In theory, the best records of the year will appear in the next three months, as producers and labels strive to achieve that glorious and elusive thing - an underground hit for the summer season, this year's 'Phonix' or 'Wombat' or, God willing, an outright anthem, a 'Geht's Noch' or 'Mandarine Girl'. It's funny how it happens, dancefloor canonization - sometimes a record really needs time. I remember Chardronnet vs Afrilounge's 'Phonix', when it came out at the beginning of May last year, selling copies because it was on Poker Flat (and, furthermore, hot on the heels of Trentemoller's mind-boggling 'Polar Shift'), but being dismissed by many (myself included) as too straightforward, a little bit, well, disappointing - certainly a few miles short of a classic. By the end of the summer, what we'd intially thought to be little more than a tech-house makeweight had absolutely slain dancefloor after after dancefloor - and we all came round to realizing what a phenomenal production it was. So, who knows, things that we're quick to condemn in Spring could be, after a summer's dancing, clutched tightly to our hearts by Autumn. I mean, can you believe, I actually fucking dismissed 'Mandarine Girl' as 'boring' the first few times I heard it. Mandarine Girl. What foolishness. So, it's with some caution that I leap into a quick survey of some of the fortnight's significant releases. But first, if you haven't heard it, it's about time....
Chardronnet vs Afrilounge - Phonix // Poker Flat
Softie's New Release Round-Up
So, Booka Shade (pictured left) havefinally seen fit to release their long-awaited Night Falls EP. I've talked lengthily about this record before, and at the time I panned the title track. Well, you'll have to forgive me for contradicting myself, because 'Night Falls' is actually super-fine: I guess the best and worst thing about it is that it sounds SO much like a Booka Shade record. In other words, the quality is high, but the progressions and hooks are mightily predictable. Still, Arno & Walter recycle their winning blueprint well - a wobbly, irresistibly melodic bassline does the hard work, while a trancey build half-way through ensures dancefloor popularity, but, as always with Booka tunes, it's the intricate, clicky and kinetic percussion sounds that really make the thing fly. All in all, 'Night Falls' sounds like it could be one of the better cutts off Memento, holding more in common with the future-disco sounds of 'Vertigo' than the skyscraping E-peakage of 'Mandarine Girl'. The B-sides, too, are more than merely competent - 'Trespass 06' is the one I'll be playing out, driven as it is by a narcy, insistent synth pattern and exquisite drum programming that falls somewhere between disco snap and minimal twitch. 'The Spectralist' is probably the most forceful dancefloor track on the EP, sci-fi-jugular tech-house which gives way to an absolute killer break four minutes in, luxuriantly draped with interlocking synth lines. The main riff, essentially one note repeated and echoed, will sound colossal on any half-decent system and, once again, the drum track is superb. If nothing else, the Night Falls EP provides ample proof that Booka Shade are top-of-their-game producers, but the fact is - we knew that already. On the one hand, I feel inclined to rubbish their new work because it hasn't had the same impact on me as 'Body Language' and 'Mandarine Girl' - but that would be churlish, because though nothing on Night Falls holds a candle to those twin peaks of post-electro-house, it's a fuck sight better than most things I've heard this year. OK, the futurist in me has (I like to think) already moved on to more sophisticated sounds, but even if Booka Shade's innovatory period is over, their ability to make some of the most energetic, dramatic and ultimately rewarding club tracks out there remains undimmed. In particular, the B-sides here, if well deployed, will captivate any decent 'floor, for sure.
If there's one thing you can say about Border Community, it's that they sure as hell don't flood the market with releases. This week finally sees the arrival of 'Big City/Dark Water' from Lazy Fat People (pictured right. I know, cheap.), both sides of which have been floating around the internet for God knows how long. It's 'Big City', which featured on Holden's recent At The Controls mix, that's the real winner here ('Dark Water' sounds like trippy nonsense to me) - breathy, padded house driven by a tremulous, uplifting riff of that usual anthemic BC quality. However, those of you who, like me, are still coming to terms with quite how special ‘Gazebo’ was, shouldn’t expect such heights of druggy majesty on this nonetheless impressive release (NOTE: Rayon/Ripperton, who's previously released on RebelOne and Connaisseur, is one half of LFP). Cio D’or, kind of minimal’s answer to Miss Kittin, unleashes a new three-tracker for Karmarouge. The lead track occupies exactly the proggy, brooding territories which we all like to visit of a gurnsome 5am, but there’s nothing on this 12” as superlative as D’or’s delicious Treibstoff single ‘Hocus Pocus’. Butane’s new EP, Visualize The Path, kicks off with a wild mash-up of The Spice Girl’s ‘Wannabe’ and Gnarls Barkley’s ‘Crazy’. No, you’re right, it doesn’t, it’s actually another healthy dose of hardline, rhythmic minimalism that’s mightily respectable if a little too uncompromising to win him any new fans. John Tejada wheels out his I’m Not A Gun project for an LP, We Think As Instruments, on City Centre Offices – folky, jazz-inflected landscapes delivered with an electronic precision befitting Palette’s finest..The result sounds, perhaps, as Tortoise would have done, circa Standards, if they hadn’t gone completely off-the-boil. But somehow not as good as that description makes it sound. If it’s jazz/techno hybridizing that you’re after, look no further than ‘Study for a Skyscraper’ by Roman Flugel & Christopher Dell. I’ve raved about their LP, Superstructure, here in the past, and that album is still worth checking if you want to hear the pair’s consummate fusion of harsh 4x4 shapes and instrumental colour properly, spaciously defined. Still, the busy, grinding remix provided by, of all people, A Guy Called Gerald (pictured left), is reason enough to part with your cash for the 12”. The first instalment of DJ Koze's Kosi Comes Around remixes is out too this week; Farben lends a deep, bubbling groove to ‘My Grandmotha’ - mighty fine, but leaves me pining for the elegant, gritty simplicity of Koze’s original; Audion sets to work on ‘Raw’, producing a, er, raw acidic throbber which will do no doubt do far more damage out than at home. For me, the highlight of the package is Koze’s own reading of ‘Bobby’, a relaxed, deep house cruiser faintly reminiscent of Steve Bug’s ‘Sei’ remix. Something for everyone on this Kompakt release, but I’m still waiting for the rave-tastic ‘Don’t Feed The Cat’ to get the single pressing it so richly deserves. Run for your lives, because Duoteque has decided to sing on his new EP for Boxer, Daki.. If you can keep ears closed long enough to locate The MFA’s instrumental mix on the other side, you’ll be glad you did – the BPitch boys insert a momentous build and a sick, Gigolos-esque synth riff that’ll rip your dancefloor to shreds. Paul Woolford’s new fifteen-minute monster also hit the shelves this week, but such is the excessive hype attendant on everyone’s favourite Erotic Discourser, that the first batch of copies has long since sold out; believe me, it’s not all that – a systematic assault of (fairly tired) acid noises that, I admit, will probably melt a few brains when inflicted on a dancefloor. But still – are all these Dubsided/Made to Play guys really worth the attention they’re getting? City 16 have got hold of some more whites of Rub N Tug’s Beastie Boys re-edit – the vocal mix is, in its way, probably the best, certainly the fattest, thing I’ve heard this month (if anyone gets hold of an mp3, for God’s sake, please leave a comment). Another score for Thomas and Eric (pictured right) who, after their emergence from the punk-funk birthing pool a couple of years back, seem to have found their natural home in the wilful perversity of the nu-disco edit sphere. Pier Bucci and Jay Haze are on remix duty for Decibel’s Versus EP on Mineral, with the former’s version displaying all the usual warmth, and attention to detail. M83 remix Telex, and I haven’t made my mind up yet about the result; while my favourite tune this week is probably Williams’ remix of synth-pop pranksters Ignition (whose single ‘Love is War’ was memorably acidified by Chicken Lips). Once again, Wills shows too fingers to modishness with a melodious electro-house barnstormer that invites us to party like it’s 2004. I don’t know about you, but I gleefully accept.
Before I sign off, let me point you towards the Diary section of Damian Lazarus’s site, where everyone’s favourite self-aggrandising Rebel describes, in fantastic detail, his recent trip Stateside for the WMC - tales of losing Hawtin’s laptop, Bucci & Luciano bowling and Holden in a bikini abound. I was annoyed that I couldn’t make it down for Lazarus’s free, all-day Stink special yesterday, where Chloe, Magda and Clive Henry were joining the usual crew to dispense some electro-tech badness for the bank holiday. I return to university tomorrow (my last term ever. Fuck.), so you’ll have to forgive me if posts are few and far between for a few days as I re-acclimatize in embarrassingly time-honoured student fashion. I’ll be working at FACT magazine the week after, so with any luck I’ll have some Barleyish happenings to report to you then.
Telex - How Do You Dance (M83 Remix)// EMI