Sound Of Thunder #064 – World Wise
There has been little bit of lull down at Thunder Towers since the closure of Dance Tunnel and then our 5th Birthday Party with Hunee, while we gear up for the move to a new venue and hopefully a new home for Thunder for a little while to come.
More on that soon but I thought I would use some of that spare time to write about some records that I’ve been enjoying over the last month or so.
Shinichi Atobe – World (DDS)
I had never heard of Japanese producer Shinichi Atobe until a friend posted the titular track from his 2014 album Butterfly Effect on facebook. Maybe that shouldn’t be a surprise though, as he had only ever released one record prior to this – and that was 14 years previously. The story goes, Basic Channel visited Japan a year or so before that release, influencing his nascent production, which was then ended up being released on Basic Channel’s sub-label, Chain Reaction, before Mr Atobe dropped on the musical map. Fast forward 14 years and the guys behind Demdike Stare and DDS Records, track him down and promptly put out a whole album of new material. What he was doing in the intervening period, who knows? But what an album it is, an exercise in restrained minimalism, that does not simply mimic but breaks new ground. I would go as far to say that the track Butterfly Effect, is one of the best and possibly most significant pieces of house music made this decade. It’s hard to imagine how it could be better.
So as you can imagine, I was understandably excited when World, the follow up long player, hit the shops a couple of months ago. If I’m honest, it does not quite reach the heights of its predecessor, but it’s still excellent and I would not be surprised if it continues to grow with every listen. How one listens to it is important though, there aren’t any euphoric breakdowns, soaring strings, or even peaks and troughs. Some tracks, like World 1, are little more than loops that suck you into a sonic trance. Others, such as World 2 and World 4, are repetitive with subtle elements added to the mix as the track wears on. But in the right frame of mind, you will get it and when you do you will not look back. Head to World 5 and break yourself in gently.
On a more sombre note, I punted my copy of Butterfly Effect across the room the other day and tore the sleeve (an annoying habit I seem to have developed). I only seem to do this to expensive albums, so if anyone has a spare…
Mark Seven – Fatal Flaw In Disco/ Never Leave (World Building)
Mark Seven is without a doubt one of the most talented and knowledgeable DJs I’ve ever played with. He’s also a lovely man too, which really does count for something. When I saw that he was behind the debut release on Beautiful Swimmers’ new label, Work Building, I was fairly sure we would spank a musical home run out of the stadium. However, this release is even better than I expected, in no small part because it reflects Mark’s house-ier leanings, rather than taking the disco route he often treads.
The packaging is basic, old school white label track title stamps, and an insert sheet that provides the details one needs. In fact, it’s much like a mass(ish) produced version of the promo packages Mark puts together for his Parkway releases. For those he takes a test pressing, types up a label, sources an old 12” die cut sleeve, often still in shrink wrap replete with faded US price sticker ($5.99!), and then creates an info sheet, which he prints on original thermal printing fax paper. Truly a labour of love.
The info sheet thanks “House Master Baldwin, Mike Dunn, Fast Eddie Smith, Roy Davis Jnr, Ron 'n' Chez, Cajmere, Mad Mike & Carl Craig” for inspiration but the A side of the release, Fatal Flaw In Disco, sounds like it owes more of debt to New York. Falling somewhere between forgotten Nu-Groove or Strictly B-side, it really wouldn’t sound out of place on old Tony Humphries Mastermix radio show tape.
On the flip there are two mixes of Never Leave, the first of which feels slightly wild pitch like, with its nagging vocal, building instrumentation and horns. But saving the best to last, the Pressure Dub version of this track is really where it’s at, with its sparkling strings adding a real Mad Mike Red Planet flavour to proceedings.
Every version of both tracks is good though. As one might expect, with a record put together in this way, it flew out of the shops, which saw prices rapidly rise on Discogs, so it was good to see the label make more copies available quickly and nip that in the bud. Music this good deserves to be owned by everyone who wants a copy.
Rimbaudian – Illuminations EP (Meda Fury)
Ransom Note Premieres recently featured the debut release of Malmö based producer Armand Jakobsson aka Rimbaudian on London label Meda Fury. It’s very good too, which is probably why it’s sold out pretty much everywhere, so I was fortunate enough to grab a month or so ago, even if I didn’t get a chance to listen to it until last week. All four tracks are strong, the hazy Hold Up Hold On, which was the track this website premiered, the driving nastiness of Holy Flesh – but above all, Werka 8, which is the highlight for me, with its rough percussion and playful, almost jaunty synths, it’s got a bit of a Funkineven feel to it, in a good way.
Armand is from a family of musicians, his father is an opera singer, mother a music teacher, sister a cellist and opera singer, but despite all this, he actually taught himself composition and production whilst at university in Edinburgh. These days he is amazingly prolific, able to finish track after track when he’s in full swing, whilst always managing to keep the quality control high too. There’s a full album in the pipeline for Meda Fury, he has a bunch of EPs about to drop on other labels too and if that wasn’t enough, he also has a secret pseudonym that's huge on youtube and soundcloud, that I can’t even tell you about just yet… but maybe next time.
Here’s something to whet your appetite in the meantime though, the R’n’B diva (guess who?) sampling Drop It On ‘Em, which is forthcoming on a label I can’t mention even, but is going to be huge.
Davíð & Hjalti – RVK Moods (Lagaffe Tales)
So, Icelandic vocal house anyone? This is one of my favourite releases of the year, on Lagaffe Tales, which could just be Reykjavík’s answer to 1080p – they have spent a couple of years releasing locally produced music digitally, slowly establishing themselves, and then like 1080p, they made the jump to vinyl release earlier this year.
Spencer Broughton, the head honcho at Prime Direct, the London based distribution company has turned Lagaffe’s digital dream into a plastic reality, told me whilst on a short break to Iceland last year, he was relaxing and bathing in a volcanic geothermal pool, when he overheard the audio bleed from a fellow spa goer’s headphones, all skippy hi-hats and warm strings, so he started up a conversation with the bather and 6 months later Lagaffe Tales’ first release hit the shops…
Hmm, well I’m not sure that is entirely true but I do know for certain that Spencer and Co were taken by the Reykjavík crew’s enthusiasm, ethos, and most importantly, music, and that they are excited about putting these records out.
The first release is an immediate instalment of the repayment of this decision. Four tracks all really good, from the Moodyman-ish title track, Moods, to the laid back, choppy, jazzy house vibe of That’s Her. But the absolute stand-out is Whatever You Can, infectious, fresh, happy, a killer piano hook, and a vocal huge vocal sample, Isaac Hayes I think , but who cares? It works and it’s brilliant.
Various Artists – Emerald City EP (Verdant Recordings)
Seeing your friends actually do things they have wanted to do for years, and then not just do it, but nail it, is always going to put a smile on your face. This is one of those moments. Thunder stalwart, sometimes photographers, regular dance leader and quite often, DJ chauffeur, Andy Green, finally launched his label, Verdant Recordings and the debut is brilliant!
Four techno tinged tracks from John Shima, Mihail P, Plant 43, and Leigh Dickson, limited 101 lathe masers cuts on black or clear 180 gram vinyl, unique personalised messages in the run-out grooves and numbered artwork, it’s a stunning package with music to match – my personal favourite being the melancholic acid of Leigh Dickson’s Follow.
All 101 copies disappeared in fairly short order and demand for further copies has been high, so the good news is Andy is a doing a full repress, which will be available in December. Following that, there are plans for a second EP, again with 4 tracks from different artists, early next year.
Re-Press of the Week: Oni Ayhun – OAR003-B (Oni Ayhun Records)
I’m not sure if this is deep house, posh Innervisions trance or whatever, but having originally hit the shops back in 2009 and prices reaching £60 plus for those copies, it’s safe to say this is timely repress of modern house music classic. Grab it while you can.
Party of the Week: Bodywork – Crofters Rights, Bristol, Saturday 5th November
Full disclosure on this one – I’m the guest DJ, so I’m definitely going! That aside, it is going to be a great party. The Bodywork crew have been putting on parties way out west for a couple of years now and have cracking reputation, with former guests including Bill Brewster, Eddie C, Al Kent, Ruf Dug, Psychemagik, Banofee Pies and Glowing Palms, all of whom have apparently rocked it. No pressure then. The crowd is up for it too and the Crofters is great little venue with a punchy sound system to boot.
I’ve recently been reunited with lots of records I have not seen in years, so I’m digging deep and planning to bring lots of underground house music pressure from across the years, old, new, soft, hard, with sprinkling of disco and as ever, some Prince. We’ve even got little crew of Thunder Heads heading down from London for the party, so I’m genuinely quite excited.
Things kick off at 10pm, at The Crofters Rights, Stokes Croft, Bristol, and door tax is mere 4 quid. If you’re on Facebook, details can be found HERE.
Coming Up Next Time
Sound of Thunder will be back in a couple of weeks with more new music from DJ Slyngshot, DJ Apres Ski, Ewan Jansen, Red Embers, maybe more on Lagaffe Tales and probably some other stuff too.
In the meantime you can keep up Thunder and general musical musings on Sound of Thunder’s facebook page HERE.