Clearly age hasn’t dampened Bill Brewster’s passion for dance music. In recent times, the veteran journalist, author, DJ and online entrepreneur has stepped up his production efforts, first with re-edit fiends Fat Camp and now as one half of Hotel Motel.
Following a handful of remixes and a wickedly old skool single for Home Taping Is Killing Music, Brewster and production partner Alex Tepper have transferred to the ever-excellent Under The Shade imprint. The result is a worthy four-tracker featuring both bumpin’ house and deliciously dubbed-out synth disco cuts.
Perhaps surprisingly, it’s the latter that particularly impress. The original version of “Paying The Price”, featuring the distinctive tones of Brighton-based Sheffield born chanteuse Kathy Diamond, is the real killer. Diamond’s immaculate vocal, boosted with just the right amount of reverb and delay, sits atop a sparse, sparkling groove that’s judged to perfection. That cowbell heavy beat – not dissimilar to the Universal Robot Band’s “Barely Breaking Even” but given an electrofunk sheen – work perfectly with the nagging electro bassline and simple synth and guitar melodies, all dubbed to within an inch of their lives.
You can bask in the loveliness of the groove thanks to the inclusion of “Novak”, basically a reworked instrumental dub of the vocal original. The package is completed by vocal and instrumental house takes. While these lack the simple sparkle of the disco versions, they offer solid alternatives for DJs of a more house inclined persuasion. The vocal version, in particular, is worth a look, if only for the addition of a backing male vocal that adds an extra dimension to the mix.
Since launching in early 2009, Birmingham’s Under The Shade has steadily built a reputation as a label with its finger firmly on the disco/house pulse. Thanks to a simple formula – pairing high quality original cuts from up-and-coming producers with interesting remixes from better-known talent – the JiscoMusic offshoot has rapidly become a ‘must check’ imprint. Whether releasing sparkly nu-disco or smoky deep house, Under The Shade rarely fails to impress.
For their latest offering, Under The Shade have turned to Nottingham’s Chamboche – the nearest thing the imprint has to a ‘label stalwart’ (it was he who provided the label’s first ever release). Lead cut “Closer” is an interesting concoction; a bongo-laden deep house/nu-disco fusion that quickly builds into a spiraling dancefloor headtrip. If Mark E made appregiated electronic disco, it would sound something like this. Flipside “The Show Must Go On” inhabits a similar headspace. Building the action around a chunky house groove, it utilizes some distinctly old skool Detroit synth sounds alongside the sort of touchy-feely pads that are guaranteed to give you goosebumps. It’s quietly uplifting – a bit like watching a distant sunrise from the comfort of a cozy seafront hotel.
As usual, there are a couple of remixes to tickle the tastebuds. While Moscow’s piano heavy nu-disco take on “The Show Must Go On” excites, it’s the Runaway Remix of “Closer” that really impresses. Continuing their recent forays into bumpin’ deep house territory, the New York duo offer up a bassy, retro-futurist rework that should cause serious damage on purist house dancefloors.
We are used to hearing a plethora of monikers for one artist in today’s climate of edit and collaboration-friendly production where one can slip in and out of styles and genres accordingly. Burnt Island Casuals is yet another one for two producers who already operate under a number such alias’ individually. Graeme Clark, best known under his The Revenge pseudonym (but also as 6th Borough Project, Deportivo Street Team, OOFT Music, The Hong Kong Micros, Grizzle and Cronk Family Enterprises) teams up with Harri, who himself works under a host of different names, to deliver two dazzling tracks of contemporary disco meets house for Under The Shade.
The pair have worked together since 2004, most recently when Clark mastered Harri’s 20 Years Underground compilation for Glasgow’s Sub Club, for whom he is a long standing resident. This release, however, marks their most accomplished work yet. “Scotch Hop” – a play on words that no doubt had these two Scotsman giggling into their single malt – is a typically grooving, slo-mo disco builder. The duo merge disco, house, early 80s boogie and hip-hop into just under eight minutes of groove fuelled, dancing joy. Forged using a sample from Larry Levan’s mix of Gwen Guthrie’s “Hop Scotch,” the pair set off on a gradual build up that leads on to a wonderfully uplifting ending. “Truth & Temptation” on the flip, is a more upbeat offering, running at 118bpm. Again using another killer sample, this time from The Temptation’s “Ungena Za Ulimwengu (Unite the World)” Clark and Harri load the uplifting track with bags of soul and fix it to a driving disco-house rhythm to create a real dancefloor bomb. Infused with an early seventies psychedelic soul craze, much like The Revenge’s “Planets” on Jisco Music, this brings classic disco vibes to modern club music. A fruitful return from a pair who seemingly never leave the studio, “Scotch Hop” looks set to fuse BBQs, outdoor terraces and pool sides not to mention various festivals and clubs all summer long. If it was up to me, I would never let them out – but where’s the fun in that?
Artist: Chamboche Title: On The Streets Label:Under The Shade Genre: Disco/Nu-Disco Format: 12″, Digital Buy From: Juno Records, Juno Download
Nottingham based producer Chamboche drops his second release on Jisco Music offshoot, Under the Shade. “On the Streets” brings two new tracks from the disco head, reinforced by two excellent remixes from Toby Tobias and Brontosaurus.
Under the Shade are getting quality records out on a regular basis at the moment. Last month they unleashed Mark E’s epic “White Skyway” and with another Ilija Rudman effort still to come, “On the Streets” underlines the emphatic productivity of the imprint. Indeed it was Chamboche’s “Ipso Facto” EP that launched the label in August last year. Now he returns for their seventh release, delving into the disco house sound that is fast becoming his trademark.
Veteran house honcho Toby Tobias leads proceedings with his shimmering remix, with a relatively slow paced piece of Balearic goodness. It chugs along with warmth and depth courtesy of retro keyboard lines and some spiralling snyth arpeggios. The live sounding slap bass guitar gives the remix an endearingly natural flavour, not to mention bags of funky attitude.
The Friends edit comes next, upping the tempo and adding a sense of urgency to the track. An incessant Italo bassline provides the backbone here as the arpeggios are sent through the filters to heighten their effect. It manages to feel subtle whilst keeping things pumping, a difficult craft to master. Rekids talent Brontosaurus comes in to lighten things up on his effervescent remix of “The Problem” before Chamboche displays his power disco forces once more with the November edit of the same tune.
Mark E is a producer who knows how to lay down a decent groove. His slow, disco infused house music has brought him to global attention over the last five years and “White Skyway” serves as yet another reminder of why the Birmingham native has forged such a lofty reputation for himself.
Last year’s limited MERC compilation of collected works from 2005 – 2009 distinguished Mark E as being a class above the rest when it comes to nu disco and disco house. Whereas others who attempt to make the same kind of elongated, synth-heavy disco cuts end up sounding boring and unimaginative, Mark E always manages to keep things interesting as well as the energy moving. Released on David Griffiths‘ Jisco Music offshoot, Under the Shade, “White Skyway,” is the perfect example. It uses the simple combination of a straight forward guitar hook, funky bassline and light percussion to create over nine minutes of dreamy, cosmic-laced disco. A slow burner with a leisurely feel, Mark E puts on the groove propelled cruise control and takes lush beats for a stroll through atmospheric synths and subtle electronics. The vocal break finishes the track in emphatic style, leaving a lasting effect on the spirit.
On the b-side, Mark E ups the BPM with the more dancefloor orientated “Nocturn.” Keeping much of the same vibe as the A side, the track again utilises soft synths but this time backs them up with a quicker beat and more resounding kick drum. With its arpeggiated synth line, the track takes on a more of a techy persona whilst still retaining the stretched out, comfortable atmosphere that tends to reside in Mark E productions.
It’s probably fair to say that no one actually knows the lyrics for Blur’s seminal hit “Song 2” (‘woo hoo’ aside). So Nottingham producer Sam Williams is not alone in admitting he made the words up as he sang along. What sets him apart from the rest of us is that he used the name to form a production moniker – Chamboché (actual lyric: “I got my head checked…by a jumbo jet”) – and even better, has gone onto make some lovely disco house in the vein of the Revenge, Mark E et al. Lets us introduce Chamboché…