Music | Bittles’ Magazine: The music column from the end of the world
With the perils of Christmas fast approaching, the level-headed amongst us are already frantically seeking somewhere to hide. Unfortunately, all the good caves are already taken, while a dank, dark hole very quickly loses its appeal. So unless you know of a remote location with no radio or TV signal the best way to survive this December may be by losing yourself within the joys of a killer groove. By JOHN BITTLES
Luckily for you I have taken time off from my bottle-cap collecting to highlight some of the best new tunes on offer right now. Tracks I will be raving about include the euphoric pop of Hot Chip, the soulful techno rhythms of Fhloston Paradigm, the arresting deep house of Sasse, the squelchy bombast of Scuba, the emotional electronica of Ryan Davis/Microtrauma and more. These are tunes which will not only save your life, but impress relatives, friends and loved ones too.
This month we’ll begin with the melancholic elation of the coolest geeks in town, or Hot Chip as they prefer to be called. A highlight of their recent live shows, this month sees the indie-pop faves finally release their much loved version of the Bruce Springsteen classic Dancing In The Dark. From quiet clacks the track suddenly bursts into life when Alexis Taylor’s stirring vocals are joined by a euphoric synth line which simply demands that you move. From here the song builds and builds until you feel almost at one with God. I fully believe the point when the track morphs into All My Friends by LCD Soundsystem to be one of the musical moments of the year. Of the three remixes on offer, Rak’s version of Cry For You adds a healthy dollop of funk, while A/JUS/TED turns Huarache Lights into a fully functional club destroying bomb. Pick of the trio though is the Soulwax mix of the latter which tames and subdues the synths to give it a gorgeously spooky feel. As good as the remixes are though it’s the original that will tickle your soul. 10/10.
House legend King Britt once again dons his Fhloston Paradigm moniker this autumn, exploring fantastically spacey techno cities within the stunning aural landscapes of Cosmosis Vol. 1. Containing three tracks of emotional electronica which positively drip both heart and soul, Cosmosis is an accomplished and worthy follow-up to last year’s wonderful The Phoenix LP . Lead track, and EP stand-out, Sonic Six wallows in a sequence of melancholy strings which are gradually drowned-out by an oppressive-sounding, yet sonically thrilling bassline which rises from the depths to work its way directly to the fore. Striking and memorable, this is beyond good. Of the other tracks on offer, the spacious ambiance of Faith seduces over its ten minute running time, while the skewed bleeps of Past stay long in the mind. With the quality levels sky-high over all three tracks this is one EP you will never want to end. 9/10.
Gardens Of God is a fast rising producer who makes a welcome return this month with the lush, textured bliss of new single Montana. Furthering the melodic sensibilities of the Lithuanian musician’s excellent previous two EPs (Glük and Zulu) the lead track combines a gorgeous synth line, percussive hand-claps and delicate rhythms to glorious effect. Unhurried, yet gorgeously propulsive, this is a song which would grace any warm up set, iPod, or hi-fi. Fans of Innervisions, Petar Dundov, or deep, intricate house music will find much here to delight. B-Side Under is an altogether deeper and spacier beast. Aquatic beats, chiming keys and more make-up a druggy-sounding tune which makes the perfect soundtrack to that moment in a club when you close your eyes and simply let yourself go. If you haven’t discovered the music of Gardens Of God yet, then shame on you! Do yourself a favour and pop down to your local record store and give this a go. 9/10.
Even more spine-tinglingly good house music can be found in the impressively melodic Eko Masala, the eagerly awaited new single by Moodmusic boss and deep house music purveyor Sasse. Out on the 1st of December as a digital only release (Why no vinyl?), the original mix is a ten minute long house masterpiece which is almost impossible to resist. Sulky synths, padded beats, echoing atmospherics and a sublime low-end bass combine wonderfully to create an instrumental house cut which tugs ever so gently at the soul. Mina Records have discovered a real gem here, and label-head Masaya toughens things up by transforming the original into a percussive techno jam. While it will work wonders in most clubs, it is the glorious depth and beauty of the original version which makes this a buy on sight release. 10/10.
After numerous years in the game, Glasgow-based DJ J.G. Wilkes finally gets around to releasing his debut widely available 12inch this November in the form of the Jaxon EP. Mr. Wilkes is, perhaps, best known as one half of Sub Club experimental bastions Optimo, or as part of dub disco purveyors Naum Gabo. Confidently stepping out on his own, on Jaxon the producer focuses on experimental electronics, dirty techno and jackin‘ grooves. The title-track, which is taken from his limited edition box-set German Pizza Party, is a deep yet propulsive tune which constantly shifts and changes over its six minute running time to dazzling effect. For his remix, Cologne funk merchant Barnt ups the melodic quota while reducing the beats to transform the track into something which nestles snugly in the ears. Of the other songs, Bathing Beauty is a cool piece of ambiance, while the Naum Gabo version of Useful Tool is, as the name suggests, functional at best. Perhaps not essential then, but sonic explorers and dance floor deviants will find much to enjoy. 7/10.
Particle Bliss by Ryan Davis was, for many, one of the stand-out electronic albums to come out in 2012. Deep house textures merged seamlessly with ambient atmospherics and a strong sense of melody to create a work of art which simply demanded your respect and love. This November Ryan teams up with Traum label mate Microtrauma for Synthesis, a beautifully affecting four track EP. Filled with techno melodies, hushed beats and an awe-inspiring sense of depth this is house music far removed from the confines of the dance floor. Harmonia delights with its lush electronic pulse, Calendula is as light and airy as a warm spring day, while Philomela is a stunning synth track that would make a fitting soundtrack to the end of times. Dubspeeka’s remix of Calendula ups the tempo to take us on a journey into the filthiest of basement clubs and completes a very fine package indeed. 9/10.
After an indifferent year thus far legendary techno imprint R&S spring back into form this month with a quality two track release from melodic house dons Tale Of Us. The Berlin-based duo have been making waves for a while now with their epic symphonies garnering them praise from DJs, bloggers and punters alike. On their new single, North Star is a deep, dark throb of a dance floor groove which wastes no time in getting right under your skin. And while it doesn’t do much over its eight minute running time you’ll rarely find yourself getting tired or bored. On the flip Silent Space (featuring additional production from Joy O and Boddika) is an altogether noisier counterpart. With a distinctly 90s feel, this is one dark yet groovy trip. While not doing enough to linger long in the mind, this is a solid release which will more than pacify fans. 7/10.
Christian Löffler’s A Forest album is one of my favourite ever electronic LPs; elegant, melodic and with a stunning sense of musical depth I still get goosebumps even just thinking about it today. This December the producer returns with the dance floor thump and evocative synths of Lost. While the remixes disappoint, it is the two original tracks which make this a must buy. The mysterious deep house of Lost opens proceedings in fine style, gently tugging at the feet while working its way steadily into your brain. Unknown, meanwhile, is a little more sedate but it is every bit as good, its clanking percussion matching a low-end rumble to winning effect. Of the remixes, Lake People’s version of Lost is, sadly, insipid and bland, while Nuno Dos Santos‚ refit of Unknown will work on the floor but is no match for what came before. Stick to the originals then for some dreamy electronica with a melancholic house pulse. And if you are looking for an introduction to the music of Christian Löffler this is as good a place as any to begin. 8/10.
Coinciding with an album’s worth of remixes of tracks from his last album Claustrophobia, bassbin botherer Scuba keeps a couple of refits aside for the single format. Out now on the always reliable Hotflush label, All I Think About Is Death/Why You Feel So Low features new versions of said tracks by tribal veteran Radio Slave and Ostgut Ton main-man Function. On the a-side Radio Slave extends All I Think About Is Death into a long, spacious groove which forever threatens to explode into extreme beat-based violence, but never does. In contrast, Function’s version of Why You Feel So Low is a punishing techno work-out which does nothing more than give the listener a sore head. Boring, and monotonous this is almost enough to make you give up on the b-side of this record for good. Keep with it though, as Radio Slave pops up yet again for a haunting ambient version of All I Think About Is Death which will reward your diligence with ease . 7/10.
Last, but not least, Visceral is the brand-new single from Brooklyn’s musical maverick Falty DL. Mr. DL is one of those producers who can irritate and delight in equal measure. For every piece of unbridled musical genius, you’ll find one or two cringe-worthy moments which are almost too clever for their own good. Yet, Rich Prick Poor Dick from earlier this year rose above its juvenile title to be an awful lot of fun. And, thankfully the follow-up single defies predictions by being every bit as good. Hitting the shops and download stores on the 27th of November, head straight for the title-track which is a melodic, downbeat shuffler that recalls the likes of Coldcut or Mr. Scruff in its cheeky eclecticism. On the flip, The Ah Track is a Detroit techno influenced slow burner which is tailor-made for those who like their music loud. As good as it is though, it’s the wandering melody and shuffling drums of the a-side which will have most clued-up listeners coming back for more. 8/10.
A special mention must also go to: Nodes by Javier Logares & Julian Ganzer – Anyone who has been to the duo’s excellent Studio Kreuzberg night in Berlin’s Watergate club will know what to expect here; spine-tingling house music which moves the heart as much as the feet, 9/10, Independence by Agoria – With the title-track’s ability to give the listener goosebumps for days this really is a must for any dance music fan, 9/10, Grown Men Cry by Aphrohead – Head straight for the Carl Craig remix to experience a sublime techno groove, 8/10, The Descent (Lucy Remixes) by Pact Infernal – Containing over 25 minutes of experimental techno and hypnotic drones, both these versions are more than worthy of your time, 7/10, Lydia by Dusky – Three peak time bangers from the new kings of the dance floor, with the acidic menace of the lead track being the pick for me, 7/10, Blitz Magic by Jose Padilla – A highlight from the recent So Many Colours LP receives a pair of remixes from Tambien and Deetron. It’s the driving deep house of Deetron’s version which you’ll find yourself coming back to time and time again, 8/10 and Sabor by Red Axes feat. Abrao – Fans of emotional and melodic house music will find it hard to contain a swoon when played this gorgeously bitter-sweet tune, 9/10.
And let’s not forget: This Is A Love Song by Dino Lenny – With a deep, throbbing bass which immediately grabs the listener by the throat this one-sided release on Maceo Plex’s Ellum label is one love song which remembers the appeal of the dark, 9/10, Umbrapellis by Arandel – A welcome companion piece to last year’s Solarispell release, 7/10, Spectrums Vol. 1 by Erosion Flow – Out on the 11th December on Martyn’s highly respected 3024 imprint, this three-track affair is full of deep, crunching techno grooves, 7/10, Mustang EP by Nils Penner – Four tracks of deep, yet funky house music to keep you warm through the cold winter nights, 7/10, Fight For Us by Sepalcure – Future soul, footwork, dubstep and more combine in a quality single which whets the appetite for next year’s upcoming LP, 6/10, Minos by Mallone & Arne Spremberg – Only the 2nd ever release from the new Berlin label Schakal, it’s the laid back house of Tesla and the Sasse remix of Minos which are the picks for me, 8/10 and Submarine by Seb Wildblood – Containing four gorgeous slices of house, even if you aren’t a fan of dance music, this simply must be heard, 9/10.