Music | Bittles’ Magazine: The music column from the end of the world
Just in time for the sanitised hedonism of Ibiza, May and June have brought a slew of turgid house ‚bangers‘ that are so tired and uninspiring they make the decision to insert red hot pokers into both your ears seem like an extremely good idea. Yet, trust me when I tell you that there is some wonderful music out there. To prove the point this follow-up to last weeks article highlights some more amazing singles and EPs, from the likes of Robag Wruhme, Gardens Of God. Felix Da‘ Housecat, Len Faki, Paul Woolford, Mark E, Seth Schwarz, and Kamera.By JOHN BITTLES
So, just remember boys and girls that just because it is warm and sunny outside, the beer costs over ten pounds a pint, and everyone’s IQ has just decreased by about twenty points, there is never an excuse for listening to crap tunes.
After a three year break Robag Wruhme arrives on DJ Koze’s always on point Pampa Records with the lush electronic atmospherics of the Cybekks EP. Recalling the emotional house of his Thora Vukk LP from 2011, the title-track is a mid-paced chugger with a deep, metallic bass and a beautifully stirring synth, which seems to come and go as it pleases. This is a truly wonderful track which perfectly illustrates just how life-affirming dance music can be. On the flip meanwhile Volta Cobby builds slowly from humble beginnings to become an epic trancer which will break more than its fair share of hearts. The EP is completed by Anton and Anton II, a pair of short ambient tracks which seduce the listener by pushing passion and melody right to the fore. If you are getting tired of the boring functionality of the majority of dance music around today, just pop this on your record player to discover one of the EPs of the summer. 10/10.
Fans of gorgeous melodies and/or Innervisions-style house should waste no time in checking out the Zulu EP by Lithuanian producer Gardens Of God. Out now on Ten Wall’s Boso label, it would be a shame if the controversy caused by the label-head affected sales of this wonderful record of slow-burning house. Seemingly designed for making hearts swell, the title-track is an eight minute long masterpiece which is the best advert for the joys of delayed gratification you may ever hear. On the b-side, Juno I has twinkling keys, a driving groove and a cool synth throb to create a dance floor focused cut. Juno II closes the release with a lavish, tranquil and beatless air. Lush atmospherics and a melancholy piano join forces to create the soundtrack to that moment when the love of your life walks away. Simply sublime! 9/10.
Released to herald the long-awaited arrival of a new Felix Da‘ Housecat album under his Aphrohead guise, Let’s Prance is a cheekily titled slab of urban funk. While it does sound slightly dated in 2015, his style of production will always work on any undemanding dance floor. Luckily the remixes do a thorough job of bringing the original bang up to date. The best of these is supplied by Art Department & Blud, who clean things up a little before introducing a rousing hands in the air synth riff four minutes in. Of the other mixes, Christopher Trücher morphs the track into a subtle dub house groove, while Radioslave & Thomas Gandey turn in a deeply hypnotic tech-houser that will find favour with those who like to get lost in the dark. While far from essential, this still makes an appetising taster for the upcoming LP. 6/10.
Those who prefer their dance music of a tougher persuasion will find much to delight in the techno thump of Split 03, the third in a series of split 12inches by Classicworks label-heads Cardopusher and Nehuen. Druggy, pounding and surreal, these four tracks (two apiece) are the aural equivalent of getting lost in Berghain at four in the morning after someone slipped you a very dodgy E. Transfiguration by Cardopusher starts us off in mesmerising fashion, while Nehuen unleashes the 303s in the disorientating head-fuck of Learning Hologram. Negative Fanclub sees Cardopusher retain the acid squeals to create a furious dance floor rush, leaving it to Nehuen to finish things off with the sleazy shop doorway fumble of The Game Has To Play Out. Proof, if ever it were needed, that just because your mum won’t like it doesn’t mean it’s no good. 8/10.
After causing a bit of a stir with a remix of Sub Conscious by Erol Alkan, this May saw Kamera release debut EP Arc on Mr. Alkan’s own Phantasy Sound imprint. The record finds Kamera (an alias used by an as yet unknown established artist, apparently) taking the techno/house blueprint, and ripping it up to create a sound that is perfectly at home in the company of label-mates Daniel Avery, Ghost Culture and the like. Prince Valium is a club-slaying beast of a tune, clanking with force and hissing menacingly in your ears. Next up, Cold Land sees 90s IDM textures given a pumping techno dynamic, while, on the flip, SR is a deep, dark drone-like throb, and Arcsecond is a moody slice of urban electronica which recalls Sabres Of Paradise at their very best. From the very first listen you can tell a lot of attention and skill went into the creation of these tunes making them more than worthy of our support. 8/10.
Formed of three collaborations, The Blue Phoenix EP sees rising star Seth Schwarz work with a trio of like-minded affiliates to create an immersive, deeply melodic slice of vinyl. The highlight is Metempsychosis which sees Seth join forces with 3000Grad label-heads Mollono.Bass to create a trance-tinged track of epic beauty. Sounding like it would sit snugly within a Sasha & John Digweed set from their Northern Exposure days, this is jaw-droppingly good. Funeral Pyre created with Dole & Kom serves as a good contrast to the lead, upping the pace and utilizing a tougher, almost techno feel. The EP closes with a limp through the slightly forgettable downbeat blues of Blue Heliopolis. Yet, Metempsychosis more than compensates as it will remain on my stereo for a very long time. 9/10.
Originally released way back in 2010, Creature by former Hercules & Love Affair member Kim Ann Foxman, heralded the very first steps towards a creditable solo career. The track is re-released this June accompanied by a string of remixes by the likes of Richy Ahmed, A/Jus/Ted and Nick Simoncino. The pick of the bunch by far is the A/Jus/Ted dub version which twists the song into dance floor gold. The rest of the package is also worth discovering though, with Kim Ann Foxman’s own mix full of Arthur Russell-style disco flourishes, Nick Simoncino plucking Detroit strings in his Techno Paradise mix, while Hot Creation’s producer Richy Ahmed adds a deep, echoing bass to useful effect. Yet, it is the A/Jus/Ted that all right-minded individuals will be coming back to again and again 7/10.
Next up we have the excellent Gate Masters EP by Mexican DJ and producer Lokier, or Yoan Rodrigues to her mum. Lead track Blind Flow has a steady yet funky groove which suddenly erupts into life around the three minute mark with the introduction of, what sounds to me like, a swarm of angry bees. The title-track meanwhile, builds from the off until it reaches a point of pure ecstasy, which leaves it to Hel’s Reaction to close the EP with a swirling bit of techno for the clubs. The undisputed highlight of the EP though is South London Ordinance’s mighty remix of the title-track, which is so good it has been known to bring unsuspecting ravers to orgasm on the dance floor. Only available on the vinyl release, the deep groove of SLO’s mix is well worth hassling your local record store for. 8/10.
Finally, if you like your house music gloriously hypnotic and deep then you’re going to love the charming Swimming With Birds by Matthus Raman. Out now on Kollektiv Turmstrasse’s always excellent Musik Gewinnt Freunde label, the record has more melody and groove than a weekend at Watergate. Recalling the epic splendour of the likes of Caribou, Petar Dundov or Gidge, the title track is a warm, moderately paced slice of emotional electronica that will live long in your head and heart. On the b-side Ambria slows things down to heart-warming effect, while Jake Chambers takes the lead track into ever deeper waters to complete the package in splendid style. 9/10.
A special mention must also go to: Vertere by Mind Against & Somne – With 2015 looking like it’s gonna be a splendid year for the Life & Death imprint this nine minute melodic houser is a great example of just how good the label can be, 9/10, Be So Cruel EP by Velvit – Darren While of dBridge fame leaves the drum & bass world behind with a richly varied three-track EP of dark tech house, 8/10, You Can Shine by Andy Butler – Containing four mixes of the original’s jackin‘ house style this sees the Hercules & Love Affair front-man stride confidently into the discothèque, 6/10, The Owner by NTEIBINT feat Stella – The classic house keys and the silky smooth vocal of the Anoraak remix are more than worth the price of admission alone, 7/10, Blaze EP by Pacifica – Out now on Drumpoet Community, Blaze offers three tracks of rich slo-mo house, 8/10, and Hooly (Len Faki Remixes) by DNGLS – Of the three mixes on offer it is the beatless version which really hits the spot. Resembling Laurent Garnier in ambient mode this is a gorgeous piece of Balearic gold, 8/10.
And let’s not forget: Going Down by Ben Sims Presents Ron Bacardi – The techno don puts on his disco garb for four tracks of calypso flourishes and tough beats to launch the new KRLVK imprint, 6/10, Straight Out Of Reno EP by Rejecks – Head straight for the original mix of Strung Out In Reno, a deep, string-laden slice of electrronica, 8/10, Kinematic Optics by Polar Inertia – A double EP containing almost 80 minutes of rich, expansive techno with the vintage Harthouse-sounding Vertica Ice and the icy ambiance of Can We See Well Enough To Move On? being the stand-outs for me, 7/10, Desert by Mark & Morpheus – This strange and disorientating piece of post punk is like nothing else you will hear this month. A good thing of course! 7/10, Who Do You Believe In? by E-Work – Mark E makes a welcome return after his E-Versions series with the gorgeous opening gambit of his disco-inflected E-Work sequence, 9/10, and Orbit/MDMA by Paul Woolford – Out at the end of the month on Hotflush, ignore the k-hole thump of Orbit and head straight for the euphoric rave rush of b-side MDMA, 7/10.