Artist: Dan Curtin Title: Lifeblood Label:Mobilee Genre: Minimal House/Tech House, Techno Format: Digital Buy From: Juno Download
Cleveland’s seasoned techno don Dan Curtin releases his first long player for Mobilee, marking the flourishing label’s fifth artist album in total. Lifeblood is Curtin’s first album for three years, his ninth overall, displaying the kind of diversity and cutting edge mentality that makes this one stand out as one of the best in his bulging discography.
Curtin has been producing with an unmatchable work ethic since 1992, releasing records on Strictly Rhythm, Peace Frog, Sublime and his own imprint, Metamorphic Recordings amongst a host of others. Still today, his output levels are through the roof, his three recent singles for Mobilee serving as a reminder. Yet it is on the album format where the American really comes into his own and explores ideas that wouldn’t fit comfortably on vinyl. He takes full advantage of the format once more on Lifeblood, unearthing the full potential of techno as a genre.
The album has a classic and vintage feel and although the majority of it is aimed at the club, the whole record is dipped in funk and etched out with emotion. At times there are beautiful downtempo moments – the dreamy slo-mo quality of “Perfect Affair” and the ambience of “Hidden” and “Can’t Say No’s” trip-hop tinged beats being perfect examples. Taking things up a notch, “Mr. Bean Do An E” is a jacking ode to classic techno, “I See Light” is a true stomper and “Other” (Lost In You Mix) brings the house groove. “Mirrors Reflecting” is even more hard hitting, letting hard-knuckled percussion do the work whereas “Two Tickets to Paris” has a light hearted and playful feel.
Lifeblood is a refreshingly varied and cohesive techno album, if indeed you can actually label it as a techno album. Showing all who hear it the potency this genre is capable of, there is no wonder that Dan Curtin is a true American techno hero.
Thomas Koch, known to the record buying public as DJ T., drew many pats on the back in 2009 with The Inner Jukebox, an album which showed tech house pretenders how things should be done. This year he’s followed that up with the 51st instalment of the Fabric mix series. It’s a big task, not just becasue of his own superlative mixes in the past (most notably the 2006 Body Language compilation), but also because the previous Fabric mix, curated by Dutch producer Martyn, was widely hailed as the most groundbreaking Fabric CD in years. Flora Wong spoke to the Get Physical boss about his disparate musical influences, the pitfalls of running a label and how touring the world inspired his new mix.
DJ Yellow releases are something of a rarity these days. That reason gives this release an exciting feel instantly but in actual fact, it’s special in its own right and that begs the simple question – why don’t we see more of his productions out there anymore? “No Way You Can Sleep” proves in one crisp swoop that he’s still got what it takes by showcasing three original tracks of deep, soulful house with an irresistible groove.
Alain Ho is a man who has seen genres grow and evolve around him over the years. During the 80s he played a large part within the French hip-hop scene before becoming an instrumental figure within French house music. Renowned for being forward thinking and clearly still influential today, we can only hope that this will be the first in a string of new productions from the Frenchman.
The title track effortlessly blends deep, funky and tech house into just over seven and a half minutes, maintaining both a deep and driving vibe courtesy of a relentless groove and intricate percussion. “I Know What You Need” maintains much of the energy of its predecessor but delves in darker territory with barely audible, slow male vocals and a pulsating bassline. “Reflection on the Self” is much more playful, with swirling synths, allowing the track to take on a warm feel that is further accentuated by the hushed, French vocal.
What makes this such a strong release is DJ Yellow’s clever combination of the deep and the funky. These can be difficult disciplines to merge at times but he manages it throughout, always keeping the focus very much on the dancefloor. Well done Plastic City for bringing DJ Yellow back once again – long may he stay.
Already a staple in the record collections of fellow techno DJs Richie Hawtin, Dubfire, Ricardo Villalobos and Luciano, Butch continues to build on his fast growing reputation as a producer. “Reshef” is another impressive slice of deep, percussive house and techno that validates his lofty regard amongst his peers.
“Reshef” is a twelve minute killer of epic proportions. It manages to do the whole frenzied techno monster thing but still sounds deliriously funky in the process. It has a groovy beat and almost tribal percussion as Butch layers the sounds to devastating effect. Slowly building throughout the track, the tension bubbles away just beneath the surface in this dancefloor destroyer. Amir’s remix comes next with a seductive and trance inducing quality that makes this too, perfect for the dancefloor. With eerie tribal chants added to the spellbindingly funky percussion there is an element of ethnicity that makes this remix all the more exotic and dangerous.
A new version of “Muskatnuss” follows, its crazed vocals and sirens doing much to keep up the wild and untamed atmosphere throughout this release which finishes with a trio of new remixes of “Reshef.” UK producer GOW delivers an intensely deep and hypnotic version before Markus Sur strips things down to the original’s funky rhythm. Deep’a & Biri close the release with their raw, super deep remix whose deep rolling percussion collides nicely with the ethno elements that give the track real flavour and identity.
If deep, funky, tribal percussion is your thing then you need look no further than “Reshef.” Armed with infectious rhythms and eerie atmospherics, this is one of that tracks that can drastically change the mood of a room in an instant.
Todd Osborn’s (almost) self titled debut album drew plaudits from across the globe, the American producer lauded for his blend of old and new in addition to his adaptation of varying styles. Such was the appeal of this highly creative, nostalgia-soaked dance album that it has managed to lure a host of respected and influential producers into reworking the original tracks. Such is the quality and ingenuity of those remixes, that Ghostly International has decided to release them on a new EP of their own.
Bullion opens the release with their twist on “Afrika.” The UK based producer swaps African percussion for warm, soulful electro whose humble bass makes it markedly more Americanised than its African influenced predecessor. Bogdan Raczynski’s effort transforms “Ruling” from its deep Chicago sound into a frantic mellay of dots and lines built around a flopping bassline. Lukid brings an ambient and instrumental hip hop feel to what Osborne had woven a dream-like, 1990s sound into “There.”
The digital version of this release also includes Luke Vibert’s energetic, snappy version of “Outta Sight,” not to mention an Arto Mwambe remix of “Wait a Minute.” The Frankfurt duo retain the jazz chords that are merged with disco and funk in the original but give it a deep house makeover for the remix.
These remixes have managed to keep up the standard of creativity and innovation set by the original album – and that’s no mean feat.
Artist: Pantha Du Prince Title: Black Noise Label: Rough Trade Genre: Minimal House/Tech House, Techno Format: 12″ (2xLP), CD, Digital Buy From: Juno Records (CD, vinyl), Juno Download
Hendrik Weber aka Pantha du Prince returns with his follow-up to the much acclaimed This Bliss avec Black Noise and it does not disappoint. With chimes and marimba acting as aural touchstones throughout, Black Noise shows the further evolutions of Weber’s melodic-robotic dichotomy and his penchant for deep and infectious bass. And speaking of infectious, “Stick To My Side”, Weber’s collaboration with Animal Collective’s Noah Lennox will leech itself into your memory banks and have you humming and singing it for days. It’s a truly great crossover hit that is just as groovy as it is catchy, and will no doubt help Pantha gain some new listeners.
Beyond that, tracks like “The Splendour”, “A Nomad’s Retreat”, and “Satellite Sniper” are amazing 4/4 burners that build carefully and envelop you in lush tones and Detroit-tinged techno beats. There’s much more warmth to Black Noise than This Bliss, and it’s somewhat reminiscent of The Field’s second album in its execution and musical aesthetic.
Weber seems a bit of a Byronic Romantic. The concept of the album stems from a trip to the Swiss Alps with some musician friends to record sounds and philosophize about music, technology, and silence. Next door to where they were staying was an enormous pile of debris, the remains of a landslide that had buried an entire village, and this is where the album’s concept was born – with the notion that ‘black noise’ is heard like a sonic omen before a natural disaster.
The second half of the album is more sedate, yet still no less compelling. The last two songs “Im Bann” and “Es Schneit” are warm and melodic come down tracks, the closer working those chimes into a subtle frenzy before dissipating like smoke in the air. Black Noise is another excellent release from Pantha du Prince, and a great start for electronic music in 2010. Dig it.
Artist: Various/Moonbootica Title: Save The Night Label: Moonbootique Genre: Minimal House/Tech House, Electro House Format: CD, Digital Buy From:Juno Records, Juno Download
Moonbootica have become synonymous with original, energetic compilations, using them as a forum to grow a huge fanbase in their native Germany. Their latest double-cd compilation mix glides easily between electro, deep house, disco-soul and tech house in a three hour musical education of dance music in 2009.
At times banging, at times melancholic, the mix never falters from being completely compelling. Tracks featured include offerings from relative newcomers such as Alex Metric, Aeroplane and Disco Trash Music, while evergreen veterans like Adam Freeland, Evil Nine and In Flagranti provide the perfect accompaniment.
The unexpected inclusion of two brand-new tracks from Moonbootica, “The Ease” and “Men Of The Future” is a highlight, two epic contributions that one hopes indicates the style of their next studio album. This collection transcends the countless mixtapes knocking around at the moment, as the pair crown their ten year musical career by once again reminding fans of electronic music why we love it so much.
Artist: Moodymanc/Paul Hardy Title: Sizzler EP Label: Baker St Genre: Minimal House/Tech House Format: Digital Buy From:Juno Download
Paying titular homage is definitely becoming the done thing. Not only do we have Todd Terje’s tip of the hat to Todd Terry, but there is also Manchester’s Moodymanc’s none-to-subtle referencing of the similarly named Detroit legend.
A quarter of 2020 Soundsystem, Moodymanc (real name Danny Ward) releases the Sizzler EP alongside fellow Leeds resident and co-owner of Baker St Recordings, Paul Hardy and, while you can still hear the trademark warm synths and house kicks associated with 2020, this latest independent collaboration still manages to retain an identity of its own.
The title track chugs along with a likeable, almost summery mix of melodic pads and playful chords, whereas track two begins in a mournful minor key before building to an electro-fied, menacing, bass-lead conclusion.
Sizzler also comes remixed courtesy of Sei A (Turbo / International Deejay Gigolos) who provides it with a tech house incarnation which is possibly more suited for peak time consumption than the original.
We have teamed up with Wolf and Lamb to bring you a superb promo mix ahead of the Brooklyn duo’s appearance at fabric this Saturday, December 5.
On the night they’ll be joined by the Dirtybird crew (Claude VonStroke, Justin Martin and Voodeux live).
This mix, compiled by Gadi Mizrahi (one half of the W+L team) has been on repeat in the Juno office all day, with new disco and house heads like Trus’me and Dubbyman cosily nestled alongside the likes of Moodymann and Arthur Russell.
Artist: Zombie Disco Squad, Jesse Rose Title: Jesse Rose presents Playing Around Again Label: Made To Play Genre: Minimal House/Tech House Format: CD, Digital Buy From:Juno Records, Juno Download
Berlin based kingpin Jesse Rose has been completely on point recently. Over the past 12 months he’s put his considerable industry cred behind some standout underground house and techno producers; Iditotproof, Oliver$ and Zombie Disco Squad among others. It’s all paid off. Made To Play has released some of this year’s more memorable tribal-tech and bass-heavy house EPs.
Made To Play has stamped its mark on the clubbing consciousness of ’09, and this double compilation album is a deliciously moody celebration of the post-Crookers era we live in.
Curated by Jesse Rose, it’s a two disc compilation featuring London upstarts Zombie Disco Squad in the mix on side 1, and an almost identical unmixed side 2 for DJ’s.
It’s a role call of essential artists and tunes for any self-respecting back room vandal. De-tuned filters and firetwirling basslines sit alongside straight up funky and glitchy tech-house. The tone of the release is carefully devised – no minimal, no gypsy horns – just screaming peaks and subbed-out drops. Plenty of sidechain and saws, just done in tasteful two-oh-nine fashion.
The blog-raiders among us will have heard alot of the tunes on show here, but there’s some real treats to be found for the more casual tech-house observer. Highlights are Jan Driver’s house-wrecker ‘Rat Alert’, Idiotproof’s ‘The Deacon’ and the double king-hit of Riva Starr’s ‘Squash’ and ‘Snatch!’
Review: Duncan Byrne
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