When not urging me to kill, torture and maim, the little voices in my head have repeatedly wondered why there is no reviews section for singles and EPs in my segment of the esteemed Titel Mag. My standard reply is that it would be far too much work since I’m a bit of a lazy git and all! But, that attitude softened somewhat over the last couple of months due to a couple of reasons. First up I heard Acid Test 09 by Donato Dozzy and Tin Man and instantly fell in love. Next I noticed that my inbox had, somehow, become overloaded with great new releases. It suddenly seemed pretty damn churlish not to give them the attention they richly deserved.
By JOHN BITTLES
So, what follows will be the first of a new, semi-regular series where I’ll be enthusing and dismaying over new and recent singles and EPs. Some will be great, others exceptional, with one of two duffs along the way.
As the sun is currently shining I thought I would start with baggy revivalists Jagwar Ma and the five tracks that make up Time and Space Machine Dub Sessions. Over the record’s duration Richard Norris of The Grid fame remixes five Jagwar Ma tracks under his cosmic-themed The Time and Space Machine guise. Opener, the Chemical Brothers-style Man I Need Dub is a dancefloor rocking beginning, yet it is not indicative of the rest of the EP. The other four mixes are long drawn out, downbeat affairs that, at times, enter the realm of the simply divine. Did You Have To Float On and the slo-mo disco of Uncertainty Dub are both stand-outs, yet the entire set works fantastically well as a whole giving you more depth and variety in forty minutes than most people would give you over their entire career.
Next up, Missing You is a rather great four track EP of boompty disco house business from the snappily named West Norwood Cassette Library. Bob Bharma’s output as WNCL tends to transcend genres meaning you have absolutely no idea what to expect from one release to the next. Playing a new track by him is much like unwrapping a present; you never know what you’re gonna get. The title track opens proceedings with some classic disco-style strings that stir the soul like an extra large spoon. Queen Bee follows with a smooth deep house sound that contains a soulful vocal to die for. What’s That Sound continues the joyous house vibe with immaculate production and recalling Sam Sever with its use of sample. Final track, Clavichords is a leftfield curveball that finishes the EP with a flourish. If you haven’t heard the name West Norwood Cassette Library then make it your mission to check this release out.
Something that is practically guaranteed to drag your ass onto the dancefloor is Circles, the A-side of an excellent single by ‘proper house’ darlings Bicep. Returning to Will Saul’s ever fantastic Aus Music, Circles sees the Irish duo at the very top of their game. The title track walks a fine line between Chicago and Detroit and is one of the best club tunes you will hear all year. On the flip NRG106 is another corker. Deeply percussive, but with a beautiful melody line that creeps in and sends shivers up and down the spine. When the ghostly bass enters the fray three minutes in all resistance is relinquished as you simply give in to the groove. Also, be sure to have a listen to Artis by Breach (of Jack fame) which is also out on Aus, containing as it does three tracks of future house so good I would gladly sell my soul just to hear one more time.
Next up we have some raw rock to whet those guitar based needs with a two track set of live faves from purveyors of melancholy hardcore Savages. Lead track Fuckers has a quiet beginning before building into a full throttled thrash over its ten minute running time. Brimming with raw menace the entire way through, this isn’t the type of track to play when you want to calm down, yet it’s thrilling as hell just the same. The chorus of ‘Don’t let the fuckers get you down’ is assured to both get your blood pumping and upset liberal mums and dads everywhere. Exactly what all great rock ’n’ roll should do. Second track Dream Baby Dream is a cover of an old Suicide song (what tune isn’t these days?) and is every bit as good as the title track. Managing to sound simultaneously dreamy and edgy it is pretty damn ace.
Part of Kompakt’s regular Speicher series which focuses on dancefloor dynamics Speicher 78 is a split 12inch containing one track from Nicone and Gunjah and a second from Split Secs. Disko 90 by Nicone & Gunjah is a mesmerisingly deep as fuck groover. Epic in the extreme, and causing dance floor devastation wherever it goes, you’d be an idiot not to want this in your life. On the B-side LA based duo Split Secs (where do they come up with these crazy names?) give us the rather gorgeous tech-house of Mission 1. The foundation which holds the tune together is the tantalising dub-style bassline which won my heart with ease. All of which makes this a great release that is much too good to only be played in clubs. Also out on Kompakt this month is Take Control the new single by trance genius Gui Boratto with the original and Come and Hell mix being the pick of the bunch.
One of the hottest releases over the last couple of months, for me personally, has been Acid Test 09; a simply stunning piece of music by Donato Dozzy and Tin Man who are two of the greatest producers working today. Together they create the type of music that you could listen to non-stop for weeks and not get sick of. Containing three track that explore the sound of acid in a new downbeat way, there is an overall feeling of deepness within each track’s groove. Beautifully heartfelt sounding, these songs’ ambient nature may mean they won’t rock the discothèque, yet they will bewitch and beguile anyone brave enough to give them a go. If you only listen to one EP this week, make it this one.
The nu-rave sound with which the band Friendly Fires made their name is somewhat honed done for their new single which features two long, drawn-out tracks created in collaboration with the legendary Andy Weatheralls’ The Asphodells project. Opener Before Your Eyes features a hushed vocal, a steady groove and the feel of a hazy, lazy, drug-inspired afternoon. One can’t help but feel it’s a bit directionless sounding though. Much better is the b-side Velo, which bravely pushes the boundaries a bit more and is all the better for it. While the single is in no way either group’s best work, it is well worth tracking down for anyone who likes a bit of subtle dirge with their rock.
Coming out on Bristol’s finest purveyors of electronic music Idle Hands is Days Like This, the debut single from one Shanti Celeste. What we get for our hard-earned cash are two tracks of immaculate deep house that is almost good enough to make us forget all the rubbish Disclosure-inspired music of this type that has come before. Days Like This is a lush piece of house music with twinkling chimes, a dramatic sense of space and a lazy vocal seemingly created for warm summer days. On My Own Again also sees Shanti’s vocals come to the fore and is a deep Chicago house inspired monster that utilizes every second of its nine minute running time to simply devastating effect. Now, I don’t usually like to make assumptions, yet, after listening to this I can’t help but predict that Shanti Celeste is going to have a very fine future indeed.
Techno’s best kept secret, Recondite has just brought out Nadsat, a new four track EP of supreme electronics that is sure to make any techno fetishist horny as hell. His excellent debut LP Hinterland lit up last year with its smoky, deep textures and this latest release sees him continue in much the same vein. Dim is an eerie, ambient opener while Milk Plus is dark and atmospheric and takes the breath away whether heard on headphones, at home, or in a club. The title track ups the pace but is, unfortunately, the most one-dimensional tune of the set. But DeLarge finishes things off with aplomb, ending things with the deepest of trance like airs. Sublime techno music for darkened dancefloors and ponderous thoughts.
Finally, we have Emeralds main man John Elliot who joins together with Andrew Veres under the Outer Space moniker to give us a rather special two track EP of gloriously out-there electronics. First track Arrival and Assessment throbs and drones with atmospheric glee while second track Crixa sounds like it should be sound-tracking some high brow sci-fi film. About as far removed from standard pop music as it is possible to get, this is a fantastic release for those who like a bit of sonic adventurism with their biscuits and tea.
| JOHN BITTLES