Music | Bittles’ Magazine: The music column from the end of the world
Sometimes it can seem that buying singles has become a bit of a dying art! In the age of downloads, people seem to want throwaway songs to play on their iPhone rather than something they can actually touch and feel. Here in Belfast for instance the last place that would regularly get in new dance 12inches has given it up because there simply wasn’t the demand.By JOHN BITTLES
Yet, in many ways the dance singles market is better than it has ever been with people like Ripperton, Jayda G, Willow, Peggy Gou, Fit Siegel, DJ Sotofett and Tolouse Low Trax releasing fantastic music this year. Seriously, if you are lucky enough to be in a city with a functioning dance music specialist, pop in, find a free deck, and have a listen to some of this month’s new tunes. There aren’t many better ways to spend your time.
In this week’s article I have, rather handily, highlighted some new records which may just bring a smile to your face. We have the melodic rush of Domink Eulberg, the dub techno rhythms of Shinichi Atobe and Porter Ricks, the bass heavy grooves of Skream, the deep house delights of Man Power and Damon Bell, and lots more.
We’ll begin with Dominik Eulberg, someone who should be instantly familiar to anyone who is a fan of emotionally engaging electronica. Over the years he has released numerous records certain to add a dose of melody and melancholy to any floor. This month he makes a very welcome return to Cologne imprint Traum with his new EP. The snappily titled Falkenauge, Katzengold & Taubenblut is out now and is, apparently, “all about the manifoldness of nature and the process of transformation when stones become jewels”. The result is twenty minutes of the most beautiful and affecting dance music you will ever hear! Opening track Taubenblut is a melody filled techno epic which swoops and soars while seeming to reach out of the speakers to caress your very soul. Next up, Falkenauge ups the dub pressure, utilizing gentle keys and crisp kicks to form a song which I could happily listen to on repeat for days, while the soulful urgings of Katzengold are the aural equivalent of receiving a welcome-back hug from your mum. Simply stunning from beginning to end, if you haven’t discovered the music of Dominik Eulberg yet then this is the place to begin. 10/10.
Back in the year 2001, Japanese artist Shinichi Atobe released his debut EP on Basic Channel sub-label Chain Reaction to widespread acclaim. Bass heavy textures and a firm techno crunch meant Ship-Scope was a record which worked just as well in a club as the mind. After that all was quiet, until 2014 when Shinichi Atobe resurfaced with the melancholy dub tones of Butterfly Effect. He follows that album with Rebuild 1.2.3., which is available now on Jadac Recordings’ Bandcamp page. While the record is a mere 10 minutes long, there is a gorgeous sense of warmth and humanity about these songs which ensures you want to listen to them again and again. Mix 1 sounds like a subdued take on dub techno, jazz licks and strange clicks helping give life to an all-consuming bass. Mix 2 meanwhile is a stunning piece of emotional ambiance which wastes no time in bringing a tear to the eye, while the mutated trip hop of Mix 3 brings to mind the gloriously dysfunctional electronica of Pussyfoot main man Howie B. A rich and rewarding listen, Rebuild 1.2.3. is a record well worth tracking down. 9/10.
Another techno act who have come to define the term ‘long hiatus’ are Porter Ricks. It has been seventeen lengthy years since Symbiotics seduced club weary listeners with its deep textures and dub heavy air. This November the duo of Thomas Köner and Andy Mellwig step back into the limelight with the restrained thunk and whispery haze of the Shadow Boat EP. Composed of heady atmospherics and crisp, clean beats, the record finds the celebrated duo on stunning form. The title track sits nicely on Side A, a ten minute long industrial fog so dense you find yourself stumbling blindly for a few minutes before finally finding the relative safety of the beat. On Side B, Bay Rouge is a loose dub techno jam which recalls the minimal bass pulse of Echospace, while Harbour Chart is a slow, ponderous piece of electronica for the twilight hours. For those who find themselves tired of the bland functionality which characterises so much techno music today, Porter Ricks may just be the tonic you need. 9/10.
Dubstep innovator Skream is an artist who never allows his output to become boring or stale. From the urban pop of his work with Benga and Artwork as Magnetic Man to the slow electro throb of his remix of La Roux, Skream isn’t averse to taking the odd risk. This month he pops up on Crosstown Rebels with a pair of epic grooves. Combining all that is good about house and bass lead track, You Know, Right? is a tense, technoid wobbler which will easily have clubbers pumping the air with glee. Old skool pianos, cut up vocal samples, and a deep dubstep throb work wonderfully on a tune so huge you should probably get bigger speakers before giving this a play. B-Side, Minor Smooth is equally good, its sleek synth stabs pairing with percussive handclaps and quickfire beats to pleasing effect. Sounding not unlike techno innovatior Carl Craig, the song has a sense of warmth and depth which contains more than a hint of Detroit style soul. Go buy! 9/10.
Bass fiends take note, as this month Houndstooth artist Second Storey once again joins forces with Skull Disco legend Appleblim for a furiously twisted yet funk-filled new EP. Gimme Six is out now on respected techno label R&S and contains three tunes which casually disregard genre while kicking sand in the eyes of convention. The strangely named title track gets things off to a head mangling start, Detroit techno pads merging with whooshing bass and an untrustworthy beat on a tune which I still don’t know if I love or hate. Levying Rocks is up next and opens with some spooky atmospherics before introducing a gorgeously elastic sounding bassline hitting you like a punch to the gut. The package is completed by the Derrick May-style pads and crumpled sonics of Aperture, a track which is as weird as it is great. Having, seemingly, ditched the Also alias the duo used for their previous releases, Gimme Six may just be Second Storey and Appleblim’s most engaging work yet. 8/10.
Italian label Autum Records start their Second Hand series with a reissue of DFX’s seminal acid house track Relax Your Body. First released back in 1989, and featuring the deep, booming vocals of Dr. Felix, the original is a darkened slice of early rave euphoria. Its frantic synth stabs will be instantly recognisable to KLF fans, or anyone who ever thought it would be a good idea to wear dayglow clothes and dance in a field. On the B-Side, Chilean minimal king Ricardo Villalobos remixes and extends the song to a twenty minute long groove. Opening with a subdued piano line which is soon immersed in rolling percussion, the track builds slowly but surely until the vocal elements are introduced five minutes in. Absorbing and hypnotic, this is a handy song for any DJ to have in their box, if only to fill the gap during a much needed toilet break. As good as the remix is, it’s the old school charm and new beat thump of the original mix which will have most of us coming back for more. 8/10.
DJ Taye returns to London institution Hyperdub this November with the follow-up to last year’s Break It Down EP. Merging soul, footwork, hip hop and more, DJ Taye’s output has long been on the radar of those who like a bit of substance with their beats. So it is with Move Out! Opener Burnin Ya Boa Feat. DJ Manny starts the record with some Mo Wax style strings and a repeated sample seemingly informing us that there are ‘Plenty of fools’. Downbeat and sedate, it’s a song to make you yearn for the glory days of trip hop. Next up, Go 2 Sleep Feat. DJ Earl ups the beat quota, adding rave stabs and clunking beats over a spoken word vocal urging the listener to ‘Please Go To Sleep’. Flip over for I Need I Want Feat. DJ Manny & DJ Spinn which merges a house acapella with footwork rhythms surprisingly well. The title track finishes things off with an uplifting melody and a warm bass throb to create a piece of music that makes the perfect soundtrack for cuddling up to the one you love. 8/10.
Those who like their techno fathoms deep are in for a rare treat this month in the form of Sandwell District artist Rrose brand new three track EP. Arc Unknown sees the producer debut on Function ever reliable Infrastructure label with a triple assault of eerie electronic bass-quakes. If this news alone doesn’t make you clap your hands with glee then you will never be a bona fide audio geek! The title track is a slow, dense throbber which makes use of minimal elements to create a tune which needs to be heard loud and with your eyes closed. Next up, Specimen 2 toughens up the beats, casting all superfluous sounds aside to craft a track which is so stripped-down it seems to do strange things to your head. Specimen 3 meanwhile is a close cousin of its predecessor, its acid blips and disorientating bleeps closing a package all but guaranteed to give any L.i.e.s. fan the horn. 8/10.
A special mention must also go to: Tachyon by Man Power – House supremo Man Power launches his new label Me Me Me with a ten minute long melodic swoon. The moment when the spoken word vocal first arrives gives me goosebumps each and every time, 9/10, To Believe by The Cinematic Orchestra – Ahead of his highly anticipated new album, Jason Swinscoe teases fans with a track dripping with melancholy delights, 8/10, Energy Soul by Fred P – The legendary Ibadan Records present two tracks of house music so smooth and soulful your heart can’t help but miss a beat, 8/10, UK Lonely by Or:la – Meine Nacht resident Or:la makes her Hotflush Recordings debut with some soulful garage and bass heavy grooves, 8/10, X Color EP by V/A – Ulf Ericksson’s revered Kontra Musik imprint continue their 10 year anniversary celebrations with a six track remix EP which hits stunning heights with the Echospace refit of Axis Audio by Mokira, and Sebastian Mullaert’s sublime remix of Jonsson/Alter’s Brevet Hem, 9/10, Konstrukt 004 by Doka – Three tracks of melodic electronica with the slow build drama and emotional rush of Bloom being the standout for me, 8/10, and Temple Of The Jaguar by Eomac – In a month of new labels, Eomac launches his new Eotrax imprint with a one-sided slab of techno so dark it could give Freddy Krueger a scare, 7/10.
Also worth checking: Limerence by Misantrop – If you are going to launch a new label, (Foul-UP), then these four tracks of druggy, nocturnal techno which recreate that warm, snuggly sensation you get just before falling asleep is the way to go, 9/10, One For The Heads by Dance Spirit – A four track EP of house rhythms which sees the US duo of Christopher Mohn and Reagan Denius return to Crosstown Rebels offshoot Rebellion in style, 8/10, The Sublime by Lukas Bohlender – Its title may be a lot to live up to, but Compost’s Black Label series comes up trumps yet again with the Innervisions-style house of this new EP, 8/10, Slowly by Dinky – Matthew Styles and Radio Slave take Slowly, a highlight from recent album Valor, and drag it firmly to the floor. Yet, it is the slow sultry acid of the original which steals the show, 7/10, Unwilling Suspension Of Disbelief by Hypoxia – Recorded in front of a live audience, these drawn out ambient pieces seem to exist in their own mist-shrouded world. A good thing of course, 7/10, Drumfeld by Man With No Shadow – Head straight for the percussion heavy workout of Double Dub, which is to dancing as the Daily Mail is to racist pricks, 7/10, and Tell Your Vision by Okzharp and Manthe Ribane – Fans of the urban pressure of The Bug, or FKA twigs will enjoy these four deep, sensual pop songs, 7/10.
And let’s not forget: Altered Visions by Damon Bell – The strangely named Abkebu-Lan is a ten minute long house journey which sounds a little like something you would hear on a Gilles Peterson show, but with a little more kick, 9/10, Vincent by Sasse – Moodmusic head Klas-Henrik Lindblad returns to his own label with a killer record full of lush tech house grooves, 8/10, Acid Avengers 003 by Umwelt/v_3.378 – In a splendid EP, head straight for the melancholy acid of Umwelt’s Reflections Of A Strange Existence for a song which makes the perfect accompaniment to long lonely days, 8/10, Raumklang by David Hausdorf – B-Side, Orbit is the one to go for; deliciously dub-infused and spectacularly deep it will keep the headz among you stoned for days, 8/10, Cubismo by Architectural – A quartet of raw, ragged techno which never forgets the power of the groove, 7/10, Based On Misunderstandings 09 by Rüba KPØ – Compost regulars Eddy & Dus replace the tech heavy original with a sleaze-filled disco strut for a track guaranteed to make you move, 7/10, and Preissenkung by Edeka – One half of RVNG act Gardland goes it alone with a triple assault of tough techno which will sound just fine when played in the right club, 7/10.