With his joint role as as chief operator at Future Times, one half of Beautiful Swimmers and sole pilot under the Maxmillion Dunbar banner, Andrew Field-Pickering has been integral in releasing some of our favourite music of the past few years. Matt Anniss caught up with Field Pickering in advance of his second Maxmillion Dunbar album dropping to discuss eclectism, his love of shoegaze and percussion, and much more.
Incoming from Future Times is “New Balance”, the first audio glimpse of what to expect from the forthcoming debut album from Beautiful Swimmers – stream below.
Future Times step up for the 40th selection in our podcast series!
This double vinyl DJ pack from Future Times is most obviously a follow up to last summer’s Vibe 12”, which featured artists from the label indulging in the sort of off kilter, unique dance music that has seen them gather many a fan. Emboldened by this, Vibe 2 sees Future Times expand their remit and can be viewed as the Transatlantic accompaniment to Permanent Vacation’s recently released Zwei edition of their If This Is House series. Much like the tracks included there, Vibe 2 perfectly captures the mood and sound of the underground house network, though the emphasis is mostly on American artists as opposed to the mainland European focus of the German label’s compilation.
The close bond between Future Times and New York’s Long Island Electrical Systems was recently touched upon elsewhere on this site, with the latter’s Ron Morelli revealing the Washington DC imprint had been instrumental in encouraging him to establish what has become one of our favourite labels. The debt of honour is paid back several times over with no less than four of the nine tracks presented here provided by L.I.E.S. alumni.
It’s a joint endeavour between the two labels which opens this release, as Maximillion Dunbar goes to work on “Comeback Dust”, Morelli’s one release as L.I.E.S., which originally appeared earlier this year on the equally impressive Greek imprint Echovolt. Whereas the original used all manner of cosmic melodies to induce hypnosis, Dunbar’s “Big Top Dustheads” remix is much shorter and relies on more prominent usage of the desperate sounding vocal hook amidst stripped down drum rhythms before the kaleidoscopic tones arrive.
From here, Tom Noble’s “Malaco” bridges the gap between the forgotten boogie sounds that invariably surface on Peoples Potential Unlimited and the club tackle that emerged in the days that Ron Hardy ruled the Musiq Box, sounding like it was recorded on reel to reel tape several times over before Noble submitted it to Future Times. L.I.E.S stalwart Jason Letkiewicz makes the first of two appearances here; firstly as Confused House, with the appropriately titled “Concrete (Dub)”, which combines foundation-shuddering drums with jaggedly spraying electro synths. Within these three opening tracks there’s a charming range of tempos explored which continues throughout.
Alexis Le Tan, most commonly known for digging up the strangest of cosmic kraut curios for Permanent Vacation’s Space Oddities series, throws down some deliciously camp hi nrg on “Marathon Man”, whose rugged, breathy throb is in marked contrast to “Uncollected Groove” the sprawling, Utopian electro glisten of Letkiewicz’s second contribution – this time as Steve Summers. Further energetic workout contributions from Amsterdam dwelling Israeli duo Juju & Jordash and Hunee sit either side of Steve Moore’s “Volatile Memory” – a deeply atmospheric production that adds more credence to the thought he would be perfect to re-score Bladerunner.
It’s fitting that Swimmers & Gang, essentially the Future Times all-stars, should join forces to end proceedings with “Sexy”, a heavily diced exercise in disco grit which, along with the opening track, are perhaps the most straight forward contributions to a release that happily twists and turns through all manner of carefree experimentalism without any compromise on quality.
The New York party scene is relatively small these days, and many operating within its tight-knit sphere privately lament the ongoing difficulties promoters face –strict licensing laws which hark back to the Giuliani era, small budgets and a general apathy towards the city’s rich vein of DJing and production talent. Yet within this scene there are still great nights (and days) out to be had, with promoters using the lack of suitable nightclubs as an excuse to host parties in inventive locations.
Alongside Justin Carter and Eamon Harkin’s near legendary Mister Saturday Night and Mister Sunday soirees, the roving Let’s Play House parties are now firmly established as one of the city’s best. Location-wise, they couldn’t be more diverse: from the decadent surroundings of the Le Bain hotel in lower Manhattan to abandoned Williamsburg warehouses, a club hidden behind a restaurant, a boat on New York harbour and a Chinatown karaoke bar, the two men behind the parties – Jacques Renault and Nik Mercer – have proved to be quite the hosts.
Now they have now launched a Let’s Play House record label in conjunction with established imprint Throne Of Blood, with all concerned evidently buoyed by the party’s growing reputation. Appropriately, the first release comes from Runaway, the house-centric production duo of Renault and Marcos Cabral. “Indoor Pool” is probably their best deep chugger since “Brooklyn Club Jam”, and it appears on the A-Side of this release alongside a Slow Hands version that boasts some devilish piano flourishes. Brighton duo Soft Rocks meanwhile deliver a typically squelchy, drum and arpeggio-heavy revision, while Future Times darlings Beautiful Swimmers (a serendipitous choice of remixer given the track’s name) round off a faultless release with a sleazy analogue vocal version that will only enhance their growing reputation. An auspicious debut.
Some two years on since the inaugural edition, a second serving of Permanent Vacation’s brashly titled compilation If This Is House I Want My Money Back arrives with twelve tracks that, for this scribe, act as the perfect antidote to the overly polished and far too ubiquitous shallow house endeavours of Hot Creations et al. Buoyed by a distinct lack of refund requests, the Munich label retain some of the artists from the 2009 ten track compilation whose stock has risen in the subsequent period, whilst also welcoming some new names into the fold.
When Permanent Vacation slipped out a four track vinyl teaser early last month, this reviewer was struck by the sheer class demonstrated by all on show that a desire to hear the full compilation became quite overpowering. Anyone who peruses this site on the reg will know how much we’re fans of Hivern Discs artist John Talabot, and “Leave Me” (Friendly Pattern Version) remains one of those tracks which you can quite happily return the needle/put on loop/press repeat some weeks after you first hear it. Within the context of this full compilation, it still shines through and acts as a bit of a tease for the forthcoming album on Permanent Vacation from Talabot, showcasing his talent for recycling naggingly familiar samples into an intoxicating rhythmic ride. Crucially however, there is plenty more on Zwei that impresses. Talabot’s Hivern cohort Pional opens proceedings with “Just Passing Through”, a sexed up improvement on the feel and sounds of the title track from Nico Jaar’s opinion dividing debut album.
From here a gradual rise in tempo unfolds across the compilation, with notable contributions along the way from Mano Le Tough – who continues to grace his productions with as much warmth and love as he does the titles – and Beautiful Swimmers. Their track “Excited” sees the Future Times duo step out of the DC comfort zone for the first time, delivering exactly the kind of roots of house music jam Benji and Tom P.V. asked for. A bastard concoction of Faltemeyer synth stabs and proto house pressure, the track matches the contribution from Talabot in the impressing stakes. It’s followed by energising contributions from Hunee and the Uncanny Valley duo of Jacob Korn and Cuthead collaborating under the smart Kornhead moniker. Their respective productions come from entirely different sonic angles – driving, subaqueous jack and heavily percussive Afro ripples respectively – which perfectly captures the label’s ethos behind releasing this compilation.
There are further treats in store from the likes of Soul Clap, Session Victim and the Permanent Vacation overseers themselves with an original track and an edit of Mathematics artist Contra Communem Opinionem, which in total make for a more consistent statement on the best in contemporary house music than the inaugural edition.
Teengirl Fantasy’s epic house jam “Cheaters” belongs in that rare canon of songs that remain timeless and thrilling, no matter how many times you hear it. Personally speaking it became the track that allowed me to escape the morning crush on the Northern Line and “Cheaters” also quite rightfully featured highly in the Juno Plus top tracks list from 2010. The only real gripe was the classic Chicago house track was never granted the full twelve inch release it fully deserved by either Merok or True Panther, the transatlantic labels that were responsible for releasing the duo’s impressive debut album 7AM.
A round of applause is due to both the band Delorean and their compatriots Hivern Disc – firstly to the former for being so captivated by “Cheaters” after touring with Teengirl Fantasy they couldn’t help but inform Hivern Disc about it. The Barcelona based label need a celebratory pat on the back for enticing Merok and True Panther into allowing them to release the track on this rather becoming marble splattered turquoise twelve.
The only reluctance regarding the news of this release was the mooted inclusion of remixes – from Hivern pinup John Talabot and Future Times artists Beautiful Swimmers – for a track that is pretty close to whatever you might regard as perfection. Thankfully such reticence can be discarded as both remixes present the track in a whole new light that is totally rewarding. Talabot’s self styled classic vocal refix on “Cheaters” gives the Love Committee vocals more prominence amidst the euphoria inducing looped keys and delicate chords that permeate the nether regions. Despite being slower than the 130bpm original, the raw, heavily percussive thrust makes Talabot’s remix a more suited dancefloor weapon, especially in the glorious last few moments where the drums crash around those fragile vocals.
The accompanying remix from Beautiful Swimmers occupies a totally different sonic space but is just as impressive. Future Times output in general seems to throw a thousand different ideas into the melting pot and somehow make it stick, and this remix continues that approach with startling results. Those shimmering chords are rewired and wrapped around a mid tempo bump that is befitting of Pharell Williams in his pomp and augmented by loosely cascading 808 hits. There’s a multitude of different dizzying movements before the run out groove arrives and it would be a spoiler to try and describe them – it’s a remix that’s best left to discover yourself!