February 2, 2007

3 Chairs - No Drum Machine Pt. 2

200612"DetroitDowntempo

Rick Whilhite, Theo Parrish, Marcellus Pittmann, and Kenny Dixon, Jr. are all quite capable of getting it done on their own, and so when they get together, something special usually happens, but this four-tracker of shag-carpet deeposity is a bit more abstract than you might expect. The title track opens things with a bongo-and-organ riff that shuffles along through deep space, flashes of noise and other weird bits whizzing by as if they don’t have a care in the world. This is light years from the sort of floor-fillers you might expect, but “Camillion” gamely tries to move asses with some intricate hi-hat patterns and jazzy chords and riffs, and “Congo Mambo” moves in a Latin direction while staying dead mellow and low-key. The sample heavy and thoroughly filtered “BABO” is a bit puzzling (and also sorta funky), but this is clearly music aimed at the after hours set rather than peak time, and at that, it succeeds beautifully.

Three Chairs / 3CH 6
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[Todd Hutlock]


July 28, 2006

Common Factor - Through

200612"Techno

Three mixes of laid back tech-house from Nick Calingaert, half of Soma act Retroflex and Planet E alum. Calingaert definitely bears some traces of his former mentor’s work here, as layers of percussion, a pseudo-jazzy keyboard riff, and textural synth pads play musical chairs over a throbbing two-note bassline and a few key breakdowns. The stomping Phonique remix strips things down to start, then adds the layers back piece by piece for an altogether more interesting and dynamic track. Holmar Filipsson plays it a bit retro, with a big swinging hi-hat and an accent on the riffs rather than the rhythms. A little something for everyone, then, although nothing that will really stick to your ribs the next day.

Moodmusic / MOOD 042
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[Todd Hutlock]


July 12, 2006

In the Mix: Michael F. Gill - “Blue On Blue”

Mixes2006House

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As summer begins and the sweat rings begin to glow off of my forehead, I find myself drifting towards the hazy melancholy and organic warmth of deep house instead of the chill of minimal techno and electro. This mix reflects these thoughts and feelings…

01 Dubtribe Sound System - We Used To Dance (Intro) - Imperial Dub 1996

A short string intro from a track that appears later on the mix, DSS tell us about their first time they heard house music in San Francisco (”That’s a long story,” they say, but manage to tell in like forty seconds,) recalling a faithful night that Doc Martin switched from an all hip-hop set to four on the floor…

02 Quentin Harris - Let’s Be Young (Trackheadz Remix) - NRK Sound Division 2005

I first heard this at one of the last deep house nights in Boston and was pretty transfixed by the beauty of the string lines compared to over-the-top synthetic horns, which apparently are straight from a preset in Apple’s Garageband. The Trackheadz remix removes most of the trumpet excess to focus back on the yearning violins.

03 Club Artists United - Sweet Chariot (Dramatic Dub) - Nervous 1998

Ending this opening string trio is Kerri Chandler’s mix of “Sweet Chariot,” a complete reworking of the diva-ish original into a, err…dramatic dub. I found this 12″ in Brooklyn’s secondhand shop Junk, where the amount of used Strictly Rhythm and Nervous records in the bin can make one’s head spin.

04 Aqua Bassino - I’m A Believer - F-Communications 2006

Now over to Scotland for the stand out cut on Aqua Bassino’s 2006 album “Rue De Paris,” a rather urgent vocal cut with breathy falsetto that seems to aim for Prince or even Jamie Lidell, but ends up sounding a bit more like George Michael. The lush production and vocoder echoes are just barely able to keep the tumultuous song from becoming overwrought.

05 Justin Martin - The Sad Piano (Charles Webster Remix) - Buzzin’ Fly 2004

First of two entries from the slightly underrated Buzzin’ Fly label, run by Ben Watt (of Everything But the Girl.) A simple gliding bassline and three echoing chords are able to transcend the rather mundane song title and blend rather well with the bassline for the next track…

06 Sublevel - Just Us - White Label 2002

…which happens to be Sublevel’s “Just Us,” one of the few original productions from Doc Martin, originally on white label and then later appearing on his own Fabric 10 compilation. Immersive and aquatic enough that you might be able to sneak it into a minimal mix, it’s perplexing why the good Doc doesn’t release more of this!

07 Chuck Love - Set Me Free (Festival Mix) - Vista 2005

Most of the stuff I’ve heard from Chuck Love has been a straight up purist garage/deep house, but this dubbed out remix from last year is one of the better things I’ve heard from him. Also, you’d never guess from the lead vocals that he’s a skinny white guy from Minnesota and not a black man from the ‘hood.

08 Justin Harris - Hangerang - Paranoid Music 2006

One half of London’s duo/record label Music for Freaks, Harris’ latest single takes inspiration from the golden era of Chicago house, with some pitched down trippy vocals (reminiscent of Sleezy D’s “I’ve Lost Control” or a number of Phuture tracks,) and those melodic keyboard drones which were used so much by producers like Frankie Knuckles and Marshall Jefferson that anytime I hear them I relate it back to the Windy City. This track is also notable for its high amount of beatless breakdowns, and the moments when Harris’ British accent slips into the mix.

09 Johnny Dangerous - Beat That Bitch (Mr. V’s Sole Channel Mix) - Nite Grooves 2006

Mr. V did two remixes of Johnny Dangerous’ “Beat That Bitch,” (which became a club hit despite its blatant misogyny) and they sit on opposite sides of the pole. This mix removes the famous chant and adds some falsetto and minor-key keyboards to actually make things sound pretty. You could even play it for your Mom. His other mix, however, is somehow even more misogynistic than the original, with a series of phone messages detailing a party where everyone will get together and practice the song title on other party members. I threw up after it was over, played “Pink Hearts Yellow Moons” by Dressy Bessy, and got on with my life.

10 Angie Stone - Brotha (DJ Spen Remix) - Arista 2002

First heard on the Eskimo 4 compilation, one of the many great mixes by The Glimmer Twins, I can imagine “Brotha” being a bit too neo-soul for some people, but DJ Spen’s remix works a treat for me, especially because of the unexpectedly great juxtaposition of church-style organ with a sleazy, staccato guitar lines that could come right out of a porno.

11 Peven Everett - I Can’t Believe I Loved Her - Nite Grooves 2002

Probably Peven’s signature tune, released back when it was actually possible to keep up with this Chicago producer’s constant influx of home made releases. It’s too bad he hasn’t dabbled in house as much as he has in lo-fi soul and funk, but I have to say he’s still one of my favorite underground soul producers/songwriters at the moment.

12 Dubtribe Sound System - We Used To Dance (Muzique Tropique’s Glasgow Funk Mix) - Imperial Dub 1996

The original “We Used To Dance” is a bit of a dire tech-house track with lyrics that don’t amount to more than just another nostalgic, “back in the day, everything was so much better” track. Muzique Tropique’s funk remix is a big improvement though, with a wild and indulgent wah-wah solo that unfortunately ends too soon, just before it gets hallucinatory. I edited out the half-interested vocals which just seem to impede the entire flow of the track.

13 Wildmoos - Waldohreule - Crippled Dick Hot Wax 2005

A one-off from the two members of Sonar Kollektiv’s Slope with Crippled Dick’s chairman Toni Schifer, “Waldohreule” was recorded in ‘03 but never released until ‘05, when it found a place on Crippled Dick’s compilation “Basscheck.” A improvisational jam with a stiff Maurice Fulton-esque bassline, retro synths, and snippets of random party chatter make this an oddball floor-filler.

14 Vincenzo - Peace Is Not The Word To Play (I:Cube’s Vocopop Muzak Mix) - Dessous 1998

Deep house meets filter disco. Does anything else need to be said?!

15 3 Chairs - I Wonder Why - Three Chairs 2004

3 Chairs are the Detroit supergroup of Kenny Dixon Jr. [Moodymann], Rick Wilhite, Theo Parrish, and Marcellus Pittman, although sometimes its hard to tell who’s collaborating with who on each track. The low key “I Wonder Why” sounds like it could’ve been pulled from one of Theo Parrish’s Ugly Edits, with a faded soul vocal snippet riding on a steely-eyed kick drum. Parrish and Dixon may have done this type of track a hundred times, but I’ve yet to hear many who better their approach.

16 Lephtee - So Far Back (The Nova Dream Sequence Remix) - Buzzin’ Fly 2006

Closing things with this gorgeously lush remix from the latest Buzzin’ Fly 12″, which reworks the sparse, droney original into a tense, exhausted epic of Detroit proportions.