Music | Bittles’ Magazine: The music column from the end of the world
After a short break, which I spent mostly watching John Hughes movies, singing along to Taylor Swift and catching up on my nap time, everyone’s favourite music column makes a welcome return this week.
My original idea to publish a story about a lonely hedgehog who finds love through the music of Right Said Fred was rejected by the dictatorial editors at ›TITEL kulturmagazin‹, so I bring you reviews of some fantastic albums instead. We have the deep house grooves of Deetron and George Fitzgerald, the drug addled electronic sleaze of Bézier, the frantic footwork trappings of DJ Taye, the post-everything folk of Beautify Junkyards, and lots more. By JOHN BITTLES
So, before I decide to take another undeserved break, we had better begin…
Following revered mixes for both the Fabric and Balance series, Swiss DJ and producer Deetron steps up to DJ Kicks with a swirling, multi-layered set full of melody and groove. Recorded across three decks, the artist melds a total of 34 tracks into a rich, heady whole. According to the press release Deetron’s mix was composed “in the style of a traditional mixtape”, adding vocal snippets over the original tracks to create an album which is positively brimming with energy and soul. After a slow, muggy start with tracks by Carl Craig, Linkwood and Indian Ocean warming the listener up nicely, SBM’s Critize gets things going with its Alexander O’Neal sample used to stunning effect. From here tunes by Mr. Fingers, Roman Flügel, Morgan Geist, DJ Koze, Black Dog Productions and more are subtly blended together to create a set which slowly but surely works its way into your mind. Reminiscent of a Sasha and John Digweed mix from back in the day, this latest edition of DJ Kicks is full of melodic flourishes and slow build beats. 9/10.
George Fitzgerald’s debut LP, Fading Love merged house rhythms with pop melodies and a subtle dose of bass to produce one of 2015’s stand-out records. This month sees the release of the eagerly anticipated follow-up with the ethereal stirrings of All That Must Be. Recorded in his windowless South London studio, the album is comprised of a selection of rich, melodic house music which recalls the output of Four Tet or Caribou. Opener Two Moons Under is the perfect case in point, a stuttering vocal sample merging with a soft focus 4/4 pulse and twinkling melodies to form an ecstatic sounding piece of dance floor joy. Next up, Frieda’s soft trance pulse wouldn’t sound out of place on Bicep’s wonderful debut LP from last year. Other picks include the Mount Kimbie style atmospherics of Roll Back, the acid-tinged melancholia of Siren Calls, Outgrown’s reflective Balearic air, and the sunny trip hop of Half Light. Wonderfully affecting and uplifting, All That Must Be is an album even your mum could enjoy. 8/10.
Next up we have the darkened disco, druggy house, and retro/futuristic grooves of Bézier’s new LP. Composed of eight hardware heavy tracks, Parler Musique is a thrilling late night journey into a dingy cellar where the locals seem restless, but the beats are just so damn good! Released on the always on-point Dark Entries label, the multi-instrumentalist conjures a world of late night crack parties, fucked-up losers and an eighties indebted sense of cool. The title track opens things with a deep synth flourish sure to sound wonderful in any dark, dingy room. Other gems include the retro electronic stomp of Organisation Maritime, the Kraftwerk at Studio 54 strut of Téléconférence, the Drive soundtrack groove of Entr’acte and the deep space disco jam of closer Une Salade Oblongue. While not everything on here works (see the hyperactive bleeps of Un Subalterne Insubordonné), Parler Musique is a rewarding listen for anyone who desires a bit of electronic sleaze. 7.5/10.
Inspired by the untimely passing of Chicago legend DJ Rashad, DJ Taye decided to work on an album which would push the boundaries of what the footwork template could achieve. The results are at times devastating, and take in elements of hip hop, soul, house, dubstep, funk and more. The soulful trip hop of opener 2094 is quickly followed by the rap meets chipmunk beats of Trippin‘ to create a beginning which never stops for breath. Next up, Need It (Feat. DJ Manny) is a scatter-shot collections of beats, samples and bass which will inject an extra dollop of funk to any mix. Other picks include the vaporwave crunch of Same Sound (Feat. Odile Myrtil), the gangsta strut of Get It Jukin‘ (Feat. Chuck Inglish), and the soulful swoon of closer I Don’t Know (Feat. Fabi Reyna). Unfortunately, with sixteen tracks in total, there are a couple of duds on here which are begging to be skipped. All in all though, Still Trippin‘ is a satisfying, if hyperactive listen which will bring out anyone’s inner cool. 7.5/10.
This month, home of all things sedate and Balearic, Eskimo Recordings bring us the latest in their colour-themed compilations with the sun-kissed grooves of The Purple Collection. Available now, the album features fourteen songs from artists old and new. Long-term Eskimo fans will no doubt already be familiar with names such as Atella, Antenna and NTEIBINT, while the likes of Dogu Civicik, Cavego and Hermigervill will be new to most. The comp begins with the graceful vocals and rising synth crescendo of Ascension by Atella and the indie pop croon of Helicopters by Languages, which sets us up nicely for the cosmic disco groove of Dogu Civicik’s Andromalius IV. From here the album takes in the retro funk strut of Feel Me by Simon Says, the Body Language style house of Simple Symmetry’s Prince Of Persia, the gentle Balearica of Hello (Extended Mix) by Horixon Feat. Else Born, and lots more. While the odd track can drift into mediocrity, The Purple Collection is the perfect album for lying on your back on a wet, windy morning imagining you can hear the gentle lapping of waves. 8/10.
This week we’ll finish with the gentle folk strummings and soft wistful air of Lisbon band Beautify Junkyards. Out mid March on English label Ghost Box, the group’s third LP, The Invisible World Of Beautify Junkyards is a strange, yet enchanting album. While, in lesser hands the bands‘ 60s indebted pastoral twinklings could have sounded cynical and calculated, their songs have such a sense of wide-eyed innocence that it is impossible not to be won over by their charm. Ghost Dance and Sybil’s Dream open proceedings with the gentle strum of an acoustic guitar, hushed drums and the mere suggestions of snyths and bass. Sounding like they could be emanating from a collection of faded photographs, songs such as Golden Apples Of The Sun, Aquarius, Sorceress and May Day Eve recall the wistful romanticism of Broadcast, sitting heavily but happily on the soul. If you like to daydream, or reminisce about ‚better days‘ The Invisible World Of Beautify Junkyards could well be the record for you. 7.5/10.
A special mention must also go to: Drank by Thundercat – DJ Candlestick and OG Ron C add stoner charm and a woozy aesthetic to Thundercat’s Drunk LP from last year. The results are unsurprisingly great, 9/10, Integrity by Maarten van der Vleuten – Originally released back in 1992, Outrage Recordings artist Maarten van der Vleuten’s rave inspired house and melody driven techno receives a welcome reissue this month in the form of a seven track double 12”, 8.5/10, Vessel by Frankie Cosmos – Greta Kline’s group of indie romantics debut on Sub Pop with an album of slacker cool, 8/10, Conic Sections by XOR Gate – An album of next level electro goodness from Gerald Donald of Drexciya fame, 8/10, 01DEAS by The Maghreban – Ayman Rostom’s debut LP came out late March on R&S and is the perfect blend of post rave sounds, 8/10, Superorganism by Superorganism – Sounding a little like The Avalanches after an overdose of sugar, these hotly tipped Londoners‘ debut arrives like a toddler eagerly clinging onto your leg, 7/10, Apollonia by Garden City Movement – Chilled trip hop and laid back vocal jams dominate in a record which merges elements of Bonobo and Zero 7 with aplomb, 7/10 and Miami 2018 Mixed by Dubspeeka – Featuring tracks and remixes by artists such as Booka Shade, Azari & III, Robert Hood, Ian Pooley and Dubspeeka himself, this Miami Winter Conference round-up is sure to fire up any party, 7/10.
And let’s not forget about: Cyclical Undulations by Edit Select – Deep, heady techno with a steady 4/4 thump by the artist formerly known as Percy X. Catch this while you can as this is shockingly good, 9/10, Durand Jones & The Indications by Durand Jones & The Indications – Classic sounding soul music which will instantly put even the most miserable of people in a good mood, 8/10, Chill Out by Mokira – Marking the 50th release for his Kontra Musik imprint, Andreas Tilliander gives us a gorgeously sedate collection of mid 90s inspired ambiance, 8/10, The Mansion by Brett Naucke – Nostalgia filled melodies mix with eerie synth-scapes on a record which fully rewards repeated plays, 8/10, The Salt Doll Went To Measure The Depth Of The Sea by The Low Anthem – A concept album with a soft, melancholy feel which merges gentle folk rhythms and hushed indie to winning effect, 7.5/10, Drift by The Men – Resembling a modern day Suicide, for their seventh album the NY punks reduce the tempo to explore some mellower, yet no less spiky tones, 7.5/10, Linear Equation by Shlomi Aber – Introspective techno and bass heavy ambiance abound in a set of squelching, bleep filled tunes, 7/10, Felt by Suuns – Montreal band Suuns make a welcome return to our stereos with the woozy indie pop of their fifth LP, 7/10 and Get Physical Presents: Cocada by Leo Janeiro – Created in association with the Brazil Music Conference, and mixed by Brazilian artist Leo Janeiro, this sun-kissed comp takes us from lush house grooves to thumping techno beats and back, 7.5/10.