Wax Runoff: Moods & Grooves [MG-046]

June is in full swing and thousands of us are still glowing after a stupendous Memorial Day weekend in Detroit. The sounds and atmospheres created at the various clubs and venues around the city continue to inspire and delight music lovers from all around the world. I heard so many amazing records; there were beloved classics, new heat, and tons of obscure beauties time would have forgotten if not for the amazing curation and selection from some of Detroit’s best DJs. Indeed Detroit has not (and hopefully never will) change.

MG-046

In coming back and flipping through my newest finds and purchases I initially was searching for a new, fresh off the press record to focus on after an entire month of Detroit related material. But as I was flipping through, I stumbled across a 12” that has two of my favorite tracks ever put out by a little, old Detroit label by the name of Moods & Grooves. This label is another staple of the Motor City scene, responsible for almost perfectly consistent releases that span from deep and minimal to soulful and energetic. A simple two track release issued in a plain white sleeve, this record doesn’t exactly grab your attention up front, but the work from Andres and Mr. G give it a status that I would consider imperative for any house music lover’s collection.

The A-side of Moods & Grooves Classics V1 belongs to none other than Detroit’s house sample master, Andres. Everything about “Out In The Open” is expertly crafted with his unmatched subtle style. Straight from the gate, the kick drum is on a completely swung and broken pattern while the crispy stiff snare cuts on a perfect 4/4 pattern. Coupled triplet hi-hats and delicate ride taps gives the entire track a rolling feeling that is incredibly friendly for the dance floor, yet laid back as it slithers through the speakers. It wouldn’t be an Andres track though without the perfect sample treatment. A hearty ballad with a female vocalist – sped up massively – was recruited for use here, though I’m not sure where the sample comes from originally. The only thing that can be said for Andres’ artistry is that this man truly understands how to filter sound, when to soften it with reverb and slip it into a gorgeous quilt of sonic presence. Every small detail ends up being immaculate in the final mix – each noise complimenting its neighbor. This is one of those tracks that you can close your eyes while flowing through its essence and open them six minutes later without being sure whether a second or an hour of time has passed. This track is ready to go for any of those early party starting nights, or tea on the balcony Sunday morning.

On the other side of the slab, vibes totally change up for a more direct hit, designed to keep the party going while it’s at the apex of sweatiness. “The Struggle Of My People (Mr. G’s There’s Hope Mix)” begins with high energy on a full drum break filtered with delicious resonance and looped  every four bars. A single transposed string sample descends over and over again while the drums begin to gain eighth note hi-hats and sixteenth note shakers. This is repetition done in the most infectious way. Whereas everything on the A-side fit perfectly around one another, each element on Mr. G’s tune fit perfectly on one another. The cutoff on the filter for the strings opens at times creating this feeling of a wave of sound washing around the dance floor. All the drums pull out of the mix at two separate times just to let a single synth and the strings coalesce around a spoken word sample from Maya Angelou’s poem, “And Still I Rise”. I have never seen this track not light a dance floor on fire. Again we have here a tune that is expertly made and so delightfully warm, the aural result is magnificent if played on any halfway decent sound system.

Although these tracks are so heavily played (my copy has gotten 100 spins, at least) they personify the idea of well-grounded, timeless house music. Some might say they are too safe, or even perhaps cliché, but hearing “Out In The Open” played by Andres himself over the excellent Void soundsystem at Marble Bar during the Sampled Detroit party over the Memorial Day weekend reminded me of how spectacular this record is. It was only fitting to write about it after that truly infinite moment.

Because this record is a 2013 press of two widely sought after early 2000s tracks, I would consider it a great deal. The 12” is trading on Discogs for about $13 stateside. It’s one record I personally could not live without. The two tracks have such wildly different personalities but still resolve themselves to be near perfect examples of all the things we love about house music. The unrelenting nature of the drums and structure truly mirror the undying love and support that true fans of house music display, and to which the massive turnout in Detroit for Movement is a testament to. And if there’s one thing I was reassured of in Detroit, it’s the same thing that is etched into the runout groove on MG-046: “Technology may move forwards, but vinyl will never die…”

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.

Wax Runoff: Detroit Favorite [LA VIDA 001]

The week of the reckoning is finally here. People have gathered their best pieces of black clothing and the requests off from work have been approved. Starting tomorrow and through out the weekend folks from all over the world will begin arriving in Detroit for debauchery and impeccable dance music. There are a lot of great parties to attend and, of course, the festival itself has reached almost legendary rapport.

One thing that strikes me every year at some point or another is the realization that each year I hear a few tracks with out fail. There are records that are so well made – so fantastically funky, that it’s essentially never a bad idea to play them. Pepe Badrock’s “Deep Burnt” always gets a spin or two; Scott Grooves’ “Movin’ On” also comes to mind. But the one that always jumps out exactly when it’s needed is the lead track off New For U, the premier LP on Andres’ record label La Vida

NEW FOR U ANDRES

LA VIDA 001

The record was released in February 2012 and ever since has maintained a massive following of fondness. Astonishingly, 5,000+ Discogs members want LA VIDA 001, which is pretty impressive for a somewhat newer release. It’s a very unassuming little slab of wax; sealed in a flat white cardboard sleeve and featuring track listings and small label logos on a white label.

While A1 “New For U” is the breakout star of the record, the second cut on the A-side is a wonderful piece of music as well. While not a dance floor igniter like the former track, it’s made with such amazing warmth and perfection of sampling that Andres is famous for. Lo-fi drums and delicate vocal looping at a slower tempo make it great track for very early in the night. It’s hard not to love based simply from the skill in the arrangements and mastering.

The flip side gets a bit back to the groove of things with Jazz Dance. A lot of DJs have told me that they actually like B1 the most of all. It’s more stripped back and has a lot of breathing room. From a mixing standpoint it layers very well. The juice of this tune lies in the rolling bassline that doesn’t quit very often. The filtering and frequency of over all of each instrument sit astounding well in the mix, creating a splendid finish to an amazing record.

These tracks all bring a bit of something to the table. Part of the reason people champion Andres’ work so much is because the engineering involved in the sound design is so admirable. When you have these massive, expensive, top of the line sound systems to work with, Andres records will always shine on them very well.

People trade this record around a lot. There are constantly new listings on Discogs and I personally got this record only this year when a copy was found in the backroom at my local shop and then put on the shelf. Stay vigilant for it if you dig the tunes and want to own it yourself.

See you in Detroit!

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.

Wax Runoff: Modern Detroit [VQ035] [PLE65350-1] [BCR007]

With Detroit’s Movement festival inching closer and closer by the day, excitement continues to grow across the stratosphere of dance music. Whereas last week’s Wax Runoff contained a few records from the crucial early days of Detroit techno, this week we take a look at some of the modern labels representing for the D.

Visionquest, Planet E, and Blank Code all manage to pump out splendidly solid Detroit tunes, each with their own flavor and take on the booming rhythms. Though bending the rules to be interesting, fresh, and new, these imprints preserve the nature and vibe of the best the Motor City has to offer.

Seth Troxler, Shaun Reeves, and Lee Curtiss’ powerhouse label Visionquest is an instant talking point when discussing the important Detroit players of the last decade. I’ll be the first to admit that there is some really corny and imperfect music on Visionquest, but the releases that do hit the mark always seem to remain on heavy rotation. The 35th release [VQ035] from 2013 Jadore featured one of Norway’s most enjoyable exports – producer Terje Bakke. This record actually introduced me to Terje, who has had some amazing releases across a handful of labels before and after this release. Somewhere between house, minimal, and techno, this record takes a lot of what is loveable about European dance music and breathes in the classic fat and dry Detroit sound. Plenty of loops and subtle changes make it perfect for a pre-midnight DJ set or a relaxing Sunday drive.  And if you’ve ever been to Movement in the past, odds are that someone at some point has recommended you find yourself at the Need I Say More party thrown by the Visionquest crew every year on Monday morning. It’s without a doubt one of the best sound systems in the city brought in for a day of delightful classics, rare gems, and forthcoming heat. Definitely not a label or party to sleep on.

 

 

Planet E has actually been around since 1991. Carl Craig has been the mastermind behind its development which could play a part in why it continues to put out sturdy, relevant techno tracks. The Last Decade EP [PLE65350-1] is credited to Carl Davis which is a single-use alias taken up by Carl Craig for this release. The tracks are broken down into “Sketches” that truly put classic Detroit styles front and center. Most notable are the nods to the electro and bass styles that originally got Detroit started on the path of electronic music. Dark and stiff tracks litter the A-side, but the true secret weapons of the record are Sketches 5 and 6 that feature more downtempo and chilled out beats. The juxtaposition of production styles traditionally used for hard, slamming tracks against the soft and slower soundscapes is nothing short of fantastic. Carl is always around the Motor City on Memorial Day weekend and his sets are not to be missed; if given the chance, make sure you stop by to enjoy his grooves.

 

 

Of course, no modern Detroit sound discussion would be complete without touching on the heavier, more grinding style of techno. Blank Code is the youngest of these three labels, but has wasted no time making a very respectable name for itself. Rituals Of Submission [BCR007] by Luis Flores could not have a more appropriate name. The record features two originals and two remixes containing tight drums that slap and big powerful synth blasts. With kick drums that could knock your wig off, the tunes are wonderful odes to the confusing and at times terrifying sonic onslaught experienced at true Detroit parties. The tunes just feel like a warehouse when you hear them. Blank Code is also responsible for the Interface:Scene after party which happens each year on Sunday night during Movement weekend. The back room of The Works is transformed into a mini warehouse with only a single pulsating strobe light and enough sound to disperse a small crowd of protesters. As one friend once put it, attending the party is like “having your brain-grapes crushed into wine”. Tickets for this year’s shindig are currently at final tier, so act fast if you want to secure your seat in the spaceship. An added bonus: Mr. Flores is on this year’s lineup and promises to be a delightful set.

 

 

So whether you’ve been knee deep in 303s since ’92 or you’re just getting into the Detroit sound recently, there’s plenty of tasty sounds and labels associated with and dedicated to Detroit. The city is truly a deep catacomb of influence and output. There’s really so much to find and talk about – this piece could easily be 10 pages long. One consistent aspect is the undeniably crisp style present in all Detroit releases. As for the releases here, they can be hard to find and expensive but at least are not as tough as the classics from last week.

Consider swinging by Detroit Threads during your visit to the 313 to support the local wax peddlers. And if diggin’ in the crates is your thing, Record Graveyard comes highly recommended, complete with an authentic old and dilapidated Detroit feel to it. Even if you don’t have time to support the local record scene, enjoy your Movement weekend by getting out to as many different spots and parties as possible. The wide variety of music bearing Detroit’s proud heritage is seldom matched anywhere in the world.

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.

Wax Runoff: NYC108

It can sometimes be difficult for compilation-only labels to pick up and maintain momentum over the course of many releases and years. The art form is a bit different than solo artist EPs and the scrutiny is heavier from potential supporters. There are still a few though which seem to repeatedly be on the money and NYC Loft Records is definitely one of them. The latest, I Wanna See All My Friends at Once Vol. 2, is currently out now on vinyl only.

Starting with a compilation of six early ‘90s dubs last year, people have been scooping the NYC Loft releases faster than ever. All of which feature that very distinct brand of New York house. Many have a focus on hardware, warmth, and the recreation of subtle inaccuracies in the sound that resulted from making music before computers. The art has bounced around a little bit, but a handful of releases feature photos of modern swanky living room lounges – the sort of place you’d want to have a party with all your closest friends.

NYC Loft Records

NYC108

Things get kicked off strong on A1 “Dance to the Dub” – a thumper of a track by Kick That Funk. A sample heavy and looped out the tune features fat kicks and lo-fi chords behind filter delayed vocal rips. It’s a rhythmically focused track, and a perfect little slice of house music.

The next cut, Bonjour’s “Fondant (Creamy Disco Dub)”, is also an expertly chopped up sample number. Rolling tape drum loops keep a very sturdy rhythm but the big synth patches that bounce around halfway through are the stars here. It can be hard to have old samples and new synths sit well in the mix together; this track is a solid reminder that it’s not impossible.

A3, Subtle Approach’s “Holdin You Close” takes a step back for a more simple and funky West Coast influenced piece. The tune honestly feels like it could have been released on Westbound or Siesta during the heyday of those labels. Live bass notes and up front filters create a hypnotizing groove, perfect for an early night party starter.

Flipping to the B-side, Dubrazil lends “Sunshine In My Life (Deeper Dub)” to the batch. Very Chicago and masterfully engineered, the bass is loud and chunky. There are plenty of long-decay tape delays to compliment the triplet chord stabs. In true Chicago house fashion, the clicks from the vinyl that the drums were sampled from are still in the mix. The whole tune has a perfect airy sound that sits atop the incredibly rich synthesizers.

“Melodies of Dub” on B2 comes courtesy of Blackdub with a super pared down tribal feel to it. Supple hand drums and snareless drum loops drive along a lazy sax sampling. It’s a wonderful flavor to a compilation that already has reached Neapolitan status.

To wrap things up, Australia’s DJ Freestyle brings the focus back to rhythmic classic New York-styled house with his touch on Pascal Cordoba’s “Comblnaca”. Jazzy piano splices that never seem to get old accompany faster drums creating an energetic yet calm tune that will surely get party goers’ backs off the wall.

What’s great about this record is that all the tracks sound really great on their own, but as a group and all on one plate, they’re an amazing tribute to the first city that really started to define it’s own sound in the wake of the initial house music boom of the mid to late ‘80s. These are the sorts of tracks I constantly try to hunt down in sketchy corners of used record stores all over the country. The early ‘90s in New York was a source of more amazing records than anyone knew what to do with. I can say with confidence that the tunes on this record sound as if they are straight out of a Masters At Work set 25 years ago.

This record was released in mid-March, but it’s still kicking around some locations. In true spirit of the love for New York, I suggest you buy your copy from longstanding NYC house slingers Downtown304. These folks have been in the game a long time and only continue to do so through people supporting their more off the radar shop. I would scoop this record up now and keep your eyes peeled in 2017 for more NYC Loft Trax series because I don’t expect them to be slowing down.

Currently these tracks are available only on vinyl, but you can listen to some snips of the tracks here.

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.

Wax Runoff: SP-12044

Back in the beginning of DJing as an art form, everything was an egg hunt. That’s why it was very fitting that I recently exhumed a record I’ve been hunting for a long time, Chas Jankel’s Glad to Know You, from a local dollar bin littered with filler.

Aside from a possible disco section, dance tracks really didn’t have a place on the racks yet, and it would be decades before the Internet was fast enough to download a wav. file in an acceptable amount of time. It was the job of these early ’80s DJs to find tracks that moved dance floors but many times weren’t designed for mixing or club play. It was a very exciting time – the recently updated Technics 1200 turntable had just replaced the somewhat restrictive rotary pitch knob with a pitch fader capable of stretching  +/- 8%, creating a new world of mix possibilities. Additionally, drum machines would begin to fairly ubiquitously replace live drummers, creating the opportunity for a long mix.

Chas Jankel

SP-12044

And perhaps most importantly, dedicated clubs began popping up in America to accommodate this burgeoning underground culture. None are perhaps more famous than the fabled Paradise Garage in New York City. Indeed, how I came to find out about this incredible record was in researching the patron saint of the club, Larry Levan. Thanks to those hardened hunters like Larry, a scarcely available and unknown 1980 import shot to No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Dance/Disco charts after A&M released a 12” version in 1981 where it remained for seven weeks. Interestingly, those charts at the time were not made based on commercial success, but rather from reporting club DJs from various cities around the country. This structure really let underground sounds shine and pointed dance DJs in the right direction.

A&M released the record with three cuts, the first of which – “Glad to Know You” – is probably the best-known track. With lyrics from Jankel’s old Blockheads band mate Ian Dury, the song is a wonderful fusion of disco vibes with the tools of a forthcoming electro era. The funk inspired bassline is undeniably groovy, and the soul-centric organ riff never gets old. There is experimentation with tape delay and sampling, saturated reverb, and synthesizer manipulation. Even 36 years later, this tune would set a club off.

The most futuristic track, however, was of course on the B-side. “3,000,000 Synths” is a true examination of the powers within the Oberheim synthesizers that would become commonplace in the later part of the decade as Miami bass and electro styles began to take off. Those famously wet filters on Oberheim machines were put to the test with massive sweeping resonant pads that pan across the soundscape. Mind melting lines constantly modulate up and down scales and at times there is almost too much noise. The tune is saved from being labeled experimental by a nice and chunky funk bassline with organ stabs and a heavy electro bass arpeggio. There are no lyrics this time around, but instead indecipherable spoken word samples in the background, a stylistic choice still heard in many dance tracks today.

The original 1980 Japanese 7” release only contained the first two tunes, but I’m willing to wager that A&M thought the record was originally too risky for wide success. So the 1981 12” U.S. release contained B2, “Ai No Corrida” much more closely followed the established disco formula. The drum machines and samples were traded for a band and drummer. There are still artifacts of Chaz’s forward thinking style in the notable synth work, but the track is less exciting and in comparison to the other two, feels very safe.

We owe a lot to these early years of people messing about with synthesizers and drum machines. The work from this period jettisoned dance music out of its glitzy disco cage and into a new era that was experimental, different, and welcoming of people belonging to the other. Disco had become chic and commercialized. The exciting music being played at spots like Paradise Garage was paving a way for house music to be born and creating the pillars of acceptance and unconditional love that are held so dear in dance music culture. You’re unlikely to ever find that coveted 7” Japanese import, but there are U.S. copies floating around Discogs that won’t break the bank.

It is so important this music is not forgotten, partly because it’s just as enjoyable and relative today as it was so many years ago. Many thanks due to the beloved Larry Levan and all the other DJs throughout history and today who have pushed the envelope of creativity and artistry and continue to do so.

 

 

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.

Wax Runoff: ARGOT 006

Perhaps my favorite release from Chicago-based label Argot came in the form of a two track 12” from well-loved hometown artist The Black Madonna in 2013. For a while this super bad piece of music was tough to find. Copies of the Lady of Sorrows E.P. were scarce and resale value was high. That’s why it was splendid that the label decided to go ahead and give it a repress last year.

The record is well-deserving of a spot in anyone’s collection partly due to it’s exploration of stylistic cues. Not quite house, not quite disco, and not quite techno – the sounds contained in the grooves are top quality and never seem to have an ambiguous moment, yet combine much of what is enjoyable about each genre.

The repress lacks an outer sleeve, which is a very acceptable price to pay for such expertly crafted tunes. The only sort of artwork involved is on the opposite side of the EP info: a sketch of clasped rosary hands. Indeed, the music on the record feels celestial, hopeful, weighted by guilt and elated by enlightenment.

The Black Madonna

ARGOT 006

“A Jealous Heart Never Rests” on the A-side (which if you’ve ever seen her perform) is quite honestly a perfect ode to the types of music she likes to play. Classic disco drum samples create a wonderful organic foundation upon which very dramatic chords in the form of a string quartet elicit an immediate emotional response. The tastiest aspect of the tune though is the marvelously chunky bass arpeggio that dances over the drums and around the various other tonal elements in the track. In fact, it’s deeply impressive how many different instruments make their way into the composition without clouding one another. A lot of objectively good dance music doesn’t often incorporate many sounds in key because it runs the danger of being too complex and preventing the notes that already exist from shining. Chicago house influence is not lost in this tune; halfway through, the obligatory warm chord stab triplet injects itself into the mix before the other elements come swirling back around everything. This track is full, strong, and not afraid – perfect for early to peak hour dancing.

On the flip side you will find “We Can Never Be Apart” and it takes the same sort of musical approach to construction. It’s always interesting when the same instruments are used to make all the tracks on an EP. The same bass arp instrument is present again, but more toned down this time around. Synthetic bells instead creep in to add layers and give it more life. The disco drums are back too, but play a more up front role. There is still a massive amount going on musically speaking, and it’s equally as impressive as the first time. Where the first tune is really a nod to house and more modern dance music, this second number seems to be more reminiscent of ’80s synthpop due to different phrase structuring and key shifts. That’s the trouble with trying to pin down The Black Madonna’s sound, though. She really doesn’t pigeonhole herself to a set template. Her music is tentative and liquid. I find all her work to be this fantastic intersection of style and class, prompting a sound that is very much all her own.

This record is still around some of your favorite outlets. Juno limited purchases to one per customer but it’s still a tad steep. The best way to get a new un-played copy is through Discogs and well worth the price. As if the repress didn’t indicate these are truly top-notch tunes, the soaring orchestral work coupled with incredibly strong drum arrangements will see you playing this record over and over again.

 

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.

Wax Runoff: PoEM 006

One of the records that I keep coming back to from the last month is Rick Wade’s deliciously dark Escapism EP. Detroit native Rick needs no introduction for most deep house fanatics. He’s been putting out quality house tunes since the mid 90s on respected labels like A Touch of Class, Viva!, and Moods and Grooves to name a few. The sorts of clichéd house maneuvers that can potentially trap new music into being terribly unexciting are expertly executed on his tracks.

When I saw this simple black paper sleeved 12” in the “New This Week!” bin at my local shop in February, I instantly snapped the last copy up. Having a penchant for the aesthetics of packaging and artwork (regardless of the legendary artist credit) I quite liked the three photos found on the center labels. On the info side: a human standing in the dark mouth of an enclave looking out into the light. On the other: a man giving two thumbs up on a crowded street corner full of people who seem not to notice him, and below, a lonely child climbing a snowy hill with his sled. These images really symbolized for me the reasons why we engage in escapism within the first place – an unrelenting feeling of being out of place and alone.

PoEM 006

The 45 RPM A-side which features the title track is easily the most stripped back and simple of the trio. An overpowering kick drum slamming it’s way through a heavily filtered chord that pitch shifts it’s way into a fabulously melancholic arrangement. A constant tape hiss in the background compliments the distant and downplayed snare drum, and the hi-hat pattern never falters from its straight 8th note on the upbeat. These elements come in and out while a gorgeous set of strings add to the atmosphere. The track lies somewhere between techno and house, and is incredibly rhythmic but remains simple in it’s scope.

Over to the B-side on 33 RPM lies the second composition, “Stand Alone”. This number is much more related to his classic style with more organic drum samples and a true house arrangement. Lovely electric piano note rolls accentuate each other over a descending chord progression that is equally as dark as the chords on A1. There’s so much to love about Rick’s effortless ability to showcase house music with his perfect call and response structure and reverbed reverse crash samples at the end of each phrase. Though more for the peak hour, this tune is just as laden with emotion as the other two.

The closing track “Understand” makes a journey back to fusion of styles by what I identify as heavy minimal techno breaks influence. The solid upbeat hi-hat samples are traded for a more skittering and syncopated rolling style. Complimenting this choice is a very energetic bassline that bounces up and down around the drums. My favorite aspect of this track though, is the crate-digger sample usage of an old after dinner type ballad record that features the words, “I understand – of course, you couldn’t know,” and the string quartet that originally accompanied the vocalist on that record. Rick adds in his own flare with dreamy piano scales amidst high-pitched chord wisps. Put all together the recording is majestic in theory and infectiously jacking by nature.

This record is seriously top-notch stuff from a well known and respected American producer. In addition to making outstanding music, Rick Wade is an absolute joy to experience in person, so make sure to catch his performance if you’re ever presented with the opportunity to do so. He is able to deliver that feeling and energy that takes the form of our most treasured exercise in escapism.

You should be able to find this record on the racks of more reputable brick and mortar record shops for around $10 but it’s still on Juno for an extremely agreeable price. If there’s a bundle you’re trying to procure on deejay.de act fast as it’s nearly sold out. Delightfully, the record has a perfect 5-star rating so far on Discogs. Whatever you end up paying, this piece of music comes highly recommended from your friends here at Sequencer.

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.

Wax Runoff: TFR002

The wonderful smell of dance music stew. It’s always satisfying to come across records that create a melting pot for different sounds to coalesce around one another and touch on many different tastes. Such is the case for TFR 002 which arrived mid-February to the anticipation of in-the-know techno goons and house heads. Berlin-based producer and sole proprietor Tolga Fidan’s second EP on the TFR imprint rounds the bases of stylistic influence but there is a tangible nod to excellent electro throughout the entire record.

With a white paper sleeve and black and white image of an old youthful cosmonaut on the center label, this tasty slab wasn’t easy to miss while flipping through the stacks. Recognizing the producer’s name from the bill for the recent third anniversary party at Berliner favorite spot Hoppetosse prompted me to bring it to the listening station, though, and I’m quite happy I did.

The first cut “Gertu” left an impression with it’s energetic house drum arrangement and simple bounce between sharp C and F string pads. The loops roll out in perfect layers accompanied by the gated pitters of mid 2000s electro. I haven’t seen many highly acclaimed records with this sort of sound recently and it’s really quite refreshing, so I ventured further down the grooves.

TFR002

“ZUNBS341” on A2 bestowed more of the same electro circuit blips on my hungry ears. A very similar chord back-and-forth to the first track appeared again, but the huge difference was the house drums having been ditched for a more breakbeat style kick and snare arrangement. There is killer bassline that relentlessly slinks up and down for the entirety on the tune leaving it with a thematically matched vibe to the first but ready to take on a different time and place on the dance floor.

I had to see what awaited on the B-side. The first drum beats of “Hoofe” let me know we would be dealing with a high-energy techno number. The fact that the almost identical two chord call and response structure was beginning to feel a tad stale was totally overruled by the acid skronks dancing around the electro machine spittle and incredibly slamming hi-hat clap layers dipping in and out of the arrangement. More spacey and expertly crafted to subtle perfection,  B1 was designed to be the music in a calisthenics class for the robots that will one day kill the last human and take over the world.

Perhaps the deepest cut on the record,  “Grand” finishes things up with the breaks rhythm arrangement popping in once more. There’s plenty of filter and resonance modulation in the pads to propel the composition through more noisy electro arps and one shots, but most noticeably hot acid stabs cause a very demanding urge to jack one’s body. This final tune nicely pulls together a record that is consistent and complete.

It’s the goal of any crate-digging mastermind to pull records from the bin that less people own and more people ask about when played. The trend of breaks with varied influence in minimal and techno styles has been a big one, and the commitment to solid electro synth sequences here is a refreshing move. I almost want to criticize the seemingly duplicate chord arrangements in each track, but the masterful control of machine and design leave the listener completely satisfied.

Unless you’re lucky enough to have a local shop with the knowledge to stock this vinyl-only gem, it can be found at various online outlets; my preferred spot is Juno due to lightning fast shipping, and stocks are dwindling but it’s still available over at Decks for slightly more than you’ll pay on Discogs. I would not be surprised to hear these cuts slip into the sets of tastemakers in the techno, minimal, and even house realms during the coming months. Enjoy the wonderful congregation of styles, and as always, keep digging my friends.

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.

 

Wax Runoff: REKIDS100

Accomplishing 100 releases is no small feat. Many great record labels have barely made it to 25 and  often times less. Yet Matt Edward’s Rekids imprint has stood the test of time and output, recently celebrating 10 years of existence and adding a second zero onto that figure for the release count with last week’s entry Another Club / Feel The Same hitting store shelves and internet pages.

The hundredth release comes courtesy of Edwards himself via his Radio Slave alias. Having had a reputation over the years for putting out hard hitting techno, house fusion with a touch of disco occasionally dashed in, it was fabulous to see Rekids’ big milestone be a true iteration of their classic form. Telling of the tracks within, the artwork contains no bells or whistles. Just timeless, oversized Fonzie-cool black and white lettering – straight to the point and sure to catch the eye of anyone flipping through the crates.

Radio Slave Rekids

REKIDS100

The lead off number “Another Club” sets in with a deep and powerful techno kick drum. Saturated, full to the point of having a tonal hum, and unrelenting. The ubiquitous half step 8th note hi-hat cut into the mix while a tape delayed vocal sample marks the phrase every 32 beats. A sharp decay stab works it’s way in, along with an eventual ride cymbal. Yes, the track is extremely predictable, incredibly formulaic, and not quite innovative by any means. But what is so satisfying about the tune is that it does what we know to be the tried and true in a remarkably solid fashion. There are no gimmicks here; no reverb attempts to glue the mix together, and no pads attempt to cover up shoddy drum work. The track is instead an extremely raw eight and a half minute dance floor stomper aimed at propelling the already charged club goers ever onward into peak hour bliss. This is by no means the type of track to get skeptics into the house and techno sound, but it is, however, a tune that quenches the thirst within hardened veterans for pure unabridged drum machine sound offs.

On the flip, “Feel The Same” accomplishes much of the same goals and as far as I can tell uses the same drum machine and synthesizer. There’s more swing here in the hi-hats though, and the synth stabs play more of a present and varied role. Weird squeak and siren sounds are also found on constant loop along with a hypnotizing vocal repeat. Overall the track is more exploratory, but still resolves itself to be a floor shaking selection for when there are shoulders from wall to wall.  As noted by others, this track feels markedly like heyday Detroit tunes, and very likely was made with less than 12 channels in the recording.

It’s easy to love records like this. They don’t need to be interesting or exciting to create those warm and pleasant feelings the best kind of dance music leaves us with. I very affectionately refer to these types of tunes as “traxxx” – numbers whose excellent simplicity and cutting edge engineering make very grand gestures through the most modest and stripped means. They are humble reminders that limitation can be a wonderful tool in producing some of the most phenomenal compositions.

REKIDS100 is floating around all the usual points of interest. It’s sold out on deejay.de but still available on Juno and Decks. My local shop had two copies left as of this past weekend. Some goon has already posted it on Discogs for $14.77 in anticipation of the hype, so be sure to grab it now while it’s still available for the price intended. Support the label if these sorts of tunes are your cup of tea, and I’ll see you at another club with no sleep, and another club, and another, and another…

 

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.

Wax Runoff: CGI017

While the southern region of the United States has made great contributions to the stylistic development of many different music genres, outside of Miami, there is notably a lack of influence on dance music. This is why I was very surprised to discover the Atlanta-based CGI Records while perusing the racks of my local techno peddler.

Beginning in 2013, they are now on their 17th release as of February. All of the releases had me personally questioning how I had never heard of them before. Each of them possess a forward thinking aura about them, straying from the rule book while making sure to have a classicism that prevents too close a brush with the avant-garde.

Queens, NY producer Love Letters serves up the latest installment with four quality cuts that each hit a different part of the techno palette on the  Suburban Attractive Complex release.

LOVE LETTERS

CGI017

A1 “Who Was Driving” leads things off with a very infectious club workout for the sweatiest moments on the dance floor. Perhaps the most straightforward track of the bunch rhythmically speaking, this track makes use of a very simple audio gate on the spoken sample, to input from the drums. Living proof that it really doesn’t take much to keep a solid techno track interesting.

Track 2 on the A-side “F+” gets an eerie vibe going with significantly over-driven and distorted kicks under faint white noise wisps and barely noticeable organ/string patches. A simple mid-bass synth loops throughout, while the more creepy harmonies build and fall along with reverb drums. It’s very easy to tell that like it’s siblings, this track was undoubtedly made with all analogue instruments – powerful even when faint.

Switching over to the flip side, “Sporty Presentation” features an assertive bassline that injects itself around more sparse rhythm. The track gets a chance to breathe a bit more than the previous two, with more of a melodic exploration. It does pick up halfway through with a classic open hi-hat sound on the upbeat but overall this one is deeper, more musical, and just as enjoyable.

The final tune, “Digital Favoritism”, comes closer to the realm of house music. The drum machine is still present, the expertly crafted analogue synths are still there, but there is heartfelt emotion here to close things out. Perhaps the most interesting, is that in such a beautifully harmonic track, Love Letters still reminds us of the fleeting comfort in life by detuning the synth work periodically. The result is something that’s perfectly poignant, but also wrong. Additionally it is notable that this is the only song on the record longer than seven minutes – in fact closer to eight – and my personal favorite.

This record is another great example of the limitless creativity artists can achieve with very limited tools. It sounds as though the same drum machine and synthesizer was used for the entire record, yet each track goes down a different path and reaches a different destiny. It’s also an example of limited press runs that slide under the radar and don’t get the price gouged reputation of so many other releases limited to 300 copies.

You can get a hold of the vinyl with high quality digital as well for $11 straight from the label. And while many limited releases are lackluster in terms of art and design aesthetics, this record features tempting hand stamp artwork from Stephanie Cheng which I very much hope will continue on more CGI records releases.

 

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.