The second in Armchair Dancefloor’s occasional mix series comes from Michigan's Lee Curtiss, who delivers just over an hour's worth of sleek and sweet deep house characterised by the same twistedly funky approach as his fellow midwesterner and friend Seth Troxler. Slipped in towards the climax you'll hear two tracks from Lee's recent The Black Door EP, which comes correct with a couple of hypnotic remixes from Berlin's Dyed Soundorom.
You can download direct from the widget below at 128kbp/s, or click through to SoundCloud to grab it at 320.
- Forever Deep - Headless Ghost (aka Ripperton) (STHLM)
- Fast Tongue - Slow Hands (Wolf + Lamb)
- Don't Be Rude (edit) - Splice (unknown)
- Stop Trying - Deniz Kurtel (Wolf + Lamb)
- Disco Adventure - Black Cock (Black Cock)
- Tribute - Moodyman (Forevernevermore)
- Naked - Dyed Soundorom & Aaron Carl (Crosstown Digital Rebels)
- Touch It (Sandy Shaw Mix) - Sandy Shaw (Warp)
- Watersports - Rob Mello (unreleased)
- Whateva - Ralph Falcon (Nervous)
- Don't Forget To - Cesar Merveille (unreleased)
- Smoking Mirrors - Lee Curtiss (Spectral Sound)
- Black Door Beauty - (Dyed Soundorom Dub Mix) - Lee Curtiss (Spectral Sound)
- Good Voodoo (Visionquest Remix) - Kiki (Bpitch Control)
- The Shameless Disco Dub - Lee Curtiss (Get Physical)
- Tropicall - Le Knight Club (Crydamoure)
plus loops, edits, samples and some original material by Lee Curtiss.
Right then, onwards: scroll down for a look at October's essential electronic releases.
2562 - Unbalance (Tectonic)
Dave Huismans whetted appetites for his second album as 2562 (which is his dubstep moniker – he also crafts deep house as A Made Up Sound) when he dropped 'Love in Outer Space' back in July (see AD008), but I'm not sure anyone expected Unbalance to be as good as this. Taking the overcast European feel of last year's Aerial and piercing it with shafts of warmer light, Unbalance strikes the perfect compromise between rhythmical muscularity and musical complexity (listen).
Huismans’ drums – which often have the same gravelly crunch as those of his compatriot Martyn – seem never to revert to a standard or favourite pattern. At times, as on ‘Flashback’, he slips a padded snare between the rimshots, while the hi-hats, down in the mix, have a loose, jangling quality. ‘Narita’, which rolls out of the speakers like a sun-streaked fog, sets insistent congas flittering around a blocky bass pulse and arching synth lines. A more playful pattern is employed on 'Who Are You Fooling', where heavily treated cowbells spring from a bed of seething bass pressure and chime-like gusts of keyboard melody.
As was indicated by ‘Love in Outer Space’, there are some serious Detroit synthesiser stylings at play here, Parliament-indebted trills and warps that smear gobs of lurid colour across the top of ‘Dinosaur’ and the euphoric fluctuations of ‘Escape Velocity’ (which is digital only, to the aggravation of vinyl junkies). At other times, notably on 'Yes/No', LFO-style bleep passages drag the frame of reference back to northern Europe. These influences, despite being pronounced, never overpower Huismans own distinctive stamp: they each have their part to play, but the point at which they collide is 2562's alone.
Three EPs - Shackleton (Perlon)
Shackleton went on the record back in August saying that this wasn't an album), and who are we to argue with him? I'd happily convert to creationism if it'd guarantee his continued production of music of this quality, depth, and sheer bone-crunching power. His first release since closing down the hugely influential Skull Disco imprint in 2008, his appearance on the Berlin label Perlon doesn't seem nearly as strange as it might have done a year ago, so commonplace is the interpenetration of dubstep and techno.
Which both is and isn't where Shackleton is at. With the descending compressed hi-hats of 'Mountains of Ashes', 'There's a Slow Train Coming's mournful clouds of synth texture - late-70s Manchester atmospherics trapped under dirty glass - and the incredible winding bass parts and disembodied vocal stabs of the outstanding 'Moon Over Joseph's Burial', the middle disc is a devastating blend of dubstep and techno dynamics. But rather than blend the two in the manner of, say, Scuba, Shackleton pushes out beyond them into his own space, one in which discussions of genre seem utterly beside the point (listen).
Despite their creator's protestations that not enough binds these tracks together to consider this an album, they cohere anyway by virtue of their strong commonalities: the dryness of the beats, the creeping unease of the synth work and that recurrent, powerfully insidious way with vocal samples. Yet throughout, striking individualities arise: the viciously distorted cowbell that bleeps out like a harbinger above tabla rhythms on '(No More) Negative Thoughts', with a chorus of paranoiac synth tones shimmering out of the mix; the lengthy, terror-inducing intro to 'Asha in the Tabernacle', the track's ambiguous embrace growing tighter by the bar; the vocal gymnastics and flicked-paint beats of 'Trembling Leaf'. These striking moments underline masterful work by one of the most exciting producers active today. You need this - and preferably on vinyl, so you can sink into the lock-groove eternities that spin on forever at the end of each disc.
Various Artists – 5 (Hyperdub)
The best thing about 5, aside from pretty much each and every one of its 32 tracks, is that it acts as a headstone for the idea of Hyperdub as a dubstep label. Much like Warp around the time of Artificial Intelligence, when they summed up the profuse diversity of their roster's styles as 'electronic listening music' (before some chancre of a human came up with 'intelligent dance music'), Hyperdub might have grown from a dubstep base - a genre it certainly hasn't turned its back on - but through Kode9/Steve Goodman's talent for A&R its branches now span the scrunched-up hip-hop of Flying Lotus and Samiyam, Cooly G's aching house ballads, the silver machine of Darkstar's space-pop (see below) and Ikonika's future-funk odysseys.
'Fostercare', Burial's first new solo release since second LP Untrue in 2007, scoops out yet more unnecessary matter from the cavernous, windblown hallways of his sound; soon even 'skeletal' won't be adequate to describe how pared down a sound this is. 'Weekend Fly' by Cooly G is another highlight, as is Kode 9 & The Spaceape's hushed, bruised and bruising version of 'Ghost Town'. Black Chow's 'Purple Smoke' winds itself down languorously while King Midas Sound's streetlight streaked 'Meltdown' gracefully collapses. 16 exclusive tracks and 16 from one of the best back catalogue's of the past decade: this is essential (listen).
VHS Head - Video Club (Skam)
I couldn't get my head around this at all the first time I listened to it, but a few weeks later I was hooked. The churning beats and staccato stabs of 'Video Club' toy with revealing the melody from which they're constructed, but remain fragmented right into the fade. 'Rent Responsibly' is where you really start to see the sense of the rumours that this might be one of Boards of Canada operating under a nomme de glitch: the vocal samples are dropped into the mix in just the same way that BoC would do it, sweeping in almost clumsily at the last moment. It's the melody that emerges from the metal-on-metal breakdown at the end of the rubbery noisejam that is 'Growler Spit You Out' that sounds most like the Scottish duo, the notes hitting that queer blend of nostalgia and retro-futurism they so often trafficked in. The same feeling recurs in the midst of the abrasive final track, 'Kincaid', when a golden sequence of notes percolates up in a brief moment of calm.
Terror Danjah - Gremlinz (The Instrumentals 2003-2009) (Planet Mu)
Anyone who's into their grime will already be familiar with Terror Danjah, but his reputation hasn't spread into the wider electronic music community as it should have done. Hopefully Planet Mu's retrospective will do something about that, as his sonic inventiveness is evident from pretty much every cut. The straining bass and harshly edited glissandos of 'Piano Madness' are compelling, while the influence of 'Zumpi Hunter' is easy to discern in the 'purple wow' sound of Joker and co.
The most impressive aspect of Gremlinz, which takes its name from the sampled cackle Danjah sprinkles across his tracks, is its unceasing energy: it's one born not of aggressive effects or shock tactics, but ingenious rhythms and a judicious, often sparing use of additional elements. The metallic thrust of 'Green Street', chased with the briefest of acid lines, or the post-jungle spaciousness of 'Hyperphonix', are productions that stay long in the memory (listen).
Darkstar - Aidy's Girl is a Computer (Hyperdub)
First written about on DiS back in January, the tune itself will only be news to about three people, but now everyone else can finally own this sublime piece of non-stick, future fabric pop, a highlight from 5 (see above). An android 'Gassenhauer', 'Aidy's Girl...' coasts along with an almost monotonous self-contained perfection, a yearning computerised stab at feeling that's moving and sterile all at once. On the flip Kyle Hall provides a sleek future house remix that carries echoes of early-noughties Kompakt and, from the same era, the Salt City Orchestra mix of Underworld's 'Cups' (listen).
FaltyDL - Bravery (Planet Mu)
It's been quite a year for New York's Drew Lustman, his album Love is a Liability standing out as one of the year's best debuts, and a brace of top quality 12's for Ramp (see AD's 005, 006 and 012) proving it was no fluke. Bravery, a 'mini-LP' that clocks in at a little over half an hour, is a sweet parting shot for us to take into the new year, building on the dynamics of Love is... and giving more clues as to which elements we can expect to be sticking around in the future as permanent facets of the FaltyDL sound.
Melancholy synth stabs and distended, mangled and otherwise-molested vocal samples are very much here to stay. Both festoon 'Made Me Feel So Right', the most Burial-like track here, but are manipulated to more individual effect on the skewed boom-bap of 'Mother Beam' and the beautiful pattering swoon of 'Must Sustain'. Above even these, however, it's 'Play Child' that stands out, its off-beat break gradually overwhelmed by majestic, mystery-wrapped chords before receding once more to those blue notes that Lustman just can't get away from.
Samuli Kemppi - No One Can Hear Your Echo in Space (Prologue)
Sharp-eyed techno heads might recognise Helsinki-based Samuli Kemppi's name from Marcel Dettman's Berghain 02 compilation, where his beautiful track 'Vangel' featured. Those familiar with its lulling, trippy groove won't be surprised that he's found his way onto Prologue, the Munich label at the forefront of the 'headfuck techno' scene that's been carving out a space for itself over the past year or so. A-side 'Droning' typifies its defining characteristics: long-form instrumental techno that's light on progression but heavy on disorientating effects and immense sonic detailing. The throbbing, winding titular drone curls away from and towards the front of the mix, delayed hi-hats and insectoid stabs peppering the mid-range.
'Joiku' is a retro-styled piece of driving yet ghostly ethno-techno. The title track, meanwhile, constructs a more desolate space, low synth frequencies hovering at the edges of hazy fragments of sampled speech. Awkward and restive, the track is an artful example of how distractive elements can conspire to become as hypnotic as gentler, more conventional combinations.
Matias Aguayo - Ay Ay Ay (Kompakt)
Expectations were high for Matias Aguayo's second solo album after last year's delivery of two genius 12's (the scene-baiting 'Minimal' and 'Walter Neff's tech-noir), and Ay Ay Ay doesn't disappoint. It's not to the taste of everyone in this parish, but hearing entire tracks constructed out of Aguayo's multitracked voice - from vocal line to clicking rhythms, whines and humming basslines, the ramshackle edifice bolstered with a drum machine and the odd accordion, xylophone or (less fortunately) penny whistle - is both fascinating and, thanks to the German-Chilean's songwriting nous, incredibly enjoyable. Louche, inventive, smart and hummable, Ay Ay Ay is proper party music with an intellect (listen.
Kowton - Stasis (G Mix)/Countryman (Keysound)
Bristol-based Kowton makes his debut on Martin 'Blackdown' Clark's Keysound label, forging a powerfully affecting path between halfstep and a techno sound informed by a love of T++ and STL. 'Stasis (G Mix)' is a superb blend of dubbed-out Berlin techno and the restless, rangy energy of UK 2-step: the track rolls this way and that between spare chopped vocal samples and a tough rhythm, incapable of holding still. The harmonics that seep and waver throughout the background of 'Countryman', meanwhile, are extraordinary, sounding almost like a rumour of Pete Lazonby's 'Sacred Cycles'. The beat itself is a muffled take on Ostgut Ton-style pressure, pressing the track on through the scrims and echoes of surface noise and tattered vocal samples that haunt its fringes (listen).
Phill Niblock - Touch Strings (Touch)
Hiroshi Sugimoto's cinema project involves the photographer shooting a whole movie in a single frame of film, which results in the film so pictured resembling a block of white light. In a similar way, the 45 minutes of 'One Large Rose', the most striking of the the three compositions here, seems to remodel the sound of an entire orchestra into a single, solid smear of sound. It's an intensely powerful and tense piece of music, one in a sequence of work that, for NYC-based composer Phill Niblock, stretches back to the late-1960s. What's all the more remarkable about 'One Large Rose' is that it was recorded live by Hamburg's Nelly Boyd Ensemble.
On the first disc, 'Stosspeng' offers a near-hour of microtonal drift generated by a guitar and an e-bowed bass. Both its slide towards dissonance and the sheer presence of the sound make this much more aggressive and engaging than much of what passes for drones: there's no chance of putting this on and forgetting all about it. And if you do, well, you're clearly a person of gravely unseated reason who's capable of terrible, terrible things.
The Brown Acid - Try Humanity (N.E.W.S.)
Ignore the Prince-goes-post-punk A-side shenanigans and move straight to Zomby’s old-skool rave workout, complete with sirens, scuzzed-to-buggery breakbeats and a spooky one-finger melody. ‘Try Humanity’ offers a grimy, organic counterpoint to the wireframe precision of One Foot in Front of the Other. Starkey’s typically maximalist version hits some sweet spots too, a keening synth line sweeping through and spreading over rolling beats and stretched vocal swoons (listen).
Deadboy - U Cheated (Well Rounded)
Sounding a lot less moribund than his name might suggest, Londoner Deadboy comes on like a cross between Pearson Sound and a demi-glace reduction of a Night Slugs playlist. On 'U Cheated' slantwise stabs and a spartan diva sample trade blows over a clattering 2-step rhythm. 'Heartbreaker', meanwhile, plies a more tribal path, and the superb 'Brock Lee Riddim' muddles a pitched-down vocal over staccato Detroit synth-work (listen).
Ethernet - 144 Pulsations of Light (Kranky)
From the gentle, undulating surges of 'Seaside' to 'Vaporous', which builds a dense, Gas-style mesh of sound above a muffled 808 pulse, Ethernet (aka Tim Gray) consistently satisfies the more horizontally-leaning receptors with 144 Pulsations of Light (listen). Gray stresses it's a perfect tool for meditation and self-healing, which it may well be. I can gladly attest to it being very pleasant to do the washing-up and ironing to.
Glitterbug - Dim Flares EP (C.Sides)
Sounding every inch a Kompakt release, it's unsurprising to note that Glitterbug is resident in Cologne. Dim Flares' four tracks touch on various house, techno and drone styles, but are always connected by the warm, dreamstate atmosphere that hangs over them all. 'So Much More' is certainly the prettiest piece, but it’s the overpowering hum bleeding between the old-skool techno stabs of 'Daubed Beams' that leaves a lasting impression (listen).
Lusine - A Certain Distance (Ghostly International)
If you want someone to ask you what record you just put on, play 'Two Dots': it works every time. It's a gorgeously catchy piece of electro-folk, and is ably abetted here by the churning vocal cut-ups of 'Gravity', 'Baffle's hesitant funk, and glitch ballad 'Thick of It'. Good work from the Seattle-based Texan Jeff McIlwain, whose recent work is a world away from the austere character of erstwhile Lusine releases (listen).
James Ruskin - The Outsider (Blueprint)
Airy pads swoop above the pockmarked surface of the Planetary Assault System remix of James Ruskin's 'The Outsider'. A ceaselessly modulating three-note tone throbs away at the static-obscured heart of this dynamic behemoth, the clatter of its distorted hi-hats blurring into a metallic rattle. Ruskin's original version is strong, too, phasing flattened bleeps criss-crossing the mix, while the cyclical bass bumps of 'Solution' pursue a subtler but no less effective method of messing with your head (listen).
Spherix & Sigha - Separation (Immerse)
Grabbing and maintaining the listener's attention with a whisper, not a yell, Spherix & Sigha continue to justify their burgeoning reputations with the shimmering liquid throb of 'Separation' (listen). It's the small details that impress here: the vinyl crackle of the hi-hat, the delicacy of the rimshsots that keep the track pulsing and the subtle rising timbre of the pads. Keep a sharp eye on these two.
Is there anybody here who's really old enough to remember AD 003? It seems hard to believe, but if you're out there and still have your faculties about you then you'll remember a wonderful free album being top pick for the week. It was called Neon Life and the producer was Slava. Just recently a friend of mine happened to send me a link to a new track from the man and/or woman themselves, and blow me down if it isn't the business. Enjoy: