Review: For those of a certain age, the opening seconds of 808 State's 1991 rave anthem "In Yer Face" - a combination of memorable melody lines and loved-up chords - are still capable of setting the pulse racing. Bicep have taken on the task of updating Graham Massey and company's anthem for a new generation, serving up two fresh interpretations. Wisely, they emphasize the spine-tingling goodness of the Manchester outfit's chord progressions on their A-side remix, getting rougher, tougher and weightier as the track progresses. Their flipside acid dub - where electro-inspired breakbeats, heavy bass and floatation tank melodies are expertly combined with ragged TB-303 lines - recalls the similarly-minded thrills of DJ Parrot and Mark Brydon's 'Sunshine Dub' of DJ Mink's early Warp slammer "Hey! Hey! Can U Relate?".
Review: Bicep's ascent from a blog collective with obvious taste and passion for all forms of dance music into a fully fledged brand continues apace with the foundation of Feel My Bicep, a new label named in honour of their blog which promises to showcase their own growing production nous. Vision Of Love will probably go down as one of this year's most ubiquitous releases, given the advance clamour for its release and it's not hard to see why. Yes the three tracks here contain an obvious nod to the 90s New Jersey sound Bicep clearly adore, but there's a clear craft to their execution and the title track is massively infectious.
Review: Second time round for Bicep's 2013 single Satisfy, which sees the early Italian house influenced melodic rush of the breakbeat-clad original moulded into new shapes by Brassica and John Talabot. Pleasingly, both producers deliver radical reinterpretations, with Brassica in particular impressing with a fluid, dreamy take full of vintage synthesizers, humid low-end grooves and tropical textures. Talabot meanwhile builds a bright-eyed, atmospheric deep house groove out of analogue electronics, vintage synths, darting melodies and a sublime, shuffling rhythm. Major props to the Boys from Belfast, who've thought outside the box - certainly with the choice of Brassica - on this excellent remix package.
Review: By their standards, 2014 has been a relatively quiet year for Belfast boys Bicep, with a remix 12" and the Circles EP on Aus Music their only releases of note. "Lyk Lyk" is, then, a welcome return to action. The title track is particularly sweaty and once again mines vintage rave influences, with fluid synths and cut-up vocals riding a classic late '80s/early '90s breakbeat groove. "Poly Pineapple" is a little deeper, with waves of wide-eyed synths crashing over a thumping house groove. On the flipside, the duo join forces with partner-in-blogging Hammer for a couple of cuts; the woozy, glacial, synth-heavy "Icebowl" and "Day 3", a stomping chunk of retro-futurist techno smothered in 808 State style synths. Balearic techno anyone?
Review: Wind your memory reels back to September 2012 and Northern Irish pair Bicep unleashed Vision Of Love on their own newly established Feel My Bicep label. Since then Andrew Ferguson and Matthew McBriar's project has arguably become a brand, they've released music on Will Saul's Aus label, played more festivals than Arnie's pumped pounds of iron at the gym and inspired a whole new generation of production talent. Just over a year since that FMB debut, Ferguson and McBriar return with a second 12" which is all set to match the records set by Vision Of Love. Lead track "Satisfy" discards with the 90s house aesthetic in favour of a breakbeat lead groove that's a bit 80s freestyle and a bit Baltimore club, whilst "Snackbar" demonstrates Bicep are increasingly willing to take a tougher approach - as anyone whose seen their recent techno heavy sets will attest. Head to "The Final Trip" for a taste of that classic pairing of jackin' 909 and Juno 60 in full flight.
Review: Northern Irish duo Bicep has built their production career on blending, repackaging and reimagining classic house influences. It's little surprise, then, to find that this latest 12" does the same. Hammer collaboration "Dahlia" sets the tone, combining the bold pianos of vintage Italian house with the kind of dreamy pads and snappy drum machine rhythms that recall the Halcyon days of late '80s/early '80s Balearic house. There's more of a sweaty warehouse feel about "Rays" - all yelping female vocal cuts, booming garage bass and skipping beats - while "Seagulls" sits somewhere between the two tracks, offering both bottom-end bump and eyes-closed sweetness.
Review: Given their well discussed love of vintage U.S house and garage, it's little surprise to see Bicep taking on the potentially tricky task of remixing Blaze's 1996 New Jersey classic, "Lovelee Dae". Wisely, the Belfast boys have retained many of the original's sumptuous elements -sweeping strings, rich chords and summery vocal included - and expertly fused them with carnival-friendly drums and a deliciously tactile, Italian house style bassline. The fine vocal mix is accompanied by a similarly impressive Dub, where the duo makes merry with floating, delay-heavy vocal snippets, filters, and their own dense, party-rocking rhythm.
Review: Following their Pressure EP on their own label, Brame & Hamo now deliver a storming four-tracker for Bicep's imprint. "Waves Reach" is a pulsating slice of electronic disco, supported by vocodered vocals and atmospheric synths. It's also certain to appeal to house and techno DJs thanks to its streamlined groove. "Dust" sees the duo adopt a relatively similar approach, but this time, the central rhythm is tougher, veering into visceral builds, while accompanied by cosmic pipes and breathy vocals. Private Press, who have released on Rekids, deliver a remix of "Dust", where the beats are toughened up and the original samples are filtered in and out of a robust rhythm. The label has also tapped Voiski for a remix, and he turns "Waves Reach" into an epic affair, with ghostly synths shimmering their way over a steely rhythm.
Review: Bicep has long been fans of Brassica's brand of hard-to-define electronic music, so it's little surprise to see him delivering the latest single on their revitalized Feel My Bicep imprint. He begins with the tactile, four-in-the-morning hypnotism of "Time Tunnel", where spaced out electronics and cyclical riffs ride an ultra-deep, locked-in groove, before doffing a cap to vintage Meat Beat Manifesto and early Orbital on the thrilling "Wryders". You'll then find two interpretations of "Time Tunnel": a warm, hazy and slightly more loved up edit by The Sphinx, and a thrusting, high-octane acid-meets-psychedelic techno assault from Roy of the Ravers.
Review: Three very different mixes make up this latest release from Belfast duo Bicep's label. In its Original Form, 'Retribution' is a spaced-out deep house jam with a nice warm, chunky bassline, shimmering synths and tons of dancefloor energy, but the two rerubs take us into completely different territory. In DeFeKT's hands the track becomes an exercise in 80s electro nostalgia, albeit with a hint of prog and the fuller sound that comes from modern production methods, while Shanti Celeste's Chill Mix draws on the very deepest of dubstep and the LA beats scene for inspiration.
Review: We were somewhat surprised to learn that this is Rory "Hammer" Hamilton's first appearance on chums and sometime studio partners Bicep's consistently on-point label. He's not been shirking mind, having released fine EPs on Optimo Music and Loft Records, amongst others. Happily, C-Space is a fine homecoming, with "C Space" track - a thrillingly intergalactic chunk of saucer-eyed techno that sits somewhere between classic Motor City fare, Orbital and vintage Circulation and early '90s - ranking among Hamilton's best work to date. The deep space vibes then continue via the rubbery electro-meets-intelligent techno flex of "Atlantic 252", while closer "Inside Soul" is a deeper and even more spacey chunk of emotive machine funk.
Review: Glasgow-based Irishman Rory Hamilton aka Hammer follows up his previous Feel My Bicep outings with three machine-driven new tracks on the Parabola EP - which extract a rich sense of emotion from an evolving analogue setup. There's the slinky and hypnotic title track, awash in shimmering melodies, emotive pads and tight rhythms for an overall sublime experience, while for something more upbeat and funky he serves up the razor sharp, bass-driven groove of "Panoptic" until "Entropy" closes out this terrific EP in true style. An emotive 'hi-tech soul' journey in the tradition of the original Detroit sound - indeed we were really feeling this one!
Review: We're not sure that rising star James Shinra has ever released anything quite as inspired as this first EP for Feel My Bicep. Opener "Signs" is superb: a melodious and ear-catching affair that wraps IDM and ambient techno style electronic motifs around a deep, chunky and fluid house groove. "Arc", the track that follows, is similarly minded, with cascading Boards of Canada style melodies and psychedelic electronics bubbling away atop a futuristic house groove. That's given a thoroughly dirty and sleazy bleep techno style makeover by Benjamin Damage before John Beltran offers his interpretations of "Signs". There's the gorgeous deep electro loveliness of the "80s Reset Mix" and the rushing deep house sunshine that is the sublime "Easy Summer Mix".
Review: The Bicep boys have really been pushing their Feel My Bicep label this year, putting out strong material at a furious rate. Their latest single comes from Eden Burns and Tomas Krammer's Sandboards project. While the duo recently contributed a track to an EP on Krystal Clear's Cold Tonic imprint, the Visa EP is their debut single proper. "Visa" is something of a gem, and peppers a snappy rhythm track with sun-bright melodies and synth lines reminiscent of Red Rackem's ubiquitous "Wonky Bassline Disco Banger". James Clarke dons the Shinra alias to deliver a superb remix that looks to electrofunk and classic IDM for inspiration, while "Pink Slippz" sits somewhere between early trance, 1994 style intelligent techno, and mind-altering Italo-disco.