Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Vinyl and Digital Reviews: Sleeparchive, Tim Healey and Kidstatik / Sarcastic

Artist: Sleeparchive
Title: Ronan Point
Label: Tresor Records

Sleeparchive has always been held as an underground hero by techno artists, but has never taken up much of the spotlight, meanwhile other artists play stadiums with sounds based on his. Of course Tresor are delighted to have him onboard - he wrote the bible on minimal techno, providing the framework for many years to come. He became an artist’s artist - favoured amongst the producers but not necessarily the masses. Sleeparchive’s ‘Ronan Point’ release comes as a strong reminder of how to carve subtle swathes of sub-bass. Opening with ‘Ronan Point One’, throbbing bass through distortion is connected by unnerving loops and bleeps, creating a tense sensation of waiting in a foreboding hospital room, and the hypnotic quality of ‘Ronan Point Two’ has you nodding before you realise, moving along with the dark and bulging bassline. The constant thrum of machinery that embodies ‘Ronan Point Three’ creates a feeling of pressure, before you’re transported to the submarine sonar and pulses of ‘Ronan Point Four’; it’s like minimal techno’s anthropological father showing the children how to craft relentless beats.

Release date: 16th May 2011

Artist: Tim Healey
Title: Rest In Beats
Label: Surfer Rosa

Electro-house fans will have noticed that it’s been several years since a Tim Healey LP, but now he returns in June with ‘Rest in Beats’, already scoring points amongst the music press. The tone is first set by Peep Show actor Matt King who plays Super Hans; a non-starter, crack-head musician. A church organ intro is narrated by King in the style of a reverent eulogy, describing Healey’s fictitious death through the “demise of recorded music product”, in what seems to be a simultaneous dig at worldwide falling music revenues. Perhaps just a little galling to future buyers of the LP! It’s amusing nonetheless, and the slate is wiped clean by ‘Live it Love it’ featuring SirReal and produced with Tomcraft, twisting and turning melodies through warped electronica and electro house with a dangerous edge to the bassline, which is further teased out on ‘Rock It Roll It’. This time working with Calvertron, SirReal and Pippa Trix, there’s a booty pop encouragement on a dubstep / dancehall tip, running with the kind of sounds Katy B is currently edging out, but the bass-heavy dancehall overcomes, effectively telling the lighter, future garage sounds to get to fuck.

SirReal (Freestylers/Pendulum) appears frequently across the LP, supplying his voice as a muse and carrier, adding a dash more attitude to the Justice-esque ‘Take Control’ with Atomic Drop, and making you think that Dizzee Rascal missed a trick by collaborating with Calvin Harris rather than someone like Gary Numan on ‘Believe Him’ with Marc Adamo.

Pippa Trix is also a frequent vocal collaborator, but a delve into the web reveals little about her; ‘Rest in Beats’ seems to be her professional debut and she’s been taken under Healey’s management wing as a new artist for his arsenal. In total she guests on five tracks, lending her voice to ‘Dance The Tear Away’ with Pete Martin, spiking hints of electro-duo The Dragonettes, and performing what could be a ‘David Guetta+female vocalist’ hit on the funky electro ‘Loving You’ with Tomcraft. ‘Tempting to Touch’ featuring Pippa and Top Cat is a potential modern dancehall hit, and you can see why it’s being released on the cusp of summer - it would be good to see this one released as a summer single. The weightier electro synths of ‘Resistance’ featuring Freqhouse are balanced by the vocals of Loc-E and Pippa Trix for a straight up house groove.

Other artists to appear include Kirsty Sillars for the remake of the Beatles’ ‘Dear Prudence’, which is rather reminiscent of late 90s USA rock, and Manners on one of the LP highlights, ‘Mars Boudoir’, carrying Sneaker Pimp idiosyncrasies while coming across as a laidback grime - liking the rave drones on this. Dean Van Jones lays down funny and modern spoken word for ‘Tommy Finn’, managing to compress mortgage payments, consolidated loans, the fall of a stripper, and drivers on Temazepan into one discourse, highlighted by Healey’s loungy, latin electro that conjures images of a mobster rocking through Miami sun. I think people still underestimate the power of spoken word on beats; points to Healey for balancing textual content with image-evoking tunes.

‘Rest in Beats’ is a blend of hip-hop, dancehall, future garage, flashes of dubstep and grime, soulful voices, and above all, electro house, with a few gems waiting to descend on the dancefloor - the early success in the charts is proof so far.

Release date: June 2011

Artist: Kidstatik / Sarcastic
Title: Remains
Label: Standard

‘Remains’ is a a three track 12” featuring DJ Sarcastic’s ‘Green Lantern At The OK Corral’, and two servings from Kidstatik aka Tony Roma, one of Montreal’s forerunning techno DJs, and not the pioneer of baby back ribs as initial internet searches may reveal. It kicks off with Kidstatik’s ‘Timing Space’, a slab of hard minimal that would go down well on the UK scene, chugging along under the strength of the muted bassline; it had me thinking of the movement of Yello’s infamous ‘Oh Yeah’ bassline. Layers of bongos and Detroit synth stabs mixed with whitenoise fuzz drones on the breakdown make for a good head-nodder. On the flip-side ‘Analog Slices’ is a totally different beast, juggling beats and percussion in a throbbing, tribalistic manner, and had me in mind of Plastikman’s ‘Spastik’, rumbling through the subs. This is meant for serious dancefloors; wipe those smiles off and dance like mean it, dance like you want to exorcise a demon - pretend the piercingly high strings are its death throes!

The three-track release ends with Sarcastic’s ‘Green Lantern At The OK Corral’: I’ve been hearing a lot more medical type themes in techno in recent times - sub-bass like heart beats, and high pitched monitor bleeps: last year people raved about techno moving to organic sounds, now it sounds like techno is moving from organic to anatomical monitoring. This is a slice of experimental dub-techno with some nice little shuffles under the rhythmic throbs: the ideas are sound but it comes off as a bit too close to Burial emulation. The track develops a groovin’ coherence as it progresses, assaulted by the sounds of a crackling and insistent synth pulling on the sleeve of dub-techno and asking to be part of the experiment.

Release date: Out now 

Available to buy

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Vinyl and Digital Reviews: Flore and Shunda K

Artist: Flore
Title: La Folie Des Glandeurs EP
Label: Botchit & Scarper

Botchit and Scarper have picked out five artists to remix Flore’s debut album, ‘RAW’, and create new life out of an already successful release - on the dancefloors as well as the mainstream. On transformation duties, Lawgiverz, I.D, Jason Sparks, Albert, and Dodge Vyrus set about with dubstep, electro, tropical and rave.

Both I.D and Dodge Vyrus take on ‘Pum Pum Gal’, first getting a wobbling bass monster makeover, slicing old skool rave synth stabs with ragga, breaks, hints of Major Lazer, and an addictive, if yet simple, melody from I.D. An astoundingly busy track for attention deficit dancers, it throws down more weight and plays on the pace of the vocal delivery. Dubstep wobbles prevail with a darker edge when Dodge steps in, cutting, slicing and time-stretching the vocals of Joyce Muniz and Thai Stylee. It’s formulaic but it does have a certain hook, with upbeat and bouncy carnivale aspects of the original lifted off, and re-focused on the meaty bass of the original.

Lawgiverz takes a leaf out of Modeselektor discography and the dubstep handbooks to create the glitchy, low-slung bass from ‘La Folie des Glandeurs’ featuring French rappers Les Gourmets, but it suffers from a lack of direction, or at least could do with more breakdowns to hold interest. New kid on the block, Albert turns out a vastly different remix of ‘The Overnighters with his ‘Winter Depression’ 2-step / future garage leaving the original fast-paced electronica ride on a far off land. It’s definitely more of a dark night’s fare, and despite its laidback approach, the beats strike with intent. The remix series closes with Jason Sparks’ remix of ‘La Folie...'; a soft beginning breeds the spawn of funky electronica and hip-hop, taking the original’s underlying bass melody and bringing it to the fore.

Release date: 11th April 2011

Artist: Shunda K
Title: 'The Most Wanted'
Label: Fanatic Records

There have been fewer female rappers rivalling the traditionally male-dominated genre in recent years, with greater moves towards soaring vocals and softer edges and a declined output from the likes of Missy Elliott. There’s also fewer gay rappers, and Shunda K presents both of these attributes with lyrical talents in high demand, after striking out on her own from a successful career with Yo! Majesty. She has run amok on the collabs for this 20 track LP - entitled ‘The Most Wanted’ - enlisting the beats and voices of almost 30 artists. Shunda delivers a defiant confidence in her lyrics, titling songs ‘I’m Da Best (feat Shon B)’, ‘Here I Am To Save The World (feat. Cindy Wonderful’, and of course ‘The Most Wanted’, wrapping electronica, bouncy 2-step, hip-hop, bass drones, baltimore, deep synths and even lamenting horns around witty, funny, and straight to the point vocals. There’s flashes of Outkast (My Light feat. Tan), Money Mark (Rock & Roll feat. Raspberry Cocaine), Peaches (who she recently supported on tour), and The Neptunes (Action feat. Shon B and Flyy Git), but the emphasis is on electro-rap carried by a varied delivery of Shunda’s lyrics.

You can’t help but smile when she demands “gimme gimme gimme gimme gimme your kitty kitty kitty kitty kitty” on ‘CONTACT (feat. Ms. Tedra)’ just for it’s use as a rhythmic device, and I believe she’s come close to touting gabba-hop with the speedy ‘Who’s Gona Stop Us Now (feat. Raspberry Cocaine)’. The LP traverses old and nu skool territory, and affirms the idea that you don’t need to be male or effectuate a gruff tone to slam down hard or explicit lyrics. Fans of Shunda will delight at the length of the album, but this could have been a punchier aural experience for new listeners if split into a shorter album and teasing EP; especially if you want to get your head around the issues she spits - including gender, equality, sexuality, and religion. ‘The Most Wanted’ shines on a range of scenes with plenty of industry support, and looks set to seep into the 2011 summer schedules. Whether you’re ready or not, Shunda K is back with a lot to say.

Release date: June 2011 (UK)

Available to buy:

A Lo-Quality Apology

Some of you may have noticed the distinct lack of club listings for April; at the moment a few pressing issues mean that I cant dedicate as much time to the blog this month, but never fear, listings will return! In the meantime, if you want to find out what is going on in your area in Scotland, feel free to email and I will pass on the details!

Friday, 1 April 2011

Free Tunes: Tripswitch and Rennie Pilgrem

Tripswitch aka Codemonkey aka Nick Brennan gives you two mixes to start the weekend, covering progressive, electro house, dub and drum and bass. If you dig what you hear, Tripswitch has just released 'Stereogram' Part 1 and 2 on Section Records

Nick Brennan - Roundhouse Radio Mix

"Mix aired on Roundhouse Radio, March 2011. Mixed live with a smattering of pizzazz from the awesome Pioneer DJM-900 Nexus." - Nick Brennan

You can stream the set below or download directly from here.

Nick Brennan 1 hour progressive / electro house mix for Roundhouse Radio by tripswitch

1) Escadia - Voz del Mar (Soundprank's 'Lost' mix) / A Must Have
2) Andy Newland & Oscitone - Jamm (Seb Dhajje remix) / Jetlag Digital
3) SQL - Leisure Battery (Soundprank remix) / Fatali Music
4) Boom Jinx & Andrew Bayer vs. Trifonic & Matt Lange - Quadcore / Anjunabeats
5) Tripswitch - Strange Parallels (Purple vs Tim Healey re-rub) / Section Records
6) Daniel Portman - Leap of Faith (original mix) / PinkStar Records
7) Gai Barone - The Moth (Ticon remix) / Afterglow
8) Soundprank - The Far Side (original mix) / Anjunadeep
9) Tripswitch - Collider (Nick Warren remix) / Section Records
10) Sueno Latino - Sueno Latino (Derrick May remix) / Buzz

Codemonkey - Big Bottom Mix

"I'm on it with the mixes at the moment. Here's another one by way of contrast to the dancefloor beats of the Roundhouse... This one flits between deep dubstep and deep techy D&B, with a heavy emphasis on the bottom end. Hop on the bass bus and enjoy!" - Codemonkey

Stream below, or download here.

Codemonkey big bottom mix march 11 by tripswitch

1) Adham Shaikh - Rug Rippin' (Codemonkey remix) / Sonic Turtle
2) Lojik - Lovin' You / Mindstorm Records
3) DJG vs Headhunter - Spacecakes / Wheel & Deal Records
4) Phetsta - Dance All Night / Technique Recordings
5) Breakage ft. Zarif - Over / Digital Soundboy Record Co.
6) Koya - Unity / Section 8
7) Tripswitch - Stereogram (Codemonkey remix) / Section Records
8) Mr Sizef - Seven Tones of Romantic / Syncopix
9) Unquote - Hide Your Tears Because We Are In Heaven / Medschool
10) Circa - Ida / Medschool
11) Mr Sizef - Garmoniya Mirov / Hospital Records


To give you a taster of his new release 'Street Legal 3', a double EP of nu-jungle and breaks, Rennie Pilgrem has a free track and mix to give away.

Rennie Pilgrem - '140' a Jungle Breaks Mix

"You can download this brand new 1 hour mix of the Jungle Breaks sound that is going down a storm." - Rennie Pilgrem

Rennie Pilgrem 140 Downloadable by Rennie Pilgrem

Rennie Pilgrem - 'Erica's Fix' (Rennie's Breakspoll Mix)

"Track I did especially for my 'Nu Jungle' set at Breakspoll. Uses Samples from New Film 'The Fix' and a great well-known singer." - Rennie Pilgrem

Stream below or download here.

Rennie Pilgrem Erica's Fix (Rennie's Breakspoll Mix) by Rennie Pilgrem

Available to buy