1. Inxec vs. Droog – Westbound EP [Crosstown Rebels]
Party mavens, DJs, label owners (Culprit) and convivial West-coast hosts the Droog crew have been doing everything right the last couple of years. Now we have their first release for Crosstown Rebels and it’s an absolute belter. Made in collaboration with the needle-sharp production chops of Chris ‘Inxec’ Sylvester it’s slightly darker and more electronic than you might have expected with a feel of early Border Community. I’ve played ‘Unhinged’ at nearly every gig I’ve done in the past four months and I can’t tire of it. Crosstown have been on a breathtaking run of form the last year and half and this steps things up another notch.
2. Virgo Four – It’s A Crime (Caribou remix) [Rush Hour]
Yes, you all know this by now and lots of us have been praising it to the high heavens.
But it’s been interesting to note that quite a few folks have been reluctant to play it, some DJ pals referring to it on Twitter as sounding ‘unfinished’ and being ‘over-hyped’. Yes of course tastes vary, and there’s a whole thing to be written about on the nature of excitement and advanced notice on something – how we can still get annoyed by the (these days increasingly rare) occasions when people get positive en masse, but I want rather to deal with the first point. It seems to me that some people are freaked out by how much it refuses to fit into the pristine but uniform digital aesthetic of so much contemporary dance music. Instead it’s determinedly diverse and dynamic – going from clanking ware-housiness, to muffled vocals to jazzy keys to abrasive electronics within 8 thrilling minutes. There are cross-rhythms and clanging spring reverbs. It is no throwback – it sounds utterly contemporary – but it re-instates some of the things that we have lost in our looped-out, limited to buggery, have lap-top will travel modern age. It sounds like embodied people interacting in real-time with machines and it gives me goosebumps every time I play it – and each of those times someone comes up and asks what the bloody hell it is. Without fail. We need more records like this. I need more records like this. Soon, please.
3. Intruder – Amame [Nervous]
I missed this somewhere along the line – why isn’t it a massive great across-the-board hit? It’s Murk delivering a superbly-produced, catchy-like-lice-in-an-infant-school-playground vocal acid house record and I love it to bits.
4. Death In Vegas – Your Loft [Drone]
First new stuff from them in a very long time and nicely difficult to place; italo-inflected slow house with dreamy but anxious looped female vocals – Austra’s Katie Stelmanis channeling Donna Summer trapped in a neurotic fever-dream. Atmosphere to burn but enough warehousey bump to sound great in the club. Excellent.
5. Hackman – Your Face Pulling My Hair [Greco-Roman]
Not sure how much of the light of day this will see owing to the cheeky-as-anything sample it’s conjured from but it thumps wistfully and mightily at the same time. Worth tracking down if you can.
6. Flowers and Sea Creatures – ‘Flowers and Sea Creatures’ (LP) [Buzzin’ Fly]
There’s something instantly arresting about the combination of Graham Baxter’s voice and Kosta Megalos’ music. Call it emotional heft or something; they have sounded like themselves from their very first release when others spend albums wandering from influence to influence without discovering anything original. I got so excited when Ben Watt played me A.M. that I asked if I could do a re-edit and similarly was very happy to lend a hand with a bit of additional production tinsel and some mixing to the album, alongside Fred Everything, The Revenge and the band themselves. There’s some fine pop songwriting (Kingdom of Los Angeles, Passengers), cool electronics (Electronique, Division) and oodles of atmosphere (Sonic, Pale Complexion, Secrets We Stole From The Dancefloor) in a proper, superb album. I hope it’s the first of many.
7. Mike Simonetti – The Third of the Storms [Italians Do It Better]
Lovely emo-italo chugger with a Sam Sparro vocal, and several superb versions which lend themselves to full construct-a-megamix-as-you-go DJ action. The sort of thing Michael Mayer would play on a Kompakt beach party and you’d have a little hug and an existential blub with whoever was standing nearby at the simultaneous beauty / inevitable transience of it all.
Hitting their 50th release Hamburg’s Diynamic are getting stronger and stronger – pretty much everyone’s doing superb work at the moment, both the mainstays and new signings. The collaborative 50th EP is summery and uniformly great, pretty much everything Solomun even wanders past is gold (I can’t stop playing his remixes of Edu Imbernon’s Punset and Noir and Haze). Then there’s the DJ Phono debut album which is really brilliant – Pampa-ish but with a style that’s all his own. And David August looking very promising indeed as well.
9. Walls – Coracle LP [Kompakt]
Walls sophomore album is a good chunk more insistently electronic than their eponymous debut but no less engaging; although there’s still plenty of atmosphere and loveliness there’s a decided M83-anthemic euphoria about it. And as we know, dear reader, there’s nothing wrong with that.
10. Erol Alkan ft. Boyz Noise and Jarvis Cocker ‘Avalanche (Terminal Velocity)’ [Phantasy] / Robin Hannibal ‘I Need Your Love’ [Marketing] / Simone Fedi ‘Bitter Devotion’ [Eskimo]
I’ve been back on the remix trail once again this summer. Erol’s comes in the Classic Records go nu-beat ‘Hall of the Mountain King’ version or wonky ‘Deeper Underground’ house dub as Mr Cocker chants a Leonard Cohen poem over the top. The Robin Hannibal is tweakily acidic vocal house which explodes into cascades of bells and percussion at the close and last but not least Simone Fedi on Eskimo is a balearo-pop vocal hit to which I’ve added tougher drums and a cluster of Jaguar-esque riffs. Phew.
11. The Rapture – How Deep Is Your Love? [dfa]
Yes we’ve got previous. I turned down remixing ‘House of Jealous Lovers’ in 2003 (I figured trying to improve that was a hiding to nothing) and then after a gig together in Manumission ended with me, Matty and Gabe atop an Ibizan sand-dune looking at both ends of the week I landed the job of mixing ‘I Need Your Love’ instead. In 2006 I spent a very intense but enjoyable three months in New York and London helping to produce ‘Pieces of the People We Love’. During the many consecutively sleep-deprived but inspiring days holed-up in mid-town New York with Paul Epworth, I never felt more sure that we were making a stonking great hit and I’ll be honest that my heart broke a little when the album came out and everyone who was praising us to the heavens pre-release seemed to step back a bit and go quiet just when we needed them most. No matter – I’m as proud of it as anything I’ve worked on and I was delighted – as a friend and a fan – to hear just how good the barn-storming first single from their forthcoming third album, ‘By The Grace of Your Love’ is. It’s ended many of my sets this summer and sounded never sounded less than brilliant and exciting. Welcome back gents.
12. Assorted other belters.
Levon Vincent ‘Man or Mistress’ [Novel], Terranova ‘I Wanna Go Out’ [Kompakt], Four Tet ’Pyramid [Text], T.E.E. ‘Connaissance’ (Naum Gabo remix) [Record Makers], Joe Goddard ‘All I Know’ [Greco-Roman], pretty much every single new Axel Boman track released in the last three months, Ali Borem ‘Scotch Your Mind’ [Desolat], Richard Davis ‘The Blue’ [240Volts], Ada ‘Faith’ [Pampa], Naum Gabo ‘Whop!’ [World Unkown], Ron Basejam ‘Looter’ [2020 Vision], Haules Baules ‘Hit Me Slowly’ [Haules Baules]. That should do for now, eh?