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The best new singles this week

This week’s nicest singles rounded up with a critical lasso by our team of tune-wrangling writers


Nimbus Quartet – Fo On Da Flo (Sounds)

Nimbus Quartet is a collaborative project from US Midwest techno legend Woody McBride and his long time ally Dave Stevens. While they only recorded two records under the name in the mid 90s, the legend of the project has lived on in the hearts and minds of feverish house and techno diggers. It’s telling that Parisian label Lazare Hoche picked up on the Nimbus magic and reissued a few tracks back in 2013. Now though, the key release from 1995, Fo On Da Flo, gets a proper treatment on McBride’s own Sounds. label, packing heavyweight house grooves across two 12”s remastered and cut loud for the DJs.

There’s a fine balance to Nimbus Quartet – on one hand its tough, upfront and no-nonsense, sporting that rave-ready demeanour Woody McBride has built his name on. Equally though, there’s a subtlety and softness in Nimbus which contrasts with some of McBride’s more raging techno. Take ‘Deep Blue Deep Green’, which twists up a panoply of jazz and blues licks and straps them to a punchy-as-hell beat. It’s totally direct, and yet there’s an air of mystery bleeding out around the foundational elements of the track, nudging it into a more meditative headspace.

It’s not all mellow and moody though. On ‘Duplicity’, McBride and Stevens let rip with gnarly machine bug-outs and a jacked up 909 beat pitched right at the heart of the rave. But it’s the smokier jams that create the real magic around this release, such as the thumping but deep-diving ‘Mouch Touch’ and ‘Later Lover’. The jazziness is pitched just right, sensitive to the source material but with any fat trimmed off. These are club cuts first and foremost, made for DJs to rock a party the right way. There’s no great mystery  – no sense of ‘how did they do that’? But records such as these hark back to a sense of liberation, when a kick-ass track was enough without being dressed up in concept or conceit. Listen to the funk of the drums, trip out on the Rhodes lick, and get your jack on.


Wet Silk / Shelley Pearse / Thomas & Taylor – Wet Silk (Mixed Signals)

Stripped early house flavours aren’t necessarily sounds one would readily associate with esteemed soul duo Lamar Thomas and Judy Taylor, but that’s more or less what the diligent Mixed Signals diggers have unearthed on this supremely collectable EP. Thomas & Taylor are best-known for their sugar-coated crossover soul output – which included tender ballad ‘I Love You’ and mainstream UK hit ‘You Can’t Blame Love’. The Wet Silk project was a rare jaunt into adventurous electronic realms, and while the feel is decidedly different from the pair’s stock material, a glance at the production credits reveals the probable source of the edgy sonics. A long-term friend of Thomas, disco alchemist Patrick Adams produced numerous titles for the husband and wife pair, but here we find him in the throes of full-blown club experimentation and the resulting music is really rather special.

The brilliantly bawdy ‘Let Me Do You Baby’ Thomas & Taylor’s extraordinarily suggestive duet soars seductively over Adam’s compelling backing track, as driving 808 beats power the cut through lively piano stabs, lush strings, and infectious guitar riffs. Previously only released via 1989’s ‘The Soul Of New York’ compilation of Thomas & Taylor productions, you’d have had to shell out some serious dough to own a copy before Mixed Signals came to the rescue, so the A-side in itself is well worth the purchase. But the delight doesn’t end there. The ever-giving label managed to squeeze a pair of equally-collectable Thom/Tay numbers on the reverse. Adams’ hyper-rare house mix of ‘If You Want My Love’ by Shelly Pearse brims with mid-tempo sleaze, as delayed vocals, dubby horn stab and rolling congas ride over sinister bass notes and reverb-soaked snares. Finally, the instrumental version of ‘I’ll Be Waiting’ lifts the mood exponentially, with carefree leads permeating a bed of glassy chords, pads and guitar licks over an inescapably feel-good arrangement.


Kerrie –  Inner Space Pt 1 (Dark Machine Funk)

Overall, Manchester-based producer Kerrie is a relative newcomer whose publicly visible career only stretches back a few years, but she comes across with the experience and presence of someone long invested in the culture. As her earliest release on Don’t Be Afraid attested, the Eastern Bloc-employee has a clear-sighted angle on her sound. It’s not a pristine end result though, but rather a grubby, underground sound in thrall to dingy, humid basements and strobelit spectacles. Interestingly, the sound she presents on her new label Dark Machine Funk has a certain duality which feels like it could be comfortable in a closely packed space as much as a bigger rave.

‘Phantom Self’ is the kind of knotty techno that never tires on the ears. In essence, the ingredients are straightforward, but Kerrie’s craft lies in the edits, chops, fills and interruptions she throws down on the beat, as well as the jagged FX touches she teases over most of the ingredients. The metallic ping of a tightly timed delay adds a richly harmonic layer to the central percussive thread on the track, tickling your most malfunctioning electro synapses in the process. ‘Humanizing’ also features an approach to a specific sound carrying the identity of the track – in this case an atonal, ring modulated bleep tone, which feels like a powerful trigger for dancefloor delirium.

It’s ‘Object of Desire’ which sees Kerrie laying down her electro tendencies more explicitly though, whipping up an assuredly noirish strain which sits somewhere between the grittiest UK tackle and that dirty Dutch Bunker-esque sound. It’s no happy clappy trend-following tool, but a strain of body-popping badness which more than lives up to the name of the artist’s new label. 


Rising Sun – Realism II (Reality Used To Be A Friend Of Mine)

The name of Rising Sun’s newest imprint – Reality Used To Be A Friend Of Mine – hits oddly close to home. It used to be a friend of ours, too, until we were met with the Steffen Laschinski’s gut-wrenching approach to music. It dawned on us: we’d much rather escape into his fantasy – grasping after his dense smogs of strings, boomy cloud kicks, and lilting melancholia – than stay locked into this pestilent plane of existence.

In its ability to shred heartstrings, the deep house and techno style Rising Sun goes for is archetypal, but only a few artists have properly touched on its tropes (Hugo Massien, Hiroshi Watanabe, DJ Healer are but to name a few). Perhaps there’s an explanation for this. Certain styles of music are just too powerful to take in; I don’t doubt many listeners would avoid this style purely for its sense of unadulterated bliss, which harder hearts can find frightening. But for a certain cohort, this stuff hits the spot.

This week, Rising Sun returns for the second piece in his ‘Realism’ series, remaining fiercely loyal to himself and only one other artist – the anonymous Ambientist. Whether the alias is simply yet another of Laschinski’s guises becomes irrelevant on first listen. Their second remix of ‘Give Me Love’ – the original is nowhere to be found – hears a boomier, breaksier take on the garage-sheltered original, with an indeterminate sound, lying somewhere orchestral stringwork and sheer ambient cold, gradually brightening over restless yearner vocals.

The real star of the show is Rising Sun’s ‘Hirosaki’, which develops like a divine sea monkey in sped-up timelapse, while twinkling arpeggiations fade in and out of fibrous obscurity. Out of this mindful breakbeat meditation come strange chamber instruments; one lonesome violin breaks from the stringed crowd, whilst a mid-tune breakdown heralds some dubby overtones lap above the watery mix, like the spinner-breaching of a void Cetacean.


Scapling – Flood (Houndstooth)

Long-form techno-rock didn’t properly occur to us as a viable concept until Scalping entered our airspace a couple of years ago. This humble reviewer witnessed the four-piece band’s relentless live show in Cornwall in 2019; eyes were widened by their glossy visuals, abiding playing and floppy Bristol hair, all of which collided on an outdoor concert area which, by the show’s end, was sodden with bootstomped grass and dripping with pre-COVID zoomer energy.

And, when your sonic vision is so singular – “the sound of a metal band crashing a techno DJ set” – who needs stylistic progression? ‘Flood’ is a continuation of their drive to clash punk with 4×4 electro and techno, making it just as suitable for some snappy electro party as it would be for an Alan Vega tribute show. As evidenced over the four tracks, their approach subverts the usually unwritten rules of proggy electronic drance; the kicks are acoustic and the basses are synthy, not the other way around. Our choice cut is the closer ‘Empty Cascade’, which ups the tempo, and douses itself in Millsart bells and trembling sixteenth hats. Earlier in the EP, ‘The Flood’ scopes out several tempi, exploring multiple takes on a disconcerting, authoritarian acid line. Today’s mullet-rockers will have to be careful, as this EP might just blow those mops off.


Various Artists – ANSIA005 (Ansia)

Piezo is exactly the kind of anomalous artist that deserves every bit of praise he gets. An Italian producer with an uncanny affinity for the ruffest, weirdest strains of underground UK soundsystem music, Luca Mucci is nonetheless staunchly individual in his approach. No one makes fizzing, pinging bass wreckers quite like him. His Ansia label operates in a similar fashion to the early days of Wisdom Teeth, Timedance et al, functioning as a vessel for his own sound but also marking out the mutant field he operates in with like-minded misfits. This new various artists 12” help further define the odd shape of this stomping ground with just the right kinds of wonky mavericks. BFTT is up first, serving a tightly-clipped slice of broken beat pressure slithering with molten low end and popping up top with a cavalcade of three-dimensional blips and wriggles.

Metrist flies his freak flag high too, dealing in a sound palette that could belong to some of the twitchier mid 00s minimal miscreants, had they hit the protein shakes and gone to a few more dub dances. Piezo’s own offering is a manic affair that piles the drums on in thick strokes, and then liberally pours at least five fluro sauces over the top of it, but the heaviest spot is reserved for Mexico’s Siete Catorce on the B2. Riding in on a hard-edged jack track with more than a whiff of juke about it, his ‘Serrano’ is fast and frantic, but it’s also deft and detailed. Whether it sits right in the club or confounds everyone present remains to be seen – we’ll be waiting for your findings.


Esteban Adame – Chicano Boombox (Yexteq)

Former Los Hermanos and Galaxy 2 Galaxy member Esteban Adame lands on Dan Caballero’s excellent Yaxteq label with the predictably vibe-heavy ‘Chicano Boombox EP’. Having previously released solo outings via Mister Saturday Night, Subject Detroit, Major People, and Ican among others, this is the first time in three years that we’ve heard new music from the UR alumnus, so its arrival is certainly something to savour. Opening track ‘Rush The Floor’ bursts with energy as detuned chords explode over bumping drums, bubbling and building to a latent dance-floor fervour over a typically solid arrangement. ‘Deep Function’ employs similar characteristics while adding stirring layers of emotion, as its dreamy top-line arrives magnificently over the captivating chords and chunky drum track.

The unrivalled beauty of ‘Still Here’ ups the ante even further with its intensely evocative melodic hook combining almost overpoweringly with its rousing rhythm and harmonic layers. Closing track ‘The Promise’ completes a simultaneously elegant and forceful collection, with rich pads evolving over tough drums and thick bass while life-affirming strings soar across the skyline. The entire record is immaculately conceived, magically blending a profound depth of feeling with dance-ready focus. Very few artists manage to achieve this breathtaking combination so successfully, but with his pedigree beyond question, Adame’s uncanny ability appears almost effortless.


Leo Zero and Pete Herbert – I Feel Edit (7sa Clash)

The intriguing 7’s Clash team return with their fourth instalment, this time journeying deep into folk rock’s gently psychedelic outer rim with a particularly fine pair of edits. The limited-edition label project comes direct from the collective minds of Pete Herbert, Justin Deighton, and Leo Zero under the banner of the Two Tribes Brewery and its recently launched Campfire venue in London’s King’s Cross. ‘I Feel’ sees the trio rework ‘The Way I Feel’ from Sandy Denny’s Fotheringay quintet, which featured on their singular album released in 1970. The inspired choice of lesser-known source material lends itself especially well to the starry-eyed Balearic realm, so Leo Zero and Justin Deighton adopt an understandably light-handed approach to their edit. The evocative lead vocal rings out over melancholic instrumentation, supported by carefully emphasised drums and enhanced low end, with the arrangement is extended with a fantastically hallucinatory bridge. Sunset disco master Pete Herbert introduces waves of blissed-out pads and crisp drums on his gently-hyped and characteristically slick contemporary revision. His tight arrangement retains the essence of the original while stripping back the vocal to leave room for reinforced bass, introducing a few degrees of dance floor focus to the hauntingly bittersweet music.


The icing on the singles cake this week...

Thomas P. Heckmann – Re Releases & Remixes (Sisters)

Enigmatic German artist and producer Thomas P. Heckmann has been a force to be reckoned with for more than two decades within the electronic music scene. Blessing dancefloors worldwide with his whirlwind techno energy, it’s been no surprise to many audiences how his career continues to go from strength to strength. With this release from Sisters, these remixes sound like an homage to the man himself.

Kopfgeister comes straight out the gate with an immediate hard hitting effort. with an effortless groove and rhythmic beat, this track is energetic and melodic all in one go. Although experimental in places, it fits together with ease for a solid record. The Clouds mix is heavier on the bass with a drum and bass feel to it, as slightly more percussion has been added to build audiences up for a long night ahead of them. 1992’s Spectral emotion is a building mass of chaotic rave energy. With this early 90’s throwback in the mix, it’s  bound to shake up memories long forgotten in fields. Backed up with by the October’s Return 2 Jungle mix, its exactly what it says it is – a hardcore mash up of techno and jungle type beats. Hard hitting in places and furious in energy, it won’t be long before a crowd will want to make a mosh pit with the intensity of it all. The record as a whole has such a good energy, and will make up for the delay for party nights to resume post-covid.


This week’s reviewers: Oli Warwick, Jude Iago James,  Patrizio Cavaliere, Ava Yusuf, Chris Wheatley.