Paraphrasing the Soul Sonic Force and sorting through today`s releases for tunes that could have graced Alfie & Leo`s Amnesia dance-floor.
DJ Fede & Robert Owens – Dancing On Mars – Balearia Records
Torino`s Federico Grazziottin aka DJ Fede continues his studio partnership with house royalty, Robert Owens. Their second single together, Dancing On Mars, finds the legendary Chicago DJ / singer / producer lucid dreaming, out in the cosmos, communicating, getting down with the stars. Carried by congas, the track is a definite tribute to the classics of late `80s / early `90s. The warm rising swells, beneath the busy high-hats, referencing Robert`s landmark releases, such as I`ll Be Your Friend, and those of Mr. Owens` former close collaborator, Larry Heard, Mr. Fingers, and their co-productions as Fingers Inc. Cuts like Can You Feel It? and Distant Planet. Music that`ll induce introspection, an inner calm, while out on the floor.
There’s a trio of remixes, the standout of which comes care of Leo Mas & Fabrice, who tighten the trip by toughening up the drums a tad, and editing the vocal, while retaining all of the OG`s lost in a strobe-lit moment magic.
Emperor Machine & Bom Carrot – 춤춰 Chumchwo – Let’s Dance – Leng
Andy Meecham`s mighty Emperor Machine returns to Leng, bringing his very particular brand of modular machine dance-floor madness. This is a another dynamite dose of plugged-in cosmic disco. Chunky, chugging electronica, in a post-punk-funk groove. Bouncing and bumping along like Tom Tom Club’s Wordy Rappinghood. The chicken scratch guitar, in this case, capped, topped off by South Korean collaborator, Bom Carrot’s crazy vocals. Her ad-libbed exclamations coming on like the sonic equivalent of black belt karate chops. Syn drums pop, and the electro-boogie gear glides through harp-like glissandos, showers of sound effects, and the odd tonked timbale. Mixing up Italo and YMO – Sakamoto, Hosono – influences, while the busy breakdowns surely owe something to Tommy Boy and Afrika Bambaataa.
Freeez – Mariposa – Far Out Recordings
Far Out Recordings reissue Freeez`s Mariposa – a damn fine `80s brit-funk flashback, that now, for the first time, finds its way onto a 12. Originally the opening track on the band’s debut LP, the song has some sublime jazz chops on show, particularly from Peter Maas, on bass, and Andy Stennett on keys. The interplay between the two is irresistible, soaring, spirit-lifting, and inspires in me, personally, memories of my ice-skating days, in Streatham, and my first fumbling teenage attempts at impressing the fairer sex. The hugely talented, and driven John Rocca sings in his parents` Spanish, bringing an extra big shot of Mediterranean sunshine to a tune concieved, composed, in a basement below a barber’s shop in East London.
Gold Suite – On My Horizon – NuNorthern Soul
Joey Fitzgerald`s Gold Suite project doesn’t seem to know the meaning of the word “holiday”. I think we’re reviewing something new of his almost every week. Here he helps his old amigo, Phil Cooper, celebrate NuNorthern Soul`s 10th birthday with a fresh 4-track E.P. Slip On is a bright, bionic brass fanfared `80s pop pastiche, with a bit of a Billy Jean beat. Blue Lagoon is another mid-tempo mover. Kalimba`d and marimba`d its like Wally Badarou`s Keys taken dancing, and features some cool Spanish picking and a synthesized saxophone solo. The slower, The Cowboy, is the cut currently picking up all the attention – getting ready rotation in certain circles. Spinning its whirl of Wild West guitar, Caribbean steel pan sounds and skanking b-line – which could be a riff on The Revolutionaries classic El Bamba. However, it`s the title track that’s the one for me. A percussive latin-laced rocker, that pays homage to the `70s Chicano power of bands like Sapo, and Santana, and their more “disco” counterparts, such as Barrabas. The frantic acoustic strum and electric tremolo`d lead creating some cinematic Sergio Leone / Ennio Morricone drama, it deserves to be as big as Leonidas & Hobbes`, sorta similar, hit from a few years back, Web Of Intrigue.
David Holmes – No One Is Smarter Than History – Höga Nord Rekords
Super limited 7” from David Holmes, in collaboration with Gothenburg’s Höga Nord Rekords to commemorate Andrew Weatherall and to celebrate the forthcoming Convenanza Festival. So limited in fact that all online evidence of its existence seems to have disappeared.
On the A-side David does his kinda kosmische thing. Raising a distorted, but celestial, wall of sound, as if he were the offspring of Phil Specter and Conny Plank. The organ / synth soaring over tumbling tom toms and a melodic live bass line, that lend the track a very real Joy Division / early New Order feel. That’s backed by Clouds Of Resistance, an explosive, exuberant short, of crashing industrial drums and mad maniacal strumming that had me wondering if I still had my 1000 Homo DJs records.
Jilo – Into the Sunwinds – Dream Chimney
DJ / producer, Valentin Jilo, part of northwest France`s “Rennes des Voyous” collective, makes some largely mellow manoeuvres for San Francisco`s Dream Chimney. Employing trippy gates, and deft use of delay on 5 tracks, that range from First Times Valley`s cosmic disco to Sunbath Boogie`s shuddering and juddering 303 freak-out. The highlight, however, is Floating Sunset`s chugging calm. Bearing the same blue-skied vibe as the most optimistic of `90s IDM offerings – the eternal summer of stuff such as Ultramarine`s Stella – its bells, pianos and friendly fractals, will have you off slow dancing on a beach, a paradise, a desert island of the mind, somewhere secluded, idyllic.
Konk – Konk Party (Mr. K Edit) – Most Excellent
Danny Krivit delivers a Most Excellent edit of `80s NYC punk-funkers Konk`s second single, Konk Party. Mr. K, he, homes in on the horns, leaves the English / Spanish call-and-response intact, and extends every break with a whip-crack-like crash of cymbals.
Jennifer Loveless – Around The World – Butter Sessions
On Around The World, Jennifer Loveless serves up a sextet of pounding tribal grooves, and locked-tight latino rhythms, for Butter Sessions. In places these pieces might be revved-up and “rave-y” – just take a listen to Club Stomp`s gated gallop – but all the stamping and marching is off-set by euphoric synthetic strings – see the title cut – and trippy, “twinkling stars at twilight” detail. Even the particularly – predictably – rough, rude jack of Reverse Cowgirl 2 – with a kick as as relentless, say, as Armand Van Helden`s Donkey – harbours hidden, near subliminal harmonies that sigh like Donna Summer on / in ecstasy. In comparison, though, Fall In Love floats like feathers, or little fluffy clouds, against a perfect air-brushed blue sky. Its keys and chords flirting with `90s Italian house. Its racing patterns forming a kind faux flamenco. Spinning, spiraling, upward. Full of light, hope, and decidedly young at heart.
Magic Sound – I Like That – Edition Hawara
Magic Sound were a short-lived 1980s Austrian outfit. Their sole recordings, pressed to a scarce, sought-after 45, have now been licensed and revived by Vienna’s Edition Hawara. Both tunes are Euro-pop oddities, propelled, powered by clicking and ticking drum machines. I Like That rocks to a sort of reggae guitar riff, and some far out synth, while singing about “a cosmic energy coming over me.” Time sets a pace-ier, and piano-led Francis Lai-like romantic, cinematic theme to a robotic disco rhythm.
My Friend Dario – Marittimo – Hell Yeah
My Friend Dario trailers his debut album with the single, Marittimo, which comes complete with a cracking Eddie C remix. Both versions, to be honest, are doing it, and improve with each listen. The original is a fusion of tribally-tinged loops, jazzy Fender Rhodes-like chords, and some “niiiiice” growling live bass. A mid-tempo shuffling, maracas shaking, while circuits sing like tropical birds. The keys then get kinda classical, signaling a shift in its shimmying to “samba”. Mr. C bolsters the BPMs and edits the drums into a broken batucada. Something sorta soca. This clipped carnival rhythm riding a new reinforced house / rhumba b-line. Me? I could hear River Island`s Love & Happiness in its distance.
N.M is Nicola Mazzetti, the man behind Milan’s highly respected SERENDEEPITY record shop. The two tracks here have been snuck out on a limited hand-stamped 45, which you can currently only pick up from the store. I have to say a big “Grazie Mille” to my “amico mio” Leo Mas for my copy. On one side, Sentimental is 127 BPM post-punk, proto-house, proto-techno, EBM throb. Mixing military snares with modular melodies, muttered vocals, and what might be live bass. For the flip, Stoned is suitably slower. A 103 BPM freaky, funky frequency jam. Gentle, but as hallucinogenic as fuck. A veritable verdant jungle of echo and strange sound effects – such as pitched up and down vocals. Exotica made by machines, not Martin Denny. Louis and Bebe Barron`s Forbidden Planet bopping to Daniele Baldelli. Those that imbibe are thrown a lifeline back to reality in the shape of a catchy keyboard melody.
A sweet dubwise drop from Chris Coco, who remixes Orkidea’s Summer Dayz into a hallucinatory heat-haze of rimshots, reverb, brass, and a slowly rolling river of bass. Turning the Finnish producer`s song into something that fans of the fantastic Hollie Cook should definitely take a listen to.
Partenope – Serenusa / Vetara – Neapolis Records
Serenusa is a slice of shiny, shimmering, summery, neo Euro disco – peppered with Peech Boys-esque handclaps. Sort of like Rheinzand, `cept sung in Italian. Vetara is house-ier, more electronic. More Inner City’s Motor City mirror-balled Big Fun.
Placid Angles – The Lotus – AD93
John Beltran`s Placid Angles project is probably best known for the collaborative single with Mark Wilson`s Open House, the stone cold techno classic, Aquatic – which was released on Carl Craig`s hugely collectable Retroactive label, back in 1991. Since then John has recorded 3 albums using this alias (he of course has many others – CNS, Nostalgic, Sol Set, Sun Gypsy) The Lotus, however, is only the second single. In the press one-sheet he states that the E.P.`s sound is a deliberate, affectionate nod to that of the `90s. All 4 tracks feature 303 gurgles, and 3 of them are tied by ethereal sighs. Perfect Storm is slow sunset gear. A symphonic crashing of tides, that has a classical choir accompanied by Roland`s little silver box. Stormy Angel takes similar elements and fixes them to an energetic EBM-esque breakbeat. Imagine Future Sound Of London’s Papua New Guinea, softened slightly by orchestral pizzicato patterns. Moonlight Sunset is even faster – its drums chopped into fidgeting footwork shapes – while Setting Suns cools down the pace. Combining tumbling rhythms with emotive minor chords, and metallic but melodic ascending, fanfare-like arcs.
Maxine Scott x Alf.E – Ya Energy – Ramrock
Maxine Scott and Alf.E sync and synergise for a head-nodding heat-haze of broken boom bap on Ramrock. Ya Energy’s bass-heavy jeep beats mellowed by a measured jazz in the muted cool blue horns and Fender Rhodes chords. The music and vocals, a marvelous mix of Mos Def`s Universal Magnetic and Erykah Badu – with a little added, bonus, sound system slur / burr to the flow. North Street West work their studio magic on a trio of remixes. Polishing, brightening the brass, and giving the drums a sharper, sorta electro, edge. Spinning in space-y sound effects, and stripping back Maxine`s vocals, before dropping them in and out again on the dub.
Secret Soul Society – Oh Laura – Citizens Of Vice
Ban Ban Ton Ton “super reviewer” Cal Gibson brings his Secret Soul Society back to France`s Citizens Of Vice. For You And Me is a rolling, rumbling, collision of bumping boogie loops. Take A Chance On Love is sparser, tech-ier, centred on the echoes of its repeated, titular, vocal sample. Popsneon`s remix transforms the track into a big room banger. Fleshing it out, pumping its possibilities, with busy bubbling, acidic, electronics and playful flashes of piano. I have a strong feeling, though, that most folks` favourite will be Driftin`. Here Cal applies his signature bass-heavy beatdown to some brilliant blue-eyed soul / yacht rock. Beefing up the beats beneath the glistening guitar work, and dubbed-out washes. The results had me thinking of Seahawks` early outings.
Summer Vee – Key To All Your Love – Manuka Recordings
New Zealand`s Manuka Recordings take off with two sides of superior slapped bass boogie / jazz-funk, that could easily be the creation of (the aforementioned) Freeez`s grandchildren. The phenomenal production, and proper playing showcasing Summer Vee`s strong, strong vocals and songwriting. Both sides are a very cool colliding of yesterday`s brit-funk, and modern artists such as Lynda Dawn, and as such – if given the attention they deserve – should give fellow antipodeans, 30-70, and Brownswoods` super successful stable, of Str4ta and Secret Night Gang, some serious competition. Judas slots in right alongside Ruf Dug`s recent pairing with Private Joy, in terms of a tussle for the season`s top spot, while, amidst punchy brass blasts, skronking sax, and dubbed-out disco breakdowns, Key To All Your Love`s hypnotizing, unrequited hook rivals the Blak Beat Niks heartbroken house classic, Do You Want Me.
Mix to follow…