Sean “Hardway Bros” Johnston seems to have been extremely busy lately. During January, a momentary drop in live gigs, as folks recover from the festive season, meant that he was largely locked in his studio. As a result Sean recently sent me a brace of brilliant productions and remixes. While many are forthcoming attractions, with release dates pending, here are a few that are available now…
PBR STREETGANG / FRONT LEFT STACK / KURTZ
Stomping and stamping, sharply snapping snares setting its tempo, Sean’s re-imagining of PBR StreetGang’s Front Left Stack is billed as a Cosmic Interpolation. Built around a bold bass arpeggio, its a grunge-y electric grind, whose sleazy, slightly camp machine machismo is like Severed Heads remixed by Horse Meat Disco. Three, four, minutes in everything gets gated, as if caught in a strobe. Peppered with Orb-like found, stolen, spoken word samples, concerned with space travel, and climbing to a plaintive piano peak, its Italo-influenced dark energy will have Dionysian revelers and trance-dancers lost in dreams of desire.
JACK BUTTERS / SHAKE IT UP / TICI TACI
Sean meets Duncan “Monkton” Gray “Uptown” for a dynamite dubwise do-over of Jack Butters’ Shake It Up. Slowing the original’s electro shenanigans down to a shuffling skank, the pair add a wonderful Jah Wobble-like b-line – you can almost see the fingers working the fat strings – and shower the lot with soundclash sound-effects. Amid the rimshots and splashes of On-U-esque sound, a melodica pays further post-punk homage to Wobble, and Public Image Limited, by blowing the tune of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake.
HOLY YOUTH MOVEMENT / BETTER TOGETHER / DITTO MUSIC
On their Bandcamp page, Bristol 5-piece, Holy Youth Movement cite The Stooges, Underworld, and Primal Scream as influences. The combination of Jagz Kooner, on production, and Sean, on the remix, certainly goes a long way toward helping them emulate the latter – placing the band’s impassioned pop vocal over a forceful mid-tempo “drug” chug, and authentically recreating the hedonistic early `90s heyday of the indie-rock / dance crossover, post the second summer of love. With gospel gusto Better Together is Roger Beard spinning Kissing The Pink’s Stand Up at Spectrum, The Soup Dragon’s I’m Free, at The Yellow Book. The Scream, rejigged by Weatherall & Nicolson, of course. Complete with bubbling effervescence and coiled spring effects. A spirit-lifting raucous rave anthem of power, and unity.
Slo-mo tribal techno rabble-rousing rituals, full of trippy, deftly dancing treated guitar details, the Cosmic Intervention, and corresponding Dub, make like William Orbit doing the dirty with Madonna, a flashback to London’s X-rated Love Ranch. Boys and girls in motorcycle boots. Bare-chested psychedelic skinheads in leather waistcoats and strides.