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Curtea Veche celebrates 5 years of uncompromised minimal

By Reviews

Labels are often remembered for a record, maybe for two or more. Then there are labels that are remembered for an idea, a feeling, something that goes beyond the simple music. That’s the case of Wales-based Curtea Veche, which is celebrating its 5th birthday with a special various artists compilation that includes tracks by Tulbure, Guy From Downstairs, Herck, Clarkent, Direkt and DragoshDespite the clearly Romanian inspired name, the label has never got stuck into the fashions of the moment, resulting instead one step ahead of many other imprints, successfully dictating new trends and style difficult to imitate, both because of the top-notch quality music released, and because of the close link with his evocative abstract artwork realized by no one other than Halo Varga. Over the years the label has seen incredible music, including the sister-labels Curtea Veche LTD and Curtea Veche Serii Speciale, straight from studio wizards around like Einzelkind, Giuliano Lomonte, SEPP, Viceversa and Cally, receiving support from heavyweights such as Rhadoo, Pedro, Barac and Raresh, but also coming to hands of unexpected but equally appreciated names like Marco Carola and The Martinez Brothers. 

 

To celebrate the label’s birthday we’ve decided to give the floor to the head-honcho Haydn, and then we will have few words from three of its most representative producers.

 

Happy birthday Curtea Veche!

 

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Click HERE to buy CV5 Five Years Of Curtea Veche

 

  • Starting from the roots: how’s the project started and what the name “Curtea Veche” means? What pushed you to open the label?

So I started the label with a friend in 2015 when the hype with that minimal Romanian sound was rife. My friend chose the name after the old princely court in Bucharest… don’t ask why because I couldn’t tell you haha!! But we were going I guess for that Romanian sound so it was pretty apt.

 

 

  • What’s the artist that you’ve most satisfied to have on the label? And who is the want you still deeply want to have?

I’m happy with the all the artists I’ve had on CV all have given their own stamp on the label and its sound. My good friend Sergiu (Herck) has been with me on my journey from the start with all my labels so I could say him, but no, really, all artists have been amazing and I’m super grateful if the output I’ve been able to give on CV. Going forward I just want to keep the ethos that I’ve tried to stick to, to be honest, good music and artwork, nothing more, nothing less.

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  • Since the very beginning, the label has seen some amazing feedbacks and support from lots of the biggest DJs around. Do you think that there’s one particular release that was a game-changer? Or is it because of the constant quality of the music and research on creating a kind of CV-brand that you’ve provided over the years?

Haha, tough one… there have been some really good ones I guess. Having Arno (Einzelkind) was a big deal for me, especially as it has been his last release under the Einzelkind alias before moving on the Arno moniker once and for all. I’ve been following him and his music for years, so I was pretty chuffed, to say the least, to get him on. That EP with Giuliano Lomonte was great, with the artwork and splatter vinyl was pretty special, seen as it was the 10th release too. But if I’m honest I’ve got to go with CV002 by Herck: Cookie Jar was a huge track that’s been hammered all over the world by people from DeWalta. Barac, Raresh and even people like Carola and The Martinez Brothers. It was definitely a big crossover track, that boosted both the profile of the label and Herck’s one.

 

 

So yea, that for me was the game-changer. Also, I have to say one of my personal favourites is Victor’s Rodul EP (CV008) I still play his track Drumul Spre” all the time, timeless stuff.  

Also, having Halo Varga got on the artwork from, I think the 5th release, he has given the label identity. As soon as you see a CV cover, you know it’s a CV cover, so yeah, he does an amazing job, one of the best at his game, and a massive pleasure to have him on as I grew up with his music in the early ’00s.

 

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  • Tell us more about the 5 years compilation. Why you not here? Will we ever see you on the label? 

Yea so the 5 years free EP we are giving away on Bandcamp is just “a thank you to all the support we have had over the last 5 years“. I think it’s good to give our supporters that have spent money on buying our releases something back. There are 6 tracks on there by artists from the past and future, CV favourites Herck and Guy from Downstairs, Tulbure who is on the next CV013 EP, Dragosh, Direkt and also Clarkent. Not a bad EP for a free download for sure! So yeah, thanks to these guys too for providing some lovely tracks! 

Regarding the second question… who knows… I’ve got not much time for production when I’m running 4000 labels hahaha! But yes, it’s something I want to do in the near future, let’s see! 

 

  

  • After this 5 years milestone, what should we expect in the next 5? And what in the next 100? (or maybe I should ask this to Herck haha)

Haha yes! We just want to keep releasing good music an, that’s the foremost thing I think, keeping the quality high, always!

We have a couple of spin-offs (CVLTD & CVS)  so keep an eye out for some really good stuff coming on these, from some well-established name like Cristi Cons, Franco Cinelli, Mihai Pol, and also some amazing up and coming guys that you need to keep an eye on!

There is this amazing duo we just signed from Tel Aviv called Oskar Pink, the demos blew us away, keep an eye out for their Track ‘Donnie’ coming later this year, so good! 

Its been good having my friend Martyn (TIJN) on board too for the last year or so, he’s got a great ear and is a godsend with the A&R stuff. He also does an amazing job with the mastering too! 

 

 

Now let’s get right into some of the protagonists of this stellar VA compilation and lets’ see what they have to say about the label…

 

Guy From Downstairs

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“Curtea Veche…ah, just another vinyl label from Wales, with a Romanian name, that releases a specific sound with a soulful touch, leaving its mark on the (so-called) minimal music niche for the last 5 years. Loads of those fit that profile, right? 

Difficult to write “just a few words, mate” about the good Olden Yard. Almost impossible to remain objective when you’ve watched it grow and move people on dancefloors around the world since its early stages (is there anyone on the planet that still hasn’t dropped Giuliano & Einzelkind tracks?)

 

 

When everything sounds the same these days, somehow, our friend and label-captain Haydn always manages to find rhythmic gems from (known or not-so-known) artists and put together all those releases that are each so unique in style, always different, yet keeping the smooth, impossible to pinpoint, trademark flavour of CV. 

It won’t do justice and it’s not easy to choose a favourite release from the back catalogue, but…let’s say that SEPP‘s La Gura Sobei EP (CV006) never leaves my bag. I don’t know many artists that can truly envelop the Romanian traditional spirit in the minimal realm, without sounding clichéd or tedious. Not in this case! Those two tracks are so enchantingly executed in such subtle way that, every time I listen, they really make me feel like I’m on a plane, back in the day, watching peasants working on fields under the sun, but at the same time also grooving with aliens from planet Bass.

 

 

“I love the Curtea universe – modern sound, old school, timeless or eclectic, colourful or at times outlandish. I’m happy to be part of it along with other (way more) talented, crazy producers and hope that new music will keep flowing for many years to come!” – Guy From Downstairs

 

Herck 

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“Well…nothing much to say about the label, the music speaks for itself. My first release there was a huge impact for me, and for the label also because we helped each other to grow in the industry. Haydn (the owner) had and has all his respect for me and I have for him, and of course, we trust each other when it comes to releasing new material on the label. Over time, the label released great music, with great artists, and I personally don’t have a favourite one, because every release has a story to tell…” – Herck

 

  

TIJN 

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“Since first discovering Curtea Veche through the “Cookie Jar” release it became very clear that the consistency of the output was exceptional and it’s continued that way endlessly. For me, the label is the complete package the sound as well as the detail to the artwork is perfect and work hand in hand. It’s really hard for me to choose a favourite we have so much amazing stuff coming but for now ill go with Einzelkind & Giuliano Lomonte – This N That. its been a goal to release on the label and to now be apart of the projects moving forward it’s even better.” – TIJN

 

 

 

 

 Words by Francesco Quieti

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Music Review: Nate S.U & Elijah Something – Electrode EP (incl. Josh Baker, Ben Balance Remixes) [Conspiracy Music]

By Music Reviews, Reviews

Straight from the other side of the world, the Conspiracy Music crew joins the always longer list of proactive and vibrant Australian solid realities. The Sidney-based label reaches the 15th release from the hands of the figureheads Elijah Something and Nate S.U, to which are added European talents Ben Balance and Josh Baker, which respectively provide a version of the two originals. 

 

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Long time collaborators Elijah and Nate are specialists in up-tempo house with a tasteful electro flavour and hints of 90s rave-reminiscent melody. From hosting their own 1000 person+ parties with the Conspiracy Crew to hitting festival main stages like Lost Paradise in Sydney, Your Paradise in Fiji and 121 Festival in New Zealand, Elijah and Nate’s sound is thoroughly in demand in the Southern Hemisphere. Now the boys are ready to take it to the next level with their latest EP together: Electrode. It’s their first combined EP on Conspiracy since the label’s very first release three years ago.

 

 

Title track “Electrode” is a fuzzy banger. Aggressive and harsh drums are kept together by a lively layer of rampant synths, whilst melodic and harmonic elements nervously alternate in a swingy dance. The low-end area is dominated by the combination of a twisted bassline and a hefty 303 acid arp. Pitched effects and filter sweeps are wisely arranged to raise and release the tension, just like an electrode would do, until reaching the epic peak time drop. Hands in the air ensured.

 

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The thing gets funkier with second original, “Provocation“. Here too, there’s a powerful fusion of an acid bassline and jackin’ sub-bass, both helping on keep the groove up. The thick groove patterns progress fast and syncopated, with tiny harmonic elements restricted to the maximum, almost shotted as lethal bullets. 

 

Up next is the young talented Josh Baker (Tamango Records / META) who makes of the original a percussive monster, rising the heat with a naughty bassline, clean drum patterns and sinister pads. On his version of “Provocation“, Josh uses only a few parts from the original, keeping the acid lines alive and adding his typical dribbled percussions for a more straight forward house piece. Drums are fattened and dried out, being tighter on the beat and more prominent. That bold techy attitude is Josh’s favourite colour, and also ours.

 

 

The second remix comes from BE9 affiliate and Sukhumvit head-honcho Ben Balance, who’s also half of the Ho Do Ri duo with Fabe. He provides a joyful version of “Electrode“, featuring swingy drums that hit with enthusiasm. Electro synths are thin and shiny, exasperating the retro imprint of the original also thanks to the numerous old-school cowbells, shuffling hats and warped digitalized shots. Once all the elements are playing, we are completely lost in a rich texture of synthetic sounds and drums.

 

 

 

Words by Francesco Quieti & Francesco Zambianchi

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Music Review: Vincent Floyd – Music Therapy EP (incl. Nico Lahs Remix) [NICEPEOPLE]

By Music Reviews, Reviews

After the highly acclaimed ‘Positive Vibes’ EP by Orlando Voorn and the follow-up “Feel Good” EP, courtesy of label-head honcho Giuseppe Scarano, NICEPEOPLE drops a blissful brand new wax from the veteran Vincent Floyd. The US maestro is famous for having released house classics in the mid-’90s for labels such as Dance Mania, Relief and Gerking Records. In 2014 he experienced something of a career renaissance, with the release of ‘Moonlight Fantasy’ on Rush Hour, and since then he’s been totally on fire.

 

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Vincent kicks things off the lovely “Music Therapy“, delivering a laid-back track, perfect for some sunny (after hour?) moments. The track offers some joyful and retro-sounding drums, with the hi-hat being sharp and clean at the right point. The melodic pluck has something retro too, hitting high into a majestic progression, assisted by vintage arpeggiators and deep stabs that give to the track some extra-power. 

 

 

Thus, “What We Have Done” is an amazing 808 ballad, with the closed hat that presses right on the kick drum, almost getting over it. Again, the track is filled with celestial sounds, starting with the epic pads that set to the track almost a holy mood. The beat insists in short loops, simple but effective, while melodic elements give an housy romantic touch. Overall, the atmosphere is playful, making this track sounds like a real 90s anthem as if it were coming out of a lonely stereo near a basket camp.

 

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On the flip, Italian powerhouse Nico Lahs, turns the original of “What We Have Done” into a jackin’ dancefloor tool with a harmonious repartee of housy stabs that flow above a clean interplay. The groove is nothing but classic, with a powerful kick that perfectly fit with the long-tailed snare, blinking an eye to the last century house. The jazzy and soul chords do the rest, adding energy to the original but without ruining the smooth house feels.

 

 

Rounding out the package is the more melancholic jam “You Never Knew Me“. With fewer elements in the drums, the beat moves syncopated and rigid, almost felt uncomfortable. Some retro synths are arranged around a deep and steady arp sound, whilst moogish melodies arise from the filter sweeps. melodies are glidy and cut in the mix easily, laying on top of everything else. The arp cycles inexorably, with only the rimshot breaking its regularity, as if, at least, he really knew him.

 

 

 

Words by Francesco Quieti & Francesco Zambianchi

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Music Review: Maifaunu – Microwave EP [Midas Touch]

By Music Reviews, Reviews

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.

 

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Click HERE to buy “Microwave” EP – MDT02 

 

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.

 

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 Cosmjn

 

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

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Music Review: Djena & Swann Decamme – H2YPE EP [Time Has Changed]

By Music Reviews, Reviews

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.

 

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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.

 

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Djena

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.

 

 

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 Swan Decamme

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.

 

 

 

Words by Francesco Quieti & Francesco Zambianchi

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Music Review: YOUniverse – Ride EP [Chelsea Hotel Records]

By Music Reviews, Reviews

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.

 

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Click HERE to buy “Ride EP” – CHT009

 

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.

 

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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.

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

Words by Francesco Quieti & Francesco Zambianchi

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Music Review: S.M.A.L.L. – Easy Babe EP [Djebali]

By Music Reviews, Reviews

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. 

 

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Click HERE to buy DJEBEX10

 

“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!

 

 

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S.M.A.L.L. (1/2 of Politics Of Dancing)

 

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!

 

 

 

 

Words by Francesco Quieti & Francesco Zambianchi

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Music Review: Per Hammar – Pathfinder LP [Dirty Hands]

By Music Reviews, Reviews

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.

 

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Click HERE to buy Pathfinder LP 3×12″

 

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.

 

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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.

 

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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. 

 

 

 

Words by Francesco Quieti & Francesco Zambianchi

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Music Review: Tommy Vercetti – Under The Sun EP (incl. Prunk & Djebali Remixes) [UNCANNY]

By Music Reviews, Reviews

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.

 

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“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. 

 

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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.

 

 

 

Words by Francesco Quieti & Francesco Zambianchi

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Music Review: Various Artists – Empirical Test Vol. 1 [Bohrium Records]

By Music Reviews, Reviews

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. 

 

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Click HERE to buy BHR001 – Empirical Test Vol. 1

 

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.

 

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Words by Francesco Quieti & Francesco Zambianchi