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.

Check out:

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Various Artists – Emerald City – Verdant Recordings

Artwork by Sophie O'Leary

IF ever there was a man destined to run a record label then that man is Andy Green. London clubland stalwart, DJ and occasional promoter, voracious record collector, prolific producer of online mixes and a chap with the most impeccable taste in music, at long last his passion, past-time and peccadillo has crystalised into the rather promising Verdant Recordings.

Mr Green has clearly curated his first release, the Emerald City EP, with much due care and attention and anyone who follows his live broadcasts and online mixes – guilty as charged – will not be in the least bit surprised at the quality, depth and style of Verdant’s debut. Not only that, but the original 100-copy lathe-cut run sold out within minutes at the back end of last year before being snapped up for this the full-press treatment courtesy of Juno.

It is very easy to see why. For the label’s first outing Green has managed to pull in a veritable who’s who of producers of intelligent electronic music aimed at the more discerning punter.

Highly-respected Sheffield-based artist John Shima has a record as long as your arm for this type of turnout having rocked up previously on labels such as Boe, Common Dreams and Contrast-Wax. His contribution Omni is right up there with earlier must-have outings, a satisfyingly solid slice of deep techno with a pleasingly emotional undercurrent.

Another UK stalwart, Plant43 (aka Emile Facey), introduces a more electro-inspired twist to proceedings – which has generally been his stock-in-trade for imprints such as Ai, Bleep43 and Semantica – with the sparse yet hauntingly beautiful Light The Way.

Newcomer Mihail P enters the musical fray with six-and-a-half minutes of accomplished and pulsating deepest techno in the shape of Prismatic. It augurs well for the forthcoming solo twelve on Seventh Sign.

Another old hand, the excellent Leigh Dickson – For Those That Knoe/Qube  – turns in another show-stealing performance with the emotive and lush electronica that is Follow, rounding off a joyous debut from the Verdant collective. Miss it and turn green with envy.

Check out:
Emerald City @ Juno
Verdant Recordings on Facebook

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Miles Atmospheric – Ascendance – Common Dreams




LO-FI schmo-fi. Perhaps it’s my age but I have absolutely no idea what the hype is with the much-discussed latest house genre nor DJs Boring and Seinfeld, Ross From Friends or The No. 137 Bus. Ok, so I made up the last one. But honestly, I don’t have a Scooby Doo what’s going on and have decided ignorant is in this case bliss.

Instead I will remain holed up safe and sound in my deep house and techno man cave. So praise the lord for fresh supplies from Common Dreams, sister label to the also very excellent Inner Shift.

It’s release number four for the Edinburgh-based imprint and the same deal as before: one artist, a track-a-side and beautifully done.

This time it’s the turn of Miles Atmospheric, the artist formerly known as Sagnia, who has won plenty of admirers in recent years with sterling efforts on the likes of Aesthetic Audio, Flyance, Ornate and his own tasty label Atmospheric Existence Recordings.

Side one cut Heal is all that is great about both the artist and label. It’s smart, thoughtful and emotional techno crafted with real love and care. Beautiful synth lines and the transcendental quality that envelops the entire piece offset the track’s loopy foundation handsomely.

Checking in on the flipside is Plight, an eight-minute flight of interweaving rhythm and melody. Less insistent than Heal perhaps though every inch as emotive, considered and, ultimately, rewarding. Uplifting and seriously-deep techno at its finest.

Pick up here.


Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Gauss – Gauss 04 – Gauss




IN an increasingly uncertain world of Brexit, Trump and Honey G (for those of you mercifully outside the UK, check it here), what some of us need is a great big comfort blanket. A metaphorical one, naturally.

So it’s heartening to know that there are still some things you can rely upon. Namely, that if it’s intelligent techno with heart and soul that you’re after then Gauss won’t let you down.

After a cloak-and-dagger introduction on their eponymously-titled label a couple of years back, Gauss have more recently been outted as the production partnership of two respected old hands, Owen Jay and Natan H.

Jay has considerable form not only on his own label Batti Batti but also for the likes of Underground Quality, Moods & Grooves and Minuendo. Natan H is no makeweight either having made his vinyl debut on Anton Zap’s excellent imprint Ethereal Sound before going on to equally impressive outings on Finale Sessions, ManMakeMusic, Mysterious Russian Soul and more.

It is, indeed, those credentials that set Gauss apart. Because strip away the veneer of techno and you will always find a touch of soul or deep house swing in their joint productions.

They’re back again with the label’s fourth release, hand-stamped on gorgeous red vinyl and imaginatively titled, yep you guessed it, Gauss 04. The outstanding title track Numerical Coefficients is nowhere near as cold and prosaic as the name might suggest. For sure there is an element of the mechanical and even automaton about it, but stirring synth swathes nudge the piece in a more emotional and dare I say ‘human’ direction. Six minutes of techno heaven.

Curvature is a cleverly understated number, one of those brooding and deceptively melodic productions that has more pace about it than you might think on first hearing and a very neat line in shimmery cosmic synth work too.

Packing a punch right ‘til the last, Differential closes the EP with more bounce and swagger than Gauss have displayed previously. And it ain’t half good.

Check out:
Gauss @ Juno


Sunday, 6 November 2016

Ewan Jansen – Aqua Libre – Red Ember



EWAN Jansen first caught my attention with the deep-as Blueline Summer long-player on the influential Moods & Grooves some tens ago or so. But he’d already been quietly making his mark for a number of years before that with appearances on the likes of Track Mode, Deep4Life and his own Red Ember Records.

Then nothing. Not a peep out of the Australian producer. That was until last year when he popped up with new material on the German collective Hardworksoftdrink. That was quickly followed by a slew of fresh EPs on Adelaide Soundworks, Going Good and Inner Balance.

And now it has also signalled a revival of Red Ember after a 15-year hiatus with the Perth-based Jansen re-launching the imprint with the formidable solo EP Aqua Libre.

Opener and aforementioned title track, Aqua Libre, is dusted liberally with the feel-good factor, a hearty, honest and warming track with little in the way of pretention but a whole lot of uplift and joy. It’s one to put a smile on even the most sour and curmudgeonly of faces. Following swiftly in its wake is Plankton, in many ways a just as pleasurable and rewarding hunk of deepness but with a more muscular groove.

Freckles is no makeweight either, a stirring and emotionally-charged little number with a light touch of disco laced around its edges.

Yet despite the considerable craft and quality of these three, for my taste at least it is the closing cut – how often does that happen? – Castel that nigh on steals the show. It’s a real beauty, spacey, blissful and with that emotional content that both Moodymann and Keith Worthy spoke of.

With more goodies in the pipeline, notably the forthcoming Return To Hyperbola EP on the ever-excellent Inner Shift, it’s a welcome return. I have no idea where Mr Jansen has been, but I’m sure glad he’s back.

Check out:

Aqua LIbre EP @ SoundCloud
Buy Aqua Libre @ Juno
Red Ember @ Discogs



Saturday, 5 November 2016

Leo Gunn – Journey Inwards – Deep Explorer


LEO Gunn releases are like the proverbial London bus. No, not dangerous at night with a whiff of stale urine up top, but nothing for ages then two come along together.

In fairness, there is some method in the madness of the folk responsible for this, the brothers Alvarez [aka Dubbyman and Above Smoke] at Deep Explorer who have developed, encouraged and nurtured the precious talent of the enigmatic Gunn. In return, the Adelaide-based producer is fiercely loyal to the label and a deep explorer through and through.

So what’s the deal? Simple really, Gunn returns to the fold with an anticipated mini album for the Madrid-based imprint, plus there’s a tasty two-track bonus 7” available too for those who crave even more Gunn fire.

First up, the longer player then. It’s a handsome beast, visually and musically. Those of us who snapped up any of Gunn’s earlier exceptional EPs on Deep Explorer and appreciate his natural, almost organic, style will not be disappointed. Journey Inwards is very much the sequel.

Dreamy and melodic soundscapes with a hint of Larry Heard-style jazz – in the loosest sense – are very much Gunn’s stock-in-trade, which makes Leo & Leo Jr. the perfect scene-setting opener. From Old sports the jazz motif too, another beautifully harmonious and ear-pleasing piece with a touch of Mr Fingers coursing through its grooves.

Deep Breath has that satisfyingly wistful and mood-setting air that Gunn excels in, but this time with extra beef; not quite dance floor hedonism but no comfy sofa number either. And although perhaps still in warm-up territory, the lush and lengthy title track also has a more urgent kick and intent, whilst skilfully still mining a pensive, faraway seam. It’s proper deep house, as it should be.

Digital vs Midi is another super cut expertly straddling that fine line between feet-moving and head-nodding fodder. So why not try both? Home Base presents no such ambiguity. It’s about as full-on dance floor material as Gunn gets, punchy and purposeful from start to finish.

As for the aptly-named Bonus Tracks on seven inches of vinyl, well, it’s a joyous little something extra for aficionados of Gunn and Deep Explorer. Voodoo and Moondub are easily a match for anything on the album and may even, for my money at least, be the pick of this classy collection. The former is a gentle, soothing and spaced-out production that is so easy on the ears and soul. It’s right up there with Gunn’s best work. The gorgeous and trippy Moondub, as the name suggests, takes inspiration from cavernous, echoing piano soundscapes. Four and a half minutes of bliss.

Best part of two years since Gunn’s last release. Worth the wait then? It was never in doubt.

Check out:

Journey Inwards @ Juno
Bonus Tracks @ Juno
Leo Gunn @ SoundCloud
Deep Explorer online