Some music sounds better within the warm embrace of sunshine and this new album from Catz ‘n Dogz does just that. Albeit, with an air of uncertainly coursing through certain tracks such as on the opening Sunrise, which has James Yuill’s yearning vocals questioning the nature of being. Grainy structures are then explored on the soulfully tempting Life, while the more celebratory melodies of Meditate featuring Heather Chelan speak for themselves. The use of varying patterns of rhythm, the sheer depths of emotion, plus sweet production values all define this album’s innate strength. The title track itself almost defiantly sets the drums to four on the floor as whispered voices alongside cool trumpet blasts heighten a sense of reassurance. Likewise Jaw’s vocal on Time also feels remarkably transparent. Finally, the prophetic words of Tomorrow seek to end with the thoughts: What if tomorrow never comes, and we’re never going to dance again?
Reigniting Acid House for 2020 Truncate delivers this searing incitement of riotous behaviour in under a quick-fire five minutes. Powered by pulsating drum machines against a series of intensely demanding, caustic tweaks and bleeps this unrelenting sequence is both seductively addictive and forward-thinking in execution. DJ Haus provides an excellent remix building upon what went before, then fucks with it, transforming the ferocity into an art form of high-tempo release. Meanwhile, Level Up adds a shuffle to the excitable, banging beats again reaching fever levels via minimum fuss.
Hello and welcome to Magazine Sixty, Anna. Let’s start at the beginning and can you tell us how your alias came about: An On Bast and what it means for you?
Hi and thank you for the invitation. An On Bast is a connection between my name and Bast (or Bastet) – Egyptian goddess half-woman, half-cat, she ruled cats in the ancient Egypt by playing the Sistrum instrument. Well, the story behind my artist name is that I grew up with lots of cats around, I spent most of my time with them. So I feel I’ve learnt a lot from them, they kind of shaped my character. From the other side I wanted it to start with an “A” as my name, so I wrote Anon (because I do snowboarding) but it sounded “too cold” for me so I divided it into An On and added Bast as a “cat element”. All in all I wanted something very mine, something that is significant to me, also 3 parts sounded cool to me as (I am a fan of both!) Boards of Canada and Mouse on Mars.
How would you describe the creative rewards of performing live? Do you feel that if there was more live electronic artists the music would be more experimental, more about future than the past?
It is an individual approach, I can only speak for myself and for me it is essential to play live act, to make music live from very small elements, have such a deep control over every tiny step so I can create this live energy I want in the very moment on stage. I think I perceive myself as a musician to whom electronic music technology nowadays gives the opportunity to create many sounds at the same time, to trigger and control many voices happening.
So for me it is very rewarding as it gives me every time a unique experience of improvising and experimenting, having the ideas that might not appear in a quiet alone studio work. It also contacts me with the audience, as I play completely with interaction not only with myself but energy of the people.
Tell us about your excellent new single: The Ballet Began At Eight and where the title came from for the title track? Plus your relationship with Catz and Dogz, Pets Recordings?
Thank you, the title hit me as I was reading a book about Igor Stravinsky, about his premiere of “Rite of Spring”, how nervous he was and how bad it was received soon after the orchestra started to play. And it hit me because this performance began at eight and it was like a new world opened up, the new chapter of history of music was started – even though the first performance was took by the audience and critics very bad. But there was something significant in the air that has changed the music forever with this ballet.
I like a lot releasing albums and Eps. because they mark some point for me. Every record after release cut off the line from the past and I think I felt that with this title. But I feel it with my every release, however they don’t change the world 🙂 They just make me move on. It is beautiful that every album, EP lives its own life influencing people here and there, giving them good emotions or not at all but the beauty of it is that for me it is done and I’m just an observer of my work and of course I’m very happy that I can spread good feelings and that there are people who are catching them in my music.
We know each other with guys from Catz and Dogz for many years, I remember them as 3 Channels already so the beginnings of their remarkable career. Our paths were cut many times not only by playing the same parties, we also have common friends. I always respected a lot their talent and work but I always thought we have different taste in electronic music. But about two years ago they proposed me an EP making for Pets so that’s was I guess a process of finding the common music language. I’m very glad that we did, as the label heads they are very good in what they like and what they don’t, there are no grey fields, and I stand for the same values so that’s why we are all super happy with the result.
Can you describe the production process involved in creating it, including any favourite pieces of software/ hardware you like to refer to?
I wanted this EP to contain the tracks in different moods. I used modular synthesiser a lot in all of them. Generally my music production attitude is that I like to play and record rather than draw in a software. So as usually I played my instruments in various connections.
The more house tracks are made by playing Korg Minilogue. I used also the samples I recorded with Dave Smith Pro2. Drum parts are made by total fusion of eurorack modules, Elektron’s Analog Rytm drum machine and digital Yamaha gear. I work with Ableton Live and Midas Venice mixer console as a centre of my studio for recording, arranging and mixing. I use Avalon 747 sp a lot and some of my all-time favourite Vsts too with D16 among.
If electricity didn’t exist which acoustic instrument (e.g. guitar, piano etc.) would most appeal to you?
In fact I thought about it a lot. Because it is true that now I’m totally dependant on electricity. So I thought many times what would be my instrument let’s say two centuries ago. And definitely that would be the violin. I can’t play it in this life though but I feel connected somehow to it. I just touched it a few times but usually I have a great respect to the classical instruments and it’s individuality so I stop myself from asking my friends to give it to my hands 🙂 Although I wish to spend some time trying it.
Here and now without electricity? I play the piano and the guitar so yes, definitely both.
Who are you main influences both within and outside of electronic music? Any particular writers, painters, poets, musicians you particularly admire?
Influence for me happens as a trigger, motivation to be, to say, to express. That’s why probably I make music from the start. I guess I’m inspired mostly by non-music world, by people who are talented, hardworking and challenge themselves to be the best. Not to rival but to cross their own borders. That’s why I can surely say that I admire Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Cristiano Ronaldo, Kamil Stoch (polish ski jumper) among many other professional sportsmen, their force inspires me to go to the studio every day and do my search within sounds creation, by philosophers like Henri Bergson, Aristotle, Jiddu Krishnamurti, writers Hermann Hesse and Philip K. Dick. I’m for sure under influence by cognitive science, quantum physics, sci-fi movies, joga, rock climbing and most importantly my everyday life with my family, cats and friends.
From the music world it is still Mozart, Bach, Arvo Pärt and Stravinsky that amaze me.
Lastly the instruments themselves, all about them, are super influential for me.
You have released several albums already. Where does all your creative energy come from to do so and describe a typical working day in the studio?
Yes, well as far as I remember I played instruments, sang in the choir, etc. When I realised I can express through electronic music that I loved in that time the whole world opened for me and I feel this energy to create ever since. I’m grateful for that as I have too many creative ideas than time, so I spend plenty of hours a day in the studio. I start usually after breakfast and work until the evening. I usually have a few projects I work during one day, that’s kind of multitask thinking in me probably. But I also have learnt consciously to keep a good balance between music work and doing other activities that I love like sports which give me distance and support my discipline.
In the studio I work on my own tracks for albums and Eps or I’m a producer for some other artists, musicians, vocalists. Sometimes I sound design films, animations, art installations or I work with dancers and choreographers making music specially for modern dance performance. I compose my special concerts for special occasions (historical, connected with an idea or re-adaptations of classical music). So it depends on my mood but also on deadlines 🙂
I feel a unique connection with my equipment and I experiment with it often. I use a lot of my own technics I developed over the years to use the gear creatively to achieve something new or to figure out some new ways of doing something. That’s what interests me the most – my new methods, new sounds, new possibilities. Probably my energy comes very much from my curiosity, fascination and personal development.
And finally. Besides you busy touring schedule what would be your ideal goal to achieve as an artist for 2019?
Ideal goal would be to write a piece for An On Bast and symphonic orchestra and tour with it around the world. Also I dream about scoring sci-fi movie.
Generally I am on the path that I am grateful for. I think I just would like to continue my way, play a lot of concerts in many places sharing good vibes with different audiences. I just wish to continue this beautiful journey.
An On Bast returns with four new tracks for your listening pleasure. And have to say the opening and wonderfully titled, The Ballet Began At Eight delivers high on atmosphere, high on life. Grainy pads set the scene as taught electronic kicks plus crisp percussion inform the rhythm section, while the tense whir of crazy keys illuminate the background with a sense of excitable trepidation. An original and wonderful piece of music, in sometimes bland days, for sure. The inviting, Life In A Hammock follows with fizzy arpeggios leaning in the direction of playful moments, providing a lighter point of reference to escape into. The tougher dancefloor aimed Para follows, while the creative tones of Sway complete this excellent release from Anna Suda.
In the sheer rush to get to the next two tracks I’m kind of bypassing the opening Outlaw. I don’t know if that’s necessarily right but once to get to grips with the fevered excitement, infact the surreal beauty of For It you’ll perhaps see my point. This is the kind of energised, Acid number that we could do with a lot more of. It pulsates with loaded percussion while expanding and getting hot in all sorts of ways. Then, Right Up completes the picture care off the sort of twisted Disco that shames tired re-edits while brimming with tough, compelling repetition that is at once heavy-duty plus funky as hell.
A timely rush of soulful emotion drives the opening number forward with due care and attention given to the words. 4 The Lovers, sounds temptingly delicious with undulating funky beats and bass underpinning the cascading piano notes, all which it has to be said sounds rather beautiful. By way of contrast robust, brutal drums then accompany the more intense tones generated by Where My Girls At, while the deeper sounds of Blomst complete the picture care of more heart – crushing rhythms that feel jazzy, probing and rewarding all in one easy lesson. If you lay hands on the vinyl edition then you’re treated to the bonus of Soulsista which again sees sizzling arrangements of soul plus funk across strident House beats.
Once again proving that electronic music has the power to shock you into belief and to connect you with the past, while sounding like the future. Darius Vaikas supremely gifted production is now released via Catz & Dogz own imprint lending even more kudos to both. The short, tempetuos sounds of the beatless Brother begin the EP perfectly, while the drums that punctuate Bells ignite the rush. Oasis then plays and reworks the theme adding hints of playful melody into the equation, leaving the more introspective strains of the vocalled Save Me to complete this stunning release of sound.
David van der Leeuw and Luigi Vittorio Jansen aka Beesmunt Soundsystem deliver what can only be called kick-ass House Music with this latest outing from Pets Recordings. Matters ignite in fine style with the irrepressible Searchin’ feeling frisky with its blaze of fiery drum machines sounding classically tuned yet remotely fresh all at the same time. The stripped back arrangement allows the vocal space to breath along with a nagging, agitated synth line plus occasional effects. Borrowed Identity supply a tough remix via pounding drums contrasted nicely by more subtle, soulful chords. The equally demanding Raindance is next with another round of timeless drums hitting the repeat button alongside irresistible bass and atmospheric electronics filling in the spaces. Finally, the excellent Ominous ends on slightly sleazy syncopation which is soon joined by gritty (to put it mildly) accompanying synthesizer lines sizzling with possibilities.
The man behind the North West’s infamous Cheshire Garden Party gets deep, down and dirty with this excellent production for Resonance. I’ve been playing this for a while now on my DeepHouse-Radio show and still sounds just as addictive with its funky combination of rolling bass, shuffling drums and most notably the spoken words with a message adding spice to the mix. Try the original version for all this and more. Remixes come from a frisky sounding Max Chapman who adds a distinct sting with rattling percussion and low-end bass pulverising the grooves, plus from an edgier and on-point Leftwing & Kody. Second original, Someone again hits you with a neat bassline and vocals adding the human touch, while third track ‘One, Two’ joins Chicago styled vocal stabs together with more rough, tough drums and bass to only further the experience.
You start off thinking this is cool, then the drum break drops and then the dark gorgeous bassline goes and introduces itself amid the ethereal hypnotic voices. If you like things moody and very late night then this is most probably/ most definitely for you. The great Steve Mac then remixes with big splashing hi-hats driving it all into distraction alongside a suitably striking arrangement set primed for the dancefloor to explode.
This is a great EP from Werner Niedermeier and incidentally his second for the label. There is a first-rate combination of ideas going on in the title track, Escaping with a flourish of Disco percussion fueling a hot rhythm section, that is offset by warmer chords and contrasted further by dark low-end theory and suitably smoky vocals. Easy Peeler, follows with distinctively pulsating beats plus a P-funked bassline and an irresistible sense of rhythm. The excellent, ‘Tansan’ is up next with addictive Acid lines demanding being turned up to eleven and then repeated, while Puzzled gets twisted amid a sea of inviting deepness to end.
This hot blast of super psychedelic funk has just about everything going for it, not least of because it was the last thing I expected to hear today in amongst all the tedium. Witches blends – if that’s the correct word – crazed Adrian Below styled guitar together with Talking Heads/ Eno infused rhythms that are perhaps best sample in a darkened room, but which are sheer delight none the less. For those inclined to a Balearic deposition this will have you weak at the knees/ foaming at the mouth. Stringray then compliments the insanity with a brooding slow-burn jam pitching atmospheric guitar against shuffling drum brushes, and let’s put it this way the album sounds like it should be an absolute gem.
Davina’s sizzling production for Hot Trax sees sassy percussion fuse alongside addictive organ stabs and thumping kicks drums to immediately demand that the volume is turned up. Love the uncomplicated yet thoroughly invigorating way the production envelops you in rhythm as vocal snippets tease out some soul on 9 Weeks. Second track, Moskitoes Cries cleverly delivers tough, wobbly bass, infectious voice edits and inspired guitar stabs that lend it all a distinctively original flavour that you just know is going to sound huge at around 3am.
Don’t Make Me Wait For You feat. Jesse Monroe
You could play this Sandee referencing bassline all night long and not get bored of it, however this latest production from Just Be transcends beyond pale imitation. This is in fact a beautifully atmospheric piece of music as Don’t Make Me Wait For You combines sensuous synths alongside classic drum touches, with Jesse Monroe’s emotive vocal proving to be the icing on the cake. The Dub version then explores all of those instrumental possibilities to the full, leaving the Subb-an 5am Remix to re-imagine the bassline while tripping out the vocals across the light fantastic. Another first rate release from Crosstown Rebels.
Next excellent release this week is from San Francisco’s Nikola Baytala whose self titled EP is nothing short of mesmerising. Setting the scene is Zero $ and its neat blend of hypnotic Techno elements that never stray too far from being totally captivating and soulful. In a sense it’s more about the atmosphere created than individual beats or basslines, because as a whole this tension inducing arrangement feels near perfect. Catz ‘N Dogz then proceed with a great remix that picks up the pace hitting you with heavy bass on another typically effective number. Cityz Angels, is next and is likewise an intriguing succession of musical ideas from Nikola Baytala taking cues from classic Disco and House while giving it all a curious twist. MT’s Pillow Talk remix ends on first rate terms developing the ambience of the track even further while retaining that timely guitar lick.
Dance Like Nobody’s Watching EP
Rodriguez returns to the label after his previous 2008 outing with two new tracks that define 2013 as much as they do speak about the flux between old and new. Dance Like Nobody’s Watching is nostalgic for sure, but then that will either delight or bore you in equal measure – depending on your outlook on the current retrospection of the American House Music sound which evolved out of 1991. Perhaps, not surprisingly, I love this and Roberto gets it right down to the bone with punchy organ and piano chords adding neat definition to the ‘feel alright’ vocal snippets. Oxymoron then flips the coin with the trackier style that came out of the same era as dark stabs and sizzling hi-hats take center stage. Lusciously intense this keeps you waiting with a tension building arrangement which peaks at the breakdown, while proceeding to push forward with the addition of trademark funky cowbell. The Black Madonna ‘We Still Believe’ version of Dance… finishes by proudly reaffirming the sentiment with heavy-duty kick drums and pure House bass spread out across a sparser selection of piano.
What I love about Mike Wall’s debut long player for Hidden is the fact that the German producer doesn’t dwell too much on subtleties. Its fast, pounding and very insistent music that is little short of compelling despite its brutal, sometimes beautiful intensity. The title track does what the excellent Mr G does only from a different angle with driving rhythms offset by moody stabs coupled with that breathless quality which you can’t quite seem to escape from. The fierce syncopation continues with All I Ever Wanted getting freaky with its twisted combination of stabs and (almost) Jazzy Sax. And so the story continues until you reach the titles: Suicide, Choose Life, Ketamine, then ending at Suggestion and I guess a climax is reached. Having said that the drum programming is always invigorating while the mood Mike Wall creates throughout is never less than spectacular.
The brilliantly titled Weirdo is the relatively new label from Juan Kidd who also supplies this release, and why not as this is very excellent. I Want You combines fierce old-school piano chords along with punctuating hits of organ which squeeze every atom of energy out of the snare infused groove. Matters then continue to intensify with the introduction of blasting horns and sprinkles of smooth Fender Rhodes. You need this in your life…
Nice Up Your Dance
Two reasons why I suspect this is an outstanding piece of music. First is that almost despite the straight up shuffling 909 drums everything else feels quite unique; from the shivering bassline to the array of wildly atmospheric synths. Second, is the darkly inspired ‘heavenly father’ voices that pepper the arrangement. Jaymo and Andy George’s Refix ’96 version then turns it upside down with a seriously heavyweight bassline, hints of Sylvester and an altogether deeper reworking of the atmosphere that feels equally sublime and enticing. Second track from Stefano Ritteri is the EP’s title and is a much looser, funkier affair complete with 60’s organ, 70’s guitar licks and Train line sound effects that give it Balearic sense of cheekiness that is too exciting to ignore.
Bubba & T-Bone Feat. Abe Duque
Extended Play start the new year on the high that they ended 2012 on. This forward pointing arrangement of machine-funk from Bubba & T-Bone employs tempting Electro beats from the past while also engaging with the current House sensibilities so beloved by the label. New York’s Abe Duque supplies the spoken word and receives a heavy sci-fi treatment on the stunning Original version. A series of five remixes then proceed to deconstruct its meaning starting with Lee Webster who impressively reinterprets Bloodline with low-slung reggae styled bass and techno chords. JC Williams visits Detroit for further inspiration with classic trademark drums and taught rhythms reigniting the vocal, with the Ten Story version getting deeper, and Sean Roman & Dick Diamonds Re-Salt mix doing likewise with a sprinkling a cutting stabs. Denney rounds off with more hot bassline action and stripped back beats which develop the mood notably as the breakdown arrives.
Mr Nice Guy/ Classic Masters
Soul Music Records
I guess when you think of Ronnie Laws you probably think of his timeless classic Always There from 1975. But as with most artists it’s good to dig a little deeper to see what else there is . For the record Always… (also covered by Side Effect & Incognito) is undoubtedly a gem and is featured here from his 1985 Classic Masters album, which also collates his finest work from the 70’s to early 80’s. The following Love Is Here moves along similar lines, although with a slower funkier groove that again displays his undoubted prowess as a player/ composer. Indeed apart from the very occasional dated 80’s sounding moment there are plenty of Jazzy movements to savour here as the finale of Saturday Evening plays out with some seriously tasty piano. The first half of this double set re-release is his 1983 album Mr Nice Guy whose opening Can’t Save Tomorrow holds a curious appeal, as does the darker Rolling with its taped voices and haunting Saxophone proving to be most alluring.