As well as the music “reviewed” below, please don’t forget to check previously covered quality gear from ACR, Pete Herbert, Khruangbin, Sex Judas, Tonica & Dominate, Woodleigh Research Facility, Woolfy, and there`s also something very nice coming from Roberto Lodola.
Active Ingredients – Blow The House Down – Ramrock Red
Antipodean boss beat-making all-rounder Inkswell, teams up with Atlanta emcee, Stan Smith, for some proper percussive party-starting hip hop. “Better than dreamin`, and wrestlin` with demons”, it`s not really hip house, but at a house tempo – an unashamedly feel-good flashback to the days when, say, Young MC and Tone Loc, were play-listed alongside the likes of Bang The Party and The Turntable Orchestra, and Roxanne Shante happily got a 4 / 4 make over. It had me thinking of The Jungle Brothers, and De La Soul`s classic, A Roller Skating Jam Named Saturdays. The Tofu Curry Mix adds a looped and filtered, modal jazz swing – kinda Horace Silver`s Song For My Father, with horns. Lending the flow a new Last Poets edge. Then the North Street West trio snap it back to something more boom bap, Mr Beedle on drums, Darren`s clever, dancing, keys, and Ramrock head honcho, Jo Wallace, aka Lady Kaos, supplying sing along backing vocals that hark after hip hop’s Wildstyle origins.
Daniel Avery – Lone Swordsman (Chris Carter Remix) – Phantasy Sound
The ex-Throbbing Gristle guy, Chris Carter, gives Daniel Avery’s terrific tribute to Andrew Weatherall a good, I mean great, going over. Broken breakbeats colliding with military snare rolls, as if ecstatically cross-faded, while the Smokebelch-esque sequences are subject to further twisting. Busy with music box chimes and subliminal dialogue, to my ears Chris` mix is a direct reference to Andrew and Hugo Nicolson`s seminal late `80s / early `90s productions / remixes. Juxtaposing stuff that shouldn’t really work, but actually really does. Filled with celebratory energy.
Buena Onda Balearic Beats 2021- Hell Yeah Recordings
Arriving ahead of schedule, which is unheard of, tantamount to a miracle, these days, Hell Yeah! unveil their second annual label sampler, promoting both the imprint, and its associated party, Buena Onda. There are 12 selections to choose from (plus combinations of accompanying apparel and totes), a fair few of which BBTT has championed previously, when they were released on samplers, or as standalone singles. Familiar names like Cacao, Calm, Chris Coco, Max Essa, Feel Fly, Gallo, Kayroy, Relative, Micko Roche, Tonarunur, and Vendetta Suite – Hell Yeah`s established, extended family – are joined by three exclusives. La Guardia de la Luz`s Amatista (El Ambiente Mix) segues sampled seaside sounds with gentle keys and rocky guitar chimes. Sets the lot to a steady bass pulse as the axe suddenly, psychedelically solos. Its big, bold, blues-y wail surrounding the shouts of an ecstatic raver, lost from the night before. The Mechanical Man’s Last Train For The City is heavy (hi)hatted, beatdown, boogie-house. Bubbling acidic. Fizzing with detail and dissected rap fragments. Somerville & Watson`s Klean Shift garners favour with cool acoustic piano and otherworldly, alien keys in a quality composition of contemplative, head-nodding instrumental hip hop. Its broken beats ringing robotic as the piece picks up momentum and intensity.
James Bright – The Nameless – Sveva
The title track of James Bright`s second E.P. for Sveva, One Wish, is a collaboration with Danish vocalist, Malo. The latter`s longing lyric set to Bright`s characteristic sleek, slick, sparse mid-tempo house production. Powered by a classic Juno-esque bass-line, switching on a TB-303 in its final third. Moonscape is conga`d and keyed electro-boogie, singular for its stirring synthetic string-line. Neptune Blue very likely takes its name from the pretty percolations, the rising electronic effervescence that bubbles throughout the track. The Nameless is still mid-tempo`d, but proffers a slightly more pumping chug. Its 90s IDM squiggles, offset by tribal marimba / kalimba movements, themselves matched by echoed African chants.
Caravan – Searchin – Planet Trip
Sydney’s Paul Jextra assumes the name Caravan for a cute 7” on Planet Trip. It`s a AA effort, but Searchin` is the one that gets my vote. Crashing kinda new beat, complete with computerized cowbell, and skanking keys. Its melody whistling wistfully over some chunky bass. Imagine a hybridization of Code 61`s Drop The Deal and Sheertaft`s Cascades.
Desmond Chambers – Haly Gully – Kalita
Originally released in 1987, Desmond Chambers` Haly Gully is an upbeat hymn to Selassie I. Electro-Boogie trappings bolstering its rattling congas and dance-floor reggae beat. Where backing singers repeat its catchy chorus like a drinking game tongue-twister, between blasts of dubbed-out brass. This Kalita reissue 12 also includes a previously unreleased alternate mix, which is funkier, less electronic, less of a dub. Toby Tobias takes care of the contemporary remix, and goes in completely the opposite direction. Stripped back, spacey and psychedelic, metallic percussion clicking, delayed and double-timed – plus the odd rewind – for the first 5 minutes it has you hypnotised, skanking to a single keyboard note. This simply serves to set the scene, lull the listener into false sense of security, `cos Toby then turns up the b-line and things start to oscillate and undulate increasingly acidic. The effect simultaneously seductive and ever so slightly menacing – like the promise of danger you get while dancing with a stranger.
Each Other – the NYC-based duo of Max Pask & Justin Strauss – have two new remixes up for download, plus a fresh original that they’re promo-ing.
Their efforts have El Nino Diablo`s Let`s Get Sleazy stomping and stamping a novo Italo march. Showered by cascades of machine hand-claps and finger-snaps, and proggy synth chords. The bottom-end bubbling at a decidedly low pH, around “build-the-box” bleeps, as clipped congas slowly sneak in. The b-line its riding all the while rumbling, growling, rasping, attempting to break free of its reigns.
The pair add shuffling snares to Auf Togo`s A Little Bit Deeper, giving the track a funky electro express train feel. Rich with reverb and dubbed-out echo, its buzzing, stadium-sized electronica, busy with acidic twists and laser blasts – endowed with clearly epic designs, and carried by a hypnotic cowbell riff.
Finally, there`s For Them, which features on the forthcoming compilation, IMPACT, put together by German label, Freeride Millennium. The collection is the first of three volumes aimed at highlighting the importance of clubs as havens of safe cultural cross-pollination. The press release makes particular reference to the LGBT community, and Justin & Max`s track is dedicated to the friends that Justin lost during the initial tidal wave of AIDS. The music itself has electronic elements orbiting, robotic and cosmic, spinning, before cementing, coalescing into a kind of mutant take on DJ Pierre’s wild pitch. Out of this kosmische camouflage, the tune reveals itself to be a cracking piece of classic acid house, where the raw relics of Trax are given a contemporary polish. It`s the stuff of strobes and strawberry smoke.
El Guiri – Edits 02
The elusive El Guiri expand their empire of strictly Spanish edits with a second E.P. that’s possibly even more essential than the first. La Rumba Catalana is a priceless acoustic jazz reading of Lou Reed`s Walk On The Wildside. The crash of surf colliding with ukulele and castanets, until eventually greeting a gentle 4 / 4, funky organ fills, and fancy flamenco flourishes. The final trumpet solo, a cue for the señoritas to sing, “doo do doo do doo do do doo…” A bell-like melody sits atop the slapped bass tango of mid-tempo groover, Otra Noche Mas, while A Palma Rock rides hand-claps, and carnival whistles, cowbells and boogaloo brass blasts. The latter is a fine example of explosive Euro-disco, with a sexy delivery, short cheesy rap, and razor-sharp rhythm guitar.
Manrico & Nicola – Le Piante Del Lago – Archeo Recordings
Manrico Mologni and Nicola Calgari recorded the album, Le Piante Del Lago, in 1990. Unfortunately the project was shelved when Manrico fell ill, but Archeo Recordings have now dusted off the DAT. In very general terms the LP is a set of jazz-juiced pop – something that Italians seem to excel at. There are ballads, in the mode of Lucios Dalla and Battisti – packed with acoustic strum and group harmonies, backed by full band arrangements, sax solos, and sweeping orchestral strings. Ed Longo remixes the two standout moments. Transforming Con Un Cuore Nel Corpo into an emotive piece for cowbell, pontilism piano and clipped guitar, on a par with Mike Francis` Survivor, while Cara Più Di Un Angelo is even more epic. Its backing vocals, bass-line, and saxophone quite possibly another homage to Lou Reed.
Mr. Tea – Dreams Of Angels – Paper Recordings
San Franciscan house producer Mr. Tea has 3 E.P.s available now, care of Paper Recordings. From his A Vehicle Mind comes Dreams Of Angels – ambient intro`d, its keys and tingsha ring around a muted kick. Dancing, rushing, sublimely, serenely, sketching oases of peace and love in your head. Flashes of folk / rock vocal circle in Dave Crosby-like harmonies, intertwining with female counterparts in kosmische counterpoint. Aching, prettily, above a big bass synth.
Nu Genea with Célia Kameni – Marechia – NG Records
I think the physical 45 of this must have sold out on pre-order, as during pandemic and lockdown I’ve got pretty quick on the online shopping cart buzzer, and I was left wanting, without. Fingers crossed then that this terrific track will reappear on an album sometime in the future. Musically, it`s bright and breezy, sunny and uplifting, jaunty, novo Neapolitan jazz-funk – with clear blue sky keys, and a cool vocal from French chanteuse, Célia Kameni. Moog-y machinations mix with choppy six-string licks, and there`s a touch of Airto`s Brazilian fusion about it, plus perhaps a few cues from Tonica & Dominante. A summer anthem that should have been, its in the box (well, USB stick) and staying there til at least next year, when, no doubt it will still sound fresh.
Gratts & Robert Owens – Brighter Future – Inner Balance Recordings
House legend, Robert Owens collaborates with Belgian producer Gratts on a paean to positivity, and overcoming obstacles. The original mix sends sunny sequences skipping around classic Chicago drum patterns, which break down to make space for a spoken word section and a sax solo. This is contrasted by two darker dubs. The New Vision version cuts and collages the vocal over slamming hats and Hoover bass, while dodging thunder and lightning-like strikes of orchestral strings. Jorge Caiado`s remix strips things back again, sending the track dancing at NYC`s Sound Factory, paying respects to the mid-90s productions of Farley & Heller, maybe even a little Murk, and WARP`s bottom-end. When Gratts sent me the files he asked, “Do you think it`s OK?” Mate, with Mr. Owens, you can`t go wrong.
Ponzu Island – FantAsian Prince – Apersonal
Ponzu Island`s FantAsian Prince is the first single from an album due in 2022. A computerized confection, a vocoder-ed, synth-tastic serenade, jammed perhaps a little tongue-in-cheek. Again, perhaps, taking some inspiration from Tropical Dandy, Haruomi Hosono, his co-YMO-ers, and fellow Japanese electronic exotica explorers, such as Hiroshi Sato.
Omar S – What’s Good For The Goose – FXHE
Slo-mo seductive soul, groovy, head-nodding, and extra special on the tripped-out dub version. Stopping and starting, with wonderful vocalist, Supercoolwicked, lost in layers of hypnotic delay. Making even the sober feel stoned. A song of sexual equality, with Mr. S dropping his more usual house tempo, effortlessly, to an 85 BPM bedroom bump and grind.
Mix to follow care of my friends at Hamon Radio….