Sorry for delay! Explanation involving friends, work, detachment from computer. Onto the post!
Today, we once again visit the wonderful country of Japan. In Osaka, Shigeki Tamura, aka Segeke, has been doing occasional productions and remixes for many years. He has just released a few singles on the Geometric Deck, the choicest of which is "Catfish Steam." The track is banging minimal number of great restraint and elegance, beginning with its watery, quiet beginnings that share some characteristics with Villalobos. The beat comes in quick enough, but soon becomes heavier, sodden with a whooshing, bassy oscillation. While the high-frequency tinklings and secondary percussive bits hover, a second, distorted bass note comes in, eventually building to a slight peak before descending and letting the track move forward. Soft, cooing synths glide up and down throughout the track, which keeps an even keel, sometimes adding snares and additional hi-hats along with synth squeals and sustains. Though the track is not an ecstatic, hand-waving monster, it is among the year's best minimal tracks, if only because it contains serious momentum using bare-bones samples and synths. Highly recommended, and particularly pleasing to the late-night DJ.
Segeke- Catfish Steam (Original Mix)
Next post, another drum'n'bass fix and some summer finery from Hieroglyphic Being.
The first track of the day comes at us from Sten, one of Peter Kersten's many aliases-- he is perhaps more well-known as Lawrence, one of the founders of Dial. Per usual, Kersten delivers a track of mid-tempo house on a deeper vibe. "Undercover," from Sten's newest EP, begins with a twinkly synth loop which is then hi-jacked by the track's low kicks, allowing it to sound more ethereal and out of synch. The the bass line is a three-note loop quite high in the mix, buoying back and forth. The melodic meat of "Undercover," though, comes when a fantastic, tropical synth line slowly makes itself known in the mix, building to pitch of slightly-delayed dubbiness. When soft, sustained synths begin to ride over the rest of the mix, it is impossible to not feel an ecstatic feeling of natural flow. Thus, while the Lawrence remix of the track is simply okay, the original is quite a number, reminiscent of older Ame and more evidence of a renaissance in deep house with minimal leanings.
Next, the first Deep Movements journey into drum'n'bass. While I was once quite biased against the genre-- after all, "you can't spell 'drum'n'bass' without 'dumb-ass'"-- a recent promo of Marcus Intalex's FabricLive 35 was sent to me, and it made me reconsider my position. Intalex's excellent mix aside, many of the artists of the mix are currently active on the drum'n'bass scene, and many of them list Detroit techno, and UR productions in particular, as major influences on their sound. This influence is readily-apparent and breath-taking, quite honestly. A lot of these artists' tracks have a great deal of dancefloor power and melodic resonance, and make it seem as if drum'n'bass didn't die in the late 1990's, as some cynical nay-sayers often spout.
On the newest full-length from British native Nu:Tone, Back of Beyond, Detroit simply oozes from many tracks. "Take Me Back," which features fellow drum'n'bass producers Commix, begins with a standard electro-funk beat low in the mix and a massive, repeated synth note. Along with claps, super-processed panpipe-like percussive bells, and retro synth sounds, the track builds and builds with an effervescent, speedy synth line that eventually makes up the melodic meat of the track. By the time it drops before the explosion of the beat into the fore, the track has the listener in its clutches, its complexity and sublime synth-lines creating a lush atmosphere unheard of in much of the mechanistic, glitchy sounds more associated with drum'n'bass. The meat of the track continues along this line, utilizing all of the tools of Detroit techno and electro-funk in a more d'n'b vein. It some ways, "Take Me Back" recalls Orlando Voorn's more fast-and-hard moments, with beats that will please any fan of electronic dance music, rippling bass, and synths that are especially loved by followers of the Detroit electronic movement.
Though I still have much more to investigate and learn about d'n'b, Nu:Tone, Intalex and Calibre are certainly making it easy to want to do so, so check out their stuff!
Nu:Tone- Take Me Back feat. Commix
With records on Traum as well as relative newcomers Balkon, Nebojsa Popovic (aka Popnebo) has been doing quite well for himself. His newest track, "Florida Bianca," appears on Balkon's We Are Not Detroit, We Are Destroyed Volume One comp, and is a fine slice of bouncy minimal house. Slightly reminiscent of older, tamer Villalobos, the track utilizes a muted piano synth, many finely delayed clicks and percussive bits, and an eventual harsh, stabbing synth to create a moody piece of house more suitable to dancing in one's chair than on a club floor. Airy bits of looser piano synths make appearances between bars, and an occasional strange, distorted vocal bit round out this understated bit of minimal finery.
Popnebo- Florida Bianca
Next post, look forward to a new track from Sten and our first foray into the world of drum'n'bass with a great Detroit-infused track by Nu:Tone.
At this point, it almost goes without saying that Quiet Village Project are among the premier remixers of the moment. They can take almost any track and make it into a monstrously deep, spacy trip into the outer reaches. It is not surprising, then, that their remix of "Spielplatz," by Mudd, is a sultry, cosmic extension of the original. Most of the original track's elements are brought in slowly, sometimes altered and sometimes not, until they all build into an ecstatic pitch that simply oozes sex. I Love Music regular 'Vahid' has said that the Quiet Village remixes CD proves that trip-hop is cool again, and while I wouldn't necessarily say that the "Spielplatz" remix is a stellar proof of his point, there is something about it that reminds me of some of Tricky's more downtempo tracks. Twice as long as the original, and guaranteed to make your night!
Mudd- Spielplatz (Quiet Village Deep Space Remix)
Next up is a track on a totally different tip. The intensely attractive Quentin Harris has quickly become one of the world's foremost urban and deep house DJs, what with collaborations with Ron Trent, remixes by Julien Jabre, and a steady DJing schedule that takes him from New York to London to Ibiza to Melbourne. The newly resurgent Strictly Rhythm label has just released a new record by Mr. Harris that is bound to be played all over in the coming months. "You Don't Know" has everything an amazing house track should have: fantastically plaintive vocals about love and loss, a deep and banging beat, killer hooks, string synths, and acid stabs here and there. In some ways, it might be my favorite house track of the year thus far, particularly in terms of its emotional impact and ability to be spun in a plethora of different DJing situations. There's a reason why Jabre's remix of Harris' "Let's Be Young" is one of the most played songs on my iTunes, and I have little doubt that "You Don't Know" will soon join its ranks.
Quentin Harris- You Don't Know (Big Room Mix)
All right, I know that I promised you a Popnebo track last post, but that minimal fun will have to wait until next post, which should be up tomorrow or Sunday. Check back often!
Hello there, thought I'd disappeared for a bit, did you? Needless to say, I've been tired and dealing with a bunch of stupidly complicated interpersonal issues, so it hasn't been the best of weeks. And this despite the fact that my print journalism debut finally "hit" mailboxes and record stores in the form of Big Shot Magazine's newest issue. Find my articles on United Visual Artists and UNKLE wherever fine publications are sold. (Psst: I know that Big Shot is sold at Kim's and Halcyon, if you happen to be in New York City). (Also worth mentioning that I am working on a BIG feature on Underground Resistance for a future issue of the magazine-- more updates on that soon).
Well, one more day without new tunes won't kill you, so be prepared for some great stuff coming tomorrow from Popnebo, Quiet Village Project, and a special surprise!
Dusty Kid (a member of Duoteque) has been raising quite a storm recently, what with his monstrous "Tsunamy," his tracks' Bodzin-like bass throb, and a penchant for whooshing, high-frequency washes and melodic stabs. One of his more recent singles from the Anatome EP Volume 1, "Psika," is more evidence that the Kid knows how to create banging techno with class.
"Psika" begins with a percussion and didgeridoo-like loop that does a stellar job of introducing the pulsating bass that crawls throughout the track. The dominant melodic synth line is a sinister collection of four close notes, and the eventual secondary line-- like plucked violin strings-- creates even more of a claustrophobic atmosphere. Then, the original line is opened up and liberated by high-frequency stabs, only to be stripped away to make room for a single-note ride accompanied by a return of the secondary melodic line. The valleys are tensely bare and the peaks explosively lush in near-perfect juxtaposition. The Kid's various melodic lines are eerie and highly effective for a night's peak hours, when the room is full and the crowd more willing to give themselves over to beatless moments of wild (and foreboding) melody.
Dusty Kid- Psika (Original Mix)
Though I promised to include a Jacek Sienkiewicz track in this post, I decided to opt for a track by another Pole, Lukasz Seliga, who goes by the name SLG. With records on Trapez and a wide following in his home country and Germany, Seliga is among the Polish DJs making serious headway into the rest of Europe's burgeoning techno scene.
From the city of Lodz (pronounced 'woodge'), most famous for its film school, Seliga brings us a track called "Lodz Fabryczna," a funky tech-house number that gives insight into SLG's style. First off, the bass line drives the track, providing the electro-house beat with a degree of glide and wetness that would otherwise be missing. Distorted secondary bass moves in eight-notes on the third and fourth counts, and high-frequency surges couple with more stabbing synths to create some heady and wonderfully busy moments. Additionally, synth washes and secondary percussive elements add a bit of spice to the somewhat stringent beat.
Many of SLG's tracks work in similar ways-- working with syncopation and exceedingly funky bass-lines, he builds tracks that are busy without being noisy, minimal without being 'spare' in his choices, and so on.
So go on, enjoy "Lodz Fabryczna," from the Sopot EP on Channels Records.
SLG- Lodz Fabryczna
Next post: who knows? Something good.
Though there is something to be said for Dubfire's lush electo sound, I have never been that keen on what I've heard from him. By chance, though, I decided to give the remix of Dubfire below a listen the other day, and it had a certain Harthouse sound that I can get into.
Upon further listening, DJs Maurizio and Danyelino really strip Dubfire's original down to its most slamming and interesting bits. "Roadkill," in other words, is brought into close-up: a jumpy, clean synth-line is made into a killer two-note phrase, sometimes delayed and sometimes oscillated to bits; the percussive cymbal loop of the original is mixed higher and a more conscious element in the remix; and finally, the original's overwrought peaks and somewhat alarming prairies are done away with for more heady valleys and siren-whistled peaks. Quite a transformation, and these two Italian transplants better get ready to start playing out a lot more, though if you happen to be in Miami, you can always go see them spin at Blue on Sundays.
Dubfire- Roadkill (Maurizio & Danyelino Remix)
Next post: a track by recent favorites Dusty Kid along with a track from a bit earlier in '07 by Jacek Sienkiewicz.
A lot of techno and house folks dismiss Stephan Bodzin's productions as being the height of plebeian house. Ronan Fitzgerald, for example, has said that he doesn't think he could take a whole album of Bodzin on an I Love Music forum about the new album, Liebe Ist. Admittedly, Bodzin's sound can be a bit heavy-handed and he is a slut for collaborations, but despite these issues, I think that Bodzin's output is overwhelmingly stellar.
His new album aside, Bodzin has been keeping busy in 2007. One of his newest releases continues his relationship with Marc Romboy, a match-up that created last year's sentimental sleeper hit, "Phobos." This newest collaboration is along the same lines-- there is an obvious love of melody and simple, pleasing harmonies in the tracks. However, the pair's newer work shows more of Bodzin's influence in certain areas: the harmonic bass-line is higher in the mix than in previous efforts, and the excellent panning is more in line with Bodzin's recent solo releases than past works with Romboy. Worth mentioning that the mixing is also much less dry than on "Phobos," for one.
What remains especially similar to the two's past efforts, though, is that there is an overwhelming tone of sadness to these tracks. They tug at the emotions in the same way that a track like "Dexter" does: by repeating phrases and utilizing major/minor shifts in chord progressions to create an atmosphere that caresses in a most melancholy manner. The track below, then, is a good night-ender-- it allows for some swaying, some hands in the air, some lolling of the head with one's eyes closed. It feels regal and holy, yet in a completely different fashion than other recent tracks like "Feuervogel," which is almost too clean to be earnest. "Callisto" sounds earnest.
Stephan Bodzin & Marc Romboy- Callisto (Original Mix)
Tomorrow: look forward to a fine new minimal electro remix by Miami DJs Maurizio and Danyelino.
So, as promised, here are two versions of the famous track by Cajmere, "Percolator." Also known as Green Velvet, the insanity and prolific output of Curtis Jones is well-documented elsewhere. It is certainly worth checking out the recent Cajmere vs. Green Velvet Mix CD on Ministry of Sound, if you get a chance-- it gives a pretty good introduction to Jones' aesthetic. All right, enough talk, get percolatin'.
Cajmere- Percolator (Keep Movin' Mix)
Cajmere- Percolator (Green Velvet Mix)
I first heard the "Percolator" while watching clips of Detroit's still talked-about "New Dance Show" on YouTube. Spawning from the 1980's show "The Scene," it showcased techno and house music dancing at its early stages in its home city.
You wish you could dance like this.
The first clip showcases party people on the catwalk doing their interpretations of "Percolator," and the second is just...well, one of the best clips on YouTube in its evocation of the club dancing experience. That and DJ Jesse the Body's mixing is fucking sick.
Next post will dish out a classy new Stephan Bodzin/Marc Romboy collaboration, a remix of Dubfire by Maurizio, and another new techno goodie. Check back!
Brendon Moeller has been reading from the Book of Basic Channel. He has mainly been focusing on the slow insertion of deep, dubby chords into minimal tech beats, and washes of hazy, spaced-out synth pans. Though he personally takes a more wet and funky-- nay, liberal-- approach than Basic Channel do, he is in agreement with the rhythmic intensity, bouncing bass and low rumblings of the Fathers. However, where Basic Channel sometimes seem to be transmitting hermetically from a deep well, Moeller is coming from a galaxy beyond our vision, satellites beaming his explorations of the other unknown to earth in crystalline sound; in using such a system, massive delay is a pleasant side-effect.
Moeller's most important treatise is here again, thanks to Third Ear Recordings. It is possibly one of the most astounding EPs of recent memory. Please do believe, not because I say so, but because "Saviour" tells you that you must.
Brendon Moeller- Saviour (Original Mix)
Two versions of "Percolator" and some ghetto-tech fun next post.