Atmosphere – Swede’s Scandal (Instrumental Edit) (Radius Records, 2007)

Originally released on Superradio Records (a treasure trove of classic Italo) in 83, this track returned to prominence through Morgan Geist’s superb and unmissable ‘Unclassics’ project. My copy is an edit not a million miles away from the original taken from this Superradio compilation on Radius. The track utilises textbook spaceship noises, has a killer bassline, and then the synth brilliance takes over. Camp as Christmas and dripping with sleazy euro appeal this track is one of my all time favourites and today I’m sharing it with you.

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Free Life – There’s Something Better (Epic, 1979)

To get us back into the Discofutura flow, here’s a gospel goodie perfect for all end of night emotional occasions. 2011 was an eventful year, and the new year has seen a lot of change and a lot of goodbyes for Discofutura. So this is the official Discofutura anthem for 2012, turn it up to full, get ready to throw your arms into the air and embrace your loved ones.

Mongo Santamaria – Watermelon Man (Tappan Zee, 1979)

Originally making an appearance on Battle Records in 1963, but in this instance lovingly recorded from a Tappan Zee sampler (all tracks chosen by the faultless Bob James) this Grammy Hall of Fame inducted slice of latin disco funk is one of my favourite dancefloor selections for when the crowd are ready to go left. Pop pickers may recognise the intro as the basis for ‘Oxymoron’ from the Idjut Boys’ Key to the Tripod, and what an intro it is. The Cuban percussionist goes all out with some train track sounding vibes, then the bongos, then the kick, before finally dropping into some sort of copshow funk. He then takes Herbie Hancock’s Watermelon Man, pulls it apart before letting loose with some far out Jazz Funk. Truly dope.

Dimitri From Paris – Dirty Larry (Dim’s A La Old School Flava) (Yellow Productions, 1996)

Here’s some classic bizniz from the many monikered Dimitri. Arriving on the scene as France awoke from its musical slumber in the mid nineties and casting the net wide in the search for influences, the cosmopolitan Dimitri championed a jet setting sound. Although a House DJ at heart, Dimitri took his early inspiration from the sounds of 50s Jazz, Exotica and Film Scores, creating in ‘Sacrebleu!’ (Mixmag’s Album of the Year in 96) a set of sumptuous downtempo muzak, lush and layered yet at the same time playful and full of character. However, if one were to peer through the Gauloises fug, inside that suave exterior was a house head sipping the same disco punch that the Idjuts and Harvey were serving up. This 12″ on Yellow Productions (a consistent label for cultured house co run by the consistently questionable Bob Sinclair) is an absolute gift for anyone with even a passing interest in having a good time.

The track first appeared on the Sacrebleu! LP in somewhat sophisticated fashion. Intended as a ‘tribute to the late Larry Levan and the great Lalo Shiffrin(sic)’, Dimitri serves up a house track incorporating the otherworldly melodies of Lalo Schifrin complete with not only harpsichord, jazz drums and bass, cinematic horns but also a bumping house kick and some far out dancefloor psychedelia a la Levan. If the more restrained LP version fell into the Lalo Schifrin camp, geared for lounge bars and home listening, perfect for an evening inside a Stella Artois advert, then the ‘Old School Flava’ mix was Larry’s revenge. Uptempo, proto house drums, dub disco bassline, lazers and the same far out synths as the LP version. If you’re a fan of the excellent Night Dubbin’ compilation on BBE then this one’s for you.

If you like what you hear then I strongly recommend finding a copy of this vinyl as the Crue-L Grand Orchestra and Idjut Boys mixes are also superb.

legowelt – 2002 (ghostly international, 2002)

Writing about Marcos Cabral, I quoted Legowelt’s views on what techno must be. And in thinking about him, I recalled this monster hidden in the last part of the Disco Nouveau series on one of the most forward thinking labels emerging from Ann Arbor, Michigan: Ghostly International. The sound is very Moroder, lo-fi, italo, and analogue enough to gain the support of the purists. Perhaps. It has a rampant yet constrained beat adorned with catchy melodies reminiscent of a Blade Runner scenario. Pure bliss I would say. If you like this, try his 2011 album, TEAC. Check his website, where you can grab it in exchange of some monetary donation, in that way as he states:  ‘I can buy more crap synthesizers to make stuff like this and repair my Roland Juno 106 which stopped working  during the recording of this album…probably cause this shit is tooo deep and it just couldn’t handle it….doesnt matter, the bottom line question is CAN U HANDLE IT???’ Blah blah blah…

From my own waxy round black thing and retaining as much analoguism as i thought convenient. Play out loud for better results.

marcos cabral – cassandra (long island electrical systems, 2011)

Marcos Cabral is half Runaway with Jacques Renault and co-owner of On the Prowl. This vinyl here is himself charting the well-treaded dubby techno territories and does not disappoint. It is not a mere copy of any Basic Channel / Moritz Von Oswald production. Instead, it is a release full of originality and uniqueness, fine tuned and well-executed. Cassandra, my chosen offering here (promotional purposes only, folks) is a delicate, gentle and melodic dub exercise in nuance and texture layering. This is techno in one of its many splintered variants. And i am fully conscious of the connotations the word brings to some. So let me reassure you. Let, actually, Legowelt, an also experienced electronic music crafter,  clarify you what kind of techno we are dealing with over here: ‘(…)when I say Techno, I don’t mean that booooooooooring contemporary sh*t they call techno nowadays with overrated talentless pretentious douchebag c*nt DJs playing a few halfassed dumb mongo beats and being all artsy fartsy about it.” So be it.

Storm Queen – It Goes On (Enivron, 2011)

Morgan Geist needs no introduction. The man has been making dance music to the highest standard for longer than i’ve been able to tie laces and he’s showing no signs of slowing down. Whether working as half of Metro Area or under his various solo aliases he always brings deep and organic sounding music, retro influenced but forward facing, touching on the 80s sounds of boogie, italo, early house and techno, but always sounding fresh, original and unmistakably his own. In December last year he snuck out a very late contender that wiped the floor with the track of the year competition under the alias of Storm Queen. That track, ‘Look Right Through’ has barely been out of the box over the last 12 months and is due a rerelease on D******D (I won’t say that word) with remixes from Aeroplane, Dimitri from Paris, Art Department and Jamie Jones. So if you’re new to the track, get there quickly, it’s about to jump the shark. Thankfully, as a saviour of the underground, Morgan has seen fit to release another powerhouse in time for this year’s party season.

‘It Goes On’ repeats the trick so wonderfully pulled off in ‘Look Right Through’. He has taken what is in essence a melancholy ballad and styled it as a house track with the late 80s/early 90s aesthetic. Inside the ecstatic body moving rhythm of these tracks, hidden within the exceptional synths and flawless production lie real songs, about heartbreak, longing and resilience. This time round things are less straight forward, the track is less immediate, the progressions less classic which usually means its power will be more lasting. Things begin with a handclap, always a good start, and the key melody of a descending bassline. Things are very minor key, Damon C. Scott (returning on vocal duties) starts to tell us a tale of loss as Morgan’s synths weave their magic, and finally we’re paid off with an uplifting chorus and the hands are in the air. The highlight of the track is the detuned warped synths that follow the first chorus. Inventive, interesting and forward moving electronic music that will pack every floor it’s unleashed on.

You can find both Storm Queen records on vinyl at the Environ Shop and listen to the vocal mix of this gem below.

Todd Terje – Inspector Norse (Olsen, 2012)

We’ve long championed the moustachioed musical wizard around these parts and the man continues his winning streak with this latest release. Coming to prominence a little with the ever reliable party starter Eurodans, Todd then unleashed a myriad of high class disco edits to the world, mostly bootlegged or circulated on low bitrate mp3 but nonetheless essential listening. Sadly with a hiatus from original productions and only the odd (exceptional) remix appearing there were those keyboard warriors who turned on Todd’s playful nature and pop edits and he was branded a ‘wedding dj’. Well in April this year he smashed the haters out the park with the glorious dancefloor bomb ‘Ragysh’ on Running Back and its equally good, melodic and ambient b-side ‘Snooze 4 Love’.

Well, the man has excelled himself and topped these efforts with his new release. Musically you could say it falls somewhere between his previous two tracks, dancable but more subtle than ‘Ragysh’ and containing some lush synth melodies along the lines of ‘Snooze 4 Love’. The track is propelled by a bouncy italo bassline and some synthetic lazer sounds, before the stunning heaven sent melodies start to come to the fore. The beauty of this one washes over you whilst still retaining a tight groove until a rumbling and darker bass sound and some swirling arpeggiator  takes the track to its immersive crescendo. This could already be crowned as the track of 2012.

It first appeared in the middle of a recorded dj mix on soundcloud and had internet heads turning immediately, gradually further information has surfaced and today a presell link has been added to the Piccadilly Records website (check it out for a hilarious press release!). The track will be released on Terje’s own label Olsen (co-run with the ever excellent Smalltown Supersound) on the ‘It’s The Arps’ E.P., so named as all the sounds found on it have been produced by the ARP2600. This is an essential release and is in shops on January 9th, do not sleep on it.

nicholas – dig deep (no more hits, 2010)

To get some room in the tight and scarce spaces left in the slow motion house biz is an arduous task. To not sound repetitive, formulaic or be a victim of your own success you need to be positively inventive. Mark E or The Revenge had their glorious times and we have championed them repeatedly in all the venues we have spun our wax. We have written about them and spread the word dutifully. We do celebrate good music in all its variants until the genre implodes.

We relatively gave up on the slow house cum edit infested thingy. Luckily, we got a man to save the re-edit boat, to prove that Italians (sometimes) do it better. Nicholas Iammateo, a young and very prolific 25 years old, has been releasing consistent vinyl after vinyl on the No More Hits label among others. His niche is an early vocal house aural aesthetic. Tastefully sampling vocals and pitching down the beat to make it sensual and soulful giving it an overall analogue feel reminiscent of the best classic early house genre. With an apparently distorted arrangement of notes which remind us of  the Motor City Drum Ensemble trademark that works wonders on Nicholas’ productions.

Nicholas is dropped frequently and you always get some avid listener approaching you enquiring about the track. It is Nicholas doing his thing. Totally brand new retro.

Fancy knowing a bit more about the man? Read this article on his production skills. We give you a slice of his creativity and keynote lecture on how to respectfully sample and build a dancefloor monster. Taken from his ‘Free at Last’ 12″, where every track is as good as this ‘Dig Deep’.

james holden – a break in the clouds – ambient mix (border community, 2003)a

 

What else can be said about this one? Not much. Purely sublime music. Period. Call it progressive house, trance house, glitchy techno,… It trancends categorisation at all levels. It is, perhaps, my favourite techno track. No expiry date no matter how many times you play this. This tune takes you up there without need for any kind of narcotics. It is so well built, so creative and playful. It stays true to the title. From an area of low depression, some rays of light are coming through until we reach a delirium tremens, with the sun in all its splendor shining upon us. Some kind of trance situation which will bring you to a soothing and safe landing. No more no less. This is a trip on its own. I have never taken drugs, but I do believe that based on what I have seen, this anthem takes you to a loving, caring and heavenly dimension. Where i would very much like to be right now.

This was the first release on Border Community. The best to date followed up very closely by Nathan Fake’s ‘The Sky Was Pink’. Pretty sure you know this by now… so instead of giving you what I have described above, I offer you the ambient version from the man himself. Just for fun. Absolute genius.