Hats off to Neil Parkes for delivering such an exciting production which doesn’t follow the rule book, consequently sounding rather spectacular. Me & You is the led track and combines a distinctive, undulating synth line along with brooding chords and suitably leftfield vocals. A great remix comes from Richy Ahmed who punctuates it with Chicago styled vocal stabs and Detroit synthesizers augmenting the certainly tough bassline. Dixon, then sees the producer in deeper territory with moody atmospheres and shuffling percussion again delivering singular results. The excellent, ‘You Were’ ends on a high with provocative basslines amid weirdly addictive vocals and further tech keyboards that feel uniquely soulful.
I did mean to bring you this a couple of weeks ago but circumstances got in the way. Never-the-less the sumptuous Klearkut chimes with the current vogue for shimmering, marimba styled keys underscored by tough beats, which is in this case superbly highlighted by an extra layer of percussion and subtle synths at mid-point. Great track, for sure. However, it’s to the timeless quality of Earth These Beats that attention turns. Replaying the Beats version of the 1990 classic Earth People ‘Dance’ and extending it out to ten minutes is tempting on paper but played loud releases all that funky energy at full blast.
Max Chapman & Kieran Andrews
The Factory EP
We’re just about to hit November and already there’s a great list of music in store. Following neatly on from their Temperature EP for the label comes this blistering, bassline infused production in the shape of Factory 7. It’s all thumping beats, crisps sounding snares and atmospheric noises swirling round the ether, and it’s positively nasty. Philip Bader’s remix drops the loser funkier vibe of the original in favour of more attacking House beats surrounded by a pulsating vocal stabs and a creative selection of sounds for high impact. Leaving, Loving Arms to feel more emotive with hooky vocal loops and driving rhythms to end the show.
Human Mystery kicks off this excellent release from Leftroom by combining ultra-funky breaks with an uber squelchy bassline that does little else bar rock. There are subtleties in the production too as the arrangement ultimately develops into a shuffling electro groove with atmospheric synth lines lending this a distinctly unique quality. Pezzner provides the remix by way of an alternative b-line that feels tastefully dark alongside the f***ked up voices and sizzling hi-hats. Next, Pick Em Up engages in self-fulfilling prophecy with twisted vocals and pounding rhythms feeling funky and industrial, and this again develops the theme into some creative surprises. The title track proceeds to get marginally deeper with classic House bass and energetic percussion firing it all up, as Pezzner’s second remix relies on chopped up keys and moody pads to provide another oblique angle. 9
Willie Graff & Tuccillo Phonomontage EP Freerange Records
Time for the third EP from Willie Graff & Tuccillo for Freerange and it will come as no surprise that this again pushes all the right buttons. Set Me Free kicks off as they mean to go on by replaying a classic Disco loop, this time it’s pitched to mid-tempo, which is then excitedly filtered leaving the vocal to repeat into ecstasy against a notably rasping bass. Get It On speeds up for dancefloor action with another familiar sample reworked over sassy percussion and punctuated snares. Lunar Feelings completes with, as the title would suggest, the most intriguing cut from the EP blending pulsating organ chords together with funky rhythms and sumptuous atmospheres, which it has to be said conjure up a treat. 8
Manchester-based producer Angus Jefford once again strikes the thoughtful balance between classic and contemporary sounds that artistically reference the past without boring you to death by it. Which is a roundabout way of saying his latest production for MK/ Scottie Deep’s Say Ahh is a killer. I love all the influences and the way they are shaping music right now, but also how the sounds are progressed and twisted into today. Both versions of Bumpin’ lay testament to that with pulsating organ bass notes and deep beats feeling very addictive peaking at an incendiary breakdown. Fever Fever follows sounding fresh with invigorating electronics, leaving The Culture to finish by playing splashing hats against heavy-duty basslines and simmering keys, all of which is best described as explosive. More please. 9
Darabi & Tim Paris Various Items 2 Items And Things
Berlin based Items And Things forge ahead with another striking release which sees both Darabi and Tim Paris deliver tracks on the labels thirteenth release. The former has, Player setting sinister voices against a hypnotic backdrop of robotic beats and dark bass. The later gives you, Too Close with Sex Judas. Which feels delightfully sleazy over Chicago inspired sounds that reward all that European influence by joining the dots between the 80’s and now. You’ve got to love it. 9
The Headhunters Survival Of The Fittest/ Straight From The Gate R2 Records
Don’t you just love re-issues. Leaving the vinyl vs. digital debate aside this series from R2 Records is something to get very excited about as past classics are re-mastered and repackaged for 2012, and beyond. But most importantly of course is the music and what finer way to start than with two gems from The Headhunters. Their first without Herbie Hancock (whose seminal debut is still seminal, although produced by him) opens with God Make Me Funky and continues the journey that began to explore the possibilities of Jazz/ Funk fusion. The follow-up, Straight From The Gate proceeds as the series releases two albums from each artist and if anything gets all the more cosmic in scope by reaching for the edges that bands like Steely Dan also gravitated towards. Dexterity is always assured whatever your preference may be and both these albums could no doubt be described as essential in any language. 9
Thelma Jones Thelma Jones Big Break Records/ Sony Music
Released just over ten years after her first single, The House That Jack Built (also sung by Aretha Franklin) Thelma Jones’ debut album features a few well known covers such as I Second That Emotion and Now That We’ve Found Love. While undoubtedly possessing a beautiful voice the music feels a touch too middle of the road at times – though I guess that may depend on how adult you feel. Although, on How Long the sheer emotion of the vocal delivery and accompanying mid-tempo groove combine to perfection, and the album is worth buying for this experience alone. In a similar vein is the Brad Shapiro produced You’re A Song (That I Can’t Stop Singing) with its timely soulful melodies and generated sense of longing that couldn’t feel more personal. 9