The best new singles this week
The tip top 45s you can’t afford to miss this week
SINGLE OF THE WEEK
Goldie – Inner City Life (London)
Goldie’s mid-90s masterpiece, Timeless was an album as complex as it was dazzling and ushered in a new chapter in the history of the electronic music. Remastered last year as part of its 25th anniversary commemorations, seminal piece Inner City Life has been re-presented as a bountiful remix package and displays a dizzying spectrum of style, sound and imagination.
Sitting alongside the remastered original, both Binary State and dBrdige have revitalised the lynchpin drum & bass cut as an up-to-the-minute statement of our times. And the super mellow and famed noughties [Re:Jazz] cover of the track completes a seismic package soon to be released as a limited edition 12-inch.
Despite receiving spartan radio play on its release, Inner City Life reached no.6 in the Dance Charts and eventually went Top 40 in the Official Singles Chart in 1995. It delivered the new sound of the ghetto and has ever since been celebrated as a unique blend of sublime strings and electronic atmospheres that contains the mesmerising voice of the late-great Diane Charlemagne.
The Binary State remix is an unashamed, devilled-up bouncer. A stunning slab of house groove, and a techno rush that not so much challenges the original but instead opens up further the far-reaching uniqueness of the jungle classic for all to see.
With its accelerated tempo, the Sonic Nostalgia mix by dBridge is a tooled-up, pin-sharp affair – a little more knowing perhaps as a quarter of a century down the line we observe the toppling of statues, a mounting pile of burning injustices and squandered national opportunities – it remains as relevant as it ever did as Charlemagne’s haunting vocal ensnares the uncertainty and vulnerability of our jagged times.
Musically and texturally, Inner City Life is a monument to staying power. Sonically, its level of intensity will always remain, and new mixes can only guarantee the track remains as uncompromising as ever.
Sound on Sound – Macho (Omaggio)
Omaggio Records continue to elicit awe as they carry out their noble quest to deliver unto the world obscure sonic pearls from the off-kilter archives. The Italian label have made a habit of shining light on particularly alluring music that deliciously bridges the gap between saccharine and experimental, with lesser-known slices of boogie, disco, proto-house and Italo-tinged gold routinely resuscitated via the Omaggio re-issue treatment. Latent unclassics from the likes of Maggotron, Klaps, and Jiraffe are among those to have been offered new leases of life since the label launched under the Strictly Groove umbrella back in 2016, and on their latest release, it’s the solitary effort from Belgian new wave outfit Sound On Sound that graces the roster. The original ‘Macho/Depression’ release appeared in 1984 as a 7” on Belgium’s Colour Red label, and copies of which currently change hands for eye-watering sums in resale land.
Sound On Sound was a one-off collaboration between Chris Nachtergaele and prolific producer, songwriter, and arranger Peter Gillis – the latter of whom boasts an incredibly long list of collaborative studio credits spanning five decades. ‘Macho’ explodes with mid-eighties optimism: its rousing chant chorus bursting from the speakers over a simultaneously raw but funk-flecked bed of squelchy synth bass, guitar licks, and effervescent toms. It’s a fantastic three-and-a-half minutes of music, but arguably even better is the flipside track – the (somewhat inappropriately titled) ‘Depression’. The sound pallet shares much with the A-side, as does the unabashed combustion of energy and looseness of the arrangement. Reverb heavy snare hits power the groove as irresistible synth stabs and vocal calls rise over sinister bass notes, The cut builds and breaks triumphantly, resolving all too briefly before the most abrupt of endings. This one is ripe for an extended edit or – at the very least – a well-executed rewind.
Yao Bobby & Simon Grab – Black Revolution (LavaLava)
Originally released in 2020, this collaborative effort by Yao Bobby and Simon Grab could not only be described as a protest song, but an electronic – African influenced melting pot designed to awaken even the most conscious of minds. Laced with politically charged lyrics, over a breaking raucous beat, the track becomes a call to the masses. Orchestrated after the murder of George Floyd in the States, it is easy to say this is a reaction to the protests State side and worldwide linked to Black Lives Matter, however Yao is ready to remind us that this goes deeper than that. Yao raps in his native Togolese about police brutality, equality and justice for all, while touching briefly on the historical problems still affecting communities today. Listeners will be able to hear the frustration in his lyrics and his voice as he talks about the current social climate surrounding identity politics. His only words in English are the most powerful and call for unity within his community and others with “Black Revolution. Power to the people”.
Simon Grab beautifully crafted heavy drums and bass added to this track alongside taken audio samples from news reports to further drive home the underlying message. The Ibaaku remix is a way to further demonstrate the revolution working alongside the Senagalese artist. By not stripping back the original track, he implements his own style, known as Afro-Hypnotic, and creates a kalimba-esque listening experience. Showcasing the new ‘Sound of Africa’, the track is a great adventure in exploring dance experimental music on the continent, and dare I say an introduction into the African electronic scene. This new reissue may be limited to 100 copies, however when designed and featuring the artwork of Cedric Kouamè this transforms this release into a collectors item. This is definitely a record to add to a growing collection.
Love Drop – We Got to Get Our Shit Together (lavaLava)
Love Drop presents a limited press release ready for the basement clubs and heavy on the summer vibes. With lockdowns easing and new plans being made for the reintroduction of nightlife, he couldn’t have picked a better time to remind people what it’s all about. The first track is an elegantly produced disco jam laced with orchestral strings that keeps building to big horns and backed by a grand bass. It’s no surprise it feels like it was made to make listeners feel the groove and keep moving right from the start. The second track on the EP ‘Let It Go’ has a much warmer feel and tone backed with sultry vocals.
Compared to the orchestral feel the last track had, this one easily replaced that with more synths that made Love Drop known for. Not just produced for the dancers, but also with the singers in mind as listeners can’t help but sing along with this upbeat track. This brilliant disco effort can’t help but usher in big 70’s disco dance floor energy. With every note hitting the right spot, the record is a prime piece of nu-disco music that music lovers will enjoy pressing play on again and again.
DJ Smurphy – Summer Riddim / Montegod (Duppy Gun / Bokeh Versions)
Forget stocking up on sunscreen, shades and parasols; Duppy Gun has all you need for this summer (provided you own a tape deck and are willing to spend the entire time inside). Here comes ‘Summer Riddim’ and ‘Montegod Riddim’, a definitive double-sided collection featuring all your favourite artists from the Portmore label: RDL, I Jahbar, DJ Smurphy, G Sudden, King Kush, Any Voice and Prapastar. The A-side is a new release, whereas the B is a re-release of their last November comp.
It’s an exciting move for DG, who typically focus on the efforts of individual artists. We open with ‘Dem Nuh Real’, which, rather than succumbing to the label’s trademark effected production warpings that might smother the lyrics, allow G Sudden’s vibe and melody to shine through. This trend continues through to ‘Where You Did Dah’, which cements King Kush’s relentless voxicisms via trademark, tasteful over-compression and no-nonsense melody-beats.
RDL’s ‘Neva Know’ ups the weirdness, with icy synth ducking below dissonant hook and breathy ‘hey’ sample. As with RDL’s former release ‘Streets’, there are teasings of sentimentality, but they never quite deliver; the rug is swept from beneath it, as his flow becomes decidedly more aggressive. At the closing statement “sound it!”, we’ve decided it’s the EP’s anthem of choice.
The B returns to summer-worthiness, with four artists providing various takes on DJ Smurphy’s timeless instrumental ‘Montegod Riddim’. Any Voice’s ‘Do Me So’, which incrementally ups the instrumental’s pace, is perfect for soundsystem blastings, reminiscent of what you might hear emanating from some locationless bluetooth speaker in the park on one of those timeless summer days (something we all crave). Reverb boxy, hook enchanting, intonation virulent. Again, melodies are subtly removed on occasion, and you’re simply left with flow, drums and bass; no track delivers this better than ‘Gold Mine’, on which Prapastar’s voice, the lowest and deepest of the bunch, wins the prize for vibiest, most gung-ho gab.
Persian / Vertigo Inc. / Asian Psilocybe / Afrobuddha – Foundation Alchemy (Mysticisms)
A four-track barrage of all you need. With alchemy being an art of blending and mixing, this EP, curated by new dance fixture Mysticisms and bringing together four monumental artists, really does turn water to wine, lead to gold.
Jonny Rock’s ‘Slightly Tingled Worrior Edit’ of Persian’s ‘Worries’ is far more than ‘slightly tingled’; let’s try thoroughly trembled. Perhaps it’s had one too many coffees. It heads into new territory for this brand of speed garage; extra drum embellishments, effortlessly swung, populate the mix in places where most records dare not to go, sounding like dub-delayed cartoon punch sound effects. Vertigo Inc. ‘Numbers’ signals the housier of this EP’s musical affairs, with bleeps n’ bloops contrasting with a bossy UK funky groove. Vocals tease and murmurate, while percussive clicks and cuts stutter and slush across the stereo field. It makes castanets sound like a Star Trek control room, blurring the lines between the futuristic and the homely.
Asian Psilocybe Foundation delivers exactly what their name implies; ‘Wave Control’ is a midday house vibe for a micro-festival in the forest, and only your closest friends are invited. It builds slowly but surely, with a slapping, percussive synth sound (almost like a wet fish, or a jackhammer) securing the track’s more driving groove. And finally, rounding off the EP is Treat’s mix of Afrobuddha’s ‘Obame’, on which we are urged to “find the eternal” in the dance artist’s downtempo fleshing-out of only the most pure, folkish elements of the original. We certainly do. With this remix having originally found itself on Round In Motion’s three-track single for Afrobuddha, it now finds extra peace in its placement here, bringing the most alchemical potency of all the tracks. In a pillar of smoke, our listening session has produced only the most dazzling of high-purity yields; sonic platinum, noble tech house.
Risque III – Essence Of A Dream (remastered) (Dark Entries)
Perennial masters of the re-issue Dark Entries once again excel themselves here, this time presenting the debut studio offering from Chicago house hero, K’Alexi Shelby. Recorded under his short-lived Risque III moniker – alongside his cousin and studio mentor, Mr Lee – ‘Essence of a Dream’ is an unparalleled early house classic and a must-have for any self-respecting connoisseur of the sound. Shelby’s journey into house music began right at the source, when, as a 12-year-old, he befriended Ron Hardy and Frankie Knuckles while immersed in the electric milieu of legendary venues, Music Box and Warehouse. Summoning the distinct essence of this fertile creative ground, his debut EP overflows with an effortless nocturnal edge and unambiguously affecting sleaze. ‘Essence of a Dream’ rolls over hypnotic bass while urgent percussion enlivens the groove.
Haunting strings add a sinister edge while Shelby’s erotically charged vocals – apparently laid down in one take – add an irresistibly seductive pull. On the reverse, the deviant bump of ‘Risque Madness’ was recorded as a tribute to Ron Hardy, with its menacing stabs charging over disorienting pads, hyperactive claps and maniacal vocal chops. Both tracks have been carefully remastered by George Horn at Fantasy Studios, and the re-issue comes complete with liner notes from K’Alexi himself. In a word, essential.
Mh / Rfx – Canto-Cub-House vol1 (Fauve)
Hong Kong’s Fauve Records have made a habit of breathing new life into esoteric pearls from the global dance vaults, and on their latest effervescent package, they deliver four well-manicured reworks from the vibrant Cantonese disco repository. Label boss RFX shares the wax with Hong Konger MH to reconstruct the diligently researched source material, transforming the originals into club-ready jams designed to slot effortlessly into eclectic-minded DJ sets. The pounding drums and stripped sonics of ‘Track 1’ are dominated by an assertive vocal lead before exquisite synth melodies power in to add gravity to the groove.
The boogie-tinted synth leads, call-and-response vocals and percussive flex of ‘Track 2’ are guaranteed to bring a smile to even the sternest of digger’s faces, while the spirited acid charm and vocoder-tinged allure of ‘Storm’ overflows with hi-energy vigour. The unashamedly feel-good ’80s sheen of closing track ‘Midnight Queen’ sees the EP home in flamboyant style, transporting the listener firmly into the driving seat of a Lamborghini cruising through the steam of late-night Hong Kong under glorious city lights. The Fauve team once again prove they mean business, digging deeper than most to ensure their edit series continues to offer surprises and enjoyment in approximately equal measure.
This week’s reviewers: Patrizio Cavaliere , Ava Yusuf, Jude Iago James, Oli Warwick, AP Childs