Our resident electronic explorer is back, venturing into the unknown to bravely capture the weird and wonderful for your listening pleasure…
‘Gilles Peterson Presents… To Those Of Earth & Other Worlds’
This month’s column starts with one of the last century’s most monumental electronic innovators and iconoclasts. Sun Ra, who insisted he came from Saturn, was first to use an electronic keyboard in jazz (the primitive Hammond Solovox he acquired in 1941), was early to adopt the Moog synthesiser then take it further out than anyone else dared, and he predicted dub reggae with his wild studio techniques. Ra’s discography is a labyrinth of mysterious releases on his pioneering independent Saturn label and now in an ever-growing archive of compilations and live sets.
Following last year’s highly successful ‘In The Orbit Of Ra’, curated by current Arkestra commander Marshall Allen, Strut has teamed up again with Art Yard to present an interstellar selection from DJ Gilles Peterson who straddles early vocal group outings, chestnuts such as ‘Love In Outer Space’ and unreleased nuggets from the colossal Ra archive to forge a mind-frying intergalactic odyssey that favours space chants and oddities over jazz blow-outs. This is a whole parallel world that serves as a good launchpad for first-timers and producing previously unheard delights for veterans.
‘Rise And Shine EP’
Detroit was a Ra stronghold, early to embrace space-jazz. It’s also the home of my beloved Underground Resistance, one of techno’s remaining pockets of below-the-radar electronic subversion. Last issue we met LA-based UR affiliate Santiago Salazar with his wonderful album. Now here’s his partner in the ICAN label Esteban Adame, who’s taken the atmospheric opening track of his recent ‘Day Labor’ LP and turned it into a loincloth-singeing monster, adding surging killer beats to its ethereal majesty. There’s the lusciously deep ‘Frequencia Deconstruction’ version on the download, and UR have supplied two rare remixes; the flickeringly subtle ‘Underground Resistance Mix’ (complete with tape reversals) and Mark Flash’s propulsive rework.
From Detroit to the subterranean south London latrine where Metamono splash merrily surrounded by their arsenal of hand-built vintage analogue synths, ring modulators and theremins. The Crystal Palace trio of Jono Podmore, Paul Conboy and Mark Hill are shortly to follow 2013’s towering ‘With The Compliments Of Modern Physics’ with a second album, ‘Creative Listening’. It’s trailered here with a delicious out-take slab of their mischievous, wired-to-the-gills urban clatter, which can appreciate that Sun Ra was the first modern electronic musician but imagine him jamming with Can. Midway through, an aggressive invading rooster drops his keks and breaks wind. Metamono’s uniquely crafted sonic sparks are flying again and flaying the lazy scrotum of the laptop brigade with idiosyncratic defiance.
I’m a sucker for the unmistakable sound of the 303 and primal darkness of the earliest acid house. From the malevolent squelch of the opening ‘Exceptions’, Venezualan-born Barcelona-based producer Cardopusher displays uncanny finesse in seducing floor-napalming new juice out of arcane machine sounds. ‘Dance To The Acid H’ practically reworks ‘Acid Tracks’ while ‘Cult 91’ is as filthy as a hippo’s back passage. The sexed-up rattle of ‘Photinia’ strips down to basic proto-house and ‘Morning Traffic Dance’ recalls the electro-based Underground Resistance productions of last decade: mercilessly nagging, but innately funky with acid undercurrents swarming like piranhas around a Portuguese man-of-war’s pendulous todger. All told, this positively luminous set is a masterclass in how original analogue blueprints can evolve in the hands of new generations; homaging with an unobtrusive hand from modern technology.
The Missing Brazilians
Trevor Jackson’s recent ‘Science Fiction Dancehall Classics’ could only scrape the surface of the colossal On-U archive which, while presaging modern electronic music, still often sounds frozen in time and out on its own. 1984’s ‘Warzone’ was the sole album released as The Missing Brazilians and the nearest Sherwood got to a solo album then. It could also be the furthest out he got in his dub-stretching quest, stripping the music to bare, radioactive skeletons, with ghostly melodies and electro-derived mixing desk mangling. Handling mostly bass and drums, Sherwood is occasionally joined by various On-U musicians, including a pre-Massive Attack Shara Nelson and Annie Anxiety. Re-cut from dub plates, it still sounds unearthly and ruinously futuristic.
The Black Dog
‘Very Extended Play EP’
It seems amazing that I’ve been writing about The Black Dog for over a quarter century now, but August’s ‘Neither/Neither’ album was another inimitable excursion into the electronic unknown. The Black Dog chose a few remixers who in turn picked which tracks from ‘Neither/Neither’ they wanted to rework and they’ve come up cocking a highly-creative leg against the monolithic originals. In Ambivalent’s case, it squirts techno gold as ‘Commodification’ gets lathered up with glitch and shadowy noise, with nifty use of the mighty Godzilla bowel bugle blast that rears rudely throughout. Then GoldFFinch come and open the windows on their breezily dazzling canter through ‘Hollow Stories Hollow Head’. Application mangle the title track into a dense, big-stringed churn before The Dog themselves reposition the groove and strings into a dark shimmer that has more fun with Japanese movie monster flatulence. Their War & Peace version of ‘B.O.O.K.S.’ stretches the track into a soaring 23-minute beatless floatation epic.
Russian producer Rekord 61 presents new mixes of last June’s ‘Vremya’, spearheaded by his ‘Time Won’t Change Us’ version; a subtly building mosaic built on shimmering synth pulse and masturbating frog loop. UR’s Rolando supplies a second rework, his ‘RRR Mix’ layering Morse code icing and nagging acid underpants in a compelling exercise in controlled dancefloor explosives as percussion and synthesised edginess ups the pressure. The set is completed by two atmosphere-laden mixes from Russia’s Alexander Matlakhov, aka Unbalance, whose ‘Tight’ version stalks dark, shuddering acid alleys and ‘Viscous Remix’ scatters the kick to support further manipulation of the elements into a spectral ghost party recalling heavenly early 90s Frankfurt trou’-toppings.
Terrence Parker/No Shit Like Deep/Melodymann
Great little operation that provides tools for DJs and producers in the form of loops, acapellas and good old-fashioned sample-built tracks. Their fifth release comes as two 10-inches, led by Detroit house stalwart Terrence Parker’s starkly simple, but irresistible piano pounding ‘Heart Break’, the mysterious No Shit Like Deep’s rough-shod and cheeky jigsaw of soul vocal group motifs ‘Ambassador Of Love’ and label head Melodymann’s loping disco-house locked groove ‘Broken Loop’, which he continues on disc two’s ‘Low Funk’ and ‘What Are You Gonna Do’. Back to basics and great fun.
‘Let’s Do It Again Part One’
(Music For Freaks)
Hot news this month is the resurrection of Luke Solomon and Justin Harris’ Music For Freaks, one of the most idiosyncratic but fun-packed label of the 1990s and 2000s, which is spearheaded by this shorts-liquidating double-header of spanking new overhauls. Freaks stood out for relentlessly trying to push house music past the outer limits, while not losing sight of its original aim to prod the rectum into frenetic action.
Here they see 2003’s ‘The Man Who Lived Underground’ reworked into an edgy 12-minute monster of the deep by Ricardo Villalobos before German duo Tuff City Kids sprinkle some magic over Turner’s ‘Been Out’. Their blissful, 80s-tinged golden shower enables it to sprout the genitalia of a young donkey. The package is completed by a previously unreleased edit of Freaks’ ‘Instrument’ from 1999. Only got a poxy Soundcloud clip, but it’s great to have the Freaks back out for some much-needed warped groove action.
(Motor City Electro Company)
Michigan marauder Julian Shamou, aka DJ Nasty, continues his reissue campaign by resuscitating 2005’s brutal jungle mutant ‘After Hours’ (previously released as DJ Nasty’s ‘100% Hood Certified’). Effectively utilises Detroit house singer Aaron Love and, in keeping with the series, boasts new 125bpm treatment for housier floors.
Tale Of Us & Mind Against
(Life & Death)
Finally, a lovely slice of luminescent deep techno laced with glimmering melodies and restlessly creative spirits in full flight. For some reason it makes me want to go out and stroke my pet rabbits. Till next month…