Review: WNCL Recordings is the creative hub for Bob Bhamra's West Norwood Cassette Library project - now almost five years old and always specialising in the more intricate and subtle ends of the house spectrum. Over the years, however, several guests have appeared on the label such as Kevin McPhee and Ekoplekz and this time it's up to newcomer-probably-under-alias, CEO, to make his way down to South London. The Major Edits EP, as the title suggests, is a mashup of high-tek, sound futurism mostly all based beyond the 130bpm mark. The opener, "Screeching", is a fast-paced jungle burner with stripped synths and bouncy kick going off left-right and centre. The rest of the EP follows in a similar vein, where tracks like "Loud" are a truly sublime blend of hardcore, techno and jungle. An ode to rave and a wonderful addition to Bhamra's catalogue.
West Norwood Cassette Library - "Drop" (Knowing Looks remix)
Kevin McPhee - "In Circles" (Kamikaze Space Programme drum tool)
J Tijn - "Flat" (West Norwood Cassette Library remix)
Review: Issued back in late 2012, the first volume of We Are Family signalled the West Norwood Cassette Library's expansion from the 10" format to the 12" format and did it in style with cuts from Don Froth, Milyoo, label boss WNCL and Knowing Looks. Since then, Bob Bhamra's label has really stepped it further with 12"s from J Tijn, Spatial, Kevin McPhee and the excellently named Kamikaze Space Programme. It seems about the right time for a second volume of We Are Family and this 12" sees cuts from Bobby Champs, McPhee, J Tijn and West Norwood Cassette Library getting the remix treatment. The Drum Tool refix of McPhee's "Circles" from Kamikaze Space Programme and West Norwood Cassette Library's Remix of J Tijn on the B Side are proper!
Review: Once upon a time, Brooklyn's James Duncan was best known for being Morgan Geist's trumpeter of choice, despite a history of producing deep house stretching back to the tail end of the '90s. Happily, he's in fine form on this WNCL Records release, effortlessly blending a variety of vintage influences on four dusty, basement-friendly house-jams. Throughout, the beats and basslines bump, the chords are deep and wavy, and the vocal samples recall the Halcyon days of U.S deep house. Duncan's grooves doff a cap to both New York and New Jersey, while also boasting a grasp of UK house and techno flavours.
Review: The two Ekoplekz albums that Nick Edwards released through Planet Mu this year are possibly the most accessible long players issued by the Bristol-based artist in a rich, prolific production career. Pitching up on the West Norwood Cassette Library label is hardly the most expected of moves for an artist more commonly associated with Mego, Further and Mordant Music, but fans of those aforementioned Mu LPs will certainly find much to enjoy in this Rock La Bibliotek EP. The label claims Edwards has long been promising them some club focused material and these 6 tracks are the results, still retaining the sense of abstraction and daring freeform approach that has made Ekoplekz the powerful voice he is. File alongside Container and Hieroglyphic Being in the lurching, slightly foreboding end of the techno scale.
Review: First up, The Acid House Handshake EP is an excellent name for a record and that's little surprise since the man responsible for it is the superbly monikered Don Froth. The sight of new material from the Don is most welcome too, with his last original production of note the brukked up "Lifting Weights" for Bob West Norwood's We Are Family Vol 1 split 12" some two years ago. At six tracks deep, its clear Froth has been busy in the studio since relocating to Amsterdam from LA and this is some of his most diverse work. Lead track "A Broad Range" is reminiscent of Kenny Dope's 90s era boom bap productions whilst "Cosmo" shows Froth has lost none of his talent for crafting mind bending rhythms. "Dip Dive" is like Si Begg's Buckfunk 3000 project doing bassline house and there's a lot more to discover on the flip. A great 12" from WNCL for the more adventurous selectors!
Review: It's been a while since we last enjoyed an acid house handshake with the Frothy one but it's been worth the wait as "D.O.C" sees him returning with four rusty, rambunctious analogue constructions that work in all corners from techno to dub. "HR22" is a clattering ghetto-bound tech funk jam, "Joint Loose" breezes with his native Balearic charm, "DOCs" pays homage to the SUAD-side of our hardcore heritage while his own remix of his previous WNCL EP opener "A Broad Range" makes sense of his fuming cauldron spirit with an air of Vibert acid.
West Norwood Cassette Librar - "What It Is" (MAH VIP)
Knowing Looks - "Cytal Fink"
Review: Having come to the end of its run of ten 10" releases, West Norwood Cassette Library's self-titled imprint starts a new chapter, with the first 12" EP, featuring tracks from some of the label's principal artists. Don Froth's particularly rowdy "Lifting Weights" combines crafty breakbeats, UKF percussion and filtered synths, while Milyoo's "Pancake" provides a washed out combination of tinpot percussion, deep bass and breathy vocal samples. WNCL himself also represents with his "What It Is (MAH VIP), a relatively minimal piece of breakbeat house, and Knowing Looks rounds things off with "Cytal Fink", a stripped back percussive workout recalling the work of Hessle Audio's Joe. As an EP it sums up perfectly why the output of WNCL Recordings is peerless, and as such comes highly recommended.
Review: The latest offering from the West Norwood Cassette Library comes shrouded in mystery, as anonymous outfit Girls Of The Internet serve up four tracks of oddball electronics that swerve the usual upfront dancefloor fare that populates the label. There's still plenty of groove to be enjoyed, but the overall tone is one of leftfield analogue electronics with a rough finish and an experimental leaning. There's a pleasing directness about the likes of "Teletherapy" with its lean drums and erratic lead synth line, while "Spam Folder" creates an unhinged funk with some heavy swinging drums and oddly quiet acid lines. All in all it's a wild affair that will work for more adventurous spinners of a raw disposition, and marks an interesting diversion for the label in question.
Review: Since surfacing last year with a contribution to the New Jack Techno compilation for zeitgeist chasers Turbo, the London based J. Tijn has more than lived up to his billing as an 'up & coming' producer. This year he inaugurated Untold's techno-focused Pennyroyal label with two 12-inch singles as well as appearing on the OHWL#Ten series from Belgian label Other Heights. J. Tijn's third release sees the young producer combine the one track of Detroit house, "Flat", with three cuts of decidedly dubby and Berlin-centric techno, showing off a more cultured side to his productions.
Review: London young gun J Tijn is back: look out! In such a short time this guy has fast made a name for himself with some killer releases on Pennyroyal, Power Vaccuum and Bedouin. This time it's for WNCL Recordings and has four cuts of tough and rusty techno for inner city basement parties. Starting off nicely with the deep vibes with "HEHF" but it's no more Mr. Nice Guy after that. "Fat Controller" is a harsh, overdriven drum track whose kick and toms will properly rattle your speaker, but not before its high hats cut right through them. It's more of the same on the flip with "Malaria" whose wacky bird call melody will get some hands in the air at peak time. Finally "Decimated #8" is another awesome drum track with the most raw and vintage high hats and claps this side of a L.I.E.S. or Opal Tapes release.
Review: Returning to WNCL after his exuberant re-emergence last year, Knowing Looks doesn't hold back in testing the limits of the dancefloor. "Listen To My 45" is the kind of track specifically crafted to sit uneasily in your ears on first listen but in time the wildly disparate elements amass to a glorious cacophony of damaged, unconventional groove. "Ghost Baby" darts into action on an uptempo micro-house groove before adopting a deranged synth. By the time thick layers of percussion and amen breaks whip around that lead synth there's no doubt that you're listening to one of the most starkly original producers in operation at present.
Review: Having kept quiet on the releases this year, Kevin McPhee makes a welcome return on the mighty WNCL imprint with four rough and ready cuts that suit the bawdy atmosphere of the label perfectly. "In Circles" lets the beats fly about with heady abandon while the core stab keeps the groove locked in tight in a most ravey of fashions. "Do" kicks the blueprint out of the window entirely as it slinks in on a false pretext of spaced out synths which give way to a nasty broken riddim that's heavy on the bass and diverse percussion. "Pumpkin" comes on like a mentally scarred cousin of techno with its merciless propulsion and frayed sound sources, and "The Blind Whirring Of Machinery" takes the metallic drums of industrial and arranges them into musical patterns that cycle over each other with grace and ugliness in equal measure.
Review: Our favourite Canadian techno outsider Kevin McPhee returns to London thanks to a ticket by the West Norwood Cassette Library crew, and he's brought over the instantly seductive and hummable "TW", a footwork-charged house banger sporting heavy kick drums, driving vocal chops and toms masquerading as basslines; the acapella is for strict DJ tool use only. Over on the flip, the WNCL boys reshape the original mix into a break-ridden UK monster with added vocal samples and a bursting groove, while CEO takes inspiration from AFX and delivers a seriously twisted remix filled with hardcore nuances and distorted sonics. Heavy stuff.
Review: Paul Bateman and Bob Bhamra's Plastic Soul project has been on the cards for many years. Finally they've got round to delivering four floor-focussed cuts that rumble with genuine bass mischief and strut with garage slinkiness. Both "I Got It" and "Holdin' On" are stripped back subby poppers with clicky UKG snares and hi-hats. For more of a mild deep house jazz flavour, head for the loopy "Mint Imperial" or the filtered, Roule-alike "Body Form". Get on it.
Review: UK producer Spatial continues a prolific year with Set Apart, a new 12" drop on WNCL, and the Infrasonics first dalliance with Bob Bhamra's excellent label who've really carved a singular niche in the current basscape in three years of existence. Four tracks deep, Set Apart sees Spatial run the gamut of contemporary hybridism; the rowdy, slanted UK Garage of the tuff title track and the scrambled gabba styled beats of "Lost" make for a fine A Side pairing, whilst face down the sweet set house of "Right Now" contrasts markedly with the searing Daft Punk circa 97 stylings of "Syn Cop".
Review: Earlier this year, experienced French fusionist Paul Tenebre delivered a pair of fine, self-released EPs under the Territory banner. These clearly caught the ear of WNCL Recordings man Bob Bharma (AKA West Norwood Cassette Library), as he's decided to put out part 3. Tenbre kicks things off with "Jungle Frontier", a bustling, techno-tempo tribute to the jungle ear rich in fuzzy snares, heavy sub-bass pulses and intoxicating, intelligent techno era samples. "Density", on the other hand, is a fiendishly distorted broken house shuffler, while "Zone & INterzone" sees the Paris native lay down some redlined tribal house/tech-jazz fusion. The Parisian's love of layered tribal percussion and dusty metallic hits is explored further on fantastic closer "Axe Nord-Sud".
Review: Ultramarine may not be one of the most familiar names on people's lips, but it's promising to see the UK house veterans return on WNCL. "Acid" bubbles into action with aqueous flecks of synth and a lean broken beat provide the crust to a molten 303 filling. Rarely has that well-worn sound come on so expressive and fluid as it oozes in amidst the laid back funk of the track. "Butch" meanwhile goes further out into the otherworldly realms that Ultramarine inhabits. The 303 is back again, in a more perfunctory role alongside all manner of sci-fi bleeps and squeaks. Highly recommended.
Review: With his output nudging ever more commonly towards sample-based good times house music, West Norwood Cassette Library presents a fresh four-tracker that lays the emotion on heavy and the grooves on direct. "Missing You" works around a swooning hook of disco strings while a chunky, rolling house beat funks away underneath. "Queen Bee" takes a slinkier route into Rhodes notes and dusty vocals for those more reflective moments, before "What's That Sound?" rips into a soulful twist on perennial hippie anthem "For What It's Worth". Nudging the tempo metre up for a more attitude-laden turn, "Clavichords" gets into a loopy frame of mind with a focus on danceable functionality for the headier part of the evening.
Review: London's West Norwood Cassette Library, always our number-one go-to zone for pensive house music, returns with a smacker of an EP that marks the label's fifth year of outings and antics - and we can't believe it's been that long already! Dunkel's VIP mix of "Blonde On Blonde" is a bumpy, grimed-out house swinger with a brittle percussion roll, whereas "Say What?" is given a good seeing to by Ambient Parks and reduced to an almost beatless flurry of drones and sporadic bursts of Ed Rush & Optical bass. The flip contains "Think (It Aint Legal Yet), a hardcore-filtered house bumper, and the broken beats and pulses of "Up Periscope!". Lovely.