Sound Of Thunder #062: The King Is Dead, Long Live The King. Oh And Canada Too.
After a busy summer toiling away at the rave coal face, the spluttering, stuttering, stop-start machine that is Thunder Picks is back! Well kind of, because this edition of the column also waves good bye to the weekly (haha!) incarnation of Thunder Picks (it was a shit name that anyway- Wil) (you picked it Wil – Ed) and ushers in monthly editions of the newly named Sound of Thunder. And let’s face it, that is a more realistically deliverable proposition for a lazy arsed so-and-so like me, and sounds bit better too.
Whilst, however, the writing may have been neglected, lots of other stuff has been going on this summer.
Back in June, which is probably around the time I last fired up the laptop long enough to actually pen something longer than a facebook post, we had the pleasure to share our club with one of the loveliest DJs on the face of planet, Hunee. Lots of great music was played, Fatima Yamaha was introduced to many people for the first time (although not that last, because boy has that record been hammered by everyone and their dog) but the tune that caused the biggest stir was a mystery disco track that everyone thought they kind of knew but no one actually did know…
After that clip was posted the search was on – there was much scratching of heads, begging occurred on Hunee’s facebook page, emails were sent to agents pleading for info, and then suddenly, out of the blue, just as people were giving up, someone popped up on the Thunder Facebook Group with the answer, an album track by obscure Canadian disco artist Estiban from 1980. And in a funny way, it set the Canadian tone of the summer, because whilst British Columbia might not be the new Ibiza, some of the best music you can lay your ears on is coming out of that part of the world right now.
Following the craziness of the Hunee party, the insanity levels were ratcheted up a bit when we celebrated Thunder’s 4th birthday with Derrick Carter in September. The excitement was palpable in the run up to the party, which sold out in quite literally minutes, and then the night itself was a sweet, sweat soaked blur of friendly faces, amazing music and happy times. Todd Terry, turned up with Dubfire to hang out for a bit, and Todd and Derrick in the booth singing along to Fleetwood Mac is one of those moments that will be lodged in the memory for some time to come. I still haven’t been able to get my shoes clean though, I fear the bin beckons, but it was definitely worth it.
In-between that, we scooted off to Croatia for the Electric Elephant festival, which was next level fun, but which I also have no videos of. Which is a shame because it’s the bit of the summer I can remember least of, so I could do with a few reminders… Then we were pretty much straight off to play our annual slot a FARR Festival when we got back, where Hunee showed his mastery once again, along with the likes of Young Marco and Prosumer. But the real highlights that weekend were the Ransom Note neon maracas (which divided opinion and caused minor storm on Resident Advisor) and the Pender Street Steppers. Regular readers will know that these Vancouver house heads have featured heavily in this column, along with their record label, Mood Hut, and the other associated artists, all of whom come from the same city. They’re brilliant DJs and when the maracas came into contact with Jack J, one half of PSS, and his solo summer anthem, Thirsting, well, it just worked.
Loonie Bin Records
This label hit the stores with little fanfare considering it is allegedly a spin-off of Canadian label du jour, the aforementioned Mood Hut, which was very quiet over the summer months, releasing its least well received record to date, an excursion into ambience from Slow Riffs aka Local Artist. The Loonie Bin releases, which come with no artist information at all, could not be further removed from the mellow lushness the Slow Riffs release – both are sample heavy, raw, and a little warty. However, according Discogs know-it-alls, Loonie Bin 001 is indeed actually the work of Slow Riffs/Local Artist. It’s essentially a mash up of different samples, containing huge but heavily chopped chunks of Jestofunk and a dirty great Fingers Inc bassline. One side is a straight-up 90s house vibe, which is simple, slightly obvious but very effective, and the other a bewilderingly meandering 15 minute version of the same track, which despite being so long, never really seems to get going and certainly never arrives anywhere.
Loonie Bin 2 is really a rough, house reworking of Paul Horn’s jazz fusion number Dream Machine. And guess where Paul Horn is from? Wait for it, wait for it… yep, Vancouver. Anyway, the Muscle Mix is up there with my favourite records of the year, with its staccato rhythm and fierce percussion, it’s a dancefloor monster. The flip is more laidback affair which is pleasant enough but will always be stand in the shadow of its big brother on the A side.
All in all, it’s a very promising start for the label though.
When Pablo Project hit the streets, I have to be honest and say I was confused about 1080p, yet another Vancouver based label. There was a bit of buzz about it, lots of people seemed to know about it but I was absolutely certain I’d never heard of it. I had quick mooch around Discogs and yep, there is a huge back catalogue, including the Pablo Project album which sounded great but again, I’d never previously heard of. What was going on here? The cogs in my brain slowly started to move and after a few weeks I figured out that up until that point they had only released music on cassette and digital! That seems fairly limiting to me but certainly seems to have worked in terms of building hype. So the Pablo Project EP was their “hotly anticipated” debut vinyl release and very good it is too, featuring a new mix of 'Follow It Up', alongside another three of the original cassette album’s tracks, including the wonderful, laid back, Womack and Womack sampling ‘Moving Out’. The speed at which it sold out is testament to its quality, as are the prices it is already going for from the vinyl flippers. Although don’t fall into that trap, a repress is on the way.
The follow up from Max McFerran is decent but nowhere near as good, with the stand out track being Der Funke, but the third release, by Mall Grab is up there with Pablo Project, if not better. All 4 tracks are great and it sounds kind of like Pender Street Steppers meet Delroy Edwards, with that slightly more abrasive edge but still retaining that emotive feel that is fast becoming synonymous with house music from British Columbia. This is a record worth snaffling up while you can still can at reasonable price, because these Canadian boys love a limited pressing.
Not all of 1080p’s artists have seen the fruits if their labour truly realised on the Canadian label though…
Despite his sporadic use of vowels, the biggest success story on the 1080p artist roster and most definitely the one that has made the biggest impression on me this summer, is another Vancouver resident, Lnrdcroy (apparently pronounced “Leonard Croy”). 1080p released his debut album as a cassette, limited to 100 copies (that’s labour of love if ever there was one), and WAV file in early 2014, which must have caused a minor ripple because within a year, Lindsay Todd of House of Traps fame, had picked the whole thing up for a full double vinyl and CD release on Firecracker.
The entire album is excellent, lots of different style, mood and musical textures. The absolute stand out for me though is the utterly sublime ‘I Met You On BC Ferries’, which is as hazy and lazy as house music could possibly be, in a completely wonderful way. The Firecracker pressing also contains the wonderful Kendal In Kalusia, which is not featured on the 1080p release. So good, it would be worth buying the album for that one track.
Another track from the album that has featured has on another label is, in its extended form, Sunrise Market, on Pacific Rhythm, yet another breakout label from Vancouver. With only two releases under their belt, Mr Croy has undoubtedly helped establish the labels reputation with two of his more polished and dancefloor friendly offerings. In addition to Sunrise Market, this EP also includes Time Zone, which if we’re going to be blunt, is bloody ridiculous. It so deep, so understated, so beautiful, it just sucks you into the warmth of its soul.
This week sees Firecracker sub-label, Unthank, release what I believe is Lnrdcroy’s first stand alone, solo single too, in the form of the UNTHANK08 EP, which like all of the label’s release, doesn’t just sound good but is aesthetically pleasing too. The EP consists of two fully developed tracks and one interlude, Donny On The River. Given how accomplished Leonard’s other work is, it may be surprising that the A side offering, Freedom For Antboy II, is quite as jaw dropping as it is. If being holed up in bed on a Sunday, drinking coffee and not giving a shit about outside world for a few hours was music, it would sound like this. Let’s face it, this guy is quite possibly a genius.
Fav Record of the Year so far…
Somewhat bizarrely, given my taste in music, my favourite record of year (so far) comes from Canadian synth pop outfit, Junior Boys. More surprisingly, it’s cover of Bobbi Caldwell’s ‘What You Won’t Do For Love’, so this is something that really shouldn’t work on any level but IT DOES! In fact it works in a big, big way. Raw analogue vibe, just a hint of pop, with a total reimagining of the original song, it just nails it. Massive sing along party vibes too. And what with seeing light of day on Jialong, the label run by one of Canada’s most famous electronic exports, Dan Snaith/Caribou/Daphni, the Canuck vibes are strong with this one too!
Party of the Month: Thunder with Tuff City Kids – Friday 20th November
The last Thunder of 2015 is upon us and we’re seeing out the year with one of the of the hottest DJ and production teams in Europe, Tuff City Kids, which for the uninitiated, is the alias of Gerd Janson and Lauer when DJing and producing together. Whilst both command headline slots individually across Europe, playing together as Tuff City Kids is a rarity and this is in fact the first the duo have done so in a London club, so it’s special occasion! And because it is special, we’re getting in an Alpha Recording System mixer and crossover for them and giving them 5 hours to play too.
This party is special for another reason, after 4 years it is Joe’s last night as a Thunder resident. We’re going to celebrate this properly though and see him off in style, and we have a 5am license, so we’re going to party hard!
Obviously you’re asking, “What hell has all this got to do with Canada?” aren’t you? Well maybe the thread that runs through and binds this this edition of SoT has finally frayed and broken. I guess Derrick Carter is from Chicago which isn’t that far from Canada, but that’s tenuous at best.
I suppose if Gerd Janson had a invited a mate down to join him and Philip play records on Friday, and that mate was say, for example, a Canadian superstar in town because of his sell-out concert, then that would probably do tie the whole thing together. Hypothetically of course, if that were to happen. I guess we’ll just to wait and see…
The last few tickets are available here
And finally… Spotify
I have finally succumbed to the evils of Spotify, except rather than finding it the hideous spawn of the devil as some have suggested it is, I’ve found it to be really handy and full of amazing music. So I’ve compiled a playlist with hundreds and hundreds of really good house records that either get played at or embody the spirit of Thunder parties. As lovers of DJ clichés might say, all killer, no filler. And to stretch out the theme a little more, there are plenty of tracks from Canada in there too…
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