Macarie‘s label Midas Touch is about to drop another juicy release. The entitled “Microwave” EP comes from the hands of elusive producer Maifaunu who debuts on the label following the previous formula of 001: three originals + one remix, which this time is courtesy of prolific Romanian Cosmjn.
Opener “Microwave” is a curious tool that sucks you in the loop since the first moment. Processed hip-hop vocal shots are melt together with nervous drums loop, pressing shakers and rhythmic percussions, remembering, in a way, some ancient tribal rituals. Dub stab oddly hits, far away, super delayed. The rich sound environment gets lost in the intricated texture of the groove. Almost experimental, it’s easy to lose the main beat and just float in the irregularities of the piece.
Up next, “Order In Chaos” slows the beat down, turning the things emotional with a sort of hidden melody in the interplay of all elements. A melancholic chant that emerges from the complexity of drums and synths. The sound palette is wide and variegated, with Maifaunu showing his skill on crafting incredible puzzles with many different sounds that fit together. Within this expanse of sounds, it’s the snare the pillar of the groove and everything comes back to it, making of it the start and the end of this endless cycle.
B1’s “Son Rise” takes the drum patterns to a whole new level introducing an exquisite ethnic flavour. Congas and percussions melt in a thick, vibrant whole. Some distant female voices in the background create a dark and spiritual atmosphere, in contrast with the acid splashes that barely emerge during the long piece, creating a wavy motion.
Romanian established Cosmjn remixes A1. His version of “Microwave” features a thin kick that cuts nicely in the mix alongside reversed FXs, diverse congas and odd synth stabs, all together bouncing in a void. Proper SW stuff.
Words by Francesco Quieti and Francesco Zambianchi
Timid Boy & Acumen’s long-lived Time Has Changed has been released powerful house, techno and minimal tunes over the last 13 years, involving famous artists such as Mihai Popoviciu, Leon, Julien Sandre, Alexkid, Tripmastaz, Todd Bodine, Gorge, Mathias Kaden. The label is approaching the 200th release and this time its latest EP comes by Djena (STAMP Records, Inwave) and Swann Decamme (Earthly Delights) with H2YPE EP which comes packed with a remix by label-head Timid Boy himself.
The EP kicks off with “H2YPE2“, which is built around an exquisite and rich percussive groove and tribal chants. Over the whole duration, we can feel a nice Balearic feel, making of this track a versatile tech-house jam. Very essential elements-wise, this piece is energetic and strong, with the congas and bongos hitting continuously in a hypnotic cycle. After 4 minutes of wait, pads finally come in, creating a lovely melt with the vocals.
The instrumental mix gets rid of the chants, leaving room for the groove which can now be appreciated in its full potential.
Timid Boy‘s DUB remix gets dirty with a dusty groove is lost in the sandy feel of the sounds. The tempo rises, as well do the drums that nimbly bounce above a rolling bassline. High strings are more prominent and an extra female vocal set the mood deeper and sexier with the tech attitude getting lost in favour of a more romantic atmosphere.
Closing “ELA” is a more minimalistic track, almost totally centred on the drums. Noisy hats and nervous low-end both rock on top of modular textures, with tiny groove elements arranged in intricated patterns. Suddenly, ethereal harmonic sounds kick in, projecting the listener in a totally relaxed mood, with delicate piano and guitar hits that remember us of Alva Noto’s music. Soon track gets dry again, with the typical gloomy dub-tech groove.
Chelsea Hotel Records is back after a 2 years hiatus with a mesmerizing EP by YOUniverse. Launched in 2016 by Italy’s veteran Leon, the vinyl-only label has seen, since the first release, an incredible array of artists joining the line, including Egal 3, Faster, Mr. Tophat & Art Alfie, David Gtronic, Ada Kaleh and Leon himself. The dub-tech gloomy rhythmic patterns, typically used some years ago, were merged with influences of any sort, offering unexpected jazzy riffs or introspective minimal trips. The label’s 9th output is courtesy of the Turin-based duo of YOUniverse, who makes his CHR debut with the three-tracker “Ride” EP.
Opener “Ride” is a delightful techy-minimal jam with dubby flavour. 909 drums are fat-sounding and tight on the heat, with scratchy percs that create a surgical thickness and well-balanced stereo width. The classic deep stab is omnipresent and grooves smoothly, changing and evolving throughout the piece. Some pads make their appearance in the break, powerfully answer to the main stab, enriching the whole track with a romantic feel. The nervous bass rubbery rolls from start to end. When the drums get pitched high and disappear, the floor under our feet is missing and we’re flying. Sit back, relax, enjoy the Ride.
The acid “Yellow Line” digs deeper, adding more melodic elements and creating a polished interplay. High pitched hooks fill the air with magic, creating a frame for pads and harmonic stabs. Drums are dried out, with straight-forward snare rolls and hats. Since the very first second, the gentle acid line comes in, introducing some motion with the filter sweeping from top to bottom. The lively chords and pads are perfectly matched with the profound sub and make of “Yellow Line” a great dancefloor-oriented tool both in terms of sounds and arrangement, keeping laid back feelings for the sunniest afternoon.
Rounding out the package is the splendid “Stability“. Energy comes from the elegant bassline that gently cuddles the listener over its 7 minutes ride. The synth hits, always there, keeps the tempo. Stab rises and appears super smooth, finding its place in the mix effortlessly. Again, 909 drums are reduced to the essential with an irresistible but simple groove which stays in front while synths go in and out agile. Proper B-side stuff.
As soon as you hear the name of Djebali, your hips gently start to oscillate and you realize that your foot is tapping the ground. The Paris-based groove ambassador has constantly provided dancefloor rollers over the years, releasing some of them on his homonymous label. For the imprint 10th catalogue, he invites French producer S.M.A.L.L. who’s also 1/2 of the prolific duo Politics Of Dancing with Easy Babe EP, rounding out the package with his own version.
“Easy Babe” is a straight and direct house tune with lively drums and solid kick drums with just the right amount of punch, depth, and click. Scattering percussions and tiny shakers provide an extra dose of groove, while hypnotic sounds perfectly match together with a powerful and funky bassline from which it’s impossible not to be dragged gently. Deep vocal shots make everything rotate and flow, with a subtle but yet effective piano melody adding that romantic touch. Not a bad re-debut for someone’s who released his last solo EP back in 2013. It was worth the wait!
On the flip, label-head Djebali introduces more groove elements, starting from some congas, toms and twinkling bells. Clap is fat and prominent and gives a good swing to the track due to its little forward shift on the 2 and 4, but the hypnotic mood stays as the old fashioned overall sound. The bassline is just huge, 100% bouncing to the groove and holds the piece up until a warpy stab joins the jam. The vocal is pitched higher, sounding uplifting. Some dub FXs and light plucks create the right scenario before the drop, giving life to another banger from the label owner.
Enjoy this 1-hour stream from the man himself and make you sure to follow him on Instagram as well!
After six years in the making between Malmö and Berlin, Per Hammar will release his first studio album on his Dirty Hands imprint this May. Spanning 12 tracks, for release on digital, triple vinyl and streaming, the album is designed for the dance floor and represents the evolution of one of Sweden’s finest artists from his musical beginnings in 2004 to the current day.
On the opener “Mother”, Per Hammar kicks things off with a slow intro of rattling sounds and noisy textures, to which his trademark dubby synth makes is appearance. With the harmonic elements being prominent, the old-school-sounding kick along with the profound bass, it starts with SCI-FI sounds for 3 minutes, then it makes a plot twist. With a long airy intro, that’s the perfect way of starting out an LP.
“F Dubb 1000” resumes Per Hammar’s typical “Dubb” entitled track name – do you remember his Linjbaan Dub and Remote Dubb right?- and gets more minimal, woody with intriguing metallic percs rigidly keeping the seductive beat up. Kick is a little back this time, creating some room for the atmospheric layer for a high definition track that hides behind a crystal clear musical thought by Per Hammar.
We wouldn’t expect “DX Sport” to be on the B-side, being that bold and upright. The Swedish’s signature perc is creating the pace and everything follows up fluently, transmitting a ton of swing on it. Kick doubles often, recovering the groove every 4 bars. Dub delayed stabs kicks in with soul and drama, while the interplay between drums and synths works perfectly and polished, creating a whole homogeneous amalgamation.
B2 gets deeper and soulful for what is in our opinion one of the top 3 from the album. Here the things go intimate and emotional, but always keeping the style we all start to recognize. “Late For The Trance Gate” is the exact track that you hear when you unlock the passageway to another dimension. Since the very beginning, the track offers a full-bodied groove winding above solid kicks and melancholic pads that turn out to be just a prelude for sharp textures, scratchy noises and the epic female vocal parts. A pad on the break lifts us by 2 centimetres from the floor, take off… Proper goosebumps track this one. Just when the track has lulled everyone into that ethereal mood, suddenly it changes direction: an acid bassline makes all the dreamy elements disappear, leaving the listeners suspended in a void right in front of the tougher second drop is to, naked of the harmonics. Pad comes back and again we fly to the sky.
“Low Bats” abandons the straight 4/4, exploring dusty breakbeat sonorities. The loop underneath sounds very old-school and rolls with the snare. Bass is fluid and creates a solid layer on top of the irregular kick. Here, the Swedish producer is wisely using more regular elements to stabilize the groove, also to make up for the absence of massive harmonic elements. Berlin influence is very explicit.
The catchy entitled “If You Have A Mind It Will Wonder” tells us a fairytale of a bygone era, where children used to play near luxuriant rivers. They are precisely the protagonist of the track, with their joyful voices in the background that bring harmony in the whole piece. For the whole duration, the groove remains almost unchanged, with Per Hammar’s trademark combination of silk drums and everchanging playful FXs. Harmonics appear very dense, and on top of them, more melodic elements create a deeper and more intimate feel of joy.
Up next, is the club banger “Novo Line”. Here, the acid synth lines themselves are responsible for the groove structure, jumping and fading away with a lot of dynamic. Drums are tight and get immediately us moving, helped by extra vocal chops and splashes of dirty sounds to prepare for the heavy and teachy drop. What did you expect? We’ve told you that this one is made for the floor.
Thus, “Inter City” is one of Per Hammar’s profound dubbs. The stab gets processed with an everchanging delay, moving throughout the piece. Toms roll unceasingly, creating a sweet rotation on the steady groove, while as the track proceeds, the main stab gets answered by another one, seemingly processed. This is a very essential piece, where arrangement plays an important role, creating surprise and contrast.
The last wax kicks things off with “Galatea”. From the very beginning, we are moved by the resonant tom endless movement, which constitutes an important element of the whole melodic part, also making the right dose of loopiness. Dub pads on the background suggest some distant harmony, while low toms are playing together with the profound bass, creating a complex texture of deep hits. A flickering stabby sound emerges from the most remote areas, stuttering in a huge desolate space. Some distant vocal shots here and there is a challenge to be heard, creating mystery while the track unveils little by little.
E2’s “Passenger Blend” features a gnarly bassline that pulls and pushes the piece, creating a wavy feel. The entire track is imbued on a sinister and gloomy mood, almost awkward in some parts. A sort of flute sings with difficult an odd melody made of long and heavily processed notes. Percs are bond together and they complete each other’s line. As the track progresses, another second bass, more steady and gritty, scratches on the kick. A track for distant memories that leave the listener floating on a bubble of apparent innocence: the passenger blend.
We’re getting close to the end. Per Hammar is trying to advise us by using cold and faraway sounds already since a couple of tracks. “Midnight Print” is no exception: electronic bleeps make up a full layer of tiny objects and sketches of noise, while the bass gets in and out of our focus with a wise and delicate cutoff move. The harmonic minor melody played by a glidy lead takes us in a disturbing eastern mood. Calmly, drums stay on the beat, never getting too in front, with the exception of the clap, which results pretty shifted backwards, slowing down the entire track.
The closing track is called “Manchester Lone Star”. Here, the Swedish artist fires his last shot, heading into an endgame… In fact, it’s not the usual beatless piece that we’re used to seeing as a last track on the album, but another powerful edgy tool that starts with insistent toms and a stutty synth. The voice is at the core of many of the sounds used, processed and used in many different ways. And out of nowhere an airy pad comes to us with an epic progression, sporting its power on the breaks and but soon fading away right before for the rough tech drop. The drums, bass and kicks blink an eye to Guti’s stuff, while on top, the northern melodic soul of Per Hammar comes out full-on-force throughout a sort of guitar that gets sentimental and its line perches on the pad. This piece has something enchanting and deep, revealing his vision of music, made of soul, bold contrasts and a solid technique, sanctioning the end of the Pathfinder LP.
UNCANNY is Juliche Hernandez‘s newborn label that makes clear from the very start that it’s got the fire in the game. After successful releases on labels such as Downhill Music, MadTech, hedZup, PIV and Audionik to name a few, the Spanish producer has decided to create his own space – locked up between two index fingers – to share his idea of house music. UNC001 is courtesy of UK fabric resident Tommy Vercetti who marks the debut EP with 2 rousing house originals followed by 2 Djebali remixes and another version by PIV-head Prunk.
“In The Groove” is all about the bass, rolling and powerful directly on the floor. Vercetti’s style funky stabs get the track bouncing while silky vocal from Florence Bird gently creates the proper mood. Drums lay on the piece solid, never coming out of the mix too much, in perfect balance. Plucky sounds on top are crystal-clear and remember us of some synth-poppish vibes we really dig. That playful melt of old and new is what got us to discover Vercetti in the first place. This one is an assured “hands in the air” dancefloor anthem as it spreads the positive vibes all over the place; we’re only waiting for this situation to be over to smile at our friends when the kick drops again.
PIV head-honcho Prunk remix slows down and gets sexier, introducing more percussive elements, congas and a deeper kick. The vocal is pitched down, sounding smooth and lush. While the track goes with its not-too-gentle pace, liquid pads flow on the sides, forming a classy atmospheric layer. This remix confirms Prunk as a master in making this mellow-kind of pieces and that’s not disappointing: we’re headbanging from start to end.
Up next is “Under The Sun”, the second original from Vercetti who this time delivers a more modern feeling roller. His trademark stab remains the main act, and it dances, moving and slapping with joy. Drums are thick and the hats sound like perfection, not too sharp, sandy; all the ingredients are dosed at the right point. The dubby and deep bass finds its moment on the second drop, alone with the delicious percussions, hitting hard on our feet and breast. Old school housy string lifts us up for the break until we dive back in the groove.
Closing the EP is not one, but two remixes from Parisian groover Djebali, who serves two versions of “Under The Sun”.
The DEA mix is a real club banger, with the main synth driving deep and moving across the pan, never settled. The atmospheres turn out to be strangely mysterious and dark, infusing a sinister mood to this version. Some subtle acid arps whisper in the ears, shaking along with the hats, while the analogue sounding bass gives that grain on the bottom with the kick. Its sequence is pressing, tight on the groove and really pushes the track endlessly.
On his other version, Djebali brings back some classic housy Apollonia-vibes by removing extra-elements, keeping only what is strictly necessary. The groove is bare and essential and the massive bass cuts really well in the track and creates that sucking feeling. Glitchy percs play in the background with high-pitched synths, while on the break, the DEEP mix takes a sharp turn and kicks in with a new synth with a plot twist. But no worries, the groove is just around the corner and we’re soon back to it for the last dance.
Please could you introduce yourselves to our readers who may not be aware of what you do?
We are a collective of musicians that perform live and improvised techno and related influences using classic drum machines and synths, stringed instruments and vocals.
Playing mostly at clubs, raves and warehouse parties we have released three physical records and a few digital-only releases as well as some full improvised live sets over the last 5 years.
Last year we toured in India and had our first tour in Europe where we played at the Fusion Festival as well as Berlin Clubs etc. We have played extensively in NYC and on the U.S. East Coast with emphasis on underground warehouse parties as well as certain clubs we have really connected with like Flash in Washington DC, Mono in Mexico City and the now-closed Output in NY.
How did the three of you first meet? What made you decide to team up as a band?
We met in college about 15 years ago. Since then we have collaborated with each other in various functions and formations. Our love for electronic music, parties and improvised music brought us together to form N/UM in 2015. It started with jam sessions with electronic gear and evolved into this project that is very dear to us and has brought us to so many places and is making people happy through music. For years we were all very focused on improvisation, mostly through the jazz idiom because this is where the improvisation game was mostly confined to or at least was strongest in that realm. However, we always had a feeling that there was a need to break with the set and settled stylistic traits, the defined sound and general approach in musical interaction that the jazz tradition always seems to carry with it. This holds true even though we all have a deep love for Jazz still and in fact, still do a lot of our work in the jazz world. We also often go out to let ourselves soak in the music from the incredible scene that continues to exist in our city for jazz. There are a lot of amazing artists that really push the boundaries of the style. Starting N/UM was a way for us not to keep pushing the limits of the style but rather leave the style all together while keeping the sensibility and notion of a kind of musical telepathy which the history of jazz has brought to such a high level of development.
Band members tend to have more clearly defined roles. How do you split up your responsibilities? Does each of you bring specific skills to the table?
For the most part, it is very even. Of course, musically we all bring a very personal style and taste to the table. It has been very interesting and rewarding to combine them into a cohesive whole that is bigger than its parts. Since Jeremy is an incredible engineer, he is doing the mixing and mastering (with input from Emil and myself). I feel when one of us makes a particular connection or gets passionate about a certain thing they might take the lead on that. Many of the skills needed to play in this very interconnected and technologically complex context we had to learn together as we went along and bit by bit developed our setup and technique to what it is now. It continues to evolve and change as continually experiment and as we change as humans and as musicians, learn and gather inspiration. It all goes into a process.
Can you tell us more about your live set? Which equipment do you use and why?
Elias: Our live sets are totally improvised. We tried in the beginning to recreate ‘tracks’ that we liked, but we found out that the pure improvisation feels most alive and groovy. There is something really beautiful about having an experience with an audience that is totally original and in a way not repeatable. You had to be there!
I’m playing mostly guitar that I feed first into a 2 track looper that then goes into two different effect chains. One effect chain is the guitar sound processed with pedals like Red Panda’s Particle and Tensor, a freeze pedal, an octave pedal, delays, reverb and a Frostwave Resonator Filter pedal. The other effect chain is a Meris Enzon guitar synthesizer with an Erika Acidbox III filter pedal and a delay. Since the loop is before the effect chain, once I have set up a loop I can freely use my hands to extensively morph the sound with the effects. The two tracks are completely independent. Everything gets clocked by a master clock.
Jeremy: I use mostly 3 drum machines, the Roland Tr-909, I love playing it!! it sounds incredible on big systems, it’s very playable as an instrument. it’s an absolute classic, the same as a guitar player would cherish their vintage fender guitar. the second one is an analogue drum synth of any sort that I trigger with the 909, usually the Simmons SDS or UDS Marsh (it’s a vintage Russian drum synth) I love drum synths because I can make them sound however I want on the fly, I can turn a snare sound into a Hi-Hat, percussion or bass drum in a matter of seconds, it helps to have instruments that are dynamic in a free improvised setup. And the last one is the Elektron Octacapture, I use this mainly as a sampler, I have a collection of samples that I like to warp change reprogram, it gives me a more organic texture to the beat.
Emil: I use a wide variety of analogue synths, mostly clocking with cv in one way or another to control oscillators or filters in order to connect rhythmically to the rest of the trio. We always joked that we are three people playing one instrument. Of course, there are actually many units that go into the chain but the connectedness of the rhythm that drives the majority of our sound and the ways in which the instruments affect each other very strongly gives this feeling of one big instrument. In addition to synths, I use my voice a lot. I use looping and effects on both synth and voice to be able to layer elements and carve out fleeting soundscapes that can form either the thematic basis or a sort of ambient background for what sometimes is in the end perceived as songs or “tracks”. We never have any songs going into the improvisation but when things are flowing they appear out of the moment.
You’ve shot a video set in the mountains around Ri Kynjai, Lake Umiam in Northern India. Can you give us a little insight as to how the idea came about and why you settled on that location?
As mentioned earlier we were touring in India in early 2019. We performed at the ‘Nowhere Is Here’ Festival in Shillong on New Year’s Eve. The father of the festival organizer is the incredible architect Prabhat Dey Sawyan, who built Ri Kynjai. We spent some afternoons there and were mesmerized by the beauty of the architecture and nature. We had some free days and our friend and musician Hammarsing Kharhmar and his brother Larsing Ming Sawyan, who curated the festival, helped us to set it up.
The breathtaking surroundings in India were so inspiring, we felt the need to document our time there and to make an artistic testimony in some way out of our experience there. The 3 of us sat down and discussed if it was possible to realize or not, somehow everything quickly fell into place with the help of the organizers and their amazing community.
Can you tell us about who directed it and how you hooked up with them?
The video was shot and edited by The Hillspeople, a local video collective that also shot some videos for the festival. They were great! They had a team of just three people and made everything very seamless and focused. We had very little time to make the shoot happen and they were incredibly good at what they were doing so it was easy for us to just focus on taking in the scenery and the immense solemn energy of the place and give our best shot at turning it into music.
It looks like the location posed some unique challenges for a live set – how difficult was it to get set up for the shoot?
Well, we have the luxury of needing mostly power and speakers apart from the equipment that we bring ourselves. So once we had that setup, it was no problem for us to play. For the camera people, it was a little more difficult, since they had to film multiple angles at once and figure out on the fly (literally) how to stay out of each other’s shots.
As your performance was fully improvised – how much do you think the environment influenced the music?
Very much. Nature and architecture, as well as the fact that we were playing the three of us without an audience, influences the music immensely. I think it is definitely more relaxed and chill than what we play at 6 am in a dark warehouse. That is the beauty of improvisation that all these factors as well as how you personally feel that day combine into something new.
And did the thought that it was being filmed make you approach it differently?
Not much. We try to focus on the music. That is always paramount.
Some would say this is a bit of a dream location, but what would each of your actual dream locations be?
Emil: I think our dream location is really wherever open-minded people are willing to suspend expectations and run along with our risk-fueled approach to musical performance. It goes hand in hand with a culture that celebrates experimentation and alternative ways of thinking and realizing ideas over prefabricated, neatly packaged and marketed experiences.
Elias: The advantage to playing in a great club or festival (which we are fortunate to do in many places) is that the sound system is great, which is very important especially when you’re improvising, and that you get so much energy and feeling from the people who share the experience with you. The connection with the audience is the most amazing thing about playing music. But since we mostly need speakers and power I always had this dream to improvise in some unusual settings and places. Maybe a forest, in the mountains, in an old abandoned building… I think the vibe we would get from these locations could lead to some very interesting music.
Jeremy: The dream location for a party is not really about the location, but more about the people, the vibe, the decor the sound system and setup of the place, it could really be anywhere, the location can help to make a moment even more memorable but It’s even better when you get surprised by it!
Can you tell us about what’s next for N/UM? Anything you’re particularly working on?
We had a tour planned in Europe again this summer, but those plans are postponed for now for obvious reasons. We did two lengthy recording session where we spent days in the studio earlier this year, which yielded a lot of material that we are looking forward to putting out. We are going through that right now to decide what and how to release it. We also have some recordings from 2019 that we still have to release, which will be around the summer or early fall. Right now we are also trying to figure out if we can play remotely and somehow push the latency of streaming to each other to such a low level that we could perform being in different places. That would be quite fantastic but it has proven difficult with the complexity of the connections we have going. We’ll see if we manage in the coming weeks. We are working on another video project as well. This time in a very different way where we will not be in the video ourselves but instead have some very talented animators and film wizards work with their own creative freedom to form a visual world to merge with a recording of ours.
The current times are quite dark and in many ways tragic. The mood here is unusually heavy for NY, being that we are currently the centre of the crisis and don’t have much of an end in sight. We are doing our best to stay productive through and do enjoy the time allowed for introspection and seeking new inspiration and knowledge in books, films and music that we would not otherwise have time to delve into so deeply. That said, we cannot absolutely wait to be back out in the night playing together again surrounded by the irreplaceable force that is the energy of people, gathering around music and the collective experience.
Our best wishes to everyone. Stay safe and stay strong.
Madrid-based Bohrium Records is ready to drop its very first chapter called “Empirical Test Vol. 1”. This various artists compilation consists of four sublime tracks by four different talented producers, which have already been hammered by heavyweights like Priku and Gescu.
The first empirical test is courtesy of Romanian rising talent Cojoc. With his “Frics”, we are immersed from start to finish into an ocean of sinister sounds and twisted hypnotic synths. The groove winks to minimal-techno, making us understand the power of repetition trough well-balanced elements and extra-tight hats. As soon as the track proceeds, perception of time is lost, and we slowly dig deeper in this dark gem, falling relentlessly into the loop. Swishy effects are framed by the straight-forward attitude of the drums, while the main vocoderized synth talks to us, escalating to the breaks.
Up next is the more driving techno-oriented “Mal So Mal So” by Switzerland-based Marques Sigi. This one is a headstrong minimal roller with subtle but sticky acid mood with prominent snares, trying to surface in a wide sea of sound. The synth line spreads in huge reverb and outlines a deep ambience, drums are on top and epic reverse sweeps bring us in a completely new dimension. As well as the track progresses, we can taste some piano-ish sounds as well as some horns, all melt in a beautiful and abstract way.
On the flip, the newborn project of Akela (aka Angel Mosteiro and Joel Vazquez) goes deeper and melodic, kicking things off with carillon-like arp alongside majestic pads. Metallic sounds give goosebumps while they travel from one side to another while the breakbeat kick is tight and clean, stinging elastic on the high-tech groove. The synth horn arising introduce the breaks, with LFO’s rate constantly changing throughout the track, giving life to a virtuous movement that slows down and speeds up the entire track. “Space Runner” reminds us something from the 80s and the 90s, bringing to our memory epic soundtrack themes and dark-wave records, due to the old-fashioned synthesizers used, almost wanting to celebrate a time now remote.
Wrapping up the record is the powerful “The Muggles” by Panama’s Avidel. This one’s a pure ro-minimal club tool, conceived for after-hours moments due to the delicious drum patterns, dense of micro variations. Kick is boomy enough, in contrast to the stabby synth insisting on the sixteenths. Dreamy pads, noise fills and SCI-FI arpeggiators do the rest, leaving the subby bass going rigid on the beat, while everything else is sounding so fluid. The break represents our only time to rest, while we float in the evocative texture.
Italian collective of 320KB Musicmay look like one of those “good-old-days”kind of nostalgic groups at first glance, but they’re definitely not! These guys from Bologna, the city of the famous ragù, have all the ingredients to make some serious and appetizing house music, which is served on a tasty 12″ wax. Their very first EP is courtesy of label-head Umberto and has been recorded at his very own 320KB Studio, which gives the name to the homonymous label.
Opener “Love II Love” kicks the things off hard and direct, without too much small talk and providing a sort of tech-house feeling but staying very minimal in composition. Solid drums are just a few and only the ones really needed. Some old-school synths keep the beat going, while a dusty vocal joins the track right in front of us, chopping the track into different sections according to its presence, almost with a certain complacent arrogance. The synths will make us feel like walking up the stairs, along which runs parallel the tight on the groove.
Up next, “Feel Me” is a real house piano jam, with a lean groove contrasted by a super fat bassline which oftentimes pitches down, giving us a sense of fall in the low end. The boxy kick hits heavily and the piano reminds of some old-tape jazzy record – metallic and straight – while analogue synths arise creating a wavy motion. When the track gets dry, we’re directly hit by the groove, but piano never stops, stabbing and insisting all the time. Rolling snares follow each other from start to finish, filling the gaps in a very satisfying way.
B1’s “Dope About You” basically insists on the opposition of rolling bass and lovely stabs. Being them in contrast with each other, they give continuous interest to the piece. The interplay is framed by Umberto’s signature drums, essential and techy. The mix’s so clean that we can clearly hear the grain of every single piece of the track, having a sensation of definition, nevertheless staying in a Lofi world. That’s something very hard to accomplish and very cool to listen to. The stab is funky and adds a little bit of soul that we really need, especially in times like these. This is an introspective tune, trippy and hypnotizing, still hitting hard on the floor.
Closing the EP is the 90s inspired “My House Is A Club”. Old school disco stabs bounce on top of liquid and sharp synths and above an edgy and fluid bassline, while Umberto’s processed voice keeps the measure of time passing, never getting too prominent. This is real house music here at its finest form.
The French duo of Politics Of Dancing seems to be more in strength than ever; by now with a certain frequency, the pair are delivering quality material both on their main Politics Of Dancing Records and sister-“collaborations only label” P.O.D. CROSS. And this time the latter has caught our attention, as they’re about to release the sixth chapter, sharing the wax with men of the moment Okain and Rowlanz.
A-Side sees the guys bring into play Talman Records‘ label-head Okain. Their collaboration starts with fat drums ready to take us for the ride. A delicate sub-bass hums and shakes, creating the right foundation for the harmonic elements. The main stab is hypnotic and reminds to the Berlin-ish sounds that inspired Okain over the years, keeping us dancing throughout the piece. A lot is happening and the scene changes constantly, opening up and closing sweetly on new scenarios. We are being caressed by the intriguing sound of this track, but the groove is hard and feet can’t stand still, with the vocal sample being the cherry on top. It sounds like this piece doesn’t want to end and definitely doesn’t, staying in your head for days!
On the flip, the going gets tougher with UK Rowlanz (INFUSE) who joins forces with the P.O.D. guys for track 2. The glidy and raw bassline keeps the groove up and never rests, while beautiful harmonic stabs and lush pads introduce extra feelings in this dubby banger. The drums are tight and sting the hear with sharpness but despite this the piece breaths in and out liquidly, following rotative percussions. As soon the open hat kicks in, it’s totally hands up-head down vibes, with more mysterious vocal glitches fill up the bottom. When the track is about to end, it gets dry, and we can finally appreciate the neverending texture, a panoramic view of our emotional space.