Music | Bittles’ Magazine: The music column from the end of the world
Even though I gave up clubbing a few years ago, I am constantly amazed at how quality dance music can still move me as much as it does. A good bassline, a swirl of 303s or a fathoms-deep groove is all I need to be taken back to the joys of a darkened floor. By JOHN BITTLES
In fact, there are so many top new tunes this month that I’m half-tempted to bring out the dancing shoes and rediscover the joys of letting the DJ assume control. And if, on that night out, I were to hear tracks like Silence by Jaures, You Never Show Me Your Love by Jessy Lanza, 6613 by DJ Rashad, Riding The Void by Atom tm, the Roman Flügel remix of Insides by Fort Romeau, or any other of the singles reviewed below I would be a happy dancer indeed.
First up, and out now on the ever on-point Hyperdub, is You Never Show Your Love by Guardian-approved experimental torch singer Jessy Lanza. It shows a lot about Jessy’s inquisitive nature that she would follow-up her critically acclaimed debut LP Pull My Hair Back by teaming-up with the Teklife crew for a footwork indebted slice of futuristic RnB. Slow and sultry, the original version is like a girl you have always secretly adored whispering sweet nothings in your ear. This is pop music as it should be: strange, confessional and surprising. The Teklife remix adds stunning percussion to create a hyperactive edge, while Bambounou turns Fuck Diamond from Jessy’s debut album into a tough, percussive joint. As good as these refits are it will be the original and the beguiling instrumental mix that you will find yourself returning to time and time again. 8/10.
Last year’s Sketches From An Island by Mark Barrott was a sunshine-inspired Balearic gem of an LP. Strange, tranquil and not afraid of going off on a tangent every now and again, it managed to capture the essence of summer better than any piece of plastic really should. This month sees the Ibiza resident and International Feel mainstay follow up the gorgeously deep Bush Society 12inch with the eagerly anticipated Sketches From An Island 3. From Right 4 Me’s laid-back kick and whistle-strewn hook to the evocative ambiance of Der Stern, der nie vergeht, the EP begs the listener to close their eyes and imagine themselves on some distant sunny shore. Neither afraid of sounding cheesy, nor of sounding out and out weird this is the type of relaxed music that could give chill-out a good name. 8/10.
Wa Wu We is the kookily named vinyl-only label and alias of one Sebastian Mullaert of Minilogue fame. If you recognise the name then you already know why you need to have 002 in your life. For the uninitiated, the main thing you need to know is that Sebastian Mullaert has been responsible for some of the deepest, most expansive electronic sounds to enter any ear. Whether creating ambient, techno, or something in-between, each and every release is usually well worthy of your time. No exception is his latest EP 002, which contains three long, meandering tracks of glacial atmospherics, echoing bass and acid pulses that flick in and out of your mind before you even realise they are there. Worth buying for the sublime opening track A1 alone which constantly builds over its 16 minute running time until the idea of living your life without it fills you will nothing but dread. 10/10.
Speaking of electronic mavericks, Uwe Schmidt has been releasing quality music since way back in the mid-80s when most of us didn’t even know what a sampler was. This month sees him utilize his Atom tm alias to release new single Riding The Void. Gorgeously deep and retro-sounding, the point where the drums arrive four minutes in sends shivers up and down my spine each and every time. For his Pulse Mix Scuba toughens up the beats and adds a menacing synth to some spiralling acid lines to create a Berghain-style techno bomb. Of the other remixes, the Nought refit is a fab piece of trip hop inspired house which will rock any warm-up set, while the Tool version strips things down to its very basics for a slice of minimal to give any Minus fan the horn. If you like your techno deep and with a killer groove then Riding The Void may just make your day. 9/10.
What a year for Kompakt it has been so far! Killer releases by Kölsch, Terranova, Dave DK and The Orb have seen the Cologne imprint in tip-top form. And now, as a taster from their forthcoming LP, Endless Games, the duo known as Blond:ish unleash a sexy and mysterious synth-pop masterpiece upon the world. Soaring vocals, luscious drops and beguiling atmospherics combine to create a devastating slice of driving house. This is the type of tune they play in clubs most of us aren’t cool enough to get into. On the flip, Patrice Bäumel offers a pair of remixes with his skitterish Dub Mix being the pick of the two. 8/10. Also out this month on Kompakt is the strangely named Nai Nai by Tel Aviv based DJ/Producer Partok Matushka Apfelberg with the progressive trance of b-side Station being the star of the show. 7/10.
Insides by Fort Romeau is already standing proud as one of my albums of the year. Its disco-house inspired beats highlight the best that electronic music has to offer over eight luxurious tracks. This July sees four songs from said LP receive the remix treatment by a variety of artists associated with Frankfurt’s Robert Johnson club (hence the title Frankfurt Versions). Roman Flügel’s progressive house inspired take on Insides opens the package in hypnotic fashion. Building slowly but surely this is a tune tailor-made for closing your eyes and allowing the music to assume control. Next up, Orson Wells injects Lately with a bumpty New York house style groove, while Massimiliano Pagliara adds a proto-house sensibility to All I Want until it sounds like something you would hear on 100% Silk. Last, but not least, Gerd Janson and Phillip Lauer adopt their Tuff City Kids guise to give us two versions of Cloche, with the Moroderish Disco Mix the standout. 8/10.
Another remix package to get excited about this month comes in the form of the second collection of mixes taken from the album We Walked Home Together by pop/house eccentric El_Txef_A. Out now on his own Forbidden Colours label, these remixes explore lighter textures than the previous EP. Kicking us off is Ada’s gorgeous refit of Every Day Is Blue Monday which is a simply wonderful way to spend six minutes of your life. Laid back and spacious, the track is likely to be one of the most beautiful pieces of music you will hear all year. I spent the first couple of weeks with this simply listening to Ada’s remix on repeat, yet the other tracks are well worth a mention too. The Bostro Pesopeo version of the same track is like a lost disco classic, while Bedouin’s version of The Love We Lost feat Woolfy is a slice of hazy, lazy Balearic house. Limited to a mere 300 vinyl copies this is well worth tracking down. 9/10.
After the sad loss of a true pioneer, this summer sees British label Hyperdub release 6613, a four track EP of highlights plucked from DJ Rashad’s creative vaults. With all profits going to his family, even if the music were sub-standard it would still be worthy of your support. Thankfully though, the record’s four tracks are every bit as good as you would expect from the footwork innovator. Cause I Know U Feel features Gant-Man’s chopped and treated vocals together with some hyper frantic beats and is deliriously good. Also worth checking are the flavoursome bass on Ya Hot feat DJ Spinn and Taso and the experimental dance floor funk of Do Not Fuck feat DJ Manny, DJ Spinn and Taso. Needless to say, beat-heads, bass fiends and wannabe hipsters will find much to enjoy here. 8/10.
Following-up last year’s sublime Vaudeville LP Inigo Kennedy allows stand-out track Requiem to receive the remix treatment from four of the most talented techno producers around. The EP opens with Dial mainstay EFDEMIN’s banging interpretation which finds ample room for ghostly melodies and skewed atmospherics within its jackin‘ 4/4 beats. Much better is the Kangding Ray version which twists the original into something atmospheric, gloomy and gloriously good. Next noise terrorist Regis takes the listener into their worse nightmare with a discordant horror-inspired dirge, while Russian artist Dasha Rush entrances with a moving down-tempo mix that may well be my pick of the bunch. Containing elements of ambient, house, techno and more, this is quality from beginning to end. 9/10.
If you’re on top of your game you may have caught emerging artist Padre’s Chasing Mirrors EP from last year which featured killer mixes by Lakker and Christian Löffler. If not though, his new Six Sisters EP is a mighty fine introduction to his lush, electronica-inspired beats. Out now on Cologne institution Traum, the record’s five tracks recall Warp-style IDM, Detroit techno and nights spent gazing up at the stars in the sky. Wetherby and Giulietta open the EP on a high with two tracks of rich, down-tempo delights that resemble the mighty B12 at their very best. From here the title-track is more house-based with a healthy dose of low-end sub, It Is Me is a rough techno dirge, while Aquatic Uncle finishes the whole thing off with some Aphex Twin-style atmospherics. Not bad at all! 7/10.
Following her fabulous podcast for XLR8R magazine, Italian producer Francesca Lombardo precedes her new album with the deep, tech tones of the Perseidi EP. Out now on Crosstown Rebels, the classically trained pianist gives us four tracks of orchestrated techno and sounds so deep they take an extra few seconds to reach your ears. The title-track is a dance floor ready percussive piece of hypnotic techno, Uttermost has a funky-assed bass to die for, while Tulips On Mars is a highly evocative Italo affair. A great package is completed by a remix of Perseidi by techno legend Aril Brikha who adds a sense of warmth and an avalanche of Detroit strings to the original. Highly recommended! 8/10.
A special mention must also go to: XTC by DJ Koze – I’m a bit late on this one since it came out in June, but I’ve listened to it so much over the past few weeks that I just had to include, 9/10, Somber Clarity by AntiAlias – A rich, deeply atmospheric house track which launches Berlin-based imprint Schakal in style, 8/10, I’ll Do Anything by George T – Four tracks of Joe Goddard-championed classic house sounds that are deep, groovy and funky as fuck, 9/10, EP1 by Smoke – DiY legend Nail dons his Smoke alias for a two-track vinyl-only release that is a deep house master-class, 8/10, Blaze EP by Pacifica – Out now on the always reliable Drumpoet Community imprint, this is the type of Balearic-inspired dance floor grooves that will have you reaching for the stars, 8/10, Stunts by Lando – Five tracks of techno-influenced house music which will work wonders on many a floor, 6/10,
And let’s not forget: Silence by Jaures – Mysterious Berlin collective make a stunning return with three tracks of deep, acid-flecked techno atmospherics, 10/10, Messin by Navid Izadi – Featuring the vocal talents of Angelica from the band Body Language, Messin is a nice bit of classic sounding house, 7/10, Future Life EP by O.P.P – If funky-assed house music is your thing then these five tracks are guaranteed to make you smile, 8/10, Peaks by Whitesquare – Out now on British institution 2020 Vision, these four tracks range from melodic house to darkened techno in a package that will appeal to the clubs, 6/10, 5 Years Of Gruuv EP3 by Various – Head straight for Simple Life by Oxia & Yannick Baudino, a killer Chicago house inspired groove, 7/10, The Man Who Loved Only Numbers by Adventures In Daydreams – With its evocative title and deep, Detroit-style feel this four track affair ably illustrates why we all need a bit of daydreaming in our life, 8/10