Paraphrasing the Soul Sonic Force, and sorting through today`s releases for tunes that could have graced Alfredo & Leo`s Amnesia dance floor.
It begins in Africa. Well, kinda.
Ensemble have reissued Zazou Bikaye`s Na Kenda, from 1988. So it`s Africa via Belgium. An acidic European take on Chicago`s Jack, that races along at 130 BPM, and – no surprises – picks up Yeke Yeke comparisons along the way. The E.P. also features two non-House tunes, and every one`s a winner. Guilty is Prince-esque Electro-Funk, complete with purple axe solo. Think Tackhead on Alphabet Street. Ba Wela is a stuttering, off-kilter, mid-tempo march, that`s on a par with anything from Zazou / Bikaye / CY1`s classic Noir Et Blanc LP. If sweetened slightly by its female chorus.
Music For Dreams have Africa via Denmark, on a 12 that collects three mid-80s sought-afters from Ghanaian musician, Kojo Antwi. Ranging from the moody, downtempo Emeribi Be Ba, to the horny Disco of Hini Mi, and the whistling, jaunty, Highlife of Miribe Bom.
There`s also Africa via France in the form of a repress of a really nice Good Plus edit.
From Afro to Afro Cosmic, and two Italian releases that cross the Cosmic Club / Amnesia divide. One new, and one old.
Roberto Lodola`s Marimba Do Mar, reissued by Best Records Italy is sax-y Acid Jazz, from 1986. Something I first heard on a Moonboots mix, light years ago. It wasn`t cheap then, but became horrifyingly – heart attack inducing-ly – expensive (another instance where, after checking Discogs, I quickly picked my copy up off the floor and carefully shelved it). This reissue pairs the two original mixes with a further two that come from a later CD-only issue. One purely percussive. The other Tubular Bell-ed up, spaced out, sax-less, extended and perhaps even more A Man Called Adam-like.
The new music comes from Rhythm Collision, a collaboration between Daniele Baldelli`s sometime studio-partner, DJ Rocca, and Almunia`s Leo Ceccanti. Producing an E.P. for Really Swing. The strum-a-long Every Changing Bubbles, is a groove in the mode of Pino Daniele. Both his Yes I Know My Way, and Keep On Movin`. Leo`s big Blues-y guitar builds to an foot stomping solo, at which point he then switches to flute. Swapping the vibe, to that of a Stop Bajon stepper. Estate is a seductive, Boogie-tempo`d number. The axe work more mellow, Cafe Del Mar-esque, Japanese Jazz-inspired. Mbria Funk is the most forceful of the three. Combining soaring synths, clavs, chicken scratch, and psychedelic sanza stanzas.
Andi pitches down and polishes a trio of forgotten Pop treasures. He turns Yello`s Tied Up into an chanting chugger. A percussive epic, that moves out of La Habanera`s Havana and into the surrounding jungle. Reminiscent of Dubtribe`s Equatorial. Or Kay Suzuki`s Afrobuddha, Techno drum circle meeting Neon`s well-Balearic cover of Sultana. Andi`s treatment also makes Lena Lovitch sound like Talking Heads.
David Byrne and Co. are one of the influences cited by French outfit, Takenoko. Others being Gang Of Four and Kraftwerk. Emotional Rescue bring together all of their recorded sides for the compilation, L’Amour Est Mon Arme. Combining Electro-Pop, scratchy Funk, and spike-y Rock. Ye-Ye like Liminanas meet Mikado. Or Marie Et Les Garçons. Sampling movie dialogue from John Wayne and The Marx Brothers. Gentler moments sound like The Stranglers Golden Brown rearranged for machines. Tougher tracks could pass for a New Order 12.
Uncanny Valley`s Sneaker DJ turns in some extensions, that up the Proto-House quotient. Add tumbling bionic Burundi. Turning Takenoko into the sort of stuff that Razormaid sliced. Hard Corps. Torch Song. The music of Trevor Jackson`s Metal Dance. Starck Club rockers. Music that could have been bashed into Savage Progress by Ron Hardy at the Music Box. Music that will probably do the business for Weatherall and Johnston at A Love From Outer Space.
Updating that Post-Punk Funk thang are Parquet Courts on Rough Trade. Who, with an edit from Danny Krivit are Wide Awake. Cowbell tonking, timbale rattling, and whistle blowing. Revisiting James Chance like The Rapture, or LCD Soundsystem – back when they were still on Output. Like the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion taken dancing at the Mudd Club. Bristol`s Glaxo Babies with a fractured fuzz tone solo, doing a sulphate-driven version of The Meters I Just Kissed My Baby.
Also heavy on the cowbell is Al Zanders remix of Penya`s Tribes, for On The Corner. Taken from a forthcoming E.P. of reworks from last year`s Super Liminal LP. Punk percussion riding a jacking 80s House B-line, it made me think of No Zu`s “Heat Beat”, but tempered by Jazzy keys. I`ll do more on the full record closer to its release date.
One of the OG jacking House B-lines, Chip E`s Like This, gets a reissue as part of BBE`s Foundations series. Curated by Kai Alce and DJ Spinna, who are editing House landmarks for 45. The series kicked off with Cajmere / Dajae`s Brighter Days from 1992, and travelled backwards to 1988 for Tyree`s Video Crash / Hard Core Hip House. Like This comes from 1985, and is primal, simple genius, from one of the true godfathers of Chicago House.
Dusting off lesser known four-to-the-floor moments is Stuart Leath and Piers Harrison`s Mysticisms. The label mixing up unsung, “unclassics” by Brian Bristol, Persian, and Vertigo Inc., with new productions from Øyvind Morken, and Deep Dean (AKA Tornado Wallace). Raw, electro-tinged deepness, bumping boompty boomp, Mikey Dread-sampling tribalism, and Moby-sampling eastern mysteries.
Elements Of Life is one of the aliases of US production duo Lee Rodriguez and Steven John Craden. In various guises they released music on the likes of Tribal, and Strictly Rhythm in the early to mid-90s. They were also responsible for the essential African Dream LP on Eightball. Dark Intervals is a mix of Sound Factory drums, and what passed for Trance in those pre-Psi days. Innocence And Inspiration is Loft-worthy, finger-snapping House, lifted way out of the ordinary by a great soloing piano. Both are revived from the 1994 Molecular Dreams double-pack. A set which also includes the “Pseudo Jazz” of Phil Mison favourite Still Holdin` On.
Even if you own the original, this Mysticisms reissue is worth picking up for the exclusive Ambient edit of 1996`s Are You With Me Love?
Not a reissue but four sides of archival material are coming from Bristol institution Rob Smith & Ray Mighty.
Fellow Bristolians Pinch and Peverelist, join forces to select eleven previously unreleased tracks, collected on Ashley Road Sessions (1988-1994), that demonstrate the debt modern dance music owes to Rob and Ray. Smith & Mighty being arguably the first production team to combine Soundsystem culture with Hip Hop and House. Effectively birthing – or at the very least paving the way for – Drum & Bass, Dubstep, and Grime.
Again, there`s more on this to follow, but Morning Light`s in here. House-Not-House of Rave signals, funky guitar samples, euphoric synth swells, and bottomless bottom-end. Percussion constructed from breakbeats. Shaken and stirred.
Also from the archives, in this case those of Melbourne`s 3RRR radio station, is 3AM Spares. Andras and Instant Peterson`s follow-up to 2016`s Midnite Spares. Moving on from that set`s Post-Punk experiments, to trawl treasures from the initial rumblings of the local Rave scene. Once again, for Efficient Space.
Sonar blips, party klaxons, and meditation tapes weave in and out of breakbeats, and cavernous, room-shaking, bass. Leather lovers sleaze to House tempo`d throbs. Filtered Disco samples ask, “Is this your first time?” Detroit gets invoked, and traditional Australian song gets put through uplifting dance moves that could pass for something from New Yorker Ben Cenac`s Push/Pull project. Ollie Olsen`s Third Eye reprise the sound of his Michael Hutchence collaboration, Max Q. Behold The Angel Of Frequency being a “funky drummer” driven ringer for the Balearic crossover, Ghost Of The Year. With added Opera and Gregorian monks. Ian Eccles-Smith`s The Slaughtering Eye is downtempo Electronica built around Bob James` Take Me To The Mardi Gras. Augmented by live playing – brass, guitar, and piano – and spirit-raising vocals, it unfolds like a blueprint for Mark Barrott`s Pathways Of Our Lives.
Taking a more overtly Techno tack, Xinner`s Dream Resonator on ESP Institute also rides a dismantled break. Its metallic chopping, and changing, tangoing with pixilated pastorals recalling Tornado Wallace`s ESPI classic Thinking Allowed.
Precipitation`s Earth / Sky for 100% Silk is, obviously, split into two elemental sides. Sky 1 and 2 are dense clouds of resonance and drone. Ten minutes apiece of Ambient New Age-y wow and flutter. Earth 1 and 2 ground this prettiness with drums that say Detroit, and bass-lines that say Chicago. If not quite Mark Goddard / The Truth, then still damn fine grain-y, analogue, Post-(Larry) Heard House.
On Petrolia, for Marmo Music, Harmonious Thelonious, applies his Diskant, ancient / future ritual rhythms to a variety of tempos. But its the more urgent, House, ones that standout. Inner space orbits and bottom-end oscillations that buzz with distorted Middle Eastern melodies. Generated by synthesiser, and the guesting horns, and reeds, of Ghazi Barakat. Distant chants echoing No Smoke`s Koro Koro.
Jazzier House comes from a slightly unexpected corner. Marco Erroi`s cut Post-Punk, esoteric Ambient, and Afro grooves, under the moniker, XXXV Gold Fingers, and on his Common Series imprint. Common Series 007 sees him show off his Jazz chops, with assistance from the sax of Emanuele Rag, the six-strings of Stefano Greco, and the keys of Gigi Chord. Divided into El Dia and La Tarde, the E.P. still has its esoteric moments – short wave, sampled dreams, poetry, and soprano singers – but electric solos dominate the record`s sides of Mogadon-ed kicks, and sunrise percussion.
Atmosfear gave their releases the catalogue code DAZZ, which stood for a mixture of Disco and Jazz. The Harlesden-based – sometimes nine piece – outfit fusing Brit-Funk and Latin. Their 1979 debut 12, Dancing In Outerspace, was hammered everywhere. From New York`s Lofts to London`s warehouses. Mr Bongo will be reissuing the 12s, but first is the band`s long-player, En Trance. Contemporaries of John Rocca`s Freeez, Incognito, and Light Of The World, Atmosfear employed horns, synths, slapped basses, Dub dropouts, and bongo breakdowns. In the process creating templates for folks like The Idjut Boys. Return Of LB is, perhaps, the most Balearic jam, due to its Spanish guitar.
DJ Rocca & Leo Alumina – Every Changing Bubbles – Really Swing
Roberto Lodola – Feeling Of The Sun – Best Record Italy
Ian Eccles Smith – The Slaughtering Eye – Efficient Space
Yello – Tied Up (Andi Hanley Edit) – Magic Wand
Akendengue – Epuguzu (Edit) – Good Plus
Kojo Antwi – Miribe Bom – Music For Dreams
Harmonious Thelonious – Nous N`avons Jamais – Marmo Music
Smith & Mighty – Morning Light – Tectonic / Punch Drunk
Chip E – Like This (DDD Dub) – BBE
Zazou Bikaye – Na Kenda (Techno Dub) – Ensemble
Takenoko – Lee Harvey Oswald (Sneaker Remix) – Emotional Rescue
Parquet Courts – Wide Awake (Danny Krivit Edit) – Rough Trade
Penya – Tribes (Al Zanders Remix) – On The Corner
Elements Of Life – Innocence And Inspiration – Mysticisms
Xinner – Dream Resonator – ESP Institute
Precipitation – Earth 2 – 100% Silk
Common Series – Tarde 1 – Common Series
Atmosfear – Return Of LB – Mr Bongo