Archive for November, 2009
Monday, November 30th, 2009 | Single Review | No Comments
Subb-An and Shelton are the residents of Below – Birmingham’s only decent answer to house and techno. They’ve taken the typical UK dance music route – learn to DJ, start a night, make a few records, start a label. Subb-An has already put a few tracks out on Leftroom and Immigrant so its time for the duo to start a label. One Records is the new venture and its first release is by the duo themselves.
The inspiringly named title track ‘The Musik’ is roaring tech house with acid spat in its face. Industrial clinks and a round kick driven bassline open the track before short bursts of acid squelches wriggle in between the beats. Standard issue string sighs and a “Musik” vocal sample punctuate the track to add some contrast between heavy and light. It’s punchy with an infectious groove and will definitely play on the basic emotions of any techno dancefloor in the UK.
For the name of the B-side, it’s clear to see Subb-Ann and Shelton have clearly spent some time talking about the “concept” of the label to give their tracks these edgey clean cut names – ‘The Musik’ and now ‘The Vision’. Anyway, names don’t win prizes, it’s the music. ‘The Vision’ doesn’t really win any though. Deep basslines, clinkering percussion and spooky synth snippets create a warm and hypnotic house track which is well rehearsed for 2009. It’s produced well but it can so easily blend into the background with all the other deep house tracks of 2009. Not what you need if you want your label to make a splash on its opening.
Thursday, November 26th, 2009 | Event Preview | No Comments
It’s the end of the month… That can mean only one thing – pay day! And don’t the clubs know it. The arse end of the month is so stuffed with nights that it’s actually touching cloth wanting to overspill into December. Consider this the official start to the run down to Christmas and New Years Eve/Day. › Continue reading
Wednesday, November 25th, 2009 | Single Review | No Comments
I do enjoy a Simon Baker release. Plastik released on Playhouse was everywhere in 2008 whilst X Y and Z was a fantastic follow up on Leftroom. Other than a release for 20:20 Vision in July we haven’t heard much from Simon Baker, until now. His latest release on MurMur is probably just to keep the “look at all the great labels I’ve released on” list ticking over. Fair enough. MurMur is a good label and Simon’s Moonblock is a great release.
Title track Moonblock is a pumped up houser with an incredibly contagious wiggling bassline. It doesn’t really let up for breath, it just grooves away blissfully unaware only occasionally breaking down with a splash of bossa nova. It’s catchy and very danceable, very much like Mamaia Highway the track on the other side. It’s got another great wiggling bassline that sounds like a computer crunching numbers on an old sci fi show; there are the staple bossa nova/carnival samples which bring a party vibe; and like Moonblock it just doesn’t let up. It’s these tracks which are becoming a staple on the London scene – continual rolling house come techno tracks which swish and release in such a way that they’re perfect for the club and a crowd up for some straight up dancing.
Wednesday, November 25th, 2009 | Single Review | No Comments
I’d say it’s a ballsy move to call a house or techno track Bells as there’s been some guy called Jeff from Detroit who’s been hammering his own version for the past 10+ years. But that doesn’t deter Semtek who’s put out the first release for Don’t Be Afraid – he’s obviously trying to carve out his own Bells niche. But names are names and that shouldn’t sway the music. So what does ‘Bells’ have to offer, well the main track named after the EP title is dark, moody and hypnotic. Its throbbing bassline gives the track some stripped back attitude whilst the 8-bit percussion adds an understated groove. Layered on top are hypnotic wobbling keys punctuated by some strange spoken words about Liverpool bells and a sporadic electronic motif. Quirky and a bit different to what’s currently doing the rounds – Semtek is definitely carving out a new Bells niche.
Mr G fills in the minimal gaps with a punchy remix of ‘Bells’. Bigger beats are incorporated with clattering percussion and a beefier bassline to turn it into a peak time stomper. However the less is more approach on the original seems to produce a more unique track compared to the very typical but very practical Mr G techno work out.
On the flip is more original Semtek. ‘Keys’ falls in a similar vein. Twinkling synths, 8-bit percussion and warm enveloping pads create a computerised wobbler. Whilst on the second part to the flipside is ‘Village’, an electro breakbeat robot coming straight out of 1984. More low tech sounds, sparse production and mechanical rhythms operate in an assembly line style. Both are put together well but aren’t as distinguished as ‘Bells’.
Tuesday, November 24th, 2009 | Single Review | No Comments
Ricardo Jefferson – bastardised love child of Villalobos and Marshal Jefferson? – Probably not. But his latest EP does have an old school sound circa Marshall Jefferson’s time. ‘God of the Machine’ plods along in the wilderness with insect sounding shivers and spaced out synths. It has a disparate feel but it doesn’t really hit home with its point. The retro sound doesn’t really help its cause and the same can go for the rest of the EP. ‘The Egg Part One’ has classic 909 cymbals and squelchy acid riffs whilst ‘Persons Unknown’ uses drifting layers of melody and juddering sweeps. Both are a bit more interesting yet they still don’t give you any lasting memories.
The only track that stands up to be taken notice of is the title track ‘Brutal Truth’. A heartbeat break backs some epic echoing Orbital style keys. It’s simple yet so effective with the way it cycles through different patterns using the two main elements – drop the synths out, breakdown to the beats; thunder that wall of synth back in – instant winner.
Sunday, November 22nd, 2009 | Album Review | 1 Comment
Oh Magda, my how far you’ve come. Since your days as Richie Hawtin’s personal tea lady to now a heavy weight DJ with your own Fabric CD. A proper rags to riches story. On her path to stardom, Magda had put out She’s a Dancing Machine her first CD compilation way back in 2006 when clicky minimal techno was still fashionable. She earned some deserved applaud with her multi layered and intricately architected mix. It was mechanical, it was robotic, it was computerised, yet it clicked and jacked along dripping in synthetic funk. Magda had set her own bar high, the question is could she surpass it on Fabric 49?
The answer – no, at best on par. The mix follows the same recipe of synthetic funk, robotic rhythms and mechanical beats. The only difference is for Fabric 49 she stays caught on the same jittery electronic theme rather than providing contrast and texture exploring the techno genre. On Dancing Machine she moved from abstract sounds, to funky rhythms, to dark pummelling techno with ease. But on Fabric 49 she stays firmly locked on the same groove throughout. › Continue reading
Friday, November 20th, 2009 | Event Preview | No Comments
Over the last few weekends I’ve done nothing but dance around in warehouses. I’m starting to think real nightclubs don’t exist anymore. I can’t even remember the last time I queued up for the toilet not to be greeted by the striking chemical aromas of the portaloo bowl. Despite my moans I’ve actually had great fun.
Last weekend a small warehouse tucked in between some housing blocks just behind Kingsland Road Station hosted DDD’s MJ themed 7th Birthday. It was an inconspicuous location with the warehouse nestled in a very quiet residential area. Walking round the corner from the station it seems like a walk home rather than a walk to the party, but looks can deceiving. It still doesn’t seem normal as I pass the two solitary bouncers out the front, then the guest list girl with gay porn playing cards for accessories. But after going through the curtained entrance into the main room it all falls into place. A small warehouse space is bustling with a comfortable crowd lapping up the techy dish being served up by DDD resident Simon Baker. Simon has always been a quality resident for DDD and his main room set comes up trumps. He’s cranking out some big beats which keeps a fair sized dedicated crowd down the front. Walking through to the back room you pass all manner of MJs from yesteryear. Michael Jackson circa 1979 Off The Wall was a particular favourite as full tuxedos with too short trousers were dug out. There were a couple of MJs from the Thriller era and even one from the more up to date Bo Selecta guise. Quite a surreal backdrop whilst Daniele Moore is dropping classic disco and house cuts. Daniele showed some good music knowledge with her tune selection, but lacked a little finesse in mixing. However disco is a hard genre to mix and more often than not the stop/start is king, or queen in her case. › Continue reading
Tuesday, November 17th, 2009 | Album Review | No Comments
I’m a big fan of Dixon, his ability as a DJ and producer is often unsurpassed and his taste in house music and beyond is often faultless. Dixon’s last outing on a compilation mix was with his Innervisions buddies Henrik Schwarz and Ame. The resulting CD was a masterpiece which knitted together an intricate composition of varied sounds that had a common minimal style to them. The complexity of sounds and the fluidity of the mix made it such an interesting and pleasurable listening experience, which dare I say made it a timeless CD. It’s that winning combination which Dixon has tried to emulate on his solo effort for Temporary Secretary.
The track selection on Temporary Secretary definitely reflects a similar approach that features on The Grandfather Paradox. He’s used tracks which revolve around a house come 4/4 base yet they all have their own diversely individual sounds. Dixon craftily blends each track with such flow and smoothness that the whole mix simply glides.
There’s no rushing this CD with things starting in carefully measured amounts. Fever Ray’s If I Had A Heart sets a deep warm tone with its multi layers of vocals and melodies. From there he melds into the spooky whistles of Roland Bocquet’s Exotique before slowly layering in the vibrating motif from Ame’s Tube Beats. It creates a fine build of tension before brilliantly releasing into a medley of Jazzanova’s Let Me Show Ya and Daniel Paul’s Something About You. Quite a mouthful to describe and that was just for three of the four opening tracks. › Continue reading
Friday, November 13th, 2009 | Event Preview, Event Reviews | No Comments
Gale force winds, torrential rain but despite the forces of nature there is still plenty of things on for the folk of London town. We’ve got parties hundreds of feet high, we’ve got new warehouses, we’ve got lofts and we’ve got our old favourites. But before we get into that let me reminisce about last weekend.
Disco Bloodbath continued their sound system travels around north east London locations last weekend. Previous Bloodbaths that I have been to always tended to be held in various ironic Dalston clubs which were always great fun. But with its astronomic rise to popularity over the last few years it was just getting harder and harder to pack everyone in to those sweaty basements. On Saturday they set up shop at a warehouse on Bocking Street and I have to say it was a great location. The space was just perfect for the size of crowd. Furthermore it was in an actual warehouse with real warehouse pillars and high ceilings rather than a mock warehouse which is actually a car park under some railway arches. › Continue reading
Tuesday, November 10th, 2009 | Album Review | No Comments
When someone says ‘Cassy’ you can’t help but think of productions which combine deep, restrained grooves with slow burning minimal movement. And whilst her outing on the first Panoramabar mix showcased a minimal palette with some panache, I have, infact, seen her bang out a pretty full on techno set in the UK, so wondered which way she would take this, her next mix…
Well, this effort for Cocoon completely reflects her production tendencies utilising deep grooves, controlled progression and all done with the urgency of a tortoise, with only one slight difference – a healthy presence of the more soulful side of house which is currently in vogue.
That is no bad thing, however. Quite often, the stripped back sound can get so reduced that the overall progression and atmosphere of a mix can quite easily drain out the bottom like a leaky bucket. › Continue reading
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