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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