Workshop’s tendency to circumvent trends and release a stream of enduring dance music is one of the German label’s greatest strengths. In the case of illusory Netherlands based artist Marcellis, the feeling of timelessness might also be due to the fact that his contribution on recent Workshop 15 compilation is over eight years old. The whispered vocals and slow plonking ominous chords of “Come and Boogie” were originally from a 2004 Dutch Black Label release, and reissued almost a decade later, it still sounds fresh. Workshop 16 features three new productions from Marcellis, whose style continues to tremble between intimate house and narcoleptic basement boogie.
The beauty of a label like Workshop is that, despite a rough sound palette defined by its most prominent artists, the A&Ring reaches out to lesser known names without any danger of the quality dipping. What started with a minimum of fuss in 2006 has since grown to become one of the most lauded house labels in recent years, scoring fans across the board down to a staunch leftfield approach that seeks to explore hidden depths in deep house.
German producer Kassem Mosse pretty much owned 2010, consistently releasing records that touched on the raw, thumping end of house and techno. His remix of Commix was a particularly fine moment – indeed we here at Juno Plus crowned it our number one track of the year. His 12″ for Dial sub-label Laid was a melodic shuffling delight, while his remix of Braiden’s auspicious debut on Joy Orbison’s Doldrums imprint turned the mutant house original into a sublime piece of raw, dusky techno.
His influence should not be underestimated in the UK – he’s widely revered by dubstep and bass music producers as well as house and techno heads, and his sound appears to be what a lot of British dubstep-cum-house producers – most notably the aforementioned Joy O – are currently striving for.
Here Mosse (real name Gunnar Wendel) returns to the excellent Berlin based Workshop imprint, with “Track 1″ hogging the A Side, characterised by a tense mechanical rhythym and a looped up female vocal which remains central to the track as Mosse adds deft analogue tweaks which create a cavernous sonic landscape. The real heat, however, is on the flip; first Mosse takes things unfeasibly deep on “Track 2″ with chords that on first inspection appear to emanate from beneath the speakers, before the EP’s true gem, the all too short “Track 3″, brings the EP to a bruising finale with scorched kick drums juxtaposed against a gently undulating synth progression.
Reaching their tenth release, the mysterious Berlin label Workshop has dealt up their best offering yet. Building on the momentum they gained throughout last year with releases like Reagenz’s “Playtime” and Kassem Mosse’s Workshop 08, the imprint turns in another accomplished EP. Workshop 10 is less subtle than much of the rest of the catalogue, lending itself to three super deep tracks that have a feel of slo-mo house mixed with elements of jazz. As well as featuring long time contributor Lowtec, this release is given a shake up by including two brand new artists, with Schweiz Rec and Ron Deacon making their debuts.
Just like Reagnez’s “Playtime,” Workshop 10 comes loaded with more colour and emotion than we see elsewhere on the imprint. Label mainstay, Lowtec delves the furthest into these colours and moods with his deep and shadowy track that comes in two distinct parts, listed as “Untitled A1”. The first section is dark and brooding yet still manages to sound warm and approachable. Sounding like the score to a dawn that follows a turbulent night, the track eases itself along with an almost epic consciousness, allowing a breezy rhythm to reveal itself from the darkness. There are dramatic strings and a vaguely mournful male vocal but remains too urbane as a whole to be considered melancholic in its purest sense: a change from the kind cryptic house and techno of his “Angstrom” and Workshop 06 releases. Again, the second part is unexpected too, turning the track into a hazy, fog of down tempo broken beat. On the b-side, Schweiz Rec lightens the mood with a playful organ-led strut through resonantly rounded bass, dainty keys and sprightly percussion. Ron Deacon completes the duo’s impressive debuts with his slo-mo, disco tinged house track that utilises warbling melodies and strutting beat. Constantly evolving and seemingly instilled with a strong dedication to quality – Workshop is fast becoming a force to be reckoned with.
Review: Tom Jones