The reason I split this month`s round-up in two is not just down to tempo – although, everything in this second-half spins at 118BPM and above. It was because when making my notes the tunes seemed to fall into a couple of distinct groups – both of them to my ears at least harking after the halcyon daze of rave`s yesteryear. Ecstasy’s rush remembered. There are exceptions of course. Red Axes` remix of Rheinzand`s Kills & Kisses – on Music For Dreams – while borrowing cues from electro and industrial – in much the same way `80s new beat did -rattles and clanks, propelled by pummeling bass in a manner that harks after nothing other than a high, and is completely current.
Ewan Jansen`s recent E.P. on Butter Sessions is also thoroughly modern – my favourite on it though – Breadcrumbs – transports me back to the mid-90s, the house and garage mutations played at Andrew Weatherall`s Bloodsugar parties in Hoxton`s Blue Note.
Similarly Linkwood`s drastic dismemberment and radical reassembly of Lord Of The Isles` Skylark – for ESP Institute – while totally outstanding and unique, does perhaps pay homage to the genius of Paperclip People-era Carl Craig.
Nicola Loporchio however, seems entirely enthralled with his homeland’s late `80s / early `90s house heyday. New 12s are due any minute now from his solo Cosmic Garden project, and Ketama – his partnership with Michele Lamacchia – both available on Nicola`s Cosmic Rhythm imprint. Cosmic Garden`s Aphrodisiaca E.P. sets sampled birdsong, rainfall and thunderstorms – A 4th World ambience – against machine-assisted tribal percussion – silicon syncopation – and warm, jazzy, heavily Larry Heard-influenced pads. Faux horns honking, bongo tides lapping. Keys in contemplative cascades. Strings adding layers of pizzicato counterpoint. Synths twinkling like stars at twilight. Sonically terraforming a lush, psychedelic, dance-floor Eden. Ketama`s Mentalmismo filters classic Detroit details through its Mediterranean dreams. The title track is a synthetic symphony, where crashing surf gives way to old school high-hats, rewinds, and spinbacks. Where the metallic, alien alloy keys and urgent tempo recall Mayday`s masterpiece, Icon. Overture and The Secret both race to a latin ritmo. Full of insistent, trance-y squiggles and stratosphere-searching solos, space-age orchestration, the pair pay tribute to the future fusions of Underground Resistance`s more disco moments. Suspira is the stuff of suenos. Michele`s whispers running fast, fluid – liquid glossolalia, like fresh flowing water, while the music in this case reminds me a little of Now Now Now`s 1991 perfect, Problem.
The other artists here all chase – and upgrade – a nostalgia built on techno, breakbeats and sub-bass. A youthful European take on Detroit`s template – born some 30 years ago. Driven by E and unbridled enthusiasm. Kids working with unfamiliar, and limited technology. Ignorant of methods and “rules”. Certain only of the end products desired effects. Joe Morris` Frantic Mix of Man Power`s Kiloton, for example, is packed full of retro-referencing thunderclaps, snare rolls, and acid. An ecstasy express train of mounting momentum. Midway through some monks get onboard and engage in Dominican prayer. You can download the track for free via Soundcloud, and if you fancy giving the tune a going over yourself you can purchase the stems from Bandcamp.
Man Power himself has a 3-track release – Multi Periodic Oscillations – out on Love Attack Records. Hits of haunting, haunted dancehall built on big room bass hum. Synths twisting in shadowy shapes while flickering chimes mark a path toward the light. Drama-filled, and timbale-rattling, washed with reverbed crystalline walls of showering sound. Passionate and quite possibly harnessing anger`s energy.
The Crooked Man performs something of a musical miracle and bends MZLKYPOP`s by turns gothic and saccharine, Ursula In Regression, out of all recognition – totally transforming it into a bleep-techno tunnel. Where the bass is everything, all-encompassing, and sinister synths like sonic searchlights scan the dark. On the surface there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot going on, but there’s a deft dynamic here – don’t forget its maker is a master – and it`s highly hallucinatory.
Jus Jam`s 90s Anxiety E.P. on Broken District channels UKG and LTJ Bukem`s particular strand of “intelligent” drum & bass. On Higher Sense the ambient swells form a sunset / sunrise hush accompanied by trombone serenade, bleeps and Apache break bongos.
Part of a remix package released last December on Beats In Space, New Zealand producer Eden Burns reworks Andras` Poppy – from the long-player, Joyful. Ed shapes a slice of tribal-lite – boasting breakneck bongos, stuttered chants, shooting star SFX and a brilliant bass-line – that buoyantly bounces like a meeting between Opus 3 and Bobby Kondors` Massive Sounds or Richard H. Kirk’s Sandoz. Delivering a plaintive piano hymn to a far more innocent time, one of free parties organized by creative, idealistic, collectives. Crews intent on not just dancing, but changing the world.
Don Carlos – Alone – Groovin Recordings
Ketama – Suspira (5AM Mix) – Cosmic Rhythm
Cosmic Garden – Mediterranean Dream – Cosmic Rhythm
Willie Graff & Tuccillo – The Moment – Hell Yeah!
MZLKYPOP – Ursula Bent Crooked Mix 2 – Skint
Ewan Jansen – Breadcrumbs – Butter Sessions
Man Power – Kiloton (Joe Morris Mix) – self-released
Lord Of The Isles – Skylark (Linkwood Remix) – ESP Institute
Rheinzand – Kills & Kisses (Red Axes Remix) – Music For Dreams
Andras – Poppy (Eden Burns Remix) – Beats In Space
Jus Jam – Higher Sense – Broken District
Now Now Now