German producer Henrik Schwarz is one of the few contemporary house artists to work creatively with vocals - as he showed so articulately on Walk Music and now on this release for Watergate. "Words" manages to achieve the feat that so many house producers aspire to but which so few achieve, namely fusing a soulful vocal with dance floor force - on this occasion thanks to the track's steely drums and bouncy groove. Watergate has tapped up Carl Craig for two remixes and he doesn't disappoint: there's not much to choose between the vocal and instrumental version, but this writer chooses the latter as it gives full vent to his dark, warbling bass and spine-tingling synth lines.
It's some three years since Watergate resident Lee Jones graced the Berlin club's in-house label. "A Perfect Kick" is, however, a decent comeback. In its original form, it rolls along nicely on an attractive bed of deep house grooves, bubbling electronics, dreamy vocal samples and intoxicating pedal steel. It grows in intensity as it progresses, too, thanks to some heavy-hitting jazz percussion and Jones' light-touch production. He offers a darker, more percussive remix, too, for those wide-eyed early morning moments. Elsewhere, there's a warm, building, decidedly tougher rework from Matthias Meyer, and two drifting, droning, dubbed-out techno takes from Daria.
Techno wizard and selector to envy La Fleur has been an artist to watch for some time now. Starting her journey in Stockholm in 2008 she's now partly based in Berlin, soaking up the atmosphere ready for bigger things. This release sees her sound progress further into a house template, pushing her penchant for progressive, minimal sounds into a brighter, more traditional club environment. All three tracks including the gloriously minimal and haunting remix of "Nightflow" by Kenny Larkin show an understanding and love for the genre not often seen in breakthrough artists. Well worth your time.
On the face of it, German DJ/producer Marco Resmann might not be the most obvious choice to mix the latest volume in Watergate's mix series. Yet it's an inspired choice, with the Upon. You label boss turning in an emotion-rich journey that never settles on any one particular flavour of house or techno. There are moments of inspired deepness and comfy, fireside-warm grooves, but these are tempered by rough and ready or darker selections that showcase his love of sweaty sessions in pitch-black basements. Taken as a whole, it's a fluid journey with a distinct "feel" - something that can't be said for many mix albums of a similar ilk.
Corporate Butcher (Life & Death remix) - (6:42) 124 BPM
Corporate Butcher (Rampa & Re You remix) - (7:21) 123 BPM
Whoever thinks that dance music can't have a political consciousness should acquaint themselves with the Schwarz brothers' latest release. The Life & Death remix has a subtle backdrop, with Tiefschwarz using understated rhythms and lithe, shuffling drums against which to create their message. The real centre piece though are Mama's vocals; rich, soulful and slightly melancholic - and not unlike Boy George's singing - they will leave the listener looking for righteous revenge on the bankers and bureaucrats who have brought the modern world to the brink of the abyss. The Rampa & Re you remix meanwhile is destined for club use, its dubbed out drums and vocal snippet echoing over a soaring electronic bass.
Various - "Watergate 14" (continuous DJ mix by Mathias Kaden) - (1:07:41) 123 BPM
Mathias Kaden may have gained recognition as a minimal house producer, but as his selection for Watergate shows, he has moved on to deeper pastures. Embracing US house as well as the more esoteric end of the European sound, Watergate 14 is full of warm, fluid basslines, seductive melodies and inviting vocal samples. Ron Trent's "Kids at Play" captures the approach eloquently, with jazzy keys unfolding over a heavy bassline, while Moodymann also shines on the cut-up "4 One Night". The Americans don't completely own the mix however, and DJ Sprinkles' brilliant fade-heavy re-imaging of The Mole's "Lockdown Party" is worth the price of the mix alone.
Watergate 10 (continuous DJ mix by Marco Resmann) - (1:18:57) 123 BPM
With productions as Phase and Luna City Express to his credit and as a former member of Pan Pot, Berlin's Marco Resmann was one of the key figures making music during the minimal explosion. Can he also cut it behind the decks? On the evidence of Watergate 10, the answer is yes. Like all the best minimal DJs, he has a knack of splicing up stripped back, quirky grooves with warm, soulful house. Keeping the mix busy throughout, Resmann moves from the warm rhythms of Soul Phiction and Ricardo Villalobos's classic "808 The Bass Queen" into the smacked out minimal of Heartz 4's "Intimacy Girl" through the androgynous vocals of Digitaline's "Say So" to Andre Lodemann's US influences and Roman Flugel's psychedelic take on Darabi.
Various - "Watergate 11" (continuous DJ mix by Solomun) - (1:18:12) 118 BPM
There's a big change in approach on the latest Watergate mix. Gone are the stripped back minimal house grooves or nouveau deep house sounds that had prevailed on previous mixes. In their place come tracks that show Solomun's love of funk, r&b and hip-hop. Alliance Ethnik's "Respect" sets the tone with its slinky groove and hip-house style call and response vocal, while Lucy Pearl's "Don't Mess With My Man" is cut from a similar cloth, its vocal funk signalling an end to linear rhythms. Solomun himself has taken inspiration from this 90s sound and his own "Kackvogel" is all hushed vocals and slick r&b bass. The mix also features the timeless Cologne techno-pop of Heiko Voss' "I Think About You", remixed by DJ Koze.
Watergate 13 (continuous DJ mix by Ruede Hagelstein) - (1:13:08) 123 BPM
Hagelstein is best known for his melodic take on minimal house for labels like Souvenir and Upon You, but it's clear that he's also a skilful selector. The thirteenth Watergate takes the listener on that often alluded to journey; from the smoky strings of Prins Thomas' intro into bassy, drugged out house jams from Don Disco, Chris Wood and Strangers in Heaven. The selection then veers into tranced out tracks by Hagelstein himself and The Cheapers, before setting course for US deep house nirvana courtesy of Marshall Jefferson and Mike Dunn, only to emerge into the dubby chords and fey vocals of Losoul's "Open Door".
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