This Page

has moved to a new address:


Sorry for the inconvenience…

Redirection provided by Blogger to WordPress Migration Service
White Noise: October 2013

Monday, 28 October 2013

Simoncino - For My Father

Label: Crème Organization

DJ TLR’s Crème imprint has always been a singular voice in house and techno music, but their A&R department has been on a roll of late. With excellent recent offerings from InnershadesLegowelt, Xosar, and D’Marc Cantu (not to mention the ace R-Zone series), the Dutch imprint now welcomes Italian house wizard Nick Anthony Simoncino to the stable for a gorgeous EP of polished, dreamy analogue house.

EP Clips

Fresh from the synth-led mystique of his recent LP on the tasteful Mathematics imprint, Simoncino kicks off with a beautiful beatless mood-setter. Interval I only has two elements: growling bass and iridescent, heavenly synths, but it makes for a striking opener, adroitly setting the stage for the wistful club tracks to come. The hardest and most impressive of these dance offerings is served off first, as the propulsive Tape I gets underway with a tense drum machine workout and seething bass pressure. It’s in the high-end, however, that the track achieves its blissful singularity, as feathered synths caress stuttering kicks and dubbed-out claps. Tape II is more reflective, the soundtrack to contemplating the horizon from a space station, as gentle synths play over a detailed field of bleeps and clicks.

The EP is classily polished from start to finish, as the celestial strains of the short Interval II lead into For My Father’s brooding closer, Tape III. Another cut aimed at the dancefloor, here those blissful synths are matched by a darkly patient bassline, a perfect counterbalance of optimistic introspection and shadowy dancefloor know-how. Simoncino’s releases hardly ever miss, and For My Father is no exception, a beautiful collection Chicago-indebted house at its most thoughtful and elegant.


Labels: , ,

Friday, 25 October 2013

A Made Up Sound - After Hours / What Preset

Label: A Made Up Sound

In a landscape populated by quick ascents to fame and even quicker declines, the consistently innovative producer is a rare beast indeed. Dutch artist Dave Huismans has always been a producer worthy of special interest, from his early skewed dubstep to more recent tricky techno concoctions, yet his work has become impressively characterised as much for relentlessly breaking the mould as for its persistently top-notch quality. Recent releases such as the mind-boggling (-ly brilliant) Ahead / Endgame and the desolate ritualism of Air Jordan (under his 2562 alias) have brought Huismans close to genius-level production, and so each release on his eponymous imprint comes as something of an event.

That Huisman’s latest should come as a curveball will surprise no one, but after a series of increasingly terse, hare-brained electronic excursions, After Hours / What Preset at first glance veers closer to techno convention. Two lengthy semi-live jams occupy either side of the record, meandering structurally while fogging the ears with a paranoid ambience built to unsettle. The quality of these productions is top-notch: the lilting rhythm of After Hours never quite settles down, underpinning nervy synth gestures and a dialogue (from the Scorsese film of the same name) turned monstrously disconcerting by the cloying atmospherics. The track’s twelve-minute runtime is perhaps not wholly justified but as a sinister mood-piece it remains striking, held together by a satisfying live quality to its slowly evolving elements. 

What Preset offers a more definitive direction in its opening minutes, gargantuan kicks tearing through the intricate percussive fabric and promising a growling, eyes-down roller for the darkest hours. However, in a typically unpredictable moment, the track’s halfway point gives onto a series of gossamer chords which offer the EP’s first rays of light. Yet this light is filtered, gauzy, gently washing away the track’s pent-up aggression and bringing it to a brave, uncertain close. As the listener emerges, eyes blinking, from another Huismans assault on the senses, it would be easy to compare this tracks to his previous productions. They’re not as dancey, as high-concept, as mind-blowingly weird as some of his past releases – this is all true. Yet from where we stand in the electronic landscape, no one sounds quite like Dave Huismans. As long as we have producers like him around, preconceptions and expectations better watch their backs.


Labels: , ,

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Tom Trago - The Light Fantastic

Label: Rush Hour

Tom Trago's work has always been strongest when he melted a warm disco heart over his house concoctions, and the Rush Hour staple’s third album shows that his work is stronger when he sticks to what he knows. The Light Fantastic is a record of two halves, its opening run peddling trendy deep house sounds, yet the album only comes into its own when that disco influence seeps in, dominating the LP’s superior second movement.

It’s not like Trago is unable to innovate – his excellent Bok Bok collaboration is more than proof that the man is capable of brilliance beyond his early soulful output, but the reference point for The Light Fantastic’s first half is flawed. After the promising title track opens up over a pretty, low-key melody and subtle percussive gestures, the cracks in Trago’s new pop-deep-house formula begin to emerge. The burbling melodies that underpin True Friends’ vocoded vocals are strong but the composition wears thin well before its 6-minute runtime is through, while follow-up For The Children again bears strong individual elements without ever hitting that sweet spot that makes you want to hit the repeat button. This new style reaches its nadir on the desperately derivative Jack Me, where a sensual female vocal directs us to get dirty on the dancefloor over a wafer-thin approximation of a moody bassline. The intention is there but the execution is off: the simple soundscape offers nothing new, while the familiar vocal is more likely to dull the senses than liven them. Despite a disappointing opening run, The Light Fantastic does contain some strong ideas in its first half, exhibited in the soupy chords of slo-mo acid roller Down Under or the strings that wash elegantly over Cosmic Blacksmith’s low-slung groove.

This latter success gives way to an abrupt change in the LP, where Trago returns to his roots, injecting some soul into the plastic house moulds that came before. Following number The Elite is ebullient in comparison, opening with lush orchestral funk before giving way to a bleep-fed techno roller which stands head and shoulders above all which came before. As clips of the original sample intrude into the staccato soundfield the energy is palpable, resulting in an effervescent modern disco cut which stands in sharp contrast to the album’s po-faced deep house beginnings. The roll continues into lead single Two Together, a less imaginative but equally giddy slice of filter-disco, as a propulsive techno pulse underpins jazzy keys and looped guitar cuts.

The album closes with two odd-ones-out: the sweetened Balearic sounds of The Wrong Right give onto the nervy analogue pop of closer I Still Desire, all down-pitched vocals and dystopian synth swatches. Both are decent tracks, yet they don’t quite gel, an uncomfortable issue of sequencing which reflects upon the album as a whole: its gems are hidden towards the end where they might be missed, while the unremarkable deep house exercises that dominate the album’s first half could use some extra weight, or have been cut altogether. Clip The Light Fantastic down to an EP of its best tracks and you’ve have a standout release, but as it stands there’s too much fat, and listeners will unfortunately spend time searching for the gems which are all packed into the album’s third quarter.


Labels: , ,

Monday, 21 October 2013

Special Request - Soul Music

Label: Houndstooth

Under his own name, Paul Woolford has proven himself a gifted producer working in the techno mould. From 2006’s pitch-black Erotic Discourse to this year’s summer anthem Untitled by way of mutant Psychatron collaboration Stolen, Woolford is responsible for an enviable catalogue of rugged club hits. Yet it was when he first donned his pirate radio-homage moniker Special Request that Woolford’s music really came into a league of its own. Prefiguring the current hardcore revival, the Special Request canon harked back to the raucous 90s UK scene that birthed hardcore and jungle, setting these familiar sounds – ricocheting breakbeats, undulating bass sweeps – into crushed technoid moulds. As much a work of tribute as of innovation, the success of early Special Request tracks (here included in a second bonus disc) was due to Woolford’s eminent ability to channel the period’s reckless abandon, curating a thrilling confluence between past and present sounds which made for some of the last few years’ most essential listening.

Now Woolford introduces his most complete Special Request statement to date in the form of the sublime Soul Music, an album whose title hints at Woolford’s emotional relationship to this music. A dedication to the unsung heroes of pirate radio, this music harks back to a sound which was the foundation of almost all contemporary UK dance, giving birth to the energy, dread, and south London atmospherics that can be heard today in garage, dubstep and grime. Despite its wild pace, Soul Music is evidently a labour of love, as Woolford works within a rough style, referencing illicit radio by arming himself with backspins and MC shoutouts, and even going so far as to sample his own sounds as heard through an FM transmitter. It works brilliantly: a complete statement which at once elegises, lionises, and ultimately reinvigorates the hardcore sound Woolford loves so much.

Album Clips

For those looking for the savage hybrids that cemented early Special Request classics such as Lolita (Warehouse Mix) and Mindwash, Soul Music will not disappoint. Soundboy Killer opens with a tongue-in-cheek MC interruption, ‘can you please clear the stage, all you’re doing is jumping the records and we can’t have a good time’, which opens into an explosive hybrid of gender-shifted vocals, gunshots and staggered breakbeat cuts. Throughout, Woolford’s club numbers are bursting with ideas and energy: while Body Armour offers the patient swagger of jackhammer bass hits and cocked pistols, Black Ops seethes over tunnelling filtered synthwork and epileptic break-science.

Yet on one level, we already knew that Woolford could reconfigure these hardcore sounds with the requisite power and grit. As a result some of Soul Music’s most interesting pieces are where he departs from the full-throttle momentum of those earlier releases. Opener Forbidden is a sterling example, as those same breakbeats and growling bass burrow deeper into the mix, adorned by shimmering harp notes and atmosphere to spare. Follow-up Undead is just as intriguing, where it sounds like Untitled’s catchy piano refrain got lost in Special Request’s parallel universe, a treasure whose light filters up from the deep.

While it may have more in common with some of the pacier numbers, third cut Cold Blooded is equally intriguing: like Hessle Audio gone hardcore, its off-kilter beat pattern and insistent melodics make for a powerful trip where Woolford flaunts his sonic inventiveness. This stylistic restlessness is a joy, and evident throughout the album: Capsules filters into existence through deconstruction, as if someone was tuning a radio (achieved with some remarkable panning), while final cut Descent is a curveball of detuned piano notes driven to madness, cannibalised by washes of flickering static.

The album is accompanied by a disc of previous Special Request releases and remixes, and as a result Woolford’s dedication to his hardcore sound palette may fatigue the listener after almost two and a half hours. Yet the quality of these compositions cannot be disputed. It’s a stunningly consistent package, and also a joy to finally get digital versions of the likes of Woolford’s Hackney Parrot VIP or his ace Lana Del Ray remix Ride, among the many gems nestled on the second disc. Soul Music may be composed of songs that aim for the jugular and don’t let go, but the reverence for the source material means that a genuine emotional core glows beneath the brain-frying percussive acrobatics. It’s an astonishing accomplishment, and if this is a window into Woolford’s soul, we might only hope that he continues to bare it well into the future.

Read this review in context at Inverted Audio

Labels: , , , , ,

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Alden Tyrell - Somehouse / Wurkit

Label: Clone Jack For Daze

Holland has a lion’s share of historic labels to its name, including the formidable likes of Crème Organization, Bunker, and Viewlexx, but few have become quite the dancefloor institution that Clone has. A label, physical record store and distribution company, the dancefloor hydra, helmed by Serge, has for nearly twenty years issued tasteful, forward-thinking takes on classic Chicago and Detroit house and techno, alongside its frequent delvings into electro and italo territory. Of the stable’s many close associates, Alden Tyrell stands as one of the most traditionalist, his work always focused on the groove pure and simple, often with stellar results. Alongside a previous collaboration with Serge himself, Tyrell has scored a few recent home-runs with other co-operative efforts, notably with Mike Dunn on acid monster Touch The Sky and Gerd on this year’s roiling Luv Thang.

Somehouse / Wurkit

It’s clear that Tyrell is a modern jackin’ gent, and so his placement on Clone’s particularly special Clone Jack For Daze sub-label seems fitting, as his latest pair of rollers make for some of his most infectious material to date. The tracks are stripped and primed for the dancefloor, but there’s nothing generic about them. A-side Somehouse wastes no time introducing itself with an unremitting test tone melody, championing simplicity over complexity as the hard-nosed percussive workout does its thing. Toss in a set of maniacally looped vocals shouting ‘house’, and you’ve got genuine anthem material on your hands, with all the rugged purity of one of Dancemania’s finest. On the flipside, Wurkit continues with all the subtlety of a steamroller, a flickering synth calling out over the same tough 4/4 and a ‘work it’ vocal loop. There are better places to discuss the usefulness of the term ‘DJ Tool’, but if it can be seen in a positive light, these tracks are its embodiment: aimed squarely at the dancefloor, excelling in their simplicity, these tracks will be the best friends of many a discerning DJ over the coming months.


Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Gerry Read - U Got No Goddamn Groove

Label: 4th Wave

As a producer, it seems Gerry Read was born fully formed. Read’s style presented itself as a murky take on retro house grooves with a DIY feel, which was perfectly conceived from his very first releases. Since then, Read could be seen slowly refining his sound through close association with Ramp offshoot 4th Wave, building to his expansive debut album Jummy and recent single Crave / Enjoy A Day Out. While he may be accused of sticking to what he knows, Read’s work has been impressively consistent and his vision undeniably singular, so another addition to the canon, while not surprising, is only good news.

U Got No God Damn Groove

The title track continues Read’s venture into more floor-focused territory, as an earworm vocal loops dustily over clashing hi-hats and a roiling bassline which, through an impressive filtering process, rears its head throughout the track. The breakdown is particularly striking – dropping away to only that looped vocal and building over claps and clanking percussion,  a detuned melody emerges which brings the track home in luminous style. Rubber Hands is a less striking affair but still has groove to spare, as a distorted bassline comes in and out of focus alongside metal-on-metal percussion. Andy Asteroids is alien terrain by comparison, abandoning club focus for a strange bouncing melody and a penetrating scifi mist. It’s business as usual for Read but the A-side is superb, and he continues to mine his loose-limbed house sound with such energy and dedication that it comes as another welcome offering from 4th Wave.


Labels: , ,