Review: Born in 1970, in Montego Bay, Jamaica, Allan Crichton (aka White Mice) is a graduate of three sound systems - Sugar Minott's 'Youthman Promotion', Jammy's 'Hi Power', and his hometown 'Ticka Muzik'. His first break came at Sun Splash in 1985, when he and Little Kirk were called on stage to perform with Tenor Saw. Recording at King Jammy's and Channel One studios, with Junior Delgado at the controls, over next the few years Mice let off a series of records amongst the very deadliest of digital reggae - nearly all on his brother Blemo's Intelitec imprint, out of Miami.
Review: Released in 1971 and written and recorded by Dave Hamilton (one of Motown's most prolific and influential session players), Sugar Billy Garner plays the consummate band leader over a relentless groove that rolls with drama. Billy gets sweatier, the guitars get busier, the dynamic gets heavier and heavier... So heavy it rolls into a second part. Primed for the floor, it still hits hard 44 years after its release.
Review: Hailing from Crimea, Stas Karpenkov's Krym Mryk label is a direct line into the most intriguing techno-oriented diversions transmitting from Russia and Ukraine. In a similar vein to the likes of Udacha and Ghost Zvuk, Krym Mryk is brimming with the kind of originality and expression that makes records such as these essential purchases. "Entity" presents a calm, icy ambient lead in before the quivering, dubby techno pulse of "Yevpatoriya Satellite". "I've Had Enough To Look Down" is a writhing, biomechanical synth work out of the highest order, and "Windswept" finishes the EP off in a gentle blizzard of drones. A serious draw for this record as well is the Stanislav Tolkachev remix, which nudges "Yevpatoriya Satellite" into dynamic broken techno territory with a powerful synth wave channel coursing through it.
Review: The Happy Skull label hasn't been afraid to look locally for inspiration, with The Kelly Twins sourcing some fine output from Bristol types Marco Bernardi, Rhythmic Theory, Kowton. But 12"s from Throwing Shade and Creta Kano suggests their feelers extend much further too! The latest Happy Skull release extends an invitation to Cologne and the severely under rated Andreas Gehm, a man who really knows how to abuse his acid lines to great effect. Lead track "Yes Or No" is the sort of cut you keep in your record box for the sweaty moments deep into a set when you really want to beat down the dancefloor. "Summer Time In Coloniae" does offer a more pensive side to Gehm's palette and perhaps inspired the Twin Peaks artwork on the 12", whilst closer "Going By" is ocean deep.
Review: Marta Ren has made us wait for a follow-up to her superb 2016 debut album "Stop, Look, Listen". The good news is that a belated sequel is in the works, with this limited seven-inch single offering a first taster of the studio sessions. "Worth It" was certainly worth the wait (sorry). Based around a lolloping deep funk groove rich in heavy bass, hip-hop style drum breaks, crunchy guitars and rising horns, the track sounds like a long lost original 1960s recording rather than something made earlier this year. That's no criticism, though, because Ren's powerful, forthright vocals - available on the killer A-side version - suit that kind of fuzzy, retro-futurist production. Don't sleep on this one - it's one of the strongest soul records of the month without doubt.
Review: Having made a name for himself releasing on Dirt Crew, Outernational and the like, Ben La Desh now brings his ranging take on house music to Young Adults with a veritable spread of tones and styles up his sleeve. The EP kicks off with "Afrodesia", which piles the synth pop notes on heavy over a driving rhythm section in a wistful mixture caught somewhere between boogie and techno. "Your Love" follows up with a lounge-friendly diversion that gleefully loops up samples and hooks in a laid back re-edit style, while "We Are" takes that easy-going approach and works into a more searching piece of low slung house music. "Why Don't You" wraps the EP up with a sassy Chicago-esque jam that benefits from the soulful injection Josie Akers vocals bring to the table.
Review: Dreamy mid '70s funk from Caribbean (St Maarten to be precise) trio Cool Creations: "Wish Upon Love" struts with a Boz Scaggs-style confidence and a deep, cloudy finish that would make Faze-O proud. Flip for a straight-up cloud burst as "Night On Beach Island" lives up to its name with measured pace, cosmic trumpets, sandy pianos and lavish, lolloping wave-lapping double bass. Beautiful.
Feat Moor Mother, Ellen Arkbro, Bohman Brothers & more!
Notes: Moor Mother - Philadelphia poet, punk, polymath and noise maker Camae Ayewa has been kicking against the system with collaborations including Irreversible Entanglements, Kevin Martin aka The Bug, alongside her own mixtapes and albums addressing the legacy of colonialism and present day police violence. Plus: Latin freestyle - Peter Shapiro provides a user's guide to 1980s-era New York's freshest and flyest dance sound; Ellen Arkbro - the Swedish composer and La Monte Young student talks drones and tones.
Review: Thus far all we know about Wilson Phoenix is pressed into the previous two records the anonymous operator has released so far in 2018. That should be enough for techno heads with their ears to the ground - this is rough and ready hardware business for those who like it nasty. While not perhaps as willfully unhinged as Neil Landstrumm, it's very much in that sonic ballpark, not least on relentless acidic opener "Between Mars." Things get a little freakier with the pinging electro delights of "Moon Machine" before the rowdy rave beast "Exo Planet" levels the landscape with some brutal synth stabs that would sound at home on an early The Prodigy record.
Review: Gritty, abrasive and grey-scaled noise fluxions from Daz Quayle and Tony Snowden for the seventh instalment of the Aperture series. The mood is tense and the sounds are cold. It's six tracks of filthy machine noise straight form the gutter. Seriously though, apart from the usual suspects in the game such as Prurient, Kevin Drumm, Whitehouse etc, this is some of the best noise-driven techno music we've heard in a while. Each track brings something special to the picture but the stand-outs are definitly "Sub Clinical" for its menacing rhythmic roll, and "Blood On Your Hands" for its originality - an utterly wacked-out bassline amid all that percussive storm. Sick.
Review: 'White of the Eye' is the first release under "Nothing but Blood" from Scott Fraser, a direct link back to Scott's earlier 90's work and sound around the darker realms of techno and harder-edged Chicago house. The EP title refers back to a favourite Donald Cammell film of Scott's from 88'. 'White of the Eye' on the A-side is an 11 minute extended mix of the lead cut. Silent Servant on remix duties delivers an amyl fuelled techno bomb landing somewhere in an 80's new york basement. Diving deeper on B2 it features Atlanta resident Claire Elise Tippins on vocals.
Review: After releases from the likes of Myles Serge and Hakim Murphy, Mentha now turns to STK (also known as Stekke) for some sinister minimalist tackle from the dark side. "Something Is Raw" creeps along on a bed of grumbling drone as pin-prick percussion punctuates the gloom, and then "What Is Back" drops the bed of noise for an eerily sparse groover sure to unsettle the nerves of any listener. After all those subtleties, Gary Romalis does a damn fine job of edging a little more meat onto the bones of "What Is Back" without losing the vibe of the EP. With punchy yet muted drums and lashings of atmosphere, his remix makes the perfect counterpoint to STK's uneasy reductions.
Walk A Mile In My Shoes (Timo Garcia & The Chesire Catz remix)
Walk A Mile In My Shoes (Tom Belton S Ssl Re-rub)
Review: Coldcut return with the stand-out single from their critically-acclaimed album, "Sound Mirrors". The pioneering duo take Joe South's classic 70s hit "Walk A Mile In My Shoes" and re-work it in the tradition which started with their own "Autumn Leaves" and incorporates Massive Attack's "Unfinished Sympathy" amongst others. And, as usual, Coldcut know how to pick a collaborator. Robert Owens should need no introduction. One of the true legends of house music, his career as a musical innovator (as well as the possessor of an all-time great voice) runs from pioneer days as one half of Fingers Inc in Chicago in the 80s right up to collaborations with Photek and London Elektricity, via any number of classic tunes including "Tears", "I'll Be Your Friend" and "Ordinary Son". The version of the tune included on the single ties the epic nature of Coldcut's production to a skipping, swinging house rhythm and the kind of anthemic build that leaves you exhausted. It's a truly beautiful piece of music, the contrast between the delicacy of Owens' voice and the weight of the orchestration perfectly realised. And that's before you've even reached the mixes. Tiga takes the original, strips out the music and replaces it with technoid pulses and a harder dancefloor rhythm, with the sweetness of Owens' voice cutting through the intensity. Henrik Schwarz (of Berlin-based Sonar Kollektiv) builds the original into a melancholy, jazzy number which still sets the foot tapping. Tom Belton goes straight for the disco-funk hands-in-the-air jugular, before Timo Garcia hardens up the kick for a full-on club odyssey.