Maurice Fulton has long been once of electronic music’s most intriguing mavericks. Capable of producing both straightforward dancefloor gold and thrilling leftfield oddities, he seems determined to communicate entirely through the medium of music. His steadfast desire to sidestep publicity – interviews are a rarity – and do things his own way has helped create a mystique around his productions that undoubtedly serves him well.
Evergreen producer Oliver Ho aka Raudive will join Gerd Janson’s Running Back stable with a 12″ set for release in January 2013.
Sebastian Kramer’s debut Redshape album, The Dance Paradox, was an ambitious work, with the German producer making reference to Carl Craig, Moodymann and deep house producers like Chez Damier. Its follow up, Square, has a smaller range, but its tighter focus means that it sounds more like Redshape himself than those he takes inspiration from.
Englishman Matthew Styles will follow recent Running Back 12″s from Theo Parrish and Disco Nihilist with his own EP, entitled Aji-No-Moto .
Mike Taylor has consistently impressed with his particular brand of linear analogue groovery, first making his name with a series of scratchy, full-blooded releases that pushed 808-revivalism and hardware fetishism to its very limits. Each of his releases to date, whether for Construction Paper or Running Back, has been a kind of hymn to old-fashioned music making. His obsession with little details – transferring tracks to cassette before getting them mastered, recording drum machines and sequencers wobbling away in wonky analogue symmetry – suggests an obsession with style over substance. Given that his releases are rarely less than excellent, it’s a hollow accusation.
While hype acts come and go, it’s pleasing to be reminded sometimes that the real auteurs in electronic music manage to carry their clout with them wherever they head. As is par for the course with such characters and their creations, they never please everyone all of the time. Take an artist like Ricardo Villalobos, who can take his minimalisms and repetitions to maddening ends and yet still be lauded by many (albeit scorned by plenty others). Theo Parrish operates in a similar vein both in his productions and DJing, sometimes sounding awkward for awkwards’ sake, often deliberately obtuse and just occasionally delivering a sweet pill of direct satisfaction that keeps legions of listeners at his mercy. It’s not an easy trick to pull off, but Parrish has arguably nailed it more than any other of his Detroit/Chicago brethren.
Fresh from being announced as a participant in the (now delayed) Red Bull Music Academy in New York, Los Angeles based producer Suzanne Kraft will release the Horoscope EP on the newly minted Young Adults label.
“I had a mattress and a library card.” So says Mike Taylor, who, like many a great artist, upped sticks, moved to a new town and worked in isolation. He left his home in Detroit, packed his earthly possessions in a car and drove 1,400 miles to Austin, Texas. It’s not the most obvious path to gain recognition, but it worked: an impressive debut for Pittsburgh imprint Love What You Feel was followed by three EPs for Daetron Vargas’s Construction Paper.
Theo Parrish will follow that divisive Any Other Styles EP with a debut release on the Running Back imprint.
Gerd Janson’s Running Back maintain their don’t try and second guess us approach to the art of releasing music, turning to the somewhat mysterious B.D.I. for a forthcoming three track release entitled Paper Tears.
As we previously announced, one of the many highlights Rush Hour have up their sleeves this year is a retrospective compilation detailing the many aliases and astounding music of Nu Groove mainstays The Burrell Brothers – which is due to drop next month across two LP editions and CD.
Sometimes, an artist’s career can stall inexplicably. That certainly seems to have happened to producer Ewan Wilmott, who made his vinyl debut on Andy Blake’s sadly defunct Dissident imprint way back in 2008. The two tracks he released on the label, “Metallic Dawn” and “Long Lost”, hinted at great things. Variously touching on smacked-out deep house, vintage synth-core and hard electronic disco, they largely went ignored.
Releases from artists as varied as Mark E, Radio Slave, Move D and Prosumer make for the impressive back catalogue that is Gerd Janson’s Running Back – an imprint that has always been noted for its high standards if not prolific output – with less than twenty releases in its first eight years of existence. Since the turn of the decade, those standards have remained, but the frequency has certainly increased with last year’s release schedule dominated by the illuminating collaboration between Mim Suleiman and Juno Plus hero Maurice Fulton.
2011 has seen Running Back impress further with every arrival, as the marquee signing of Tiger & Woods was further complemented by Janson coaxing Todd Terje back into the studio for the superlative Ragysh which is odds on to feature in many an end of year poll. These headline releases have been complemented by some less celebrated, but by no means less impressive productions – Marco Passarani’s heavily psychedelic title track from Colliding Stars Pt 2 springs to mind, as does that stunning Son Of Sam reissue.
Underpinning all of these releases has been a commitment to press everything on nice heavyweight vinyl and surround them in sumptuous artwork, and their latest twelve is perhaps the best example of that to date. The focus shifts to another under-the-radar producer in Suzanne Kraft, whose Green Flash EP makes for one of this year’s most attractive releases thanks to the distinctive green and yellow patterns that adorn the cover art.
Tellingly, the music itself proves to be even better, adopting a pleasant midtempo poise on “Morning Come”, with swathes of melodies infused with the slinkiest of filter treatments and looped vocal snippets. Suzanne (a pseudonym for a man, oddly enough, but who are we to judge) maintains these joyous flushes of emotion throughout the rest of the EP, with both “Turning” and the title track sounding like Tiger & Woods performing from the deep end of the pool, with the latter track deftly incorporating a classic Teddy Pendergrass sample. “Femme Cosmic” provides an excellent finish to proceedings, unfolding from a tinnily reverberant slowed down proto house drawl into some midnight cruise through dubbed out mutant 80s disco boogie.
You know you’re onto something when excited young producers try to ape your style. That’s the exact position that now-renowned disco/house mystery men Tiger & Woods find themselves in following two years of much-hyped, much-played, white label 12” releases on their own Editainment imprint.
In recent times, many have tried to copy the Tiger & Woods formula, but no one has yet come close to matching the sheer heaviness and timeless quality of their loopy, edit-heavy, feel good productions. For proof of their genius, just check this debut full-length for Gerd Jansen’s always on-point Running Back imprint. Featuring a mix of new cuts (some with equally mysterious vocalist Em) and tracks culled from their previously limited white label releases (“Gin Nation”, “Kissmetellmeagain”, “Dr Burner” etc), Through The Green offers a lesson to would-be copycats in how to turn a bagful of boogie, disco and electrofunk samples into party-rocking disco/house gold.
By now, we should all be familiar with the formula: short loops teased and tweaked beyond recognition, copious amounts of compression to ensure weighty bottom-end, and cute track construction that ekes the maximum dancefloor impact from the simplest of elements. In this respect, their tracks are extremely formulaic, but you can’t argue with the results; they’ve found a successful model and nailed it – as Through The Green brilliantly proves. As you’d expect, the beats and basslines are heavier than a skipload of sumo wrestlers after a night at an all you can eat buffet, the loops addictively hooky and the builds judged to absolute perfection. The resultant tracks – whether old or new – sound just as incendiary on your home stereo as they do in clubs.
If you were being picky – and we are – you could argue that the best material here is the stuff that’s already seen the light of day on their 12″s. You could also argue that hardcore fans could probably skip this for that exact reason. In all honesty, that would be more than a little harsh. The new material is still worthy of your attention, and Through The Green holds together very well as an album; in truth, it’s one of the most enjoyable disco/house LPs of recent years.
When Mike Taylor’s first 12” dropped on Love What You Feel in 2009, a lot was written about his distinctly DIY approach to music-making. Like the early pioneers of house and techno, the Austin, Texas-based bedroom producer known as the Disco Nihilist makes raw and uncompromising music using analogue sequencers and various other bits of hardware kit. For that first release – and his subsequent vinyl outings on Construction Paper – Taylor recorded his tracks straight to cassette before submitting demos, given them a faithfully fuzzy, low-fi quality. It’s an old trick, but one that helped to give his homemade jams a genuine old skool feel.
Whether he’s used the same approach on this first 12”/digital release for Running Back is unknown, but it certainly sounds that way. Like his previous releases, Running (Far Away) is full of instrumental experiments that sound both authentically old and vacuum-packed fresh. The six tracks here offer a neat round up of Taylor’s talents and inspirations. “Greasy Grind” opens proceedings with a swift punch to the kidneys, combining brain-melting acid tweakery with impressively fuzzy industrial beats; think Cabaret Voltaire jamming with Phuture, recorded on a battered old eight-track, and you’re close. “Keep It Simple” continues the stripped-back acid theme, offering a floor-shaking concoction that is little more than heavyweight beats and bubbling 303-trickery. There’s a clue in the title. “A New Career In A New Town”, meanwhile, veers off into hypnotic dub-house territory. The composition is a little more complex and the aural palette more sophisticated, but it still retains that pleasing simplicity and lo-fi charm that marks out Taylor’s work.
“December 5th” sounds like an amalgamation of the EP’s first two tracks, this time recorded on the Starship Enterprise after a crash-landing on a planet made entirely of ice. Then there’s “Sci-Fi On Tape”, a surprisingly warm concoction that stumbles into Mr Fingers/Bobby Konders territory, like early Virgo Four after a fistful of little ‘uns. “Coffee & A Warm Paperback” continues this theme, wrapping sugary electric piano chords around a brilliantly simple groove. Taylor clearly has talent, and his dedication to the original DIY ethos of house music is admirable. Of course, style is nothing without substance, but Running (Far Away) has that in spades.
Those who’ve been watching Terje Olsen’s progress over the last decade may have become frustrated at the lack of original material from the Norwegian disco don. Since debuting in 2004 with the brilliant “Eurodans” – perhaps still one of the finest examples of loose-limbed, warehouse-friendly nu-disco – the tache-sporting DJ/producer has released just four more original compositions (and one of those was a live jazz remake of “Eurodans”). For a man of his talents, it’s incredibly frustrating.
Given this slow work-rate, it’s perhaps no surprise that there’s been much interest in this four-track EP for Gerd Janson’s Running Back imprint. Predictably, it’s a bit good, and arguably his best original work yet. While there’s nothing as melodically “big” as “Eurodans”, there’s clear demonstration of progression – both musically and in the quality of production.
“Ragysh” itself is the most obviously impressive of the four cuts. Like much of the best dance music, it is devilishly simple. For much of its nine-minute duration it offers little more than a rock-solid, head-nodding, house-not-house groove built around his trademark disco percussion and a nagging electronic riff. But then the breakdown comes in, introducing us to a raft of delightfully cosmic melodies that dart around excitedly, propelling the track towards a gasping climax. Orgasmo-house anyone? “Ragysh” has an alter ego in “Bonysh”, a self-consciously stripped-down drum track that ekes maximum thrills from simple switches between ever-more druggy percussive patterns.
The real highlight, though, is the more playful “Snooze4Love” – a delightfully Balearic concoction that bubbles excitedly with electronic gorgeousness. Its shuffling rhythms and minimalist approach to melody suggest that Terje has been studying German electronic music, but it still sounds much more Oslo than Berlin. The digital release also includes a sublime downtempo remake, which dubs out the glistening electronics and adds dreamy guitar phases for maximum Balearic effect. It sounds like an otherworldly jam between Pat Metheny, Steve Reich and Lindstrom, which is no bad thing.
Glasgow/London party types Huntleys & Palmers Audio Club will take over Plastic People next month to celebrate the launch of their eponymous record label with a suitably international line-up in tow.