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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Shit Robot’s “Answering Machine” gets retouched by MCDE & Planningtorock

Marcus Lambkin has never really played completely by the dance music rules as Shit Robot which is probably why he fits in so well on DFA records. His output has continually combined elements of rock and pop songwriting with underground sounds to create an accessible hybrid of underground and indie dance palatable by hipsters and chin scratchers alike. On this slab of remixes, however, the already good track “Answering Machine” off his From the Cradle to the Rave album get stripped down into very different beasts.

First up is the Motor City Drum Ensemble remix which, as usual, is excellent. The man behind MCDE, Danilo Plessow, has been making music since the age of 11 and his refined studio technique and great ear for sounds and composition continue to produce excellent dance music. For this remix he strips things down to a wobbling bassline, sharp drums and a vocal snippet and the result is a deep, dark dance floor grinder. On the flip, frequent The Knife collaborator, Planningtorock takes the track in two distinct directions. The ‘Pizzo Remix’ takes the vocal and creates an interesting and moody symphony of percussive string sounds and handclaps beneath it. Then for the ‘Whisper Remix’ he dubs things out a bit with a piece of more stripped down spacey techno.

A great record for fans of deep house, indie music and more underground sounds this one takes the original work and pulls out its many influences into individual compositions that stand on their own.

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Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs meander in the Garden w/ Soul Clap

Its no surprise that Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard found this fellow, Orlando Higginbotham (if that is even his real name), and signed T.E.E.D. The sound from this one man band is very reminiscent of Hot Chip’s dreamy electronic pop as evidenced by this single for “Garden”. This one features the guest vocal stylings of Luisa from Lulu & The Lampshades and is a nice uplifting romp through some indie dance stylings.

On the flip we get a remix from Soul Clap that really just “clubs up” the sound of the original adding some 90’s era percussion elements and dishing out the vocals in smaller quantities. If you like the original, you’ll like the remix.

This one is great for the IndieDance set and will put a smile on the face of anyone within earshot.

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Unbalance – #1 12″ – Unbalance

Unbalance kicks off a new stamp series, very much in the spirit and aesthetic of the recent Wax and Traversable Wormhole imprints.  I won’t give away the surprise of the artist behind the project, but if you’re that curious, a little searching should turn up the culprit.

With any output like this, though, the music is meant to stand up on its own faceless merit and for fans of Redshape and Rekorder, this brand of tweaky, atmospheric acid house will be a welcome addition.  The beats are backed with greyscale washes and heavy rumbling kick syncopation, with ample grit.  While the origins may be slightly obscured, the intent is clear techno functionality.

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Juanpablo – Mother Mountain 12″ – Frigio

Frigio records founder Juanpablo opens Mother Mountain with a collaboration with Chicago’s Josh Werner.  A reverberating gonzo acid track with murmured vocals and ascending arpeggios, the title track is a science fiction experiment.  Sea People follows this with a straighter industrial acid-house groove over conspiratorial vocals and a slow build of twinkling keys.  The flip side is Aracnoid’s techno rework of the title track, this is the most aggressive dancefloor tune on the release, with a splashing pitch-tweaking ride and 16th note bassline propelling things along.  Overall, a release that fits somewhere between Kompute and Nation in the continuum of Chicago electro industrial.

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For the “Big Family EP” The Anologue Cops recruit Blawan and Ryan Elliott

So stick with me here as we do a bit of globe trotting… Italians Lucretio and Marieu now live in Berlin where they run their Restoration Records imprint and produce under the name The Analogue Cops. For this release on Restoration they have recruited the help of Yorkshire England’s Blawan for 2 cuts and Detroiter, now Berliner, Ryan Elliott for another two. Now that we’ve got all that straight lets talk about the record.

For the A side it’s Blawan’s turn up to assist. The first cut, “Good Stuff” features Blawan’s big and punishing up-front drum sounds around some washed out synth sounds and a vocal stab. This track is a techno pounder masquerading as a bumping house track and it works as both. The second cut “45 Dollars” isn’t necessarily playing around either. With a big 808esque kick and some deconstructing low-end warble this one winds its way around a nice piano line as fuzzed out percussion sounds scratch and roll beneath. When the vocal sample kicks in with its “45 dollar entry” refrain and the track rebuilds subtly around it you wait for the big beat to drop in again, but the boys only tease you with it as the track mellows to a close.

On the flip Ryan Elliott takes over the co-pilot seat for “To The Park” and “Let Me Count.” In “To The Park” we get a nasty (in a good way), Chicago-esque jacker built around some jazz piano samples, a screaming vocal snippet and a pretty serious off kilter sub-bass line that shows Elliott’s Detroit influences. Finishing off the EP is “Let Me Think”, a more cerebral track than any other on the EP that winds around some interesting use of sounds and stabs to create a composition much greater than the sum of its parts.

This is a really nice EP, where the tracks take you places you don’t expect and some risks are taken to push you out of your comfort zone. If you’re looking for the place where house/techno music may be going in 2012, this may not be a bad place to start.

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Old and Rare Work by Jordan Fields on Klapmaster

Klapmaster continues their string of releasing lost, rare and unreleased tracks from Chicago artists with this EP “Unknown Klassics Vol. 1″ by Jordan Field’s.  Featuring some of Fields’ more raw and oscillating early works, this EP has some excellent musical moments on it. Each track is full of the spirit that bedroom production brings to the table.

Side A contains two tracks with rolling, snaking basslines that weave their way through the overdrive and around some nice, fuzzy, well programmed drum tones. Side B pounds a bit harder with a looped, tracky feel more akin to late nights in sweaty rooms. There is a bit of jack and a bit of acid but the tracks never loose their beauty.

There’s a lot to be said about all of the refined, precisely produced dance music there is out there these days. However, this music started in the bedrooms of young producers without MacBook Pro’s and Protools or Ableton and quite often, as this EP shows, it doesn’t take perfection to move people. Just heart, and a passion for making music with whatever you’ve got in front of you.

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Luke Hess – Dubout 3.13 12″ – FXHE

Luke Hess drops his 3rd 12″ on the FXHE imprint and it is a stab-happy slab of very Detroit techno.

His allegorical track titles don’t give away too much of what’s going on musically, but the track positions do.  Narrow Road is the long side, and it is easily the most dynamic, big-room tune of them all, with a ride symbol and a crescendo of filter sweeps.  On the other side Leads To Life is reminiscent of Stephen Hitchell‘s style with its swirling pads and breakbeat kick.  Unity Excerpt is the most hypnotic, and closest to the deep style of label boss Omar S with its reliance on raw sounds and unusually light use of the otherwise present dub delay.

3.13 could be a triple entendre.  It’s part 3 of the series, 313 is the Detroit area code, and Philippians says, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead…” which might well be Hess’ inspiration for this rendition of the Detroit archetype.

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Falty DL – Atlantis 12″ – Ninja Tune

Somewhat of an originator when it came to this loose, sample-heavy, slowed-down house groove (Gerry Read, Youandewan, Red Rack’em, etc), Falty DL returns on the mighty Ninja Tune and re-establishes his mastery of the art.

While it’s not as frenzied as some of his album work, the music here is characterized by a constant motion throughout the course of each song.  The title track is straight ahead house by Drew Lustman standards, Can’t Stop The Profit takes it down a notch in tempo and adds in the vocal play familiar to fans of his Phreqaflex EP, but then changes up the tempo and cadence a couple times later on in the track.  My Light, My Love gets full on wonky funkadelic and then he closes out strong with the sliced garage stylings of The Sale Ends.  It’s a varied ride and a clear reminder of why this producer is in demand from some of the most established labels in edgy electronics: Rush Hour, Planet Mu and now Ninja Tune.

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We Are Not Alone 12″ – Inimeg

Second release for the fledgling Inimeg sticks to the plan: futuristic melancholy label art paired with three tracks from Joey Anderson and an underground heavy-hitter cameo.  On the first release, the special appearance was from DJ Qu, this time around it’s Jus Ed.  And as in the last edition, the high quality is consistent throughout the release.

Opening the release is Jus Ed with a track that’s restrained even for him, pastoral chords over a purring bass and some 808 beats.  Following that up is a gritty house track from Anderson, with a punishing midrange and an alien jazz chord-progression.  On the flip, the other two tracks stay dark and gritty but with washes of beautiful melody, often in dissonant contrast to the rest of the track.  Overall it is compelling, oblique, original work that carves its own path, it’s easily heavy enough for club play and will appeal to fans of Fred P, Kassem Mosse, and DJ Spider.

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Kassem Mosse – Enoha 12″ – Nonplus

Gunnar Wendel’s KM guise is hitting while the iron’s hot, and shows no sign of running out of material soon.  Here with his second EP for the detail-oriented and eclectic Nonplus imprint, he comes with a couple of skeletal electro tracks, a reverberant slow-house joint, and one straight up heroin house groover.

Opening with the long-running house beat of the title track, he returns to the theme that worked well for him on the FXHE-tipped 576 and his “Untitled” on Laid, but this time focusing on the bass and reverb interplay rather than bringing in the melodies of those earlier works.  GS02 likewise eliminates all but the drum programming, leaving a clattery robotic hodgepodge that would do Andrea Parker proud.  Inswanns is the “slowhouse” beat mentioned, though it’s more evoking that vein through the halting filter-happy beat and spacious atonal chime melody than the well-over-120 BPM.  Closing the EP, Sleepworking is an uneven half-beat electro wobble that will appeal to Chicago fans of Dreamlogicc’s sub-heavy PAs.

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Franco Cangelli – Embrace 12″ – Machining Dreams

Hakim Murphy’s gear-oriented Machining Dreams imprint branched out from his original work with this interesting signing. The depth and drive of Franco Cangelli’s title track handily demonstrates the qualities that have seen him releasing arbiters of underground quality like Sushitech, and Seventh Sign in addition to his own Mowar imprint. On the flip side he strips down the production to a more dry, drum-box powered Detroit-style, always inflecting the tracks with detail and hints of melody.

Releases like this have paved the way for Machining Dreams to feature artists like DJ Spider, Amir Alexander, and Chicago’s Steven Tang under his Obsolete Music Technology moniker.  Certainly a stamp-series joint worth checking out while it’s still possible to find a copy.

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WAX – 20202 12″ – WAX

Opening with a thoroughly fragmented rhythm, Pinch’s rework falls close to the blueprint of Shed’s rugged techno breakbeat.  It’s a pummeling uptempo big-room approach with Shed’s piano stabs duelling a growling soundscape and kinetic breakbeat, a clear move away from Pinch’s lighter garage / dubstep “underwater dancehall” stylings on Tectonic.  On the B side, Elemental goes full cut-breakbeat sound, almost certainly a cut that will be in rotation for Martyn and the like.  The twist is that the last third of the B side cut takes a sharp turn into a shuffling revamp that even reminds me a bit of some adventurous moments on the Traum label.  This remix pack is a worthy addition to the WAX stamped-series catalog and is worth a listen for the dubstep / techno crossover DJs.

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Mario & Vidis – Staar Wars 12″ – Best Kept Secret

Falling somewhere between John Tejada and Lawrence territory, this new 12″ should appeal to fans of either, as well as to followers of Endless Flight, Future Classic, and Best Works. Those happen to be the other imprints that have released records this year for the suddenly prolific Lithuanian duo.

Kicking off the newly founded Best Kept Secret sublabel with a full-cover art EP, the A side has a pair of uptempo numbers that have the melodic flourishes of Plaid while staying straight-ahead enough for a deeper dance set.  The B side is a contrast, hitting the downbeat house groove on both with a delicate melody for the first track and a seductive female vocal for the final cut.

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Marko Furstenberg – Selected Remixes 2 12″ – Ornaments

The always elegant presentation of Germany’s Ornaments label is paired with similarly elegant productions on this remix compilation of previously digital format-exclusives.

Marko Furstenburg’s usual near-transparent studio technique is brought to bear first on D.Diggler’s Nitronome, the original bouncy deep tech-house released on the 2006 album Empulse.  Furstenberg’s submerged interpretation integrates many of the original sounds, but squares up the beat to make it a little more driving for the club.  Continuing on the sonic theme of underwater grooves, the 20000 Miles Below remix is culled from the a 2009 digital compilation on the consistently excellent Zeecc label.  Again, the rework ups the intensity to a level that would fit well with Heiko Laux’s Kanzleramt catalog.  Finally, the long side is devoted to a remastered version of Gabriel Le Mar’s 2009 Thinner release.  This is the standout on the release; with heavy melancholy chords taking center stage towards the end of the track it’s a good show of Furstenberg’s underutilized strength in writing compelling melodic developments.

In light of too-common discussions of release format competition, it’s encouraging to see these songs bridging the divide for new availability on a physical release.

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Gift Ideas: Some new threads available at G-phone.

Theo Parrish should give me one of these $43 Ugly Edits t-shirts for writing about them on facebook. I wear a smedium, dude! “$43??!!!!” you ask? well, $42.99 + tax, really. Rahm gotta get his cut, too, joe! If it’s like anything else Theo does, it’s limited. And face it, you probably made enough to buy 20 of these things and have plenty left over from selling your Theo Parrish records online. Am I wrong? Thought so. Support your boy. He’s worked hard for it.

side note: Theo, I charge $1 per word for write-ups. That’s $153 worth of words. Plus the picture is worth 1000 words.  That’s $1153 you owe me, good sir.  Just give me a shirt and we’ll call it even.

side side note: I don’t get paid to write at all. Sorry for lying. It would cost me a week’s worth of Gramaphone wages to get one, even with my discount. Just give me a shirt.

That says”Hi-Fi”.  Can you see it?  No?  Tilt your head to the left and connect the boxes in certain places with your huge and imaginative brain.  See it now?  Ha. Yup.  Took me a minute, too.

Chicago House icon Ron Trent got these bad boys printed up.  Maybe your familiar with his Africa Hi-Fi parties and brand?  If not, get acquainted.  It’s one of the finest parties in this faire city of Chi.  And it’s all about great music… just like Gramaphone.

 

 

Remember cassette tapes?  I still got ALL mine in a record crate.  Love them shits.  So many memories.  Heard that they’re coming back in a niche kind of way.  Our friend Ross Kelly owns a vintage shop Kokorokoko in Wicker Park.  He said kids buy up all the cassette tapes and walkmans pretty quick.  Maybe Gramaphone will start selling cassette tapes again?  I’ve definitely noticed a lot more folks coming in and asking for cassettes!  Hmmm.

Enough of my tangent!  This is the backside of Ron Trent’s Hi-Fi shirts!  Show all the cool kids you know what’s up, too.  $20.99

This cat creature is cute, but i swear he really wants to eat my face!  I’m happy that he has no way to achieve his goal.  He is limbless.  And a cartoon.  So, I just laugh at him.  Stupid cat guy.  Fuck you!

Aside from his blind hunger for human face flesh, he makes for a pretty sweet t-shirt design.  Just don’t let your loved one lay his or her  or his/her head upon your chest while wearing this.  He may mutilate them!  Unless that is your intention, of course.  If you try to purchase this shirt and I sense your evil intent, I will deny you the sale!

This is a Candy Talk t-shirt from Gramaphone alumnus and OM Recording artist DJ Colette’s new clothing line.  It’s cute.  And it don’t really wanna hurt nobody.  Mens & womens sizes.  $25

So, I hope I’m not the little boy who cried wolf, or something… but… uhhh… this  guy really wants to hurt you.  He’s a gotdamm coyote wielding  a huge sharp knife of the murderation sort.  MURDERATON!

Coyote Cuts is a Chicago Jack House label brought to you by the Flapjack & Spatula City folks.  Right now I’m listening to Wattie Green’s Blastoff EP to acquaint myself.  Now I understand.  The coyote isn’t trying to murderate anyone in a literal sense.  He’s trying to kill the dance floors of the world with his brand of funky jazzy jacking house magic!  Go, coyote, GO!  KILL THEM ALL!

DJs, grab the records from this label to kill dance floors.  Gentleman, wear this t-shirt and become a lady killer.  What lady doesn’t love sweaty dudes in t-shirts?  Available in gray and blue.  $18.99

Maybe you’ve seen this logo popping up around Chicago?  What is it?  Pac-man, beware… Chicaghost.  Clever, no?  You know you want one.  Git git it.  Mens & womens sizes.  $22.99

 

 

 

 

Hey, Mike!  Boss man!  That’s 752 words and 6 pictures (worth 1000 words each) at $1 per word.  In an ideal world you would pay me $6752 now.  Sadly, this world is far from ideal.  I wrote this for minimum wage, which I’m not complaining about.  Maybe you, the reader, could make this world a bit more ideal for us all, including a loved one, by purchasing a fresh t-shirt for him or her or him/her, which would increase sales at the humble record store of my employment, Gramaphone Records.  That could possibly lead to me getting a raise and adding some meat to my nightly meal of Top Ramen.

Thanks for reading this long ass shit.  Happy Holidays.

Soul Capsule – Seekers 12″ – Trelik

This is not a new release, but the recently reinvigorated Trelik label is still wandering its way to outlets around the world (including Gramaphone) so I thought this gem would be worth a late mention.  Thomas Melchior and Peter Ford team up for another subliminal loopy session under the Soul Capsule guise.  The original is all deep reverberated moans and repetitive vocal bebop over a classic rolling tech-house beat.  It’s so straight-ahead and sub-driven that it seems primarily intended for club play, but it’s heady enough to demand a special moment even there.  On the flip, they’ve enlisted Ricardo Villalobos for a rework.  His entry is fairly conventional for those familiar with his catalog, this time he throws in some moody keys along the lines of his Heiko Laux remix and reduces the vocals to subtle wisps playing against some loose background snare jabs.

If you follow Perlon, you already know what they’re up to here.  Well established as they are, it’s not groundbreaking but they still set the standard.  And of course it’s great to see Baby Ford‘s Trelik imprint (most active from 1995-2001) back on the map again.

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Plaid – Scintilli 2×12″ / CD – WARP

Plaid are still off in their own exquisite world.  They seem to have invented a personal language, and continue to develop its vocabulary through this latest, long-awaited full-length.  In the half-decade since their last WARP releases they have provided feature film soundtracks for Heaven’s Door and Tekkonkinkreet and this may have helped to further develop the already cinematic vision present in their earlier work.  As with the tangled origami artwork on the cover, their results are both striking on first glance and illuminating upon further investigation.

Songs like the triumphant “At Last” and Danny Elfman-esque “35 Summers” show a dream-like charm in their composition.  Elsewhere, they utilize the extended format to stretch their precise sonics and intricate rhythm programming; moments in “Talk To Us” harken to LP5-era Autechre, while the tricky time signature work in “Tender Hooks” and “Missing”, proto-dubstep of “Eye Robot” and playfully rocking shuffle of “Unbank” hint at their enduringly, endearingly adventurous approach.

Even as Plaid has been heavily imitated and inspirational to the swath of musicians and programmers left in their wake, the British duo is still singularly distinctive and original.   For the fans out there, this will also serve to tide you over until (hopefully) the eventual physical release of their score to Tekkonkinkreet.

[edit: Tekkonkinkreet did get a physical release on Japan only CD, and was just this week released internationally for download on Bleep.  Still waiting on the vinyl & international CD versions, though…]

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