The Far From The Tree EP
Scissor & Thread
I love music that sounds like this: moody, with a touch of melancholy and low-slung to the point of distraction. If that fits your bill then the New York duo’s breathy sequence of haunting instrumentation and restrained, yet tantalising vocals is just for you. The arrangements are unhurried and thoroughly captivating with the maximum emotion wrenched from each of the uncomplicated sounds such as on the hypnotic title track. Although, it’s not all quite like that as the much punchier Interloper goes to prove. But then again, the following Stealing Fire sets a first rate vocal delivery against a sea of guitar and occasional pulsating kicks to superb effect, suggesting the key to the EP’s many subtle strengths. The gorgeous and obviously apt Winters Song ends on a thoughtful syncopation which I only wish would have been the completion of a long playing album instead.
Renato Ratier featuring Pillow Talk
The second time I played this I fell under its spell. Of course the mere fact that Pillow Talk add their distinctive voices to the punchy array of beats, beats and funky keys only confirms the invitation. However, that’s not to take away from this inventive collection of notes and riffs which keep you engaged throughout the listen. So keeping the theme Brazilian is Dubshape who’s entrancing and deeper version blends cool, organ sounds together with swirling ambience to only heighten the impact of the vocals. Next is Sweet Home with moodier Rhodes and infectious drums providing a tasteful backdrop, once again, to Pillow Talk’s smouldering words. The release comes before an album so looking forward to hearing that too.
Four new tracks form this latest from the associated Black Booby stable. Opening with Loose and almost nine minutes of blissful House Music that gets Deep (without the usual cliques) proving itself to be a sure-fire way of getting your attention. This simmers with tension via its smoky chords and drums alongside emotive vocals snippets and shimmering synths. Alternatively, Keep On gets nasty with relentless beats and bubbling Acid undertones testing out your endurance just like it used to. While, Never Knew returns to deeper climbs as hesitant percussion offsets atmospheric pads and classic Chicago styled vibes perfectly. Last the sleazier, excellent Acid infused T.T.T teases you until the very 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.
Not often an artist album comes along displaying not only valuable words but musical skills on this level. Marc Mac (also one half on 4Hero) who whose been producing music for the past couple of decades has arrived at this point, again, with his second Visioneers album, Hipology. Listening to this reads like a history lesson in sight and sound while expert instrumentation is employed via a sterling set of players. Indeed, try an instrumental track like LaAnne from Harlem and tell me it doesn’t move to tears of joy. The album creatively evokes moods and plays with words both spoken and sung throughout, while for the dancefloor try the take on B-Boy legend, Apache (Battle Dub) for size, plus any number of other sure-fire gems. Something for everyone exists on here with the summer funk of Come Sand Play in the Milky Night destined for any beach party worth its salt, or Shine which feeds your mind with meaningful word and soulful tones.
Laura Jones invigorating exploration of electronic sound continues with her first compilation mix for the prestigious Leftroom imprint. Starting with moody brilliance of dOP & Masomenos Hello! the album rapidly proceeds to entice you with its emotive selection of beats and rhythms that never fail but to ignite your imagination. Combining a diverse selection of music from labels like Vitalik Records, Visonquest, and of course Leftroom means that you know you’re always in safe company. What’s also particularly notable here is the way the album weaves between styles, flipping from Techno to House while never feeling contrived. The second half of the mix picks up the pace with a sure succession of killer tracks from Gavin Herlihy and Polyrhythmic, amongst many significant others, finishing on Guy Gerber’s masterful The Mirror Game.
Sao Paolo’s D-Edge combines with long standing House Music impresario Luke Solomon to release this testament to the DJ’s undoubted prowess in all things musical and techincal. The Classic Records co-founder carefully teases every inch of rhythm from this truly intense mixture of distinctive House, unsettling Techno and general electronic madness into the bargain. Whether that’s Red Rack’em’s bassline master class of How I Program, or Boo Williams severely funky Devil Music this will truly rock your discotheque. Any mix that climaxes in the process with the Roberto Rodriguez version of Seven Reasons can only probably be described as transcendent.
Excellent EP from Germany’s Klasse Recordings beginning with the melodic technology of Soul123 which references Detroit like it was just around the corner. Next, Skeleton Keys gets busy with classic House bass and organ creating perfect tension in the air. While, Fakie Snot Bubble cleverly hits you hard at first with fizzy old-school stabs and ‘work this’ vocals, then turns it all upside down with warm pads and House strings causing emotive confusion? Despite its somewhat dubious title the more I hear this, the more seriously impressive it sounds.
Walker & Royce You’re Not Welcome Crosstown Rebels
You don’t really need me to tell you that this latest from Crosstown is excellent, do you? Put it like this: it feels ever so slightly sinister with sumptuous bass notes driving the taught beats, as the uber cool vocals feel deeply soulful in a Trans-European setting with sparkling keys lifting it all skyward. Stare If You Want To feat. Javi happens next with killer syncopation feeling like disco never went away (I know, it didn’t) but coupled with tripped out voices and more contemporary chords plus guitar, this again transcends the timeline. The Francesca Lombardo Remix of You’re Not Welcome resists the titles negative appeal with addictive notation and proves the vocal to be defiantly happy.
I Cube once again produce’s something so startlingly original that when it’s primed it will explode all over your dancefloor. Y.O.U.R.O.C.K is somewhat self-explanatory here as shimmering electro keys clash with strident disco beats, while repeating to infinity and beyond. This has to be heard to be believed! Followed by Popular Electronics which frays the edges with twisted synths and a lot more besides, but possibly saving the best to last is In Alpha which replays eighties guitar funk, via the curious mind of I Cube, to feel compellingly uplifting and certainly rather beautiful. The album is coming…
Clearly in his own class Justin Martin’s debut album acts like a conduit for his myriad of influences and own particular brand of music. Encompassing everything from U.K bass to Acid the album avoids treading a cliqued path by its use of trippy voices and unexpected combinations of styles, which none-the-less always feel exciting and pertinent. Butterflies is a case in point with edited child-like voices playing off against synthetic chords and squelchy basslines to sound like not a lot else out there. Also try Molokini for some heavy-duty business, and The Gurner with Pillow Talk for something a little deeper and more spiritually motivating.
Following on from XXX Jimmy Edgar begins Majenta with a bang, and then keeps on banging. From the opening Kraftwerk referencing, Too Shy you’re immediately captured by the sheer funkiness of it all but with the arrival of Punk attitude declaring itself: This One’s For The Children, all hell breaks loose. Tempos continue to lift and drop as the machine-funk proceeds to probe different moods and agendas, feeling sometimes dangerously sleazy, sometimes joyus and uplifting. The one thing that is patently apparent is that this simply gets better with each consecutive listen. And so to highlight the diversity the warmth generated by R&B flavoured, Touch Yr Body and Hrt Real Good is equally offset by the cosmic discotheque of Heartkey. While the albums finale: In Deep draws together such a far reaching set of musical ideas that they are probably too long to list here, but which combine – like everything else – to feel very much like, Jimmy Edgar. 8
Geddes presents Mulletover: The Story So Far 2004-2012
You could say: hotly anticipated, but then that would be somewhat of an understatement. And even if you haven’t made it to London’s premier installation, then the story so far plays like the best excuse to indulge yourself in Geddes first rate selection of deeply involving music. Featuring productions that expand the possibilities from Maya Jane Coles stunning, Dubchild through to Delusions Of Grandeur’s quietly immense, Don’t Sleep the party never seems to end. That realization of course also comes care off Okain’s very sublime, Scream and via the Murk classic, If You Really Love Someone. The journey through the timeline smoothly twists together the lows and highs of everything worthwhile, yet feels every bit about the here and now. 9
Deniz Kurtel & The Marcy All-Stars
The Way We Live – The singles
Wolf + Lamb
Just ahead of the June release of, The Way We Live album alongside The Marcy All-Stars comes this stunning set of three singles. Worked in collaboration, with firstly, Tanner Ross on the very divine, I Knew This Would Happen featuring Pillow Talk, which sequences together gorgeously haunting pads and expertly played bass along with Jazzy attitudes and heavenly treated voices to produce what is simply sublime music. The Jazzy notation follows on, The Beat Drops with Tanner Ross again and Jules Born developing a Saxophone theme across pulsating electro-beats and moody vocals. Leaving, Thunder Clap complete with thunderous fx and Voices Of Black to deliver P-Funk inspired funkiness to entice you further into the cosmos. 9
Featuring features two tracks: Harder (with Jaw) and Timeline (with Francesco Tristano). The former works Jaw’s detuned vocal over bubbling synthesisers and consequently feels tastefully sinister yet bizarrely funky. Reaching almost twelve minutes long the arrangement delivers aural surprises along the way, not least of all the way the bassline climaxes the into a fizzy contortion. Timeless, is almost conventional in comparison, although while acclaimed pianist Francesco Tristano challenges you with abrupt, improvised notes it never-the-less makes sense via the engaging technological rhythm section and its familiarizing repetition. 7
You get the feeling that you don’t know where this is going to end up – which I like – as the opening title track unnerves you with its brooding beats and dark electronics, despite LK’s unsettling voice telling you to conversely relax in the process. Never less than interesting this creative production always holds your attention even right down to the very ending at almost eleven minutes. What Where, continues in a similar vein though rewards you funkier percussion and bass, with the tINI remix of Lonber Attract sounding excellent with imaginative drum programming and further carefully- crafted hypnotic atmospheres. 8
Nikola Gala’s relentless production doesn’t indulge much in the way of subtlties but does dive headlong into pulverizing beats coupled with classic House stabs and vocal edits for quality measure. Indeed, the kick drum is soo harsh it makes everything else seem like light relief – which I guess of course is the whole point – with the resulting experience being uplifting almost despite itself. Ryan Elliot plays with an altogether different beat and indulges in mood enhancing pads and funky hi-hat fuelled percussion to provide a sassy alternative. 7