The clamour and hype surrounding Tensnake’s remix of Azari & III’s “Reckless With Your Love” has surpassed the inner disco circle and spread as far and wide as Pitchfork and The Metro. That comes as no real surprise as both the remixer and remixee are certainly Premier League material. The liberal usage of C & C Music Factory splits audiences once the signature piano stabs are dropped in, but this remix alone is likely to secure Permanent Vacation one of their best selling 12 inches to date.
But yet, it’s not even the best remix on this record: that honour falls to Midnight Magic, who have already won many a heart via their debut single “Beam Me Up”. Employing a similar sound to that track, Midnight Magic’s remix has a vintage disco bump that submerged in cavernous echo, with the soaring string and horn arrangements laced over the chorus a true delight. Tuff City Kids aka Gerd Jansen and Phillip Lauer (Arto Mwambe/Brontosaurus) dispel with the vocal refrain and opt for some prime Muzic Box jack which brilliantly teases out an acid tinged variant on the original’s distinctive synth melody. The less than prolific German duo of Good Guy Mikesh & Filburt return from the wilderness with a brilliant burning deep house rework which rounds off a superlative remix package.
The past 18 months have seen Leo Zero’s name become synonymous with the phrase “good remix that” as artists disparate as the Modfather, Florence & the Machine and Metronomy have called on him for typically unique reimaginations. Couple this with the veteran producer’s prodigious output of illicit edits which have impressed on the dancefloor and the internet in equal measures and it’s not hard to conceive why his forthcoming album Acid Life is so eagerly awaited.
Ahead of that impending release Leo rounds up some of his most highly sought after edits across two CDs here. On the first, Mr Zero showcases his respected skills as a DJ weaving between twelve edits which sometimes bridge the gap between old and new with aplomb (Stevie Wonder vs Empire Of The Sun for example) and keeps the groove consistent throughout.
Budding mutant disco DJs will be more interested in the second CD which is unmixed and gathers nine of the aforementioned rarities in newly remastered form. Starting off with the midnight sax shuffle of his re work of The Police you get the killer Prefab Sprout edit (An end of night standard at Disco Bloodbath) interspersed the low slung psychedelic chug of his Rat Salad “Clapping Song” and perhaps the pièce de résistance that is “Message Of Love” featuring the distinct tones of one Freddie Mercury. A strictly limited one off pressing which comes housed in the distinctive artwork of Leo Zero himself makes this a worthy purchase.
With the capabilities of modern technology allowing for the current deluge of disco ‘edits’, most of which do little beyond extending an intro for ease of mixing, it would have been an intriguing prospect to see what disco edit progenitor Walter Gibbons thought. Sadly because of Gibbon’s untimely death to an AIDS related illness we’ll never find out, however current edit profiteers could do worse than check out this retrospective of Walter Gibbons remixes compiled by Strut.
Nominally split between the 70s and 80s, the first CD documents the imaginative reworks of the Salsoul catalogue that helped cement Gibbon’s reputation whilst the second CD focuses on the mid Eighties period where he worked closely with Arthur Russell. Gibbons rose to fame during the height of disco’s popularity in Manhattan thanks to his expert DJing skills (a tighter variant on the proto hip-hop tablism of DJ Kool Herc) and it was a chance encounter at the Salsoul office which afforded the 22 year old an opportunity to remix Double Exposure’s “Ten Percent” which became the first commercially successful 12″ release, laying down the blueprint for a format that remains popular to this day. That 12” mix is one of seven tracks which aptly demonstrate the percussion heavy style Gibbon’s branded Jungle Music with the closing 11 minute mix of Betty LaVette perhaps the most impressive example.
The second disc provides more sonic intrigue however, starting off with a previously unreleased remix of Arthur Russell’s “See Through” which whilst short by Gibbons standard at 3 mins 40 secs delivers a sound approaching minimalist electronica, this is followed by Gibbons seminal extended prismatic take on Dinosaur L’s “Go Bang” and perhaps the masterpiece of Gibbon’s career – a nine minute remix of Strafe’s “Set It Off” which imbues the track with a deeply organic funk feel. Strut have delivered yet another superlative retrospective which will hopefully inspire people to read up on a truly compelling character from disco’s history – with Tim Lawrence’s excellent “Love Will Save The Day” a recommended starting point.
With the identity of Tiger & Woods still unresolved, Editainment drop further intrigue with the introduction of Cleo & Patra and the On The Nile EP shows that Editainment’s high levels of quality control are being maintained. Much like the Egyptian Queen from whom they borrowed the name, Cleo & Patra deliver three cuts of sultry dancefloor action.
Spread across Side A is “Walk Like An Egyptian” which craftily melds the Rockers Revenge with Justus Kohncke. Lifting the vocals from the former’s balearic classic “Walking On Sunshine” and placing them atop the soaring bounce of Kohncke’s seminal mutant electro disco track “Time Code” which brings to mind Erol Alkan’s clever blends as opposed to the subsequent deluge of cheap imitators.
On the flip “Pharaoh Love” possibly indulges in some harmonious vocals from a nineties New Jack Swing cum R & B troupe and lays it over a killer mid tempo nu boogie groove with the sort of neck snapping break which sounds just right on a big system. “Marcus Antonius On The Run” is the one nod to traditional disco here with Cleo & Patra reworking Lenny William’s Paradise Garage classic “You Got Me Running” and embellishing it with some 2010 fatness.
You have to applaud DFA’s penchant for putting out release after release of killer material with little or no fanfare. Their latest effort is no different, calling on the production talents of Jee Day, yet another alias for NYC scene fixture Dennis ‘DJ’ McNany. McNany has turned knobs for The Rapture, worked on early DFA releases, dropped remixes of Panthers and Ghostape as Run Roc as well as overseeing Run Roc records and performing tour keyboard duties for The Juan Maclean.
From the moment “Like A Child” commences this impressive CV translates perfectly. Referencing the early pop moments of Madonna, McNany crafts a raw hypnotic 909 groove that positively thumps through the reverberating vocals from Jee Young Sim. McNany takes over vocal duties for the sprawling elastic EBM thump of his Run Roc dub that is spread across the B Side. Sim’s vocals also resonate with cavernous aplomb through the slo mo throwback electro of “Snake Bite”. It’s a superb EP, and one we wanted to celebrate by asking Dennis to talk us through his top tunes for the month. Enjoy…
Our first encounter with the sounds of Joachim Dyrdahl (aka Diskjokke) was his brilliant breezy disco injection to Lykke Li’s “Everybody But Me”, then later with another impressive remix for the xx’s “Basic Space”. Dyrdahl, much like his Norwegians counterparts Prins Thomas and Lindstrom, keeps disco interesting by exploring new avenues, while still retaining a style very much his own.
His second album, En Fin Tid (“A Happy Time” in Norwegian) on Smalltown Supersound, is a brilliant space opera soundtrack. Weaving inspirations of Brian Eno, Tangerine Dream and Arthur Russell throughout his spacesuit, Dyrdahl creates cosmic sounds that are incredibly full and vibrant, pushing it further with tinges of Italo and afro here and there.
Stroll into zero gravity with its lush openers “Reset and Begin” and “En Fin Tid”, while the bold “Big Flash” engages you into battle mode with its feverish 4/4, claps, and stabbing synths wavering in and out. The following track, “Rosenrød” takes the cake, as its beatless sweeping build-up for the first half is the most beautiful moment on the album. The synths quiver here over huge atmospheric sweeps and echoing bleeps, as though a beacon floating in the distance beckons for the beat to drop. Other great standouts include “1987”, and “Bastard Alliance” (with its cowbells reminiscent of “Brazilian Love Affair”).
With a total play time just under an hour with only 8 tracks, Dyrdahl still delivers top-notch cosmic material on his latest, where you can really feel that putting it together was definitely a fun time. Somebody please give this man a soundtrack to bless. Shingo Shimizu
It was perhaps inevitable that freestyle, perhaps one of the most overlooked of 1980s electronic music styles, would one day begin to get revisited. Hugely popular within New York – particularly with the city’s Hispanic communities – throughout the 1980s, the genre spawned some enormous records, most notably Shannon’s “Let The Music Play” (though many freestyle enthusiasts would cite her “Give Me Tonight” as a truer exponent of the core freestyle sound). Dig through the back catalogues of such noted New York record labels as Vanguard and Tommy Boy, and you’ll find plenty of freestyle tunes. In retrospect, any sound cheap, nasty and overly cheesy, but others still sound heavy, fresh and unbelievable futuristic.
This new release from Runaway’s On The Prowl imprint is about as freestyle as you can get. While actually a brand new track by little-known Brooklyn producer Josh Anzano, it sounds authentically vintage. All the hallmarks of true freestyle are here: stuttering, syncopated rhythms, a ludicrously heavy 808 bassline (here tweaked to oblivion to give the impression of 303 jiggery-pokery), ear-piercing electro melodies and a female vocal extolling the virtues of getting out and partying. It’s more like Alisha’s “Baby Talk” (a Shep Pettibone mixed freestyle club hit from 1985) than “Let The Music Play”, but that’s no bad thing. There’s even a choppy, Latin Rascals style flipside Dub. Honestly, it’s brilliantly produced and ticks all the right boxes – unless you knew, you’d think it was a re-release. Anzano should be applauded.
Remix wise, label bosses Runaway provide two servicable house versions (vocal and instrumental) that cleverly weave the original 80s-sounding synth melodies and vocal between retro-futurist 4/4 beats and menacing Twilo riffs. As good as they are, it’s the original and Dub versions that make the biggest impression. Seriously hot. Matt Anniss
The range of funky nuggets at Florian Keller’s disposal is quite extraordinary. Off the back of his Party Keller club night in Munich, he’s made a name for himself as a peerless selector of old and new funk and boogie across Europe. But this compilation on Compost really pushes the boat out – a staggering collection of rarities that will instantly become firm favourites in your collection.
The slow proto-rap of Peter Giger’s “Here Come The Family” kicks off the compilation in style – a head-nodding beat embellished with a variety of percussion sounds from the Swiss legend – everything from steel drums to thumb pianos. Some incredible covers dominate this mix though – two from Gino Dentie, his version of B.T. Express’ “Express” and a version of Brass Construction’s epic “Movin'”. Both of these were recorded direct-to-disc (as was common in the ’70s to ensure hi-fidelity sonics) and hearing the incredible tightness captured in these single take recordings will make you gasp. Both versions get a Latin disco makeover, and both are primed to shake butts. Elsewhere, the BA Baracus Band’s version of “Mama Said Knock You Out” is stripped to the bone but ideal party fodder, with a pitch perfect vocal that matches LL’s intensity.
Another choice cut is Rahmlee’s “Down in Storyville” – recorded by former Earth, Wind and Fire hornman Rahmlee Michael Davis for his classic jazz-fusion album “Rise Of The Phoenix”. Fans of Donald Byrd and the SOS Band will go nuts for this mellow, trumpet-led belter. Keller also keeps an unlikely version of a classic staple of funk fans for the last tune – an acoustic-led vamp around Archie Bell and The Drells’ “Tighten Up” by psych-rockers The Nazz. It’s a fittingly fun end to a collection that’s stuffed to the gills with rare yet rewarding funk both new and old.
I saw Jacques Renault DJ once in a hot, musty, dimly lit room in South London. The New Yorker’s sweaty face was beset with a wide grin, and frankly I suspect he may have been under some sort of musical influence. I recall he had a propensity for seeking out undiscovered areas of the volume gains, and, more importantly, was great fun to dance to.
When not releasing original records as one half of Runaway, Mr. Renault enjoys unleashing edits upon the world, gladly steering clear of anything too obvious and regularly exploring outside of the disco realm. His editing style is very rough and ready, with a healthy dose of echo effects to cover up any misaligned nonsense. It feels quite homemade but for that reason it has that classic razor-blade’n’tape feel. The Tuesday EP contains four doses of disco edit fun, released in a picture disc format replete with superb artwork.
The horn-led title track “Young Single and Free” is a largely instrumental sassy disco stomper, though the eponymous vocals come in for the chorus towards the end. Effective dancefloor stuff. “Dancing in the Sky” is a serotonin-tinged sing-along that arguably owes a lot to Chic (in fact if it was produced by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers I wouldn’t be all that surprised). The last track, “In The City” is a delightfully soulful end-of-night affair, just mellow enough to help wind-things down but with enough kick to keep people shuffling.
It’s the throbbing, one-note bass of “Come On Y’all” with its clavinet tinkering, synth outbursts and uplifting string sections that will arguably be raising the most smiles. The Paul Sabu original (“We’re Gonna Rock”) has a lead male vocal that some might find grating, making this edit particularly useful. All in all a killer EP.
The Angular Recordings Corporation have made ripples in the murky waters known as the London music scene since their inception in a South London park back in 2003. The labels first release “The New Cross: An Angular Compilation” – which featured amongst other things the first recorded appearance from Bloc Party – lead to certain media outlets announcing the rise of a so called “New Cross Scene” – cue much look of local bemusement. Subsequent releases included early Klaxons and Long Blondes (RIP) as well the continued nurturing of These New Puritans. It’s the latter’s latest album which has formed something of an Annus mirabilis for Angular.
Along with Hidden (released in conjunction with Domino) Angular were central to the resurgence of interest in Cold Wave, with their compilation Cold Waves & Minimal Electronics Volume One a brilliant retrospective of early 80s cold wave and minimal wave curated in conjunction with Wierd Records founder Pieter Schoolwerth.
Further reason to attach words of glowing praise to Angular Recordings comes in the shape of this release from the mysterious E Gold. “Separate Our Hearts” is a one off collision between the duo and Former Violets vocalist Alexis Mary now of Plus Ultra, with E Gold laying a backdrop of snapping percussion and vintage analogue cold synth gargles upon which Mary’s distinct vocals sit with aplomb.
Keeping things in the family, Plus Ultra band member Chris Flatline slows proceedings down on his Distance Remix giving Mary’s vocals an ethereal hue and adding his own synth flourishes. Tom Furse of the The Horrors puts all the elements through the aural grind, chopping up and relooping extracts and regurgitating them over a snapping drum machine groove which is finally joined by Mary’s vocals around the four minute mark. Finally the hotly tipped Ghost Hunter wraps the vocals in a blanket of fragile and oh so beautiful downbeatisms.
Last year’s announcement that Mark E was setting up his own imprint Merc was the Midlands based DJ signalling his intent to focus on original production – a canny move given the overstuffed disco edit release schedule – and the subsequent output has justified his decision: “Special FX” from Merc 003 ranks as one of this years most intriguing moody boogie tracks.
To draw a line under the last five years of superlative edit work, Mark E has compiled this second volume of the Selected Tracks & Edits series which will please the edit obsessives no end. The first edition of Selected Tracks & Edits allowed many a DJ the first opportunity to play out a full quality version of tracks such as “R & B Junkie” after missing out on the curse inducing limited vinyl version and suitably this second volume repeats this gift several times over.
Both tracks from Mark E’s debut release, the 2005 Scared EP on Jiscomusic, are present here in all their glory and it’s a mark of the producer’s talent that they sound just as fresh some five years later. “Scared” in particular is pretty much the blueprint for a successful slo mo disco house edit with the groove of Womack & Womack’s “Baby I’m Scared of You” being extended over some ten minutes Theo style, with Mark E adding elements of instrumentation with a guile not matched by some of today’s edit cowboys. The seventh minute marks a glorious drop into the full original track which plays out till the end. Sublime stuff and it’s not hard to see why it’s been near impossible to get on vinyl all this time.
“Formed” occupies the space marked “End of night set killer” on this CD that “Sun Shadow”, the superlative reimagination of Labelle’s “Moon Shadow” did on the first volume. Originally out on Jisco last year it’s a glorious twelve minute extension Grace Jones’ Balearic classic “La Vie En Rose” which teases out the Moulton produced groove before Miss Jones takes over with killer results. Elsewhere unreleased secret weapons such as the opening “Often Think To Myself” or “Darker”, where the brooding chug is transformed into a glorious piano led 80s soul instrumental, make this a worthy conclusion to some four years of edit dynamite.
Since 2006 Faze Action’s eponymous label has been churning out their own productions, releasing such dance floor killers as “Hypnotic”, “I Wanna Dancer” and those remixes of the track that started it all – “Original Disco Motion”. Here comes the new slab, this time around it’s Robin manning the faders and knobs as Rudy’s Midnight Machine, following up their Reception twelve and remixes for the likes of, erm, Faze Action and Bodie Lee.
“Open To Your Love” opens with a steady bouncing groove punctuated by crisp 808 snares, stabby chords, “Your Love”-style arpeggios and stuck on repeat vocals intoning the title. It’s definitely going straight for the retro house jugular but still has enough oomph about it to appeal to young waifs as well as misty eyed rave granddads. Comes in vocal and Open to Your Dub flavors.
Flipping over, “Dib Dab” slips back a few more years for its electro dance feel, coming on like a long lost tougher dub of Shannons’ “Let the Music Play”. It’s a tune that wears its heart on its sleeve with orchestra stabs, proto garage baseline and sampled vocal chops, pretty much guaranteed to get any party moving with a cheeky smile on its face.
“Street Museum” is the most recognizably Faze-esque track, chuck in some New Order-ish synth melody lines, crunchy rocky lead and nagging rhythm guitar and a whole heap of delay on the drums and you are up and running with a disco winner.
For a duo with close links to DFA, there’s always been something reassuringly straightforward about Runaway’s music. Since their debut EP of typically off-kilter edits on friend Roy Dank’s Wurst imprint, they’ve got progressively more and more housey. For those who’ve heard Jacques Renault – the most high profile of the duo – DJ, this will come as little surprise; they seem more influenced by classic New York and New Jersey house than anything else.
Their biggest dancefloor hit, “Brooklyn Club Jam”, is a prime example of this. Blending FX-laden piano riffs with a menacing, big room backing, it sounded like Sound Factory era Vasquez or Twilo-pomp Tenaglia with a Rekids twist. “Broken Man” is similarly reverential, sounding not unlike the sort of organ-heavy house that used to emerge from the Big Apple on a weekly basis back in the 1990s – albeit with drums that sound more Salsoul than Strictly Rhythm.
Like the best US house records of old, it’s hooky and nagging in equal measure, building the action around a spiraling organ riff and a flickering, repetitive vocal sample (“broken man”). Even better, perhaps, is the accompanying ‘live’ version, which adds a killer acid B-line, some spooky loops and the sort of stripped-down beats that evoke thoughts of dark New York cellar clubs and freakish afterhours parties. It just feels more raw – something which gives the track a much more intense, late night vibe.
The package is rounded off by a solid remix by NYC nu disco don Brennan Green. He gives “Broken Man” a quick rub with his disco polish, adding some crunchy noises amongst the original’s twin riffs.
Timm Sure and Ampo are producers on the rise. Under their Coyote alias, the Nottingham duo have been responsible for some particularly slinky nu-Balearic moments over the past 12 months. Aside from remixes for Smith & Mudd and Max Essa, they’ve released six EPs and an album, Harlyn Bay, on their cheekily titled Is It Balearic? Recordings imprint.
Previously, their stock trade has been the sort of glistening, dubwise downtempo music that begs, steals and borrows from disco, glassy-eyed 1980s European pop, soft focus deep house, classic ambient house and the art-pop meanderings of Art Of Noise. So far, so Balearic.
This new EP for Uruguay’s fast rising International Feel label – home to Rocha, Harvey and others – is a departure of sorts. While the gorgeous flipside remix of International Peoples Gang’s “Second” is pure sunset Balearica – think Jose Padilla’s classic Café Del Mar compilations given a noughties reboot – lead track “Moving” is far more stripped down and dancefloor-centric than any of their previous offerings.
What’s more, it’s actually rather good. It’s clearly an attempt to create the sort of touchy-feely Balearic house bomb that would have caused a commotion in Ibizan clubs at the tail end of the 1980s. All the familiar elements are there; bongo-laden 114 BPM beats, sensuous, reverb-laden vocal, classic piano riffage and a synth bassline straight out of the Frankie Knuckles songbook.
It could have easily wandered into pastiche territory, but it doesn’t – thanks largely to the deft production and the loving way it’s been realized.
Thankfully the cinematic rule that sequels suck hard doesn’t also apply to the field of compilations of underground disco rarities. Horse Meat Disco, the long running Sunday night of cowbell carnage in deep South London, return to the Strut imprint with a superlative follow up to last years critically acclaimed compilation and DJ mix. Since then, residents James Hillard, Jim Stanton, Severino and Filthy Luka have continued to lead the way with their packed residencies throughout Europe and appearances at festivals across the globe.
Horse Meat Disco Volume 2 sees the quartet drop another selection of late 70s and early 80s obscure Italo, Loft club classics and lesser known boogie peculiarities presented here in digital format as separate tracks for the discerning digital disco DJs. Lenore O’Malley’s 1980 track “First To Be A Woman” is every bit as much a disco diva classic as “I Will Survive” (Gloria Gaynor later covered this O’Malley track). Further sultry diva action comes from Madleen Kane’s “Cherchez Pas” a real dancefloor burner with the Swedish model turned singer teaching Alison Goldfrapp how to ride horn stabs, handclaps and octave bass lines with aplomb.
Fans of epic extended dubbed out grooves will be all over the MiX-X-X-tend version of Scherrie Payne’s “Girl, You’re In Love / I’m Not In Love” which clocks in at nearly 10 minutes and is little more than simple percussion with various vocals, hooks and melodies expertly brought in and out of the mix. Bravo’s “Touch Me” bridges the gap between odd Italo and searing disco boogie and shares billing of album highlight with “Hot To Trot”, a consumate Hi NRG burner from Lourett Russell Grant which is reminiscent of In Flagranti at their filthiest.
With his native country absent from this year’s World Cup, Croatian disco jock Ilija Rudman has wisely used the time that would have otherwise been spent propped up in front of the TV to prepare this superb Juno Plus featured chart. From the porno vibe of Dub Versions “Boogieeasy” to the dark and dubby feel of the Beautiful Swimmers’ “Oh Yea”, there are some hidden gems lodged in Ilija’s scrupulous selection. Enjoy…