for all sorts of reasons, as is Vicious Pink’s Cccan’t You See (thank you John Peel). Fashion, Modern Romance, Visage, The Surface Mutants, The Pop Group, Glaxo Babies, Fun Boy Three plus a whole host of the wired and wonderful, supremely funky, alongside the seditious collectively inspire and define what happened somewhere in-between 1978 to 1984. Those repercussions still echo. The final track from Family Fodder – Disco Purge says it all in under 2.30 minutes (listen below) also listen to Visage – Frequency 7 feed into Techno in 1981! A brilliant, inspiring listen that will tempt you into doing something else….
If you are new to the music contained on this companion of the decade then I envy what you are about to experience – forget the agony, this is just ecstasy. Reading Bill Brewster’s sleeve notes for the compilation of releases between ’90 and ’97 who couldn’t escape that excitable feeling only Strictly Rhythm could generate. There was always a sense of trepidation with what you would get to hear next from the label and that translates crystal clear across the three discs of prime, reclaimed time. Founded by Mark Finkelstein and Gladys Pizarro transcendent music such as After Hours – Waterfalls would hit one minute while pulverising epics like Joint Venture’s Master Blaster exploded the next. Musical possibilities were expanded via the Latin tinged River Ocean – Love & Happiness featuring the beautiful voice of India, while The Believers seminal Who Dares to Believe In Me teased out Jazzier notes next. The tough, tribal beats of Armand Van Helden’s delicious Witch Doktor sounded like a new era all over again as did Wink’s now Acid standard, Higher State Of Consciousness. I guess it’s fair to say that the label had few, if any, equivalents at the time and very much came to define those sights and sounds from the 1990’s which can relive here at your own leisure. Is this essential? Of course it is.
Fair to say that this acts as a trip down memory lane that stretches beyond House music to Balearic gems such as It’s Immaterial ‘Driving Away from Home’ and features many ‘hard to find’ remixes which came to define the sound of the UK from the late eighties to the early nineties. The list of who was who reads like a dream from The Beloved to Leftfield to The Grid, and includes seminal versions by Andrew Weatherall and David Morales amongst many others. This compilation plays for people who feel the need to relive their youth as much as it does for people yet to live it. Bill Brewster’s wise words provide the notes to accompany the two CD set on the first of much more to come (I hope). 9
Lisbon based producer Vahagns’ sultry infusion of deep bass and pounding four/ four beats fuse together perfectly to ignite Buzzin’ Fly’s aptly timed August release. Substitute the word deep for intense here as the undulating synth stabs build into some kind of ecstasy and then transform more subtly into acid tweaks. Hypnotic in the extreme this beautifully tuned instrumental exudes perfect pitch. Brouqade Records own Dana Ruh adds reverberated drums and old school claps to her uber cool take on the affair with second remix from Nick Chacona adding partial melodic sense to it all. 8
Deep yet twisted. Dark and definitely dangerous. Those are the only ways to fittingly describe Guvernment resident Ovi M’s excellent EP for Manchester Underground Music. Although of course hailing from Toronto the label is nothing if not cosmopolitan in scope. Opening with Ashfault, which immediately dispenses with formalities via heavy sub-bass, nasty drums and insistent voices this proves to be intense House Music for extremes. DJ Meri aka Cylon then takes it all to another level with all sorts of twisted sounds going off , while Lisum does much more of the same, as indeed does Marium, with the apt Links 2 Past finishing by touching on Sneak’s heavy-duty Disco. 9
Karol XVII & MB Valence ‘Vintage Box 3’ Loco Records
By my far my favorite in the series of sumptuous music from choice producers Karol XVII & MB Valence number three most effectively combines contemporary style with past influences. The interestingly titled Cottage Cheese Dumplings references jazzy keys and live sounding drums which give it a supremely funky feel perfect for the bar and/ or dancefloor, although preferably somewhere hot and sunny. The Rusty Piano features an almost Murk styled bassline for good measure and climaxes with a bizarrely oddball treatment of said piano. Muzzik then has the vocal of the same name add a human touch to commanding funky rhythms which again put you in mind of somewhere else, perhaps even the windy city. 8
Hohle comprises of Leicester’s City Fly residents Kieran Clare and Lloyd Lindo along with notable sound engineer Francis Sevier. This feels like one the labels’ most accomplished releases to date on Martijn’s already quality imprint, so that’s probably saying something. The Original plays an infectious melancholy vocal over warm keys and pulsating rhythms all of which are undeniably impressive. Moodmusic’s Sasse provides an excellent remix packed with punchy beats and exaggerated claps driving the vocal once again to distraction and back. The Submantra version then picks it up with more energy injected into the drums and filtered vocal treatments, while Martijn’s own remix surpasses himself in terms of his creative use of sounds and their arrangement. 9
Soulmelt ‘Spot The Difference’ Celestial Recordings
That’s the thing about House Music sometimes it doesn’t necessarily have to sound new to feel right. And in this case it scores on both points. If filtered tough repetitive grooves with uplifting sentiments are your style then this plays just for you. Same Difference comes as an Original plus a deeper Nohijo edit with both versions featuring more and less of the gorgeous trumpet. Rising Tides, not surprisingly, has as touch of the beach about it delivering shimmering atmospheres across tough beats while Daydreamer’s lovely pads and trippy voices feel dangerously close to retro to finish off this excellent release. 9
As soon as the bassline hits you know this means business. Gentlemen of a certain age with a fondness for Giorgio Moroder will love the Electroviolin Mix of Pecto instantly as it transports you back and forth, to then and now, with sublime ease. Searing synths and irrepressible drums complete the picture on this almighty energetic instrumental. Backlash gets nasty with another storming succession of electro beats and harsh stabs leaving you little time to catch your breath… 9
Holy s***t I love this. Following on the epic ‘Bring back the drums’ with Kobbe comes this latest for Kult. Subtlety isn’t exactly the strong point here as techno clashes with Huggo Rizzo’s undoubtedly twisted (that’s in a nice way) mind to produce this rollercoaster ride of electronic beats and original sounds, complimented of course by one almighty breakdown. There’s also the remix of Cytric ‘Filthy Beats’ with Unik which provides a quirky trip through more unexplained notes and another crazed breakdown. 9