Less & Phony Pinch – Send More Cats 12″ – Enliven

These are a pair of stream-of-consciousness tracks. So, starting with the first side… a pair of horn flourishes, some delay processing, looped briefly, four-on-the-floor kicks, a brief sung phrase in key with the rest, some live loose snare and hi-hat work, a tiny snippet of the horn again and a muted guitar string fading into and out of the background, a brief pause, pensive strings, beautiful female vocal singing something like “body soaking up the taste of the streets,” the drums roll back in with a heavier bassline, slightly questioning modulated bassline, energetic hats pop back up again, a couple syllables of the vocal crescendo in again before another brief break, “just a sound, no melody,” and the beat continues again, letting all the elements thus far wind over themselves into thicker and thicker layers before they finally wear themselves out.

Other side: a delicate house groove, flickering resonant treble bits squiggling overhead, a bouncier feel, oh – here come tropical vocal harmonies, some plucked guitar? ukelele? fades in and the kick disappears while all the melodies swell together, the kick and bass interplay come back in again but the live snare work gets a little more brave before everything drops again, there are swells of melody, drums return more insistently than before, heavily processed piano atmospherics, vocals play back and forth against the loose drums, all the lower register drops out for a radiant moment, more layers of processed piano, murmured vocals, vocals are peeling away over themselves like L’usine’s fragmented pop songs, fully fleshed-out drum parts return, bouncy rhythm, vocals fade away, drums start to lose steam again, vocal vowels pierce through again, vocal phrases now with just faint hints of the ground-up piano in the background, pulsing bass foreshadowing, undulating resonant treble gesticulations again, more layers of voice, cascading, some comprehensible words about longing, chords resolve, snare, hihat, clapping interplay, kick, hard closed hat all come back in, full groove returns for a brief epilogue before things wind down with high frequency doodles trailing off afterwards.

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John Tejada / Truncate – H&V 007 12″ – Historia y Violencia

A couple legends of the US techno scene pair up for this latest stamp series 12″ from the Los Angeles-based Historia y Violencia label.  Managed by Santiago Salazar (Seldom Seen, Underground Resistance) and John Mendez (Cytrax, Silent Servant, Jasper), the label has a notable pedigree and only releases a record or two a year.

John Tejada‘s contribution offers his customary musicality and sleek, judicious composition, but with a  comparatively austere, monotone feel compared with his most recent work. Truncate‘s ominous dark techno fits well with the sound of Sandwell District and Prologue, which makes for a notably varied split 12″.

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Regis – Speak To Me 12″ – Downwards

Aesthetically apparently a studied exercise in subtle imperfections, the intentionally distressed full grey cover gives way to slightly mottled label art. All this could be a nod to the mention on the rear that indicates: “both tracks recorded 29/11/1994 onto a Philips pocket memo 596.” Indeed, this is a reissue of 2 of the 3 tracks on Karl O’Connor‘s debut 1995 “Montreal” EP, which was actually released on the same imprint back then.

This package certainly makes some kind of commentary on the technologically progressive nature of techno as well as the importance of purity of fidelity and the timelessness of pure industrial music. That aside, the two tracks here are punishing, drifting techno loops that will appeal to fans of Regis and his cohorts: Surgeon, James Ruskin, Sandwell District, Function

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Studyman – Minimal Action 12″ – Decabaret

Hardwax says “Jacking minimalist Techno;” Clone says “Four proper techno tools in the vein of Robert Hood and early Jeff Mills.”

This is the third release on the Decabaret label, founded just in 2011 and focusing on techno for parties. With that in mind, this debut for Studyman is an uptempo heavy drum programming workout, spiced here and there with a synth stab, filter squelch, or ride cymbal but otherwise head-down gear. Right along the lines of Snuff Crew, classic acid techno sound with modern production punch.

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DJ Lgcc in-store on February 13th, 2012

DJ Lgcc, who produces under the Dreamlogicc moniker, will be stopping by the Gramaphone booth for a mix session around 6pm on Monday evening. He often plays an edgy mixture of dubstep, juke, techno and electro, stop by and hear the next podcast in progress.

Obsolete Music Technology – Mmmmmusic 12″ – Emphasis

Steven Tang’s Obsolete Music Technology guise returns for a third time to his own label. His Emphasis imprint has been a quietly consistent Chicago outlet for melodic techno, focusing mainly upon his own work under various aliases.

For this outing, he’s allied with Uzuri’s Chicago Skyway, another strong DJ and producer who’s been making waves abroad. Both of these are producers who balance the gossamer with the concrete, and maintain a classically rooted sound that’s spread Chicago aesthetics far beyond the shores of Lake Michigan.

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Tr One – Drum Dance 12″ – Apartment

Tr One already enjoys a healthy buzz from key house heads and tastemakers like Mr Raoul K of Mule Musiq, Bearweasel of Tsuba, Frawl from Never Learnt, Tom Cox from Pittsburgh Tracks, and Lakuti from Uzuri… with this release on the still young Apartment label they show why.

The Irish trio’s lone contribution fills the A side of the record, and it’s a loose, percussion driven groover that stays dry and heavily swung. There’s a strong impression from the drift of the drums and the rambling melody  here that this is a highlight from a much longer jam session, and it speaks to the quality of the session that the fade out at the end leaves a healthy curiosity at where else the recording might have led. On the B side, Mathematics star John Heckle ties the relaxed drums together to form a messy groove and then builds a nu jack synth tune overtop. Closing things out, Juju And Jordash take it into tape-delayed dubby house territory with their “Dub Dance” version.

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Juniper – Theories 12″ – Underground Quality

Manchester’s Dan Mumberson and Reuben Holt have outdone themselves on this EP. Four tracks of murmured vocals and subtle, compelling melodies show appreciation for the restrained archetype of deep house while proving expressive and impassioned. The clean streamlined percussion leaves lots of room for the sumptuous, memorable chords, hazy ambience, and lumbering basslines. This will fit perfectly for fans of soulful collaborations like Gunnar Jonsson / Joel Alter and Benjamin Brunn / David Moufang. Recommended.

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Miguel Migs – “Close Your Eyes” feat. Meshell Ndegeocello

It is possible that the underground house scene in San Francisco started well before the early to mid 90’s but one thing is certain, by then it was bursting with the kind of growth that bought it life and new found notability. And though the scene has now changed in much the same way that many in the US have, there are a hand full of dj’s, artists and producers that remain at play today in that region. As one of the primary architects of the the San Fransico sound, Miguel Migs comes to mind. His association with the likes of west coast labels such as Naked Music, Om Records, Transport Records and his own imprint Salted Music have ultimately moved him to the head of the class and attained him opportunities to collaborate with the ever smooth Lisa Shaw, disco great Evelyn Campagne King, and funk and soul’s Meshell Ndegeocello, the latter being the subject of this review.

“Close Your Eyes” featuring Meshell Ndegeocello is Miguel Migs latest effort out on OM records. The original version can be heard on his current cd entitled Outside The Skyline (OM Records/Salted Music) but the remixes by Osunlade, Deetron and Shades of Gray have been reserved for the 12 inch, each covering diverse musical tastes.

With it’s resounding kick, wobbled base, intermittent horn sweeps acsented by constant waves of dream strings, layering vocal repetitions and linear approach to arrangement, Shades of Grays mix captures the heart and soul of 90’s club house.

Deetron glorifies this platter with both a vocal and dub that fittingly honors the techno genre but because of the simularities between the two, only a critique of the vocal will be cast. It begins with a subtle strength, a mix of hollow and dense progressions that take off on an acid frenzy, Meshells vocals dancing in unison as if to contain the inevitable. It is a method that has placed Deetron on a lighted path towards success within the underground dance community.

Take a cue from the title. “Close Your Eyes” and listen to Osunlade’s recreation of this piece. It is absolutely beautiful and full bodied. Meshell’s vocals resonate with warmth, trickling gently like spring rain over a tapestry of prominent chords and key sprinkles, soft percussions, persistent shakers and a bass that delicately pulses with richness. Although the other mixes offer something fundamental, it would be difficult to imagine this release without Osunlades contribution.

Again Miguel Migs has given his listeners an impressive package which is evidence that he remains an integral figure in the underground sounds of the west coast.

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Review by Oscar McMillan

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John Collins’ Edits on Sweat Records bring back the fun

Remember when House Music used to be fun and upbeat? When it used to be about a joyous gathering of all kinds of people to dance together to a beat? John Collins certainly does and he’s packed 3 EPs with good time edits guaranteed to get everyone smiling and moving. Many people forget that Detroit Techno’s early originators like “Mad Mike” Banks and Derwin “D-Ha” Hall also produced some of the region’s best Vocal House tracks, making this series right at home under the Underground Resistance umbrella.

For the Happy Vocals EP Collins has selected some real gems with the highlight for me being Bridget Grace’s “Love 2 The Limit.” This one features all the horn stabs, piano’s and longing female vocals your soul could hope for.

On The Happy Trax EP the standout for me is Collins’ cut-up of D-Ha, Mad Mike and Mike “Agent X” Clark’s “Rock Ya Body.” This one is just a thumpin’ house tune with cut up vocals and such a nice melody. Its the sound that many producers are trying to emulate today, but nothing is quite as good as the original.

For the last record in the series, The Soul City EP, its Robyn Lynn’s “Your Love Is So Good To Me” that really does it for me. Full of uplifting message, driving rhythms and organ stabs its a soulful jam that embodies the entire feeling of the series.

This is an excellent series of records featuring the lesser known uplifting sounds of Detroit and Chicago’s house scene of the 90’s. With so much talk about Deep House and Deep Disco these days, these records are a nice change of pace where the energy and expression are not reserved and the only seriousness is placed on having joyous, euphoric fun.

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Phonocast 02 – Hakim Murphy

As previewed here, Machining Dreams’ Hakim Murphy came through with a set on Monday January 30th, 2012. Digging through the crates, expect a trip through beatdown Detroit house, warped acid techno, Chicago jack and beyond.

Deepchord – Hash Bar Remnants Part 2 12″ – Soma

Fans of techno AND dub-techno, rejoice: the master has returned. Following up on his well-received Hash-Bar Loops full-length, Rod Modell’s Deepchord project returns with his foggy Dutch field recordings and re-invigorates them with weighty rhythm work. In this second of the two installments, the pair of tracks here take up the full pressing. They seem to warrant comparison with some of the dubbier parts in the Chain Reaction catalog, albeit with more focus on the delicate superimposition of the many, many fine layers that make up each of these tracks and less emphasis on straight repetition of theme and variation. The verdant heaviness this lends the recordings feels like it could work both in a dark techno setting or in more serene environs.


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New Hi-Tech Jazz from Timeline on Underground Resistance

UR’s Jon Dixon takes the simplest of things and makes them sound complex, but that is at the heart of jazz isn’t it? On this EP he calls upon the ghosts of Detroit’s jazz history with help from Saxophonist De’Sean Jones to create a synthesis rooted deeply in both jazz & techno.

The first track “Save The Bluebird” (referring to Detroit’s famed Blue Bird Inn) has a strange darkness to it that is hard to imagine on top of the bouncy beat but it works. Especially when accompanied by De’Sean’s sax work. This is followed by the broken beat shuffler “Lottie The Body” that really showcases De’Sean’s work on the horn.

On the reverse we get a keyboard work out over some minimal analogue sounds and driving beat in “Ghosts Of Greystone” followed by another broken beat jam in “Black Bottom Stomp.”

This is the type of EP that could only be on UR. A strange blending of electronics, jazz and soul where the sum winds up being greater than its parts and the workout is just as cerebral as it is physical.

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A percussive floor mover from Abacus and iDRUM on NDATL

Austin Bascom and his pseudonymn of Abacus should be known to most house heads having released some prime cuts on labels like Guidance and Prescription. For this 3 tracker on Kai Alce’s NDATL imprint he takes the percussion work of Davidson, aka iDrum, and weaves it into some deep, rolling dance floor thunder.

The A side is 15+ minutes of percussive thump, saxophone, stabs, acid lines, female vocals and sultry washes that make up “Bang This Djembe.” This is a bit of a monster, breathing with just the right amount of tension and release throughout the track making for perfect late night fare. On the flip we get the smoothed out sound of “Welcome To The Party” with analogue chords and more of that driving percussion. That’s followed by a nice dub featuring a stripped down version of the percussion work featured throughout the slab.

This is a great record for fans and DJs of many genres from the deepest deep house to the most minimal of techno. There’s something for everyone here and another gem in Abacus’  discography.

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John Heckle – The 4th Dimension 12″ – Mathematics

John Heckle opens both sides the crowded EP with relaxed joints that tread the line between house and techno, reminiscent of the B12 via Firecracker sound of UK artificial intelligence. On the A side, he follows that up with a more insistent, heavily orchestrated and characteristically abrasive piano house jam. And to close out the 12″ on the B side, a beating house tune with raw drums slithering underneath charmingly strange modulated consonance.

Overall, Heckle is striking a remarkable balance between Jamal Moss‘ overt experimentalism and the classicist house leanings of many of the Mathematics stable.

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Rhythmatic @ Smartbar, Wednesday February 8th 2012

Gramaphone records presents part 3 of their Rhythmatic series at Smartbar with residents Michael Serafini and Scotty Brandon alongside special guest selector Weaponry. They consistently bring a dancefloor-focused night of underground grooves and solid mixing, from techno to house to disco, and always with no cover charge.

Phonocast 01 – Tevo Howard

Our latest addition to the blog is a bi-monthly podcast series, so you can hear the music being played by the Gramaphone staff, friends, and guests, all played live during exclusive in-store sessions. The first edition was recorded by Tevo Howard on Tuesday January 24th, 2012. Enjoy.

 

Function – Ember 12″ – Sandwell District

David Sumner’s Function project, the moniker for almost all of his solo releases , is well established through over a dozen 12″s over the past two decades. Through his association with Sandwell District since the mid 2000s, he’s gone through a kind of renaissance; this 12″ is exemplary of the introspective thrust of his more recent work.

Spread across four tracks, the Ember 12″ starts with its most uptempo track, Decending, a spiraling deep techno saga that interweaves 16th note drive with a supine, melancholy atmosphere.  Picabia follows that with what could be a slower take on the material, this time with more resonant tones and interferences. On the B side, the title track is a beatless interlude of glowing pads and radio fragments, and the EP closes with a long, lulling melange that lands somewhere between ambient house and his minimalist techno. While all  four works seem like variations on a central sonic theme, they are compellingly realized and come off as the patient explorations of an seasoned artist.

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Hakim Murphy in-store set at Gramaphone today

Stop by the shop around 5pm today to get an advance listen to Gramaphone Podcast #2 from Hakim Murphy as he mixes up some of his favourites for a special in-store set. For a preview of his productions, check out our reviews of his recent work: Vanguard Sound Vol 2., Dogs & Flies, Moonbeam Express, or click over to his Machining Dreams homepage & blog.

Gerry Read – All By Myself 12″ – Fourth Wave

The rough, loosely tumbling sample collage house music of Gerry Read continues to hit its stride with this 12″, his first of 2012 and third on Fourth Wave. He has his own distinctive take, landing somewhere between between Falty DL’s barely restrained R&B chaos and Losoul’s slowly revolving lumpy house. It’s revved up and optimized for the club, recommended for followers of Nonplus, MCDE, Eglo and the like.

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