- Published on Thursday, 11 January 2018 09:55
With the current popularity of electro-, IDM-, 90s- and whatever else-influenced minimal music, it’s hard to keep ahead of the tide with all the new labels popping up — and harder yet to separate those truly worth keeping an eye on from those merely trying to cash in on a trend. Antam Records, though, seems to belong to the former category. Firstly because it’s the label arm of BinarySound who hosted DJ Koolt, Riccardo, Audri, Le Loup or Zendid and Distrikt, the Parisian promoters who brought to the French capital the likes of Barac, John Dimas, HardWorkSoftDrink or TC80 — on remix duty on this first EP — along many of the French scene’s rising stars.
That’s for the nascent label’s pedigree. But their first signee, Mag0, has some good credentials of his own — and is testament to the label’s will to dig deeper than most. Although until now off my (admittedly fallible) radar, the Italian producer appears to be a regular at Veniceberg, the Verona venue that supplies the Northern Italian city in all things minimal, and whose label arm has released a string of quality EPs over the past two years. As this record shows, the club and its residents offered Mag0 a good education. Mag0, has some good credentials of his own. Although until now off my (admittedly fallible) radar, the Italian producer appears to be a regular at Veniceberg, the Verona venue that supplies the Northern Italian city in all things minimal, and whose label arm has released a string of quality EPs over the past two years. As this record shows, the club and its residents offered mag0 a good education.
All the charm with this music lies in the balance between out-there oddness and dancefloor functionalism. Too many producers seem to add a few token bleeps and beeps to demonstrate their supposed quirkiness, or go full-on on a weird binge that ends up sounding forced. But as soon as the kick returns after the one-minute mark on “Ode to Venice”, you can tell that Mag0 has nailed this balance. The track is peppered with drops, and with each one elements come and go, keeping the general sense of oddness interesting — nagging synths here, bubbling burps there; it sounds like the digestive system of a robot in full action, with a hell of a lot of groove on top of it.
“Ode to 90’s” is just as playful, and the funkiest of the lot thanks to a sprightly 2-note pattern dancing around a synth gone awry and a stamping bassline, while “Ode to Dino” is meatier, but retains an improvisatory tinge in its mid-range. This is how mag0 manages to keep his tracks interesting. It seems like the producer is always about to lose control of his machines, but he’s only letting them go loose before reasserting his mastery with a well-timed drop. Synths suddenly detuning or going far into the high-end give the brain something to focus on, while the low-end does the rest of the job. And with patterns unexpectedly changing track or ad-libbing like in the second half of “to Dino”, these tunes sound, at their best, like jam sessions between virtuoso aliens — a bunch of scruffy, nerdy, stoner aliens, that is. Of course, we’ve paradoxically come to expect this supposed unexpectedness from producers dabbling in this genre; but once again, it’s his sense of balance that sets mag0 apart from the mass: his weirdness is not too much, and seems to come from a sincere place.
The pick of the bunch is TC80’s remix. The Berlin-based French producer and Sequalog boss, coming off a breakthrough year, lets his experience speak by opting for a less flamboyant approach. Whereas mag0’s tracks are bouncy, his is reduced — an invitation to the curious listener, rather than an interpellation. Ghostly synths gleam in the background, teasing you to follow them while keeping safely out of reach. When they disappear mid-section, you’ve already fallen down the rabbit hole at their pursuit, and find yourself in the midst of a gorgeous soundscape that retains the original’s lively atmosphere, but filtered through a haze. This time, the UFO that is Antam’s logo flew to a misty Jurassic-like planet with thick air and bubbling underwater volcanoes. By the end of the track, the ethereal synths return and gently guide you back to reality. Back to your starting point, slightly dazed, the stroll was worth it.
All in all, it’s a well-rounded EP that proves there is still much creativity within this scene; that even a tired lexicon — the science-fiction references that adorn the record, the throwbacks to electronic music’s past, and all the quirky sounds — can work magic in the right authors’ hands. The EP has ealry support from Voigtmann, Dj Koolt, Zendid, Yakine, Lamache and Niff. More importantly perhaps, it lets us expect the best both from Antam and Mag0, two welcome newcomers to the scene. Indeed, we’re already told that a second release from another Italian producer is in the works for the label. I for one am keeping my eyes peeled.
“Odes” will be out end of January.
- Published on Wednesday, 29 November 2017 22:29
Everyone knows that after the chaotic mess that is NYE, an unforgettable NYD is mandatory to conclude a year of excess by starting a new one right away. After all, no one wants to begin the year in bed with a hangover to boot. Out of all the alternatives for this 1st of January, LWE’s sounds particularly hot. As per the line-up, there’s something for everyone, from the casual clubbers to the seasoned heads.
Two very special guests top up their bill this year. Maceo Plex is the first one, under his Maetrik guise. Maetrik used to be the Spain-based Detroit son main outlet in the 00’s, and he returned it with new productions earlier this year. This is a grittier sound than what the man’s become famous for, but whatever alias he’s using, rest assured that years of touring the scene’s biggest venues mean he’ll know how to move the crowd — and more importantly perhaps, this is his first time playing live as Maetrik, so don’t miss it. The other is none other than Marcel Dettmann. The beloved Berghain resident will come straight from the club’s infamous Silvester party, bringing London some of that licentious Berlin techno flavour. There’s your New Year’s Day brunch!
But that’s just the icing on the cake as LWE has come up with a varied line-up that’s sure to appeal to anyone. On the one hand there’s the big room techno of Alan Fitzpatrick. An LWE regular, you know what to expect from the Drumcode stalwart. Nastia might pummel you with the bouncy techno she’s famous for, or she might opt to show off her lighter side like on this year’s CD mix she did for Cocoon — surprise. If that’s what you’re into, this balance of bumping house and tougher techno should also be reflected in Lauren Lo Sung’s set. And if you’re one of those techno freaks for whom the year needs to start with twisted transmissions, Ø [Phase] will provide the headier, trippier alternative.
The crowdpleasers are out in force as well: Robert Hood dons his Floorplan alias for this one. Now a family affair as his daughter is integral to the act, it promises booming kicks along gospel anthems. The maverick KiNK is of the party too with his playful live act — get close enough and who knows, maybe you’ll get to have a go at his keyboard too. And Italians Agents of Time provide the day’s other live act with their melodic brand of techno.
On the mellower side of things, Axel Boman will deliver the sort of Scandinavian free-spirited and playful weirdness his label Studio Barnhus specializes in, while Lord of the Isles will no doubt drench you with his soothing, synth-heavy excursions. We’re also more than excited to see LWE booked Frankfurt legend Roman Flügel. Few people can claim to have had such an impact on current house and techno as he had — put simply, half of this line-up would probably not exist without him — and you can always expect the unexpected with this veteran iconoclast.
Like last year, LWE invests Tobacco Dock in Wapping for the event, a gigantic awe-inducing, laser-filled venue with a sound-system worthy of its scale. So come along and book your ticket — you’ve got all the rest of the year to get some well-earned sleep.
- Published on Monday, 25 September 2017 12:09
For ten fantastic years UK based label Lick My Deck have been delivering touching and high quality sounds, staying true to themselves by abiding to their quality over quantity ethos. Over the years, they have seen releases from the likes of Thomas Melchior, Ion Ludwig, and Petre Inspirescu back in 2012. To celebrate the momentous milestone, and 20th release of the introspective electronic music label they welcome on board Romanian master of magical rhythms, Barac. ‘Pata Din Mijlocul Naturii’ is a three track EP, inspired and curated around the basis of Barac’s passion and love for natural surroundings and shamanism. This is something that is certainly evident via the sounds you are hearing but also the ever-unique artwork that accompanies each and every release on Lick My Deck.
The whole of the A side is taken up by ‘Asa E Omul’ sitting at 14 minutes long this record is a journey in itself, setting the overall mystical tone perfectly. Driven by infectious breaks grooves, and a sweeping bass line. The extended track is laced with fascinating strings and percussions, something we are familiar with when gifted with the rare opportunity of a release from Nicolae; A must listen.
Kicking off the B side is ‘Cursul Resparatie’ in English this translates to the “course of breathing”. The arrangement and layout is really something special, a stripped back mentality carried through with the sounds of a flute, and just when you are thinking it can’t become any smoother the lick of an Indian tabla drum strikes just before the drop, breathing more life in to the song. To round things off is ‘Sapte, Numarul Magic’ and this doesn’t distance itself from being an actual dream. If you close your eyes and allow the harmonies to take over, something special is bound to happen. A steady drum ticks away, leaving an open invitation for the mysterious pads and piano stabs to take control. So all in all a true exploration of a variety of creative territories.
For us, this is a personal encounter with Barac himself and we find it a more than fitting release to celebrate the years of hard work Lick My Deck put in to their label, all starting with founder Shaun Soomro. Nothing is left behind with so much care going in to every chapter of their story, from track selection, mastering, and as we mentioned before the hand designed artwork created personally every time. Here’s to many more years of Lick My Deck.
Vinyl Only - Release Date: 3rd of October 2017
Words by Zac Bidwell
- Published on Thursday, 07 September 2017 13:22
Unleash London does not need much of an introduction as being one of the leading underground party brands and bringing the most exciting names to date. It was just two weeks ago when Apollonia played during the day and the night in London as well as bossman Barac destroying the room in Studio Spaces, right after the 2-hour pure live-set by Ion Ludwig; What a weekend that was!
Even dust has not settled yet we were hit by the big news for their next event. On 23rd of September, this time hosted in Mangle8, beautiful, intimate venue bringing a Romanian minimal legend – Rhadoo. Being a one third of the [a;r:pia:r] soundsystem he will play one of his subtle extended sets. His numerous releases on his own imprint with Raresh and Petre Inpirescu, SIT’s Amphia label, Cadenza, Fabric records speak for themselves. His experience and eclectic taste in music shines through his sets and we definitely can’t wait for his Unleash debut.
He will be joined by Moritz Von Oswald who is known as one of the biggest pioneers and the most respected and experienced dj’s of dub techno since 1990s. Over the years he collaborated with artists such as Ricardo Villalobos, Juan Atkins, Carl Craig to name a few. Having been playing at the legendary Tresor club in Berlin for over two decades, he is definitely one of the top artists added to the bill.
And there is Matteo Manzini head of one of the top East London party’s – Damaged. We seen him around for a while now playing for Cartulis, Toi Toi, Half Baked and recently fabriclondon alongside Unleash headliner Rhadoo as well as Sonja Moonear and SIT. He always keeps surprising us with his wide variety of sounds presented during his parties and sets which we think will be a perfect round up for the night.
We are very excited for this line up and looking forward to the event, if you do not want to miss the chance to see those amazing talents, get your tickets now.
Words by Matas Balta
- Published on Wednesday, 06 September 2017 23:02
The Craig Richards, Gottwood combo was always going to get the festival juices flowing, yet expectations were unusually high for Houghton’s debut last month. With such an exquisite line up, beguilingly minimal marketing and promises of spontaneous back to backs, this was the festival to be at this summer.
Even as I traced my car through Norfolk’s gorgeous B roads, my passenger and (appalling) co-pilot Fabianski fuelled the fire further, abandoning her navigational duties to skim Facebook for updates. The music, she announced, was apparently going to be non stop all weekend.
Such a rumour was true, and the twenty four hour license developed into being a pivotal aspect of the weekend. It meant that I could eat, sleep, party, relax whenever I wanted over the three days and dip my toes in and out of the musical waters as and when I pleased.
A gold star must go to the sound, and from the bespoke Klipsch setup in the Giant Steps tent to the mighty four point system in the Terminus, every stage (for the most part) was brilliant. And I mean really brilliant. I have not heard such weight and clarity in any club in London, ever.
Joy O was the first to kick things off on Friday with a superb set in the Quarry. There was care in his mixing, an easiness, and flare in his track selection as he wove stinkers like ‘Hackney Parrot’ into classy, soulful house. A housed up edit of Blacker Than Black (4 The Good Times) was a particularly smiley moment, along with another stunner that Fabianski and I have gone to laughably long lengths to ID. Seeing people scramble up the banks of the Quarry to huge jeers was comical later on in the weekend, even moreso were the bouncers trying to catch them.
Just down the hill from the stage you could grab a £2.50 tea, (with optional vegan brownie, of course) delicious paella, or an overpriced sourdough pizza. Go a little further and you would find the place which would turn out to be the beating heart of Houghton, Giant Steps. I would love to see more stages like this next year. The tent was really something, drenched in beautiful plants, big cushions and sweltering heat. Much attention has been given to the BBC turntable console that the DJ’s did their business on, but I couldn’t really tell the difference. Donna Leake was incredible both times I saw her over the weekend and played the sexiest, smoochiest, tropical grooves I have heard in long time. Bravo to Brilliant Corners for stamping your mark on an otherwise minimally decoured event.
The main, Derren Smart stage was next across the road, and home to some of the most eagerly anticipated acts of the weekend. Here there was ample room to groove, a wicked system and enough space to chat and appreciate the attire of my fellow partygoers. 1995 footy tops were heavily on the menu this year.
Standout performances came from Derrick Carter, who worked up a big crowd with the likes of Boz Scaggs ‘Lowdown’ and similar, slutty disco early on Friday. I also sobbed during Kamaal Williams’ special ninety minutes on Sunday.
More disappointing was Vilod, and despite my wanting to enjoy Ricardo and Max Loderbauer’s noodling on their modules, the whole thing felt a bit out of place and slightly unprepared. Loderbauer ended up rolling his eyes as Villalobos fidgeted with the jack leads, causing static to spray embarrassingly through the rig.
All was not lost though, and I got my minimal fix in the form of Rhadoo instead. I remember repeating his 8 am set time to Fabianski with a sense of disbelief when we arrived at the festival. ‘There are two days to go… Let’s pace ourselves.’ She reminded me.
Anyway, there we were, late Saturday morning, Rhadoo prowling around the decks, shimmying his shoulders in front of a diminished crowd of thirty five. It was an unbelievable spectacle as the Romanian stunned us with groovy, sludgy tracks marked with sublime sound design. As my body started to tire (I ended up on my haunches, as usual) extensive cheers forced a smile out of the maestro as the clock struck twelve. This was the highlight of my weekend.
With minor tweaks to the programming and decour, the festival will improve next year. Sunday night was screaming out for a Ricardo, Dygas, Craig or Raresh closing set, for example. Perhaps some more spontaneous back to back action?
Houghton can be proud of it’s first attempt though. The size was great, the vibes were nice and the stages were all cool. The music license was brilliant too and is something that the other UK festivals will be looking at enviously.
Just being able to watch the DJ's do their thing on fat, custom systems was the real joy for me all weekend though, and I’ll be back next year for round two.
Words by Marlon George
Photos by Jake Davis