Music | Bittles’ Magazine: The music column from the end of the world
Have you heard the new Stone Roses song yet? Beautiful Thing came out on the 10th of June to be greeted by ecstatic air punches from middle-aged dads everywhere, and the odd shrug or two from anyone under the age of 25. The song’s seven minute swagger is just about as good as can be expected from a band who have spent years in the doldrums and bodes well for the prospect of a new LP. By JOHN BITTLES
Even if you’ve never owned baggy jeans, or the prospect of a new Stone Roses record fills you full of nothing but dread do not fear, as there are plenty of new singles and EPs this month which are sure to do it for you. For instance, in this article alone we review fabulous new releases by Paul Woolford, Emde & Anham, Ripperton, Moodymann, Hunter/Game, DVA, Dino Sabatini and more.
So, before I start reminiscing about the ‚good old days‘, let us begin…
Already one of the tunes of the Summer, Paul Woolford’s Mother & Child sees the celebrated producer unleash an Innervisions-style track which is so good it could single-handedly reaffirm your faith in life. Best known for his rough, abrasive take on house and techno, his new record for Hotflush Recordings is a melody and emotion-rich, club-slaying bomb. Stirring strings rise and fall over percussive hand claps and a lush piano refrain to create a tune which has already been known to reduce people to tears. Colourful and evocative, this is exactly the type of song you imagine the likes of Sasha, Dixon or John Digweed dropping to create a wave of elation on the dance floor. Seriously, when the strings reappear five minutes in, it’s all you can do to keep your heart in your chest. On the flip, Mother & Child Divided eschews the beats and percussive elements entirely to present a ten minute long delight. Filled with a sense of romantic longing, this is a gloriously expressive piece of ambiance which is every bit as good as the A-Side. Put simply, if you are a fan of house music then you need this in your life. 10/10.
Cologne’s Traum Schallplatten seem to have an unerring ability to unearth a constant stream of new artists so good that you wonder how no one has discovered them before. Case in point are Emde & Anham who’s Flash EP is out late June on Traum affiliate label MBF Ltd. A follow-up of sorts to Emde’s Never Gonna Know from last year, Flash contains everything I love about dance music and more! The melodic grandeur of the title track opens the EP with a deep, propulsive groove. Heard on a quality sound system in a club, this is practically guaranteed to make even the most level-headed among you lose their cool. Sleep Away retains the depth of its predecessor, but dampens the beats while adding a soulful female vocal to create a track which will seduce any listener with ease. Completing the package is the melancholic slo mo groove of Promise which resembles an aural massage, and Fireworks (Chill Out Version) which ends the EP with a relaxing breath of calm. With all four tracks outstanding, this is more than worthy of your time. 9/10.
Dino Sabatini’s Omonimo album from earlier this year is a record which still resonates in my ears! An album of deep techno music with a melancholic air, its hypnotic tones work steadily into both your heart and soul. This month (July 27th for digital freaks) finds four tracks from said LP receive the remix treatment from Dino himself, ASC, Salis & Sabatini and trip hop hero Howie B. Concentrica opens with Pussyfoot legend Howie B’s cosmic take on Sometimes Back, where a music box style melody sits atop subdued beats and a funky groove to create a track which is as good as you will hear all year. Next, Dino Sabatini himself retains the ambient air of If (Feat. Antonello Salis), its twinkling melodies acting as the perfect accompaniment to the original. Further in, ASC turns The Unexpected into a dark, twilit stroll through a techno netherworld on his Grey Area Remix, while Salis & Sabatini bring things to a close with the airy tranquillity of And It All Ends Here. If you ever find yourself getting tired of the rigid thump, thump, thump of techno, this EP is the perfect showcase for what an exciting genre it can be. 9/10.
In an uncertain world of lying politicians, backstabbing ‚friends‘, and psychopathic toddlers toting machine guns (I may have made that last one up), the only thing you can ever be sure of is that anything Ripperton releases is going to be good. Previous records on Green, Systematic, Connaisseur and his very own Maeve have mixed melody with emotion and killer house grooves with aplomb. June (late July for the digital version) sees the producer adopt his Headless Ghost moniker for Dirtee Grooves, a superb four track EP of raw, analogue jams. Coming via the always reliable Drumpoet Community imprint, these tracks will rock any club. They also retain a sonic depth and a wealth of melodies to make them stand out from any crowd. Friends (School Of 303 Mix) gets us off to a flying start, its acid house vocal refrain, driving acid line and eerie synths making it sound like a lost classic from back in the day. If anything, Seven Deadly Synths is even better, its loose, languid groove and playful melody lending it an epic, yet sensual air. While the B-Side disappoints compared to what came before, the title track’s loose, house jam is nothing short of sublime. 8/10.
Fans of mid-90s IDM are in for a treat this month in the form of Vester Koza’s debut release for London’s Houndstooth label. OTR is out now, and features four tracks of spacious and sedate techno so trippy you could almost peddle it as a drug. OT_R~cord [4.10] opens the record with a deep, bouncing bassline and mind-tickling hums, bringing to mind the warm electronica of the likes of Beaumont Hannant, or Black Dog. The strange clanks and out of sync beats of ROBOCow.exe follows, and sounds like it should be accompanying the visuals to some art film which you don’t quite understand. While playing it with your partner around may cause them to think you’re a bit strange, over its five minute running time it works its way right under your skin. Also rather sublime are served_on_barm [4/3], which conjures images of the cosmic electronica of Seefeel, and ZRTP [P-Bass_special] which ends things with a space jazz shuffle, and in the process does strange things to your mind. In short, this is superb! 9/10.
The world of house music isn’t exactly full of super-groups, or exciting team-ups. While indie, rap, and rock see artists only too happy to work together, dance music producers still tend to stick to themselves. This is just one of the reasons why the prospect of Felix Da Housecat, Jamie Principle and Vince Lawrence AKA The 312 working together is enough to make most house fans giddy with glee, (What do you mean, it’s just me?). Add a couple of sumptuous remixes by the legend that is Moodymann and you have a record so full of talent that it even seems heavier than your average disc. Out late June on Damian Lazarus‘ Crosstown Rebels imprint, Touch Your Body is a classic-sounding slab of dark, sexual Chicago house. With its slow, steady bass line, soaring synths and a vocal which positively drips sex appeal, the original is a seven minute long journey into the heart of groove. Just as good though, are the two melancholy and funk-filled refits served up by Moodymann. With an ability to squelch in all the right places, they ensure that Touch your Body is a very strong package indeed. 8/10.
Adaptation by Hunter/Game was an album which could be used in an advert to epitomise the trademark melodic house sound of its label Kompakt. Fusing techno beats with long, drawn-out grooves and a pop sensibility, the record is a treat for anyone who likes their music trance-tinged and deep. This month the band return to said album with Adaptation Remixe, where five of the LP’s highlights are re-interpreted by Redshape, Nick Höppner and more. First up, techno titan Redshape ups the spookiness factor on Silver to create a nicely atmospheric mood piece that will sit well in any warm up set. Further in, Panorama Bar resident Nick Höppner introduces lush house tones, together with some dirty synths on his fabulous eight minute long refit of Origins, while Dutch artist Nuno Dos Santos combines Moby-style melancholy with bouncy percussion on Hide to create a track of stunning emotional depth. The package is completed by the epic trance of the Woo York mix of Ashes and Hunter/Game’s smooth ambient remix of Bermuda. Whether you have already heard Adaptation or not, this remix EP is well worth checking out. 8/10.
Out now on digital and 10 inch vinyl, DVA follows his excellent Allyallrecords EP from last year with the bassbin bothering Take It All. Finding a fitting home on UK experimentalists Hyperdub, the record merges RnB vocals with jittery rhythms and low-end throbs to disorientating yet thrilling effect. Bringing to mind FKA twigs lost in a Brixton warehouse party, in four minutes the title track sums up all that is good about British bass music right now. Next up, Worst is an abrasive cut which seems to scream directly in your ear. While a little unsettling, you can imagine this rocking the Notting Hill Carnival for years to come. The digital comes with a pair of bonus tracks. Of these, Soundcheck is a little too one dimensional for my delicate ears, while the Sinjin Hawke remix of Worst dramatically improves the original by upping the bass pressure and adding a welcome hip hop twist. While far from essential, this is still a strong release. 7/10.
This month we’ll finish on a high in the form of a Split EP from Elijah Simmons & Echonomist. Echonomist, who has been making dub-heavy techno, crunchy house, and all manner of electronic delights over the last few years is in charge of Side A. Opening track Rotation is a fab oceans-deep groover with melodic overtones, recalling the likes of Ame, or Ten Walls if they were having a good day. When the piano line enters the fray on the four minute mark it is almost impossible to not raise your hands in the air. I tested this hypothesis in the local old folks‘ home, and now the nurses use it daily to assist with armpit washing. Next up, Smoke Rings is an atmospheric builder. While it never quite matches the giddy heights of its predecessor it is still a solid, jackin‘ tool. On the flip, rising Kompakt artist Elijah Simmons delivers a double dose of rich, melodic house music with an emotional core. Mid-paced and spine-tinglingly good, both his tracks are good enough to ensure that this slab of vinyl enters the ranks of the must buy. 9/10.
A special mention must also go to: Delta by Kris Davis – Following up the sublime Bleak which came out earlier this year on Christian Löffler’s Young Alaska imprint, Kris Davis returns with a two-tracker so good you want to tell all your friends, 9/10, Birds Flying High Part 1 by Mollono.Bass & Ava Asante – The 3000° Records label heads deliver a five track album sampler full of sunshine, life, and funky-assed grooves, 9/10, The Tourist by Man Power – The rising star of dance music drops a gorgeous two track EP for ESP Institute. From the Balearic-inspired title track to the acid-flecked Oye, this showcases why most house fans buy every Man Power release on sight, 8/10, It’s Operational by This Soft Machine – With its vocoder vocals, disco kicks and killer sense of groove, this will lighten anybody’s day, 7/10, Discovery Change (Part 4) by Daniel Jacques – The tech house drama of Astronomy and the deeply melodic Daruma stand out in a nicely varied four track EP, 8/10, System Tuner by Martin Eyerer – My Favorite Robot Records come up trumps once again with a pair of gorgeous tracks full of melodic resonance and drive, 8/10, The Secret Garden by Protein – A record of warm electronica and instrumental moods perfect for closing your eyes and allowing your mind to drift away, 8/10, and Kids Of your Crime by Paprika Kinski – Synth-based pop music with an open-hearted attitude from a talented new artist, 8/10.
And let’s not forget: Luv Cry by Samuel – Lead track Killr is a darkened slice of futuristic pop, recalling Massive Attack, Tricky and more as it exposes the London-based singer’s soul, 9/10, Hide In by NTEIBINT Feat. Stella – Remix master Ewan Pearson elongates the original and adds a woozy synth line and acid swirls to create a slick disco jam, 8/10, Running by Moderat – Ostgut Ton artist Shed adds a welcome techno thump to the original, while Kink steals the show with a dirty house rework guaranteed to make you move, 8/10, Subterranean Explorations by Buck – Four tracks of dense, atmospheric techno which sound both moody as hell and unbelievably huge, 8/10, Back To The Future by Beastie Respond – From the broken soul of the title track to the rave-filled breaks of Intergalactic Soapbox Derby this is an EP chock-full of ideas, 7/10, Forgetting by Djrum – The piano-led beauty of Projection and the tough, techno rhythms of Induction make this well worth tracking down, 7/10, YYY by Tyler Friedman & Samuel Rohrer – Two tracks of playful, jazz-inflected techno with experimental flourishes. One for the headz, 7/10, Groove From The Heart EP by Chris Simmons – New EP from the talented Londoner which recalls the eager disco loops of the French touch scene, 7/10, NGC EP by Inigo Kennedy – Gorgeous, deep and melancholic, this is techno music which contains both heart and soul, 8/10, and Elastic Layouts by Architectural – Deep, trippy techno soundscapes from the Spanish producer which delights in playing games with your mind, 8/10.