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White Noise: January 2016

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Q3A - Space Chamber

Hungarian producer Gergely Szilveszter Horváth, better known as Route 8, has made an impressive name for himself over the past few years with his melancholy brand of deep house. Combining raw drum workouts with subdued, emotive melodies, his best work for Lobster Theremin and Nous hits a sweet spot between the dancefloor and the heart.

Last year Horváth first donned his techno-leaning Q3A moniker (apparently a reference to the influence of videogame Quake 3 Arena) on promising new label Black Venison. Now he picks up where he left off for Delsin, on a functional four-tracker that showcases all his best traits.

Horváth’s blueprint is clear: a machine-fed rhythm with fearsome low-end is layered with a dreamy ambient wash and subtle flashes of brighter melody. Each untitled cut here plays out this formula with slight alterations. The A1 is as glacial as they come, with a mammoth kick and glittering keys, while the B1 rides on a swift elastic bassline and a synth melody that soars past like so many shimmering birds in sunlight.

The EP’s other two cuts toy a little more with the recipe. The A2 is the toughest club cut on show, with a crunchy breakbeat and a melody sunk deep into the mix, while the standout final track uses an 808 electro snap and a growling bassline to keep things fresh. Space Chamber’s tracks are solid club cuts but they lack the emotional punch of some of his best work. Still, while they may not break the Route 8 mould, they certainly continue to prove why that mould was so appealing in the first place.


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Monday, 25 January 2016

Shanti Celeste - Being

Label: Future Times

The town of Bristol on the UK’s south-west coast has always had an influence on the electronic scene that belies its size. Following its reggae roots and the birth of trip hop, recent years have seen the establishment of some of the UK’s most essential imprints in Bristol such as Livity Sound and Idle Hands, founded on the fertile tectonic boundary of soundsystem culture and 4/4 dance. A result of this unique intersection of ideas is the central concern with bass found in a lot of the city’s dance music. Bristol’s producers seek to exploit the low frequencies so that they provide more than just added muscle.

It’s not just the old guard who keeps Bristol’s music scene so vibrant. A slew of new labels such as Hotline and BRSTL have been keeping the city’s output fresh and the quality control very high, and local producer Shanti Celeste has had a big part to play in this. While grounded in Bristol’s house sound, her productions have always set their sights beyond, taking in a range of influences and styles from beyond the coastal city.

It is somewhat fitting then that what is probably Celeste’s best record to date has come out on a US imprint, Max D’s reliable stable for new age house experimentations, Future Times. Having contributed one of the highlights on last year’s Vibes 3 compilation, now Celeste brings out her first solo record for the label, Being.

The title track could be a religious rave anthem, its sharp church organ stabs and punchy rhythm all wrapped in an elastic bassline that keeps up a constant pressure and highlights the glittering synthwork. The quality of these melodies comes to the fore on the Ambient Mix as they shimmer through thick reverb, standing strong even without a rhythmic backbone. B-side Good Spirits taps into Celeste’s growing interest in electro, all staccato claps and subtle clicks, where a dramatic intro gives way to a taut snap and searing scifi melodies.

Celeste’s output becomes more assured and impressive with each successive release, as she alights on a personal sound born of, but not limited to, the rich musical history of her surroundings.


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Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Bianca Chandon Presents &Co - Best Of Friends

Label: Bianca Chandon

Listen to EP clips here

While it could be said that all great art has a story behind it, this is not always the case in the electronic music world. The best novels and poems can be the fruit of sudden epiphanies, incredible life experiences or years of labouring in obscurity. Rather unromantically, the best dance tracks are often the product of someone sitting hunched over a PC in their bedroom at 5am. But how much does a great narrative really add to our enjoyment of a piece?

It’s true that sometimes our finest records come from an unusual place. One might mention that this EP combines the talents of skater/ society boy Alex Olson, Sarcastic Disco’s Paul T and film composer Alberto Bof. Maybe add that it’s all released under the banner of Olson’s fashion label side-project Bianca Chandon. Or you could just say it’s the work of three friends who’ve spent a lot of time chilling out together on Venice beach. Either way, when the sound is this good, it’s easy to leave the story behind and focus on the music.

Two ten-minute epics occupy either side of the wax, mining a slo-mo disco sound with a tough acid streak. Best Of Friends lays down a tough kick and then contrasts a gurgling 303 with crystalline piano keys, perfectly balancing elegance and menace. B-side Wine Cooler is the real party-starter though, where a long jazzy build drops into an irresistible disco stomp. The two tracks are accessorised with a few filter sweeps and mix-friendly in/outros, but the pure funk coursing through these tunes is more than enough reason to get on board. There’s even a bonus acid workout included, but it doesn’t add much to the original package.

Nu-disco with actual substance, acid that doesn’t leave behind the funk, it’s a surprising and well-executed release that leaves us hoping that this unlikely trio will get together more often.


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Monday, 18 January 2016

Khotin - Baikal Acid

Label: 1080p

Few local scenes have caused a stir in recent years like the house sound coming out of Canada’s west coast. There’s a gentle, daydreaming quality to the hardware jams that have coalesced around labels like Mood Hut and 1080p that proves irresistible, with producers eking out the softer fringes of acid, jazz and new age.

Vancouver transplant Dylan Khotin is a strong example, announcing himself with releases on 1080p and Normals Welcome emotionally situated between dewy melancholy and misty-eyed optimism. While local affiliates such as Pender Street Steppers, Project Pablo or Florist keep a touch of humanity front and centre in their productions, using voices and acoustic instrumentation, there is something decidedly mechanical about Khotin’s productions, like the songs of love and loss that machines would write to one another.

 In Recycle (5AM Reflection Mix) everything is descending: hollow drum hits and glistening synthwork, a burbling acid bassline and a distant whirring like a spacecraft failing to take off. It’s wistful material, the synths flowing into a pool of shimmering reverb, emphasised on the beatless Drift Mix beside the lapping of waves on the shore.

The B-side holds material more primed for the dancefloor, with highlight Human Voice beaming out new age synthwork over clattering cymbals and the distant sound of celestial chipmunks. Meanwhile the final title cut is more introspective, a busy rhythm writhing under an uncertain synth motif, before a yearning melody emerges for the track’s second half. It’s a convincing statement for both Khotin and 1080p for the new year, wintery music for contemplating grey skies and hushed dancefloors.


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Friday, 15 January 2016

Omar Souleyman - Heli Yuweli

Label: Trilogy Tapes

The rise of Omar Souleyman in the western musical world is a kind of cross-cultural fairy tale. A Syrian performer known for raucous dabke improvisations at weddings, Souleyman achieved international recognition in 2007 on an American compilation and now, exiled from his conflict-riven homeland, he tours the world’s music festivals and collaborates with some of the dance scene’s brightest stars.

This ascent has born two albums, ‘Wenu Wenu’ in 2013 and last year’s ‘Bahdeni Nami’, the first produced by Four Tet and the latter with a range of producers including Modeselektor and Gilles Peterson. Thus far these European names have steered clear of changing too much of Souleyman’s sound, tidying the production here, beefing up a kick there, elongating the track times to suit western dance tastes. This is perhaps due to respect for the artist and the conventional role of a music producer, but the fact that the crème of European DJs didn’t leave any fingerprints on Souleyman’s sound also feels a little like an opportunity missed.

When real remixes have emerged, rather than production credits, from the likes of Legowelt or Crackboy, they’ve worked well, and hinted at new avenues in the emerging exploration of Arabic sounds in European dance music. Enter Trilogy Tapes and their shadowy lofi militia Rezzett, who, in a willingness to rip the original apart without respect for its fidelity or structure, have made something exciting and new.

The Souleyman original takes up the A-side, and it’s as good as the best cuts on his 2015 LP. On Heli Yuweli (“let him leave”) Souleyman wishes somewhat cruelly for the departure of a girl who has hurt him, accompanied by a slamming 4/4 and some typically dextrous keyboard workouts by affiliate Rizan Sa’id. It’s sweaty party music that shows exactly why ‘the other Omar S’ has gone down such a storm at western clubs.

On their first remix, Rezzett lay the acapella over a crushed rhythm and grainy synths that bubble to the surface, showing just how well the duo pair a punk approach to audio fidelity with curiously emotive keys. They do one better on the Rerezz, which turns Souleyman’s voice into distant radio crackle as wistful pads haunt the snare-heavy drumwork like mist. It’s spacey, mesmerising, and totally Rezzett. More confirmation, as if it was needed, that the most interesting results of artistic collaboration often come from a willingness to tear it up and start again.


Rough translation of the lyrics (the 'him' that Souleyman is addressing is his love for a woman):

‘Let him leave/ he filled my heart with wounds/ I’ll let God punish him, he deserves it / I gave him my heart and my soul / let him leave, so I don't see him/ so my hand doesn’t touch his/ let him leave, so I don't see him / let him live the rest of his life crying in grief / regret is useless / why does he want to cause me more grief and pain, let him leave, let him leave’

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Wednesday, 13 January 2016

DJ Sotofett - Percussion Mixes 1

Label: FIT

From the primitive days of drum circles right up to industrial techno in a grimy basement, rhythm has always been a central human concern. It speaks the language of the body, compelling us to move, hypnotising until we are outside ourselves, be it just to escape or to commune with something higher. The possibilities of rhythm and tone from a single drum are staggering. Strange then, that so much of contemporary dance music relies on one of the simplest patterns imaginable: the 4/4 kick.

While many of electronic music’s brightest lights may flirt with unquantised rhythms or 2step, few explore the outer possibilities of percussion as dedicatedly as Norway’s DJ Sotofett, head of the esteemed Sex Tags imprint. Whether it be spaced-out breakbeats or African polyrhythms, Sotofett’s music is always alive with rhythmic complexity, and his latest for Aaron Siegel’s FIT imprint is no different.

Siegel and Sotofett are a perfect fit. Not only were they both responsible for some of last year’s mightiest tracks, but the two have collaborated before and Siegel handles Sex Tags’ US distribution. Here Sotofett shows off his impressive drum programming on both sides of the wax. Tribute To “Sore Fingers” is probably a reference to Laurent Garnier’s furious rhythm cut, but takes a gentler approach with a tidy bassline, swooning background synths and a complex cycle of light drums and hand percussion. It’s just the kind of raw drumwork that can spice up a dancefloor, mesmerising right up to its long, spacey outro.

As accomplished as the A-side is, Houran (Percussion Mix) is a wilder beast, and the real prize of this 12”. Tapping the source material from an upcoming LP by Arabic musician Abu Sayah on Versatile, Sotofett uses the keening yarghol (an Arabic flute) as a central melody, adding an intoxicating flavour to his tough percussive workout. The introductory wordless chanting lends the track a cosmic vibe, harking back to the early religious purpose of music, ekstasis, standing outside of the self.

Because isn’t that what we really search for in dance music? A stimulus that will travel through us, the body merely a conduit that takes in music and transmutes it, expelling motion. It elevates us from the mundane, and takes us somewhere new.


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Saturday, 9 January 2016

Best Tracks of 2015 - Part 3

Our last two instalments lined up some of the very best tunes of the last year, but now we’ve got the absolute crème – White Noise’s twenty favourite tunes of the year.

20. Denis Sulta – It’s Only Real [Numbers]
Glasgow’s Denis Sulta’s two releases on Dixon Avenue Basement Jams marked him out as a serious new talent, and this single-sided outing on Numbers showed that he could pull of an anthem too. It’s Only Real is deceptively simple, essentially an unchanging drum loop and one showstopping melody, but it tears apart dancefloors like little else.

19. Pender Street Steppers – The Glass City [Mood Hut]
Scene favourites Pender Street Steppers offered a perfect distillation of their sound with this year’s The Glass City, an ultra-chilled confection of gentle percussion, fluttering melody and a broad bass swagger.

18. Bicep – Just [Aus]

Honestly, we didn’t expect to see Bicep on this list again. After the trend for balls-to-the-wall 90s diva house faded, we rather thought the Northern Irish duo would disappear along with it. But we’ll be the first to admit where we were wrong. Bicep turned out the winning Just in 2015 and rightly dominated dancefloors. While earlier Bicep tracks were instant-gratification affairs, Just is sinuous and subtle, its earworm synthline calling out like a siren til the soaring scifi keys reach boiling point.

17. Khotin – Sorry Sequence [Normals Welcome]
We expected great things from Dan White on his split EP with Khotin, and we got them, but we never thought he would get so dramatically upstaged. Sorry Sequence is a stunner, raw yet melancholy with its stainproof rhythm, cycling melody and corrosive acid flex.

16. Soichi Terada – Sun Showered [Rush Hour]
It was hard to pick a single tune from Hunee’s superbly curated compilation of Soichi Terada’s forgotten house gems, but Sun Showered hits the sweet spot of rhythmic drama, colourful melody and flat-out optimism that makes all his tracks so winning.

15. Merle – Mimi Likes 2 Dance [Stripped & Chewed]
Chicago outpost Stripped & Chewed did a stellar job reissuing this lost beauty from ’99. Merwyn Sanders even reworked the original lead single, with a new vocal line and cleaner production (and a change of title as a nod to his wife). With its catchy pop vox, funky backbone and urgent synth sweeps, this cut adds a pinch of joy to any set.

14. Whispers Beirut – Away [Unreleased]
Still officially unreleased, this collaboration between Baba Stiltz and Petrodollar caught us off-guard with its simplicity and its melancholy. A yearning synth rules the track’s first half, before a slack hip hop beat picks up the pace. Sometimes less is so much more.

13. Hidden Spheres – Waiting [Distant Hawaii]
If you’re going to open a sub-label just for one release, it better be a good one. Lobster Theremin heeded this rule when they opened Distant Hawaii for a single summer release by Mancunian Hidden Spheres. Opener Waiting was the most sublimely chilled house track we heard all year, a breeze of warm melodies wafting over a textured drum workout.

12. Palms Trax – Sumo Acid Crew [Dekmantel]
Two years after Equation, Palms Trax went one better with this elegant slice of acid. Here the 303 is far from its alienating roots, burbling beside warm Chicago pads and harmonising with a soaring synth climax.

11. Harvey Sutherland – Bermuda [MCDE]
It’s easy to see why Motor City Drum Ensemble snatched up this synth-maestro for his own label – in 2015 Sutherland brought the funk like no other. Bermuda is an absolute masterclass in songwriting, from its virtuosic opening to its astonishing climax which crams in more melodies than we would’ve ever considered coherent. But Sutherland pulls it off with flair. More please.

10. Florist – Final Bounce [All Caps]
After a long gestation period on Soundcloud, one of the Vancouver scene’s best releases showed up unexpectedly on the Glaswegian All Caps imprint. The Phenomena EP was a winner, the feather in its cap Final Bounce, a spare slice of house with aquatic vibes and a soulful choir that rises magnificently from the mist.

9. Haydn – Booty Meat [Junk Yard Connections]
Buried on the B2 of a V/A release from Sweden’s underlooked Junk Yard Connections imprint, Haydn’s Booty Meat is the definition of a secret weapon. The unusual combination of gentle keys and a racy vocal line keeps dancers on their toes, and when that mighty rhythm kicks back in after the dubby breakdown everyone on the ‘floor will drop to make it clap.

8. Raw M.T. – Untitled [Mörk]
After he wowed us with the brittle techno of Walkman Is Dead a couple of years back, Italian producer Raw M.T. was back with a vengeance this year. In the middle of a superb EP on Lobster Theremin offshoot Mörk was Untitled, a humid house killer with exotic vocals and a malevolent bassline. Intoxicating stuff.

7. Nebraska – Emotional Rescue [Mister Saturday Night]
White Noise’s favourite party-starter of 2015 came from the reliable MSN stable courtesy of Nebraska. On the diverse Stand Your Ground EP a disco killer nestled on the B2, a shot of euphoria served over filtering brass and earworm vocals.

6. Route 8 – The Sunrise In Her Eyes [Lobster Theremin]
We’ve got a bit of a fetish for melancholy deep house heavy on the ambience, and few producers bring the feels as magically as Hungarian talent Route 8. The opener to This Raw Feeling is as dreamy as its title suggests, warm pads caressing the ear like a gentle tide, a quickened pulse and hopeful chimes leading us deeper down the rabbit hole.

5. Fatima Yamaha – What’s A Girl To Do [Dekmantel]
Okay, so maybe everyone’s sick of hearing about this tune by now. But if we leave aside the bittersweet melody, searing synth lead and solemn bassline, we’re left with a hopeful story.

Keeping up with the lightning-paced electronic music world can lead us to treat tracks as disposable tools, each EP skimmed for parts, forgotten by the month’s end. The fact that a house tune from 2004 caused such a stir in 2015 proves that longevity and beauty can triumph over disposability. We are capable of treasuring our beloved music like the art it is.

4. Dude Energy – Renee Running [Animals Dancing]
Not content just issuing a fine album under his Suzanne Kraft moniker this year, Californian wizard Diego Herrera also dropped one of our favourite club tunes of the year as Dude Energy. Combining impressive bass weight, razor snares and a mesmerising melody that sounds plucked from a gypsy songbook, this tune was a shot in the arm of samey dancefloors throughout the year.

3. Leon Vynehall – Midnight On Rainbow Road [Rush Hour]
From the very start, Leon Vynehall has had a way of evoking complex emotions with his music that few artists can parallel. His only release this year was a solitary tune on Gerd Janson’s lovely Musik For Autobahns 2, and, though beatless, it's one of his greatest compositions to date. A glittering melody flutters through a rain-streaked landscape, accompanied by skipping snares, traffic sounds and a heaving ambient wash. It’s music to get lost in, and you won’t want to be found.

2. Fit Siegel – Carmine [Fit]
Detroit’s Aaron Siegel doesn’t put out much music, but when he does it’s practically buy-on-sight. This year’s Carmine was an immensely emotive slice of house that takes you places that little music can reach. A delicate construction of gossamer synthwork, filtered snares rattling through the scales and a taut electro rhythm, this was the tearjerker to rule every 5am dancefloor in 2015.

1. DJ Sotofett – Nondo [Honest Jon’s]
Sex Tags head DJ Sotofett has risen to underground legend status over the last few years, and it’s not hard to see why. With an excellent label and mix series, an adventurous DJing style and a penchant for explorative, breakbeat-fuelled remixes, Sotofett (and his crew) stand as rather unique figures in an often homogeneous scene.

Yet one of the reasons why Sotofett’s releases are so successful is how adeptly he adapts and works with a stream of varied collaborators. This is the story of White Noise’s favourite tune of 2015. On a superb album chock full of ace collaborative efforts, the standout tune had Sotofett jamming with Karolin Tampere on drum machines and synths while Maimouna Haugen offered hushed, sinuous vocals. With a seductive synth motif and spare afrobeat percussion it’s a simple piece, but all the deadlier for it. It’s easy to feel jaded by the 4/4 scene if you don’t keep searching for something different. Sotofett always provides.


That’s all for 2015, we’ll be back soon with fresh coverage for the new year. Hope you enjoyed the roundups, check out all our Best Of articles below:

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