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.

va. full body workout vol. 8 (get physical, 2011)

If there is a record label that has remained true to its origins and its founders’ vision, it has to be Get Physical Music. Owned by the Dj T, Booka Shade and the M.A.N.D.Y. combo, they have been releasing visionary music since 2002 in a timely manner. New acts join the ranks of the German label every year. They all have a common denominator: modern club music that fits the dancefloor; atmospheric and emotive yet bouncy, funky and deep minimal house that hits the right notes among worldwide club-goers. Nonetheless, the tight grip on the style does not adulterate creativity. Check the output from the aforementioned mavericks (remember Dj T’s ‘Freemind’ or Booka Shade’s album ‘Memento’) or the selected releases by Damian Lazarus (Crosstown Rebel headhoncho), Samim, Lopazz, Chelonis R. Jones, Elektrochemie, and many others.

Get Physical is ready to heat up autumn, once again, with the 8th issue of the highly regarded ‘Full Body Workout’ series; showcasing the current state of the scene, and where it is heading to. Featuring 10 hot tracks to pump you up for winter raving. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to Get Physical. Like the sound of it? Get it here

Around the discofutura headquarters we love the hypnotic Pele & Shownecy’s ‘Down Low’, and the fragility of Stacey DeLooze’s vocals in ‘The Price of Beans’ by  Hamid & Arnaud Le Texier. Both are real gems in their own ways.

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.

 

 

 

 

darwin’s theory – accept the truth – inkswel mix (superior elevation, 2011)

I do not buy many 7inches. They are just a total pain to play and carry. But every now and then, they come so good that you cannot let them go. This one is exceptional. It has these funky synths and transpires soul from every beat. This is a 1979 funky tune by Darwin’s Theory which has been revisited by Tom Noble and Inkswel. The lyrics are food for thought (if you can distinguish them), and I guess that many collectors will be after the original. Both sides are solid although not that different. I choose the Inkswel mix as it has more oomph on the beats and an ultra funky/boogie bassline. This is a total monster hard to find and easy to enjoy.

All yours…

connan mockasin – forever dolphin love – erol alkan mix (phantasy sound, 2011)

 

Offering of the day for you, dear listener. This one is a coveted weapon i hold with affection. Not very well known. This cross between indie and electronic music producers is very productive (sometimes). Check Ewan Pearson productions and remix work, or in this case, listen to this beauty. A fragile, blue but solid and ultimately beautiful excursion by Erol Alkan which brings to mind New Order no doubt. Erol can be, according to me, a total disaster or a magic wizard. In this case the latter. He is diverse and eclectic in his mixes. In his remixes he can be strident and loud, sometimes too much. Here his approach is totally balanced. The vocals are used discreetly and the bassline and synth chords guide the track to a contained climax where the catchy melody, again synth based, is released. This is a nice way to end up a session. The softened guitars at the end do not take over, they rather embellish the theme. They are there to remind you of the Erol’s capacity to not bore. If you want something even more provocative and obscure, try to dig out any Beyond the Wizards Sleeve vinyls where his more psychedelic side together with Richard Norris are shown.

 

va. philadelphia international – the re-edits (harmless records, 2012)

 

Over here, we pay close attention to what Harmless Rercords releases. Guaranteed quality music no matter the genre. And what is around the corner sounds exciting. A compendium of releases celebrating Philadelphia International Records fortieth anniversary, a massive fest of releases which you can’t let escape. Read the press release as it is very illuminating.

 

 The Philadelphia International Records 40th Anniversary Campaign

Harmless Records are proud to announce a campaign to celebrate the 40th anniversary of one of the greatest black music record companies of all time – Philadelphia International Records. Founded by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff in 1971, the label launched with the album “Going East” by Billy Paul in October 1971 but really hit its stride throughout 1972 with a brace of international hits from veteran Philadelphia based signings like the O’Jays, Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes and the Three Degrees. Legendary A&R visionary Clive Davis was responsible for bringing the Philly hit machine to the Columbia group for distribution – a gamble which proved to be extraordinarily successful as the major distributor struggled to keep up with the hits that were pouring out from Sigma Sound studio in downtown Philadelphia – the recording home of P.I.R. where smashes like “Backstabbers”, “Love Train”, “Me & Mrs Jones”, “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” and numerous others all rolled out in 1972 alone.

Just two years later, Philadelphia International became the second largest black-owned company in the U.S.A. following Berry Gordy’s Motown, which had similarly forged its identity with a trademark sound from Detroit.

Jump forward 40 years and Philadelphia International is still independent and still owned by its original founders, Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff – an extraordinary achievement in an age where most other independent companies (including Motown) have long since been absorbed into large conglomerates.

We are delighted to be welcoming Kenny Gamble to the UK in mid November where he will doing a number of specially selected interviews to support the launch of the campaign in January through February 2012. Details of these will follow shortly.

In light of the above, we felt it was only fitting to celebrate the 40 anniversary of Philadelphia International with some brand new “Philly 40” PIR releases which have been long overdue and will be eagerly anticipated around the world…..

 

HURTXCD111 Released: 16/01/12 Philadelphia International: The Re-Edits

21 of the hottest PIR Re-Edits which have been done by PIR enthusiasts from around the world. Fully approved by Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff.

 

HURTXCD118 Released: 30/01/12 Philadelphia International: The Roots of PIR

What happened before PIR? Ace historian and compiler Richard Searling compiles the pre PIR gems from the Gamble & Huff stable plus an exclusive DVD interview with Kenny Gamble..

 

HURTXCD112 Released: 13/02/12 Philadelphia International: The Tom Moulton Remixes

The godfather of the Disco Mix and inventor of the 12” format returns to the label where he started and remixes 15 more original PIR tracks to add to 16 of his best original PIR mixes.

 

HURTBOX1 Released: 27/02/12 Philadelphia International: 40th Anniversary Box Set

PIR expert Ralph Tee goes through the complete history of PIR with a lovingly compiled 10CD deluxe box set with 60 page booklet plus an exclusive DVD interview with Kenny Gamble.

 

 

pacific horizons – stealin’ the fire from heaven (pacific wizard foundation, 2011)

 

 

 

If you like your music half ‘organic’; that is with some live arrangements, you will fancy a bit of Pacific Wizard Foundation. This ensemble from Los Angeles has produced 3 vinyls already. All of them so limited to 200 copies, which is the norm this days unless you want to go broke quick. It also creates good buzz, particularly if the product is good. In their case it is. Expect a mix of balearics sounds (piano, gentle guitar, soft percussion,…), a bit of psychedelia and some driving beats and an unexpected great break leading to unknown territories. Still keeps up good for the dancefloor with some great synth chords and some techno flicks.  Bringing some fresh air from the Pacific rim I leave you to enjoy the bliss of ‘Stealin’ the Fire From Heaven’, a big cosmic voyage flirting with the dancefloor but also stroking some beards.

 

julio bashmore – battle for middle you (pmr records, 2011)

 

This has been canned largely by many out there. And I am late for the review party. I know that. Here it is this ‘Battle For the Middle You’ In one word: Tune! The first thing that came to my mind was that 2000 track by Azzido Da Bass ‘Doom’s Night’. It may contain ‘that’ sample but it is better than Azzido’s thing. It has more content and substance for sure. Great melody and sytnths and many highs. The bassline is very John Tejada and it works superbly on many levels and in many sets. The climax right at the half is a total mastery on contention and holding back the menacing dropping of all elements on you. One of the best things this year indeed. Enjoy responsibly! The rest of the vinyl is equally respectable. Make sure you check the immense ‘Ask Yourself’.

Unfortunately, Soundcloud’s software is pretty good and does not allow us to promote the wonders of Julio. So you will have to get it here instead. A bit of advertising bombardment but you will get through to it as long as you do not forget how good this is.