I was watching the video for David Morales’ Needin you from 1998 recently. I’ll save you the trouble of watching it, (it’s quite cringy): It’s Morales, wearing enough bronzer to cover a small orca, indulging in the hedonistic pleasures that Ibiza had to offer. The New York DJ and producer appears in various stages of undress inter-spliced with scenes from club nights, with some familiar DJ faces from a distant past taking the focal point. Morales goes from shorts and vest on a plane to running on a beach in his speedo, but in each scene, he is carrying a record under his arm.
Watching that video today, all I can think is; why is that guy taking his records to the beach? I hadn’t seen this video for a while, and I had to conjure a younger me, before I realised why this was: it was because back then that’s how we distinguished the DJ from the rest of the folks! At the time the DJ was still the faceless dude (yes they were mostly guys) in the back somewhere, playing records, and the only you would recognise him, was by the records. The DJ was that guy, and in 1998, the only guy with the record under his arm; even on the beach apparently. It was a time when the DJ as a superstar was only just starting to make its appearance, so few people really knew what David Morales and his kind looked like yet. So I guess he really wanted people to know he was a DJ.
That association between the DJ and the vinyl has long gone. Music libraries that used to contain entire living rooms are on USB sticks and everything that used to be so exclusive with vinyl in the nineties is now much more accessible, and more importantly cheaper, online. Back in the day however the DJs and their records were an enigma. As a teenager, my only association with vinyl was my dad’s musty 70’s rock collection, and the DJs I admired were certainly not playing the Average White Band or Frank Zappa in their sets. They were playing futuristic music, on what the rest of the world believed was a redundant format, and you had to be a DJ or have a serious interest in these sounds to become a part of this elite club, at least until you started making strides to becoming a DJ.
Obviously that exclusivity has disappeared with digital music and modern tools like Shazam opening up a door to what was this previously exclusive world. There are those moments however when even with these modem tools, you’re still left none-the-wiser, there’s still some mystery and intrigue behind these records, and 9 out of 10 times, it will be coming from a track pressed on vinyl.
Those connotations between the DJ and the vinyl format might be long gone, but one thing that remains, and is probably more prevalent than ever, is that mystery. It’s a sense of discovery, something that you would’ve never heard before. That’s why a place like Filter Musikk still exists; for those rarefied moments in hearing something that’s not on Spotify, those treasured pieces that you can still be unique to you as a DJ. And it’s those records that make the cut…
Ike Release “Leisure Devices” Bliq BLIQ21
Bass modulations swelling from the deep; flinty chords bouncing over the clouds; and a groove you can step to. That’s our gateway into this record; the remix of the title track from Iron Curtis luring us into the Ike Release’s latest contribution for Bliq. The remix is only the start we soon find out, as it opens a doorway into a world of heady breakbeats and classic House from the Chicago artist across the rest of the record.
You come for the remix, but stay for the rest. It’s one of those records that has a little of everything for any portion of the night, the record that will free up some space in your record bag.
Nathan Kofi “Voltage Controlled Love Affair” De Lichting DLEP06
…My heart will go on? Those words will forever invoke the image of a young Leo DeCaprio on a cgi boat mirroring the image of the French-Canadian wraith Celine Dion belting out “near far, wherever you are” over a set of midi panpipes.
Luckily that is where this analogy ends for this record from Nathan Kofi. If there is a love affair to be expressed at all here, it’s a menage-a-toi between an artist and his drum machine and synthesiser. The romance is cultivated in wispy atmospheres and grooves that penetrate deep beyond the immediate. From the lethargic acid-tinged opener to the shuffling Electro of “Candy Girl,” Nathan Kofi delivers an engaging and soulful record across these four tracks.
Textures envelope the listener, swelling between drums that remain subverted in the overall atmospheres of these tracks. It’s hard not to fall in love with this one.
O-Wells “Moldoom” Die Orakel ORKL-X-96
Across dance floors currently dominated by excessive tempos and cheesy refrains that figure closer to Hard House than Techno, it’s good to hear some hi-tech soul still in the background. Lennard Poschmann is back as O_wells on the Die Orakel. Uhe producer takes another sojourn via Detroit to Frankfurt through this record, instilling that timeless sound of Techno the rest of the scene seem to have forgotten.
Moldoom lives in that funky realm between Techno and Electro, before they would become disentangled, possibly best reflected in the stuttering kick drums and irreverent bass of “Rhytim”. Even when Poschmann goes straight with a 4-4 track like the title track, there’s something unusual like an accent on the upbeat or an eerie resonance, taking the focus away from the strong beats.
At the record’s highpoint “Coscio” delivers an Electro cut that would make Drexciya proud, swimming in cinematic sounds and a toe-tapping rhythm section.
Jensen Interceptor, DeFeKT – Free Your Mind (Tresor) 12″
Jensen Interceptor’s records are like that elephant in the room. It’s like – “o-shit! There’s a freaking elephant in this room!” There’s nothing subtle about it and the production is so big that playing it alongside any other Electro record, it simply takes over and drowns out anything that’s come before or after it.
We wouldn’t expect anything less from the producer when he teamed up withMatthew Flanagan’s DeFekt for Tresor record. In fact putting those three things together was like throwing magnesium on an open fire. What else would you expect and if anything this record lives up to expectations and some more.
There’s nothing timid about this record, as Jensen Interceptor and DeFekt deliver with a blistering sound that is centred around big kicks and piercing acid refrains. Even at low volumes, it’s an oppressive sound, the sound of armageddon descending down you, and you just want to grin and bear it.
Through raspy synthesisers and derisive drum machines, the production duo delivers a sound big enough to swallow a town, pummeling the listener into a subservient dancer.
Downstairs J – Too (SUZI) 12″
This is another one of those space-saving records… a track for every occasion. While “Mana 4000” and “Orion” do the heavy lifting on the dance floor, “Soothsayer” and “Symbioses” offer moments of serene reflection, skirting ambient realms through broken beats.
There’s some nostalgic reverence for the likes of Carl Craig during the early nineties, those times where a record could be anything, a House record, a Breakbeat record, and even Hip Hop if you’re with the right crowd. The soundscapes echo the sentiment with immersive sounds that intrigue in their unusual metallic guise while the bass moves in large swells that reflect modern technologies.
At its most captivating, it’s the slower tracks on Too that really stands out, but it’s only for their deference to what is already a brilliant record from Downstairs J.