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.