Whitesquare lands firmly on Gruuv with this first-rate, sizzling infusion of chiming Mirimba’s offset by warm pads, funky percussion and a playful sense of musicality that resonates perfectly for the introduction of 2018. The excellent, Solivagant is all that and more. Who else but Pezzner could reinvent the production retaining the original essence yet transforming the spark of life into something deeper. Achieving startling results with the melodic pulses intact you are then treated to a fresh bassline backed up by cool keys plus the white heat of splashing hats. Makgeolli, takes its turn exciting fuzzy synths and pounding drums, as Tzom returns to African influences scored across a ripple of beautiful electronics, resulting in picture perfect music.
The third number on Carly Foxx’s schedule is an absolute gem. And it’s with a breathless anticipation that I point you in the direction of Pezzner’s exemplary remix. Part of what I do is bringing you great music and as I’ve already played this to the point of no return it surely says something that it sounds just as vibrant with each refreshed play. It is hard to classify this as any given genre which is also a huge strength, or in other words it is simply excellent music. The beats reverberate in a dark, seductive way but when that deliciously, irresistible bassline hits all sense of time stops. Musically repeating motifs, occasional crackles and whirring synthesized lines all evolve in meaning over the course of almost nine minutes. I think you probably get the idea by now. Das Komplex then transforms it all into something else again with bass heavy rhythms and funky instrumentation reworking everything. Which leaves the original version and its breezy melody by Yellokake to present yet another story.
As debuts go. This is unequivocally s**t hot. Smokey, rebellious while not afraid to tear at the edges of sound with its grainy, dark synthesizers Stimmhalt’s initial release for the label contrasts it all with some timely, rather sublime percussion adding a sense of soulful, funkiness to the arrangement. Evolving over some eight minutes and ending up with soaring, improvised instrumentation breathing bliss this is yet another standout from the label. Which, in this instance comes with a tougher rendition from Pezzner whose undulating sequences are things of compelling beauty.
Like any music it sometimes seems all the more significant when it exits outside of its given location. In this case Pezzner’s exquisitely crafted Evelyn sounds just as informed and just as impactful on or off the dancefloor. The gentle yet brilliant rush of melancholy is deftly underpinned by nervous percussion and offset by delicate piano notes. All of which are then transported through the prism of twisted vocal lines and generally oddball sounds to cumulate in an altogether more rewarding listening experience. The Redux version alters the emphasis on the drums and elements creating another first-rate piece of music. While, Dance Spirit inevitably remix with a splash of charm across sizzling, inspired electronics on their 23rd Dimension Mix. Contrasted by the DoubtingThomas Constructive Reconstruction which eases it all down to a most relaxed tempo feeling all the more delicious for it too.
If you’re not already acquainted with the joys of Smiley Fingers then here is the reason to do so. Celebrating some three years of existence and their one hundredth release the London based imprint fires through its succession of heavy-duty grooves in fine style with this compilation. Kicking off with the sassy funk of Larry Cadge & Rick Sanders – Niagara the selection includes productions from the aforementioned, Dave Seaman & Andy Chatterley and Mobius Strum, with remixes from the calibre of Pezzner and Tapesh. Typifying the labels distinctive flavour is the killer Lopazz & Casio Casino Remix of Adam Helder’s ‘Sticks and Stones’ which ticks all the necessary boxes in-between House and Techno rather handsomely.
Disclosure feat. London Grammar
Help Me Lose My Mind
Yet another single lifted from the album, the fifth in fact! sees Disclosure once again display their effortless cool, although that is in no small measure down to Hannah Reid’s ethereal vocal. What’s new here however is Paul Woolford’s piano driven House reworking that you just know is going to score big. But despite the vocal actually suiting the album mix best it’s his Dub version which sounds prime-time and anthemic with its juicy bassline backing up all those the rousing keys.
Matt Tolfrey feat Marshall Jefferson
You could say, where would House Music be without Marshall Jefferson? And there is certainly every possibility that the shape of the music may have been different without his input in 1986. So it’s interesting to hear his own words describe how he sees it, reflecting back from 2012 when this track formed part of Tolfrey’s album, ‘Word of Mouth’. Now receiving a release in its own right the pulsating electronics sound just as vibrant and now come with a set new remixes. Firstly from Jon Charnis who drops the vocal and rebuilds the music with moodier atmosphere’s that have a spell binding edge. And from Gerd aka Geeeman who’s excellent thumping Acid drenched version instantly strikes a chord with Marshall’s spoken word.
Big Hard Excellent Fish
And The Question Remains
One Little Indian
Watch! the follow-up to 1989’s ‘Imperfect List’ poses a fresh set of questions for our age, and makes for completely compelling viewing. Credit due to Ian C’s haunting production and Josie Jones challenging words.
The third in the series of compilations from Lost My Dog’s catalogue of Deep House, and other imaginings, sees one of the label heads Pete Dafeet mix together a smooth blend of moods into one altogether very satisfying experience. As with previous editions this features old and new music from the imprint, although this time is the preserve of Pete’s own productions, along with the added twist of some hot remixes such as Giom’s excellent take on Beneath The Fold and Moodymanc’s likewise Dub of Stutter. Got to say my favourite track has to be Hit Em Up, which appears both as the uplifting intensity of the Original version along with the stab nirvana of Pezzner’s remix. Generously an unmixed selection is also available so you can unpick all those favourites for yourselves.
If you’re looking for a viable alternative to the current vogue of 90’s inspired House then try Danny Berman’s innovative interpretation of the Post-Punk/ No-Wave sound. It’s got all the elements right down to a T from the enviable, deadpan cool vocal of City Hayes to the chopped-funk guitar by Crazy P’s Chris Todd, which you will find draws you into the after-dark world of late seventies/ early eighties New York. Trans-Media-Lab artist Jacob Korn provides a stunning remix with a more contemporary electronic twist featuring lush pads and probing bass. Freestyle Lover then sees Berman’s own vocal delivery cut across ‘Fripp’ guitar and an assortment of caustic percussion. But, perhaps looking at the cover alone will reveal all you need to know about this, and more!
Mario Basanov’s debut album for Needwant is little short of stunning. Not only does it sound perfectly polished but the breadth of styles it indulges in is equally as impressive. From down-tempo ambience to dancefloor madness just about everything you can imagine is touched upon here, including at times even Pop sensibilities. From invigorating instrumentals like Skywalker to classy songs such as the deliciously soulful Something About featuring Edwin Williamson it’s all about the quality. The title, Journey is certainly an apt one running to some sixteen tracks in all. And when experiencing the cosmic-funk of music like Damn Girl you can only really refer to this as highly accomplished.
A Brazilian Love Affair
George Duke’s Brazilian celebration cumulates in the title track of this reissue album by redefining the possibilities of Jazz/ Funk at that time (in 1979). Recorded with a handful of Brazilian musicians you can hear their influence along with the sounds of sun and the sea throughout. You’re also left in little doubt as to the dexterity of the players involved, although at times it can feel a touch muso, however lighter relief is always on hand via the hot Latin melodies experienced on the likes of Cravo E Canela. Generally regarded as a classic in its field it is probably fair to say that they don’t actually make them like this anymore.
Human Mystery kicks off this excellent release from Leftroom by combining ultra-funky breaks with an uber squelchy bassline that does little else bar rock. There are subtleties in the production too as the arrangement ultimately develops into a shuffling electro groove with atmospheric synth lines lending this a distinctly unique quality. Pezzner provides the remix by way of an alternative b-line that feels tastefully dark alongside the f***ked up voices and sizzling hi-hats. Next, Pick Em Up engages in self-fulfilling prophecy with twisted vocals and pounding rhythms feeling funky and industrial, and this again develops the theme into some creative surprises. The title track proceeds to get marginally deeper with classic House bass and energetic percussion firing it all up, as Pezzner’s second remix relies on chopped up keys and moody pads to provide another oblique angle. 9
Willie Graff & Tuccillo Phonomontage EP Freerange Records
Time for the third EP from Willie Graff & Tuccillo for Freerange and it will come as no surprise that this again pushes all the right buttons. Set Me Free kicks off as they mean to go on by replaying a classic Disco loop, this time it’s pitched to mid-tempo, which is then excitedly filtered leaving the vocal to repeat into ecstasy against a notably rasping bass. Get It On speeds up for dancefloor action with another familiar sample reworked over sassy percussion and punctuated snares. Lunar Feelings completes with, as the title would suggest, the most intriguing cut from the EP blending pulsating organ chords together with funky rhythms and sumptuous atmospheres, which it has to be said conjure up a treat. 8
Manchester-based producer Angus Jefford once again strikes the thoughtful balance between classic and contemporary sounds that artistically reference the past without boring you to death by it. Which is a roundabout way of saying his latest production for MK/ Scottie Deep’s Say Ahh is a killer. I love all the influences and the way they are shaping music right now, but also how the sounds are progressed and twisted into today. Both versions of Bumpin’ lay testament to that with pulsating organ bass notes and deep beats feeling very addictive peaking at an incendiary breakdown. Fever Fever follows sounding fresh with invigorating electronics, leaving The Culture to finish by playing splashing hats against heavy-duty basslines and simmering keys, all of which is best described as explosive. More please. 9
Darabi & Tim Paris Various Items 2 Items And Things
Berlin based Items And Things forge ahead with another striking release which sees both Darabi and Tim Paris deliver tracks on the labels thirteenth release. The former has, Player setting sinister voices against a hypnotic backdrop of robotic beats and dark bass. The later gives you, Too Close with Sex Judas. Which feels delightfully sleazy over Chicago inspired sounds that reward all that European influence by joining the dots between the 80’s and now. You’ve got to love it. 9
The Headhunters Survival Of The Fittest/ Straight From The Gate R2 Records
Don’t you just love re-issues. Leaving the vinyl vs. digital debate aside this series from R2 Records is something to get very excited about as past classics are re-mastered and repackaged for 2012, and beyond. But most importantly of course is the music and what finer way to start than with two gems from The Headhunters. Their first without Herbie Hancock (whose seminal debut is still seminal, although produced by him) opens with God Make Me Funky and continues the journey that began to explore the possibilities of Jazz/ Funk fusion. The follow-up, Straight From The Gate proceeds as the series releases two albums from each artist and if anything gets all the more cosmic in scope by reaching for the edges that bands like Steely Dan also gravitated towards. Dexterity is always assured whatever your preference may be and both these albums could no doubt be described as essential in any language. 9
Thelma Jones Thelma Jones Big Break Records/ Sony Music
Released just over ten years after her first single, The House That Jack Built (also sung by Aretha Franklin) Thelma Jones’ debut album features a few well known covers such as I Second That Emotion and Now That We’ve Found Love. While undoubtedly possessing a beautiful voice the music feels a touch too middle of the road at times – though I guess that may depend on how adult you feel. Although, on How Long the sheer emotion of the vocal delivery and accompanying mid-tempo groove combine to perfection, and the album is worth buying for this experience alone. In a similar vein is the Brad Shapiro produced You’re A Song (That I Can’t Stop Singing) with its timely soulful melodies and generated sense of longing that couldn’t feel more personal. 9
Soul Sway ‘Don’t Step Down EP’ Savoir Faire Musique
Hovering around your radar – or he certainly should be – Jesus Pablo now delivers on his promise with these excellent remixes of Don’t Step Down. Eloquently embracing the funk with cool bass technique and strident keys the led version of the title track deftly simmers with tension, then adds some more. The DJ Congo Tool of Round 2 follows with stereo wide percussion, slap bass and an unexpected arrangement leaving the remix of Think to impressively explore piano aspects and devilishly smart hats. 9
Karol XV II & MB Valence ‘Vintage Box (Remixes)’ Loco Records
Three tracks featured in the Vintage Box series for Loco now receive the remix treatment and feel all the more vital for it. First up is Aki Bergan’s Future Jazz Band Remix of Tribute and I couldn’t have put it better myself. Jazz tones clash with contemporary electronica care of fuzzy bass notes while smooth electric piano chords play off more tense improvised sequences and are all joined together by ‘You got to move’ vocals. The Pezzner Remix of Crowded House gets darker in a House vein that splendidly warps together keys and exploding Toms into a heightened climax. This only leaves a flawless Shur-i-kan to rework Rusty Piano and steal the show with killer ivory and moody undercurrents that leave you no choice… 9
I wasn’t sure about The Piano on first listen but hearing it again in the bright winter sunshine it suddenly all makes perfect sense. Initially it seemed doubtful how the classical piano crescendos worked over pounding beats, the slightly awkward feeling hi-hats and acid undertones, but then again – in the right time, in the right place. Jazzy proceeds to hit the sombre notes that fire up the imagination in ways that only Jazz does while its rewarding journey through sound testifies like cool cinema. Brain, opens with a set of chords to pull on your heartstrings in ways which only Deep House can do and feels either like the start of the night or its beautiful ending. Passengers renders undulating Techno stabs in its original form and also on Kerri Chandler’s Mix which gives it a punchier percussion twist aided by additional improvised keys- love that railway station sample too. 8
James Silk ‘Sweet Turning Sherbet EP’ Form & Function
Debut release from this brand new label whose Form & Function sounds like a great theory. Love the opening Sweet Spot’s new-wave bassline that not only brings back good memories but is then whisked impressively up to now with mood inducing pads and strangely familiar sounding vocal edits. Great track for starters. Orange Sherbet continues with intriguing Tech notation, while Turning Over kills you with an epic bassline and a daring Boogie sample which is as serious as anything else I’ve turned up loud this week. 8
Miguel Migs feat. Capleton ‘The System’ Om Records
Lifted from Migs recent album, Outside The Skyline and boasting a diverse selection of versions – including Mad Professor no less! – The System plays like the summer has arrived early. The album mix bounces along niftily with the full vocals blaring out and is playfully complimented by the Petalpusher Salted Disco Dub which strips it all down to electro fizz and gorgeous echo. Thievery Corporation’s Rob Garza then hypnotically sets the controls somewhere in between while the said Professor does it all over again with sounds drenched in reverb et all. Try his Dub Version 1 for lessons in bliss. Rob Paine finishes off with heavy bass and the space to highlight Capleton’s big voice delivery. 8