Music | Bittles’ Magazine: The music column from the end of the world
Sometimes I can get a bit frustrated with music. In today’s internet filled world it seems like there is new music everywhere you look, which can get a little overwhelming at times. Gone are the days when you would have saved up for weeks to buy that one cherished record, listening to it over and over again, simply because you had nothing else to put on. By JOHN BITTLES
Even if you didn’t like it at first you would adore each and every track by the seventh or ninth play. Now it seems as if music has become disposable, something to listen to once and discard as you will. Surely this isn’t the way it was meant to be! Sometimes I dream of a more innocent time, longing for the avalanche to end. Yet, somehow, when I open my inbox, or enter a record store to discover the wealth of fantastic new tracks waiting to be discovered all thoughts of returning to the glory days of the past quickly seep away.
This week alone we review 26 of the best house and techno records around. From the heartfelt melodies of Tim Green, H.O.S.H, Mark Barrott and Submerse, to the club shaking thump of Peggy Gou, Radio Slave, Mark E and John Tejada, these are tunes so good you’ll never want to rest your ears.
So, before I begin to feel all jaded and cynical again, let us begin…
With a mix for Get Physical’s esteemed Body Language series on the horizon, Tim Green shows us what he’s capable of with the melodic swoon of new single Only Time Remains. Containing one original composition, together with a remix of Junge Junge, the record may be the best thing the producer has released in years. First up, Only Time Remains builds slowly, Northern Exposure-style, before some church organ chords, a rising synth line and some acidic squiggles make an appearance to lend the track a rich, epic feel. When the beat re-enters the fray on the four minute mark it’s impossible to even try to stop your hands reaching for the heavens in pure unmitigated joy. Evocative and melodic, this is house music they way I always dreamed it to be! On the flip, Tim Green turns Junge Junge Feat. Kyle Pearce’s Beautiful Girl into an electronic torch song. The vocals gently work their way into the tune, merging with the dreamy melodies and hushed pads to help create a gorgeous nine minute house journey which you never want to end. As good as anything released this month, romance addicted dancers and technicolour daydreamers should really give this a try. 9/10.
This May Canadian label My Favorite Robot Records welcome Diynamic Records artist H.O.S.H. into the fold with the deep tech goodness of the End Of A Chapter EP. The record is a house music master-class, adding a melodic richness to the producer’s trademark sound. Reminiscent of the trance-tinged techno produced by the likes of Marc Romboy or Petar Dundov, all three songs will make a welcome addition to any DJ’s set. Lead track Meloman utilizes a steady 4/4 kick to underpin a loose, melancholia filled groove. As good as this is, if anything, next track Aire is even better, its slow house rhythm working perfectly with a soft keyboard melody to create a nine minute house odyssey which, from start to finish, is simply divine. The record ends with the gypsy-beat sparkle and slick bass of Libre, which adds a smile-inducing new flavour to the entire EP. With the Hamburg-based producer in scintillating form throughout, End Of A Chapter is a record which simply urges your body to move. 9/10.
After a trio of critically acclaimed albums for Cologne institution Kompakt, John Tejada returns to the label this month with Lakewood Drive, a brand new three track EP. Released on the 20th May, the record highlights a producer who understands the importance of merging both the light and the dark. Therefore, A-Side Cascade’s ominous bass throb works perfectly with hissing hi-hats and a fragile melody to create a track which is so much more than a simple dance floor bomb. Make no mistake, if you play this in a club, people will dance, yet attentive listening reveals layer upon layer of both meaning and design. Next up, Integrator is every bit as good, its intense techno throb and lush melody working together to devastating effect. Reminiscent of Vision Of Shiva’s Perfect Day from the mid 90s, if you were to hear this on the right sound-system it just might blow your mind. The EP ends with the strange, discordant rhythm structure of the title-track, its eerie synths and epic bassline working in tandem to create a thoughtful and intelligent techno chinstroker’s delight. 8/10.
Berlin producer Ed Ed seemingly arrived out of nowhere last year to turn heads and hearts with the gorgeous deep house vibes of the Nunchi EP. Returning to Moodmusic Records for the follow-up, Namaimo retains the dreamy techno feel of its predecessor, and is every bit as good. Across four tracks so deep you could easily find yourself lost in them for days, the producer injects a welcome industrial pulse and a real sense of drama to his tunes. It is this, together with his knack for a killer hook which helps Ed Ed stand out from the glut of deep house pretenders. For instance, the title track gets us off to a sumptuous start, its booming bass line forming the backbone to clicking percussion and a heart-stopping melody to create a track which is simply dripping with soul. Next up, Lily (My Love Is Away) follows similar principles, but is a little more sedate, Sentinel utilizes a sampled vocal to stirring effect, while Starsign closes things on a glorious high. Fans of Paper Recordings or Atjazz are going to lap this up! 8/10.
For many years now the output of one Mark E has been spoken off in reverential tones by those in the know. His current E-Versions series of disco cut-ups are the stuff of any house music fan’s dreams. New single, Sky Horn, sees the producer beef up his sound for a four track EP, which, while good, is not up there with his best. And while the two original tracks on here aren’t exactly vintage Mark E, they still contain an undeniably sense of funk! With the title-track a functional bass heavy dance floor jam, it’s left to the deep, hypnotic groove of Midnight Equatic to save the day, its twelve minute running time creating something of an aural massage for the mind. Of the remixes, DFA artist Museum Of Love underwhelm with their percussion-heavy refit of Midnight Equatic, while Happy Family fare much better with the techno dynamism of their version of Sky Horn. A bit of a mixed bag then! Yet, losing yourself to the rhythms and textures of Midnight Equatic could prove to be one of life’s little delights. 7/10.
Balearic icon Mark Barrott’s label International Feel have long been a home for all manner of musical treats. While the imprint is best known as a bastion of disco-tinged house with a sun-kissed hue, it has also seen releases by artists such as Jose Padilla, Len Leise and Gatto Fritto which have touched upon pop, ambient, techno and more. Following up his excellent Sketches From An Island series, this May the label head once again dons his production mantle to create Cascades, a beautiful two track EP. The title track fills Side A, its sedate synth washes, hushed percussion and smooth bassline conjuring images of sandy beaches, children’s laughter and the water gently lapping at your toes. On the flip, Tago Mago fails to match the chilled majesty of its predecessor, yet its parping horn section, blissed-out groove and nature-filled field recordings are not without considerable charm. So, if you haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing the music of Mark Barrott yet, then Cascades is the perfect introduction to his unique musical world. 8/10.
Peggy Gou caused quite a stir at the beginning of 2016, with the melodic thump of her Art Of War EP heralding a producer brimming with both talent and ideas. Soft and sensual, yet containing beats and grooves positively dripping with sweat, the record showcased an artist capable of world domination and more. Following a quality two-tracker for the UK label Phonica White, the South Korean-born, Berlin-based artist returns to Rekids with the highly anticipated Art Of War (II). In what has already been a pretty good year for Matt Edward’s (Radio Slave) imprint, this new release sees them step up a gear or two. And while both of the original tracks on offer are solid, if unspectacular Chicago jackers, it is the stunning, soul-infused dance floor groove of the remix of When Round, They Go which makes buying this an absolute must. In a version overflowing with passion and soul, L.I.E.S. producer Terekke smooths out the original’s tracky feel, introducing jazzy keys and lush melodies to transform it into a Larry Heard style house jam, which is more than worth the price of admission alone. 8/10.
Next up we have the lovely downbeat electronica of Awake, the great new EP from Project Mooncircle artist Submerse. Under his assumed moniker Rob Orme has been producing some of the most bewitching and sedate music you are ever likely to hear. And whether you have previously been lucky enough to have been introduced to his output or not, one listen to Awake will be all it takes to make you a fan. After the gentle ambient haze of Too late, They’re Already Here, Sidequests introduces light beats and a glockenspiel-style melody to win over all but the most jaded of hearts. From here, Sophomore recalls the LA beat scene of Flying Lotus and Nosaj Thing, No Continues Kid is the soundtrack to some particularly colourful dream, while Japanese bonus track Polar uses echoed laughter and rich orchestration to create three and a half minutes of joy. Sounding like an early Mo Wax record, but without the studied cool, with Awake, Submerse has once again created beat-based music to inspire both head and feet. 8/10.
This month we’ll finish with another gem from Radio Slave’s Rekids imprint, as the label head himself delivers the majestic thump of the Vision EP. With Rekids celebrating its tenth birthday this year it’s fair to say that they are on a bit of a roll. Over the last couple of weeks alone top releases by Nina Kraviz, David Morales and Peggy Gou have delighted DJs, clubbers and vinyl fans alike. The original mix of Visions finds the producer delivering a long, tracky groove which sounds like it could have come from some Chicago warehouse party from back in the day. Developing slowly but surely over its ten minute running time, the song is ideal for losing yourself on a dance floor and allowing all your woes to drift away. For his remix, Ostgut Ton artist Marcel Dettmann keeps the repetition of the vocal, while adding echo, together with loads of low-end bass to create a Berghain-style bomb. Anyone who likes their beats masculine and tough should waste no time in diving straight in! 7/10.
A special mention must also go to: Wave by Freestyle Man – Gloriously deep house music as always from Moodmusic Records label head Sasse, who dons his Freestyle Man alias for a stunning new EP, 9/10, No Matter by XXXY – Four tracks of bass-infused electronic music from the fast rising star. Impossible to categorize, let’s just be content in acknowledging that this is fucking good, 9/10, Black & Red by Bradberry & Blevins – House music so smooth it could charm the pants of your nan. Special mention must go to the sublime sexy, synth groove of El_Txef_A’s remix of the title track, 8/10, The Strategic Steam Reserve by Stephen Lopkin – A nicely varied five track EP from the Belfast-based label with Stephen injecting a welcome dose of acidic romanticism to his classic house grooves, 8/10, Feel Good by Satin Jackets Feat. Scavenger Hunt – A ‚re-imagination‘ of previous hit You Make Me Feel Good, now featuring dreamy new vocals by Scavenger Hunt. A little cheesy, yet it’s still a nice slice of trance-tinged pop, 7/10, Memory Man by Pacifica – Yet another house gem from the Drumpoet Community crew. With its smooth keys and lush slo mo groove the Kalabrese remix is by far the stand-out for me, 7/10, Eat, Drink, Shop, Relax by Lucy – Thought-provoking electronica from the techno don, with the hypnotising throb of Drink worth an hour of anybody’s time, 7/10 and Cortina Kidz by MacDonald Flak And The Ack Ack Pack – A welcome reissue of a ‚lost‘ acid house classic which was originally released back in 1988. Now featuring new remixes by Juan Maclean & Tim Sweeney and Factory Floor, 8/10,
And let’s not forget: Bleak by Kris Davis – Two tracks of emotional house music so good you can almost feel your heart soar, 9/10, Metropolis EP by Davi – LA-based producer Davi returns to Rebellion once again with a beautifully deep EP. With all four tracks containing a liberal sprinkling of both heart and soul, this is well worth tracking down, 9/10, Colour Planet Corporation by Eduardo De La Calle – The hotly tipped artist gives us four tracks of trippy, minimalistic grooves perfect for creating a spacey vibe on the dance floor, 8/10, Slower Than Zero by Tim Kossmann – For his debut on Cologne label Telrae’s 10 inch series the producer gives us dub techno of the highest order. Buy on sight if you like your dub chilled and brimming with bass, 8/10, Money by Gorgon City – Head straight for the tribal house thump of the David Morales Red Zone Mix of the title track for a heads-down, club-destroying bomb, 7/10, Compost Black Label #131 by Liquid Phonk – Soulful deep house music with a classic feel from a duo who have developed quite a knack for this type of thing, 7/10, Rigmarole by Maya Schenk – New imprint Henri Records get off to a fine start with a tough, yet melodic two-tracker from the label boss herself, 7/10, Twin Peaks by Nightvisions – Schakal Recordings hit gold yet again with a fantastic four track EP of stirring house music which sure knows how to groove, 8/10, and Bulbo by Feathered Sun – Born out of live improvisation, these lush, down-tempo house jams are soulful, organic and warm, 7/10.