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White Noise: July 2015

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Obas Nenor - My Way Home / Change Got To Come

Label: Mahogani Music

He’s only surfaced on wax in 2015, but Israeli producer Obas Nenor could hardly have heavier house credentials. He debuted with a single on Strictly Rhythm backed by a torch-lit Andrès remix, and his second outing is on Moodymann’s Mahogani Music.

The two tracks on his latest 12” live up to the hype, offering a muscular, explosive brand of house that doesn’t skimp on the funk. My Way Home can be heard in one of two ways. As a straight listen, it’s a stormer crafted from funky guitar licks and oscillating synths that sear like the sun. So far, so good. Fans of the inimitable Gil Scott-Heron, however, may see this one as more like an edit. The vocal and melodies of Scott-Heron’s classic Home Is Where The Hatred Is have been borrowed heavily for My Way Home, and honestly Nenor’s club refit loses much of the original’s heartbreak soul. Ultimately as a standalone tune it’s a belter though, and miles better than any number of efforts from producers who borrow liberally from the annals of funk and soul.

The B-side Change Got To Come is a braver, darker cut. Dramatic strings and a hefty rhythm start things off, before a dubby break introduces a mucky bassline precision engineered to rattle the bass bins. The track wields elements of soundsystem culture expertly, from the dub effects that continue stylishly over the stomping kick to the veritable assault of the bass frequencies. This’d already be gold, but Nenor unexpectedly transforms the track halfway through into a nocturnal disco number, opening the door to the kick and introducing a catchy vocal line.  

It may be his first release with more than a single original track, but Nenor’s vital outing is a testament to both the producer’s confidence and Moodymann’s psychic skills as a curator. Two sides of straight fire, count this one as essential.


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Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Jack J - Thirstin’ / Atmosphère

Label: Future Times

Both solo and as one half of Pender Street Steppers, Jack Juston absolutely dominated 2014. As his Mood Hut imprint continues to go from strength to strength, with ace recent material from PSP and House of Doors, Jutson’s come up on close affiliate Future Times with a sequel to last year’s superb Looking Forward To You.

Jutson’s solo work is a little busier and groovier than his work with the Steppers, and on the A-side we hear a return of his delicious zigzag basslines and melodies that’ll warm you to your bones. Here Jutson himself adds vocals to languid keys and a range of playful percussion, and while its as welcoming a track as he’s ever produced, the loss of his previous output’s subtle melancholia is felt keenly – it’ll put a smile on your face but there’s something almost too simple about this one.

B-side Atmosphère is a more restrained construction, as Jutson adds a lacquered piano line to shuttering dubbed-out percussion which brings back the tension that the A-side lost. While Thirstin’ may be a groovy song, Atmosphère is the real jam here, showing just why Jutson will hold onto that house throne a while longer.


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Friday, 17 July 2015

DJ Koze - XTC

Label: Pampa

“Many people are experimenting with the drug ecstasy. I heard you say once that a lie is sweet in the beginning, and bitter in the end. And truth is bitter in the beginning, and sweet in the end. I have been meditating, but I don’t have the experiences people report from the drug ecstasy. Is the drug like the lie, and meditation the truth? Or am I missing something that could really help me?”

There are a range of usual suspects when it comes to the emotions elicited from dance music. Euphoria and ecstasy are the prime examples, but we also often hear nostalgia, aggression, hysteria and introspection evoked by our club sounds. Yet where are the rest of the feelings that populate our internal landscapes? Surely a rich style of music should cater to all experiences. One emotion that isn’t often tackled is uncertainty. It’d be hard to pull of, sure, but it’s a shame to miss it from our music because feelings of uncertainty make up an enormous part of our particular modern existence.

DJ Koze, who’s close to a household name in dance circles, is exactly the kind of adventurous producer who might try to chart such a nebulous, undefinable feeling in his music. Koze gained recognition for his imaginative, playful productions and his reputation as an eclectic selector, yet his fame is only partly down to his deft musical skills. Koze seems allergic to predictability, in subject and sound, sourcing the strangest noises to craft a strain of house that is often so emotionally direct its disarming.

On XTC, his first single in a couple of years, the surprise on the A-side is almost the lack of eccentric flourishes. The only strange thing here is the raucous dog-barks filtered through the outro, but the rest of the track is almost as straight as Koze comes, and refreshing for it. Shards of glassy melody stab repeatedly into the soil, as a beguilingly ambiguous vocal, slowed down to a narcotised drawl, questions the effect of drug-induced euphoria and truth. It’s a little unsettling, a challenge to the drugged-up club crowd (à la Traumprinz), but all the more impressive for it. Over a smooth base of glossy house Koze shows a desire to challenge the listener’s conception of the scene and its chemicals, to ask a question rather than force a message.

On the flip we hear Koze of a warmer vintage, as malfunctioning electronics bleat over an indelibly funky bassline, laying the smooth beside the jagged. Soon the sounds of chopped brass and faulty technology start to intertwine, an exhilarating blend of sources that stops short of chaos thanks to the smart, snappy drum pattern. It’s the most ‘floor-friendly we’ve heard Koze for a while, and paired with the brave A-side this 12” makes for a most welcome return for one of our scene’s most singular producers.


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Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Domenique Dumont - Comme Ca

Label: Antinote

Unpredictability is always a double-edged sword in the dance world. On the one hand, it’s great to be caught off guard by something great, but sometimes a producer hits such a great groove that it’s frustrating when they give it up and start doing something else entirely. It feeds into a wider discussion on DJing style too: many DJs use dance tracks as functional tools to build a dance, and like a producer to deliver similar, high-calibre material. Others are always looking to surprise listeners, giving dancers the frequent rush of the new. But it’s not just producers that can be un/predictable. Labels, key curators in the glut of contemporary music, are also often guilty of getting a little too cosy with a sound and remaining a little unadventurous.

One label which spectacularly avoids this pitfall is French imprint Antinote, which has quietly become buy-on-sight over the last few years. Label-head Zaltan switches between releasing lost grooves, such as the deep meditations of Iueke or vintage Italian synth noodles, and modern output such as the ace future-funk of D-K. An eccentric range of sound and high quality control have become Antinote’s hallmarks rather than a fixed style, and so it was with anticipation rather than trepidation that we first listened to the label’s poppiest offering yet, Domenique Dumont’s debut album Comme Ça.

We know little more than the producer of these intoxicating tunes hails from Riga, but the shadows cast over their identity do nothing to darken the music. This is a pure summer sound, skilfully stirring dub, synth pop and more meditative electronica into a colourful, bustling whole.

The LP starts in a tongue-in-cheek fashion, the title track’s first moments opening onto a yawning synthscape which promises a slow meditative groove, abruptly cut short by a rhythm of lively claps and pops, sunny steel pan melodies and the vocals of a breathless Nouvelle Vague heroine cut out of her own time. The A-side continues in a similar style, as La Basse et les Shakers guides the listener a bustling trip into the jungle, all syncopated rhythms and jangling melodies. The cooing French vocalist returns on album highlight L’Esprit de l’Escalier, her vocals treated so heavily they’re barely distinguishable as the track eschews traditional pop structure by moving from chorus-verse-chorus to a glorious never-ending bridge which occupies the song’s second half.

These aren’t really tracks or cuts, they’re songs, addictive and hummable, but with a fine producer at the helm, who has a light touch but never lets things get too sugary. The album’s B-side keeps the tone but changes the mood, with three meandering slices of electronica that evoke a sunny haze. Un Jour Avec Yusef is almost too stoned to move, a lazy tropical guitar line drifting over slo-mo clicks and pops. La Bataille de Neige is a nostalgic carnival ride, but it’s on Le Château de Corail that Dumont really nails this slower style, a majestic calypso-closer with regal steel pans that march on, proud and wistful. It closes a curious and winning package from yet another great Antinote discovery, as if they needed another feather in their cap.


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Saturday, 11 July 2015

Guest Mix

WN resident DJ Moth has cooked up a new mix that goes from Lebanese funk to low-slung house via filter disco and shuffling 90s garage. Here's the tracklist, exclusively on White Noise. Check it out:

Ziad Rahbani – Abu Ali
Paxton Fettel – Afloat On A Sea of Nothing
Nebraska – Emotional Rescue
DJ Nature – Everyone
Paradise Box – Reel Nitty Gritty
Haydn – Booty Meat
Dude Energy – Renee Running
Mount Liberation Unlimited – Clinton Space Funk
Amadou & Mariam – Ce N’est Pas Bon (JD Twitch Edit)
Palms Trax – Sumo Acid Crew
Andronicus – Make You Whole
Ian Pooley – Welcome To The Tunnel
Mall Grab – Glock
DJ Sotofett – Nondo
Fatima Yamaha – What’s A Girl To Do
Roger West – End House
Acid Arab - Samira

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Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Paxton Fettel - Everything Stays The Same

Label: Greta Cottage Workshop

In recent years we’ve found that there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a perfectly-honed deep house album, and there seem to be a lot of them about at the moment. One of 2015’s most notable bounties is surely the debut album of Danish producer Paxton Fettel, an eight-tracker that gives generously across its concise runtime, showing a diverse array of skills and always hitting the spot.

Admittedly Fettel takes a while to get going: the first few tracks take are lush and elegant, but don’t hint at the joy and range to be found on the album’s second half. They sure do set the mood though, Amber Light Burns is a gentle opener that gazes deep into the sunset, while Beyond The Sapphire Surf and Cloud Feeling live up to their blissful titles, lightly born with colourful melodies.

It’s all very pleasant and airy until Dots On The Skyline hits, and suddenly it becomes clear that Fettel is more than just a good producer. The crunchy hip-hop lope suits Fettel’s classy melodics to a tee, as a looped harp and lose piano chords tug us skywards while the gritty drums keep us rooted to the ‘floor. Then an acid line bursts from the woodwork, more jazzy than disorientating club mania (à la Floating Points), resulting in a powerful cocktail. The pace continues to rise with the surprisingly raw Lift Off, which pulls off a glorious contrast between its sawtooth bassline and hobnailed kick offset by jazzy keys. The unexpectedly merciless kick shows another side of Fettel’s production, pulled off with the impeccable finesse which span all of his productions.

If those tracks send you off into space, the return to earth is just as joyous. Fettel teams up with Japanese producer Takuya Matsumoto for a gorgeous nu-disco ride with Afloat On A Sea Of Nothing, whose searing brass and optimistic keys carry you on their wind, bearing none of the stasis indicated by the title. With the closing Solitary Returns, Fettel returns to gazing off into the distance, its burbling chords and wistful mood a fitting cap to a well-crafted journey. Beyond his serious production talents, the relatively few tunes and shorter track-times show one of Fettel’s skills which is rare in the house world – concision. He knows just when to pull back, when the sound is done and speaks for itself. The inevitable result of that is that you’re left just wanting more.


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