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…