Tuesday 17 February 2015

Posted by Johnny Jupiter | File under : , , , , , , , , , ,
Spinna was an icon of the indie hip-hop scene who switched rides on an early lap some way round the course of his DJ/production career, and, if he hasn’t yet reached the finishing-line, has accumulated trophies already in the form of some sizeable dance hits. The biggest of those, his mix of Shaun Escoffery’s ‘Days Like These’ is inexplicably not on either of the two lavish double albums (one track per side apart from LP 1, side C, which has two) this comes as, though it IS found on the CD. That early release (and its immediate predecessor, ‘Space Rider’ which was particularly big in New York) immediately put Spinna up there with the big boys in the world of house, and he’s stayed there pretty much ever since. If there’s a better vocal record in the last few years, I’d like to hear it (and please post it to me via this site)!
A high proportion of the material here is also vocal, but there are a couple of deeper, techier instrumental  tracks to spice up the vibes (and one of those, his Acid Power mix of Karizma ‘The power’ seems to be exclusive to the vinyl). Anyone who likes their house music rooted in the black American tradition will find much to enjoy here, but don’t expect four sides of gospel-style wailing. The original material is quite disparate, but there’s a marked tendency for Spinna to work with bands, and tracks that start out more ‘musical’ in the first place. A Spinna sound, grooving and funky, but never ‘hard’,  unites all the material here. A few personal favourites: Louie Vega with Raul Midon ‘A Better Day’, like sounding like a 21st century Jose Feliciano.; Fertile Ground, ‘Live In The Light’ –fierce, spiritual – and Tortured Soul ‘Why’, deep and dark. This is a well-deserved first retrospective for someone that’s helping to keep alive a vital strain of our dance music heritage.

The Sound Beyond Stars is available on vinyl, CD and MP3 directly from BBE
Or via iTunes

Monday 16 February 2015

I found the name of this EP a bit misleading, as K.M.S. refers to where the producer was living (Karl Marx Strasse in Berlin) not to Detroit techno legend Kevin "Master Reese" Saunderson's label KMS.  However, there is definitely the fingerprint of Detroit on this music--finding funk in the machines.  To be clear, this is not a funk EP--but the spirit of funk is evident. 

Diving into the tracks, "Magnet" is not very complicated, but sometimes simplicity is the disguise of genius.  It feels amazing.  Read that again, "It feels amazing."  Not the sound, not the arrangement, not the notes, but that ever-ephemeral element--feel.  The elusive difference between "repetitive" and "hypnotic" has been nailed by Iron Curtis.  That said, there are a few sonic surprises such as the super-syncopated introduction that seems to be fighting itself, yet works. It works in the same way that your body understands funk even when your mind doesn't; like when James Brown's grooves dance around "the one"--but it is never hard to find. Later there's the section where it sounds as though it's gone from a studio recording to an outside location, like we've gone for a smoke in the back-alley.  This is a great way of lifting the mood a bit before the insistent groove gets dropped on you again (which you are happy to receive!)  The take-no-prisoners kick drum says "Dance sucka!" and would make Sir Nose D'voidoffunk shake his rump.  Combined with the organ, piano, pads and perfectly-placed bass notes, this track has "classic" written all over it.

"What Happened Happened" is quite a bit murkier, but no less pleasant.  It's a bit like an after-club meal with friends where you don't remember the details, but the general feeling was good and you know something interesting went on because your friends always bring it up, but can't go into specifics.  The sounds are slightly distorted, the spoken word sample sounds pitched-down and kind of glitchy.  The bass & drum groove is solid and moves you along and the keyboard sounds have a dirty, but not dark vibe to them.  The "Berg Reduktion" of "…Happened" picks the mood up quite a bit.  It's less hazy memories and more cool party groove.  The  distorted and murky samples are still there, but the drums, bass and keys are a lot more upbeat.  Nowhere near as heavy as "Magnet," but well-balanced given the force of the A-side.

This one should work for terrace/lounges, bars and clubs and I think you're doing yourself a disservice if you do NOT buy this.  I expect to hear this one being played for years to come…

Office Recordings (OR04)
Format :  12inch vinyl / Digital
Release: 30.03.2015