What begins as a seemingly simple arrangement of drums and pulsating bass quickly establishes itself into something altogether more intriguing via the addition of dark undulating chords which lend this an addictive edge. That and the occasional touch of vocal alongside some sassy use of percussive elements fully demand your attention. Remixes come from the tougher Tribal beats of Moliner and the cool shuffling funkiness of Danzoo Shem completing another good release from this exciting Madrid based label.
Sharing the same name as the Debussy classic but bearing little resemblance this rework from The Molly Guys does however still sound captivating and excellent, floating yet strident. Driven by unrelenting beats and capped by some particularly striking synth notes this also joins the words brooding and commanding together too. Expanding over the course of ten minutes this is underpinned by a commanding repetitive atmosphere that carries your attention right up until the very last moment.
Paul Hardy & McKai
Baker Street Recordings
It’s all about the bassline here. Not squelchy and warped but hard-hitting with a twist of faint melody. Accompanied by razor sharp beats this, put simply, plants a smile on your face. Released just ahead of their full EP for Baker Street Go Deep can only be the promise of yet more good times ahead.
This is excellent. Carlos Marí Pérez a.k.a. The Natural has three brand new three tracks for Bulgaria’s Cloning Sound which kicks off with the Balearic infused guitar of the EP’s first rate title track. But it’s not just Flamenco flourishes for sure as the guitar is played alongside a sequence of very heavy-duty rhythms that are inescapably breathtaking. Simple, direct and ideal. Red Light District comes next with continuing pounding beats and deep bass this time accompanied by seductive Organ, fiery percussion and atmospheric voices. Constitution, then completes on a more Tech tip though never loses sight of soul and feeling.
What inspired you to start Baker Street Recordings, and how would you describe running a label to someone else thinking of starting one?
It was the combination of wanting to release our own music and for me the business, A&R side. That part of the music industry was really interesting to me. Running a label is a labour of love, you have to love the music and throw yourself into the industry. Money is tight and you have to have a keen ear for the music. If you’re looking to start a label and be successful look to put all your spare cash into it and don’t over release, take your time, treat each EP with the attention it needs, the work only starts once its released.
Your new compilation celebrates the 5th Anniversary of the label in two parts. What process decided the tracks to go on each one?
It took a lot of debating and thinking about to choose which tracks would work well for the remix album. In the end we drafted a shortlist and let some of the producers decide. We are really happy with how the album has turned out, there have been a couple of tracks from the release that have become favorites and been played by quite a number of people, but they have all been really well received!
The tracks on part two are really a collection of our most popular. We have noticed that from starting the promo for this release it has kick started a second life into some of our bigger previous releases, such as the Timewriter remix of ‘Insomniac Oasis’ and Yousef’s ‘Don’t Touch Me’ mix.
You initially released music on vinyl before moving to digital and are now planning to release on vinyl once again. Why is that important to you?
One of the overriding factors is the lack of support that some download sites are giving to smaller labels. That combined with the thousands of releases that come out each week means your releases just get lost. Some download sites are getting things right for the underground market; Traxsource for example seems to understand the problem. The move to vinyl means that we can release in a less flooded marketplace. We are also looking at just selling all our release direct from our site, cutting out all the extra costs and getting the label back to that personal feel that people really like. Big Risk Though.
How would you describe your process of producing music? Any favorite piece of software or instrument?
Pro Tools is our production software of choice. We also run Ableton alongside this. What seems to work really well for us is to have the bones of the track laid out in Pro Tools, and any extra sounds and bits that need creating are done in Ableton, and then put into a network file so we can access it from any of the studio Macs. The process of having two people in the studio producing one track has really helped to fuel creativity.
The only VST that we stick to religiously is Spectrasonic’s Trillian for basses, there is no competition in my opinion especially for an analogue sound if you can’t afford the hardware. Hardware wise we mix down through an Allen & Heath Zed-R16 and TL Audio valve compressors.
The label has a very distinctive sound, how would you best describe it?
I’d like to just say House, but that’s means so many things nowadays, so Deep house with a influence of Jack from Chicago and Tech from Detroit.
Tell us about your forthcoming plans for Baker Street nights?
We have some pretty exciting plans for Baker Street nights. The general idea will be to have DJ’s and live musicians combining on stage. There are such a high number of nights around at the moment that we want to create an experience that stands out from the rest of these nights. This element of live music as well as DJ’s will help to make the nights more memorable, and when the event is fully branded up with Baker Street and everyone is wearing old school Sherlock tweed it should be a great atmosphere. Also if we ever get any nice weather again there are rumors of a barge party!!
What do you listen to when you’re not at Baker Street?
There is a new artist coming through called Rohit who creates the most stunning electronic music with an Indian influence, one to watch for the future. In the office we listen to everything from Elvis, The Beatles to Black Sabbath and everything in between.
Love this. The capitals’ Alexis Raphael captures the invigorating sounds and feel of contemporary House music perfectly with this inspired production. Tempered by strident beats and deliciously dark sounding synths the arrangement sets you up for its fall into bassline nirvana, with a timely nod to early nineties vocal samples’ and a twist of infectious Disco toms into the bargain. Hot Natured then proceed to deepen the bass and add edgy attitude to their sublimely powerful remix, as second track I Know feels almost church-like in comparison: with heavenly Organ cumulating in a succession of hypnotic handclaps and cheeky selection of yet more classic vocal lines… 9
Cesar Coronado’s debut for the relocated Flumo label sees splashing 909 hats play off against nagging vocal snippets and cool fuzzy chords. Meanwhile, the impressive Atapy Remix gets funky with its Bass while playing pounding synthetic drums as it evolves into a creative collection of electronic notes and pads. However, it’s down to Ed Maddams Soul Dub to transform the mood of it all by breaking up the beats and adding excellent Jazzy tones to a particularly stinking sequence of events. Hats off, this is good. The Way I Feel About You replays another classic vocal from the 90’s over a suitably fashionable b-line to compliment it all stylishly. 8
Have to say I made the mistake of underestimating this when I first heard it. But, much to my delight it’s all you could hope for and more from Parisian Joss Moog, whose distinctive selection of influences hits all the right buttons. Slinky bass and infectiously funky percussion effortlessly work their way into your consciousness as Motown inspired voices and moody chords do all the rest. That Old Feeling: simple and yet totally effective. As indeed is, Xtra Bass which again plays a collection of beats and breaks as smooth dancefloor filler. The much perkier, That’s What UR follows by adding Disco flavour and the 70’s party-time inflections of Blue Paradise complete. 8
You will be well familiar with Manuel Tur reading Magazine Sixty so it’s a definite pleasure to be introducing you to his new, and second, album for Freerange. Both label and artist espouse certain qualities when it comes to the music they release and thought-provoking tracks such as new single, High Needs Low are a perfect case in point. From heavy-duty deepness to more spacious atmospheres the curiously titled album (via Salvador Dali) never fails but to thrill you with its exploration of ideas about sound and their possibilities. That may sound a touch pretentious but on songs like, Maybe Next Lifetime featuring BlakKat you can get the general idea. The cinematic collages continue through the uncertain repetition of, Mirrors and on the eerily perfect, Just Love with Elina Monova – whose probing use of vocals lifts the music above and beyond. 8
Various Artists Baker Street 5th Anniversary Baker Street Recordings
Superlative Leeds based label Baker Street celebrates its five years in existence with this collection of choice moments from its past, complimented by a selection of new remixes pointing towards the future. Split over two CD’s, with the initial featuring the new versions, let’s start with the second as it opens with Matthias Vogt’s killer remix Paul Hardy’s Swirl – which just so happens to be a favourite from last year. All the labels stalwarts are present here from Moodymanc to Jay Shepheard and Baker Street’s distinctive twist on American House music plays out fluently flitting between moods and instrumentation. The remix CD then comes care off the likes of Murray Richardson, Martijn and also includes the spectacular Lo Tech Remix of Lie To Me, so you know what quality to expect. 8
Opening with the breezy, Jazz Cafe the album develops its theme with titles like the succinctly funky standout cut, Disco On The Dancefloor and cruises through everything from deeper to techy territory with ease. Although, it’s not always as straight forward as that may sound due to the colourful use of styles which are playfully incorporated into the mix: a hint of Jazz here, a touch of Ska there. But that’s precisely what makes Basement Story quite so enjoyable. The album also includes a couple of bonus remixes and ends on the down-tempo orchestration of, The Black Cat Gismo for the sheer hell of it. 7
If you’d have asked twenty years ago where House Music would end up? I might not have imagined such an exquisite progression but here we are with Maceo Plex, who for good reason is all over the place at the moment. It can sometimes be hard to put into words precisely how music makes you feel. However, this combination of epic ambience, technological stabs and with yet another unfeasibly funky bassline in place, Frisky does things that are perhaps better left to the imagination. Sex Appeal continues the theme with heavily treated vocals feeling heavenly alongside rapid-fire acid bass and perfectly toned beats. The word Artist is aptly applied. 9
Released by La Fleur’s own label she undoubtedly has the courage of conviction and I have to say that this is excellent/ beautiful in equal measure. The title track eases you into a deep sense of security with gently shuffling rhythms contrasted with a heavy bass and sprinkling of emotive chords. The vocals add even more effortless charm to the production which should gain the labels third release the attention I would suggest it merits. Tjuvlyssnerskan follows by twisting the Swedish noun for feminine around a beautiful, melancholy keyboard loop and more infectious bottom-end. 8
Back with their second release for the label the Polish duo deliver more in the way of contemporary electro-funk that sits very neatly upon Freerange. Open Your Arms plays off-kilter voices against an imaginative arrangement of beats and basslines, which while they throw back to the past also veer cleverly towards the future. The Fred P Reshape then dispenses with that entire notion and delves headlong into subwoofer oblivion, which quite frankly is somewhere you’ll also want to be when you hear this. Love the uncomplicated but deeply intense combination of moody pads and drums which say it all here. Dreamin’ About You finishes you off by the harsh reality of distorted kicks complimented by jazzy stabs, and feels sort of early nineties but then f**ks with that idea completely – cool. 8
More sizzling hot Bass action for you, which in this case emanates from Hot Waves and Favourite Robot recording artist Sean Roman. Bocuse, kicks things off with acid tinged deepness and feels very much of the moment, as its centered around the Bass, while the remainder of production is adorned with all sorts of intriguing electronic sound: some funky – some weird. Moan, follows via the same approach although this feels just that bit funkier. Remixes come from the excellent MANIK, who take the fuzzy tones one step further, plus Waifs and Strays who factor in a 90’s sensibility into their equally fiery interpretation. 7
There’s nothing like the sound of a real bass guitar (or even its digital approximation) to get the juices flowing and Jozif’s latest for Culprit is set to do just that. It would be hard not to love this and the way it pulls all sorts of reference points together: from 80’s synths and Disco styled Strings, to that Funk bass line and 2012 arrangement. Tea, is a spoonful of excellence. The Cure inspired version of Lullaby will appeal to those of a Balearic persuasion and makes ‘just for old time’s sake’ feel like a very good proposition indeed. Which leaves the tasteful, swirling atmospheres of Serenade and the bold electronic textures of down-tempo, Boesen to complete the picture. 8
Jesse Siminski, or better known as, Heartthrob crosses the lines between Techno and electronic House music to feel uniquely spaced-aged. Odyssey’s journey begins with tense beats, supplemented by scratchy keys, and proceeds into darker territory generated by an array of odd-ball electricity that’s nothing but tempting. You would be surprised to hear that, The Liar follows in a lighter note but it doesn’t. It does however offer you funkier cow-bell driven percussion, although even this turns out to be deliciously sinister with the introduction of sleazy sythns and suspect voices. 7
Cielo Sunrise (mixed by Nicolas Matar) Nervous Records
NYC’s Cielo co-owner and resident DJ Nicolas Matar delivers what’s best described a beautiful journey through the sights and sounds of AM:PM. Titled, Sunrise for good reason this perfect blend of soulfully infused rhythms gives you the very best in sassy songs to more vigorous workouts. As you continue listening, Matar proves to be a classic DJ in every sense of the word with the mix tripping through light and shade while touching upon a selection of styles, Cielo is destined to always get the better of your curiosity. Beginning with Guy Gerber’s excellent remix of Deniz Kurtel’s ‘The L Word’ you pass through DJ T’s ‘City Life’ and end up at Jimpster’s beautiful Summer Of Love Remix of ‘1988’ – which is almost right back we all started from. 8
“To celebrate Baker Street Recordings 5th birthday we are giving away an hour long mix featuring some of the labels best tracks from the last 5 years and new remixes of some of the classic Baker Street releases. Mixed by our very own Paul Hardy & McKai. All the tracks in this mix and more are available on the 5th anniversary release out on the 23rd of April at all digital retailers.”
Album review to follow plus interview with Paul Hardy….
Cheryl Lynn In The Night bbr (Big Break Records)
Some three years after the release of her perennial party favourite Got To Be Real, Cheryl Lynn teamed up with producer Ray Parker Jr to produce her third album, In The night in 1981. Opening with her second classic single Shake It Up Tonight the song sees the songstress deliver a pantheon to the cult of Nightlife, encapsulating both its joy and energy and feeling every bit as exciting as …To Be Real, but just that bit more sophisticated. The vocal does that distinctly American thing of sounding soulful, while reaching the extremities of emotion which only singers of a certain calibre can truly do. Also worth noting – if you do such things – are the Gene Page arranged Strings which soar, then hover, with pure Disco class. The album devolps with a selection of hit and miss ballads, mid-tempo popish grooves, and then reaches the rather tasty What’s On Your Mind. 8
Azari & III
‘Azari & III’
Loose Lips Records
If anyone tries to tell you that ‘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 ‘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 ‘The Best Is Yet To Come’ BBE Records
Sandra Barber was the lead vocalist on Rare Pleasure’s classic ‘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 even 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 ‘Last Exit’ which serve to break up the beats and the mix in an extra layer of intrigue. 8
Alejandro Trebor ‘Quemadura del sol’ Hidden Recordings
Alejandro Trebor’s insanely heavy production has to be experienced at least once in your lifetime. Although, there’s not much in the way of hidden meaning here as you’re pulverized into total submission care of its relentless bass and vicious techno hardware. The only possible light in the tunnel is the spoken voice. But having said that Quemadura del sol is also quite beautiful, in its own peculiar way. The proceeding eight remixes may at first seem a tad over the top but as they reveal themselves they’re each developing individual notions of the same theme – and all excellent in their own right too. 8
The fact that this is also released on ‘hand-made cassette’ conjures all sorts of faded memories from our analogue past but then this music has that emotive quality to it. Mcr’s James Birchall blends to together an evocative selection of instruments which are perfectly summed up on title tracks’ Harbour Wall by expressive drum patterns, atmospheric chords and his own understated vocal. Behave, contains the immortal line, I’ve got to stop drinking so much just because you’re not here to make me stop, and is backed up by unsettling sounds which nicely belie the dark humour. The intense ambience of Waller’s Cut paints its own eerie picture, as indeed does Edge of the Firelight – whose expressive guitar work is exquisite – with Manila providing a lighter respite to finish. 8
James Pullen makes a welcome return with Trip. You will possibly be familiar with the opening sentiment of Industry Whore but never the less this blistering assault of the senses goes way beyond one dimensional thinking. Light and shade are the order of play as Mistabishi probes the reverential Madonna with relaxed breaks on Wannabe, while exploring European analogue on )))23((( via the darker inducements of RWD The Revolution and Party Politics. Always employing creative thinking this album plays like the soundtrack to the changing seasons which by the time you hit number fourteen, Scene And Not Heard is rapidly exceeding all expectations. By fifteen and Prisoner Of Mother Earth you’re left wondering just where these sounds have come from as the Druggers End finale plays out. 8
Retaining the international feel is New Zealander James Barrett who delivers quality bassline madness for notable Leeds imprint Baker Street. Fourth, does precisely that with abrasive hi-hats and a twisted b-line complimented by unsettling keys reaching out for the dancefloor. The excellent Just Looking follows with a sense of Detroit cool and produces machine music that purposefully hits the spot. Vanu continues in deep focus with moody atmospherics, with the equally impressive Afters jacking up the tension once again with sizzling effects and pulsating toms. 8