Kuniyuki takes Juzu a.k.a. Moochy’s “Re:Momentos” on a deep journey

If you like your house music spaced-out with a touch of balearic african rhythms and tribal jazz, than this one is for you and me.

Japan’s Kuniyuki Takahashi has continued to shine with his inventive remixes and re-workings as well as his own work. Like many Japanese producers, Kuniyuki seems to eschew the rules and create his own framework. One in which jazz, soul, funk, world and electronic music seem to live together in perfect harmony. There is a refined balance to his work and these inventive remixes are excellent examples. Don’t sleep on this one, take it home and experience it all the way through a couple of times and you too will marvel at its genius.

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Norm Talley – Transmissions Part 2 10″ – Thema

Producing heavy underground dance music since the mid-90s, Norm Talley comes highly recommended for fans of Rick Wade and Mike Huckaby as one of the key defenders of the deep house world.  In this latest offering via New York’s Thema imprint, he starts off with a dark and propulsive, techno-leaning track.  He backs the record with an extended version of Man On The Moon, which while staying dark, is a more lilting, spacious, gloomy recording that slowly opens up into a 8th note walking bassline past the halfway mark.

Both of them will work a charm as deep house tool tracks, they’re tracks that build with a subtle, rolling feel and are memorably pressed on a 10″ of white vinyl with a white & purple motif across the record label, jacket, and sticker art.

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Storm Queen brings the 90’s esque House w/ It Goes On

As one-half of the duo Metro Area and Environ Records main man, Morgan Geist has carved out a solid reputation for making tracks that are funky and melodic through analogue sounds and sparse arrangements. With his Storm Queen project he works with vocalist Damon C. Scott and together they take his 80’s Italo derived sound for Metro Area and push it up a decade.

“It Goes On” is the second Storm Queen release and its plucky, dark bass line and solid drum programing beats its way through a sparse jam worthy of late night play. Scott’s vocals build until the track opens into a chorus featuring some nice synth stabs and some synth and programing work reminiscent of the first Kelly Polar album on Environment. It reminds me of a modern day take on the early Cevin Fisher tracks. The dub is as advertised and strips the track down nicely to its best root elements. All in all its a really nice single that will work well with the House and IndieDance heads alike.

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Gramaphone presents: Rhythmatic @ Smartbar – Wednesday January 11th, 2012

Kicking off their 2012 season, Rhythmatic invites Tevo Howard back to join residents Scotty Brandon and Michael Serafini for an evening of house music.  This will be a free event, Smartbar is located at 3730 N Clark.

Actress – Rainy Dub 12″ – Honest Jon’s

Clocking in at around 120bpm on both sides, Actress may be using only the very most liberal definition of house music as a parameter on this two tracker.  The A-side, assumed as the title track, is devoid of any percussive elements.  Rainy Dub is populated exclusively by a squeaky midrange bassline that varies between a couple main themes and is slowly joined by a chattery chorus of twisting dub delays.  On the flip, Faceless is another subversive effort; while it’s clearly anchored by a rhythmic pulse for most of the track, the course of its darkly tuneful path is littered with playful frequency fidgets and constant variations.

In a perverse sense, this could be labelled essentialist bass music, since much of the time there’s little else in besides the bassline.  However, Actress continues to challenge, and to forge an unorthodox sound.

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O/V/R – Live In London 12″ – OVR Live

Staying true to their strict regimen of cultish detail and obscurity, Ruskin and O’Connor (also known as OVR, O/V/R and seperately recording as James Ruskin and Regis…) deliver a white 12″ for this latest purist techno offering.  It is identifiable only via the catalog number etched between the runout grooves and the inverted black-and-white photocopy sheet included, the latter showing a hazy collage of most likely Betty Page bondage spreads and a subscript of the release info at its base.

And where the release delivery is stylistically akin to Regis’ Sandwell District assocation, musically it develops on similar themes as well.  Functionally titled, James Ruskin’s “Live Rhythm Separate” is restrained, stoic, rhythmically dense techno well under 130bpm; Karl O’Connor’s “Live Tonal Separate” is a soundscape of fuzzy vocal samples, reverberations, static, and gradually a ominous thin melodic wash.

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Pilas – Burros 12″ – Shaddock

Pilas comes to us via Shaddock for his third release, his first for the label.  On the A-side, he finds himself knee-deep in the slow, grimy house stylings popularized by the Workshop crew, and true to form has landed the in-demand Kassem Mosse for a twisted re-work with granular vocal processing and an even lower BPM, as if taking the challenge of the slow, mental original and upping the ante.  On the flip, Pilas includes two more originals, both a bit uptempo from the A.  While perhaps more oriented towards the house heads, they both stay dark and atmospheric, rounding out a consistent sound for the EP.  Promising work from a relatively new artist, and with the imposing packaging and higher-profile remixer, it should be gaining him a broader audience.

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Farben – Xango 12″ – Faitiche

Jan Jelinek has finally re-emerged after a half-decade hiatus from his Farben project.  His new releases on the Faitiche imprint stick to his ethos of rigorous sample mining and re-contextualization, but update his previously microhouse sound to the increasingly weird, slow-motion, and bass-oriented palette of recent years.  This latest 12″, his second on the imprint, should appeal to fans of Musik Krause and NSI in addition to the followers of Farben’s various monikers.  It stays low-slung and weird, and while it stays clear that he’s still “loop finding jazz records,” he’s taking the loops in stranger and less club-friendly directions.  Overall, it’s a refreshing, original, and promising take and a welcome return to quality form.

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Kid Koala – Space Cadet: Original Still Picture Score CD & Book – Ninja Tune

Canadian turntablist Kid Koala has extends his storytelling once more with a full book of original, hand-sketched artwork to accompany his hand-scratched vinyl manipulations.

And true to the project, the music is subdued, introspective, and does really sound like it was composed as a concept soundtrack.  The turntablism takes back seat to the sparse, moody orchestrations.  Fans of Kid Koala’s catalog will already be well-acquainted with his penchant for cute graphics and narrative-inspired productions, this natural progression is a beautiful package and unique offering.

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Alva Noto – Univrs 2×12″ – Raster-Noton

Alva Noto mastermind and Raster-Noton cohort Carsten Nicolai doesn’t seem to be mellowing with age.  On the contrary, his spectacular live sets have become increasingly visceral and abrasive, reflecting a frequently similar drift in the Raster-Noton catalog.

In line with this shift, Univers is an album of precise tones and atomized sound design, mostly in the service of harsh industrial rhythms.  And as with all releases on the label, there’s similar attentiveness given to the visual presentation: this a deluxe gatefold with minimalistic utilitarian layout.  Recommended for fans of Sleeparchive, Byetone, Mika Vainio et al.

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James Blake – Enough Thunder 12″ – Universal

This mini-album from dubstep, downtempo, singer-songwriter impressario James Blake expands on the vocal & acoustic-hybrid efforts he explored on an acclaimed self-titled full-length.

For about half the album, he sticks to barely processed piano and vocals, his singing sometimes with shades of Antony Hegarty falsetto.  Here and there he still adds electronic flourishes, as on the beatwork of “We Might Feel Unsound” and the vocoding of his Bon Iver collaboration “Fall Creek Boys.”  He’s certainly found a broader audience with his new direction, and this well-assembled package, with its full cover art and friendly price will serve to deepen that connection.

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The Aphotic Segments Part 1 12″ – Sistrum

The conspicuously consistent quality of Sistrum label head Patrice Scott comes to bear both in compiling this compelling compilation and in his sonic contribution.  His suggestively titled “3AM” starts off unassuming, but builds into a cascading metalic riff that forms the 12″s most vigorous jam.

But he’s also assembled an excellent team of veterans, and they deliver in subtle spades.  Sunshine stands with Anton Zap‘s strongest material, its effortless bassy funk is undeniable.  Leonid’s contribution is deep as ever, but a touch more on the propulsive, upbeat side when compared with his solo work; XDB keeps it deep and hypnotic.

Sistrum consistently releases quality deep Detroit sounds, and this compilation neatly meets its high standards.  Understated as they are, these songs are growers: tracks that gradually blossom after taking root.

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Karenn – Sheworks001 12″ – Works The Long Nights

Karenn, a Blawan collaboration that has just emerged earlier this year, seems to focus more on the atmospheric side of Blawan’s range.  This isn’t to say that it’s any less aggressive, just that there are more noise washes and sometimes thicker textures involved than in his recent solo work.  This creatively-inked 12″ is packed with clattering, raucous, darkly ecstatic midnight rhythms. Out of the recent flood of artists jumping from dubstep back into a techno-oriented sound, this seems to be a promising project.

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Mike Huckaby – My Life With The Wave 12″ – S Y N T H

One of my favourite Mike Huckaby joints is happily revisited here on his own S Y N T H imprint.  Regardless of the critical backlash against the term “dub techno,” this is a 12″ that stands up well, even a few years after its original limited release in 2007.

The long side hints at the dense, churning noise of his Echocord collaborations.  On the B, Fantasy is a well-familiar deep house groove along the lines of his Harmonie Park and Laid releases, and Jupiter touches on the lighter side, with a Titonton Duvante style skip-beat and sunbeams of keyboard flourish.  Unmarked marked silver labels, an inscription that bears the mark of the venerable late Ron Murphy, this is an unassuming and deep release by a Detroiter who has gone on to broader recognition in the years since.

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Conducted Sampler 2 12″ – Music Man

Belgian Music Man imprint compiles some selections from Marcel Dettmann‘s “Conducted” mix for the vinyl audience.  To the Berghain resident’s credit, it’s an unpredictable collection with some range beyond banging techno.

The Toupe Committee track sounds like a well-tuned tribute to AFX‘s Analog Bubblebath-era break-driven rave acid, newcomer Answer Code Request follows that up with a slowed-down garage / dubstep joint reminiscent of the hybrid style produced by artists like Roof Light and Late.  On the other side, Geigling’s Vril contributes an industrial techno barrage, and The Analogue Cops’ bizarre looped vocals and Dutch electro style round out the release.  The 12″ doesn’t fit neatly into categories, but is even handier in the box because of it.

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selections from Scuba DJ-Kicks Mix 2×12″ – Studio !K7

!K7 continues to proactively do whatever it takes to take it to the next level.  Thinking outside of the box, they’ve leveraged the UK’s stoic rockstar, Paul Rose aka Scuba, to take the 30,000-foot view of the techno / dubstep synergy.

As a no-brainer value-add on the otherwise impactful compilation, they’ve started off with his exclusive track M.A.R.S., sounding much on the same page as his recent paradigm shifting productions.  Going forward, the selections touch base with the electro of Boddika’s Acid Battery and ravey Streetwalk by Jon Convex.  All the sounds at play on the 2×12″ Paul Rose has a lot on his plate, jumping from dBridge’s ragged breaks to the nu house of Adisson Groove with flawless execution.  Finally, circling back to a purist techno sound with the inclusion of Sigha to finish the package is a win-win for Hotflush, another example of Scuba working smarter, as with his Berghain collaboration and robust touring schedule.

At the end of the day, it is what it is.

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Omar S & Kai Alce – Jive Time – FXHE

I’m a huge fan of Omar S and this slab of really refined, yet raw house with former Detroiter Kai Alce is just more support that he has something really good going on in The Motor City.

Kicking things off is “Not Phazed” in which the pair revisit classic Detroit stylings with thoughtfully programmed drums, emotional synth strings and a dark running baseline that creates a dramatic foundation for the tracks overall uplifting feel. The B-side treats us to the title cut “Jive Time” which is a perfect soundtrack for the late, late night dancers who really feel the music in their soul. With a bit of jack to the drums, some really nice synth sounds and thoughtful programming this may be the highlight of the EP. The third cut titled “Incognito” is no slouch however. Built around a circular synth line and pounding kick, this one weaves its way in and out of tension slowly releasing and rising again building to a controlled chaos at the end.

This is one of those EPs that reminds you that this music should have a wider variety of emotion to it than just ecstacy and excitement and that there is still a need for subtlety and depth on the dancefloor.

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Mr. Scruff – Feel It! b/w Bounce – Ninja Tune

I just love Mr. Scruff’s whole attitude towards DJing and production. He builds his own gear. He tours with his own homemade mixer that’s seemingly held together mostly by duct tape. He doesn’t really care much about blending, and lets many of his records play out to the end. He does all of his own artwork and videos. Really, watching him DJ is watching one of the best and most creative record selectors of our time where programming and the song are paramount to anything he may be doing technically.

So then he goes and makes this amazingly beautiful deep and shuffling house track called “Feel It!” and, believe me, there is no need for the exclamation point, because anyone who hears this will feel it. On the flip is a killer house stomper in “Bounce” built around some piano chords and nice analogue synth melodies. When that rising baseline and shuffling break kick in get ready to move your feet, because good things are coming.

I guarantee this is one of those records that will stick around for quite a while. Both sides are ace and transcend trends, probably because the man that made the music doesn’t care about them.

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Get Down Edits vol 2 from Ireland’s Darrendaz Dalton

In my phone I keep a running list of all the songs I want to do edits of. First on that list for the past year (I’m slow at getting to them) has been Sade’s “Hang On To Your Love”. I can now cross that one off thanks to Ireland’s Darrendaz ‘Daz’ Dalton.

This is a sublime collection of really nice mellow, grooving edits from various artists. First we get Dalton’s slo-mo “Hang On”, followed up by Deep & Disco’s chop-up of The Pasadenas’ rare groove styled anthem “Tribute (Right On)” which gets a 4-to-the-floor kick that disco-tizes things into a great groove. On the flip we get another jam from Dalton in a killer take on Bobby Caldwell’s “Do For Love” where the vocal just straight up rises beautifully above a stripped down rebuilt groove. Finally its the housy-ist of the cuts in 78 Edits’ “Get Down Baby” that filters and cuts its way through a nice mid-tempo floor filler.

This one is a must have for edit fans and those that need a bit of soul in their sets or their lives.

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Jackin’ Box goes Cow Tippin’

If you like your house music pumpin’, humpin’ and bumpin’ then this one on Flapjack Recordings is for you. Definitely for the fans of that big club, filtered house sound.

 

 

 

 

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