It’s been 10 years since French legend Pepe Bradock has released music on any label outside of his own Atavisme. From the start of “Lifting Weights”, the a-side off Acid Test 07 (the themed offshoot of LA’s Absurd Recordings), it’s clear that Bradock finds the label’s dedication to neo neo acid liberating. Those expecting the Pepe responsible for so many restrained masterpieces can keep looking: “Lifting Weights” starts with banging 909, quickly tempered by hazy guitar. At two minutes, the requisite 303 slices through the carefully constructed atmosphere. After a shrill, circuitous lead synth line does its damage, Bradock enters the more contemplative territory of “Ghosts” and “Deep Burnt”, dwelling on a bittersweet bassline to conclude the track. “Mujeres Nerviosas” starts out sounding like a Pierre track, but the nervous acid is soon countered by a bouncy French Touch piano vamp. Around the four-minute mark on the epic track, Pepe drops into a hypnotic, simple bassline, working an ambient arpeggiated synth against the 303 while using hi-hat filter sweeps to full-effect in what is perhaps the most efficient, utilitarian section of the two-tracker. As the track ends, you can see the master producer conducting the Roland orchestra, using the ingenious internal communication of the classic machines to bring new visions to life. Essential release from one house music’s most respected auteurs. Limited edition with silkscreened cover art painted by Pepe Bradock. Pre-order.
The Sonic Aesthetic
High-class balearia from International Feel founder and recent Ibiza transplant Mark Barrott. “Medicant Adventures” is a slo-mo deep house workout, full of 303 and lush Roland pads repurposed for island living. Things proceed on the funk kosmische tip with “Dark of the Moon”, which weaves a filmic lead melody over mellow arpeggiation. “The Paradol Chamber” ventures further down the Cluster/Harmonia wormhole, a mellow motorik workout ending with gentle waves.
Tight four-tracker from the FXHE/Omar S affiliate. Sjeren shows he knows his way around a house progression on the a-side, Lowdown. The track works a gorgeous set of chords and incessant bass to set the stage for a brief, soaring synth lead and vocal. "Trashed Funk" retains the melody but heads further into beatdown territory, recalling Terrence Parker or Claude Young’s work as Lowkey. The b-side is much more volatile, containing two tracks of uncompromising acid techno.
Paul Hill/Nikki O
Nice deep/vocal house split from the KDJ collaborators. Paul Hill’s A-side will appeal to fans of the Andrew Ashong/Theo Parrish collab "Flowers" from last year - beautiful chords and perfect song structure along with Hill’s longing, slightly strained vocal make “Need Me Some You” a winner. Nikki O’s “Music” is a more uptempo cut, built on submerged Rhodes chords and Nikki’s soulful vocals.
Jeanne Vomit Terror and Ed Sunspot
Awesome long-form mutant synthpop, as though the stars of the Drive soundtrack attempted to score the cult film Liquid Sky instead. Ms. Vomit Terror’s vocals hold it down over complex disco/prog indebted production recalling Peter Ivers “Terminal Love”. Fellow American weirdo Carl Calm (Caboladies) turns the complex original into a spaced piece of outsider house. The last several minutes of Calm’s remix loop the original’s vocal over an impressionistic, Debussy-influenced set of chords. Italians Do It Better/New Jersey head Mike Simonetti steps up for the second remix - hey, he used to be a weird American guy as well! Simonetti puts Vomit Terror’s odd, addictive vocals over a smooth tech house track, getting weird with a pitched down male spoken word section and a trashcan ride cymbal lifted from the original.
Fit x Rekids
Very cool collaborative release from the FIT and REKIDS labels pairing the Siberian underground house aesthete with some Detroit luminaries. Marcellus takes a swing at Kraviz’s “Working” first - hollowing out the sparse original even further and lending the track some signature Unirhythm machine-funk. Pittman relies on the slightest 303 burble and a deft polyrhythm for a full 3 minutes before introducing a totally insane, likely-shifted chord progression. A hint of jazzy deepness closes out the alien track, a single chord echoing like a foghorn in the night. Urban Tribe is back with his (their?) electro-influenced techno, turning Kraviz’s “Taxi Talk” into a dystopic, late-night journey. The kick varies between a Detroit pummel and deeper 808 throb - the omnipresent filtered arpeggio is supported by a recurring and futuristic melodic theme. Epic.
Delusions of Grandeur
Cool retro-house ep from the London-based Aussie. “Your Footprints” is reminiscent of prime Nu Groove material, the longing vocal and wandering synth also recalling the legendary Knuckles/Principle team-ups. “Affirmation” keeps up the high standard - the track pairs urgent bass with psychedelic ambience in a way similar to the classic Aphrodisiac track “Song of the Siren”. Tevo Howard presents an awesome Italo take on “Your Footprints” for the B.
The Bristolian-producer, dj, mastering engineer and frequent October collaborator releases his solo debut, the first on Argot offshoot Tasteful nudes. A-side Moonlight on the Malaga works a classic square-wave bassline, bright chords and 707-claps for a lush, slightly jacking whole. The positive influence of Borai’s mastering work is apparent; the high bell-like synth lead, the pulsing mid-range chords, every sound sits unencumbered in its frequency, spokes in a perfect wheel. “Does it Bother You” is based on a funky, percussive two-chord vamp, soaring string synths and several spoken-word vocal samples. Borai samples the 1974 classic “The Conversation”, emphasizing different words with repetition, adding a slightly paranoid edge to the otherwise sunny production. Limited to 300.
Keith Worthy returns with new material under his Lamar alias, and fans of the longtime Detroit dj/producer won’t be disappointed. Title track “Guilty Pleasures” balances a heavy, midi bassline against ethereal lead synth. Eventually a dirty bassline emerges against to offset the track’s heavy groove. B-side works a similar formula, balancing all manner of atmospheric deepness around a simple set of chords and five-note refrain.