Thunder Picks #045 – 1 Year old todaY!
A bit of a bumper Thunder Picks this week with loads of new music that’s already in the shops, some even newer music that will be out in the next few weeks, some old music and Glasgow flavoured party news.
Zanzibar Chanel – Funk Junk EP (Ruff Records)
Way back in Thunder Picks #006 I was extolling the virtues of Australian house duo, Zanzibar Chanel. At that point they had only really self-released tracks in Australia and only on CD, but now they finally, they not only have a record out on actual vinyl but they have a distribution deal in the UK with Juno, so we can all buy one. They’ve really gone to town too, with 6 tracks that showcase what they’re about. From the polished electro boogie tinged deep house of ‘Funky Joy’ to the eastern mystery of ‘Nubian Princess’, one of their signature tracks, to the off kilter majesty of ‘Beep Beep Boogie’ to the raw jacking hip housey of ‘Feel My Power’. It’s a brilliant record, hopefully one that enables them to make their mark further afield than Oz, and maybe even bring them to these shores.=
zanzibar chanel funky junk ep on juno
House of Doors – The Dolphin Hotel Affair vol.1 (Mood Hut)
One label that hasn’t had much of problem making its mark on these shores is Mood Hut, with every release seemingly getting hotter and hotter. This release is more straight up deep house than the previous Pender Street Steppers release but it’s deep house done exceptionally well. The all-encompassing warmth of ‘Filter Feelings’ and the early morning dance floor dreaminess of ‘Moesha’ are both particularly strong without being immediate. The latter track also features on House of Doors’ Boiler Room set, which makes very pleasant Friday morning listening.
Life Recorder – Meditation/Cycles (Appian Sounds)
I featured Life Recorder’s last record on Bokhari Records a few weeks ago. That was great but this is even better. Limited to 300 copies so yet another one not to be slept on.
Spoiled Drama – Black Drama (Nous)
This came out a few weeks ago and seems to be rubbing up Nous fans the wrong way! A departure from the deepness that has already made this fledgling Greek label one to look out for, this has a far heavier analogue vibe. The production sounds rough and it sounds raw, personally I prefer it and moreover, disgruntled deep house bores can’t be a bad thing either! A really heavy, dark and brooding remix from Brooklyn’s Patrica, of Inhalants/L.I.E.S. fame, on the flip too. Best Nous yet.
Max D – High Life (Hot Haus Records)
The latest release on DJ Haus’ Unknown to the Unknown’s spin-off label, Hot Haus, is by Max(million) D(unbar). When I bought this, the record shop dude described it as, “Fun” which is usually code for, “A bit cheesy and shit”. It isn’t either, it’s boss. Channelling that Bonebreaks vibe the Sex Tags guys seem to favour at the moment, this probably has a bit more of a UK warehouse feel to it. On the flip there’s a re-rub from label mate and outsider house’s favourite swimming instructor, Willie Burns. Less ravey and more dreamy, it’s the pick of the two for sure.
Steffi & Dexter – We’re Not Alone (Dolly Dubs)
I still haven’t quite adsorbed how good the last Dolly release was, by John Barera and Will Martin, although it seems to have totally slipped under the radar. Like that record, there a couple of fairly uninspiring tracks on this, big electro bass bangers in this case but that doesn’t matter because the understated euphoria of ‘We’re Not Alone’ is what makes this release. Music that soars.
Floating Points – King Bromeliad (Eglo)
I’m not sure that I have the superlatives to do Sam Shepherd justice. His first new material for over a year, the guy is a bona fide musical genius.
Forthcoming: Mark E – E Versions vol 2 (Merc)
Earlier this year, Mark launched the E-Versions project as a vehicle to allow him to return to his production roots and release loop-based edits. It was through productions like this that he initially made his name with tracks like ‘Scared’ and ‘R+B Drunkie’, the latter of which still gets regular plays every time anyone is stupid enough to let me DJ somewhere. Next week, the second in the E-Versions series should hit the streets. The stand-out on this one is ‘Magazine’, sampling both Madonna’s ‘Vogue’ and Rochelle Fleming’s ‘I Know Just What You’re After’, then wringing them through a musical mangle, not only does it evoke memories of those wonderful early Mark E productions, it promises to be just as huge.
Forthcoming: Paul Bennett – Overtaking In The Fastlane/ Apologies Apparently Unnecessary (Modernista)
Almost three years after its last release, Modernista is back! The baby of Dan Harrington, Chris Blaik and Paul Bennett – the man behind all the early Moxie edits – the label already has two outstanding releases under its belt, back in 2009 and 2011. Back when the label launched, Dan outlined what Modernista is trying to achieve, “I know everyone says this but… we would like to work with all types of music, as we've all got varied tastes. 'Dance music' in the absolute widest sense. The first release has a real Chicago influence, but the next one is moving on from the windy city. We're just taking baby steps at the moment really, we'll see which way the wind takes us. The vision we have is grand but too grandiose for me to say now or we'll end up with egg on our faces!”
They’d hoped to get this record out last year so they could keep up their every-other-year release schedule (!) but Paul has been building a new studio, so work on making music was delayed. However, now the studio is up and running, it’s paying sonic dividends, as there is a noticeable leap in the sound quality and finesse of this latest production.
The first track, ‘Overtaking in the Fast Lane’, which is featured below, is kind of tracky, almost wildpitch sounding but with more techno drive. The flip, ‘Apologies Apparently Unnecessary’, nails it though, with a more classic deep house sound.
As with previous releases, attention to detail is of paramount importance to Dan and the guys, “We decided to use Dubplates very early on for just a couple of reasons – its association to Maurizio and Basic Channel, and the sound of so many productions that come out of there. They have an incredible depth and space in the sound that brings out. Ultimately, we love records. Vinyl is the best sounding medium for music reproduction, in our opinion, but it has to be manufactured to a certain level of quality to get the best out of it. If the mastering process is done by experts like Dubplates and Mastering then you're giving the music the chance to really shine and so we wanted to make sure we got the release to be as spot on as possible… Paul's effort in creating a lot of his own sounds, rather than using sample sounds, has helped as well. When we got the masters back from Dubplates it sounded like they'd sprinkled magic dust on the tracks!”
The packaging is also top notch. Great design, well-made sleeves, something with tangible quality in these disposable times of ours and a world away from the hand-stamped white labels in paper sleeves that are so prolific in our record shops these days. I asked Dan why they bothered, “Cover art is really important to us. I absolutely love the aesthetic of a label like Factory who allowed Peter Saville's designs to become a fundamental part of the label’s output. [My wife] Finnie designed this cover – it’s quite obviously and purposefully modernist in style – which is something that influences us a lot, hence the name of the label. But, like the music, we'll be putting the effort in to do something different for each release.”
This record will be out in August and the good news is we won’t have to wait three years for the next one, as Modernista have some quirky deep house from Russian producer, Yuri Shulgin, scheduled for early Autumn.
From the Vaults: Paul Bennett – Modone and Modtwo (Modernista)
I mentioned the two exceptional previous releases from Modernista above, and writing about them again led me to revisit them both. Exceptional really is the only way to describe them, Paul really is a supremely talented producer.
Repress(es) of Week: Murk 002 and 003
All these years on it’s easy to understate the impact these records had when they hit the streets. They really did turn things upside down. American house music, stripped down in a way that allowed it to be played alongside UK and European house. These really are milestones in the evolution of house music. As regular readers know, I have mixed feelings about represses but as the original pressings of these records would give the worst crap Trax managed to scrap out of the bottom of the vinyl vat a run for their money, it’s genuinely worth investing in these even if you have the originals too.
New Label of the Week: LBL
LBL is the brainchild of Geoff (of Last Waltz fame up in Newcastle) and Peter Wilson (People Get Real). I caught up with Geoff and asked him what inspired him and Peter to set up a record label in these austere times. He told me, “On a regular basis, a lot of our friends share digital music with us that we love. It's got to the stage where we wanted to own them on vinyl, so we thought it made sense for us to press them up. A lot of fuss has been made about hand stamping, fancy packaging and gimmicks like posters and tote bags etc, we're a bit more simple than that though, and we're just interested in making good music available on vinyl.” The first release features music from Scott Fraser (Crimes of the Future), People Get Real (Join Our Club), Joonipah (Nixwax) and Jamie Blanco (Ess O Ess), with the last of these being the stand out, but Geoff says that’s just the start, “We have a number of Various Artist releases in the pipeline, as well as a bunch of artist EPs forthcoming too, with original music and remixes from a mix of established names, and up and coming artists who we've been lucky enough to befriend over the years.” One to keep an eye on for sure.
Party of the Week (part 1): Subculture at Dance Tunnel (Saturday)
This is the second instalment of Subculture’s quarterly residency at the Dance Tunnel and is something you really shouldn’t miss. I appreciate I’ve eulogised about Subculture in this column many times before, but to surmise: it is longest-running weekly house night in the country, celebrating its 20th birthday this year, with one of the most passionate and demanding crowds in the world, and Harri and Dom have been playing there every weekend for all of that time. They’ve honed their skills at the house music coal face and the effect of that is they are probably the two best house DJs in the country. Going up to Glasgow to witness some of this magic might not be easy for you but now you don’t have to, because they’re coming to you! Only a fiver before 11pm BUT there are no advance tickets. See you down there!
Party of the Week (part 2): Subculture at Madison Roof Terrace (Sunday)
If the Dance Tunnel on Saturday wasn’t enough, Subculture is hosting a roof party in the City on Sunday. It’s at a new venue this time round but last year’s terrace party at the 5-star South Place Hotel was off the scale (massive Scottish taps off dancing on tables type affair) so an even bigger contingent being in town from the night before bodes well for fans of raucousness. This time it’s one of Subculture’s young guns at the controls, Telford. Having worked in the Subbie for many years before taking to the turntables, Telford developed something of an instinct for how to keep the infamous Sub Club dance floor moving. There aren’t many people that Dom and Harri would entrust the night to but Telford has proven himself to be a man capable of filling their shoes. Joining Telford is Thunder and Sub Club favourite, Neville Watson, who is both lovely and brilliant. And joining the three of them is Wrong Island label boss and Optimo cohort, Teamy, who is brilliant and, err, Teamy… Tickets are still available if you move quick! Event
Mix of the week: Subculture Live at the Dance Tunnel
If you were wondering what all the fuss is about, about Subculture, then have a listen to this recording of Harri and Dom’s set earlier in the year at the Dance Tunnel.
Joining The Circus
What to do for British politics?
Solidarity with Ukraine
URL vs. IRL
Do DJs Today Need Social Media to Be Heard?
I Hear (Borusiade Remix)
Mother of MarsShop Now
Hologram TeenShop Now