Home > 2012, 2013, House, LA, LDN, mix > Picks 1/20/13

Picks 1/20/13

Weird week. I like the weather though.

Pulled from the digi stacks of All Day Records, Chemical-Records and Soundcloud.

V/A – American Noise Vol. 1 (L.I.E.S., 2012)

Yes, I am firmly and fully on the LIES bandwagon. There’s a lot of hype around this label coming from all corners of the internet including Pitchfork, FACT, Spin and Resident Advisor. The label’s output is far-reaching and is often given the term “outsider” house/techno or low-fi, but these descriptors hardly allow any insight into the real magic contained on the limited slabs of vinyl. Styles range from new age ambient to crunchy techno, surfer house to burnout boogie, acid house to synth explorations – yet all the music can be characterized by a sense of warmth, an analog or tape feel. No huge names sit on the roster, and that’s precisely what has made the label so impressive, they continually turn out records that are surprising. Delroy Edwards and Xosar, two of my favorite producers in 2012, have had their debut release on LIES, so the label truly carries weight with me.

This is the first CD  I’ve bought in years, probably 5+years. A lot of this stuff on the compilation is new to me, as I only have a handful of LIES records, and most of those were left off this compilation. It’s a 2-CD set, and the first disc compiles some of the more rare/desirable releases. Bookworms’ “African Rhythms” (above) is the clear gem on here, the meditative percussion moving along at its gentle bounce, nestled in soft foggy synths. It has a really wonderful Theo Parrish vibe to it, very focused and spiritual. Terekke’s “Pf Pf Pass” was a wonderful surprise on this disc as he rides along in a blunted boogie groove, heavy in thick analog dust and sloppily cut samples. The groove is really immersive, drawing you into a sunny worn VHS dreamscpae where the kick drum crumbles and the hi-hats splinter. “Asidis” also finds Terekke in extremely strong form, keeping his sunny disposition, but picking up the tempo to proper pool party vibes. These two tracks remind me of what I loved so much about Nite Jewel’s early work – it was lowfi, fun and funky.

Moving on to my two favorite LIES alumni, Delroy Edwards’ remix of Xosar’s “Tropical Cruize” is truly a gift to me from the universe. The track beautifully melds Xosar’s tendencies toward exotic melodies and romantic melancholy, with Delroy’s fridgid focus on the dancefloor. Icy and infectuous, the “Don’t talk, just listen” loop is intoxicating. Xosar’s orignal track here, “Sansovtime” under her Bonquiqui alias takes a harder approach to the Trackman Lafonte and Bonquiqui project, coming much closer to the paranoid electro funk on “Nite Jam“. What I love most about Xosar is how fresh she makes everything sound – I mean, synth flutes? Yeah it’s so good.

The compilation really does cover a wide range of music, but it’s tracked very well and truly works front-to-back as a unified album. Placing the minimal techno groove of Marcos Cabral’s “24 Hour Flight” with the dreamy analog funk of Legowelt’s “Sark Island Acid” may not necessarily seem like a logical move, but it exemplifies the grander vision of dance music that ties together the LIES family. I’m really excited to see where this label is going to be going in 2013.

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Delroy Edwards –Heart and Soul  b/w Sprk Tha Dust (L.I.E.S., 2012)

This record snuck out right after Christmas as a limited black label release and without a second of hesitation I swooped it up. I’m a big fan of Delroy’s crunchy Detroit influenced house/techno as well as his propulsive ghetto house DJ sets. Fortunately for me, he displays both affections on this 12.

“Heart and Soul” (above) was the prize at the end of his recent Juno Plus Podcast, and was something that I was really hoping would see an official release. The track is reminiscent of his 4 Club Use Only debut, and specifically the cold, downcast techno of “Love Goes On and On” with the icy synth lines and ghetto rhythms. The track is further colored by his somber voice endlessly intoning the phrase, “I gave you my heart, I gave you my soul” – which happens to be a perfect refrain for a special Christmas release, right? It is this sense of melancholy that draws me to Delroy, no matter how hard or playful the rhythms are (and on this track the claps, kick and hats are primed for destruction), a haze of frustration and bitterness shroud his music. But don’t get me wrong, this is not “emo” music at all, this is propulsive dance music with an outright human quality to it. I may have to pick up another copy of this record because I intend to play this track out as often as possible.

I was pretty freaked when I first flipped the record and dropped the needle; I was beyond lit, chillin in the semi-dark of my studio about ready to go to bed, but wanted to give the new Delroy a quick spin – then BAM BAM BAM BAMBAMBAM. The track title doesn’t lie, “Sprk tha Dust” is the musical equivalent of hitting a sherm stick. Reworking one of 2012’s better moments in mainstream rap, Delroy flips “Bandz a Make Her Dance” by pitching down Weezy’s mumblings and dropping in a thundering overdriven kick. A horrifying haze and banshee synths are an appropriate nod to Three 6 Mafia tropes, but this track is far beyond the level of a demented remix as the laggy layered vocal samples and disorienting everything about the track make for a very heady experience. Listen to this one on headphones while walking somewhere at night, I dare you.

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Kingdom – Diplo & Friends BBC 1Xtra Mix 1/06/2013 (BBC Radio 1/1Xtra, 2013)

Kingdom is my current favorite DJ. His mixes are essential listening and his Fade to Mind parties are not to be missed. The owner of the company I work for is a jazz musician, so he has a basic understanding of the music world, but he caught me off guard the other day when he asked me why anyone would ever follow a DJ, as he was looking to ascertain the artistry of being a DJ. He’s from the oldschool and when he thinks of a DJ, he’s thinking a jock who announces each track in a Top 40 countdown. I explained to him the concept of edits, exclusives, dubplates, and the artistry behind the different approaches to a mix. I’m not sure he fully understood where I was coming from, and I suppose you do have to have a certain level of immersion in this world to truly understand the qualities that make a DJ a really great one. Listening to Kingdom mix records is like watching an athlete at the top of his game, or listening to a jazz band with real chops running through a set of standards – you may know what to expect, but every experience offers a fresh take, an improvisational quality that is singular to the artist.

For the most part, Kingdom’s mix for Diplo’s show on 1Xtra is full of exclusives from the Fade to Mind/Night Slugs family and this is a large part of the reason why I am so partial to the man’s work. Beyonce remixes, lifted Little Dragon acapellas, Missy Elliot features, and Girl Unit outtakes, all become tools that he uses to not only offer an incredibly unique sonic experience, but a floor focused one. Kingdom is consistent in his vibe, and I once described his sound as similar to what my dreams are like – equal parts sexual and paranoid. The tones are dark, heavy with brooding synths and pummeling drums, covered with a haze thick from smoke, but carried by precise doses of R&B divas. One of my favorite moments is Kingdom’s edit of a Kowton remix, where he deftly drops in a sample of Mariah hitting a high note, to both an ecstatic and haunting effect. The voice is so easily recognizable as Mariah, but so out of context that it truly creates a completely new experience of the material. Girl Unit’s “Double Take Pt 2” is an excellent inclusion and really lightens up the mood, but it is singularly impressive in how Kingdom uses it as a tool to move from a pitch-black jacking vogue workout into an edit of the dreamy Mike Will produced Future/Kelly Rowland jam “Neva End.” Coming to the end, Kingdom wraps things up in proper Fade to Mind form by laying out Fatima al Qadiri’s digi-industurial-horror “Oil Well” and dropping in a strong acapella (or is it a commissioned verse?) from my favorite Three 6 Mafia member, Gangsta Boo. This whole mix is absolutely brilliant and I liken it to eating a great meal or seeing great fashion, it just makes me want to step my own game up. Big ups to Kingdom and the Fade to Mind crew, 2013 is gonna be your year.

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Burial – Burial (Hyperdub, 2006)

I’ve been meaning to pick this one up for ages now, but I had a 20% off coupon for Chemical-Records recently and I decided to take the plunge. I had never really heard this album at all, so I have had a really great time getting acquainted with the early material of one of the most important artists of the 21st century. I have a lot of respect for this man, and I’ve come to build a deep relationship with his music. This music is just so powerful, so human. It’s music that soundtracks my everyday experience; whether it’s my commute to the industrial landscape of my workplace, or the dark, dirty streets and alleys of my neighborhood, or perhaps the cold, smokey nights in my studio apartment.

I had never really heard the Burial dubstep material, and I was immediately drawn to the opening track “Wounder” with that lonely siren-synth, the menacingly still atmosphere and hard drum programming assuring its status as a classic. The back cover says the material is drawn from 2001-2006, so it’s interesting to see how some of these tracks were crafted in the very early days of dubstep, still moving in that middle ground between garage and dub. “Gutted” (above) is the standout for on the halfstep tracks, as the tell-tale Burial emotive touches really get me everytime. He also begins to show some of true artistry and dexterity that he would later master, ss exemplified in the dubby cut “Broken Home.” I’m not sure where that original sample came from or what it is supposed to say, but the realignment of sound is really wonderful.

Stepping back and viewing the span of his career is also revealing in how a cut like “Pirates” foreshadows a lot of the same tones and themes he covered in his 2012 releases, Kindred and Truant. The track features the basic bass swell and gray tones, but it experiences a shuttering start-stop in the beginning, and as seen on his two latest eps, it is a nod to the days of dusty cassette tape recorded pirate radio. I love the idea that he has followed through on this vision, a meta-narrative involving the physical sustainability of his music, coupled with all the markers of a fabled and romanticized memory of music past.

Categories: 2012, 2013, House, LA, LDN, mix
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