The enviable warmth of emotion that greets you upon hearing the title track to this latest release from Moodymanc’s alternative guise is sheer delight. The sequence of heart wrenching, cinematic styled strings and delicate percussion are then defiantly toppled by cavernous, rumbling double-bass and plucked nirvana, amid the biting sizzle of rough and ready hi-hats. The Club Mix sees a tougher approach via the addition of a truly thumping kick drum while all the jazzy goodness remains proudly resolute. Next comes a re-visit to JCub’s excellent Mestizo and a remix care of Tony Lionni who takes things in a suitably deeper direction accompanied by breezy horn blasts, as the air of hot keys and summer days inform the rest. And as a digital bonus you’re also treaded to a final version of Evans Above in the shape of a Club Dub which does exactly that. More beautiful strings and more tinkling keys please. Thank you.
Been looking forward to hearing this LP from Mr Lionni for some time now, but while it’s no easy feat to pull off an albums worth of self-penned, captivating Dance music it’s achieved admirably here. The title track sets the tone with sassy, shuffling beats combining with funky synth lines fusing the past to the present perfectly. The notable instrumentation continues on Black Orchid as sultry strings are accompanied pulsating bass, although the long player is by no means devoid of the human voice. Robert Owens makes his presence felt on Time Stands Still, with the first single lifted from album featuring Rachel Fraser, Take Me With You doing likewise. There are some lovely instrumental sequences along the way too with Lost Souls pitching an emotive set of chords across a hypnotic array of beats and bass. The deep feel of this album will no doubt appeal to most out there, but having said that this never seems ponderous or underplayed – it’s always bang on target.
It did take a second listen but glad I did as Howie B and Joe Hirst’s magical blend of sci-fi weirdness alongside theÂ brutal bass and pulsating tribal drumming is all quite startling. Frankies City, is all that and more while packing more atmosphere into its unnerving 4.37 than most. Authentication, is a lighter proposition/ listen but none the less a stunning one which hints at minimalism while feeling positive, and dare I say even uplifting in the process with rousing, emotional strings plus zero beats. It’s a collaboration with the visual artist from Italy, Fabio Paleari and was made for an exhibit in Turin. The art in noise.
If it’s dark, brooding intensity you’re after that you’ll find your dreams coming true with this release. Not to put too fine a point on it but the opening About Mary is a deliciously sinister, even compelling listen. Striking drum effects offset the moody, whirling drone with Borg like voices that collectively make imperfect sense. The more hopeful sounding Jazz is next with a stripped back set of punchy drums giving the only possible clue for its namesake. Make A Wish then injects more energy into the bass along with brighter keys, leaving Then It Happened to supply some vocal relief albeit via more dark tales. A captivating set of productions that may well astound you.
How could you not love this combination of fiery Latin, percussion accompanied by soaring Flute and Disco sensibilities on the JC Edit of Dream Alive? But then how could you not love the remainder either: Ups and Downs is sure-fire funky, Pass The Music On exquisitely soulful, with the proceeding second Dr Edit (edit) feeling frisky on the sizzling up-tempo vocoder led Never Let Go. Good time Disco-funk for all the family from this Dublin based label.
The Salsoul Orchestra
Magic Journey (Expanded Edition)
Salsoul Records/ BBR
Any album containing Run Away is a priceless gem as this beautifully sung and orchestrated production cutely testifies. Loleatta Holloway provides the timeless vocals and the track appears in both its album version plus the extended Danny Krivit Re-Edit. Besides that the albums succession of skillful players breathe life into everything from sassy Latin vibes through to gutsy rock n roll with main man Vincent Montanan Jr. very much at the controls. The excellent Getaway provides another instrumental excursion while the opening It’s A New Day supply’s more party-time Disco moments. This edition also features Walter Gibbons reworking of Magic Bird Of Fire which runs into eight minutes of Congo fuelled bliss, and is always worth your time.
Azari & III
‘Azari & III’
Loose Lips Records
If anyone tries to tell you that â€˜Things aren’t as good as they used to be’ they obviously haven’t had the positive pleasure of experiencing Azari & III. As an attitude to dullness the album plays like a dream touching on all points from the more Soulful to the blatantly Techno inspired, this selection of music relishes the extremes. While current single, Restless (With Your Love) and with previous ones are included the air of familiarity is offset by the albums now U.K release. Tracks such as the acid infused Tunnel Vision and the mechanically charged Indigo simmer with tension as the production values are never less than dazzling throughout – although not always pretty such as on the deliciously sinister, Manhooker. Sweet dreams are made of this. 10
Tony Lionni returns the serve with this typically striking production which sees him trace the lines between Techno and House and then blur them. Higher Ground loops a vocal snippet, works it to death over splashing hats and insistent organ with sumptuously deep synth acting as the pay-off – an inspired touch of Jazz. Moomin provides an excellent remix with funky rhythms blending together with a selection of treated instruments. And, if that isn’t enough then the final the e.p’s finale certainly will be. Forever Is A Long Time… begins with Disco drums and ends up reliving a series of classic Deep House moments with exquisite piano and swirling pads: Spine-tingling. 9
Murray Richardson â€˜Memory Loss’ Baker Street Recordings
The story of House continues with this excellent bass driven production from Murray Richardson. Many of you will be overtly familiar with Baker Street by now but if not then title track Memory Loss is the reason to get acquainted. Bass lines like this are hard to beat and coupled with rattling hats and Detroit stabs this invigorating groove pushes all the right buttons at Magazine Sixty. The curious Sometime Sweet Susan continues by adding up various old-school elements and sounding vital. Remixes of Memory, are from the first-rate Paul Hardy & McKai who not surprisingly retain the B line but spice up the drums and top end to compliment the original, and a hypnotic Gareth Whitehead whose sub is suitably s**t hot! 8
Memoria Recordings’ own Lilith plays with numbers on this hard-hitting and deeply involving E.P. Opening track 22, produced along with Timothy Watt, sets hissing 909 hats against moody stabs, weird voices and funky tech rhythms and does nothing if not leave an indelible impression on your mind. Freak You does as the title suggests with menacing sounds and techno attitude. 44 follows the progression with deeper tones and stylish snares, while Circoloco’s Andrew Grant explores yet more tense atmospheres and drum textures on his excellent remix. The Filsonik remix of Freak You rounds off in jackin’ Chicago mode teasing you with its bassline and shuffling percussion. 8
If you like music that challenges your imagination then Mexico City’s Signal Deluxe are most definitely for you. The led track is somewhat epic clocking in at nearly eleven and a half minutes, but don’t let that bother you at this develops a sequence of completely intriguing sounds and vocal treatments all at its own pace – feeling almost ambient at times but with a deadly serious undercurrent too. Or to put that into other words, it’s a stunning piece of electronic music. But then so is the Derek Marin Remix who twists nasty stabs together with trippy vocals and slower beats. The Craft Remix lifts the tempo techno time for its unrelenting version, while the Deepak Sharma & Dieter Krause Remix stretches everything out into sonic extremes and might be something you would like to experience in a dark room (though perhaps not alone!) Again you could use the word exceptional. 9
Sandy Barber â€˜The Best Is Yet To Come’ BBE Records
Sandra Barber was the lead vocalist on Rare Pleasure’s classic â€˜Let me Down Easy’ after which she branched out with producer Clyde Otis as a solo artist to release her debut album in 1977. It’s all too easy to review The Best Is Yet To come because you are immediately enveloped in soaring emotive melodies the way only Soul music seems to truly do. The album contains its fair share of down tempo ballads such as the gorgeous I’ll Belong To You/ Yea Baby but also mid-tempo Disco shuffles and evenÂ hot boogie action too. Try, I Think I Think I’ll Do Some Stepping (On My Own) which comes with excellent reworkings from John Morales and Al Kent as well as the somewhat suggestive I’ve Got something Good (Come And Get It) for size. You won’t be dissatisfied. 8
The second in this series highlighting the labels’ prowess sees Glaswegian Dominic Martin select fourteen tracks to mix. You’d be surprised if I didn’t reassure you the music contains the key word, Deep although rarely do the energy levels dip below that required to party. The album contains a handful of new productions along with a couple of notable remixes from Giom, Milton Jackson and Johnny Fiasco who all deliver typically punchy selections. What the tracks do have in likeness is a common bond in the use of funky stabs, warm pads and always crisp beats. Also well worth noting are the smoky down-tempo numbers: New Context and the tastefully Jazzy â€˜Last Exit’ which serve to break up the beats and the mix in an extra layer of intrigue. 8
Your next single Higher Ground is released February. What is the inspiration behind the track and tell us about your relationship with Freerange?
The Ep was inspired by listening to Freerange records back catalogue of music keeping in line with the labels dedication to quality House music for the last 15 years. Freerange is one of my regular labels I like to contribute to as I feel I can communicate and relate with both the label owners Jamie Jimpster and Tom.
Â What influences inform your music, are they all Dance?
At home I listen to Contemporary Jazz, classical, Neo soul, soul, etc anything but house music. I get inspiration when travelling, cycling, walking, visiting art galleries, good clothes.
Do you have a favourite instrument or piece of software you like to use in the studio – how do you typically go about writing music?
I work with Ableton and my main keyboard is a Yamaha Mo6 like what 90% of Neo soul RnB etc musicians use for its good natural sounds, Rhodes and Piano. When I write something I never sit down and think ok I am going to write this type of track or that. I sometimes have a few samples I would like to use and build a track from there. I basically start every track with a blank canvas and see what evolves.
You experienced the development of House Music in Manchester in the late eighties/early nineties. How does that experience compare with living and what’s happening with the club scene in Berlin?
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I experienced house music from its very first arrival in the UK Manchester. I remember how people didn’t know how to react or whether to accept house music as a real form of music and extension of soul music. I remember being at a famous Manchester night club called “Legends” during a soul all nighter and during the House half hour the Dj got on the Microphone and took the piss out of one of the first Acid teds we called them, Smiley T-shirt long hair, whistle etc and said Ha that guy thinks heÂ´s Jesus….you had to be there to appreciate it.
I can’t really comment on the Berlin club scene.
Can you tell us about what your plans are for 2012?
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Next release is Higher Ground named after the Stevie Wonder track as I’ve always been a massive fan released on Freerange records Feb 2012. A remix of Ron Carroll’s track Back Together out anytime now on Soulfuric, available on Traxsource. Also working on a 10 track album which I may release on Kerri Chandlers Madhouse record label this year.
Zakes Bantwini â€˜Wasting My Time’ (Dan Ghenacia Remix: The Martinez Brothers Edit) Real Tone Records
This Martinez Brothers Edit of Wasting My Time is so heavy it makes you want to swear. But it’s not all devastating bass and sharp beats as cool muted horns and an insistent keyboard riff compliment the madness perfectly, with carefully chosen words only adding extra spice. Respect due to Zakes Bantwini, Franck Roger and also Dan Ghenacia for helping this to happen in the first place. But if words are not enough, click below for a taste of the original remix! 9
release: nov 2011
Tony Lionni â€˜The Bijou EP’ Madhouse Records
If you add the words gorgeous, deep and House Music together will end up here at this bijou. Steps Ahead captures all those early nineties feelings with classic beats and sizzling hi-hats accompanied by staccato organ bass notes – which are nearly always irresistible – and undulating chords and fizzy electronics. The title track follows with expansive pads and arpeggio notes playing like its 1988 all over again on a dancefloor, and why not. Hypnotize, hits a deeper groove with intensity building layers of atmosphere proving irresistible, with final track Rumours elevating the mood once again with joyous keys and funky percussion on what sounds like the EP’s most effective production. 9Â
Valeria Croft â€˜Just Prove Again EP.’ Tea Boy Music
Two tracks go to make up this EP from Valeria Croft who hails from the Russian Federation. You may like the amalgamation of ideas which are seemingly thrown together casually and yet feel thoughtful and emotive the more you listen. Just Prove Again combines a sprinkling of cabaret piano alongside snare brushes with richly atmospheric tech stabs for starters. While the more intense Walls On Water has an infectious acid bassline working up a fever with 909 hats and nervous sounds edging themselves under your skin. It has to be said you may enjoy the danger. 8
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