IAMTHATIAM – Time 4 Harmony In This World 12″ – Mathematics

Hieroglyphic Being is recording as IAMTHATIAM on this hypnotic EP.  When he describes his music as “new-age house,” I think that the music here is what he’s talking about.  The title track sounds as much indebted to Gamelan music as to any notion of modern club-oriented house music.  A Day Trip Through Divination is a bit slowed down, and again has a foreign feel to it, the modal harmonies remind me of the chords favoured by Autechre in some of their more abstract / generative work.  Over the course of the three tracks, IAMTHATIAM’s perfuses the work with unique timbres and a warped sensibility without any of his occasional wild tangents, making for a steadily introspective collection.

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Randomer – Obtuse 12″ – Super

Fans of Blawan, Shed, Objekt rejoice, here’s another stompy syncopated warehouse number.  Randomer’s track record reveals a background in more dubstep and junglist leanings, this four track release indicates a sharp shift towards a four-on-the-floor friendly style.

True to form, everything is imbued with heavy counter rhythms, tight edits, and dynamic sound design, from the breathy sighs used as subtle emphasis on the title track to the pots-and-pans percussion of Dope.  Adventurous DJ weapons, but they stay very much in the realm of tool-tracks, there is a great deal of variation within each of the tracks but not much that signals a build or break, no melodies, and tonality only in service to the intense rhythmic expression.

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Omar S – It Can Be Done But Only I Can Do It 2×12″ – FXHE

Omar S‘ sophomore album continues the prolific and outspoken DJ & producer’s current reign of lo-fi supremacy for the Detroit region.  Slowly tweaking the acid, the filter resonance, the levels throughout, these are tracks that  slowly build and groove with just a handful of elements.

Opening the release is a heavily filtered r&b loop with a light drum machine workout overtop, morphing into a Dozzy-esque slow-burning acid excursion.  A muted piano dominates the downtempo ambling house loop that starts off the second record before the polarizing x-rated and completely explicit sample underpinning the doublepack’s otherwise restrained penultimate selection.

This is an excellent collection of Omar S’ deeper side, recommended if you like the productions Benjamin Brunn, Kai Alce and Jenifa Mayanja.

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Aybee – Sun Of Cycle 12″ – Further

Prolific underground auteur Aybee has a very strong vision for this release on the bountiful US-based Further imprint.  Everything is heavily syncopated, it completely avoids any genre-tropes while sounding spontaneous and natural.

The title track has the aggressive, crystal-clear minimalism of Raster-Noton,  it’s a funky square beat with a vicious swing emphasis that is aimed directly at the hips.  On the B side, a dizzying voyage appropriately named Vertigo takes the listener on a nouveau-broken-beat trip through fancy footwork beats and a cosmic keyboard improvisation, all before completely switching up the kick for the last third of the song.

These tracks are thoroughly developed, and while they’re propulsive enough for the dance floor, they beg a closer listen for their musically adventurous spirit.  Recommended if you follow Theo Parrish or Hieroglyphic Being, or if you’re a fan of the latest from Noleian Reusse.

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A fine LP from Lerosa on Uzuri

Lerosa "Amanatto" on UzuriUzuri has put out some nice material as of late and the new LP titled Amanatto by Lerosa is no exception. With a nice balance between techno and house sounds, each track is very difficult to pinpoint in a category keeping each fresh and new. In addition, with three tracks co-written by The Oliverwho Factory, Shonie C gets a chance to add her breathy vocals giving a nice vocal element to some tracks.

For me the standouts are the opening grooves of “Constant”, the mellow deepness of “You Said Forever”, The Detroit-esque stylings of “Substitute” & “Horizons”, and the funky, slightly acidic closer “Hope”.

This is a great LP with tracks to suit many moods and another fine release from Uzuri. Recommended.

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Mini Sampler EP Three from Enterbt Records

Enterbt Mini Sampler ThreeZurich label Enterbt Records describes their overall sound by stating…

“The boys and girls from Enterbt believe in the healing power of booty shaking! Their appreciation of dance music goes back in to time – far beyond Detroit and Chicago. When rhythm was still a body thing and simple drums where played with simple sticks. They have the heart to question the overall progress. Instead of blindly follow common trends they create a movement of their own. “

This break with convention is evident on this sampler. The opening track “Completely In Tune” from Topdeal Music And Alessandro Felline combines a thick sawtooth bassline with keys and male vocals to create a fairly unique energetic deep house sound with a progressive view on arrangement. The next one “Kairo” by Jagged is built again around a deep dark bassline but the chords take the track into a more positive, uplifting direction. Its an interesting balance, using dark and light moments to push the listener.

On the B-side (which plays inside out by the way) Dario Damerini delivers what is probably the most classically deep house tune on the sampler in “Last Day”. It is also the highlight for me. It has a really nice laid back feel, very close to all of the great Persuader records on Svek from years ago where the percussion, baseline, pads and stabs are all working in harmony. The last track is quite a bit more driving and uptempo from “Last Day” with a stripped down house sound for peak hour. This one from CCO is titled “What Can You Do For Me” and should be a pretty popular floor filler at a lot of house music centric events here in Chicago.

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-Scotty Brandon

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2843 N. Clark St.
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Chris Mitchell – 84 12″ – Plan B

This is Chris Mitchell’s second EP for the NYC-based Plan B imprint.  For fans of the march-tempo, square-wave, clean and heavy tech-house approach of Areal, Catenaccio and Brouqade, this will come as a welcome addition.  Contrarily, it cuts a bit against the grain of the dirty, off-kilter sound that DJ Spider has been culitvating for the label, but it has enough darkness and rhythmic idiosyncracies to make some sense in context.  The pair of remixers further bridge the gap, with the real highlight of the release in Amir Alexander‘s prismatic reimagining of Worker Ants.  Dakini9’s remix is also a strong addition to the two originals.

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The Secret Life of Sound dropped off some new goodies today…

New releases from Chicago based label The Secret Life of Sound (TSLOS) including new 7 inch from heralded beatsmith Radius, featuring Tomorrow Kings members IB Fokuz & Gilead 7; a 7 inch, Tenshun vs. Youthkill (Walter Gross & K-the-I???), some straight grimy, nasty, gutter basement music with distorted drums in true DIY fashion with xeroxed cover art; and a 10 inch EP from Youthkill called “The Promise of Automation” which includes MP3s w/ purchase.  nice!

Aster – Tormenta Del Desierto 12″ – Mathematics

Another new find by Mathematics A&R Jamal Moss, and there doesn’t seem to be much information floating around about her, him, them yet.  But while the artist(s) behind the music are mysterious here, the music has incontrovertible roots in Chicago house and early Detroit techno.  The EP has a certain Mediterranean flair to its classicism, IFM’s cohering seamlessly with the vibe of the whole, but taking it even more gritty and retro.  In one of the detours, there’s a twisting arpeggio that reminds me of Bodo Elsel’s 2000 “Sines” record on Playhouse, another section decends into cackling laughter under peals of squealing synths.

Overall, the record comes off as more cosmic than gothic, though.  With two very analog ambient interludes and an original house track, it covers a lot of ground and showcases a promising new act.

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D’Marc Cantu – How Are We Doing 10″ – M>O>S

D’Marc Cantu, probably best known for his work with Tadd Mullinix as 2 AM/FM and with Tadd & Melvin Oliphant as X2 , delivers the goods with this solo release.

The strongest track here is the contemplative B side, “A Second Earth.”  Taking notes from B12 and Stefan Robbers, the track balances the thick, squared-off techno drums with a spacious, reverberant quality to the layered melodies.

The ominous title track is chunky and modular, the walloping bassline playing against a nearly incoherent vocal and a serrated rolling hi-hat.  Still, there’s an underlying hint of melancholy that gives this otherwise heavy track a pensive aura.

Both sides feel far too short, but they get straight to the point: they’re flexible tracks that would work well alongside dub techno or stripped-down jackin’ house.

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Matthew Kyle’s edits for Original Cuts aren’t just edits.

On this EP, titled the Just An Edit EP, NYC’s Matthew Kyle does much more than just edit down some disco jams for Original Cuts. Owner of the In The Woods label and relative newcomer to the production game, Kyle proves his worth as he lifts samples and creates new tracks around them. The best example on this EP is when he takes The Temptations’ “Shakey Ground” and pieces together a nice work out around some choice verse samples while never delivering the chorus for his own “This Hurt All Over”. Kyle loves his slow-house, nu-soul and downbeat disco. That passion is very evident here as two of the tracks are at a downbeat tempo but still will get a dancefloor groovin’ and on the flip the long player “Baby Come Back” is great lounge material.

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-Scotty Brandon

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Blawan – What You Do With What You Have 12″ – R&S

The strongest and most techno-leaning offering from Blawan lands with a double-mullet: party in the front and the back.  On the black side, the title track will catch the most ears, support, and controversy for the recognizable (though thoroughly mutated and mutilated) KDJ vocal.  Still, this is the antithesis of the Oliver $ crib – the track propels quite heavily under its own steam: warped pseudo-acid squelches, a stomping mess of kick and bass, and the vocals chopped to the point where it sounds like there might be two distinct speakers, whipping one another into a mutual frenzy.

The silver side is a moaning, lumbering, walloping four-to-the-floor track as well.  The overall package marks Blawan as a threat for the techno, lo-fi  house set as well as his peers in British Bass music.

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New disco-ized grooves from Katzuma on Kinjo Music

Italian Andrea Visani really works it out for this the first vinyl release on Dave Allison’s Kinjo Music label. The limited edition Life In The City EP kicks off with “Musicismadeforlove” which is an uplifting sample based jaunt featuring a dubby vocal sample and some choice synth solos. Then Tony T steps in to grind things out with the more minimal burner “Stooned (Tonyt Remix)”. The EP then closes out on a high note with the title track. This one builds off some really nice piano work and just keeps driving home with a killer bassline and a funky guitar lick at the wheel. The keyboard solo and breakdowns just add to the joy filled romp that is “Life In The City”. This is one not to be missed for fans of the deepest of house or the grooviest of disco!

Visit or call Gramaphone Records today to hear this release!
2843 N. Clark St.
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– Scotty Brandon

Volcov edits for the boogie lover in you!

Volcov edits for SJNRLThis one is simply a really nice collection of five edits by Volcov as part of the The Slam Jam Neroli series of edits. The tracks Volcov takes on here are quite varied combining Disco sounds with jazzfunk, fusion & gospel. Definitely one for the edit collection with many stone cold jams on one slab of wax!

 

 

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-Scotty Brandon

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2843 N. Clark St.
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Azuni takes a ride on the Soulship

Azuni "Soulship EP" on QuintessentialsThe Zurich duo of Gianni Siravo & Sven Lacoste have been steadily making some really nice house goodies as Azuni for a few years now. Since the release of their City Look LP on Sthlmaudio Recordings they’ve continued to produce proper house music on the deep side and their latest one, Soulship EP, on Quintessentials is no different.

Kicking off with “Do It To Me” they start things off with a nice Kerri Chandler-esque floor mover. Next they take things a bit deeper with the hip housey “Feel it” which features the vocals of up-and-coming Chicago based MC Bolo, who’s easy going flow both inspires as well as pays tribute to many key players in the house and hip-hop scenes.

On the flip, Rob Mello morphs “Do It To Me” into an uplifting nod to old school house stylings with an excellent remix featuring some lushes chord stabs and nice drum sampling/programming. Lastly, the EP closes out with “How Wonderful (You Are)”. In this one the duo keeps the old school feeling flowing with a nice vocal sample over driving distorted 909 drum sounds, rolling bassline and organs.

This is a really choice record, another one for Azuni who are quickly making a name for themselves as doing proper house and doing it quite well. Highly recommended to those who like their house with soul and depth.

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-Scotty Brandon

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Urban Tribe – My First Mistake 12″ – Vibes / Rush Hour

Urban Tribe is a collaboration between Anthony “Shake” Shakir, Carl “C2″ Craig, and Sherard “DJ Stingray” Ingram.  For the uninitiated: this is an all-stars powerhouse team of Detroit heavyweights, with over 40 years of productions between them.  Carl Craig runs Planet E.  Sherard Ingram is connected with the various Drexciya projects.  Shake runs Frictional.

The A side here is a funky Detroit beatdown house number, the title comes from a cut of dialogue that pops up here and there during the breaks.  It’s loaded with samples and atonality, it’s in line with the vibe the of the Three Chairs and Moodymann.  On the B side, Rick “The Godson” Wilhite breaks a whole production down, distorts and crushes it almost beyond recognizability, and then keys it back in with his own erratic programming style.  It’s a strange ride.

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Robert Owens – One Tear 12″ – Tevo Howard Recordings

Probably an odd and improper comparison for me to make here, but I’ll explain as I go on: this record on first blush sounds to me like Tin Man.  Or at least it hits on the sound that Tin Man seems to be striving for in many of his productions.

Robert Owens released one of his first big songs, “Bring Down The Walls,” in 1986, whereas Johannes “Tin Man” Auvinen  was born only 8 years earlier, in 1978.  So then, the sound has come full circle?

Suffice to say, Robert Owens’ work here has a certain quality that is simultaneously timeless and utterly contemporary.  In collaboration with the inimitable Tevo Howard, they capture the moody melancholy and melodic acid sound that is distinctively Chicago.  The sound should be well-familiar by now with the impact that it’s made around the world, here it’s orchestrated by one of the originals, and one of electronic music’s rising stars.

This is the second release on Tevo Howard’s new eponymous label, following up his standout label-launch EP, The Drum Machine Man.

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Pittsburgh Track Authority – Archipelago 12″ – Further

First off, Further gets top marks for their typically dazzling presentation: hand-screened full-colour jackets and co-ordinated translucent vinyl; minimalist, distinctive, functional.

After an eclectic EP for Uzuri, the Pittsburgh Track Authority trio is musically somewhat more restrained on this, their second outing.  The tracks are keyboard-centric instrumental house, they’re floor-friendly, warm, groovy and alive.  With two tweaked versions of Archipelago 6, there’s some variation depending on the listener’s circumstance.  Also included is the dubby Archipelago 3, recommended if you are a fan of Daniel Meteo’s catalog or of Pole‘s later work.  Further’s works are typically fairly scarce, so if this is your bag, you will want to give it a listen sooner rather than later.

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Legowelt – Poverties Paradise 12″ – Echovolt

The always creative Danny Wolfers is hard to pin down on this release.

Recording as Legowelt (which bears mentioning, as this fellow uses at least a dozen other monikers) he opens the record with a muddy Chicago-sounding house joint, with mumbled vocals, bits of diva crooning, and rippling, swirling melodies reminiscent of Larry Heard.  The next track is a little more electroid, with a heavy noodly bass riff flanked by spacious chords.  The flip side is the closest to his Bunker days, it gets funky and grimed up with heavily delayed vocals, squishy synths, and incessant 16th note hats driving the whole insatiable groove.  Closing out is a beautifully sinister melody from mars which will appeal to fans of the Aphex Twin and D’Arcangelo.  Coming off of his brilliant The Teac Life album, this is a welcome adventure from the sometimes unpredictable Legowelt.

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Noleian Reusse – The Black Tekno 12″ – Love What You Feel

Ridiculously underrated Chicago DJ and 1/2 of Africans With Mainframes, Noleian Reusse appears here on the Pittsburgh-based Love What You Feel imprint for his second solo 12″.  This is a fresh start, of sorts, given his five year absence from recording under this name.  And it feels like a new leaf, both for him and for the label: Love What You Feel’s first release by Disco Nihilist (as well as his follow-up on Running Back) is roots analog house music, stripped to its fundamentals.  While Noleian’s sought-after Images EP for Mathematics added some syncopation to the mix, it didn’t stray far from that well-worn prototype.

This release is a different story: while it retains the drum-box aesthetics and raw tracky feel, there are occasisional mid-track change-ups as well as an array of tempos, layers, and unrestrained heavy rhythm work that puts it more in line with recent Nonplus and Autonomic releases.  It’s a flexible, engaging, unorthodox record that has earned Noleian some new listeners abroad, and renewed attention here in Chicago.

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