Fresh from the news that Spectral will be releasing a rather tasty remix of Mark E by Scandolearic deity Prins Thomas comes details of a new Merc release from the Midlands based producer which includes revisions from both Dixon and Tensnake.
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Hot on the heels of releasing Stone Breaker, Mark E’s debut album which included some real gems alongside plenty of machine funk house music filled with chug and bump, Spectral Sound have announced details of a new EP from the producer that includes the tantalising prospect of a Prins Thomas remix.
With little more than a recently set up blog for information, those that delight in idle speculation will be all over the true identity of Chicago Damn. Does it really matter though, when this debut on Mark E’s increasingly impressive Merc imprint proves to be such a refreshingly oddball take on post house and disco dynamics. A tribal feel engulfs your senses as “Hold On” begins, thanks to the muggy sounding chants that work in unison with the thumping bass drum beat. However it’s the multi faceted layers of melodies and instrumentation that make this track so gloriously hard to pin down. A mid point step towards shimmering balearic atmospherics before a swift u-turn into a heavily percussive locked groove is just one of the many pleasant rhythmic shifts here.
On the flip, “Be Your Man” proves to be a more instantly gratifying dancefloor treatment, seemingly melding disparate rhythmic elements to form a future retro raw house groove. Picture Pepe Bradock remixing Rick Wilhite and you might have an idea. Expert usage of vocal samples and energetic drum edits are central to a track that peaks and tweaks in all the right places. Attention Merc and Chicago Damn; more of the same please.
Last year’s announcement that Mark E was setting up his own imprint Merc was the Midlands based DJ signalling his intent to focus on original production – a canny move given the overstuffed disco edit release schedule – and the subsequent output has justified his decision: “Special FX” from Merc 003 ranks as one of this years most intriguing moody boogie tracks.
To draw a line under the last five years of superlative edit work, Mark E has compiled this second volume of the Selected Tracks & Edits series which will please the edit obsessives no end. The first edition of Selected Tracks & Edits allowed many a DJ the first opportunity to play out a full quality version of tracks such as “R & B Junkie” after missing out on the curse inducing limited vinyl version and suitably this second volume repeats this gift several times over.
Both tracks from Mark E’s debut release, the 2005 Scared EP on Jiscomusic, are present here in all their glory and it’s a mark of the producer’s talent that they sound just as fresh some five years later. “Scared” in particular is pretty much the blueprint for a successful slo mo disco house edit with the groove of Womack & Womack’s “Baby I’m Scared of You” being extended over some ten minutes Theo style, with Mark E adding elements of instrumentation with a guile not matched by some of today’s edit cowboys. The seventh minute marks a glorious drop into the full original track which plays out till the end. Sublime stuff and it’s not hard to see why it’s been near impossible to get on vinyl all this time.
“Formed” occupies the space marked “End of night set killer” on this CD that “Sun Shadow”, the superlative reimagination of Labelle’s “Moon Shadow” did on the first volume. Originally out on Jisco last year it’s a glorious twelve minute extension Grace Jones’ Balearic classic “La Vie En Rose” which teases out the Moulton produced groove before Miss Jones takes over with killer results. Elsewhere unreleased secret weapons such as the opening “Often Think To Myself” or “Darker”, where the brooding chug is transformed into a glorious piano led 80s soul instrumental, make this a worthy conclusion to some four years of edit dynamite.
Review: Tony Poland
Artist: Mark E
Title: Works 2005 – 2009: Selected Tracks & Edits
Buy From: Juno Records
Indeed it was his stunning reimagination of a little known Janet Jackson track, R & B Junkie, for Golf Channel, which threw the limelight on Mark E after featuring on the essential mix by Lindstrom and Prins Thomas, essentially the chairmen of the disco beard board.
The start of a new decade has seen Mark E start his own label, Merc Records, with this limited CD only retrospective offering a last chance to pick up a selection of his most sought after edits and productions from the past five years, before the label switches attention to vinyl only releases.
The presence of The MEdit of Birth Control’s Plastic People on this retrospective will no doubt guarantee it selling out pretty darn quickly. After featuring on his Resident Advisor mix, this edit of a krautrock standard caused much internet fuss as to when, and indeed if, it was ever going to be released. Presented here in it’s full nine minutes of glory, it is indeed one of the CD highlights, teasing the listener for some six minutes before letting the track play out in its original glory. The aforementioned R & B Junkie sits next to the endless groove of Sun Shadow in providing further smile inducers.
Review: Tony Poland