Review: Acid Arab is a collaboration between Guido Minisky and Herve Carvalho, which seeks to unite the worlds of underground dance music and Middle Eastern tradition. In the wrong hands, this could have ended horribly, sounding like an advert for a package tour to Morocco. Thankfully on El Maghreb, for I:Cube's always essential Versatile, the pair manage to bring these two worlds together with great flair. The most functional track is "Mogador (club version)", where dense drums and spiraling horns create a fantastical, frenzied track. However, it's not hard to escape the notion that Acid Arab are capable of far more adventurous combinations and this is audible on the hypnotic, mysterious pipe playing and seductive pulses of "Hafla" and on "Amal", a slow-motion, dubbed out mood music piece.
Review: While largely unknown this side of the English Channel, Benjamin Vidal is one of France's most notorious crate diggers and record collectors. It's nice to see Gilb'r and company giving him a chance to showcase these digging skills via a compilation of his own on Versatile. Disco Sympathie differs from many bog standard disco compilations as it focuses entirely on French music from the early 1980s. The names are unfamiliar, and the sounds even more so; a hotchpotch of quirky, tongue-in-cheek cuts that variously doff a beret to American boogie, British and German synth-wave, eccentric synth-pop and the kind of expansive post-disco madness that thrills and intrigues in equal measure. It also features Sonia's "Sur Ma Musique", a hidden gem from 1980 that joins the dots between tongue-in-cheek Italo and throbbing synth-pop. It's not an expensive record, but it's certainly a great one.
Review: There aren't many producers out there who have something in common with the Pope, well Chateau Flight does.. He's from Vatican. The similarities most definitely stop there though. 'Kounka' is a trippy journey through afro-acid, psychedelic, and progressive. It sounds like a musical experiment at a toxic energy plant with the most crazy of fills, effects, and bizarre noises of electronica. This is one to save for the early hours to really twist up your crowds, or simply for inspiration and those messed up after parties. Loose yourself, open up your minds and dive on into this weird and wonderful world.
Review: Versatile offer something a little different from the norm here, as they present the results of a collaboration between label regulars Chateau Flight and French ensemble Le Cabaret Contemporain, who came together to record two live covers of pieces by minimalist composer Terry Riley. Recorded in the Vogue Studio in Paris, both "Persian Surgery" and "Desert Of Ice" were recorded in a single live take, and capture the hypnotic quality of Riley's originals whilst adding contemporary electronics which straddle the line between the dancefloor and the experimental realm. Surprisingly good stuff.
Review: 2016 marks 20 years since Glibert "Gilb'r" Cohen founded Versatile Records. The Parisian imprint shows no signs of flagging despite its' vintage, and here delivers another eccentric, wildly imaginative 12". This time it's Cottam at the controls, laying down two contrasting cuts. "Breaking Through The Pain Barrier" is woozy and hypnotic, but also makes great use of off-kilter electronics, psychedelic effects and quirky, alien melodies. At times, it feels spooky, at others oddly becalmed (despite its' shuffling, densely programmed rhythms). "Encephalomyelitis Disseminata" sees Cottam explicitly reference the medical condition he was diagnosed with just as he was breaking through. Here he changes the script, basing the action around a bold, rising and falling bassline, stretched-out chords and clicking, slightly wonky percussion. It's deep house, Jim, but not as we know it.