“Spotify saved the music industry,” says the November issue of Fortune magazine. We didn’t realise it was in trouble and if the industry ceased to exist, would music cease to exist? It might even bode well for music from an artistic form of expression, if the industry did in fact collapse around it. A lack of commodified agency could certainly relieve some of the saturation currently plaguing contemporary club music. Then again, I wouldn’t be writing if it weren’t for an “industry” of sorts, so thank you Spotify… I guess.
I do like Spotify and the access to music it has afforded. Remember a time (no, you might be too young) when a birthday or some chore put a bit of cash in your pocket and you could afford to buy a new CD, cassette or LP? Well, Spotify would be the equivalent of going into that store today and buying the whole lot, and although you have to wade through the muck to get to the gold, there are still some new discoveries waiting on Spotify’s discover weekly playlist for you. Who would’ve thought for instance that there would be so many new Stoner Rock bands in 2019.
Even so, the relationship we have with a piece of music on Spotify is fleeting and tenuous, like a curiosity in a passing shop window display. When we seek something more substantial from music there’s only one format today that suggests we’re serious about music, and that’s vinyl. Whether it’s a new downtempo Electro record or an original pressing from a forgotten Japanese fusion Jazz band of the 1970s, there’s a certain dedication to a single piece of music that you aren’t able to get from an all-inclusive contractual obligation that streaming offers. A lot of that music is also often missing from those streaming services.
You’re more likely to listen to a piece of music over and over again when it occupies a physical space in your habitat, and there’s a certain ritual involved in listening to a record; from handling and studying the sleeve to turning it over, it’s a more conscious listening experience. The records we assemble in an ever-expanding collection of music is just a personal extension of who you are whereas, and the individuality of each collection is not something that could never really be replicated accurately on any amount of Spotify playlists.
Moreover any industry concerns are untenable in what has become a fairly niche musical format, so if Spotify saved the industry, vinyl saved music from becoming just another commodity. In Oslo there is a place that appreciates this with an unwavering dedication to the format. That place is Filter Musikk and this is the Cut with Filter Musikk.
Laurent Garnier, Chambray – Feelin’ Good (Rekids) 12″
It’s been a monumental track on the dance floor this season and it’s finally arrived in the physical format in Oslo. Dance floor royalty Laurent Garnier teamed up with future regent Chambray for a mammoth track that has left sound systems quaking around Europe all this summer. The French music monolith and his younger apprentice push their way onto the dance floor, in a boisterous percussive onslaught and tantalising atmospheres, that dissipate into a staccato piano riff that will have you reaching for the heavens.
It’s all about that piano, with its nostalgic nod to the House music’s rave origins, re-contextualised in the contemporary through that stripped-back rhythm section. It’s a thunderous track that leaves little room for anything else as it pummels you into submission on the dance floor, which would make for little appeal by itself if it wasn’t for that mesmerising piano that comes in at the 2 minute mark.
While the first Radio Slave remix, in a surprising twist, simply does away with that fundamental appeal of the track, it’s the Radio Slave’s revenge mix, that deserves as much attention as the original. While Garnier and Chambray simply extended a nod to the past, Radio Slave slipped into the Delorean and set the controls for 1992 with a breakbeat interpretation that accentuates those lovely keys. It’s a breakbeat edit intended for the big room, much like its ancestor with a booming sub-bass punctuating the scattering drums.
Norma Jean Bell – I’m The Baddest Bitch (Moodymann Mixes) (F Comm.) 12″
If there’s one person that could lay claim to being the “baddest bitch in the room” other than Norma Jean Bell, it’s only Kenny Dixon Jr. His a bad mother… shut your mouth… and it’s something that he brings across in his music too. In an era increasingly dominated by slick overproduced House music, Moodymann has always maintained some of that raw primal energy both in his DJ sets and his music. Whether he’s playing at one of Soul Skate functions or “fucking with is MPC” there’s always a serrated edge to Moodymann’s creations that infers some vintage Soul on his productions, and this is something that was particularly powerful in his early tracks like his mixes of the Norma Jean Bell classic, I’m the Baddest Bitch (in the Room).”
Originally pressed in 1996, this bootleg copy has aged little in all that time, with Moodymann’s Dub and Moodymann mix still doing its thing some 20 years on. The sparkling percussion and the deeper interpretations hold its own in modern record bags, and while Moodymann might have garnered all the attention for this release through the years, it should not overshadow the equally brilliant work of Aqua Bassino one bit. It’s probably the Bassino mix that has been played most through the years, with his reservedly deep interpretation, offering something a little more refined on the flip-side to Moodymann’s rough and ready approach. Altogether it’s a release that refuses to give up and there’s a reason it keeps getting bootlegged.
Second Storey – The Cusp (Frustrated Funk) 12″
Alec Storey is a versatile figure in the more adventurous realm of electronic club music and whether he’s making conceptual dance floor albums for Houndstooth, or testing the limits of electronic music intended for clubs, there’s an unmitigated adventurous spirit in his work and its relationship to the dance floor.
This latest release coming via Frustrated Funk sees Second Storey venture the furthest ever into the unknown, with three tracks that will definitely test the limits for the more obvious dance floor enthusiasts. “Cusp” is the easiest of these creations with a half-time two-step lending some structure to an otherwise unruly melée of alien sonic objects swimming through the arrangement.
It’s the only piece with a definable form on a record that’s more abstract experimentalist than perfunctory facilitator. The whirling acidic emulation of “The Cusp,” the distorted narrative of “London isn’t easy,” and treacherous growling ambience of “High Canopy” are unlikely competitors for the DJ booth, but there will certainly be nothing else in the mix that would sound like any of these.
Dorisburg – Stone Circle (Kontrolleri) 12″
A deep brooding Techno thriller from our Gothenburg neighbour Dorisburg. The Swedish producer has an unquestionable relationship with his machines and he is able to coax the extraordinary sounds from his collection of synthesisers and drum machines and it’s something we’ve experienced from his live shows to his recordings.
In one of four releases this year, Dorisburg heads up the first release from new label Kontrolleri with two exquisite examples in sonic design. Everything finds its place in a tapestry of sound that seems to gestate from some organic source. Billowing atmospheres and reserved percussive arrangements compound in two very deep Techno tracks.
They might get a little too static at times languishing in their sonic beauty just a little too long without much progression or development, which in the context of DJ set might work to its advantage. It’s still however best experienced on a set of headphones where the atmospheres and sound design simply envelope the listener in the mix.
Assembler Code, Jensen Interceptor – Random Patterns (Mechatronica) 12″
Assembler Code and Jensen Interceptor seem to have an almost instinctive working relationship in the studio. There’s an obvious relationship with Jensen Interceptor’s solo releases and his work with Assembler Code, but as a production duo the pair of Australian artists seem to thrive in the tougher aspects of the Electro genre, where the genre directs all its efforts to facilitating corporeal pleasures.
Distorting percussion, menacing square wave bass-lines and analogue saw tooth leads, growl at you from the body of the tracks and mark a distinction in their music that’s quite different from their more subtly orchestrated counterparts operating in the electro dialect.
This latest release for the Berlin-based electro outfit, Mechatronica expounds on these characteristics employing a machine-like precision over the four tracks of this release. Stark dance floor constructions from the Australian duo make their intentions known early on with Moog-like synthesisers playing in mono while dominating kick-and-snare arrangements skip with some military precision through the tracks. It’s the gleaming production that really stands out on this release, like it does on all their previous releases, and even when there’s a fair bit of sonic drive occupying a track like on the kick drum of “otherside” it sounds crisp and efficient.