The deluge of indistinguishable deep house, replete with “soulful” vocal samples, swung drums, and jazzy pads sometimes makes an avid listener long for a producer who hasn’t arrived fully-formed with only the most tasteful/retro influences. Barnt is that producer. Here, he follows last year’s bizarre anthem “Geffen” with four even odder tracks. “Tunsten” starts rather polite, then a maddening synth tone climbs slowly skyward and remains for a bit before coming back down and hitting on one-note as the beat picks up, a house track as carnival-ride. “Ariola” is more staid and baroque - with counterpuntal synths evoking Vangelis. "Stac" is a skewed percussion workout, with Barnt programming drums as though he’s never heard of the grid. Any cut off the record is perfect for waking up a crowd used to knowing what to expect.
Boris Bunnik switches over from the dystopic electro of his Versalife project to the Conforce alias by which he's better known. Classic Delsin material here. "Nomad" sets the tone with ominous techno drones, an odd kick meter, elastic bass and big-room creepiness. "Receiver" veers closer to classic Detroit techno tropes, with insistent bells providing the atmosphere over a telltale tom. The patient and precise production of the ep’s opener is still intact, but here it's bolstered by subtle hi-hat drops that feel momentous in context. B-side "Last Anthem’s" rugged kick drum signals this 12”s diversity, ringing in the most floor-friendly track on the record. Closer "Embrace" is a deep, dub techno track with just a sliver of melody, achieving Chain Reaction-worthy hypnosis.
Laid back, eastern-tinged acid from the German producer, whose huge “Moon Oddity” (sensing a theme?) on Dial deep-house imprint Laid placed the producer alongside Tin Man in his ability to coax new, emotional sound out of classic equipment. The title track uses a busy 303 bassline against a deep Juno progression, the overall effect not unlike a more narcotic version of Max D’s Cassette Arabic (L.I.E.S.)
Why release Jersey-inspired house when you can reissue the real thing? The “Meat Mixx” and “NYC Dub” of this Whitehead/Murk collaboration are compiled here, along with present-day remixes. The original NYC Dub is a transcendent example of American garage house - all vocal cutups, pristine piano, swung drums and organ steps.The Meat Mixx makes full-use of Whitehead’s powerhouse ( vocals. A1, the remix by Willie Graff and Tucillo provides an airier interpretation of the NYC Dub’s organ stabs and Whitehead’s soaring vocals, and adds a subtle acidic squelch. The Florian Kruse mix has a classic Strictly Rhythm vibe while Max Jacobson takes a deeper approach - looping a wordless sample of Whitehead’s vocal, but buoying the track with live-sounding bongos. Great release!
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Their status as LA’s premier live dance/balaeric/kraut/? band cemented, the group of talented producers and music nerds (Pharoahs’ core consists of former Amoeba employee Sam Cooper, Dublab dude Ale Cooper and rising producer Suzanne Kraft) make the move to fellow diviner Lovefingers’ label for their most realized effort yet. “Ahumba” is named after surfer Cooper’s dream beach in Zanzibar - and the song reworks windswept digital beauty of the Innovative Communications label for the dancefloor. Sublime guitar arpeggiations color the tropical tracks. “If It Ever Feels Right” is a live staple that never comes out quite the same - a testament to the massive amount of improv that makes Pharaohs such an exciting group. The basis of the track is a descending Juno 60 arpeggio - delayed uptown sax, a far-off pad and varied percussion fill this out into perhaps the most floor-friendly track on the record. The insistent bassline eventually ends up scoring some light jacking and zonked sax-work worthy of Roland P. Young. Island Time successfully focuses on rhythm rather than the synth acrobats of the other tracks, bringing the tide back out for this great EP.