In 1995, Chicago’s Dance Mania label was already a decade old and in the process of re-inventing itself. While the late 80′s had highlighted the sensual house cuts of Li’l Louis’ and the stalkerishly sultry monologue-driven techno of Hercules’ “7 Ways”, a new genre of Chicago artist were rising to the forefront of dance music in the mid 90s. The sound that DJ Funk, Waxmaster, DJ Deeon and Parris Mitchell pioneered was a stripped down, raw percussive sugar rush – immediately accessible, with explicit shouts and chants often recorded by strip club announcers in the early days. Relentlessly catchy and constructed with minimal resources (sometimes just a drum machine, microphone, and synthesizer working in conjunction), it was music for prime-time booze soaked sticky basement dance floors, bad decisions and good footwork.
Flexed-out disco muscle, stomping rave and a beautifully designed ode to Eddie Murphy: DJs, producers and label bosses pick their track of 2012by Juno Plus on 10.12.2012 at 16:11pm
To add some spice – and credibility – to this year’s annual best of round-up at Juno Plus, we enlisted some of our favourite DJs, producers and record label bosses to pick one record that didn’t leave their bag in 2012. We asked the likes of Gerd Janson, Levon Vincent, Veronica Vasicka, Bill Kouligas, Bok Bok, JD Twitch and Ron Morelli to take part, and their selections veered from the rickety techno of Powell to the bass heavy polyrhythms of Soundway Records, Omar S’s Eddie Murphy homage and much more.
Listen to Night Slugs duo Bok Bok and Girl Unit lean through 30 minutes worth of material recorded live using strictly hardware.
Parris Mitchell’s gaudy ghetto house anthem “All Night Long” is set to get reissued along with a pair of remixes from Night Slugs chief Bok Bok.
Bet you didn’t see this coming: Erol Alkan and Switch have teamed up for a release on the former’s Phantasy Sound imprint which comes with remixes from Bok Bok and Willie Burns.
The new Crossover Series from the Sound Pellegrino crew makes for a canny and eye opening endeavour, offering like-minded producers from different paths the chance to collaborate together with the aim of “crossing the invisible bridges of the great house music archipelago”. The standard for the series is set truly high on the inaugural release that sees Alex Bok Bok Sushon team up with Tom Trago for the Night Voyage Tool Kit EP.
If you’d paid keen attention to recent interviews with either the Night Slugs founder or the Rush Hour regular, you might have noted subtle whispers of mutual appreciation – something that was clearly not lost on Sound Pellegrino figurehead Teki Latex, who approached the two to open proceedings on the Crossover Series. In broader terms, this project is just one aspect of a growing bond between the emergent powers of the UK underground and the Dutch standard bearers. (Blawan and Untold surfacing soon on Clone and Dexter indulging in some Bristol loving sounds for the recent Great Northern Driver 12″ are further examples for those who require them.)
Musically, Night Voyage Tool Kit is the result of a four day recording session at Trago’s studio in East Amsterdam earlier this summer, with the help of a Sequential Drumtraks 400 analogue drum machine newly gleaned from the aforementioned Dexter. The six tracks see Trago and Sushon deliver heavily, stripped down drum trax informed by a love of Dancemania era Chicago House. At times the results are playful; see the opening track “Pathfinder” – little more than the duo checking out how pliable the rubbery analogue tone at the core is, with drums stripped down to a hissing undercurrent. More structure is evident on the skeletal “White Type R”, which slowly unfurls into compressed head jack material, though that playful sense of melody creeps through intermittently.
The midway point here is perhaps the release’s strong point, with both “Vector” and Pom Clash” heavily pressurised club workouts. The former contains some brilliant usage of space, dropping into just the birdlike sonic swivels before a wave of percussion takes hold. The latter is even more thrilling, utilising the sort of Funky rhythms that Bok Bok knows all too well and marrying them with vocal stabs that veer the scale of dementia as the track bumps along.
As the EP progresses, the overarching feeling you get from this release is two producers becoming increasingly comfortable working together – see how the vocoder led “Time Master” unexpectedly bursts into a percolating 23rd century p-funk out. It’s obviously just the start of much more from the duo, with Trago revealing the duo will continue their Night Voyage endeavours in some shape or form.
Sonar turned 17 this year, and for a good number of people it’s an essential part of the calender. The schedule is fairly well mapped out – bask in the hazy bonhomie of Sonar By Day, conveniently located a stones throw from Las Ramblas, before allowing yourself to be pulled gently into the mayhem that is Sonar By Night. Those still standing when the sun rises over the back of the unnervingly large complex that houses the evening’s festivities can give themselves a pat on the back. All of this usually takes place in the standard Barcelona summer weather (scorchio) – oh, and at some stage you’ll probably get pickpocketed too.
Bok Bok (real name Alex Sushon) has reinvigorated the contemporary bass music scene with the heady blend of grime, dubstep and house purveyed on the Night Slugs imprint he co-runs with L-Vis 1990. The label was a dominant force in 2010, coming from literally nowhere (the first ever release was in January) with EPs from Mosca, Egyptrixx, Girl Unit, Jam City, Kingdom and Lil Silva among others which left an indelible, neon-tinged smear on the musical landscape. Such was the relentless nature of the Night Slugs release schedule that it barely dawned on anyone that the label boss himself was yet to contribute any solo material of his own.
Thus Bok Bok’s first official Night Slugs release, the five track Southside EP, has been the cause of much excitement and anticipation. Sushon is not a newcomer to the production game – “Ripe Banana” and “NNTF09″ both appeared on the Night Slugs EP on the Dress 2 Sweat imprint formerly run by Jackmaster (and since swallowed up by the Numbers collective). Southside kicks off with the swirling, hazy atmospherics and taught chimes of “Charisma Theme”. Immediately demanding the listener’s attention, the hollow thumping kicks swiftly build into a clipped, rolling riddim with clapping beats, a fidgeting melody and undulating b-line.
“Hyperpass”, up next, is a much deeper, darker beast, with ominous dread vocal, a dubbed out soundscape, the sound of rainfall and urgent, insistent beats pumping out menacingly. “Reminder” is all hissing hats and searing snares, coupled with lassoing synths and a simple, repetitive bleepy melody. Hypnotic and harassing in tone, it will stay with you long after the needle has reached the run out groove. Then, there’s “Silo Pass” with its scythe sharpening intro, and distant voices, weighty subs and rattling SFX, before grime-infused half step smasher “Look” concludes the EP with poised and understated prowess.
Rookie label Night Slugs has had one hell of a year, accomplishing what most labels hope to achieve in a lifespan in its infancy. There’s been constant praise from media outlets such as Pitchfork, Fader, Xlr8r, Dazed and Fact, and they’ve been unwitting recipients of elephantine amounts of hype for each release from peers and fans alike, often months before they are available to purchase. Surely the greatest compliment to lay on the label overseen by Alex ‘Bok Bok’ Sushon and James ‘L-Vis 1990′ Connolly is that a standard of quality has been maintained in every single release this year that fully justifies that hype.
All Stars Vol. 1 is a highlight reel of what has made Night Slugs so groundbreaking, containing 13 tracks that showcase the label’s mutated UK funky, grime and post-dubstep mélange of sound. This much is evident from the opening gambit, Mosca’s “Square One (VIP)” which incorporates Baltimore club breaks, ragga-ish vocal sampling and some grimey synth squiggles without ever sounding crowded and over the top. It’s a high brow banger with streetwise sensibility, which is matched by Jam City, whose “Arp Jam” plays out with a twisted concoction of Detroit techno and cinematic grime.
An integral part of the Night Slugs success story has been the willingness to gather up some of North America’s best and most forward thinking producers such as Brooklyn’s Kingdom, who lends a Ballroom Diva inspired take on Dutch Bubblin’ in his contribution “Bust Broke”. Toronto’s Egyptrixx premieres a track taken from his upcoming Bible Eyes LP in “Liberation Front”, while Montreal producer Jacques Greene delivers a highlight amongst highlights with his much vaunted track “(Baby I Don’t Know) What You Want” – an utterly delicious amalgamation of sultry R&B and twilight house full of analogue synth warmth.
Whilst this compilation is not comprised of 100 per cent exclusives, those previously available tracks included have been remastered and definitely benefit sonically. It’s fitting that proceedings should end on Girl Unit’s “Wut”, proclaimed by so many as the definitive track of 2010, with an overwhelming sense of anticipation for what Night Slugs might achieve next year as the track’s lazered radiance peaks.
Designer, label owner, producer, DJ, possessor of a finely crafted moustache.
All of the above can be used to describe Alex Bok Bok Sushon, co founder of the Night Slugs imprint along with James L-Vis 1990 Connolly which has enjoyed an imperious first year of business since launching with some white label action from the latter in January . In the months that have followed Alex and James have introduced the world to a cast of production talent from both sides of the Atlantic with essential releases from Mosca, Egyptrixx, Kingdom, Girl Unit, Cubic Zirconia, Velour and Jam City.
Equally integral to the Night Slugs success story is the distinctly neon tinged art work that adorns every release courtesy of Bok Bok, whose design work has been matched by production and remix output this year with a handful of pristeen productions for Monkeytown, Enchufada and Blunted Robots complemented by remixes of Modeselektor, Scratch DVA and Chrissy Murderbot amongst others.
Already proclaimed by many to have released the track of the year in Girl Unit’s “Wut”, Night Slugs are set to end 2010 on a high note with the soon to drop All Stars Vol 1 compilation and vinyl sampler featuring that Jacques Greene track, along with the long awaited debut release proper from Jam City, so it seems an almost too perfect time to tap Bok Bok for ten of his best right now.
In case you haven’t heard, Berlin based duo Modeselektor, otherwise known as Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary, recently announced the inception of a new compilation series entitled Modeselektions, compromising of an 18-track compilation plus 12” releases and a limited edition eight track LP which is due to drop in November. Well, here’s a taster of what is to come, as the pair bring us the first instalment of the series on their own Monkeytown imprint. Featuring the selectors themselves on the first track from the EP ‘VW Jetta’, a purposeful, bouncing, dancefloor-driven beat and glitched out rhythms mark a firm statement of intent right from the off. Refreshing and rebounding with life, the warm, warped sounds are coupled with hissing maraca-like effects and rich, lustrous textures which become more prominent as the tune develops into its energetic and enticing maturity.
Moving swiftly on into the next phase, Hessle Audio co-founder and man of the moment, Ramadanman follows up with the ‘Pitter’. A glorious exploration, which combines some high-pitched squeals with stretched out synthetic manipulations and rousing strings, plus copious dollops of murmuring bass. All the while the onomatopoeic pitter-patter beats build up and break down in a beautiful crescendoing wave of sound. Coming back into focus with more of a driving rhythmic pattern as we enter the final portion of the track, hissing percussion and soaring atmospherics come together to form a cohesive unit. Bringing part one of the EP to a climactic close, Bok Bok draws out a delectable finale. Breathy vocals rattle against cheeky, crackled sampled words in ‘Say Stupid Things’; a shimmering flurry of beats and gently rounded, jingling SFX rumble away with the distorted vocals injecting a short, sharp dose of humour. Sounds rebound off one another in a beautiful musical dialogue here and create an increasing sense of intrigue.
These faultless Berlin techno/dubstep merchants are on very fine form at the moment, having recently announced Modeselektion Vol 1, a bumper compilation that features a heavyweight cast of international producers currently entrenched in the post dubstep sound. Their label 50 Weapons is gushing out all kinds of goodness at present, they never fail to retain their trademark sense of humour, and now they have released this excellent set of Art & Cash remixes. This Mdslktr classic from last year was perfect enough in a taut, funky motorik way but here we see Bok Bok, Roska, SBTRKT and Phon.o really expand the horizons.
Nightslugs’ star Bok Bok transfers the original’s sinuous synthlines to a way lower register, riding a huge bassline that’s embellished with some raw snares, claps and cash register sound effects, a nice sonic pun on the tune’s title. It’s prime UK bass material, and is yet another excellent Bok Bok version. Roska is someone else who’s simply unable to turn in a bad mix – staggering given the amount of stuff he’s been knocking out of late. Using his trademark kit of organic percussion (with a nice eastern flavour this time around) layered into powerfully funky sequences, he keeps the original’s booty-slapping electro snares and loosely follows the chord structure with some shivering synthlines. It’s prime Roska, even if it’s hard to spot the original Modeselektor in the mix.
SBTRKT keeps closer to the spirit of the original, using glitchy chords and bleeps in his version, but he really makes it his own with a chord sequence that tugs hard at the heartstrings and an added vocal that sounds as though it’s being dredged out of the sea. It’s a real beauty, almost like Boards of Canada on a house tip, with crisp snares that don’t over-complicate the tune. Whereas the other three mixes are pretty radical makeovers, Phon.o’s mix is possibly the one hardcore Modeselektor fans will pounce on. Upping the tempo slightly, he keeps the huge tech-riffs of “Art & Cash” in place, but adds a whole set of minimal hits in a Bmore-meets-Radioclit style, and filters sections up for maximum rinse potential. Don’t make us pick our favourite – these are all absolute gold.