Saturday, 2 June 2018

Another Fistful Of Twelves

I LOVE it deep. There, I’ve said it. Whether it be house, techno, down-tempo, dub, Balearic, jazz or any other genre or sub-genre you care to mention or even make up, it matters not. And putting your finger on it or trying to define the what, when and how are not that simple either. I guess it's a spiritual thing, a body thing, a soul thing. Hang on, I think that’s been done before. But you get my drift.

And what makes it all the more interesting is that that indefinable quality that gets you right there, yes there, can come from almost any angle and from artists both long in the game and new on the block. A clutch of releases on heavy rotation here at bringdownthewalls proves that point perfectly.

Exhibit one, Gene Hunt. Anyone who has made tracks in Larry Heard’s living room, got their first release on Housetime, a sub-label of the infamous TRAX imprint, some thirty years ago and DJed at the Music Box under the tutelage of Ron Hardy, amongst SO many other achievements, is a certifiable legend. More than all that though, the Chicagoan also happens to be one of the nicest and most genuine individuals in house music evidenced by a memorable and still talked-about performance at much-missed London club night Thunder five years ago.

Here he pops up for a second time on the sterling British label Inner Shift Music [his Planted Seeds EP being one of the standout deep house releases of 2014]. Distant Lands [check it out here] is a more than worthy return as the amiable US house veteran proffers three cuts of pure unadulterated quality. Kayla Dream is a brilliantly bright and breezy production that stands toe-to-toe with previous Inner Shift releases, whilst the more jackin’, techno-leaning Distant Voyage, I would suggest, is right up the alley of ISM co-owner Brad Peterson. And then there’s Open Up Your Eyes, a wondrous, marriage of gospel-like incantation and funked-up mechanical delivery. Superb.

Amsterdam-based label and DJ collective Late Night Burners may not have been around long but on the evidence of their first couple of releases and a slew of ridiculously-good podcasts they certainly have a bright future. Outing number two, the Feels Like Forever EP [listen here], has been on my wish-list since it was aired on Josey Rebelle’s must-listen Rinse FM show earlier this year and comes courtesy of imprint co-owner Roman Coşkun. The title track, the one championed by Ms Rebelle, is proper. No messing, old-school, deep-as-fuck house with brains and brawn, exactly the way I like it. Sunwards is more down-tempo and introspective yet delivers big on emotion and style. Over on t’other side Steps almost steals the show as it shifts up a gear and lets fly with a gorgeous melody-driven track underpinned with a comfortingly cushioned kick, whilst Tales From The Reef [featuring 92SDO] rounds off this highly-recommended foursome with another polished slice of deepness. Buy, buy.

Spanish label Troubled Kids has always been a quality not quantity affair. Fewer than 20 carefully-chosen vinyl releases in ten years is evidence of that. The latest is no exception with stalwart producer, DJ and one of the imprint’s owners Jesús Gonsev teaming up with that man of a thousand faces, ok, numerous aliases then, George Btp aka Allstarr Motomusic, Dan Piu, Zarenzeit and one half of the mighty Theory Of Movement to produce an essential four-track EP of sumptuous house under the oddly-named The WineLambs guise.

A Genuine World [here we go] is about as accomplished, sensual and damn-near perfect as it gets. Falling In Your Arms featuring the smooth, sultry tones of Shareen is a lush and emotive trip to deep house heaven, whilst the intriguing Poti Poti is a much brisker and angular little number but delivered with no less aplomb.

Sandwiched between these two is the not-to-be-missed title track, both the excellent and jaunty original plus a bold, no-nonsense, I-need-this-in-my-life reshape by man [or could that be woman?] of the moment Grant.

Talking of whom, the mercurial and mysterious American producer [the other half of the aforementioned Theory Of Movement duo alongside deepArtSounds head George Btp] is also back with a solo EP on his own eponymous label. Cleverly entitled Grant 004 [check it here], it finds the man picking up pretty much where he left off with Grants 001, 002 and 003, that is serving up more high-quality house of the deep, delightful and downright dope variety that some of us simply can’t get enough of. Another must-have.

Another favourite here at bringdownthewalls HQ also makes a welcome return. Lithuanian-born and, dare I say, London-bred producer Arnheim [aka Simas Savickas] comes home to his own imprint Barbara Recordings with the three-track broken beat, jazz-inspired gem that is Making Way [listen here].The young producer, still only in his early twenties, is really forging a name and a sound for himself and his latest offering will only enhance his rapidly-burgeoning reputation. The beauteous Get On With The Looking is of a quality that belies his tender years and though there are echoes of the much-influential Moodymann, this is no pastiche. Do You Know is a choppier and stuttered offering though no less assured, whilst Becoming Welcome at 17-minutes, yes seventeen minutes, is a stunning, down-tempo tour de force on a serious jazz tip. Bravo young sir.

Young at heart no doubt but an old hand for sure, Madrid-based artist Ernie presents the latest twelve from his always-excellent label Minuendo. Although the man himself is absent this time, the EFIMERA EP [take a listen] still makes the grade thanks to contributors both old and new. The A-side is given over to seasoned Batti Batti alumni [amongst many other outlets] Owen Jay & Brian James who wade in with a brace of daring experimental house cuts, Niko’s Groove and Imagery, which hit the spot more and more on each listen. Uncompromising acid stormer Vulbitch Bazaar from newbies Blue Vulva & The Electronic Crooner is another veritable grower with more soul than you might think on first listen, whilst Seafood from young Spanish producer Untitled [a name to watch for sure] is something of its antithesis being an achingly-beautiful production steeped in the very best traditions of classic deep house.

And whilst on the subject of top-notch deepness, it would be criminal to overlook Various Inspirations – Volume Three [listen here] expertly curated by main man René Jazzman Wolski for his super label Deep Inspirations Show inspired by his long-running radio programme. Featuring six tracks from as many different artists, the digital-only EP, is a little belter. Both Neuronphase and Roberto Bronco appeared on the recent Various Inspirations Wax Sampler twelve and here they each chip in with a terrific track apiece [Light and Hati respectively] that owe a debt of gratitude to jazz as well as house. Inno Sacred’s AfterlifeReplika’s Roy’s Love and Sir Sabzee’s Little Something are decidedly deep and dead good too, we’d expect nothing less, whilst that most-excellent of chaps Elpierro makes an appearance with the wonderfully soulful, hypnotic and inspired We Give, We Get.

No release round-up these days would be complete without a mention of Tominori Hosoya. It’s the law. Not only arguably the hardest-working man in house and techno, he may be the nicest too. Recent forays from the Tokyo-based artist have included the super-limited, vinyl-only self-released Moments EP [here] on his new Lights label. Featuring four tracks from the man himself, the project perfectly showcases Hosoya’s deeply emotional, emotive and expert take on tech house and techno. If that wasn’t enough, he also got to remix the legendary Ron Trent’s Dancin’ [there] as part of a special package from Chicago imprint Headphoniq, turning in a laudable effort that is jam-packed with all the Tomi trademarks you would expect. And with a number of other projects still under wraps but definitely heading our way, it’s shaping up to be another big year for the likeable Hosoya. Tomi, we salute you.

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Various artists – Various Inspirations Wax Sampler – Deep Inspiration Show Records

LONG-RUNNING broadcast, the Deep Inspiration Show, has become something of an institution. Lovingly curated by the inspirational and knowledgeable Jazzman [aka René Wolski] since 2010, it has become a by-word for quality selections and a go-to for those wanting to hear proper house. An arbiter of impeccable taste and a flag-bearer far and wide for the best in deepness, the Jazzman is now a purveyor too with the launch of his own label of the same name.

It would be fair to say that the word ‘deep’ looms large over this fine debut, the Various Inspirations Wax Sampler featuring, as the name suggests, various artists whose work has been lovingly handpicked by the inimitable Jazzman himself. And so it should, given the pedigree of the man in charge. We would expect nothing less.

So there is definitely no surprise whatsoever that the EP kicks off with no tops-off, arms-aloft, ‘how many pills have you necked’ club banger but a finely judged, beautifully constructed and instantly lovable hunk of slow-grooving, yep, deep house. It comes in the shape of Sawdust from Estonian artist Neuronphase [aka Anti Aaver], a producer of genuine quality who has slowly but surely been muscling his way into the consciousness of the heads in the last couple of years with a brace of appearances on London-based Monsieur Cedric’s Série Limitée Records. Those who dug those Detroit-inspired tracks will love this too and with a solo release on Phonogramme in the offing, Neuronphase is a name to keep a beady eye on.

Little-known South African artist Deep Sentiments won’t remain little known for long if he keeps producing music as delightful and damn infectious as his vinyl debut Sleepless Zombies, a calling card not only to be proud of but also alert aficionados and labels alike.

Marco Nega has been plying his considerable and very talented trade for many years now. Most notably with Altered Moods, Batti Batti, Bu-Mako Recordings, Inner Shift, Underground Quality, Waehlscheibe and more, all labels that seriously know their shit. He’s a big favourite chez moi too and it’s very easy to see why the Jazzman got him on board. In return, Nega delivers the goods big style with Believe In Being Loved, a mature, classy and dead-drop-gorgeous cut. Hypnotic, melodic deepness at its absolute finest.

Icelandic artist Viktor Birgiss, main man behind the Lagaffe Tales imprint, prides himself on his ‘deep, technical and highly danceable’ style. He’s not wrong. Because his contribution here, That Time When, is exactly that. There is a real innocence about this sweet and almost simplistic little groove that is anything but simple. Rather it is simply superb.

Keeping the deep theme going ’til the very last, downtempo dude Roberto Bronco completes the collection with his brief-but-dope Deep Nights Outro, an enthralling teaser that inhabits that exciting grey area between hip-hop, house and, indeed, jazz. Nice.

Check out:

Thursday, 15 February 2018

2DeepSoul – Windows – Inner Shift Music

EVEN a brief shufty around this site rapidly reveals our deep affection for the Inner Shift stable generally, 2DeepSoul in particular and especially the good folks behind it all. Which makes it even more surprising that we didn’t wax lyrical when the essential Windows EP got its vinyl release towards the back end of last year. Fortunately we have the opportunity to make amends now that it has been made available for the download community.

After many years in the game Brad Peterson and Rai Scott know their way around this deep house malarkey that’s for sure. And over the course of five EPs together as 2DeepSoul a “sound” has distinctly been honed. Whether by accident or design I know not, but it’s there. In many ways opening cut Clarity is it, that sound, right there in a nutshell; dreamy, ethereal, morish. Contour Lines is more of the same to a point, but with a little more tech and a distant vocal sample, not a typical motif of the duo, added to the brew.

Proceedings get even better and more ear catching over on t’other side, as they might say in northern parts. Someday has the lady’s talented fingerprints smeared all over it, Rai Scott being a self-confessed ambient head at heart and, indeed, body and soul. It’s indulgently deep and delicious too, a track that in all honesty I think I could listen to all day long or even longer. It’s A Sign rounds off this fine affair. It’s more mesmerising than a mesmerised Franz Mesmer and house just as I like it; slow burning, deep and meditative.

Check out:
ISM on Facebook
2DeepSoul on Facebook
2DeepSoul on discogs

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Allstarr Motomusic/Manuel Costela – Love Souls – TH Pressing

LORD knows when he gets time to sleep that man Tominori Hosoya. If he’s not diligently and lovingly compiling his first album, then he’s busy dropping deep house bombs for a rake of well-respected labels. And then there’s his very own burgeoning imprint TH Pressing, which is back with its fourth vinyl-only EP, Love Souls

Only this time he’s taken more of a back-seat role and left the music to a couple of old hands on this rather charming release.

First up is Allstarr Motomusic aka George Btp, the driving force behind and the face of DeepArtSounds. His love of Prescription Records is no secret and indeed both Ron Trent and Anthony Nicholson have represented Btp’s Zurich-based label. There is a hefty nod in that direction with the beguiling Night Romance, a cut that Btp wrote coincidentally whilst in Tokyo, the home of TH Pressing. Sumptuous and comforting on the ears, the track chugs along delightfully and is elevated to the level of must-have by the sensual delivery of Debra Jones Davis [Altered Moods Recordings]. If there is a better spoken-word vocalist doing the rounds right now then I’ve yet to hear them.

And on the subject of classy songstresses, erstwhile DeepArtSounds collaborator Sarignia Bonfá pops up again here on Light Of The Soul. Not as breathless and pulsating as the previous track, it is nonetheless a satisfyingly deep, thoughtful and jazz-inspired offering that still stands head and shoulders above most releases searching painfully, insincerely for a similar vibe. You either have it or you ain’t.

Manuel Costela takes care of the flip. Head of both Bucketround and 2phonic Recordings, the Madrid-based artist has been plying his trade under different guises for a decade plus but there is real momentum building right now with a slew of productions appearing or in the pipeline on his own imprints or those of others. Here he delivers a couple of gems.

The soulful lilt of Sunshine Love is backed by a truly chunky groove and as such it is easy to hear why Hosoya snapped this up. But overlook Hurt at your peril. This warm, Rhodes-driven, electro-inspired number is an absolute joy from start to finish, seven minutes of sonic sunshine. Tip, as the hipsters say.

Check out:


Saturday, 29 April 2017

A Fistful Of Twelves

WITH more quality house releases around than you can shake the proverbial shitty stick at right now and time and money both rare commodities these days, what is any self-respecting vinyl lover to do? Raid the kids' piggy bank and round up the best of the best hitting the spot here at bringdownthewalls HQ, that’s what.

And a word to the wise, hit the EP titles to check out the sounds.

Tireless in his pursuit of house excellence, Andy Vaz has assembled for his Cologne-based label Yore the supergroup of Eddie Fowlkes, Amp Fiddler and Niko Marks [collectively known as BXT] for a hunk of Detroit-style goodness on the Sunrise EP. Sun Is Rising is a sensuous seven-minute journey of truly uplifting and soul-drenched deep, a clarion call for summer, whilst FM 80 a slightly more acid-flecked cut of a similar ilk. For something even more bumping the boys offer up the infectious You Set Me Free.

Burgeoning Italian imprint Roots Underground goes about its business quietly and with some style. So it is heartening to have it back with its third vinyl release, the splendid Italo To Chicago EP from the two Ric[c]ardos, Ricardo Miranda, owner of Chicago label Noble Square Recordings, and young Italian producer Riccardo Masi, aka ReeKee, head honcho at Wrong Notes Records. It’s an inspired tag match with the ever-excellent Miranda serving up gloriously melodic and spine-tingling deep house in the shape of the irrepressible London Councils and Smooth Flights, whilst Masi draws inspiration from his jazz-loving roots to present the classy pairing of Phrases and Shared Love, the latter featuring the vocal talents of Francesca Sortino. A definite tip this one.

Another outfit making a name for itself rather sharpish is Belgrade-based Soul Print Recordings. And it will do its reputation no harm at all with outing number six, the Yesterday For Tomorrow EP, a double-header with two-tracks apiece from the brilliant Leonid and equally-superb LAAK. Madrid-based Irish producer Leonid dives in headlong with a pair of stunning spacey deep house cuts, Urania 1 and Urania 2. The LAAK duo is just as impressive, albeit a touch more restrained and understated, but make no mistake, SP and Waiting For Tomorrow are a couple of cosmic-inspired belters.

A new release from Malta’s Batti Batti stable is always hugely anticipated here at bringdownthewalls and the Breeze EP is no exception. Featuring four acts new to the imprint, it may be the label’s 13th vinyl outing but it’s definitely not unlucky for some. Enigmatic artist and Luxembourg-native Acasual leads the way with the dreamy, melancholy of Her, whilst Japanese starlet Tominori Hosoya complements perfectly on side A with the wistful Thinking Of The Days. Over on the flip proceedings take a funkier twist with Kiddmisha & Apoena teaming up on the appropriately-named Dancin’ and British underground stalwarts Jonno & Tommo wading in with the majestic Mystic Feelings.

Man-of-the-moment Javonntte, yet another talent from Detroit, pops up on another firm favourite round these parts, the top-notch Madrid-based label Troubled Kids. Depending on your take on such things, Late Night Sessions is either a six-track twelve or an LP, but what is for sure is that it ain’t half good. Bumping, infectious, feel-good house is the order of the day here on numbers such as Walking In The Rain, United We Dance and, personal favourite, Yes House. It is what is known as a must-have.

Contrast Wax is a handsome beast that’s for sure, a label that never disappoints and a small but perfectly formed collection minus one – the Ethyl & Flori one, which I sacrificed to a DJ I respect who wanted to bang it out at Panorama Bar – proudly graces my record shelves. Room is being made as we speak for this, outing number 11, a welcome return for that most dynamic of duos, Owen Jay & Melchior Sultana, with the ethereal Star Gazing EP. If you like/love this pair, and I do, then you will know exactly what to expect: emotive, head-nodding deep house of the highest spec.

Never one to knowingly miss an obvious link, Contrast Wax artist Brad Peterson is also back in business. But this time as boss of his own highly-collectable imprint, Inner Shift. Joining the roster is another artist enjoying a rich vein of form, Ewan Jansen. Having made waves of late with a slew of releases on various labels including his own Red Ember Records after a lengthy hiatus, Jansen debuts on Edinburgh-based Inner Shift with the truly essential Return To Hyperbola. It’s deep house in its purest, finest, somewhere-from-outer space form via the Australian producer du jour. From the purposeful deepness of Docking Lane to the shuffling perc-driven Bulkhead through to the more delicate Deceleration and warmly-pleasing Perspex, it’s a real gem.

And talking of gems, diamond geezer and friend of ours, the young and ridiculously-talented Arnheim [aka Simas Savickas] is lining up release number two on his own label, Barbara Recordings. Would You Tell Me About You is very much in a similar vein to his imprint’s debut in that it is the man himself at the helm once again, aided and abetted by live recordings from handpicked artists and friends who between them absolutely nail that smoky jazz-dive sound that the Londoner-outta-Lithuania so appreciates and adores. Stunning in its ambition and execution. Well done young sir. With previews still private, do yourself a favour and check out Barbara’s first release, Floras Of Autumn Street, right here for a taste of what to expect.

Bringing up the rear [feel free to insert your own Carry On-style quips], is a producer and label we at bringdownthewalls have an abundance of time and admiration for, namely the trusty Hugo Giner [aka W&P Hgg] of the superb Valencia-based Cornuta Sound, which he happens to own. Been a fan and collector since the Sleep Scott Heron EP, one of both Cornuta’s and Giner’s early offerings from nearly ten years ago now. Alteraciones is yet another EP for my shelves. Giner is in fine fettle, opening track Blue Sea finding the man at his pumping, deep house best, whilst Dirty Loop almost belies its title being a hypnotic little number of intricate and interwoven melodies. Surprise of the package perhaps is a beautiful, electro-tempered remix of Blue Sea from Giner’s pal Nacho Marco that nigh on steals the show.

user_ambiguous – Whispers Of A Dream – Shimmering Moods Records

THERE comes a time in every househead’s life when he or she needs something a little more relaxed, something beyond even deep and something, quite frankly, not house. Hard to believe, I know. But those moments are more and more frequent these days so praise the lord for this musical soother.

The glorious Whispers Of A Dream [available here] on the Amsterdam-based label Shimmering Moods Records is in fact the debut full-length from the enigmatic and anonymous user-ambiguous, who under another guise is a mean producer of house music herself and a self-confessed ambient lover at heart.

Despite the artist’s moniker, there is little ambiguous about the album for this user. Its tranquil beauty resonates deeply and constantly throughout, no makeweight, throwaway, insincere chillout here. No siree.

Each of the eight tracks tell their own story and the titles alone point the way, from Contemplation to The Beauty Of Inner Landscapes to Reminder Of Nature. Even the most stressed amongst us would surely unwind to the contemplative elegance of ten-minute epic Dimension Of The Mind Less Known. If not then they probably need a physician. Fast.

And who could not be moved by the haunting, melancholic soul of A Waking Angel Stirs, an homage to 19th century English poet and philosophical author James Allen, or transported to a more peaceful, almost certainly better, place by the natural and relaxing charm of A Beach In Winter.

Dreaming With Awareness and Reminder Of Nature exude the same calming characteristics, the same sentiment and grace.

In what has been a tough start to the New Year for yours truly – don’t ask, you really don’t want to know – Whispers Of A Dream has become my go-to musical comfort blanket. And even in better and more settled times ahead, which will surely follow, it is an album that I will unquestionably return to again and again. 

More than that though and transcending even the exquisite music, Whispers Of A Dream is a constant reminder that in the emotional maelstrom that is modern life, there is another way.

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Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Various Artists – Emerald City – Verdant Recordings

Artwork by Sophie O'Leary

IF ever there was a man destined to run a record label then that man is Andy Green. London clubland stalwart, DJ and occasional promoter, voracious record collector, prolific producer of online mixes and a chap with the most impeccable taste in music, at long last his passion, past-time and peccadillo has crystalised into the rather promising Verdant Recordings.

Mr Green has clearly curated his first release, the Emerald City EP, with much due care and attention and anyone who follows his live broadcasts and online mixes – guilty as charged – will not be in the least bit surprised at the quality, depth and style of Verdant’s debut. Not only that, but the original 100-copy lathe-cut run sold out within minutes at the back end of last year before being snapped up for this the full-press treatment courtesy of Juno.

It is very easy to see why. For the label’s first outing Green has managed to pull in a veritable who’s who of producers of intelligent electronic music aimed at the more discerning punter.

Highly-respected Sheffield-based artist John Shima has a record as long as your arm for this type of turnout having rocked up previously on labels such as Boe, Common Dreams and Contrast-Wax. His contribution Omni is right up there with earlier must-have outings, a satisfyingly solid slice of deep techno with a pleasingly emotional undercurrent.

Another UK stalwart, Plant43 (aka Emile Facey), introduces a more electro-inspired twist to proceedings – which has generally been his stock-in-trade for imprints such as Ai, Bleep43 and Semantica – with the sparse yet hauntingly beautiful Light The Way.

Newcomer Mihail P enters the musical fray with six-and-a-half minutes of accomplished and pulsating deepest techno in the shape of Prismatic. It augurs well for the forthcoming solo twelve on Seventh Sign.

Another old hand, the excellent Leigh Dickson – For Those That Knoe/Qube  – turns in another show-stealing performance with the emotive and lush electronica that is Follow, rounding off a joyous debut from the Verdant collective. Miss it and turn green with envy.

Check out:
Emerald City @ Juno
Verdant Recordings on Facebook