Hardway Bros aren’t exactly an enigma, but they seem to prefer the comfort of quiet corners and pitch-black basements to the full glare of publicity. They’ve never hidden their identities; we know plenty about Andrew Weatherall cohort and A Love From Outer Space co-pilot Sean Johnston, a bit about musical partner in crime Jake Davies, and next to nothing about mysterious third member Rico. But they’ve not played the media game much, either. We do know that Johnston and Davies started their musical careers as Flash Faction, making eye-watering techno oddities for Weatherall’s Sabres of Paradise, and Rico once released a brilliant rework of a familiar favourite on Pointless Edits. Aside from that, zilch.
Naming the lead track of your EP “No Fun” seems like it’s setting the listener up for a disappointment, especially in a dance music landscape where self-congratulating droney minutia and sad sack futurebass™ have laid claim to their share of the market. Fortunately, Nocturnes boss JR Seaton (now operating under the Call Super alias without former partner Matt Waites, whose other commitments couldn’t sustain the project) is likely having a little self reflexive chuckle here, as his No Episode EP on Throne of Blood taps into a consciousness-bending contingent of stomping, urgent techno that can animate bodies in just about every position except a yawning one.
Cast an eye across the crème de la crème of new producers and DJs straining to poke their heads above the dance music melee that is 2012 and what do you see? It’s certainly a sprawling landscape – and one which appears to be almost drowning in a deluge of new sounds on a daily basis. There’s a rapidly expanding pool of producers, DJs and releases all shouting loudly – and, arguably, without saying much. It’s amid this aural backdrop that Movement, the second EP proper from young(ish) mop haired pup Daniel Avery, lands – and stands out like a refreshingly sore thumb. A surefooted use of analogue tools and heavy injections of machine-funk ensure it gracefully sidesteps much of the competition and finely straddles the tightrope between sounding suitably left and gloriously classic.
The upwards trajectory of Daniel Avery seems to have gathered all new momentum in the aftermath of the well regarded UK producer’s decision to retire the Stopmakingme name upon which he came to the fore.
The Rapture’s Gabriel Andruzzi has revealed a solo moniker in the bizarre form of DJ Druzz vs Omega Mus and will release an EP of what can only be described as Ape House on the Throne Of Blood he co-runs.
There’s been plenty of reason to stay closely attuned to the Throne Of Blood release schedule over the past year or so, as the New York based label has successfully cast off the ‘founded by The Rapture’ tagline. Instead, the focus has switched to a succession of Trans Atlantic drops from the likes of Mugwump, Populette, Harkin & Raney and most recently Paul Woolford and Mat Playford under the Ford Inc alias. Amidst these more established names, another exciting facet of the label has been the continual emergence of Bicep.
Nominally two thirds of the team that run Feel My Bicep, all the knowledge of vintage and current strains of house, disco and techno that ensure the site sits apart from the majority of the hype obsessed bloggerati has seemingly been poured into their productions. Having impressed on their Throne of Blood debut Darwin, which featured a bewitchingly brilliant Retro/Grade edit, Bicep serve further notice of their potential with this second release for the label.
Cunningly titled EP2, Messrs Ferguson and McBrair adopt a suitably smooth analogue poise on opening gambit “Silk” with sparse 808 excursions allowing the acid tinged rhythms the focus of attention they deserve. “Purple Sweat” slows proceedings down somewhat, with a thick gloopy bassline that gradually accrues a menacing tone amidst a cascading shower of textural light and percussion. Revealing a taste for pastry, “Choux” is perhaps the most accomplished production here, with a rough low end thrust primed for the warehouses offset by searching chord washes and gently bubbling acid, before all vacate to make space for a simply gorgeous piano refrain. It’s a complement to their productions that the accompanying, tightly wound refix of “Silk” from veteran producer Mark Verbos does in no way overshadow proceedings.
New York imprint Throne Of Blood have announced a set of showcase European dates which will commence later this month and allow fans on this side of the Atlantic to revel in the raw, thrusting house sounds of Populette, James Friedman and more.