Various Artists – Brothers & Sisters


Since launching back in 2009, Justin Carter and Eamon Harkin’s Mister Saturday Night parties in New York have become the stuff of legend, and not only for their riotous, anything goes nature. There’s a hint of militancy about their no-nonsense approach to party promotion; famously, their “dancefloor rules” posters, slapped up around the numerous venues they’ve used for events over the years, ban people from taking photos, using phones, smoking and generally loitering without dancing. Many DJs and party promoters will no doubt empathize with their approach, which in essence boils down to “go hard or go home”. It’s a party, so dance like you mean it.

Various Artists - Brothers & Sisters
Artist
Various Artists
Title
Brothers & Sisters
Label
Mister Saturday Night
Format
3LP, 2CD, Digital
Buy vinylBuy CDBuy digital

The duo claims that this perceived militancy is part of a wider plan to foster a sense of community at their events. It’s an admirable ethos, and one that ties in with trends on both sides of the Atlantic. The growth of club culture as an established branch of the entertainment industry has arguably had a detrimental effect on the quality of underground club events. Certainly, many at the more underground end of the scene have been turned off from attending “regular” club events by the weird, stifled atmosphere inside, a product of mainstream punters treating them as places to get into heightened states of intoxication, and little else. The music, once the centre of attention, is merely wallpaper.

Fostering a community spirit – usually by encouraging like-minded people to become devoted regulars – is something that few parties achieve. Mister Saturday Night’s reputation was built on just that, and it was something Carter and Harkin wanted to build on with the launch of the party’s offshoot label in 2012. Many of the artists they looked to for the first few releases on the label – the likes of Brooklyn band Archie Pelago, Alex Burkat, Anthony Naples and Lumigraph – were regulars on the dancefloor and behind the decks at Mister Saturday Night events long before the imprint sprung into life.

Over the past two years, the label’s core team of producers and DJs has bulged with the addition of like-minded contributors from Glasgow (the excellent General Ludd), Japan (Keita Sano) and Dublin (Boya), but Carter and Harkin’s approach has remained the same. Put simply, the Mister Saturday Night label offers the opportunity for a core community of artists and friends to put out music that defies easy categorization, therefore accurately reflecting the party’s anything-goes ethos.

Both of these admirable aims are well represented on Brothers & Sisters, the label’s first foray into the compilation market, though again Mister Saturday Night refer to this as “a summary of [their] community” not a compilation. While the CD version helps tell the story so far by also including previously-released highlights amongst the two discs – the likes of Anthony Naples’ R&B-sampling deep house jam “Mad Disrespect”, the woozy leftfield jazz-house odyssey of Archie Pelago’s “Brown Oxford”, and the stripped-back techno of Hank Jackson’s L.I.E.S-ish “Shave” – the vinyl version sticks to nine previously unreleased cuts.

Brothers & Sisters is, then, a snapshot of where Mister Saturday Night is right now. For the most part, it seems to be in rude health, with a core group of artists whose influences – like those of Carter and Harkin – range from intense African rhythms and heady jazz, to clandestine ambience, vibrant jazz-funk, off-kilter IDM and fizzing electronics. Meld these disparate inspirations with a solid undercurrent of deep and jacking house and techno, and you have the Mister Saturday Night sound. It’s an approach that by and large pays dividends, with plenty of standout highlights. Check, for example, the sleepy, clarinet-heavy lounge jazz of Archie Pelago’s “House of Haab”, Keita Sano’s irrepressible mutant techno “Ingram” which has a percussive looseness reminiscent of Maxmillion Dunbar’s Dolo Percussion project, and Dark Sky’s “IYP”, a crusty combination of rolling grooves and loose electronics.

The real centerpiece for this reviewer is General Ludd’s “C”. A mesmerizing chunk of tropical pagan built around dense voodoo rhythms, wonky electronics and dark, maudlin chords, it builds in intensity across nine minutes, with waves of percussion riding a thunderous kick-drum pattern. You can just imagine the fevered response it no doubt gets on the dancefloor at Mister Saturday Night parties, as the crowd embraces next-level music made by one of its’ own. In essence, that’s what Brothers & Sisters is: a celebration of music made by party regulars, for party regulars, at one of the most distinctive and celebrated parties in New York.

Matt Anniss

Tracklisting:

CD1

1. Dark Sky – In Brackets
2. Archie Pelago – Brown Oxford
3. Lumigraph – Yacht Cruiser
4. General Ludd – Woo Ha
5. Keita Sano – People Are Changing
6. Hank Jackson – Cole’s Lullaby
7. Hank Jackson – Shave
8. Anthony Naples – Moscato B
9. General Ludd – C *
10. Archie Pelago – Cinema Club *
11. Boya – Dawn Corner *
12. Alex Burkat – Shower Scene
13. Dark Sky – Rare Bloom

CD2

1. Gunnar Haslam – Kenosha (Amytal) *
2. Dark Sky – Clear *
3. General Ludd – Brothers And Sisters
4. Archie Pelago – The House of Haab *
5. Gunnar Haslam – Let A Hundred Flowers Bloom
6. Dark Sky – IYP *
7. Keita Sano – Ingram *
8. Boya – The Idler
9. Lumigraph – Cape Horn
10. Keita Sano – Drummer Trix *
11. Archie Pelago – Frederyck Swerl
12. Anthony Naples – Mad Disrespect

* Previously Unreleased tracks

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