Paraphrasing the Soul Sonic Force and sorting through today`s releases for tunes that could have graced Alfie & Leo`s Amnesia dance floor.
Some of you might have noticed that there wasn’t one of these last month. The Ban Ban Ton Ton schedule was knocked out of whack – not by any big news – but instead a cross-country drive to meet my father-in-law. Nine hours there and 9 hours back, for a long bout of beer-fueled Karaoke. We hadn’t seen him in 8 years – so it was hard to say no. Then it took me at least a week to recover. As a consequence – with some catching up to do – this time out it`s a bit of a bonanza – 19 nearly 20 tracks.
Starting off with the more downtempo gear, music that bounces around the 90-100BPM mark, much of it head-nods and bops to a reggae-influenced beat. For example, Cracy Coconuts` Rubadub Dance, is an incredibly rare piece of school-yard skanking – written and sung by Kurt “Supermax” Hauenstein`s kids. The 45 – which was fetching 100s of Euros on Discogs – has been very kindly repressed by Austria’s Editions Hawara.
There`s also Mali-I`s Sunday Feel – a slice of supremely laidback gated key Soul II Soul / Funki Dred-isms from a 4-tracker on fresh French label, Turbo Guidance.
Payfone`s Sofian, on Leng, takes a damn fine shot at recreating the seminal gender fluid sleaze of the Dennis Bovell-produced Saada Boniare. A sexy, groovy, electro-boogie tale of a triangular triste, and infidelity, that bumps and guilt-ridden grinds to clipped guitar and smoky after-hours organ. Recalling not only Mr. B`s groundbreaking new wave work, but also label co-founder, Mudd`s moodier outings as Bison. There`s a remix by Loyal which is effectively a harder-edged, more hypnotic dub. Replacing the 6-string and conventional keys with arpeggios and a whistling synthetic riff.
Barnaby Bruce’s Yellow Monsoon appears to pay homage to Jackie Mittoo. Its cool Caribbean breeze of Hammond B3 keys copping comparisons to the keyboard king`s classic tracks, such as Wall Street and After Christmas. Jansen Jardin head honcho, Barney`s big brother, Max Essa, gives the remix a kick, speeds up the steppers, while countering the rude digi-dub b-line with calming Cafe del Mar chord clusters, and Fender Rhodes-like flourishes.
Max himself gets a reggae, well reggae-ish, overhaul from Eddie C, on a forthcoming 12 for Is It Balearic? Mr. C re-modelling Mr. E`s Jules Y Cynthia into a sort of lop-sided skank – chokka with quality Cure / Disintegration guitar, and euphoric synth swells – reminiscent of Balearic Sound System`s refixes and Noodleman`s sides for Eddie’s Red Motorcycle. Eddie also manhandles Max` Jigsaw Moon, which is a much more uptempo affair. Borrowing Andy Summer`s Zenyatta Mondatta guitar licks and tricks and marrying those to a `89 piano riff, all riding Beloved / Sun Rising-esque acid – which wows and warbles, warm, and womb-like.
Timm and Ampo from IIB? also have their own new record ready to go, where as Coyote they collaborate with Californian dude, Woolfy. Much of the Return To Life E.P. is based around the veteran Nottingham duo`s characteristic combination of ginormous JA dub b-lines coloured by bongos, congas, and cowbells, and peppered with positive spoken-word samples, but Woolfy adds his distinctive West Coast vocals to 2 of the 5 tracks. Save Me finds him broken-hearted, crooning a kind of blue-eyed gospel from within in a bass-heavy vapour of spectral steel pans, while Wonderful shines like a William Orbit “chill-out” classic. With Woolfy switching between encouraging shouts of the title, and the observation that “music saved my life”. Ethereal synth washes failing to cloud the tune`s bright, bright story of light.
Coyote are one of a hefty roll-call of names who’ve turned out to remix Joe Morris` Exotic Language long-player, on Joe’s Shades Of Sound. Others that BBTT regulars will recognize include Gallo and James Bright. Hell Yeah! and Bueno Onda man Gallo`s interpretation of Firefly Island is a personal standout. Its bottom-end throb buoying dramatic treated electric axe arcs and a 303 squelching in amongst showers of cascading keys. A cymbal crash signaling “lift off” as these all collide with the main driving riff. Another favourite is Manuel Darquart`s denotation of Dance With Jupiter. A non-generic scream-up derivative that’s set to prime post-pandemic parties worldwide with its prescription of large pianos, loved-up loon birds, and Fairlight-harmonized vocals. Man Power`s mix of Acid Safari is a little darker than the previous 2 mixes mentioned. When it`s “house”, it`s the eerie synths of Master C & J`s Chicago hits swirling around in warehouse-sized reverb. But these bowel-shaking sections chop and change with interludes of highlife guitar picking and jungle, Daktari, SFX. Chattering monkeys, roaring elephants, lions, and tigers. I was listening in the car, and it fair made me fucking jump, as it sounded like the animals were sat right behind me.
If it`s jungle noises you’re after then also check Abre Caminhos by Lyon based, Brazilian born Pedro Bertho. The title track of a digital E.P. on Italy’s Hell Yeah! it`s busy with birdsong and assorted organic percussion, and that’s before he flicks the switch on his Front 242 / Nitzer Ebb drum machines. Pedro`s Columbian field hollers leading the Curt Cress meets George Kranz` Din Daa Daa-esque EBM workout.
Hitting the mid-tempo movers, the spot shifts to illuminate a couple of genuine pop divas. Róisín Murphy should need no introduction – I treasure the time I spent bouncing midnight emails back and forth with Ms. M – being berated for my beatnik-ery as I attempted to help pen the press notes for her Hairless Toys LP. I`m not joking, I really do. Here the wild R is given a post-punk funk kicking by the brothers Soulwax. Rendering Something More, from her Róisín Machine album on Skint, into a dub-disco anthem, with live Gang Of Four bass, diverting percussion, transformer-esque scratching, and a Sheffield / FON studio cap-doffing bleep breakdown.
For sure not so well known, but a definite contender in the making, is Lou Hayter, whose My Baby Just For Me – also signed to Skint – is most certainly not a Nina Simone cover. I`m not sure Nina would have ever sung “You speak English, but your kiss is French”, but then maybe she might’ve. In the hands of Music For Dreams` Rheizand, Lou`s made to coo cute-ly (I keep hearing Ame Lorain) over a slo-mo house equivalent of the Dance Of Seven Veils. Its strings soaked in seductive Middle-Eastern mystery.
I`m not sure who the purring protagonist is on Torn Sail`s Scared Of My Heart, so I guess they don’t qualify as a diva, but on Popsneon`s remix her vocals push and pull dancers through a trance-scape built from the same brain-bending blocks as Chris & Cosey`s Walking Through Heaven and The KLF`s What Time Is Love?
Homing in on the more straight-forward house sides, I’ve already focused on Joey Beads` `80s New York-flavoured Nu Grooves for Parkway, but there`s also Ceolo`s classic early `90s rave update, I Can Never Be Yours, on Toy Tonics. Its yesteryear arms-in-the-air pianos washed in a waterfall of trippy new age tones, as a femme fatale bins you off to a breakbeat-driven rhythm. Seemingly simple – obviously such perfection isn’t – it doesn’t even resort to a breakdown, instead letting a false full-stop fire its old school crowd-pumping finale.
Heavy disco don, Ashley Beedle blesses blues and shebeans everywhere with another of a series of staggering remixes – most of them tagged “North Street West”- and transforms Groove Armada`s downtempo ballad, We`re Free, into an amazing Salsoul Orchestra-esque epic. One so good that I’ve cued it up twice. How he achieved this solo in a studio I`ll never know. It sounds like he had a philharmonic in there with him and a budget the size of the Japanese `80s economic bubble.
To close, we’re off to Spain and then White Isle herself. Madrid`s Lovemonk have reissued Banda Achilifunk`s 2011 cover of I Believe In Miracles on a sunshine-yellow 45. A tad cheesy it is, but it`s unashamedly so, and as close as you’re likely to get to Elkin Y Nelson in this day and age.
Fabrizio Esposito might be Italian but his second single, Aria, on Parlesia, features production assistance from International Feel`s Mark Barrott, and has its feet planted firmly on Ibiza, dancing to Harvey at Pikes. The OG is a 110BPM disco stomp, European pop re-booted. Loredana Berte gone house. The Acid Dub reduces the effervescent opulence to kick, bass arpeggio and a 303`s gentle gurgling. Like Harvey holding court in Freddie`s Room – just the right – accessible – balance of underground edge and that aforementioned cheese.
Luca Averna and Ale Doretto are also Italians, but both also resident DJs on Ibiza during the summer season. Their debut release, as Residentes Balearicos, sees them team-up with fellow White Isle regular, Chris Coco, to create an E.P., licensed to Music For Dreams. The three tracks encompass contrasting moods and tempos, with the slower, Coyote-esque, QAnon crackpot sampling Worldwide Conspiracy dwelling in a dubbier domain. Il Respiro pictures a Cafe del Mar sunset and reimagines Sueno Latino over silver box squiggles and an IDM break. Evissenc, however, traverses more obsidian terrain. Its synths snaking in fanfares as if horns fashioned from thigh bones, and the tribal tub-thumping opening a portal to a place part Roberto Simone`s Coro delle Lavandaie, and part Psychick Warriors Ov Gaia`s Exit 23. Dalek-like incantations driving the track to intense psychedelic levels, and becoming increasingly possessed as the peyote takes hold, the datura dictates (This is how I remember the main room at Space sounding, back in `91).
Cracy Coconuts – Rubadub Dance – Edition Hawara
Mali I – Sunday Feel – Turbo Guidance
Barnaby Bruce – Yellow Monsoon – Jansen Jardin
North Satellite – Le Lagoon Noir – Star Tree
Max Essa – Jules Y Cynthia (Eddie C Dubwise in der Wedding Remix) – Is It Balearic?
Payfone – Sofian – Leng
Lou Hayter – My Baby Just Cares For Me (Rheinzand Dub) – Skint
Coyote – Wonderful – Is It Balearic?
Fabrizio Esposito – Aria (Acid Dub) – Parlesia
Roisin Murphy – Something More (Soulwax Remix) – Skint
Torn Sail – Scared Of My Heart (Popsneon Remix) – Torn Sail
Max Essa – Jigsaw Moon (Eddie C Acid Dub) – Is It Balearic?
Residentes Balearicos – Il Respiro – Music For Dreams
Joey Beads – Spirit Call – Parkway
Pedro Bertho – Abre Caminhos – Hell Yeah!
Joe Morris – Acid Safari (Man Power Acid Jungle Remix) – Shades Of Sound
Joe Morris – Dance With Jupiter (Manuel Darquart) – Shades Of Sound
Ceolo – I Can Never Be Yours – Toy Tonics
Residentes Balearicos – Eivissenc – Music For Dreams
Groove Armada – (Ashley Beedle NSW Mixes)
Achilifunk – I Believe In Miracles – Love Monk
Soul II Soul
Balearic Gabba Sound System
The Sun Rising
Gang Of Four
Sheffield / FON
Walking Through Heaven
What Time Is Love
Elkin Y Nelson