100% Silk will release 2 Hot 2 Wait, a new album from Coyote Clean Up, later this month.
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100% Silk will release 2 Hot 2 Wait, a new album from Coyote Clean Up, later this month.
In the midst of a traditional summer slump for vinyl, some good news masquerading as Bad News arrived in the shape of the epic and much anticipated Ron Morelli and Lee Douglas collab on L.I.E.S.
Not Not Fun and 100% Silk artist Maria Minerva has just announced details of her forthcoming album, entitled Will Happiness Find Me?
Top London promoters BleeD are bringing the cream of Amanda Brown’s 100% Silk label to London this Saturday night, and we have a pair of tickets to give away to one reader.
Hovering on the fringes of the electronic music melting pot, Paul Dickow’s Strategy moniker has been busy existing in its own headspace, caught between the lopsided vision of experimentation and the alluring thump of the dancefloor, without ever drawing too much attention. His releases on Orac especially reached for the addictive groove of disco, and then artfully spliced it with the fractured edits of micro house in a way that seems so canny in today’s climate as to stupefy the relative anonymity of the 12”s.
Judging the best record labels in any given year is not an easy task. The necessary combination of established labels reaching their peak and fresh imprints flourishing in their infancy is not an easy one to reach; inevitable comprises in the age old quantity vs quality debate are liable to be discussed ad nauseum. This year’s list came together slowly but surely, and we believe it provides a neat snapshot of all that is good about electronic music right now.
The aforementioned upstarts are visible in force (Hivern, Long Island Electrical Systems) as are their more established counterparts (Clone, Planet Mu, Honest Jon’s). Their combined reach is truly global, with our selected labels based in cities as diverse as Barcelona, New York, London, Glasgow, L.A. and Bristol – their respective rosters have an even broader reach and they collectively touch on too many genres to mention.
Anyone with a finger on or someone near the pulse of electronic music right now won’t need us to tell you the importance of record labels these days. They serve as what Andrew Weatherall describes as a “cultural filter”; the best labels wade through oceans of sameness to illuminate the interesting corners of music, earning our trust and admiration in the process. There are, of course, many, many more labels worthy of end-of-year coverage, but here is the Juno Plus selection of the labels that impressed us most in 2011.
100% Silk clearly have an agenda in retro-rooted dance tracks, as exemplified by the recent bumping house EPs from Sir Stephen and Mi-Ami band member Damon Palermo aka Magic Touch. Their latest issue, while of course maintaining the aesthetic M.O., is more subversive in nature, which makes for some quite enchanting listening. That’s not to say that Innergaze are re-writing the rulebook; the signifiers are all very clear, from the post-punk/no-wave grooves of early 80s New York to the grainy electronics of krautrock, but the cumulative result is pleasingly fresh on the ears.
Lead track “Shadow Disco” sets the tone perfectly on a non-stop disco beat and looping bass lick over which all manner of vintage synthesiser stabs, FX and warbles do their cosmic thing. It’s jamming, drawn-out tackle that has no intention of going anywhere other than round and round in its own freaky circle. The vital component in tracks of this nature is the rhythm section; when it’s nailed correctly, as it is here, there’s no need for progression, diversion, peaks or troughs.
The style remains consistent across the rest of the EP, sometimes taken on a slower, sleazier tip as on the wonderfully titled “What’s Your Body Doing Tonight”, and sometimes taken more driving and psychedelic as on “Hypnogogisco”. Whatever the case, it’s always that slinky bass steering the track in a manner Sal P would be proud of. If there’s one flaw of the four tracks, it’s that the same formula gets stuck to a little too much. With such wonderful tools in the shape of their grooves and synthesised decoration, Innergaze could have conjured up yet more mind-bending and varied material. Here’s hoping that’s what the future will bring.
Framed by an arch and surrounded by flashing blue fairy lights in an East End pub’s back room would generally be considered an odd way to see anyone perform, but somehow, in the case of Not Not Fun and 100% Silk artist Maria Minerva’s recent gig at Dalston’s Shacklewell Arms, the whole thing seemed totally appropriate.
Having broken through with the cassette-only album Tallin At Dawn released via the on-point Not Not Fun label back in March, it’s clear the smudged out, backwards glancing sounds of East London dwelling Estonian Maria Minerva have found favour with Amanda Brown and her blossoming retro-futurist empire. A subsequent release early in the life of 100% Silk helped establish the blossoming momentum that the NNF offshoot currently revels in, and now Cabaret Cixous, Minerva’s eagerly anticipated second album, arrives on more traditional formats courtesy of Not Not Fun.
It’s certainly a good time to be looking back and garnering the soulful drones of 80s synth pop, but that means there’s no shortage of competition. As Cabaret Cixous whirrs into life, the name bouncing round this particular reviewer’s head is Hype Williams, a correlation that you can’t help but think many other listeners will be finding. As with most associations of this nature, it’s unfair to dismiss the music as one and the same, but it makes for an ideal reference point. The same ethereal, degraded quality presides over the music, while Maria’s vocals float in the distance with that same intentionally off-point mixing.
However, there’s a greater consistency and immediacy at work on Maria’s album than you find on the Hype Williams output. Even when the style shifts to something bordering on uptempo it all fits the narrative of the LP as a whole. “Laulan Paikse Kaes” comparatively bangs, six tracks deep into the album, with a filtered electro break battling and losing against its processing whilst ravey sun-kissed chords reverberate around a subtle, almost G-funk synth refrain.
Indeed, as the album progresses beats begin to emerge, and on “Soo High” a positive groove can be discerned amidst the metallic fuzz. Minerva’s vocal takes on an electro-pop kind of delivery, while a funky bassline permeates through the mix, but only just. If any kind of sonic clarity was achieved on the album it would sound at odds with everything else, but it’s this commitment to the sound that achieves the consistency.
The only time the smoke lifts to let all the elements shine through is on album closer “Ruff Trade” where Minerva’s vocal turn takes the lead on top of an understated and moody synth. By the time the track opens up into a soaring chorus of sorts, you could be forgiven for forgetting that most of the album swaggers and sways bleary-eyed through Minerva’s layers of sound. If you weren’t sold on Hype Williams, this certainly won’t change anything for you. If, however, you’re easily seduced by their wistful swathes of sound then you should definitely give Cabaret Cixous a whirl.
This year has seen a tidal wave of analogue-informed revivalist jack tracks. It’s near-on impossible to head to a house night and not hear a dusty Trax record or at the very least a modern re-interpretation of one. There’s no denying the seductive qualities of that raw, hard-hitting production style, and this new wave of the old-skool has given us some truly interesting music, as well as some lazily re-hashed dross.
This latest entry on the Not Not Fun sub-label 100% Silk sees Sir Stephen (also of ‘Nintendo punk’ band Maniac Mansion) making his own claim on the early blueprint of house music with five pumping cuts. Every nuance and detail of the ‘88-’91 era is immaculately replicated, albeit with the beefier production values of the present day. This represents something of a departure from the norm for the boutique imprint run by husband and wife duo Amanda and Britt Brown – a shift perhaps signified by the new artwork template that adorns this 12″ and the concurrent release from Ital. Previous releases from the likes of Gillette, The Deeep and Maria Minerva have been informed by classic house and techno but dipped in fuzzy, lo-fi atmospherics, marking this as the most obvious release so far on 100% Silk, in that it wears its influences proudly – and loudly – on its sleeve.
Indeed it’s hard to listen to “Move That Body” and not hear Inner City chart-topper “Good Life” stomping away in a slightly different key, while “Milk N Honey” captures the DX7 organ notes of Crystal Waters’ “Gypsy Woman”, and “Public Style” could easily be a love letter to Robyn S. There’s even a brief stint in classic electro on “NY Boogie”, executed with all but the “break!” intact. At some point you have to step back and say that these tracks, whilst familiar, still manage to kick it. If imitation is a form of flattery then Sir Stephen is clearly in thrall to the good old days, and he’s certainly not bastardised the sound in any way.