One of the things to really grab my ears recently has been the Windy City E.P. from Steve Murphy & Co. Firing out of Italy, as it seems and number of good tracks and labels are at the moment, this four track comes as the first release on Chiwax (though is via German based DBH Music from Frankfurt) on tasty looking turquoise, hand stamped vinyl. The names are an immediate nod to what you’re going to encounter, Chiwax……Windy City…….yeah, these are some honest, Chicago style, stripped back, swinging house grooves.
“Wind” opens with a vocal sample and a low down drone type sound that runs throughout, as rich and full sounding rim shots and open hats shuffle their way through a myriad of percussion mutes, and gentle organ chords, hitting so softly they could barely be called stabs. The effects on the rims accentuate their inherent wooden feel swelling the track in an deeply organic way, as vocals, drones and other percussion patterns seem to drift in and out of your consciousness.
Next track along, “What” still gives it with the shuffle, but we’re into edgier territory here as a more pronounced bass and melancholic string stabs provide a background to more frantic, clicking rims and claps, which are all broken up by an array of snares and cymbal. Once again, a vocal sample you can’t quite make out provides a hypnotic distraction as the patterns shift precisely about making your body twitch in to the beat.
When Chuck Roberts first preached to us about Jack, and how he laid down the groove, I doubt he could have imagined the impact his words would have in years to come. “Jack Is Dead” makes use of tiny samples of the speech to deadly effect in a thundering track that has all the right elements. The adjective “jack” gets a bit overused and often misused when it comes to describing music, although as this track stomps its way through an array of raw cut vocal samples and stuttered snares and claps, I’m really fighting to avoid using it. No its not a classic Chicago jack track, but I don’t think its trying to be. This has more of a developed sound to it, venturing more into the realms of Cajual and Dance Mania. In fact the whole E.P. has a more grown up feel about in terms of time period you may wish to associate it with.
“Skip to the End” offers a solid chunk of bass and simple rhythm with rolled stick work, and an overall cleaner sound to it, that carries you along to thundering tom drums, and synth brass. As the piano plays call and answer with the brass and the toms drop out, we’re once again treated to that chugging bass. It comes back sounding even better as rhythms interlace and drop to create a form of dramatic tension that leaves you wanting more until, ironically you have less as it strips its ways down to a kick drum, bass and a solitary ride cymbal to build you back up.
Maybe its that Mattia Favaretto experience of hammering rhythms and precision as a tin smith comes into play. Beating and precision are two things that normally seem to be mutually exclusive, although what this E.P. shows are basic elements working very precisely together. There is nothing too flashy and overproduced. Mattia and his musical partners Luca Segato, Marco Zanin and Mattia Boldrin (they are the & Co. element of Steve Murphy and Co.) use extremely basic kit but its not just that grit, its their attention to detail, and obvious passion for Chicago house that comes across. They focus on making things sound right and do the job they are meant to, which at the end of the day, is to make your body bump in a dark and sweaty club.
A1 – Wind. Chiwax001
A2 – What. Chiwax001
B1 – Jack Is Dead. Chiwax001
B2 – Cut To The End. Chiwax001
It’s been a mere 4 years since D’Marc Cantu dropped his first solo outing in the form of “No Control”, the second release on Creme Organization‘s offshoot Creme Jak, and it still remains one of the labels most experimental cuts. Cantu focused the dark and psychedelic aspects of classic Chicago Acid through his warped looking glass, stripping everything back to the bone to expose nothing but deranged, skeletal drumwork and nightmarish vocals that would leave both dancefloors and brains buckled in the aftermath. Now in 2011, after 6 solo releases and various work with X2 and 2AM/FM, Cantu is set to rain down Jakbeat dread once again with “Fallen”, a Faustian opus that conjures up scenes of diabolic dealings between Man and Demon from a time long past.
In typical Cantu style, “Fallen” floats between the minimal and the maximal, the restained and the unbounded to create a tense atmosphere that gives the impression that the dark energy contained within could break loose in a split second, with proceedings quickly going in a southerly direction. As Cantu‘s circles of mania unfold, blunt jacking rhythms club the mind and lacerating synthlines leave their indelible mark on the wayward souls who make their way down this backward path. Tracks like “Transmogrification”, “Stand Up” and “Shoot The Fish” show the intent to induce paranioa with their demented, cyclic melodies and reverb-soaked vocals whispered in an unknown tongue, while the relentless hammering of “Oh My”, with it’s decaying bass entering like a rogue element on the brink of breaking away from the rest of the track altogether is about as stark as this album gets. Even a lighter track such as “Say It and It’s Time” still has a fordidding aspect lying underneath it’s polished, driving arpeggiations. The only hope of salvation during “Fallen” comes right at the end with “Fractal”, a welcome relief of delicate pads and bouyant bass that suggests there could maybe be light at the end of this maleficent tunnel we’ve just spent the best part of an hour or so in.
As an album proper, “Fallen” is fully realised thematically and sonically, but while Cantu gives a hard nod to the template of the classic Chicago sound in terms of rhythmical approach, the album never falls into the habit of rehashing old ideas in the slightest. It solidly represents the new direction Cantu and his peers have moved this particular strain of underground sonics in, and not only shows that he is well capable of transcending the 12″ format and delivering a solid and unified work, but is the perfect choice to represent Creme Jak‘s first long player.
D’Marc Cantu – Transmogrification
D’Marc Cantu – Oh My
D’Marc Cantu – Fractal
I first heard about this record on shitfuckyou.com, the charmingly named online record store whose website looks like it dates back to the birth of the internet, and who stock a strong wad of no-nonsense underground business from labels including the never-failing Restoration Records, Harmonia and Sex Tags, the label who according to a quote that adorns the header of shitfuckyou.com’s site, is one of only 5 things that Omar S actually likes in terms of his musical tastes. Of course, Wania is another one of those labels shitfuckyou.com peddle, and for their second release they’ve really decided to bring out the cannons. It’s not hard to see where Wania and DJ Sotofett are coming from when looking at “Dritfett”. The cover has the contacts for both the distribution and DJ booking enquiries, but no email addresses or websites are neccessary, just a couple of phone numbers will suffice. The label itself is a mixture of random information, including more phone numbers, the TR-909 logo, the words “SO-PHAT-12INCH2″ and a crude illustration of some strongman whose face is on his bulging bicep, as opposed to his head. There’s also a paper insert inside the record informing us of DJ Sotofett’s forthcoming releases, one of them apparently being a “Reggi b/w killer 909-hip-hop-crisp and new-psychedelic-flute-house”. Now, if none of these things sound instantly appealing to you, then you’re probably on the wrong website. Rugged and raw Techno with a decidedly old-school feel is the name of the game here, driven by analogue fuckery, strictly for those that know the script. This is the musical equivalant of my Gran’s homemade Macaroni Cheese. so thick with goodness you could cut it like a cake and serve it slices. I’m not gonna bother banging on and giving you a rundown of each track, because to be perfectly honest, I had more than a few lager products last night, so you won’t be getting any psuedo-academic review about “Dritfett”, because not only will it do the record a supreme injustice and miss the point of it entirely, but also because I really can’t be arsed. The tracks on here speak for themselves. What I will say though is just go out and buy it, and then play it obscenely loud to all your friends who have haircuts. And don’t forgot to watch out for that “”Reggi b/w killer 909-hip-hop-crisp and new-psychedelic-flute-house”.
You can cop this direct from shitfuckyou.com via here
Or you can head over to the Rubadub website and get yerself a copy here
I first came across Matt Whitehead, as I’m sure a lot of people did, during the Bloc Weekender of 2010. After a few days of solid partying, we walked around Bloc like a band of zombie red coats… looking for the next act to avoid the always enevitable compound of depression and anxiety. Entering Jak Bloc we rolled in at just the right moment… Matt Whitehead starting his set immediately shook off all of our worries and absolutely brought the house down with a live set as highly charged as a static heavy Butlins arcade carpet.
Having had over 1500 hits since, the recording of this now legendary set has helped the world realise what a talent he is. In 2009 Matt found a home on the UK’s Rebel Intelligence label, releasing ‘Beat the Heat’ then following this up with the superb ‘Raw Deal’ in 2010. Now, in 2011, Mr Whitehead and Rebel Intelligence give us ‘Obsession EP’.
The EP’s opener, ‘Good Fun’ starts with a solid 909 groove that crashes into a recognisable bassline, the programming rolls and rolls and hits you with serious house stabs. All of a sudden I’m driving down the M25, its August ’88 and the motorcade is gonna get there and party all night. A homage to Inner City, this track has everything and more. Squelchy acid bass lines, classic synth pads, solid as fuck 909 beats and trade mark spin backs… man… this track is warehouse through and through.
‘Obsession’, the EP’s name sake is a deep Chicago work out. A lovely fingers-esque elastic bass and panicked drums give way to deep and sweeping pads. This track resonates well with that feeling right at the back of my soul, that feeling of waking up at 5am on a couch in the corner, there are only a few people left down in the basement but they are hypnotised and mesmerised by this deceivingly deep jack.
The flip side starts with ‘Glory Days’, another party bumper. 909 meets 303… 10 seconds in and my fist is already pumping. Sweet string chords smooth over the 909 then fall into excited bell chimes that play delicately inbetween some serious jack! This room shaker has all the sounds to get you moving your fists and feet.
Finishing this trip off, ‘City Limits’ is full bodied, round sounding and altogether delicate. Phased out snare hits swish their way through a heavy low end and heavenly pads sweep in and out over the top. Breaking down and building itself back up again, this is another for those late night drives, passed the city limits, through border control and on…
Being a fan of Matt Whitehead I was excited about this EP before I heard it. After sitting down and solidly listening (about 4 times over), Ive realised that Matt’s three releases have been a steady and solid progression of sounds and ideas with the ‘Obsession EP’ a pinnacle of this.
This is the best release I’ve heard all year, and there’s not much time left to take it off the top spot.
Obsession E.P (available on vinyl from December 5th) by Matt WhiteheadRebel Intelligence
With a plethora of new labels popping up over the last few years, sometimes its hard to separate the cream from the cheese. I recently came across Frank Music. A label started only this year and currently has three releases under its belt. The latest of these coming from Monosoul…
A two track EP, the opener ‘Ignore The Traffic Lights’ is a lesson in that deep Detroit sound. It builds from very little into a a serious groove… deep and tight… just the way we like it. Heavy on percussion programming, lightly swept pads and off cut bass push this track through.
The second track on this one sider, is the much missed ‘Beats Tool’. That track at the end of a record that is made up of all the previous track’s beats and sounds. Cut it, sample it, juggle it.
This record has a certain Kris Wadworth-esque appeal. Its deep and tight and the main groove has me hypnotised. Worthy for anyone looking to lock people in.
Monosoul – Ignore The Traffic Lights
According to the Book of Exodus, the original biblical Tabernacle was built by craftsmen said to have been given celestial talents by God, designed to contain the Ark of The Covenant and ultimately the divine sprirt itself. Now it might be a little far-fetched to claim that the gentlemen behind Tabernacle Records are members of a secret society comprising of direct descendants from the Tribe of Judah, on a mission to create a modern-day dwelling place for heavenly presence via underground electronic music, so we’ll leave that shit to Dan Brown. But there’s one thing you can say, which is that these chaps have impeccable taste and a keen ear for selecting the finest unsung delights the underground has to offer. As regular visitors to this site may well know, Tabernacle Records came into effect in the Autumn of 2010, when Andrew Ingram and brothers Joel & Jasper Shaw decided to pool their heat-seeking talents, and since then has been gaining steady momentum and building a solid repetoire with every release, having already graced us with E.P’s from Mark du Mosch, The Analogue Cops, Daniel Andréasson and the mighty John Heckle.
For their 7th excursion, Tabernacle have excelled themselves in drafting in two established acts of formidable talent in the form of Lost Trax and The Connection Machine for a split Mini LP, comprising of three tracks from each. Very little is known about the enigmatic and faceless Lost Trax, a project that seems to be dedicated to unearthing forgotten and misplaced recordings from well-known producers under the veil of anonymity. Having released only a scant two 12″s in the past four years for Silicon Scally’s SCSI-AV label, Lost Trax continue their explorations into classic Techno for the tracks presented here, with a particular focus on the innovations made in Detroit in the early 90′s. “The Eye” is a beautiful example of the deep sonic futurism first purveyed by the likes of Reel By Real and “Infoworld”-era Model 500, the kind of material that served as the template for the first wave of British Electronica and the Artificial Intelligence movement, with it’s enveloping, lush pads, bleep melodies and throbbing sub-bass being driven forward by crisp machine percussion that pefectly taps into the righteous Detroit vibes of old. “Pulp” ups the tempo more than a notch, a storming short-but-sweet lesson in high-style sonic shamanism, and is genuinely one of the best exemplifications of Techno i’ve heard in a long time. The vaporous synthlines are still present, but it’s the colossal morphing bassline and subsequent barrage of claps and hats that makes this track the voltaic dancehall destroyer it is, transporting and updating tried and tested modes into the contemporary underground psyche with deft efficiency, and ultimately proving that the original Techno archetype was furiousely advanced in it’s quest for autonomous sonic discovery. Which is to say, that tracks like this sound like they could easily have been made 15 years ago, but on the same token could be beamed back from 5 years in the future. “The Forest”, the third and final track from Lost Trax, winds down Side A perfectly, a tranquil delight of elated melodies underpinned by metallic rhythms, likely forged from an impressive array of analogue machinery. Side B sees the return of The Connection Machine, the duo of Jeroen Brandjes & Natasja Hagemeier, whose E.P’s for Planet E and U-Trax gained them much deserved praise in the mid 90′s. The three slices of down-tempo electronica they present us with here apparently date back to 2005, a slight departure from 2004′s “Painless”, and more than a massive departure from the rapid-fire Techno of “Black Hole”, but shows that the gears of The Connection Machine are still kept well-oiled and fully functional. The mongoloid funk of “Evil Earth” lumbers in with freaky organs and sparse, marching drums that invoke seedy experimentions in outpost laboratories, where human guinea pigs are subjected to cybernetic tests by miscreant scientists. “Speel” is somewhat of a return to Bitflower-era Connection Machine, 3 minutes of bowling breakbeat rhythms that bring classic Planet E steel to the table, and will make fans of the more unorthodox end of mid-90′s Techno more than happy. Finishing off this blinding E.P is “Keen (On Life)”, a fest of Roedelius-esque empyreal synthwork and warped 303 lines that, like the title, paints a picture concordant with the optimistic outlook electronic music once had.
If somewhow it wasn’t known before, “Lost Connection” has undoubtedly proven Tabernacle’s ability in showcasing some of the finest underground music on offer, and based on previous endeavors, this label is sure to become a byword for quality and integrity in electronic music as the 12″s keep coming.Lost Trax – The Eye Lost Trax – Pulp The Connection Machine – Evil Earth The Connection Machine – Keen (On Life)
Buy “Lost Connection” here
Tabernacle RecordsAndrew’s Mix for This Is Our House Jasper’s Mix for This Is Our House
“I tried to break the spell–the heavy, mute spell of the wilderness–that seemed to draw him to its pitiless breast by the awakening of forgotten and brutal instincts, by the memory of gratified and monstrous passions. This alone, I was convinced, had driven him out to the edge of the forest, to the bush, towards the gleam of fires, the throb of drums, the drone of weird incantations; this alone had beguiled his unlawful soul beyond the bounds of permitted aspirations.”
Ever since Conrad‘s portrayal of a Leopoldian Congo in his infamous story of psychosis “Heart Of Darkness“, the folk of the West have been captivated by the enigmatic visions brought to us by the people who have lived and explored this somewhat daedalean territory deep in the heart of Africa. Since those times of the “Free State”, the Gongo has gone through many radical and extremely violent transitions, but since the dawn of man has been a place of fervent creativity and ingenuity. This year, Damon Albarn led a troop of artists including Actress, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Dan The Automator, Jneiro Jarel, Richard Russell, Marc Antoine, Alwest, Rodaidh McDonald and Kwes to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)’s capital city Kinshasa, with the intent of collaborating with the country’s native musicians and tap into the creative sprirt that is rife within it. They were given 7 days in which to record an album, and considering this timescale and the music birthed within it, “Kinshasa One Two” is nothing short of an astounding achievement.
The results are the sound of an orchestra of multi-genre artists, who you could easily be tricked into thinking have been working together for years, but one of the main reasons why this album jells so well is because the majority of the Western artists involved have spent their musical careers making heavily beat-orientated music, and ultimately that inspirational genesis lies with Africa’s innovations in the field of percussion. Lest we forget, Africa is the birthplace of Rhythm, and still to this day the people of the Congo will use virtually any available object in which to create music. At a number of points throughout “Kinshasa One Two”, it’s almost impossible to distinguish between the Electronic and Acoustic elements. The homemade African instruments can sound so unorthodox and strange to those unfamiliar with their sonic nuances, that you’d be forgiven for thinking they emanated from an electronic instrument or computer. None of the artists who came to Africa to record have been mentioned in the tracks (this is being reviewed from an MP3 version kindly given by Warp to those who have pre-ordered the album), so I assume they have all had some sort of input in every track. The African artists however, are duly noted in each track they’ve contributed their talents to. I’ve searched ‘tinternet high and low to find out more on these artists and groups, but alas has yielded very little info, which I assume is one of the other reasons this album came into being, to spread word to the wider world of the existence of these amazing musicians.
Tout Puissant Mukalo and Bokatola System are the only groups that make multiple appearances on the album. The former’s track with Nelly Liyamge kicks off proceedings with “Hallo“, and has a sublime question-&-answer style vocal, backed by a rhythm not unlike that of Hud Mo‘s much loved “Ooops!“, and a bassline and melody brimming with solace. Bokatola System‘s entry with Evala Litongo is one of the more dancefloor orientated tracks on the L.P, a swinging head-nodder thats hard not to move to, with ghostly flutes (?) sweeping into the mix. Other highlights include vocalist Love‘s acapella rap “Love“, the hard electronic modes of “Three Piece Sweet Part 1 & 2” featuring Bebson (and sounding suspiciously like Actress had a large hand in production duties on this one), and the marching Afro-Electro boogaloo of “If You Wish To Stay Awake” featuring Washiba. The standout track on this album for me though has to be “Ah Congo“, a colossal slab of dark Electronica, with Jupiter Bokondji showcasing one of the best and deepest voices i’ve ever heard on record. Since my grasp of French is next to non-existant, I unfortunately have no idea what his extremely ominous sounding monlogue is about, but if any track on this L.P invokes the Congo’s baneful past and present, then it’s this one. In short, “Kinshasa One Two” is an outstanding LP, made even more impressive when taking into account the amount time it was recorded in, but all of this is down to the hard grafting and undistuptable talents of all the artists involved.
All proceeds from this record go to Oxfam, who will use the funds to help the thousands of poor people who inhabit the Democratic Republic of the Congo. So if you’re going to acquire a copy of this, then BUY it.
DRC Music – Hallo (Feat. Tout Puissant Mukalo & Nelly Liyemge)
DRC Music – Love (Feat. Love)
DRC Music – Lingala (Feat. Bokatola System & Evala Litongo)
DRC Music – Three Piece Sweet Part 1 & 2 (Feat. Bebson)
DRC Music – Ah Congo (Feat. Jupiter Bokondji & Bokatola System)
DRC Music Tumblr
DRC Music Website
Having followed Solar One’s releases for a while and always being on the right side of excited when something new is happening, I was chompin at the bit to hear their latest release by Norway’s Impakt a.k.a. Jørgen Indal.
The opener ‘Computer Boogie’ is an abstract take on classic electro. With a beat straight out of erotic city, this mind melter is like Tomorrow’s World meets Dynamix!
‘Dance the Pain Away’ is the favourite on here for me. A minimal new wave beat is coupled with a gorgeous 303 line and deep moogy bass. Reverb soaked string lines beef this beast up and really make it soar. Emotional electro at its very best.
The A-Side’s finisher, resonant escape is a brilliant example of melodic, deep and beautiful electro. Delicate synth lines play against bird song whistles. Like a summer breeze… but wae an 808.
Flipping over to the B-Side, we begin with ‘Sodomacid’, a fast, techno acid track. Square wave 303 shifts hard and infects your brain. This track is fairly mental… cutting fast with vocal samples and jumping back into the madness.
‘Come on, Ah Yeah’ shows Impakt’s scandinavian roots. A distinctly Skweee sound here mixed with his own touch. Brilliant drum programming with resonated synth lines warbling all over the place.
And finishing this mini album (6 tracks is what I call that these days!) ‘At the end’ brings more new wave influences. Again, some superb drum programming and new wave 101 style lines have you singing the lyrics to all your favourite wave tracks that don’t exist.
As an all rounded, varied EP, none in recent times has been as well executed. Delivering extremes in all aspects, and still maintaining a solid release is something to be very very proud of.
Impakt – Resonat Escape by Solar One Music
Since re-launching his massively influential M-Plant imprint in 2009, Robert Hood has been hitting us with a steady stream of solid releases that have cemented the fact that Hood has been, and always will be one of Techno’s true originals. The Floorplan project began it’s life in 96 with the “Funky Souls” E.P, and since then has had a somewhat polarizing effect on die-hard Hood fans, with it’s sample based grooves often in direct oppposition to the tough, stripped back Minimal funk Hood is most known for. The aesthetic of Floorplan reveals itself instantly in the name: a more accessible dancefloor sound built around repetitious samples of Disco, Funk, Soul and Gospel, with Hood showcasing his sonic roots, and the “Grey Area” only being a rythmical touching point.
“Sanctified” kicks off with the hugely uplifting Gospel-infused House thumper “We Magnify His Name“, channeling the historical surroundings of his current place of residence in Alabama via the Futurism of his Hometown. Ironically, those upset with Hood for apparently deviating from his grand, Minimal vision are utterly missing the point. Tracks like this reveal the true genesis of Hood’s ideas about House and Techno: a humanistic approach, where the influence of a hundred years of Black music lie deep within the intricacies of the tracks. The only difference here being that the original source material that has moulded Hood’s direction has come to the forefront, an unashamed celebration of music’s spiritual power. On the flipside we’re treated to motivational rhythms of a different nature. “Baby Baby” is almost Juke by definition, with it’s ripping 808 rhythms and rapid-fire sample work that would give most of the current European Juke-influenced producers a run for their money. The relentlessness is only momentarily broken when sweeping horns cut from James Brown‘s sample-staple “Funky Drummer” interject, only to break back into it’s punchy Footwork bassline and mechanical Jitterbug percussion, showing once again that Hood is obviousely more than capable of operating outside the form he helped create. Speaking of that form, the last track on “Sanctified” harks back to the days where it all began, when a post U.R Hood unleashed his Dystopian Futuristic perspective on an unsuspecting world. “Basic Principal” is classic Minimal Techno in every sense of the word, it’s dejected melody invoking the derelict stuctures of a post-industrial city in ruins, a million miles from the gloss and glamour of Berlin nightlife, while it’s machine rhythms hammer forward in the hope of finding Detroits lost soul among the cracked and empty buildings that were once the Crown Jewel of America’s industrial Midwest. After displaying a range of influences from the Deep South via Chicago on the previous two tracks, it’s only natural that Hood heads home on the closer to shows us that the spirit of Detroit will always loom large within his sound.
Floorplan – We Magnify His Name
Floorplan – Baby Baby
Floorplan – Basic Principal
When our good friend Perseus Traxx exclaimed on a certain social networking site last week that L.I.E.S could do no wrong, he was bang on the money. Everything released thus far on the label has been stellar to say the least, and with this new E.P from Jason Letkiewicz in his Steve Summers guise, they have went even further in excelling themselves. In fact, this record is so good that it’s going to be hard for me to write this review without sounding like I wanna lick Letkiewicz‘s balls. Don’t get it twisted though, there’s no fetishistic testicle-licking ulterior motive in reviewing this E.P. We’re down by the pound because it’s records like this that are the reason we’re 8.99 short on our rent every month, and if the landlord can’t dig it, then he can lick my balls.
Enough with the balls though. “Mode For Love” will instantly appeal to those of you who have ever walked the city streets alone past the witching hour, headphones in, witnessing scenes you’re only otherwise gonna see in an Abel Ferrara flick. The Love in question isn’t the kind that happens in Summer on the lush green grass of a public park, but the kind that takes place in questionable buildings with poorly lit stairwells in metropolitan alleyways after dark. Raw and dirty analogue basement rhythms are the staple of these tracks, overlain with scuzzy bass work and synthlines flashing through like car headlights briefly illuminating the darkest corners of the cityscape. Letkiewicz has delivered a fervent ode to the night with “Mode For Love“, a record that righteously invokes the delphic atmosphere the city leaks when the sun has set.
Steve Summers – In The Mode For Love
Steve Summers – Different Paths
Steve Summers – Nethermead Arches
Steve Summers – The Sunrise In Your Eyes
Confused House/Steve Summers