Continuing the retelling of her 1994 solo album Zipless Vanessa Daou’s inspired exploration of The Works Of Erica Jong proceeds with these excellent remixes by Roberto Rodriguez. Jazzy inflections are underpinned by robust drums and shuffling percussion as warm expanses of sound rebound around the vocalists breathy poetry, which when you listen closely says more than words can. The Rooted In Bondage Instrumental follows — referring to the story told, and for me it’s the aural texture which lives and breathes most resolutely – while highlighting all of the rich musical variety in full.
Nacho Marco/ Roberto Rodriguez
That Smile/ Giving It All
Lazy Days Recordings
Celebrating ten years of almost anything these days is, of course, cause for celebration and this two track release continues with the second of the cumulative 10 by Ten series. Beginning with the aptly titled That Smile and Nacho Marco’s soulfully charged Acid grooves, which prove to be almost too hot to handle, this emotive seven plus minutes juxtaposes intense 303 attitudes alongside cool piano notes and feels refreshingly excellent. Next, Giving It All delivers deliciously wonky basslines amid undulating funkiness in the shape of effected keys and percussion, which increase energy levels as the production unfolds with the later introduction of vocals only fuelling the fire.
I get the sense that this isn’t so much good as great. Partly because it thinks outside of the box as something imagined on its own terms, not for cynicism. Three equally challenging pieces of music co-exist to form this debut release from (the mysterious) Growin Music starting out with the unpredictably beautiful Holding The Four Winds. Underscored by rough edged Techno beats it’s the swirling, soaring synthesisers that captivate the attention and feel little short of epic. Digital Crush, continues the theme again scoring high on atmosphere this time punctuated by drum hits and meandering percussion, leaving the excellent Walks On The Boulevard to finish on classy Deep House tones and a more traditionally executed arrangement of sounds.
Naples based collective Marsupials and London’s Marcus Raute join minds to deliver four addictive slices of House for your pleasure via the always impressive Large Music imprint. The tough-edged title track takes centre stage with gritty beats and organ lines feeling increasingly intense as the addition of punchy stabs and vocal touches furnish the arrangement with all the necessary soul required. The Dub version then proceeds to strip it all back to basics revealing its deeper essence. Unless You Play picks up the pace next with brighter keys and sizzling hi-hats, while the 90’s inspired I Don’t Want You ends with yet more soulful vocals and biting organ hits feeling frisky and funky.
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.