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The best new singles this week

The real stars on 45


Paramida – Moonrise VII (Love On The Rocks)

Paramida’s penchant for hallucinatory pre-dawn euphoria comes to the fore on her latest Love On The Rocks instalment. Though entitled ‘Moonrise VII’ (and certainly a fitting soundtrack to usher in the first rays of silvery lunar light), the music sounds equally well placed to enliven dancers who’ve stayed the course until the sun begins to creep over the misty horizon.

Whether working crowds at her Panorama Bar residency, regular appearances at Robert Johnson, or taking her enigmatic sounds to the global stage, Paramida has carved out a deserved reputation as an unmissable selector over the last decade or so. In keeping with her stylistically agile DJ sets, her Love On The Rocks curation is similarly fluid in tone, incorporating far-flung sounds that refuse to sit neatly inside generic parameters.

Flitting between the blurred lines of disco, house, techno, trance and any number of offshoots, perhaps a key thread is the uncompromisingly off-kilter essence of the music presented on the kaleidoscopic imprint. ‘Moonrise VII’ is a case in point. The EP launches with the throbbing dancefloor flex of ‘Sailor Moon House’, with elegantly psychedelic synth motifs gliding over growling bass and full-bodied drums throughout a powerfully hypnotic arrangement. ‘Space Ride’ is a dose or two further under the influence, with tripped-out synth riffs cascading across broken snares and a robust four-to-the-floor kick, with the stripped arrangement leaving ample space in which to lose oneself. Finally, closing track ’33’ blends elements of Italo dream house and vintage Balearic for a blissed-out moment of transcendence, with table drums driving discreet melodies and rush-inducing pads for a timeless end-of-night reprise. Unsurprisingly, this is breathtaking work, with each track on the beautifully balanced collection pitched to create raved-induced alchemy at various dance junctures. Highly recommended.


Fumio Itabashi / Henrik Schwarz / Kuniyuki – Watarase (Joe Claussell Remix) (Studio Mule Japan)
To see Fumio Itabashi playing piano is a thing of wonder. Itabashi writhes and jumps around on the stool, occasionally seeming to do a kind of jazz head-banging. This intense style of free, impulse driven playing translates beautifully on this 12’’ release from Japanese label, Studio Mule. The A-side is an ambitious deconstruction of the original Itabashi classic, ‘Watarase’.

Though one’s first impulse may be to leave such a wonderful composition untouched, its treatment here – by producer Joaquin Claussell – is effective. At first, the track pairs a nature-infused ambience with a gently propulsive synth line. After a slow-burn build-up, the recognisable piano motif comes into view before being submerged into a dance-oriented arrangement. It’s as close to club-ready as one can get for a free-jazz composition with a 3/4 time signature. But it’s the live performance on the B-side that contains something utterly spellbinding.

Previously only available as part of a 2005 CD compilation, this rendition of ‘Watarase’ has long been sought out on vinyl by fans. What it achieves is a uniquely fine-tuned merger of Itabashi’s uncompromising style, sweeping orchestral arrangements, and traditional Japanese folk music. Where it excels is in allowing these elements some space to breathe. The power of Itabashi’s unrestrained playing is not clumsily paired with elaborate ornamentation but is for long periods unaccompanied. When it does eventually drift into orchestration, its a rewarding and powerful expansion. Above all of this, however, it’s Yuki Kaneko’s vocals that are so endlessly compelling. Her elaborate performance – melodically rooted in traditional Japanese folk music or min’yō – is staggering in its ability to fit so well over Itabashi’s playing. It’s easy to throw around superlatives, so I will instead cautiously suggest that this may be one of most affecting recordings you will hear from Japan’s jazz scene.


Tomede Ehue International Orchestre Poly Rythmo – Bella Bello (Canopy)

Relative newcomers Canopy Records score a comprehensive three wins out of three with their latest instalment, re-issuing Tomede Ehue’s hard-to-find ‘Bella Bello’ alongside a tight set of remixes from Bosq and Sam Redmore. The label’s first two releases (a re-issue/ remix package of General Ehi Duncan’s magnificent ‘Africa (My Number 1)’ followed by Bosq’s inspired ‘Song For Ehi’ tribute to the self-same track) won over a great many admirers from the global disco and funk audiences, and it appears a very safe bet that their third single will make a similarly loud splash. Little is known about Beninois singer, Tomede Ehue, but the private press of her 1980-ish cut ‘Bella Bello’ is one of innumerable pearls from West Africa that diggers clamber over one another to procure.

Though uncredited on the original release, the backing music was provided by Benin’s ‘all mighty’ T.P. Orchestre Poly-Rhythmo, who’ve been proudly flying the flag for their nation’s music, in one form or another, since forming back in 1968. Here, the band are given due credit for their marvellous work, with their captivating orchestration providing a fantastically atmospheric bed from where Ehue’s yearning vocal powerfully soars.

As is often the case with unearthed gems such as this, the original version of ‘Bella Bello’ is probably the most charming of the set. Having said that, the fine interpretations from Messrs Bosq and Redmore are most welcome additions to the EP, bringing, as they do, a contemporary dancefloor gravity to the production. First up, Medellin-based multi-instrumentalist Ben ‘Bosq’ Woods works his magic, his faithful rework making full use of the instrumentation while embellishing the bottom end and stretching out the arrangement. Redmore, meanwhile, adds a driving rhythm track, suspense-inducing strings and bubbling acid overdubs to steer the track directly into nightclub territory, with each remix undeniably bringing something novel to the gloriously dusty original.


Stano – Content To Write It In I Dine Weathercraft: DJ Sotofett Remakes (Allchival)

Stano (real name John Denver Stanley) was the epitome of the ‘80s individualist outsider; an EBM tinkerer-pioneer, tailored for the UK post-punk era. 

Formerly known as the frontman of the first Irish post-punk band The Threat, Stano later chose to hone his solo craft in 1982, shunning the purity of guitar-punk in favour of minimal electronic workouts. His poetry-singing would be layered over the top. He was also perhaps a more unsung, earlier iteration of the artistic visions demonstrated by Muslimgauze or Burial. He chose not to perform live (except for perhaps once), and his debut album ‘Content To Write It In I Dine Weathercraft’ was the result of much private slaving and toiling with various greats, such as zelochord player Michael O’Shea, and the OG Virgin Prune Haa Lacka Binttii.

Describing Stano as having a “cult following” would be apt. His sound, especially round the time of his debut LP, was experimental, worldly and stark. It owed much to the renaissance that came after punk, while also reveling in a mood that lay a little beyond it. ‘Content To Write’ has all the world-instrumental candour of 23 Skidoo, as it does the drum machines of Pink Industry.

DJ Sotofett, every house DJ’s favourite house musician, was enlisted to remix choice cuts from the album back in 2018, since culminating in this curious double 12”. There are two remixes featuring O’Shea’s miraculous zelochord; one, ‘Seance Of A Kondalike’, is given a retro-futuristic reworking by Sotofett, as if the piece was shot into the laps of Boards Of Canada and beamed in through an ‘80s TV ad. ‘Out Of The Dark, Into The Dawn, meanwhile, hears its tripletted piano and drum machine completely revamped, with Sotofett adding all manner of breakbeats and stutter-synths. Stano’s original minimality is lost with Sotofett, who adds vengeful texture to each track, as if to do justice to Stano’s undeserved obscurity. 


Chris Irvin & Stefan Ringer – Callin’ Me ft. Voyce Lashae / Heels On (FWM Entertainment)

The roots of the tracks on this latest FWM release track back 10 years. Chris Irvin doesn’t appear to have a prior track record, but he linked up with Atlanta house don Stefan Ringer and brought over his friend Alicja Leshik for a session which resulted in the sparkling ‘Callin’ Me’. You can hear Ringer’s touch all over the track – he has a loose, funky style which nods to broken beat’s jazz funk tendencies as much as house. The bass line takes a meandering route around the finger clicking strut of the drums, and not much more is needed to frame Leshik’s sweet vocals. In its raw perfection it calls to mind Theo Parrish’s ‘Soul Control’, where a powerful vocal, a warm, fulsome bass and some snappy drums are the only ingredients required.

If there was a hint of broken beat on ‘Callin’ Me’, the vibe comes through even stronger on ‘Heels On’. With its irrepressible synth lines flexing all over the shop, baggy bass bump and nagging, on-the-edge-of-the-pocket drum shuffle, it’s a joint which could easily slot into a Dego or Kaidi Thatham DJ set. But Ringer and Irvin maintain some of that US house energy in the sound, and quite simply it comes across as two talented heads discovering each other in the studio and realising they’ve got an approach which gels incredibly well.

Reportedly these tracks cane from the first of many sessions, so one can only assume we’re going to be gifted more of these acutely angled, hard bumping house joints in the future. In truth, Ringer has been laying out this take on the house music tradition from the get go whether solo or in collaboration, and FWM remains a buy-on-sight source for those who crave the funkiest iterations of house music to hail from anywhere in the modern world.


Nevratik / Arkanalog 23 / Kromozom / Win – Sweet Madness (Transelucid)

Since 2009, Transelucid has been operated by French hardtek and self-described “mentalcore” producer Win (real name G. Irwin). A sublabel of the vanity label Winprod, Transelucid focuses more on V/A projects from Win and affiliated artists.

A modern take on hard and fast free tekno, mentalcore is a glitzy, rubbery and dark version of the sound once dominated by the likes of Curley Schoop. One might best describe it as ‘smokey’. There’s an emphasis on atmosphere over hardness, with kick drums often being drowned out and half-timed in favour of smoked-out gusts of sound and prevailing, holocaustic ambiences. 

This is the ninth (technically the tenth) edition in the Transelucid series, and its inspirational starting point is that of skeletoid dragons snaking their way through abstract darkness, which is the image portrayed on the 12”’s front cover. Fittingly, the opener ‘Sweet Madness’ by Nevratik is suitably dystopian, with its toned kick drums and transitional tongue-licks rebounding around our over-ears like bouncing rubber balls. Then, Arkanalog’s ‘Tirbie Union’ is the track that dips our toes into the first sample of gusty fallout. The kick drum serves only as a light driver through colossal, dark-holy atmospheres – not as a crunching jackhammer. 

Kromozom’s ‘Travellers’ is by far the hardest of the lot, its kicks and layered claps barging its way through a repeated vocal and pan flute mantra. And finally, Win’s ‘She Never Came Home’ leans in to breakcore, mournfully straddling the space between it and what might be an actual example of ambient gabber. Trance arps continually wobble into the ether, and buzzing saws – perhaps a sound that best describes techno-apocalypse – caress the top end.


DJ Spider – Enter The Void EP (Spinning Plates)

It’s been a few years since we last heard something from DJ Spider, a true outlier in the techno scene ploughing his own weird furrow but never missing. The NYC-rooted producer has a sound which might well confound DJs, caked as it is in atmospheric texture and debris, but there’s immediacy and structure to match the marvellous mess. As such, his tracks become the kind of potent cuts which inject maverick uncertainty into a set, knocking doors off hinges without the walls coming down completely, and it’s great to have him back.

This time he’s appearing on Spinning Plates, a label associated with Marc Ashken amongst others, where misfit techno and electro appears to be the order of the day. It’s clear from the opening strains of ‘Hyperspace Wardance’ that Spider is still operating at full tilt, creating a writhing, driving beatdown that unnerves as much as it urges a physical response. But the magic in his sound lies in what comes deeper into the track, and the bluesy chords that unfurl around the mid-section are a stunning foil to the creeping machinations.

That’s something Phil Moffa recognises on his comparatively sober version of the track, too, but we’re here for the freakiness and that’s exactly what comes with the grubby thunderstorm acid of ‘Space Aggressor Squadron’ and the writhing sound design snaking around the blown out chords of ‘Incineration Of Years & Truth’.

Spider’s sound comes fully realised at all times – fathoms deep, etched with detail and unlike anyone else in the game. Perhaps his music is for the intrepid in club music terms, but it has the power to move as much as confound.


Horace Tapscott Quintet – The Quintet (Mr Bongo)

Horace Tapscott’s magnificent 1969 debut record, The Giant Has Awakened is a must have for fans of avant-garde jazz. While living in LA, far from the cultural capital of jazz music, Tapscott was developing a highly idiosyncratic style. With Arthur Blythe on alto sax, Everett Brown Jr on drums, and an unusual addition of two bassists, David Bryant and Walter Savage Jr, the Horace Tapscott Quintet had attained a truly unique sound. But after this debut, there seems to be a strange gap in Tapscott’s output.

It would be nearly ten years before the pianist’s return to the industry. Owing in part to his political activism, Tapscott was isolated from the establishment, forcing him to spend most of the decade quietly touring his work in California. But now, courtesy of Mr Bongo, we have a previously-unreleased follow up to The Giant Has Awakened. Though ‘World Peace’ deserves a mention and fans may be familiar with Arthur Blythe’s ‘For Fats’, it’s the second track that stands out. ‘Your Child” is a wonderful composition by Tapscott. Over loose, driving instrumentation, Arthur Blythe’s alto sax melody is a beautiful thing. For 12 minutes of unique, playful, and slightly mournful jazz, we see Tapscott and his quintet at the height of their powers.


Mathew Johnson / Freedom Engine – Diamond Eyes EP (The Nothing Special)

Long-serving producer Matthew Johnson resumes his Freedom Engine project with an enthralling pair of epics on the ‘Diamond Eyes’ EP. His first release under the moniker arrived via Dekmantel in the form of 2019’s ‘A Box Full Of Magic’ LP, on which he presented an intriguing set of tracks re-purposed from rediscovered studio live jams. The same free-flowing abandon can be found here, with each meandering track embodied with a delightfully unfettered feel. ‘Diamond Eyes’ bounces along over detuned bleeps and shuffling drums, with elastic bass periodically pouring across the groove like thick, molten lava.

Stretched over an almighty thirteen-plus-minute arrangement, the saucer-eyed groove is perfectly poised for heads-down dancefloors, the immaculate production sure to burst into life over suitably tuned sound systems. On the flip, the tone is a good deal more experimental, with the near drum-less rhythms of ‘Rain In Kyoto’ proving every bit as evocative as the descriptive title suggests. Hypnotic and faintly haunting, the abstract composition sees bewitching synth textures morph and intertwine over an extended arrangement. Brooding and wildly atmospheric, the powerfully moving track is an undoubted highlight that reveals more secrets with each listen. Expertly varied and impeccably executed, this is fine work from Johnson.


This week’s reviewers: Jude Iago James, Patrizio Cavaliere, Noah Sparkes, Oliver Warwick.