It’s 1988 and you’re lying on a beach and you’ve been up for two days straight and honestly don’t think you’ve even been as simultaneously tired and content at the same time and you’re not really sure if your friends are still here and you can’t be bothered to try and remember where you last saw them, or even where exactly in the world you are and anyway you’re near a bar that’s playing a pretty random mix of 70s rock and kinda floaty, beatless music and it’s really nice and everything but maybe a kick drum would be good, but a gentle one mind, nothing too harsh and then you hear this…
The new album from Levon Vincent, SILENT CITIES, is unlike anything he’s produced before, and is more concerned with mood and atmosphere than deadly dancefloor “weapons”, which is just fine by me. The entire album is great but Sunrise is a definite stand out, with its glistening, meandering synth line and washed out pads evoking both peak Mr Fingers house and 80s-aping synthwave.
I really wasn’t expecting Drake to surprise drop a soulful house album in the Year Of Our Lord 2022… but here we are.
Jamal Moss (who also records as Hieroglyphic Being) has been a pioneering force in Chicago’s electronic music scene for decades, producing a range of sounds from weird, glitchy electro, to gorgeous, melodic house. Most of the tracks on his Modern Love debut Thanks 4 The Tracks U Lost fall into the latter category, with The Lust With-IN tugging especially hard on the heartstrings with its melancholy pads and beautiful, cascading synth line.
More dope beats from the other realm courtesy of the queen of electronic witchery. If you’re familiar with DJ Sabrina’s previous work, this follows in pretty much the same vein: 90s-heavy samples blended with bright, open-hearted production. An out-and-out nostalgia-fest, in other words that will make you yearn for the days when aspect ratios were square and TV audiences pissed themselves laughing at literally everything.
It’s been a long old time since I heard a straight up house track (or amapiano, as I’m reliably informed this should be classed) I enjoyed at much as this, which given my day job is a dispiriting state of affairs. Calling to mind Mr Fingers-era Larry Heard without directly aping it, it’s soulful and deeply relaxing, but with enough low-end throb to shake your chest. Stirring stuff.
Shout out to BRLY DRSSD for leaving it late in the year to drop one of the most unashamedly positive tracks of 2021. Teaming up with Sri Lankan artist Chanty Thushara and reminiscent of Crazy P at their bubbliest, Diamonds is “for all the ladies who sometimes don’t think they are strong or worth listening to.” A warm, breezy dance/pop cut, it’s hard not to be won over by its open-hearted optimism.
The elevator pitch for Tokyo producer Soshi Takeda’s new album Floating Mountains was probably “Mr Fingers-era deep house meets floaty new-age noodling”, and as undeniably shit as that sounds it’s entirely accurate while completely underselling what is an incredibly enjoyable collection of tracks. Yes, the basslines might be fairly predictable at times and it’s certainly not doing anything especially groundbreaking in terms of structure or progression, but there’s something undeniably joyous about hearing the open-hearted optimism of plinky plunky, almost pan-pipe-esque synth stabs above a simple, shuffling 4/4 groove. Apparently inspired by a well-know mid-80s photo book of Chinese landscapes, Floating Mountains is both grandiose and quaint: a wonderfully effective experiment in completely ignoring the cutting edge and finding comfort and even a little excitement in the path well trodden.
Galcher… Lustwerk! Every time I see this guy’s name written down I suffer from an uncontrollable compulsion to say it out loud, mimicking that robotic French tag from his breakthrough Blowing Up The Workshop mix. Try it! It’s fun! Anyway, this is taken from a new Explorations in Analog Synthesis collection (Volume II, funnily enough) where Moog have asked a load of Very Good Producers to demonstrate the “powerful analog sound and sonic possibilities Moog Sound Studio offers”. Each track was built around the Moog Mother-32, DFAM, and Subharmonicon included in each artist’s Moog Sound Studio, and the full seven track EP includes music from Boy Harsher, Hannah Peel and others and is well worth checking out.
I very rarely miss clubbing these days. It all just feels like a bit too much effort and the recovery time is just way too hideous to contemplate. Gigs are fine as you can can be home at a reasonable time (yes, I’m aware how old and boring this makes me sound: I’m ok with this) and festivals are different, and worth it. But clubbing isn’t something I’ve yearned for during lockdown in the same way I would have a few years ago. But then records like this come along and I feel almost sick with desire to be all fucked up in a club with a load of other sweaty people, fingers clutching a bottle of water, a mindless grin slapped all over my big stupid face.