Thursday 7 April 2016

Posted by Unknown | File under : , , , , , , , ,
Once in a while a tune turns into a classic; even more rarely you know a tune has classic status from the very first play.  This is one of those occasions.

Make no mistake Mr Bird and Greg Blackman – with the aid of two genuine masters of the remix, Tom Moulton and Ashley Beedle – have crafted something very special indeed. “Over Again” is simply beautiful, a gentle masterpiece that oozes soul and Summer; if it was any more honeyed the bees would have claimed it back by now...

The original “Lo-fi Classics” version, previously available on digital from BBE, is genuinely great in itself (and always has been) but the Tom Moulton and Ashley Beedle reworks take it to an even higher level. It’s a matter of personal taste which one works the best for you (I love ‘em both!), but if it’s the Tom Moulton version you’re after, you’d best be quick – it’s vinyl only, and there are only 200 of them out there.

So – terrific song, great production / vocals and top notch reworks from the man who invented the art of the remix, and the man who’s done as much as anyone to redefine it. Sounds like an absolute monster to me.

Buy via Juno

Thursday 31 March 2016

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The Colour & Pitch label has been a go-to source for ultra high quality melodic deep house since its inception, but their latest release steps things up a good couple of notches...and then some.

Having slowly developed an excellent relationship with self described “shadowy figure” Q-Burns Abstract Message, following his remix of their first release, the label’s gentle persistence in seeking new music from the Orlando based producer has paid off in fine style with this package of previously unreleased and unavailable re-works from Q-BAM’s elusive back catalogue.

After months of work tracking down artists and rights holders all of these previously hidden gems are now fully cleared, and have been newly remastered for this release – and there’s not a duff note in any of them.
First up is an excellent atmospheric and dubby rework of Church Williams’ “Touch The Sun” – sped up considerably from the original and ditching most of the vocal and piano, what we have here is a naggingly hypnotic piece that is hard to categorise (although it sounds like Summer) but very easy to love.

Track 2 is a deep and delicious rework of The Antirealist’s “Abscence” that is somehow brings elements as disparate as a classic reggae drum hit, Johnny Marr style shimmering guitars, analog synths and steel pan sounds together, binding them with a powerful but lazy bass line to create something that is – in my worthless opinion at least – nothing short of magical. Be careful what you’re smoking when you listen to this – you might not come back.

The wonderfully named Japanese Insanity’s track “The Lobster” is next for the Q-BAM treatment. I have no idea what the original sounded like, but this version is another hypnotic delight. Layers of sound coalesce to create another mini-masterpiece, with an arpeggiated key line providing an unavoidable brain-hook that will either entice you to dance or drive you insane – your call. Dubby explosions and sudden stops add to / release the tension as required. Brilliant.

Robert McCoy’s “Damascus” follows. It’s got a darker, deeper and more intense feel than the tunes that precede it, but with recognisably Q-BAM touches. Perfectly crafted, it sounds like 6am in the dark to me and it’s all the better for it, and the ethereal whispered vocals definitely help edge it towards creep out territory. Which is never a bad thing.

Mathew Scot’s “Trauma” as re-imagined here is a wonderful piece of work. Deep and just the right side of dark, it’s atmospheric, enveloping and twisted just enough to slightly mess with your head – in a nice way of course. A late night / early morning gem that sounds like you’ve known it forever, and one you'll be playing for the foreseeable.

So there you have it – a frankly excellent 5 tracker from an excellent label that is well worth your time and money. Please give both freely.

Tuesday 8 March 2016

Posted by Will Sumsuch | File under : , , , , , , , , , ,
Record shop owner, renowned DJ and one half of respected production duo The Amalgamation Of Soundz, Jean-Claude has been a mainstay of London’s music scene for almost 4 decades now. Alongside artists such as Kruder & Dorfmeister and Saint Germain, The Amalgamation of Soundz championed a genre defying, jazz influenced style that became the soundtrack to the late nineties and early naughties for many music lovers. Their 2003 Fabric compilation is a slept-on classic, flying in the face of convention with cinematic elegance and off-kilter weirdness whilst retaining the DNA of the pair’s memorable DJ sets, which included a Glastonbury appearance in 2005. More recently, Jean Claude has been busying himself with new projects of late: namely running his record shop If Music, hosting shows on NTS and Soho Radio and curating a series of compilation albums. The latest of these, A Journey Into Deep Jazz (out now on BBE Music) sees Jean-Claude digging deep into his formidable collection and emerging with a fantastically eclectic haul of rare musical gems. We caught up with the man himself to find out more.

How did you get your start in music? Were you collecting records for a long time before you began DJing? 
Apparently I was obsessed with buying and owning my own music since the age of six (so the story be told by my late mother). I had my first ever DJ-gig at the age of fifteen for the school party.

You clearly have wide-ranging musical tastes. As a DJ, do you pull it all together in a way that makes sense? 
As a DJ I have learnt that unless it is a residency each gig has to be approached as if it’s the first time. If it’s a Fabric on a Saturday night, of course I’m playing Disco, house/Techno and I will throw as many breaks into that mix as I can. If it’s a Plastic Peeps (legendary and sadly missed London venue Plastic People) scenario then I’m going stupidly heavy and playing the most obscure shizzle I can get away with. When it’s a Glastonbury, you hit them with the shit they know and want but, everything with my own way of delivering the party. We all have the same records, it’s just how one plays them. The right notes in the wrong order or maybe the wrong notes in the right order!

You've been a DJ for well over three decades now. Please describe how you've seen the scene change and evolve in London during that time. 
 I have DJd man and boy for nearly forty years and the evolution of the DJ is hand in hand with technology as it constantly evolves. For the past ten years or more it’s been all about turning your back on vinyl and the basics, to let the computers do all the work for u. Not surprising really, with the advancement in technology that has transpired over the last twenty years!

We hear your record shop, If Music, has just moved to new premises… 
We are coming up to our 14th b/day and after a seven year absence we have returned to Soho (our 1st spot was in Green’s Ct. back in Jan. 2003). This time we are on D’Arblay Street, right opposite where Black Market Records used to be (serendipity? For sure).

What's it like running a record shop now compared to back in the 90s? 
Indie record spots like ours still function in the same way they always have: we break acts, we turn on the players from all over the world to the latest heat and the classics they need, we introduce the next generation of new talent to the established underground Dons and Donettes and even to the major labels so, the wheels of the music industry keep on truckin’. Running a small record emporium has always been a ***ed up double-edged sword: on one hand, great to be surrounded by brilliant music all day and have the dream job where no two days are the same but, not likely to make millions from doing it. Saying that, one doesn’t do it for the money, I guess.

Your 'Journey Into Deep Jazz' LP on BBE is a very special compilation. How did you go about selecting (and ordering) the music? 
I chose an X amount of records from my collection. Whatever we were able to license was licensed and hey presto, job done!

What's next for Jean-Claude? 
We have the label tie-in with Ninja Tune, so, we will have an array of artist albums continually released on IF Music, there are a host of different comps I’m putting together for BBE et al. There’s the NTS & Soho Radio shows which are a lot of fun, gigs and a busy shop to run……

Jean Claude's 'Journey Into Deep Jazz' is out now on BBE Records.
Check out the 'If Music' online store here

Friday 4 March 2016

Posted by Will Sumsuch | File under : , , , , , , ,
It’s always a pleasure to see a favourite underground record label evolve from releasing the odd 12” or EP to becoming a fully-fledged ‘grown up’ imprint releasing artist albums. Sweden’s Local Talk is one such label, gaining an international following for its off-kilter releases from Kyodai, HNNY, Fred Everything and others. I’m glad to say they’ve extended their distinctive music policy to their first few long players too.

‘How I Communicate’ is the second album from Moskow’s Lay-Far, an artist who’s been heavily hyped by those in the know over the last couple of years. For once, the hype is entirely justified. Critics and stores will probably put this record on the same shelf with the likes of Todd Terje, Crazy P and other ‘disco crossover’ acts, but although there are undeniable similarities, I’d argue that this record is subtly and essentially different. Why? Because Lay-Far isn’t pulling any creative punches. While the other two acts mentioned have a tendency toward the saccharine which makes them the dance music equivalent of ‘gateway drugs’, Lay-Far has struck a near-perfect balance between accessibility and authenticity.

From the warm, string-laden musical hug of ‘Like The First Time’ which opens the record, through the jazzy broken-beat / House crossover ‘Slope’ featuring Ashley Beedle, to the low slung deepness of ‘Submerging’, this album really has breadth. Supplying enough melody and variation to (hopefully) please a more mainstream audience, whilst retaining enough repetition and groove to satisfy the heads, Lay-Far’s balanced and elegant offering should serve as a lesson to us all on the difficult craft of album-making.

'How I Communicate' is out now, so go get it.