Emerging last year, Chicago-based producer The Black Madonna has developed a wonderfully colorful and rich slant on her hometown sound across releases for Stripped & Chewed and Hometaping Is Killing Music. Aligning with local operation Argot makes sense given the label's own output since launching roughly a year ago, and the Lady Of Sorrows EP is some of her best work thus far. As you'd expect from the title, there's a certain mournful tone to both the productions here, yet it's well measured as opposed to over bearing. On "A Jealous Heart Never Rests" for example, this sense of sadness manifests itself in the soaring strings that open proceedings, though it's her skilful 303 manipulation that grabs your attention. On the flip "We Can Never Be Apart" the orchestration is even more impressive, making for a rather epic introduction from which The Black Madonna shifts into a satisfying mid tempo stomp through glistening disco flecked house.
The Black Madonna has been responsible for some superb, Chicago-influenced music over the last 18 months, not least Home Taping debut "Alright This Morning". Here she returns to the Glasgow-based imprint with arguably her strongest cut to date - the formidably stripped back "We Still Believe". Sitting somewhere between early '90s trackiness, sparse '80s acid and British bleep, with melodies and acid tweaks inspired by Orbital style 'intelligent dance music', it's near perfect in its dancefloor simplicity. The Revenge provides a near anthemic, hands-in-the-air inducing rework (check out the ridiculously heavy bassline), while bonus cut "Say My Name" sounds like Maurice Fulton after a skipload of downers.
Chicago producer The Black Madonna burst onto the scene earlier this year with the excellent "We Don't Need No Music (thank you Rahaan)" on hometown label Stripped & Chewed. Here she confirms his status as "one to watch" with another impressive slab of beefy, basement-friendly deep house for Glasgow's Home Taping crew. Constructed around densely layered percussion, minor key chords and a brilliant blues vocal, "Alright This Morning" just seems to keep building throughout its breathless, eight-minute duration. Nicholas remixes, bringing a bit of classic US house bounce to the Black Madonna's sweaty drum grooves. It's a good alternative, but for us the original still wins out.
There's naturally been plenty of hype surrounding The Black Madonna's "He Is The Voice I Hear", which originally dropped on a single-sided 12" at the tail end of 2016. It's undoubtedly the fast-rising Chicagoan's best record to date, and feels like an unashamed tribute to Patrick Cowley's fine productions for disco icon Sylvester. While there are mournful notes - check the extended, beat-less piano intro -it doesn't take long to turn into a deliciously muscular, Italo-disco style chugger laden with razor-sharp strings, bubbling acid lines, and the kind of fluid piano solos that were once a hall mark of Frankie Knuckles' remixes. In other words, it's a fine contemporary disco record from one of dance music's most notable DJs of recent times.
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