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.)
Even if Amirali played the opening: The Harmonious Song and then left the building you would still be stunned by the collective beauty of the notes spread across the Rhodes. Thankfully the long player continues to revolve developing its journeys through hypnosis that somehow fits the month of May perfectly – at least from where I’m sitting. The playing is never less than outstanding, as is the production, while this collision of ideas appeals to heartwarming melancholy as much as it invigorates the spirit on tracks like the imaginary, Just An Illusion. Love the way expectations are then thrown to the wind as Painting On A Canvas follows on proudly down- tempo while tastefully placing art back where it belongs in music. In fact each track provides its own unique surprise spiraling in directions from the dancefloor to the horizontal with Amirali’s mesmerizing vocals adapting perfectly throughout. And it all sounds so easy… 9
Hurt Russell Queensbridge Jams EP Vol 1 ILFONX Records
This excellent EP from Belfast based Ilfonx Records opens with the ridiculously good, Soul Kestrel which sounds like choice Jazz and Deep House rolled into an excitable experiment that pays off big time. Love the way all the disparate elements work for position, and that they almost don’t quite sit at ease with each other – that’s Jazz for you – but I highly rate this production for that very reason. And just to prove the diversity, I Can t Go On slows right down to cope with its unfeasibly funky bassline and infectious chopped-up vocals. The equally impressive, Piano Saved My Life finishes off by deepening the mood with sassy percussion and booming beats. Next please. 9
Guess you could say that the opening track, Go With The Flow has it all: crisp, pulsating beats; haunting, energising synths: lots of cool fx and vocal; plus last but never least, a killer bassline. So, yes I love this, and strongly suspect you will too. Climbers aka Jay Blakk and Kiko Deal then proceed to explore more in the way deeply invigorating music with the next three productions, which all develop similar bass infused rhythms over the course of the release – the choice is then yours. 8
Second excellent release out of Belfast this week and city stalwarts Extended Play once again do themselves proud. That Girl, opens with fierce, pulsating electro-beats and then gets nasty with classic heavy-duty stabs that are destined to be played out LOUD, but if that doesn’t seem like enough by the time the full vocal hits this is so obviously peak-time business. Feed Those Hoes, turns up the heat further with explosive Detroit bass lines played against crisp hats and percussion, but while I can’t say the Rap works for me the instrumental is original House heaven. Bubba and T-Bone’s tasty FTH remix thinks along similar lines by stripping back the vocal and adding shimmering electronics to the equation, proving to be yet another notable version from the duo. 8
Three new tracks from Issac Christopher which get back to Madhouse basics and aim straight for the dancefloor. The aptly titled Shake That kicks off with booming beats, shake that body vocals, and brutal basslines all playing like they were made for each other. Been Thru The House, keeps the relentless tempo but adds funkier percussion and imaginative electronics, while I Need You is the deeper of the three with warmer vibes and retro piano all feeling like summertime. 7
More thought provoking music as DJ W!ild sets upon us with his second album opening with sound effects warning: please mind the gap between the train and the platform. Dirty then proceeds to play between ambient sequences that lull you into security such as Apres La Plage, and then pulverize you with heavy-duty Kicks on the likes of Voyage (complete with sampled spiritual guidance). If dirty refers to anything in particular then the one thing that’s consistently so throughout are those trademark and edgy beats – although perhaps the answer also lies within the title tracks’ explicit voice over too, with imaginative samples appearing consistently throughout giving the album warmth and colour. Eventually it all reaches an acid drenched climax on Remember and the album contains more than its fair share of dancefloor gems e.g. the hypnotic bassline driven, In Love. 8
Session Victim The Haunted House Of House Delusions Of Grandeur
Don’t be fooled by the Vincent Price styled title or indeed by the name of the first track, Dark Sienna – which just so happens to be one of the better Disco sampling records I’ve heard in a while – into thinking this is something sinister. What rapidly strikes you here is the liberal use of cut-up which gives it all a reassuringly familiar feel, that of course and the inherent joyous qualities of those time-scales that are best executed on Zoinks and said title track. Despite the possible limitations that very reliance may suggest the album wisely plays with intriguing moods and tempo working particularly on Bison. However, the up-tempo numbers suit best with the funk fuelled, Good Intentions proving to be a particular favourite with many. While this isn’t challenging or pushing at boundaries in the way the above albums could be said to do, its none the less always welcome at parties. 7
release Date: May 14 (Vinyl/CD) / June 11 (Digital)
And so to the ever reliable soulful-funkiness of Jazzanova who are now captured ‘live’ with this selection of old and new music recorded as played in their studio. Great organic feel to the album which grooves and leans in the right direction all along. The musicianship is exactly of the standard we’ve learnt to love but then how could you really go wrong with titles such as Jazz-Funk epic, Theme From Belle Et Fou and I Human. Slow burners such as No Use and the beautiful lyrics and piano of Little Bird vie for attention along with the more dance floor orientated material but quality is, as always, rest assured. 9
Your next single Higher Ground is released February. What is the inspiration behind the track and tell us about your relationship with Freerange?
The Ep was inspired by listening to Freerange records back catalogue of music keeping in line with the labels dedication to quality House music for the last 15 years. Freerange is one of my regular labels I like to contribute to as I feel I can communicate and relate with both the label owners Jamie Jimpster and Tom.
What influences inform your music, are they all Dance?
At home I listen to Contemporary Jazz, classical, Neo soul, soul, etc anything but house music. I get inspiration when travelling, cycling, walking, visiting art galleries, good clothes.
Do you have a favourite instrument or piece of software you like to use in the studio – how do you typically go about writing music?
I work with Ableton and my main keyboard is a Yamaha Mo6 like what 90% of Neo soul RnB etc musicians use for its good natural sounds, Rhodes and Piano. When I write something I never sit down and think ok I am going to write this type of track or that. I sometimes have a few samples I would like to use and build a track from there. I basically start every track with a blank canvas and see what evolves.
You experienced the development of House Music in Manchester in the late eighties/early nineties. How does that experience compare with living and what’s happening with the club scene in Berlin?
I experienced house music from its very first arrival in the UK Manchester. I remember how people didn’t know how to react or whether to accept house music as a real form of music and extension of soul music. I remember being at a famous Manchester night club called “Legends” during a soul all nighter and during the House half hour the Dj got on the Microphone and took the piss out of one of the first Acid teds we called them, Smiley T-shirt long hair, whistle etc and said Ha that guy thinks he´s Jesus….you had to be there to appreciate it.
I can’t really comment on the Berlin club scene.
Can you tell us about what your plans are for 2012?
Next release is Higher Ground named after the Stevie Wonder track as I’ve always been a massive fan released on Freerange records Feb 2012. A remix of Ron Carroll’s track Back Together out anytime now on Soulfuric, available on Traxsource. Also working on a 10 track album which I may release on Kerri Chandlers Madhouse record label this year.
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
Zakes Bantwini ‘Wasting My Time’ (Dan Ghenacia Remix: The Martinez Brothers Edit) Real Tone Records
This Martinez Brothers Edit of Wasting My Time is so heavy it makes you want to swear. But it’s not all devastating bass and sharp beats as cool muted horns and an insistent keyboard riff compliment the madness perfectly, with carefully chosen words only adding extra spice. Respect due to Zakes Bantwini, Franck Roger and also Dan Ghenacia for helping this to happen in the first place. But if words are not enough, click below for a taste of the original remix! 9
release: nov 2011
Tony Lionni ‘The Bijou EP’ Madhouse Records
If you add the words gorgeous, deep and House Music together will end up here at this bijou. Steps Ahead captures all those early nineties feelings with classic beats and sizzling hi-hats accompanied by staccato organ bass notes – which are nearly always irresistible – and undulating chords and fizzy electronics. The title track follows with expansive pads and arpeggio notes playing like its 1988 all over again on a dancefloor, and why not. Hypnotize, hits a deeper groove with intensity building layers of atmosphere proving irresistible, with final track Rumours elevating the mood once again with joyous keys and funky percussion on what sounds like the EP’s most effective production. 9
Valeria Croft ‘Just Prove Again EP.’ Tea Boy Music
Two tracks go to make up this EP from Valeria Croft who hails from the Russian Federation. You may like the amalgamation of ideas which are seemingly thrown together casually and yet feel thoughtful and emotive the more you listen. Just Prove Again combines a sprinkling of cabaret piano alongside snare brushes with richly atmospheric tech stabs for starters. While the more intense Walls On Water has an infectious acid bassline working up a fever with 909 hats and nervous sounds edging themselves under your skin. It has to be said you may enjoy the danger. 8