Motor City Drum Ensemble and Efdemin will be launching this year’s Dimensions Festival in London on March 2, and we have a pair of tickets to give away.
Trouble Vision, the in house clubnight at Corsica Studios, turns three in October and have rightly deemed the occasion worthy of a weekend takeover at the cavernous South London sweatbox for a Double Trouble Vision which features everyone from Blawan to Motor City Drum Ensemble.
Originally conceived in the late 1990s when mix CD series were ten a penny, Studio K7’s DJ-Kicks compilations rival Fabric’s similarly epic sets for quality and diversity. There are, of course, differences, most notably in outlook. Despite an early contribution from techno legend Stacey Pullen, the first decade of DJ-Kicks was typified by contributions from such downtempo artists as DJ Kam, Kid Loco, Thievery Corporation, Rockers Hi-Fi and Stereo MC’s. Although the series has moved on since then (see sets from Tiga, Chicken Lips and the Glimmers), DJ-Kicks has always been about more than bare club hits. One of the series’ best assets is the scope it offers DJs to move in different directions and step outside of their comfort zone. It’s little surprise to find that this latest instalment, mixed by Motor City Drum Ensemble man Danilo Plessow, gives a far better insight into his many musical inspirations than his own productions ever could.
Plessow is a more versatile DJ than many give him credit for, but his celebrated productions rarely stray from the confines of a signature sound that mostly touches on warehouse-friendly retro-futurist house and comfortable deepness. Sure, it’s a good sound, but it doesn’t suggest that his record collection boasts some notably weird and wonderful nuggets. Or, for that matter, that Sun Ra and Loose Joints are as big an influence on his studio work as Mr Fingers and Basic Channel. All of these artists make an appearance on Plessow’s DJ-Kicks mix, alongside plenty of other well-picked audio surprises.
If the mix had a theme, it would be the fusion of the organic and the electronic – music made with machines versus music made with traditional instruments. It’s a theme that’s visible from the word go, when the crackly jazz and blues of Sun Ra and Electric Wire Soul blend seamlessly into the dubwise techno movements of Basic Channel. Or, a little later, when the impeccable 21st century soul of Peven Everett slips into some heavyweight jazz-house and the classic Chicagoan deepness of Mr Fingers. Throughout, there’s a laidback, groovesome feel that’s as effortless as it is enjoyable. Plessow himself sums up the mood perfectly on the traditional ‘new’ DJ Kicks track, “L.O.V.E”, which pits his traditional deep house muddiness against live keys and bass. It’s one of his most interesting, detailed and well produced tracks to date.
There are, of course, some great deep house and techno moments included – see Tevo Howard, Robert Hood, Latecomer etc – but these largely take a backseat to the German producer’s other musical passions, from Afrobeat and leftfield disco to proto-house and IDM. If anything, they provide a kind of fail-safe aural glue, a digital pulse to draw all the other disparate elements together. That it all makes sense musically and flows brilliantly is testament to Plessow’s immense skill as a DJ. Whether the beats were played by a drummer or programmed into a machine, they can inspire and move you all the same. As a result, Motor City Drum Ensemble: DJ Kicks is as enjoyable a DJ mix as you’re likely to hear all year.
The recent Trouble Vision weekender at their delightfully grimey South London home, Corsica Studios, represented all that is good in electronic music right now, particularly Saturday nights proceedings. Alongside the Detroit legend that is Theo Parrish and the ever-familiar members of the Aus roster – Ramadanman, Midland and label founder Will Saul, was Stuttgart’s finest, Motor City Drum Ensemble.
Known for his signature raw sound combining his affinity for classic Detroit techno with Chicago house, Danilo Plessow brings a certain edge away from the same-old monotonous techno. As one of the guest producers besides Soul Clap, Henrik Schwarz, Midland and MJ Cole on Ben Westbeech’s forthcoming album for Strictly Rhythm, Danilo spent his final minutes before show time to chew the fat with Juno Plus contributor Flora Wong and Westbeech about their work together, the Ableton generation and what’s to come from his label Raw Cuts.
The organisers behind Garden Festival, now established as one of the highlights of the summer festival season, have unveiled the first details of a Europe wide Get Together tour which precedes the seven day event held in Petrcane, Croatia and features the likes of Tevo Howard, Commix, Tensnake and MCDE.
With Juno Records hitting its tenth release we revisit yet another classic from the archives of electronic music royalty. Producer, label boss, DJ & remixer extraordinaire Charles Webster will need no introduction to house music lovers, and it’s his 1998 collaboration with renowned UK vocalist Shara Nelson which gets a 2010 touch up. Orignally out on the seminal label Pagan, “Sense of Danger” was a real deep house anthem back in 1998, so it was imperative to leave it in good hands for remix duties. The Popular People’s Front, the disco house supergroup made up of anonymous musical activists are just that. PPF breath new life into “Sense of Danger”, with Nelson’s vocal being matched by an effervescent dubby groove. An alternate Dangerous Dub gives the track a darker but equally melodic feel with an abrasive bassline central to the groove.
Meanwhile Stuttgart’s most famous son, Motor City Drum Ensemble steps up with two contrasting but equally excellent remixes. The ‘Other Thing Dub’ revisits the Raw Cuts sound that MCDE is famous for – Nelson’s vocal expertly chopped up over organic piano grooves and a chugging beat. The second vocal mix stays truer to the tough beats and metallic synths of Webster’s original, a real Chicago feel provided by the ebullient hats and dubby bass line.
Review: Tony Poland
Only a year since its inception and Dairmount’s label is already up to its fourth Perspectives release, this time featuring seven essential deep house cuts from John Berg, Joel Alter and Franklin De Costa among others. The unstoppable Motor City Drum Ensemble kicks things off in a classic fashion, paying tribute to the legendary Mr Fingers with the heart stopping beauty of “Moving Through Clouds”. Andre Lodemann’s “Dark Edge” gets the dub treatment from Berardi and Dairmount himself, switching successfully between strung out and atmospheric chords and tight arpeggio hits.
Hiro’s perspective on Art of Tones’s “Breaking Bad” brings in soft sirens sweeps that liven up the tune impressively and get you primed for the beat to drop back in again. Joel Alter hooks up with Eric D. Clark for “Ride With Me”, a vocal standout that has the confidence to ride a simple bass pattern and one-note strings for absolutely ages, all thanks to some infectious drums and some superb arrangements. Pinku Vaaty’s “Forest Interface” is warmer and more immediate, with an epic intro that breaks out into a funky jacking beat that’ll never go out of fashion. John Berg’s “Stabs” is the natural choice to bring the collection to a close, as it conjures up a teary-eyed euphoria with filtered strings and deep basslines. As with everything Dairmount releases, it’s hard to praise it enough and this latest edition of Perspectives is a perfect way to round off a cracking first year.
Review: Oliver Keens
Title: Best of Rush Hour 2009 (unmixed tracks)
Label: Rush Hour
Genre: Deep House, Dubstep/Grime
Buy From: Juno Download
Amsterdam label Rush Hour wrap up the year just gone with this compilation of some of their biggest and brightest artists. On the house side, Rick Wade’s “Crazy Luv” is a must-hear, a timeless slice of soulful vocal house that’s almost impossible not to fall in love with. On a different tack, Future Beat Alliance’s “Relentless” is just that. Driven by a chunky two-note bassline, it’s cool but creepy vibe almost begs for it’s own section in the record racks – Horror House.
Danny Breaks (formerly known to Hardcore fans as Sonz of a Loop da Loop Era) teams up with DJ Adlib to cook up some J Dilla-esque beats on “The Sound”, adding a nice Dubstep flavour along the way. London producer Nebraska also adds some Trip-Hop to the mix with “The Other Side”, as well as getting faster and funkier on “My Brother”.
The Motor City Drum Ensemble mix of Tom Trago’s “Passion” was always going to be one of the highlights, and the MCDE magic is definitely here in full soulful effect. Also included is Trago’s own mix of “Lost On The Streets of NYC” from his album Voyage Direct.
Review: Oliver Keens
Don’t be fooled by the name – Motor City Drum Ensemble consists of just one man: Danilo Plessow, who hails from Germany’s very own motor city, Stuttgart. Combining a knack for clever sampling with a penchant for analogue equipment, MCDE has cultivated a style that is somehow incredibly loose and tight at the same time. To many, this man is the producer of 2009 – his ubiquitous Raw Cuts series draws on the spirit of Detroit legends like Theo Parrish, Moodymann, while other productions stray into techno territory. Add to that a slew of superb remixes for the likes of Tom Trago and DJ Sprinkles, and you have one very special producer. Here Danilo speaks to Juno Plus about the mainstays in his DJ box over the past 12 months.