Brothers Ben and Louis Helliker-Hales form Chaos in the CBD. Originally from New Zealand they had been based in Peckham of south-east London inspiring their 2015 EP release on Rhythm Section International. Midnight in Peckham is a record that is contemplative and moving. House music heavily influenced by jazz, this has become one of my most beloved albums in my little collection.
On A1 “Trust is Key” is a romantic slow-driver. It opens up with a solid kick drum and the sound of a chattering crowd. The bassline brings a very mellow groove. Gentle and steady piano riffs begin to pace the track and the cymbal patterns that follow along are crisp and have such a delightful energy. “We trust each other” the vocals reverberate. Near the end of the track there’s a bit of echoing chirps that bring a real atmospheric layer to it all that I just love.
“Observe” starts out with melodic synthesized strings, jazzy hi-hats and some piano that make this one perfect for having a chat with a friend or maybe while you’re cooking dinner. The piano starts to make the track jump and when it cuts out the strings resurface. Both of the sounds tag each other perfectly throughout and then in the background a voice starts panning – humming and howling a little tune. Throw this one on if you want to take a moment to space out.
Flipping the record over to the B-side you’ll find “Midnight in Peckham” – the title track and by far my favorite on this record. When the trumpet comes in I get chills. That drum kick always seems to go right along with the pace of my own heart and there’s something quite comforting in that. No matter where I am or what I’m doing I will always let this song play out. It’s just beautiful, in the truest sense of the word. With such fluid elements but a steady kick this is the perfect track to ease down some high energy and would be a great closer. The horn on this one is credited to Isaac Aesili, a musician from New Zealand, who absolutely deserves recognition. He takes the wonderful structure of the tune and brings such bright introspective movement into it.
For B2 “Luxury Motivation” opens with vocals of a man speaking about a stirring, higher life of cars and money. The piano lick in this one is jazzy and stays steady throughout for the most part. When the hi-hat comes in, oh my. With a deep and subtle bassline and tight cymbals, this one I would say is the most loopy on the record and can get a nice little dance going. In addition to some really great percussion, this track is my second favorite.
This entire record is meditative, soothing and just downright gorgeous. Chaos in the CBD brought elements and samples into their production that make this EP one that you will always want to listen to from beginning to the very delectable end. If you like what you hear, there are plenty of copies available on Discogs.
Alicia Greco is the founder and editor of Sequencer in Buffalo. She’s a dedicated speaker freaker and loves sifting through crates. She’s often found enjoying the sounds of a spinning record through a sound system on the dance floor or the music shrine in her bedroom.
Any DJ or avid record collector will agree, it pays to explore the back catalogs of record labels. For me, that’s been the case with classic New York house label Strictly Rhythm. While I’ve always carried a couple choice cuts from the label in my bag, revisiting their output frequently has helped me expand my horizons and pick up records I may have passed on merely six months prior.
Such is the case with a recent score of House of Pain / In The Spirit by Krimp, aka Dana Kelley. Originally from Boston, Mass. Kelley is known for his output of classic deep house and garage tunes, under a number of different aliases, on labels such as Strictly Rhythm, Guidance, and Large. Sadly Kelley passed away in 2013, however, his music lives on in this week’s Wax Runoff.
Opening up the record is the Citrus Mix of “House Of Pain”. A moody late-night jam, this one starts out smooth before layering a number of textures and building tension. While “The Clouds Mix” retains much of the character of the previous mix, the drum beat has a bit more theme to it and the synth has all the hallmarks of a session jam. Crafting a sort of wonky organ style sound, this one has me very excited to play out. On the other side of the record we have two mixes of “In The Spirit”. The first (and my favorite of the release) is the “In The Spirit Mix”. Starting out with a simple, yet effective bassline, the addition of some mellow keys push this into true old school deep house territory. When this one starts lifting off, it feels like the vocal calling out “in the spirit” is the only thing keeping you grounded. Closing out the release is “In the Spirit (The Perk-Us-On Mix)”. Again, the inside track is much dancier with this one having considerably more drive and at times feeling almost like an old techno track. Given the context of the backing track the vocal evokes a completely different feeling.
Being an older Strictly Rhythm release, this is one of those records that you may just get lucky with when digging in a bin somewhere that hasn’t been too picked over. If you’re interested in grabbing your own copy, there’s plenty on Discogs at a reasonable price, but it looks like you’ll have to pay the shipping from Europe.
Wax Runoff is a weekly feature that will showcase new finds and crate favorites. Colin Boardway, of Chicago, is the label manager for Yoruba Records. He has spent the last 10 years developing his sound by digging deep in the bins wherever records are sold.
Ah, Detroit and Chicago – two cities whose reputations have a special place being focal points for the proliferation and advancement of dance music. Arguably they birthed the styles and templates many artists still strive to replicate in present day.
That’s why I was not surprised to find myself digging all the releases thus far on Jordan Fields and Larry Heard’s semi-mysterious and entirely satisfying imprint Descendants of the Deep. The limited vinyl-only label and it’s subsequent releases (From Chicago to Detroit Volumes 1 & 2) were established around this time last year. The label has been largely dormant since that time, until October 2016 when From Chicago to Detroit Vol. 3 started very quietly popping up in various good and honest record outlets around the world. I purchased mine from a seller in New York City.
The record has five cuts, with a white label on one side and an awesome vintage boogie-down Bronx b-boy boombox flick on the flip. What’s so tangibly solid about the EP is it’s strict adherence to the sound of the cities that lend their names in the title.
A-1 leads off with “Your Love” – a deliciously deep cut from Giles Dickerson; one could easily close their eyes and imagine blaring in the basement of Smart Bar. A warm and filtered decaying pad crashes every four measures to set the tone while processed guitar and a soulful vocal loop keep rhythm. Slightly squared 808 kicks and a hi-hat double up to make this a perfect party-groover for those cold winter nights coming.
A-2 transports us a few hundred miles east to the Motor City. A tune true to his nature, Jordan Fields brings a more up front vibe with “I Feel Loved”. Rigid sequencing and layering perfectly compliment a jackhammer kick snare pattern. A squelchy and heavily delayed vocal sample is made to dance around tight piano stabs and an encouraging bassline that demands movement of the feet. This one is a jackin’ number that if played at the right time will keep the dancefloor’s full attention.
Over to B-1, things stay high energy with “Free” – a serious drum machine number from Ed Nine. Chord stabs, infectious arps, eighth note open hi-hats, snare rolls, and of course the old reliable wood block. This is the tune of the release for me almost purely because of its very primal and precise drum shaping and sequencing. I think it’s a wonderful example of why drum machines work so fantastically well for not only techno, but house music too.
Things deepen up heavily on B-2. Jordan Fields re-edits Jaime Read’s “The Rise” for jazzy lounge affairs and strung out sunrise after parties. Lush pads slink back and forth while a very Juno-esque bass keeps interest with short hits before reverb and decay laden jazz scales come in, locking listeners in a daze. Splendid stuff, really.
Jordan Fields again offers a re-edit for B-3, this time of Deep88s “Test 1”. I also love this track because it strikes the perfect match between deep filtered pads that are mostly dreamy with a very danceable drum pattern and chunky bass hits. All the percussion comes out and the track breathes before diving back into a peak hour groove. It’s a great tool for waking up the party when things get a bit too deep.
Being a limited release you’ll be lucky to find a copy but there are still some available for $11. You shouldn’t mind though because the release is solid the whole way through and likely not a single cut will go unplayed. The releases seem to be coming in bursts of two, so Volume 4 is also out now for those who are hungry for more Chicago/Detroit tunes (and Volume 2 has a single copy for $5 currently on Discogs).
Wax Runoff is a weekly feature that will showcase new finds and crate favorites. Nick States, of Boston, bought his first vinyl record in 2010 and has been hooked ever since. The record shop tends to be his first stop in an any city he visits.