Thursday, 7 August 2014

LAAK - Invocations - Contrast Wax

Home or away, LAAK invariably play a blinder. Whether releasing on their own beautifully-constructed label Austere Recordings or outings on likeminded imprints such as Rough House Rosie, Monochromatic or as is the case here the as-impressive Contrast Wax, their work is a collective and collectable joy.

Invocations the EP fits just as snugly into their fine discography. Even so, for followers of LAAK the opener Invoke A Response is something of a surprise in that it finds the duo at arguably their moodiest, broodiest and darned meanest thus far. It’s LAAK picking a fight musically. A gurgling, rubbery bassline keeps the tension brewing throughout with formidable back up from menacing synth swathes and sporadic snare stabs that together seem to beg the question “you want some?”. We do.

The superb perc-driven Cadedance is more familiar territory though no less welcome. It has the rolling drums, ear-worm melodies, pristine synth work and inherent deepness that we have come to know and love of LAAK, as well as a hint of acid thrown in for good measure. Tune.

Recant is again typical LAAK; atmospheric, assured and evocative. They do what they do so well and once this cut finds its flow the listener is rapidly sucked in and swept along with its infectious groove.

Rounding off the release is more goodness in the shape of Coming Through, an accomplished slice of deep, soulful acid. Even by LAAK’s own high standards, this is a bit special and will no doubt, as with the other three cuts, be on heavy rotation amongst the heads. Thoroughly recommended.

Gene Hunt - Planted Seeds - Inner Shift Music

Chicago is not short of a legend or two when it comes to house music. Perhaps that’s why the pioneering veteran Gene Hunt is not always mentioned in the same breath as the so-called ‘big names’. He should be because his musical pedigree past, present and no doubt future is right up there with the very best of them.

So this his Planted Seeds EP is not only unsurprisingly rather excellent, it is also something of a coup for the ever-blossoming Edinburgh-based label Inner Shift Music [ISM]. And having recruited Hunt on board, Brad Peterson and Rai Scott, the duo behind ISM, have made the most of the opportunity by securing a hat-trick of deep house bombs that fit glove-like with the imprints musical philosophy.

From the opening strains of side one you know immediately that you are in safe hands. Melodic Stream is precisely that, a pure-class production that straddles that line between dance-floor and home-listening to perfection, aided and abetted by a gorgeous piano groove and a sprinkling of disco magic. And just as you think the track has settled into its comfy stride it suddenly takes off into full-on peak-time arms-in-the-air territory.

All Night Dance is a little more route one by design and, unsurprisingly given its name, pushes proceedings and tempo up a discernible notch. Thundering along at pace, Hunt nevertheless keeps the cut under control and instils more than enough deepness for those that prefer their house that way.

Drawing the EP to a fitting close is Forever On, the pick of a tasty trio in my humble opinion and another punchy one. More melodic and soulful, however, than All Night Dance and so in many respects it has rather more in common with the opener. Either way, when the time comes for compiling end-of-year best-record lists, Planted Seeds won’t be very far away.