The fourth release on Rowee’s relatively new imprint is simply spellbinding. Listen to Cari Golden’s exquisitely poised vocal on the Ambient Mix is it evolves alongside the gentle punctuation of electric piano and the heady roll of drums. Rise remembers the meaning of that dignified word music in telling terms as this is very much about the power of instrumentation and also of voice, feeling all the more refreshing for it in days which may not seem that invigorating. The original version compliments those sentiments with the addition of beats, bass and a blissful arrangement of swirling keys, plus cinematic stretches of imagination, expressed across nine minutes of beautifully moving moments.
In anticipation of his forthcoming debut artist album is this taster which does more than just whet the appetite. Fuelling inspiration from both House and Techno and feeling life-affirming, soulful yet packing a dancefloor punch is this standout production from Coyu, featuring Thomas Gandey. Not so often these days that piano chords sound as encapsulating but these clearly do, backed up by brittle drums, fizzy synthesized lines and a sense of tension that is paid off by the eventual arrival of such emotive keys. Equally invigorating remixes come from the excellent Gerd Janson who supplies two distinctive versions each highlighting vigorous aspects, a percussive Truncate plus a suitable pounding alternative take from Cosmin TRG.
2017 sees the launch of your new alias: Rowee with a single for Rebellion. What’s the story behind the name and why have you chosen to use an alias?
Rowee comes from a story based on a profound feeling for music, representing an alter ego; it is the darkest part of me, and at the same time the hypnotic and mental part, music with a soul. Artists often have several different faces, and the decision to hide a side of myself in Rowee was immediately the right choice. I needed to somehow express a part of me that I hadn’t yet revealed.
The release ‘Disguise EP’ features collaborations with Thomas Gandey, KnowKontrol and Simon Wish. Tell us about how your working relationship came about with these artists? And with label itself?
I met Damian Lazarus at a party in Tuscany, where we talked about some demos I had tucked away in a drawer… I always thought that the best “home” for Rowee would be Crosstown Rebels / Rebellion. Damian Lazarus is a great artist whom I hold in the highest esteem, both for his musical choices as a DJ, as well as for the high quality of his labels. The Disguise EP represents a “voyage” divided into three different sections; “Earth To You” created together with our friend Thomas Gandey describes sensuality and essentiality through music. We created a minimal environment that serves as a background for a sensual, cutting edge voice. We got to know Thomas a few years ago, sharing the console at a well-known Italian club. We started collaborating on that day and have since cultivated a valuable friendship and in-tune relationship. The second track that gives the EP its name is “Disguise”, a collaboration with the singer KnowKontrol, a profound track with an authentic soul, “a lost sense of complicity hidden behind the guise of two people pretending that their relationship is OK”. I have always admired the vocals by KnowKontrol on tracks like “After Dark” by &ME on “KeineMusik” or “Shadows” on “Saved”, so the decision to collaborate with him was easy. The voyage concludes with “It Shows You”, a collaboration with our friend from New York, Simon Wish. We developed the track with an acidic sound and the right energy for the dancefloor, a perfect conclusion for this 3-Track EP.
Can you talk us through how you created one of the tracks from the initial inspiration to the final production? How would you describe the studio that you like to use?
Work in the studio is usually very fast and straightforward. I try to convey my concept based on inspiration from past artists and sounds that are often beyond just the dancefloor, to then go into the studio and work on all the ideas together and develop the album. I really like using Moog, Modular, Minimonsta systems; they are often a source of great inspiration for creating an album. In the case of the single “Disguise”, the entire concept was born from the vocals and the feeling they expressed; I just needed to create the right costume to perfectly fit the meaning conveyed by the voice. So with an ever-present and essential groove, a hypnotic riff and a moog synth that gives the perfect energy behind the vocals. The result was exactly what I was looking for, the right balance between groove and synths, emphasizing the vox to their maximum.
You’re playing at the BPM Festival in January. How do you prepare for such an event? And what are your feelings on the rise of festival culture (as opposed to having a residency in a Club)?
I think the BPM Festival today represents one of the top festivals in the world, with an enviable line up and the incredible backdrop of Playa Del Carmen. I am much honored to be part of the official line up. I love festivals that take place under the sun, giving the atmosphere positive vibes, plenty of smiles and energy. I don’t think it’s possible to compare a club and a festival, because they each give you a different sensation… a club makes you feel “at home” with the contact among the people immediate creating a great feeling on the dancefloor, with the “detachment” between the console and the public is totally cancelled out in a club. In contrast, a festival does not really have this aspect, because detachment is unavoidable, but the energy of a big crowd gives you a one of a kind, amazing sensation.
Tell us about your choice of music for the forthcoming BPM2017 compilation? What for you makes the perfect club track?
I usually don’t choose the music before the event, and I always try to let myself be transported by the emotions that are generated by the dancefloor as I am playing; that’s when I select the tracks for my set, often alternating my works with those from other artists. I don’t think a perfect track exists, but I do think that a DJ’s approach to the dancefloor makes any track the perfect one.
What’s the scene like in Florence at the moment? What are your favourite Bars & Clubs?
Florence is an incredible city, full of beautiful places for organizing parties, and the underground scene is very interesting. There are many talented people and interesting parties happening, like Nobody’s Perfect at Tenax, the Next Tech Festival (for the techno scene) and many others, like the Tropical Animals, who represent the essence of the Florentine underground scene.
How did you first get into producing music and where did you learn about it?
I began producing about 10 years ago, but my first real approach to music was when I was young and I studied how to read a stave and understand the notes, as well as studying acoustic guitar. I have always thought that studying is important, but I think it is just as important to learn from people who have a lot of experience. For example, Fabrizio Giovannozzi (a well-known engineer who passed away a few years ago) is one of those people I always admired for his body of knowledge and experience in the world of sound mixing. I learned a lot from him and I began to understand many aspects that cannot always be found in books. It is important to listen to and capture what you can from everyone, to then reinvent it within your own mind.
What are your plans for 2017?
2017 is just the beginning. Rowee debuts in the month of January with two very important EPs, one on the Steve Bug label and the other on the Damian Lazarus label. I am very happy to be part of an important crew like the “Crosstown Rebels / Rebellion”. I am already working on new tracks, and why not, maybe a new album? So stay tuned!
Leonardo Gonnelli’s brand new alias launches into 2017 with a renewed vigour featuring three new tracks and collaborations. The opening gambit combines the effervescing production talents of perineal Magazine Sixty favourite Thomas Gandey with the aptly spacey Earth To You entailing the airwaves with dark, smoky drums and fizzy electronics running over the course of several thrilling minutes. Disguise, featuring KnowKontrol follows on with more rigorous drum programming accompanying throbbing basslines plus probing tones and Dwayzo Lawrence’s yearning vocals. Leaving the suggestive Simon Wish collab It Shows You to end this first rate release with punchier percussion fuelling energetic rhythms and forward thinking propositions.
Conceived as an aural tribute to the ‘Hansa recording studios’ on Köthener Straße No. 38 in Berlin, this long player courtesy of Matt Edwards (aka Radio Slave) and Thomas Gandey (aka Cagedbaby) not only boasts purely live instrumentation but also the transcendent atmosphere of the music produced. Hansa was made famous by the likes of David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Tangerine Dream and Depeche Mode, amongst many significant others and is obviously a hard act to follow with the album taking its main inspiration from Bowie’s 1977 masterpiece Low. The result is a suitably stunning experience which blends a rich mixture of beats and percussion augmented by an intense musicality that is as far away from the mindless repetition of Tech House as you could imagine. Indeed, you could for example say that the piano played on Piano 2 Variation 4 has been spiritually guided. Or, try soaking up the haunting, ambience triggered by Hansa itself complete with taught electro drums, while the concluding title track ends on a wash of Fender Rhodes echoing your imagination to hear the excellence all over again…
HEAR DIS SOUND (Remixes)
Hipp-e and Halo’s distinctive release from just under ten years ago now gets revitalised via an excellent set of remixes transforming this gem directly into 2014. Beginning with Yousef’s great version that sets addictive organ notes against a fiery backdrop of hypnotic percussion and pulsating beats this is built for the repeat button. The Space Coast take is next combining sparkling synths and tough bass, followed by Sneak’s relentless attack on the senses. Franck Roger’s outstanding funky bassline driven remix then scores high, while DJ Buck adds a cool Disco flavour with a twist. Craig Richards then defies expectations by dropping the tempo into darker territory with a heavy dose of sound effects, leaving Adam Shelton to pick up the pace once again with another suitably punchy rendition that rocks the floor. All good.
Surpassing the computer functionality of the title this strips it back to basics via a pumping House beat and accompanying bassline. Not quite so sure about the vocal line despite its obvious catchiness but then there is always a great Dub version to contend with. Or, the excellent PBR Streetgang Remix which transforms the vocal into filtered nirvana via an array of swirling synths and an ecstatic arrangement. Second track, The Project delves deeper again with a detuned vocal loop, as does the addictive The Pattern which is complimented by a first rate rhythm section.
Everything (We Are)
Wolf + Lamb Records
What’s not to like about this. After all if breathy vocal deliveries and syncopated basslines backed up by punchy drumming are your thing then this is just right on the opening, ‘Miss White’. While the title track has a restrained yet slightly epic feel to it care off a rousing chorus line backed-up by Dave Robertson’s vocals and atmospheric instrumentation. Who then re-appears as Cameo Culture for the remix by adding a funkier attitude to the proceedings. Finally, Second Fiddle again weaves the delicate vocals through a musical fabric that sounds playful and enjoyable.
Following on from where the excellent Get Yourself left off this EP moves forward with three new tracks again via Rebellion. The title tracks itself is big and bouncy packed full of uplifting vibes for hands in the air moments complete with vocoder-esque vocals and soaring synths all sounding just right. Crush, then opens with beautifully jazzy tones offset by twisted voices and then proceeds to launch into an uber funky groove that sets exciting electronics off in all directions. However for me its Issues that scores 10/10 here with yet another devastatingly killer bassline from Mr Lavelle, feeling more akin to Get Yourself building with moody intention and irresistible rhythms that do indeed reach fever pitch.
This stunning EP from Benoit & Sergio positively simmers with delight with opening number Shake Shake displaying a playful, almost pop sensibility that you may, or may not, find completely enticing. I love the the way the vocals dance around the bassline and piano melodies, and the fact that this sounds in a space and time of its own making. But the pièce de résistance is undoubtedly Adjustments, a perfectly crated piece of music that blends gorgeous synths together with an addictive, melancholy vocal delivery which says this: Sometimes I think that DJs don’t understand that we’ve been waiting around all week for this and sometimes I think that djs don’t understand that we don’t care about their cut-off frequencies or resonance we just want to dance and then walk home with a girl that we met and take her by the hand and never wake up.
Out of the Basement aka Steve Leggat and James Ellis have re-edited two equally seductive slices of funkiness for long standing Manchester institution El Diablo’s Social Club. First up is their reworking of the slinky soul vocals of Take Me With You which are backed up by chunky beats, punchy guitar and spirited piano. Next the excellent low-slung, cut-up of the Brothers Johnson version of the Shuggie Otis anthem ‘Strawberry Letter 23’ is certainly a gem well worth adding to your record collection.
Jamie Fatneck / Lucci Capri
The Spanish label founded by Lucci Capri (aka DJ Callum) and fellow WE Love Space resident Jamie Fatneck continues its theme with this latest EP. Four new twists beginning with the nine minute re-imagining of Billie Jean which runs feverish Acid lines across Michael Jackson to grace the song with fresh impetus. It’s certainly creatively executed and as it remains, for some, a dancefloor classic is possibly an essential addition to your canon. Next up is the seductive and ultimately far more credible Dame Un Beso which plays sassy Latino rhythms over daring, smoky vocals. The tempo then gathers pace with the equally captivating Because Today I Saw U and Esther Phillips gorgeous vocals dripping all over the hot filtered grooves. Leaving another smooth Fatneck edit to finish on Aretha Franklin’s version of ‘What A Fool Believes’.
Paradise 45 ft Kathy Diamond
Two names that will be more than familiar: Guy Williams & Thomas Gandey team up as Paradise 45 once again to release their debut on Madhatter White. As you’d expect this packs more than a hint of fired-up Disco, while coming over like a heavy-duty cosmic production with sparkling electronics and Kathy Diamond’s self-assured vocals. An excellent Dub follows on from the Original version concentrating on all that sizzling instrumentation with two remixes adding a different angle. Firstly from Deepmode who’s bump n grind rhythms add a real swing to the affair, and then from Rudy’s Midnight Machine who give it a deeper flavour with melodic bass and synths lines.