Bigging up your pals is a common-enough internet pastime, goodness knows, but indulge me for a second. I had long been a fan of Michael Mayer before I had the pleasure of meeting him on a beach in Barcelona some five years ago, and although he is now my label boss as well as a dear friend, I remain a massive fan of his DJing and his production. Musically he’s mostly been the tall Bavarian half of the awesome Supermayer these last three years, but he’s started remixing solo again of late. And he has two new ones that are both utter bombs.
His Shit Robot remix is the perfect set-opener – a teasing piece of electronic funk that pushes the limits of tension / release (the kick doesn’t come in until the start of minute 5) but absolutely kills when it does. Something of the flavour of Justus Köhncke’s classic Kompakt tracks, it could have been made any time in the last 6 years but sounds abolutely current. And somehow his Who Made Who remix is even better. A dreamy full-vocal killer, string laden, two-step dub-bassed at first with subtly tweaky keys that builds and builds into a proper barn-stormer.
Both mixes are up there with his classic treatments of Telefunken and Superpitcher. They require a degree of patience and careful placement – these delights are in the unfolding not the quick fix – but if you’ve an ounce of sense you can be playing them for years. They’re that good.
2. Storm Queen – Look RIght Through [Environ]
Any other week this would have had the number one spot, easily. New analogue vocal awesomeness from Morgan Geist. Chubbier than a fat kid in a doughnut factory in its analogue weapons of deployment but in no way rehearsing old-school cliché. In an age of far far too many “old-school” house-biting dullards this is fresh as a daisy, with a killer song most importantly. Comes with a brilliantly trippy dub too. Really fantastic – instant top ten of the year stuff.
3. The funk phenomenon.
It never really went away of course but the funk-break specifically – and that back-foot feeling in general in four-to-the-floor – has returned with a vengeance and has even been given it’s own slightly awkward genre-heading by over-eager taxonomists (‘e-funk’). The funk break has been part of house music forever and the genre-defying have plundered breaks records for their sets too, but in the last year or so some of the best producers from the States – Lees Curtiss and Foss, Soul Clap et al – have brought it back to wonderful effect. When so much of the recent house revival has been simply too neo-classically minded for my taste, or reliant on disco filter looping or just paying far-too-reverent homage to the greats, it’s nice to have a different contemporary groove. And great to have so many good basslines back too.
Some of my favourites from this year: Sascha Braemer’s Dirty Talk, Nicholas Jaar’s remix of No Regular Play, Mudkid’s ‘The Brain From Planet Mud’ and this next one:
4. Left – Hell’s Heat [Cityfox]
My current favourite example of what I was talking about previously – supremely groovy dark-basslined spook-funk out of Spain with a touch of EasyLee in there. Low-slung brilliance that I can’t tire of.
5. Greta Cottage Workshop
Matt Densham’s label is up there as one of my favourites of the year – putting out varied and consistently fresh releases. Particular favourites include the afore-mentioned Mudkid’s “The Brain From Planet Mud” and his new one “When The Mud Falls”, Michael J. Collins’ supremely slow trippy “Magical Thinking” and the slow italo of “Letting Go” and the astonishing balearo-psych of new Rainbow For Dawn EP with superb mixes from both Collins, Mudkid and Rich Jones
6. Azari and III – Into The Night (Nicolas Jaar remix) [Turbo]
The things being said in anticipation of Nicolas Jaar’s debut album “Space Is Only Noise” (coming in February) are approaching hard-to-live-up-to levels of excitement, but there’s absolutely no doubt he’s a serious talent. Out of everything I’ve heard so far, I love his remix of Azari and III for Turbo foremost; great, delicate – and in no way old-school house, thank fuck – piano melodies and stark electronic funk groove. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve played this hell out of his remix of No Regular Play (“Owe Me”) this year too.
7. October – Vanamonde EP [misericord] / Bhutan Tiger Rescue – Beginner’s Waltz [Kompakt]
A couple of years ago I heard an incredible track called ‘Say Again’ on Perspectiv, made by a guy called October who I’d never heard of. Via the magic of the interwebs I found he had a label Caravan from which I bought pretty much everything I could find. It was techno, but difficult to pin-down – in no way hermetic functional laptop churn – but much more analogue and non-linear, using found sounds and peculiar samples. I got in touch and met a sweet and incredibly productive polymath who plays guitar in a Bristol noise band (‘The First And Last Men’) and is making some of the best electronic music to come out of the UK in the last while, I reckon.
Happily, we’ve become friends. I’ve done a remix for him (see below) and he’s made a EP for Sasse and my Misericord label which spans sample-heavy exploitation disco and swampy analogue house. It gives me the same goosebumps I got when I first heard the likes of Motorbass and La Funk Mob and it’s in the shops now (as usual vinyl only for the time being). We’ve also started making some music together under the name ‘Bhutan Tiger Rescue’ – the very first of which is coming out on Kompakt’s Pop Ambient 2011. It’s drone electronics in the mode of the Fun Years or To Rococo Rot and all you need to know to rush out to the shops in January is that it has me playing an 8 minute sleighbell solo. Nuff said. More to come from us in 2011 too.
8. Clara Moto – Deer and Fox (Stacey Pullen remix) [infiné]
Utter vocal bomb – the lead track from Clara Moto’s lovely album given a slight Moroder-basslined techno workout from Stacey Pullen. This tore the roof off Womb in Tokyo a couple of weeks ago.
9. Max Mohr – Trickmixer’s Revenge [Playhouse]
One from back in the day. Well, five or six years ago. This album the and preceding “Trickmixer EP” still sound super-fresh. Loving the wonkiness of the techno – everything being so functional / and limited and processed to within an inch of its life at the moment, its great to hear something that still breathes a bit.
10. Erm, six (count them!) new remixes from me.
Somehow I managed to let eighteen months elapse since I remixed Junior Boys’ “Hazel” – mainly due to producing Delphic and Tracey Thorn back to back and then doing the Kompakt mix straight afterward – pretty much meant that I didn’t do any remixes in 2009 / start of 2010. I’ve been attempting to remedy that the last couple of months.
a. October’s “That Placid Track” [Caravan]
Joe Meek and Ron Hardy making out on the dancefloor of the Robert Johnson.
b. Escort “Cocaine Blues” [Escort]
Escort re-visit Dilinger and I bring the boogie-breakbeat. Verging on Loose Ends ‘Hanging On A String’ territory.
c. Remain’s “Ralph” [Meant]
Wonky-basslined heavy-breathing stalker-house in the Traffic Signals mode with a touch of Nile Rogers guitar.
d. Glimpse and Martin Dawson “No One Belongs Here But You” [Crosstown Rebels]
I finally get a remix in for Lord Poncho’s wonderful label. Deep house re-cast as Cologne balearo-trance. In the new setting, the vocal sounds a bit like Neil Tennant.
e. Footprintz “Utopia” [Visionquest]
The second release on Messrs Troxler, Curtiss and Crosson’s new imprint, from a brand-new Montreal act. I mixed their original and then remixed it too, in a electronic-funk-goes-blissed-out trip of a remix.
f. Chapel Club “Surfacing” [Universal]
Slow and low (98BPM I think); I bring a lot of analogue synths and a heavy 4/4 to Chapel Club’s epic re-imaginging of “Dream A Little Dream Of Me”.
11. Last but not least, big-uns-in-the-bag round-up.
Dead Echo ft. MarcAshken ‘She’s All Over Me’ [Save You], Kenny Glasgow ‘Open Your Mind’ [My Favourite Robot], A Lauer ‘H.R. Boss’ [Live At Robert Johnson], David August ‘Peace of Conscience’ [Dynamic], Ana Helder ‘Next Club’ [Comeme], Rainbow Arabia ‘Sequenced’ [Kompakt], Terri Walker ‘Heartbeat’ [Local Action], Motorcitysoul ‘Ushuaia’ (Deetron Remix) [Simple Records], Marlow ‘Put Off’ [Room With A View].