FAITH’S BEHIND THE COUNTER - NOVEMBER SINGLES REVIEWS
The global family of house music producers certainly hasn’t let the grass grow under its locked down feet in 2020, as this latest selection of indispensable releases demonstrates. When dancefloors are once again in basements, bars and fields, rather than living rooms and kitchens, DJs will be spoilt for choice as they get to unleash all that pent up frustration. Faith fanzine once again curates this month’s essential HOUSE listening.
** Single of the Month **
Krust - Anti Gravity (Masters at Work Remixes) (Crosstown Rebels)
Wonderful spoken word poem in the Afrocentric tradition of Gil Scott Heron, it’s a sci fi trip that would fit perfectly into a Christopher Nolan film during one of those trippy, ketty moments of his. The MAW remixes see Louie Vega and Kenny Dope return to their very best form, and when they hit this, they are simply untouchable. The beats sound like they are from Kenny’s SP1200 shipped in directly from the mid 90s, beautifully broken with a tribal lilt that Krush’s angry and seemingly confused character’s voice rides perfectly. The Ken Lou dubs are everything a 90s NY house head would want from a Ken Lou dub, the ones that made the Sound Factory bar & Shelter crowds create circles so the dancers could create footwork to match Kenny’s & Louie’s beats. It was the first track the guys behind the counter at Black Market played when opening the sealed import double pack off his (or her) jeans on import Fridays. This really is House Music at its creative best, and something we’ve been missing for quite a while.
Fred Everything + Roberts Owens - I’ll Take You In (Lazy Days Recordings)
Canada’s finest, Fred Everything, celebrates 25 years of productions by inviting THE voice of house music Robert Owens to join him for this essential slice of deep, vocal house heaven. As with many of Robert’s songs, the message is positive and Fred gives the vocal the space it deserves while keeping the track moving with warm keys and a bouncing bassline ripe for the dancefloor (or kitchens at the moment). There are two stripped back mixes, but the other pick alongside the original is Atjazz’s techier latino hybrid (techlat??).
Tucked away on a perfectly respectable slab of dub-techno cuts is this 4 minute slice of HOUSE that warms the soul. It’s a dusty groove, as you’d expect considering its bedfellows on the release, but some rollercoaster elastic bass wobble and soul-soaked samples really make it stand out from the lo-fi leaning crowd. You’ll want to listen to it on repeat, and not just because of its diminutive length.
Maydie Miles - Keep On Luvin (Remixes Part 2) (4 To The Floor)
Maydie’s mid 90s favourite has been remixed a fair few times, but this latest from London’s Neil Pierce really caught the ear, retaining the 90s feel of the original but giving it new life with added percussion and perked up bassline. The package also includes mixes from Dutch producer Dennis Quinn that bang it with a slight UKG feel, but its Neil’s mix that we should be hearing on any discerning soulful dancefloor next year.
Tears of the Owl - So Kobayashi (RF Records)
All about the quite wonderful Satoshi Fumi remix. One of Tokyo’s real House & Techno home grown heroes, this would be a perfect soundtrack to listen to while driving through Shibuya at 5am on a warm summer night. Techno soundscapes, emotional strings, progressive stabs and a great arrangement. I can imagine this working at any club or festival from a House night to a straight up techno event. Genre-crossing music really is the way forward, and this is pretty much an essential jam for any DJ with an open mind.
Glenn Davis - Special (F*CLR)
Dubliner Glenn Davis has been producing some of the most authentic retro sounding house for many years now, but has outdone himself on his latest release. Sounding straight off the dancefloor of early 90s Shelter or Trouble’s Loft, if you like your house soulful but with a kick you need this. Tasty remix courtesy of Ashley Beedle that incorporates late 80s UK breaks and pianos. Definitely one for the first dance in 2021.
Mark Hawkins ft. Donnell Knox - Whole New Internet Game (Houndstooth)
London institution Fabric’s Houndstooth imprint delivers a four track EP by veteran producer Mark Hawkins, formerly known as Marquis Hawkes. The Englishman, now based in Berlin, has released over the years on labels like Dixon Avenue Basement Jams, Clone and AUS Music. His last outing on the London label was two years ago, and after sitting in a studio all night with Kalamazoo techno legend Donnell Knox aka D-Knox, the result is ‘Whole New Internet Game’. Knox waxes lyrical about the state of the modern age online, while Hawkins gives us a euphoric collection of lush synth pads, swung house drums and jazzed out chord structures, made on one of the classic digital synths of the 90s - the Roland D-50. ‘Whole New Internet Game’ is a fine and fitting tribute to the 90s Detroit sound. With shades of Underground Resistance’s ‘Hi Tech Jazz’, this house-come-tech hybrid with soul makes for a rushing peak time stunner.
Henry Maldonado has been making proper house music outta NYC since the late 90s, and his Son Of Sound alias has been dropping gem after gem of late. For the latest release on his own District 30 label, he enlists underground hero El Bee Bad. Opener ‘Smoke’ is a deep’n’dark grinder with a message to the dance community. But it’s ‘Critical Thinking’ that really got me. El Bee’s lyrics weave around Henry’s bouncing late night groove, then El Bee’s own remix throws everything at it. Foul mouthed, mutant, jackin’ hip-house. Sounds like a Faith party.
Greg Paulus - City Movements (Freerange)
Freerange follow up October’s essential Laroye release with another one full of soul. Brooklyn’s Greg Paulus (one half of No Regular Play in his spare time) brings this three tracker packed with musicality. First up is ‘Breezy Point’, rolling house with warm analogue pads complimenting Greg’s vocals. Not content with singing on his own record, Greg blows his own trumpet on the wonderfully Prince-inspired ‘Do You Love Me?’ Completing the EP is ‘Mr Lee’s Trophy Theme’ that continues in the same jazzy organic vein.
Rigid beats, hazy atmospheres and ocean floor deepness aplenty in this LP from Kosta Athanassiadis, a producer who regularly manages to pull off hypnotic textures without sending your legs to sleep. Whether it’s a fresh, updated version of his Metrolux classic ‘Desert Storm’ (now the sleeker ‘Desert Night’) or the itchy, weird funk of ‘Dial Fonk’, the whole of ‘Inspiron’ is compelling, futuristic deep house that is all too rare.
Manny Cuevas presents - Tha Leather & Red High Heel Pumpz (Love Child)
Manny Cuevas aka DJ M-Traxxx, originally out of Ohio, was one of the first DJs to play Chicago House in Florida. He’s also a long term purveyor of that harder 90s NYC style that helped crown Junior Vasquez as the King of NY for a few golden years during the Sound Factory’s hey day. Mr Mizz & Leatherman-Disco provide the vocals on ‘My Time‘ and ‘I’m Jackin (RU)‘ respectively. Both tracks could easily have graced a label such as Sex Mania back in that era. The beats are Banji , the Acid lines are fierce and the attitude is just what’s needed as we hopefully think of getting back to those dark rooms and basements in 2021.
Mark Flash - Hors D'oeuvres Vol. 1 (DTFA )
Now House DJs you’re going to need to pitch down a few BPMs but no worry they sound a little funkier in my opinion, Techno DJs just do your own thing as CJ & Co once said. The militant Detroit crew The Detroit Techno Funk Association are releasing a series of DJ ‘tools‘, or ‘DJ food‘ as the press release says, with this amazing Mark Flash EP as the first. ‘Heat Signature‘ sounds like something Rekids would proudly put out - loads of drama and a brain-grabbing hook . ‘Precious‘ has a female vocalist vamping over a sparse drum track (think Foorplan), while my fave is def ‘Spirit Messenger‘, with a great percussive groove and off kilter stabs that might break a few ankles until some top end percussion locks in the groove. Can only imagine the destruction this would cause in a big room around 4am.