Our budding techno-botanist REbEL digs through January's musical offerings in an effort to expose the most fruitful delights from his garden...
Bartellow - Humming Birds (City Fly Records)
Leicester based house outfit City Fly roll out their 7th ludicrously high quality release courtesy of classically trained Munich based producer Bartellow aka Benedikt Brachtel. The label has come up with a string of big selling, high demand records over the last 2 years seeing the likes of Kez YM, Andres and Creative Swing Alliance sit comfortably alongside new comers and lesser known names like Flori and Chocky, never compromising on quality and what could be called a signature sound.
With the 2 original cuts ("Humming Birds" and "Raw Materia") we seem to get an extension of the sound City Fly is known for alongside two more familiar Detroit-esque cuts those reaching for the label on a regular basis will hanker for.
"Humming Birds" is a weighty track from the off, an off kilter rhythm, strong deep chords and sparkling, sharp percussion lifts up a hooky vocal line that erupts into rumbling bass and tom patterns. It's the heaviest track on City Fly to date, with a distinctly soulful edge that keeps it on the house side of the spectrum. When the track breaks it literally feels like an eruption of energy, disjointed chords cease before it all kicks back in to maximum effect. It keeps you interested throughout with it's superb arrangement, rapturous tom-toms and THAT hook. Sure to destroy dance floors.
"Raw Materia" is even chunkier and, although maybe not as sure fire as "Humming Birds" its rawness is more than commendable. The beefy, distorted kick and crunching snares surrounded by the warmest hat loop I've heard so far this year gives it an unforgettable energy. The chords filter in and again we have a fantastic Tom loop driving the track along. The addictive nature of the percussion and chords means the tune really doesn't need much else, it works to full effect and is probably my stand out tune of 2014 so far.
As for the remixes, the Ugly Drums remix of "Humming Birds" gives us an acid take on lounging house, lots of nice 303's, wonky chords and spacious, simple percussive elements. The Fred P reshape of "Raw Materia" deepens the vibe with lush, floating pads, retaining the brilliance of the percussion as much as possible while chilling things out.
A brilliant, brilliant release with so much going for it, 2 originals to die for, id call it soulful tech house at it's best (if I was a genre fairy) buy it now!
MAKAM - Aime EP (Sushitech)
This came out on vinyl about a month ago but has only just surfaced digitally, as it's a new Makam record (one of my favourite artists of the last 12 months or so) I had to squeeze it into this months feature.
"Aime" is a dubby, churning journey into undoubtably deep but at the same time stomach rumbling techno. The dutchman has taken massive plaudits from his peers for his production wizardry on tracks like "Lion King" and his stunning remix of Boris Werner's "Set it off". Indeed he even had Villalobos allowing him an extended 5 hour live set at Cocoon last year as he was just blowing everyone out of the water on that night.
"Track 1" is a toughened up, atmospheric techno groover, full of crackle and fizz. It has nods to acid house and rave horns subtly strewn across it's lush arrangement. The drama is toned down compared to some Makam's productions but it really doesn't matter, there is more than enough in this track to keep the audience wanting more. The sub bass is the star, throbbing intensely throughout.
"Track 2" combines whispering, soft female vocals, high pitch whistles and more atmospherics with shuddering kicks and more driving sub bass. Again it's the deeper side of "big room techno" that is showcased here, flowing gently. This track feels like a sun gazing, beach paradise affair, moving away from the starkness of the first.
"Track 3" moves away from lusher sounds into much darker territory, perhaps even darker than one. Bell like synthesis, shakers and crackle surround warehouse style bass and drum, drums in the deep…
Another very accomplished release from Makam and Sushitech. 2014 is sure to be another huge year for this producer if "Aime" is anything to go by.
Presk - Saluki EP (Ten Thousand Yen)
New on Doc Daneeka's "Ten Thousand Yen" imprint, relative newcomer Presk brings us an accomplished EP which has already gained Gilles Peterson's support.
Saluki is a funked up, rhythmic affair with techno sensibilities and garage undertones. The swing on the drums is infectious and simple vocal hooks surround a funk laden bass line. There is real feeling to the melody here, resulting in head nodding and foot tapping (without noticing I might add).
"MOD1" and "Rais" are both particularly wonky with a techno flavour. There is something reminiscent of Untold or Blawan in the way the beats are structured, although nothing in either track is as bone crushing as the latter's productions. There are interesting chords and stabs in "MOD1" but "Rais" has an immediate appeal to techno lovers in that it is less broken up and drives along nicely, the metallic snare pushes everything along at a steady yet satisfying pace.
"Vigor" is more on the "bass music" side of things but, although it's broken beats and tempo suggest it would be more suited in one of those "future garage" sets (Genre fairy, apologies) it's got plenty of cross over potential with interesting synths and chords adding soulful elements to the garage house percussion.
Great sounding EP worth checking out.
The Citizen's Band - The Small-Town Blues EP (Tasteful Nudes)
I know nothing about the Citizen's Band so when this landed I had no idea what to expect, would it be a live vibe, was it just a name, who are these people!? Im told Citizen's band is Christian Beisswenger aka CB Funk and Arto Mwamber. His work is primarily analogue and it shows, this EP is warm and richly detailed.
Smalltown Blues is a laid back, jazz funk techno journey, with beautiful keys, swampy, sleazy bass and relatively simple but ever evolving techno. The silky pads sit underneath a bed of exciting, velvety texture, building gently until we get a break with high pitched flute like melody and soft chord progressions. It sounds like an ode to funk in house music form.
"Disrupted" steps up with dark, wonky chords. The warmth from the detuned sawtooth envelops you as you hear elements creep in and out. The wonky, plucked lead melody really grabs you and again the percussion takes a back seat, providing functionality and simplicity rather than drive, it's the melodic elements of the record that do that instead. That being said it still has enough there to serve as a good techno dance floor track at the right moment.
"Eddy's Theme" is an exercise in modular synthesis, ever evolving wave forms and sequenced blips filter in and out and lfo wildly. The drums sound alot crisper and more up front than the last two tracks and for me, although there are elements to savour, the melody is not as strong here.
Then we come to "Freefall", my favourite of the 4 on this record. A deep, chugging, evolving house record that has more than a little late '70s, early '80s italo disco vibe about it. The arpeggiated bass strolls in confidently, rich '80s strings hug you and authentic, retro snare snaps and punches in a most satisfying fashion. Euphoric and Todd Terje-esque you'll want to hear this if you like your throw back disco house stuff.
REbEL & Michael Jansons - Built By Robots EP (Lower East)
It would be wrong of me to review my own records so I won't do it but a quick plug is in order. This is my first release alongside Michael Jansons who I have been collaborating with over the last year. We've been working entirely with out board gear to give everything a nice analogue feel, using nothing but synths and drum machines to create the "Built by Robots EP". You can buy it now on vinyl or wait another month to get it on digital but the wax sounds great so worth the extra pennies!
On the Tough Luck side of things our website has just relaunched and we are announcing our next release (TLR003) very soon.
Check it out here www.toughluckrecords.com
Agree with my selection(s) this month? Anything I've missed, or anything that I should be checking out for next? Get in touch via email@example.com or hit me via @jonnyRebel_uk on Twitter.