Monday, December 21, 2009

December 2009 Records Round Up!

While it seems every blog out there is busy finishing up the year end with ‘best of’ lists galore, I’ve decided there’s just too many damn sick records still coming to do that just yet! With that said, here are a few highlights of what I’ve picked up in the last few weeks…

Alternative Car Park - Joey Negro Edits

This 12’’ popped out of nowhere recently and is rocking my life. Apparently it’s been released on UK house label ‘Better Days’ which hasn’t put anything out since the early 90’s? Whoever is responsible for releasing this monster though deserves some serious props. Four edits by the genius behind the Sunshine Band , Mr. Joey Negro… A-1 ‘All Aboard the Funk Train’ is a peak-time disco bomb with a funky-as-hell bass-line and exalting diva vocals instructing the crowd to “get on the funk train”. Meanwhile ‘Jack Your Sorry White Ass’ is pure 80s Chicago mechanical bliss- sounding like a rare dub mix of an undiscovered DJ International or Traxx record. While two tracks of this caliber would normally be enough to get me excited about a 12’’, the B-side on this is just as lethal! ‘Please Don’t Leave me Joanna’ may or may not be a Fela Kuti edit (!?) but it definitely delivers a hearty Afro-bop shuffle. Rounding out the pack is the quite hilarious ‘All Over My Leg’ which is an edit of Loose Joint’s classic ‘Is it all over my face?’ but using a cockney-accented vocal repeating the line “Is it all over my leg? Spilt my drink dancing…” Overall four ridiculously dope edits to spice up the dance floor…

Kyle Hall – The Dirty Thouz

Picking up in similar territory explored by his previous release with his buddies as Bsmnt City Anymle Kontrol, this 12’’ sees Kyle continue to mine the fertile territory at the crossroads of classic house, dilla-style instrumental hip hop and 80’s funk. While every track here is certainly ‘interesting’ and worth multiple spins, the real winner for me is ‘luv 4 kmfh’ which is a down-tempo house jam that briefly seems to capture the elusive sci-fi vibe of classic Detroit releases by Mayday and Kenny Larkin. However, Kyle adds some spacey, improvised keys to create something totally original. By now it should be obvious this kid is going places: all three records on his Wild Oats imprint have been absolute must-haves in my opinion. While I hate to pile on the praise and hype, in this case it’s well deserved! Kyle really has his own unique sound… something which takes other producers years and years to get to. Anyways, I am starting to get the feeling that some of Kyle’s more abstract and laid back jams (such as ‘B Eatn’ Gritz’ or ‘Lax Adrenaline’ here) might work better in an album format… I might be asking for too much but a fully realized LP by Kyle would probably be very, very sick!

Shimmy Sham Sham !

I heard about this record through RA’s very nice interview with the Mole. While reading through that I noticed the guy was picking out several of the same records that I was feeling at the moment, so I decided to check some of his other selections. Turns out it was a great idea as they were all very strong tunes! The highlight of the pack though was this boot-leg edit of Fela Kuti and Banbarra by Guillaume Coutu Dumont. Delivering a contemporary tech-house track while preserving the original Afro feel and instrumentation of the base material, this is quite a gem. It’s a bit of a shame that this couldn’t see a wider release and promotion as it’s surely one of the best edits / rearrangements of the year. I haven't been a big fan of what Guillaume has put out in the past year but I was really impressed with his live show... I hope he continues to pursue this kind of direction even further!

Shake – Arise + Trus’Me Remix

Having been unable to secure a copy of Shake’s ‘Levitate Venice’ EP stateside, I was very happy to get my hands on this re-press of the classic ‘Arise’. A Detroit techno piece that feels like it builds forever, this track has a strong feeling of melancholy which is bound to put a large crowd in a heads-down, introspective shuffle. Trus’Me continues to prove he’s one of the best young producers in the game at the moment with his remix on the B-side. Adding menacing, dark tones and a shuffling drum pattern, he delivers a worthy remix of a classic that will slot in comfortably into any house or techno set. Overall it’s nice to see these types of collaborations similar to what Basic Soul Unit did with Arnold Jarvis a few months back: new producers paying tribute to their heroes through creative remixing. I hope to see more of these types of reissues in 2010!

Next up on the must-buy list… the new Marcello Napoletano album and hopefully a copy of the limited edition DJ Harvey remix of House of House’s epic ‘Rushing to Paradise’. Also, I have been thinking of whether to finally get the new Three Chairs album? I have been hesitant to do so thus far as the samples of the CD aren’t blowing me away? Any thoughts? Might still choose to hold out for vinyl if it turns out to be as ridiculously sick as the first one... Finally, I must say that I'm quite excited about A-Trak's collaboration with Armand Van Helden as Duck Sauce. Yes 'aNYway' maybe "commercial shit"(?!) but its funky as hell and a solid throwback to late 90's disco-house... I'm definitely in agreement with the Dope Jams dudes on this one...

Friday, December 11, 2009

DJ Harvey @ Cielo

11/27/09 - On a freezing post-Thanksgiving night, I headed down to Cielo to shake off some turkey weight while having my mind expanded by the master Black Cock selector: DJ Harvey...Here is how it went!

Cielo has always had an interesting spot within the New York City house music scene. Blessed with an unbelievable Funktion One sound-system but sitting in the commercially-focused nightlife hell-hole that is the Meatpacking District, the club has always had a bit of a schizophrenic personality. Back when it first opened its doors in 2005 it was an ‘exclusive’ spot that just happened to play some quite excellent house music provided by residents such as Willie Graff. Access and entry during this period on weekends was consistently a tricky and / or expensive affair. Buy bottles or ‘know someone’ was the name of the game. However, even during this period the spot would still open its doors to real underground heads on weeknights for Francois K’s Deep Space on Mondays as well as We Are Robot’s seminal (and much-missed) Thursday techno extravaganzas.

As fickle NYC fashions changed, the club lost its spot on the list of places ‘celebrities frequented’ and investment bankers ‘had to be seen’ to be cool. While Mondays and Thursdays generally stayed solid due to the aforementioned weekly events, weekends fell apart. Forced to open their doors more liberally, the crowd became increasingly grimy (not necessarily a bad thing) but also unfortunately prone to violence and blatant drug use. For what seemed like an eternity Cielo became the place your girlfriend would fear attending on Fridays and Saturdays. Luckily, the last few months of 2009 have brought some very positive changes…

A fair entry policy, interesting DJ bookings, solid residents and a zero tolerance policy to drugs at the door has resulted in an overall well-balanced combination for the NY institution. It was thus with much excitement that I visited the old ‘candy-box’ dance-floor for Darshan Jesrani’s “Adult Section” party. Our host for the night was Harvey, a legend amongst collectors of rare disco and Italo records as well as a truly masterful vinyl-manipulator.

Launching his set with a bit of weirdo ‘Balearic’ jams, the bearded master wasted no time in heating things up my dropping Mr. Flagio’s amazing “Take a Chance”. Pitching the record up to pumping, house music speeds the floor became immediately packed with energetic dancers. Following this classic with a mass variety of disco, italo and proto-house records, Harvey had the place on fire. After an hour of solid disco eclecticism the man put everyone into a bit of a hypnotic groove using his own “Vinegar Drop” edit from the now infamous Black Cock record series.

The hypnotic / housier side of Harry was on display for another half hour or so before a brief interlude of what I could only describe as guitar-heavy “disco-rock” (?!). Already amazed at the energy Harvey had brought to Cielo, the British selector set it off one last time with his “Bermuda Triangle” edit. As the horns on the track blasted away, people were smiling all around me and jumping for joy- a scene I hadn’t seen in Cielo in several months. Overall a fantastic event and one of the best sets I’ve heard all year. Hopefully Cielo can keep pushing forward with these types of bookings. However, regardless of where he plays next time, I’ll definitely not be missing Harvey on his next visit! The veteran DJ really has a unique style that needs to be heard (and seen) to be fully appreciated. Quite simply, I don’t think there’s anyone out there mixing up disco, balearic and italo with as much energy and flare as the Black Cock man. Let’s hope for many more years of dance-floor weirdness and brilliant mixing from the Sarcastic Disco don.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Delicious Records Mix #1 !!!

Alright everyone as promised here is the first Delicious Records mix. I tried to represent the different styles of music which I aim to cover on the blog and included several of the 12’’s I wrote about here and for RA. The mix moves through funk, disco, italo, house and a bit of techno...a pretty big cross-section of dope dance music of all times. Overall I’m pretty happy with the results. While I’m still polishing my mixing I guarantee every damn track on this thing is 110% fresh! Anyways, if you love it give it to your friends. If you hate it, give it to your enemies ;-)

In other news, I have a new review up on RA for Will Saul’s Balance mix. Beyond that, as we are now nearing December, I have begun the annual exercise of trying to remember exactly what blew me away in the last year... This means I’ll soon be sitting down with my 2009 record box and choosing the cream of the crop to drop in my votes for RA. Will sure to take a bit more time over here to talk a bit about how the year felt for me.

1. Dexter Wansel - Life on Mars - Loft Classics
2. Chic - Funny Bone - Atantic
3. Mary Wells - Gigolo - Epic
4. The Revenge - Unfinished Edits Are Out of My Hands - Jiscomusic
5. David Vunk - Disco Voltage - Lunar Disko
6. BSTC - B.S.T.C. - All Natural Inc.
7. Robert Owens -Bring Down the Walls (Original Mix) - Jack Trax
8. Bernard Badie - Overjoyed - Mojuba
9. Hunee - Rare Silk - W.T. Records
10. Fudge Fingas - DinDins4Dada - Prime Numbers
11. Chez Damier - Teach Me, Keep Me - Mojuba
12. Moodymann - Joy Pt. II - KDJ
13. Omar-S - Flying Gorgars - FXHE Records
14. Arnold Jarvis - Take Some Time Out (Basic Soul Unit Remix) - Crème Organisation
15. Kyle Hall - I Love Dr. Girlfriend


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Fall Retro Records Round-Up!

As I mentioned in the intro to this blog, the purpose of this site is to not solely act as a medium for shining a light on new productions, but also on fantastic dance music of the past. I feel that this is important in today’s environment where listeners are constantly flooded with digitally-distributed tracks. While the low barriers to entry provided by technology have permitted a wealth of new artists to easily access audiences, they have also made it remarkably easy to ‘put out’ incredibly boring and uninspiring music. In the past, club music had different standards. With vinyl as the main medium for DJ-play, a record usually had to be promising enough to warrant the expense of pressing it to wax and physically distributing it. The result is that a great deal of dance music from the 70s and 80s naturally went through a harsh filtering process before being released and often had very high production values. Dance music had to be fit to press to wax! This is not to say that no bad pieces made it out but it does mean that there is a TON of fantastic music to dig for and celebrate. What’s more, a lot of this music actually still makes ‘sense’ on today’s dance-floors…
Anyways, without further nerdy philosophical posturing, here are some of the retro records I’ve been feeling this Fall…

Luv You Madly Orchestra – Moon Maiden
This is an incredibly bizarre record. Apparently Love you Madly Orchestra were a Salsoul production responsible for recording disco music composed by Duke Ellington. While this idea might lead you to think the music would have close associations with jazz this is not really the case... The A-side here is far more similar to the alternative disco music of labels like Ze or Sleeping Bag than any of Duke Ellington’s more traditional jazz productions. The composition combines slightly out of tune female vocals with cut up voices that keep exclaiming “I gotta…”. Every once in a while this is interrupted by some weirdly-pitched string flurries. Not surprisingly, on first listen it actually all sounds rather unpleasant. However, after a few spins you sort of begin to recognize the bizarre genius at work behind this composition. In my own personal case, I eventually fell in love with this weird slab of disco and now treasure it as one of my favorite recent acquisitions. Not surprisingly, it seems to have a decent fan-base, evidenced by its rather lofty price on Discogs. It also bizarrely made a recent appearance on Errol Alkan’s RA podcast. I honestly never thought anyone would ever think of playing this out in 2009 but I’m glad I’ve been proven wrong. Anyways, listen to it 2 – 5 times on youtube below for the full experience. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Dexter Wansel – Life on Mars (off of Loft Classics II)
The Loft Classics series is a truly wonderful run of 12’’ records that attempts to gather some of the most famous tracks played by the infamous David Mancuso at his notorious NYC loft parties. Spanning jazz, disco, soul and house, everything I’ve found on these 12’’s has really only had one common factor: it’s all incredibly funky. While this edition of the series includes Street Life and Los Conquistadores Chocolates, the true stand out for me is Dexter Wansel’s “Life on Mars”. This record has got to have one of the coolest intros ever. In fact, it’s so damn impressive I don’t even want to describe it here. I’d much rather point you to the opening section of the Delicious Records mix which will be online shortly... (that, or just skip to utube if you can’t wait!) Hopefully you’ll be shocked by its brilliance yourself. As a minor side-note for hip hop fans, I recently discovered that this record served as the sample basis for Lupe Fiasco’s “The Cool” which was one of the best tracks on the Chicago MC’s debut album.

Chic – I Want Your Love / Funny Bone
Chic records tend to have the high production values that I mentioned in the intro to this post and this is certainly no exception. The sound quality, live studio band arrangements and even the hot pink vinyl on which this was pressed are a testament to some nice record label quality control. While many might dismiss Chic out-of-hand for being associated with over-played disco hits like ‘Le Freak’, this would be a terrible mistake. The band actually has a fantastically deep back-catalogue of beautifully composed dance-floor jams. On this 12’’ “I Want Your Love” is the most recognizable hit, having been sampled by Moodymann for his classic “I Can’t Kick this Feeling When it Hits”. That said, “Funny Bone” is an often-overlooked classic disco jam. Low slung with funky bass guitar and gorgeously arranged strings; it’s definitely worth a close look and a potential collection purchase.

Cymande (Self Titled)
I first learnt of 70s London-based Caribbean funk / reggae group Cymande through Innervision’s “Grandfather Paradox” mix CD. That release focused on giving an aural history of ‘minimalism’ and did a fantastic job of providing an intro to some seriously funky (yet experimental!) music of the past. While the cut on that mix (“For Baby Oh”) had some nice stripped down percussion, I was more taken aback by the warmth of the vocals and funky chorus: “We shall go down… we shall be found!” Anyways, being a bit of a long-term dub fan I was happy to accidentally come across this group’s debut at a local record store. It’s truly a fantastic LP that is 100% guaranteed to brighten your mood during the harsh winter days up ahead. Beyond the warmth factor though, this record distinguishes itself by managing to blend funk and reggae in equal doses to create a truly unique sound. It’s really a bit of a shame that this group remained out of the limelight as they certainly deserved a bit more recognition. Check for yourself by tuning into the below youtube links.

Alright everyone that is my Retro wrap up for now! I have recently recorded a mix that uses many of the records mentioned on this blog. That will be available very soon… At the moment I am in Brazil for work but as soon as I am back in NYC that thing is getting uploaded. For now I’m going to use my free time down here to try and accumulate as much great Brazilian music as I can. Especially going to look for some 80’s MPB = Musica Popular Brasileira. That stuff is the bomb. Maybe also some Tropicalia although I’ve always felt that stuff was somewhat overhyped. Wish they had record stores down here but like most Latin American countries, it seems music on wax is pretty much extinct… Still, I’d love to be proven wrong so if anyone’s got a recommendation out there throw it on the comments!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Moodymann Spins in NYC & 12’’ Halloween Treats

Last Saturday afternoon NYC was blessed with a visit from one of Detroit’s most gifted house music producers- the one and only Kenny Dixon Jr. aka Moodymann. The last time KDJ was in NYC he played at Santo’s Party house in lower Manhattan. While this venue had a nice thick sound-system, its harsh concrete walls and busy main room proved to be a tad bit too impersonal for KDJ’s unique style of DJing. This time around the boys from Mr. Saturday Night got the arrangements spot on by booking Kenny Dixon for an afternoon set at the 12-turn-13 loft. This Brooklyn loft is probably the best spot to have a dance party in NYC at the moment. The main room offers enough space for comfortable dancing but is also dark and cozy enough to consistently generate the intimate, friendly vibes that distinguishes average events from truly great house music gatherings. Despite the weather not cooperating and dumping sheets upon sheets of rain from Friday through Saturday, the turn out for the party was large and enthusiastic. As I stepped in at 6pm, a large crowd was already gathered on the floor anticipating the arrival of Moody.

Coming on at around 6:30pm KDJ opened up with some nice bits of disco before dropping C2’s remix of Junior Boy’s “Like a Child”. As the long intro of the track played out, the Detroit DJ grabbed the mic and introduced himself to the crowd. Surprisingly everyone was enthusiastic that he was actually speaking to them. This differed drastically from the reactions I’d seen from this approach at other Kenny Dixon sets. Usually the crowd tends to get very confused when the DJ decides to literally address the floor. Luckily this group had enough hardcore fans and open-minded dancers to happily go along with Moody’s style and the result was a solid few hours of great music and interaction between the crowd and DJ.

The flow in Moody’s set was unlike that of just about any other contemporary, well-known DJ /producer. He truly is individual in his disregard for genre boundaries and his ability to keep a floor bouncing, even while interrupting his mixes every few tracks. He’s also (sadly) becoming increasingly unique for being one of the few major names out there still spinning close to 100% vinyl. Luckily for us wax fanatics he made it a point to announce his preference and love for the physical format multiple times. He also humorously suggested anyone pass along requests to the booth and that he would play anything if he had it on vinyl or ‘just drop some other shit like it’ if he didn’t.

Overall it was a great evening full of soul, disco and house RECORDS from every period of modern dance music history. Of all the great tunes Moody dropped, one in particular stands out to me: Yaz’s “Situation”. While this is a certified 80s classic it’s not the kind of ‘underground’ or ‘obscure’ record you’d associate with a producer like Moodymann. Still, for 8pm on a Saturday night to a room full of sweaty house-heads the effect was pretty damn epic with smiles all around and people screaming along to the lyrics. Always bringing the unexpected Moodymann is definitely one to look out for…


Leron Carson on Sound Signature & Slow to Speak’s “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” (Unicarsal Epitaph Edit)
As some of you may know, 12-Turn-13 is dangerously situated steps from Dope Jams, one of NYC’s finest record stores. Of course I couldn’t help myself so I copped the above two release as a Halloween treat before dropping by 12-Turn-13. Both releases come highly recommended, in particular the bizarre Bela Lugosi edit from the good guys over at Dope Jams. Dissecting Bauhaus’ goth-rock classic into a droning mélange of reverb, guitars and wailing vocals, this edit is the ideal soundtrack to the grey, rainy days we’ve been having leading up to Halloween weekend. The guys also threw in some vintage screaming and wailing samples to spice up your mixes…

On a completely different tip, the Leron Carson is some truly mechanical Chicago house from the archives. Recorded to tape between ’87 and ’88, the reels were dusted off and engineered by Omar-S for release on Theo Parrish’ Sound Signature label. While several of the tracks are perhaps too dry to imagine them having a long shelf-life, a few have a deeper emotional depth that guarantees pretty much eternal value. In particular, “Red Light Bulb” has a gorgeous, melancholic vibe. While I appreciate the grit of the lo-fi recording, this is one particular track I’d like to see resurrected in full hi-fi. Overall a solid double-12’’ on Sound Signature worth adding to your shopping list.

So, after Halloween this weekend look for my Fall Retro records round-up and possibly a review of what I get down to on Hallow’s eve. I also still owe everyone a mix… Hope people are enjoying reading this!!!


Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Kicking things off this fall is a round-up of contemporary disco, italo and house that I’ve been feeling as of late. I have tried to mention records which I haven’t seen pop up much in the electronic press but which I believe deserve some serious attention. I’ll be following this up with a section on RETRO records I’ve been digging lately too… Once that’s up I’ll hopefully be uploading an all vinyl mix that incorporates some of these choice cuts and other sick stuff. My hope is that after reading this, some heads out there will decide to check some of these out! Also, please comment… I’d love to engage and discuss some of my choices and what others are rating at the moment.

Karizma – Necessary Madness / Drumz Nightmare
· I’d heard the name Karizma being thrown around house music circles for the last year. Several heads had mentioned he was coming out of Baltimore so I had ignorantly assumed he was more on the ‘bodymore’ type sound. For some reason or the other I slept on him until recently. Big mistake! Hearing ‘Drumz Nightmare’ on Joy Orbison’s excellent Doldrums mix got me on the hunt for his output. This two-tracker on British label R2 (of Floating Points fame), is a fantastically versatile 12’’. While both tracks would initially suggest a greater proximity to dub-step or “bass music”, their sparse and slowly building introductory sections and rich melodic content make them easily mixable in any adventurous house music set. In particular, “Drumz Nightmare” should be able to drop some jaws on the dance-floor. Combining staccato percussion with layered strings and acoustic guitar melodies, it really sounds like nothing else out there at the moment.

Marcellus – Unirhythm Green
· The mighty Marcellus Pittman returns! While the new Three Chairs EP is meant to be dropping stateside any day now, this will tide the deep Detroit heads over for a little longer. The A-side is a hypnotic drum machine work out sure to hypnotize you on your home hi-fi and push the bass bins at the club to the limit. Perhaps a bit sparse on first listen, the track reveals its rhythmic complexity upon repeat spins. The B-side gets down in a similar hypnotic fashion but with added melody for a housier vibe. Get this limited 12’’ ‘before it disappears. My copy is stamped 491 and theres only 500 so get on it... clock is ticking!

Hunee – Tour de Force EP
· I reviewed this for RA a few weeks ago so there really isn’t much more for me to say here except that this record has proven very resilient to the passing of time… Yes, it’s only been out about a month but in dance music circles that’s akin to 10 years. Like the Karizma, this has a good cross-over of styles, in this case, a blend between Cosmic Disco and House. Highly recommended for those that like their music unashamedly melodic. William Burnett, the East Village Radio DJ who is running this label has clearly got some nice A&R skills having gone 2-for-2 in terms of quality releases thus far. This week I dropped by his radio show where he played one of the tracks from the next WT records release. Heavy on the synths and with a dark feel, it reminded me a bit of vintage Black Strobe or Legowelt... Something to definitely look forward to!

The Revenge – Night Flight
· I first heard of Scottish disco producer Graeme Clark through his RA podcast. Having been on a disco binge as of late I was quite taken aback by his modern take on the genre. His edits are glisteningly ‘clean’ compared to the more classic operators of the genre such as Harvey or Gregg Wilson. While I generally have a reverence / obsession for anything ‘old school’ in the dance music world, I have to hand it to Graeme on this latest batch of edits. In particular, ‘Night Flight’ is a sublime late night jam. Editing Stevie Wonder’s 80s semi-ballad “Love Light in Flight”, the Revenge loops a tiny fragment of the original for 4 delicious minutes before Stevie Wonder enters the fray with some gloriously cheese-ball 80s love jam lyrics: Make me feel like I'm in paradise! Give me what I'm missing. Send me to the highest highs...take mup and away...". Beautiful stuff. The other edits on this are also seriously groovy and worth your time. Can’t wait to hear the Revenge spin Mr. Saturday night in NYC this November. Will make sure to drop a tidy review here.

Mark du Mosche & David Vunk - Dreams EP
· Italo Disco is likely one of the hardest types of electronic music to compose. Its outright embrace of cheesy lyrics and catchy synthesizer melodies means producers have to walk a difficult tight rope- One step in the wrong direction and a track will sound far too corny to be taken seriously. On this release for Lunar Disko, Dutch artist David Vunk has hit the nail on the head with regards to updating the Italo sound. Vintage drum machine and synth sounds abound on both his tracks, managing to evoke the wide-eyed sci-fi vibe of classic italo releases by Mr. Flagio and Charlie. Mark du Mosche’s contributions on the A-side are more restrained but still highly original: cinematic-style italo-disco which reminds me a bit of Giorgio Moroder’s soundtrack work. This is a very original EP which has sadly been overlooked by a lot of the wider electronic dance music community. Get it while it’s still out there…

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


This is a blog about records.
More specifically: funk / disco / italo / house and techno records.
I live in New York City and dig for rare treats of the past and the sweetest grooves of the present. I feel the necessity to praise the records I uncover. It makes me happy to wax poetic about this music on wax!

Hopefully this activity will result in some light being shed on the underground producers who have put in their blood, sweat and tinitus-ridden ears into having their music pressed to vinyl.
In terms of format, I will try and kick it with monthly posts of what I have acquired and am currently feeling. These posts will hopefully be accompanied by mixes of the material discussed. With some luck, I might get some artist interviews or guest mixes up.
Here's hoping for a bright future.