James Connolly has always been one of the trickier members of the Night Slugs family to get a handle on; his discography as L-Vis 1990 over the past four years has seen him deliver translucent UK funky, an album of full on pop for Island, and raw, tracky, Dance Mania-inspired club music. It was this last category that Connolly seemed to feel most at home with, and when he followed up that first record of Club Constructions on Night Slugs with a similarly rubbery house record on Clone’s Jack For Daze it felt as if he’d finally settled down into a groove.
Versatility has always been a look that’s suited Rory Phillips. His extensive remix productions may have been singlehandedly responsible for making late 2000-era British electronic pop music palpable – breathing new life into everyone from The Gossip and Crystal Castles to the Scissor Sisters – and Phillips brought that same eclecticism to now-legendary club nights Trash and Durrr.
The third instalment in our Scratching The Surface series sees Scott Wilson investigate the raw strands of electronic music emanating from the Livity Sound, Clone, Skudge, Spargel Trax and Third Ear camps in recent weeks. Scroll down to listen to a mix Scott has compiled to accompany the piece.
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.
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.
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.
Night Slugs, the label run impeccably by Alex ‘Bok Bok’ Sushon and James ”L-Vis 1990′ Connelly will round off whats been an almost perfect first year with a thirteen track compilation entitled Night Slugs Allstars Vol.1.
Absolutely untouchable at the moment, L-Vis 1990 just can’t put a foot wrong it seems. His Night Slugs night run with house titan Bok Bok is a world-renowned haven for the current bassy fusion of garage, electro and UK funky. “United Groove” received the accolade of being the ‘it’ tune that everyone wanted to remix last year, and having had releases on Mad Decent, Dre$$ to Sweat and Sound Pellegrino, this essential new EP comes via his own Night Slugs label.
“Forever You” featuring Shadz on vocals is possibly the most poppy thing yet from L-Vis, but that’s not a criticism in any way – it’s an absolutley vital slice of dance floor heaven with Shadz locking his chorus into the groove perfectly by staying locked in one note, matching the stabbing chords beautifully. It’s a real treat, and hopefully could tip L-Vis into the mainstream over the coming months. On a slightly more laidback tip, “Into The Stars” keeps an arpegiated lead running constantly while a melange of beats are chopped up underneath in an outrageously funky way, and a loop from the acapella of the Pharcyde’s “Passing Me By” bubbles away over the top of it all. “Do You Remember” comes over as a more militant sister of “United Groove”, featuring the same style of anthemic, spoken word vocals but this time anchored to a vicious acid-line that gurgles and rises over a sparse soca beat. “Reprise” however keeps things simple and focuses on a clap-filled beat along with some added sparkles of technicolor synthwork that are subtle yet incredibly impressive at the same time. This goes for the EP itself – L-Vis doesn’t overreach in any way, keeps the beats and arrangements razor sharp and the results are frankly awesome.
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