I’ve been looking forward to reviewing this almost purely because the bass is so deliciously heavy on the brutal textures of Industry. But also and more simply because its addictive, party-fuelled rhythms are so temptingly after dark, smouldering yet engaging with a fevered urgency. The No.19 head Jonny White follows that with Exit to Eden and an equally bouncing set of grooves which side-step the pulsating bass this time with punchy percussion and soulful, suggestive voices. Next, Boa returns to demanding intensity which again sequences pounding beats and bass together like they were heaven sent – and quite probably are. The looser Madbar then ends on a deeper note with stabbing organ hits offsetting insistent kicks and hissing hi-hats. A very excellent release.
Hello and welcome to Magazine Sixty, James. There’s a great picture of you holding a copy of your latest release: So Long (Crosstown Rebels) outside of Phonica Records. How did it feel to have in your hands your first release on vinyl and why for you has the format remained such a potent force?
Hi. Thanks for having me. That was a very special moment for me. Not necessarily because it’s a ‘vinyl’, I’m not a purist in any way and I embrace all formats. It was more the fact that when I started DJing as teenager, I went to record stores to buy music. The guys making those records were heroes to me and inspired me to start making music. To walk into a shop like Phonica and buy my own record bought all those memories back and that was a really nice feeling.
Pete Tong recently premiered the Solomun remix of ‘So Long’. Can you tell us about how the choices for the remixers where made: Solomun and Audiojack?
That was all down to Damian Lazarus. He’s an A&R guru! From FFRR to City Rockers, and now celebrating a landmark 15 years of Crosstown Rebels, he has created such an iconic brand through his musical vision. When I first sent him the original for ‘So Long’, he was very excited by it. That prompted him to invite the likes of Solomun and Audiojack to add their take and the EP took it’s form.
And what is it about Pete Tong which has made him such an influential voice on radio for the past three decades?
Well if there was a definitive answer to that then there would be hundred’s of ‘Pete Tong’s’. Who knows? It probably has something to do with the fact that he’s been able to pioneer underground music on a commercial stage, giving a platform to young up and coming artists as well as showcasing the industries most accomplished acts. I think that’s where the longevity comes from.
Can you talk us through how you created So Long. Where the initial ideas came from and how you then produced them as music, your decision on creating a song rather than an instrumental, plus working with Jem Cooke again who delivers such a smouldering vocal.
The initial idea was a to create a track that would work in a club but also translate to something you could add to a playlist and listen to in the car or at work. The track went through many versions. When I sent it to Jem it sounded completely different. Some of the elements were there but it was a different track. When she sent it back to me I loved what she had done but realized the track needed to change to really combine with the vocals. I had another few days on it and the lead pad that comes in from the start pushed forward into the mix, setting the tone for the arrangement. It’s always a pleasure to work with Jem. She’s a pro, and she’s from Twickenham where I grew up.
Who are your main influences both within and outside of electronic music? Any particular artists, painters, writers etc that you like to refer to for inspiration?
I don’t have one in particular. I’m influenced by all sorts of sounds and music. Sometimes it’s house, sometimes it’s rock, hip-hop or electronica. I try to keep my ears open all the time for inspiration. It really can come from anywhere. Then I take those inspirations and try to interpret them in my own way.
How have sounds evolved for you in Dance Music since you started producing. Do you think it is important for the music to keep moving forward rather than revisit the past too much for inspiration?
Music is always changing. It has to otherwise it gets boring. I’m not a huge fan of remixes of classics from years gone by. I think a classic is a classic because it emerged at the right time in the right place. It’s very rare to find a remix that delivers the same emotions as the original, probably because that original conjures up memories of good times. On the other hand, having a good knowledge of what has shaped the scene before you is vital. I like to hear sounds being recycled and reinvented in a new way. If you can combine that with your own unique sound then that, for me, is very exciting.
You have a busy touring schedule as a DJ too. How have you found time on the road? Have you read The Secret DJ?
No I haven’t read that yet but I have been meaning to. I have traveled and toured as a DJ to places like Ibiza, Australia and Asia as well as around the UK, but not to the extent that I would like. Hopefully with continued dedication and a bit of luck that will come, but managing to fit everything else in is hard. You have to be dedicated and also have a good balance between work life and downtime with family and friends.
Can you talk us through your studio set-up? And tell us about any particular favourite piece of software/ hardware you like best?
My studio set up is quite simple. I’m not a huge tech-head. I like to mix organic natural sounds with analogue synthetic elements and I have found Omnisphere to be perfect for that. I like to use U-he Diva as my main synth. I think it’s better to master one or 2 instruments at a time than to fill your hard drive with hundreds of plug-ins that you don’t know how to use. I’m a big fan of the Fabfilter pro bundle. I’m getting great results using their EQ and compressor on my group busses to add an extra punch during the mixing process. Last year I upgrade my monitors to EVE SC207’s and they are really fun to work on whilst staying transparent. I haven’t ventured into the world of hardware much but I have just bought the Moog Sub 37 and can’t wait to get stuck into it.
And finally. What are your plans for the remainder of the year?
To keep making music as much as I can. I have signed an EP to Audiojack’s label Gruuv Records which I have been a fan of for years. The lead track featureds my good friend Penny Foster who I have worked with many times before. I’m working on a collaboration with Habischman, who’s music I really respect. I also have another EP for Crosstown Rebels on the go which is a work in progress but we’re getting there. ☺
An excellent release of sound, and more importantly rhythm, on the opening track from DJ Deep’s new EP for Kerri Chandler’s Kaoz Theory. In many ways an effortlessly stunning piece of work that cumulates with a sense of bravado, taking you in one direction, while releasing you in another. Thai, begins and ends in anticipation which doesn’t actually hit pay-off but remains all the more powerful (and exciting) for that – if it followed predictable formula some massive beat would kick in and so on, but then this is about calibre rather than clique. The quality reaches another plateau via the super-charged emotions of the picturesque Tuesday Record Shopping In Paris which paints strident drums alongside a rush of energy to great effect in another well-crafted slice of music. Next, Guardian returns to a more familiar set of beats and bass, leaving the pounding, self-explanatory Cavalier Drums to pulverise all sense of reason into submission.
Paris’s Sebb Junior debut on the Kerri Chandler’s label sees the artist reignite all the ingredients that made House in the early 90’s so timeless (in retrospect). The self-assured title track feels addictive with breezy, summertime jazzy keys looped over bouncing drums and chopped up vocals that work their way into your mind. The excellent, Don’t Stop then proceeds to hit you with classic piano that sounds every bit as great as it always did combining warmth, emotion and dancefloor punch. Let You Go provides the sting in the tail via its sassy drums and yearning vocals rounding off another great release from the imprint.
Making eleven minutes sound exciting, creative and in the end enjoyable is no easy task but this first release of the year from Ellen Allien does all of that and so effortlessly too. Driven by its addictive bassline High builds in layers of suitably tense movements with tough percussion punctuating the rhythms while dark synthesizers dance away in the background. The focal point creeps in towards mid-point with a You Make Me Feel So High vocal line that I guess will have everyone nodding in approval. Lou, comes next combining Acid and Techno across hard-edged beats with undoubtedly breathless results.
Number five in the series could just be the hottest to date with the vinyl only release arriving again in limited edition. I.E be quick. Beat Down is blistering ACID at its finest with gritty drums and 303 lines working themselves into a frenzy amid harsh vocals. Next and first rate, Inside You fuses more of Roland’s classic box together with deeper pads and funkier bass, leaving We Are The City to jam across the beats with perhaps inevitably Jack Jack Jack vocals tell you just what to do.
I can’t confess to knowing a great deal about Brubaker but I aim to rectify that very quickly. What captured my eye was that these are Phillip Glass compositions (who he has worked with, and has also released previous interpretations through Arabesque Recordings) and likewise has again recorded fresh versions of existing tracks for this release. Acting as a conduit for the full scope of the composer’s imagination achieves stunning results, which apart from actually listening for yourself is almost hard to put into words correctly. I love the way the music tells its own story, conjuring up situations in your mind to accompany the narrative, and the freedom of possibilities that the combination of notes portray. Coming from decades of reviewing Dance Music it’s interesting to compare the result of repeating layers and textures evolving here, which in the end say so much more than the tired numbers of functional music being reproduced in that arena. So please enjoy the exquisite series of notes expanding across the stereo of ideas via Bruce Brubaker’s fingertips (plus of course the Plaid remix of Metamorphosis 5 which not surprisingly sounds very much like 2015.)
Been looking forward to hearing this LP from Mr Lionni for some time now, but while it’s no easy feat to pull off an albums worth of self-penned, captivating Dance music it’s achieved admirably here. The title track sets the tone with sassy, shuffling beats combining with funky synth lines fusing the past to the present perfectly. The notable instrumentation continues on Black Orchid as sultry strings are accompanied pulsating bass, although the long player is by no means devoid of the human voice. Robert Owens makes his presence felt on Time Stands Still, with the first single lifted from album featuring Rachel Fraser, Take Me With You doing likewise. There are some lovely instrumental sequences along the way too with Lost Souls pitching an emotive set of chords across a hypnotic array of beats and bass. The deep feel of this album will no doubt appeal to most out there, but having said that this never seems ponderous or underplayed – it’s always bang on target.
It did take a second listen but glad I did as Howie B and Joe Hirst’s magical blend of sci-fi weirdness alongside the brutal bass and pulsating tribal drumming is all quite startling. Frankies City, is all that and more while packing more atmosphere into its unnerving 4.37 than most. Authentication, is a lighter proposition/ listen but none the less a stunning one which hints at minimalism while feeling positive, and dare I say even uplifting in the process with rousing, emotional strings plus zero beats. It’s a collaboration with the visual artist from Italy, Fabio Paleari and was made for an exhibit in Turin. The art in noise.
If it’s dark, brooding intensity you’re after that you’ll find your dreams coming true with this release. Not to put too fine a point on it but the opening About Mary is a deliciously sinister, even compelling listen. Striking drum effects offset the moody, whirling drone with Borg like voices that collectively make imperfect sense. The more hopeful sounding Jazz is next with a stripped back set of punchy drums giving the only possible clue for its namesake. Make A Wish then injects more energy into the bass along with brighter keys, leaving Then It Happened to supply some vocal relief albeit via more dark tales. A captivating set of productions that may well astound you.
How could you not love this combination of fiery Latin, percussion accompanied by soaring Flute and Disco sensibilities on the JC Edit of Dream Alive? But then how could you not love the remainder either: Ups and Downs is sure-fire funky, Pass The Music On exquisitely soulful, with the proceeding second Dr Edit (edit) feeling frisky on the sizzling up-tempo vocoder led Never Let Go. Good time Disco-funk for all the family from this Dublin based label.
The Salsoul Orchestra
Magic Journey (Expanded Edition)
Salsoul Records/ BBR
Any album containing Run Away is a priceless gem as this beautifully sung and orchestrated production cutely testifies. Loleatta Holloway provides the timeless vocals and the track appears in both its album version plus the extended Danny Krivit Re-Edit. Besides that the albums succession of skillful players breathe life into everything from sassy Latin vibes through to gutsy rock n roll with main man Vincent Montanan Jr. very much at the controls. The excellent Getaway provides another instrumental excursion while the opening It’s A New Day supply’s more party-time Disco moments. This edition also features Walter Gibbons reworking of Magic Bird Of Fire which runs into eight minutes of Congo fuelled bliss, and is always worth your time.
If the title: The House Of… transports you back to New York in the early nineties then the music plays every bit for 2012. I like/ love this album in the same way I do the new Azari & III and for the very same reasons too – you can spot the influences and reference points yet relish in just how contemporary and fabulous it all is – and it certainly doesn’t sound like a revival. From the big room beats of Opulence to Roland Clark featured on Million Miles Away the productions sizzle with ideas and moods with a series of collaborations that pull in the calibre of Timo Garcia to Tim Deluxe: who’s Lost the Feelin’ takes tension to an impressive extreme. Other highlights are undoubtedly the opening This Is War with Doll – not least of all because of the ecstasy inducing E2-E4 sequence – and the extra squelchy funk of Dark Matar. In ways this album could have been recorded at anytime over the past couple of decades but the fact that it feels this exciting says all that needs saying. 8
More records like this one and someone will be suggesting the return of House Music’s golden era. The strongest release on Kaluki so far – could be, if that is you like moody European electronics crossed with Chicago via Detroit (ish). What’s more Italian producer has added a totally succinct vocal refrain giving the track all the soul required against the backdrop of sinister synths and euro-beat references. The first remix is from Luca Bear and Romano Alfieri who add yet more haunting qualities coupled with a fierce bassline, the final from Marco Effe is simply outstanding as it deepens the mood and draws you into a life all of its own. 9
Italy’s magical combination of Dj/ producers Giuseppe, Andrea and Vins deliver four equally dazzling cuts for Kerri Chandler’s Madhouse. Dogzmatic starts with a high octane sequence of hypnotic synth and piano rushing headlong into oblivion, or there abouts. The excellent Euphoria follows with one of those irresistiblly in-vogue organ led basslines played off crunchy handclaps and intense atmospherics. New Era gets moodier with yet more organ and drum machines invoking the past on this cool number, leaving the stunning Powerplant Powered feeling heavenly with its hands-in-air marimba vibes shouting sunshine all the way…
Release: 16 January 2012 on Beatport. General from 30 Jan.
‘I Really Do Believe’
(Jet Project Remix)
Initially released last October Chris Duckenfield’s effervescent combination of legend Etta James and an assortment of Disco beats and House attitude (see killer bassline) now gets the Jet Project treatment – not forgetting the heavy duty Chicago Damn version which accompanied the original of course. Their Believe In Dub version again hits the spot with carefully crafted bass notes and shuffling rhythms offset against delays’ galore and a smart arrangement of sounds set to stun. Head-nodding, soulful and to the point. 8