Review: The second Sound Signature repress of the week offers a chance to re-assess the moment that the wider world was introduced to the talents of one of Detroit's most loved selectors. Released back in 1999, the Essential Selections Vol. 1 EP saw Theo collaborate with a certain Marcellus Pittman across three cuts that still sound as vibrant today. A Side lead "Night Of The Sagitarius" has the loose drum arrangements and gritty low end that will appeal to contemporary ears, but it's also augmented by an almost chilling sense of melody. Face down "Selector's Theme" is the pair in introspective mood whilst "African Roots" belongs in the canon of all time Theo greats.
Review: This second studio hook-up between Detroit veterans Theo Parrish and Marcellus Pittman first appeared way back in 2002, some three years after they made their collaborative debut on Sound Signature. Listening again all these years on, we can confirm that the three-tracker hasn't aged a bit. Check, for example, epic A-side "Evidence Of The 5th Green Foot", a near 12-minute, ultra-deep workout built around rich bass, lo-fi electric piano motifs and swinging, jazz-fired house beats. Elsewhere, "Equality Of Patience" is a deliciously druggy and heavily percussive peak-time throb-job, while "Questions Comments" is the kind of spaced-out, drum machine driven deep house box jam that both producers do so well.
Andrew Ashong - "The Way She Moves" (short version)
Review: At first glance, the pairing of Forest Hill resident Andrew Ashong and Sound Signature boss Theo Parrish would seem strange. But the duo have worked together previously with the Ghanaian born vocalist (and supposed owner of a vinyl collection that would make most record shops look like a car boot sale) lending his soulful tones to Parrish's excellent nine minute plus translation of the Hot Chip and Spiritualised affiliated About Group. Whereas that collaboration was more about Ashong's voice being just one element of a production that was undoubtedly Parrish, the three tracks present on the Flowers EP look to showcase what a talent the Londoner is. Those trademark dust filled stacatto rhythms are present in the opening title track, but they never swamp Ashong's killer vocal delivery, while "Take It Slow" is bonafide D funk of the highest order. After the brutal, divisive nature of Theo's kung fu experimentalism on the Any Other Styles EP, these three tracks show him in a wholly new light and hopefully Parrish and Ashong will be making much more music together.
Paul Randolph, Kathy Kosins & Theo Parrish - "Be Like Me" (SS translation) (9:41)
John Douglas, Amp Fiddler, Ideeyah & Theo Parrish - "Leave The Funk To Us" (full mix) (6:37)
Review: Theo Parrish's "Gentrified Love" series hits its fourth instalment with two stunning extensions/takes. First up is a powerful expansion of "Leave The Funk To Us". First spotted on the second edition of the series, it's now full length with the golden touch of Amp Fiddler. "Be Like Me", meanwhile, takes Paul Randolph & Kathy Kosins' Brownswood Bubbler to a whole new cosmos with lavish twists and cleverly subverted layers. Yet another precision trip from Parrish.
Review: Sound Signature end 2013 how they started it; with a fresh slab of Theo Parrish goodness! Whilst the Dance of the Medusa EP issued back in January was Theo in marauding beat down mode, it seems the respected Detroit based producer is in a much mellower mood here. For example, the title track on the Long Walk In Sun 12" is the sort of mid-tempo production that would feature in an early doors Floating Points set at Plastic People. Complementing this, "Strawberry Dragon" features a more prominent display of Parrish's widely regarded skills at chopping percussion, but it's the resplendent instrumentation that stands out.
Review: In his usual no-nonsense fashion, Theo Parrish has not said much about the surprise release of Gentrified Love Part 2, despite it being his first fresh material since 2014. The EP features contributions from two of the Detroit's legends oldest friends: Rotating Assembly member Duminie DePorres, and original Slum Village member Waajeed. A-side "Warrior Code" is a quietly foreboding proposition, with spiraling electronics, jammed keys and cosmic chords riding a chunky, West London style broken beat groove. Flip for the altogether brighter and breezier "Leave The Funk To Us", a jaunty and jazz-wise 4/4 excursion blessed with some superb, Herbie Hancock style jazz-funk keys.
Review: Theo Parrish's Gentrified Love series seems to be a collaborative affair. Part two, available separately, contained hook-ups with fellow Detroiters Wajeed and Duminie Deporres. "Ghetto Proposal", which is available in Vocal and Instrumental versions, features sublime contributions from another Motor City legend, veteran modern soul man Amp Fiddler. It's something of a deliciously trippy affair, underpinned by a freaky, delay-heavy groove, fireside-warm Rhodes keys, meandering trumpet lines and - on the vocal version, at least, drowsy female vocals. Both artists jazz influence is clear, particularly in the crunchy percussion hits that begin to dominate as the track progresses. Interestingly, the instrumental moves a little further towards jazzy broken beat territory.
Review: Oh yes, we love it when Theo represses some of his most sought after tracks and this one is particularly well-timed. Leron Carson is still an unknown figure, a kid who used to make viciously raw and futuristic techno tracks in the late 1980's! "China Trax", alongside the rest of his tracks on a different Sound Signature double 12", is totally ahead of its time and if it was truly made in 1987 then it is nothing short of amazing. Of course, it's not just the year it was made in that's interesting but also the fact that it's music without an age, able to be appreciated by any generation of techno freaks. Theo's own "Insane Asylum" on the flipside is also pretty monumental; rigged beats, off-kilter grooves and that familiar spontaneity so heavily associated to the label. RECOMMENDED.
Review: Theo Parrish lays down a marker for a long overdue fifth album, apparently due out later this year, with the sublime Footwork 12". Named in reference to the dance as opposed to the breakneck offshoot of Ghetto House, "Footwork" is a sublime slab of Theo with many of his trademark production touches. Think lightly brushed percussion, meandering bassline that juts out with an odd funk, and subtle yet sumptuous musical touches, all topped off by a gruff "let me see your footwork baby" croon. Those Theo fans out there that like the man to get a bit rugged will be all over "Tympanic Warfare" too, where off the grid polyrhythms cannon around the channels, augmented by an ugly bassline and dexterous keys.