The Eye That Sees Us All has appeared at precisely the right moment. Free from restrictions, open to all interpretations this collection of intriguing, imaginative sounds is a positive feast of stimulating aural pleasure much as the title track demonstrates via shivering voices, stripped back drum-machines alongside a wealth of finely tuned atmospheric tones and noises. The rigorous, impassioned rhythms of Lucy Sky Diamond follows with deep pulsing stabs amid defiant electrical swirls pursuing the notion that music can be eloquently emotional at the same time as being creative and forward-thinking. The brisk dancefloor tempo of Arethusa is next, leaving the more twisted electro elements of Temple Day to do just that. The deep bass punctuating Clair de Lune feels compelling as do the assorted expansions of tripped out sounds which play with rhythm and possibility in neat, equal measure. So by the time the exceptional final number, Tropik Sadness feat. Falco Nero hits all things are suitably bent in and out of shape as percussive intensity along with the knowing pleasure of echoed expanse collectively speaks volumes about this excellent debut album from Shaun Reeves.
A wonderful, beautifully realised piece of music that despite its brisk, grainy qualities is full of life-affirming warmth. The title track’s brittle rhythm track is offset by atmospheric, haunting pads and stabbing sounds as the infectious, fiery drum programing soon asserts itself. It all then feeds into the imagination with a remaining hint of yearning grasping out for resolution. Roscoe, follows upping the tempo and intensity in an altogether different direction while serving the dancefloor’s needs via rolling bass and shuffling hats. Which leaves the uneven, unnerving sequences of Snake Oil to complete with more futuristic sounds fuelling yet more beautiful possibilities.
Release: November 23
The third release from the label I’ve reviewed in as many weeks sparks the reoccuring thought that Visonquest remains an essentially important imprint to the fabric of club culture. Not least of all because they unleash music such as this defiantly futuristic number. Creatures Of Habit are in reality Shaun Reeves, Maher Daniel and Amir Javasoul and the title track they have created asks probing, mind enhancing questions while delivering taught, tense bass amid deliberately electro drums plus an intensely invigorating selection of keys and punctuating sounds. Cumulating at two thirds via a heart-warming rush of emotive pads. Blink, occurs next creating a darker impression as nervy synthesizers wriggle over brutal beats, leaving Out Of Orbit to complete with rumbling bass aimed at pointed drums feeling stripped down yet fully formed.
Release: April 20
These warm, resolute repetitions of chiming sound, sound as hot accompanying sunrise as they do sundown. Eric Ricker and Ted Krisko aka Ataxia tune their highly charged currents of grainy emotion into analogue referencing pleasure on their opening and most brilliant VHS. Memories are also engaged by Kodak Moment which again captivates your attention by a series of seductive, finely tuned electronic events, this time punctuated by rugged bass mapping out atmospheres and resounding stereo in equal measure. Ryan Crosson alongside Shaun Reeves then deliver an excellent Edit which shuffles the wonderful elements still further into a succinct six minutes.
Release: March 23
What’s not to love? If you could kill for a bassline then this is it. Undoubtedly we’ve landed at party central and you get the clear impression that the producers (including Cesar Merveille and Isis) enjoyed creating Robots of Dawn as much as we do listening. It continues for nine plus minutes and every second of its funky, fuelled crisp electronic Dance Music is worth it. Tempelhof then flips the coin with sizzling (and I do mean hot) Acid sequences that scorch the stereo with perfect precession. Lasting over thirteen minutes of eccentric ecstasy the rhythms shine and shimmy to complete this excellent release of sound from Mathew Jonson & Ryan Crosson.
Launching themselves into 2017 with just the sort of typical flair you would except from the two producers (and label) this new four track EP does all you desire (then a bit more). Origin 99 soon takes hold of the airwaves care of a riveting, direct funkiness that repeats its signature commandingly over a brisk percussion loop. One Two Five, hits next and is all about the bassline which is once again augmented by some sassy percussion and accompanying keyboard chimes. Then the aptly titled, Prowler feels more dangerous with nervy synth lines caressing dark Acid basslines, leaving the freer rhythms of Blood Moon to establish an irresistibly funky sensation as gritty stabs clash with Latin styled percussive elements. All too hot to handle.
Release: February 24 (Vinly) and March 10 (Digital) 2017.
Hawtin from the beginning was huge for me and we were all/still are pretty big Perlon/Zip/Ricardo fans.Â Unfortunately I don’t get to see Zip play much any more but I always take a lot from his DJ sets.Â He’s definitely my favorite for a few years now, but Hawtin dominated my early interest in electronic music.Â From a studio perspective, these days I get a lot from working with Cesar (Merveille).Â He’s really geeky when it comes to his gear and technology and has less regimented way of working than I do.Â Every time we go into a session we have a nice back and forth and helps us to understand different ways of working together and I can take certain points and apply them to what I do later on by myself.Â Sort of like little reminders or tricks to fill out a track more.
Listening back to the excellent DRM (produced with Cesar Merveille) it’s striking the breadth of styles, moods and tempo’s that you engage. Do you find you are as free to do so when DJ’ing â€“ how do you think that people’s appreciation of difference has developed in the past number of years?
Sometimes I feel I can wander around wherever I want when the crowd is up for it, it depends from night to night.Â This happened most recently at Stereo in Montreal.Â Peoples appreciation of difference could have to do with the age of people in attendance.Â When i was younger I didn’t really listen to the same type of music I listen to now and I would think that it would be a similar situation with other people.Â Also I feel more venues are starting to cultivate crowds or scenes that dealt with a bit left of center type of club music, which is fantastic.Â It used to be the weird records only come out at after hours and now in certain places it’s encourage during peak time.Â I think that’s fantastic.
Can you tell us about your next album collaboration with Cesar Merveille? And how would you contrast working with musical instruments and electronics?
We’re trying to take what we did on the first album and go further.Â I don’t want to say it’s darker than the first album but there is a mood change.Â On “DRM” we used a lot of instrument samples, recorded a few vocals and had maybe one session player recording. The new album we’re recording much more in terms of different session musicians, different instruments.Â It feels like there are a lot more layers in every track and the atmosphere is thicker. Also we’ve added the modular synth elements.Â Cesar has gotten pretty deep on modular stuff since the first album and I am learning more and more each day.Â The modular elements have added a specific character that was not present on the first album and have helped to blend electronic sound with traditional instruments even more effectively.
Has moving back to America (Brooklyn, New York) given you fresh inspiration? How is life in New York?
New York has been a great change. Its weird because I can’t imagine living anywhere else in this moment.Â It reminds you to move your ass every day which I think is great for me.Â I want to expand with some releases outside of Visionquest and possibly start a new alias project, so the city provides constant motivation to bring these ideas into reality.Â And then there’s the food in New York.Â Pretty surprised I haven’t had a massive weight gain because of all the temptation.
Tough to say.Â Right now double bass.Â I don’t own one unfortunately.
How would you describe your working day, and the creative process?
Wake up, do label and agent emails because most people I work with are in Europe.Â Then step out of the house to run any errands or go to get groceries, then back. Eat and start in the studio.Â If I’m not wrapping something I’ve already started, I’ll pick a piece of equipment and start playing around with it.Â Sometimes that means a bass sound or a rough bass line I play on keys.Â Then record that into midi and build around it.Â Some times I make a complete ambient track, then add some drums and it becomes something else.Â It’s always different.Â I want to start sampling older classical or jazz records now that my setup is sorted in my new home so that could put a twist on things in the months to come.
We’re not doing a tour or calling the collective dates a tour.Â We plan to celebrate only with certain promoters who we have remained close with over the years, that have stuck by us from the very beginning and to incorporate other artists and friends who have done the same.Â The event we have lined up for June in New York could be one of the highlights of my year.
What else do you have planned for 2016?
Lots of releases if the timing goes to plan (which rarely happens).Â Whether it be remixes, EPs or the album,Â EPs for MDRNTY and Visionquest are in the bag. Ces and I will hopefully put the album out in early fall.Â I did a collab with Livio & Roby for their upcoming album on Desolat.Â I also want to start working on a live set with Cesar after the album is complete.
Sergio’s back is doing better, slowly recovering. We hope to be back on the road and fully operational in December.
Your new release â€˜Old Streets’ on Soul Clap once again highlights your musical skills as well as your song writing abilities. How do you compare the importance of your timely melodies and sassy grooves with the more minimal, functional sounds that have been dominating many dancefloors?
I think essentially it comes down to a slightly lesser focus on sound “for the sound”. We love to explore sounds and try to find innovative textures but Â ultimately Â we search for a sound that inspires us to play. We likely have a more â€œold schoolâ€ approach when it comes to melodies than modern days tracks. Some tracks today literally have the same note repeated but the sound itself varies in such ways that it creates a convincing and catchy hook, almost sounding melodically complex sometimes. I think this is as commendable as a more melodic approach. We’re just more on one side than the other.
Can you talk us through the process of how you produced/wrote the track?
â€˜Old Streets’ was produced in Washington DC. The “recipe” there has been the same pretty much every time: jamming on synths sync’d up with drum machines and recording as much as we can… occasionally going to the computer to start picking up the right loops and elements. Finally, we recorded the vocals that Sergio had written. The final sequencing is usually what takes us the most time. Sometimes it is obscenely long. It’s almost as if the infinity of combinations of sequencing freezes us. You can completely change the vibe and almost the style of a track with sequencing… Letting the tracks develop slowly and repeating some elements for a while can make a track real deep, whereas changing things fast will make it more pop. These decisions are also part of the process.
Your current release for Matt Tolfrey’s Leftroom Limited â€˜House With 500 Rooms’ showcases a tougher more robust side to your productions. What’s the story behind the title, and how did you first hook up with Leftroom?
“House With 500 Rooms” is a play on an amazing old song from the 80s by a band from New Zealand called The Chills. Their song is really pretty and gentle Â classic 80s, loÂfi indie pop. And it was called “House With A Hundred Rooms.” Since our track is all about a macho braggadocio, it just seemed sort of funny to try and be that way even in the title of our track by topping another title that uses “House” Â even though that song has nothing to do with the genre. It is indeed a tougher, darker and more dancefloor side of us that’s showcased in this case. This diversity is probably because we enjoy a lot of different genres and never really limited ourselves to any subÂgenre.
Leftroom makes sense for this EP as it represents a label with a classic sense of House music. We are really happy Matt wanted to release it. We met him through friends at parties and always had connected with him. He’s a great person.
Having already released music on the likes of Culprit and Visionquest what plans do you have for moving into 2016?
We have few more tracks/EPs we hope to release in the near future. One is more on the House side and the other more rock. A bit like the “Old Streets”/”House With 500 Rooms” combo.
And finally, how would you say that your main influences play into your music?
A lot, essentially. I would say they play 70% of the part. Then there is probably a good 20% of â€œdirectâ€ influence from playing in the club and experiencing a track there. This is a different kind of influence in a way Â kind of like the difference between studying a textbook vs practice. The last 10% comes from being in our “bubble”. We tend to be also relatively isolated when it comes to production and this 10% accounts for that.
After a stream of releases on labels like Supplement Facts and Cocoon this stunning production for Visionquest now appears. It’s the sort of music that could played loud or quite and still leave an indelible impression. The title track, Underwater bubbles with energy yet combines an airy sense of ambience alongside a series of unrelenting beats all of which rewards your experience. Forward thinking and emotional music.
Release: September 8
1996 seems like a long way away now but that’s when this series began and now we’re at number 40 with maestro Solomun. The mix opens with an emotive sequence of sounds cumulating in Avatism’s haunting Different Spaces and then develops the mood across the breadth of the first CD with a blend beautifully atmospheric music ending on SOHN’s notable The Wheel. The second CD continues the theme with music from Audiojack and Radio Slave elevating the temperature while providing more muscular productions that end with Ada’s acidic 2 BUM BUM.
Secret Room Records
Kostya Skober is a Ukrainian Techno DJ and producer and while this style of music doesn’t usually say that much to me the unrelenting drive of Step Outside definitely appeals. It’s not all down to the beat either as the rich atmospheric layers of sound and funkier touches all lend this something special. Listen belowâ€¦
Originally emerging from Italy’s electronic music scene of the late seventies N.O.I.A. has been now re-releasing their back catalogue, accompanied by remixers updating it all into 2014 etc. Not that the original of The Rule to Survive needs evolving anyway having been mixed in 1983 by Tony Carrasco it still bears all the hall marks that went on to influence House and Nu Beat, besides sounding excellent in its own right. Prins Thomas Diskomiks is a good choice of remixer and he handles it with due care and affection, there’s also a great version from Baldelli & Dionigi which again expands the originals possibilities. Next is, Time is over, which was from later in the decade and doesn’t sound quite so edgy employing typically popish melodies, although is complimented by a remix from Gaudi & The Orb.
Release: 4th September 2014
TJM- Expanded Edition
Big Break Records (Casablanca Records)
Tom Moulton has been pivotal to the development of Dance music in the 70’s as Christian John Wikane’s eloquent sleeve notes proudly testify. This self-titled solo album was released in 1979, recorded at the Legendary Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia it also featured former Temptation Ron Tyson on lead vocals and also one Arthur Baker who helped to co-write and arrange. Opening with the blistering Disco-tastic, â€˜I Don’t Need No Music’ the music trips the light fantastic through the tail end of the Disco era but remains fresh to this day, percussion and melody fuelled. Try the epic ten minute plus version of â€˜Storm Warning’ complete with sound effects plus soaring strings and horns for a touch of exuberant Tom Moulton magic….
Your latest single for Visionquest: Rise and Fall comes just ahead of your third album release and highlights the different aspects to your sound with the title playing full on for the dancefloor, while Ask You blends cosmic sounding funk together with vocals. Who has influenced your sound most?
All three of us our real music lovers and record collectors, we listen to all kinds of music. We were always lucky to release our music on our favourite labels, like Items & Things and Visionquest – their music and dj sets are a big inspiration for our work. Also the time we released on Playhouse was a big influence with all those great artists around us like Losoul, Isolee, Ricardo Villalobos.
Can you talk us through the process of producing one of the tracks from the new single (or from the album)?
The idea behind Rise And Fall was to produce an uplifting big room bomb. We still like these moments when the bass fades away and after a 16bar break it’s redemption time when the track kicks back in. The track was made in Ableton. Drums are 909, 808 and 707 samples. We never get tired of the classic Roland sounds. It’s like Fender or Gibson sounds for guitarists. It always fits. Then comes the main synth sound which is a Waldorf Pulse sample combined with a very short chopped voice sample. After the first break the organ bass completes the sounds. What we like to do after the song is roughly arranged is we assign some parameters to a controller and tweak the faders and knobs. In this case it was the filter and the decay time of the Waldorf, the volume of the voice and the effect sends. At the end we did some edits to the fader runs but not too much to keep the feel of a live performance.
The two phrases you have used to describe your sound: cabaret-independent-house and NEW WAVE DISCO sound exciting and hot. What ideas are most important to you as artists?
The pseudo music style cabaret-independent-house was kind of a joke and ghost that has been following us for many years. We don’t even know what that expression means. New Wave Disco comes more close to our sound as we really love new wave and synth pop music. The idea is to be inspired by all kind of artists, musicians and filmmakers and try to express this in our own work. We also love it when people dance to our music.
How would you describe the importance of vocals in today’s Dance music? The two more melodic vocals on You Play: Perfect Gun and Dreaming is Fun sound different to the rest being heavily influenced by Euro-Disco/Pop. Can you tell us about how that style came to appeal to you?
From the early start of Rework in 2000 with our first release “Anyway I Know You” on Playhouse we decided to work with a girl singer. This became our trademark sound. I don’t know if vocals are that important its just another facet of dance music and we see vocals more like an additional instrument in our work. Perfect Gun and Dreaming is Fun refer to October Love Song or Wrong In All Our Ways on our previous albums.
How would you describe the difference between playing â€˜live’ and Dj’ing?
We really love both. Sometimes we grab more attention when we play live and Sascha is standing in the front row doing her live singing and sometimes a stage dive. But on both we like to play with new rework tracks and loops and started to keep it more minimal. We destroyed many synths on our earlier tours so we decided to leave them at home and play with our controllers. On our Dj sets we love to play tracks from other artist and when they are real cool in the club, we both look at each other like little kids and ask how did they do this track, its so crazy good. Guess we always like the music from other artists more than our own.
Where can people get to hear you play over the summer?
We play a showcase with the Visionquest guys at Sonar in June. Some other gigs are just in the planning.