V/A – Intergalactic Space Odyssey – Inner Shift Music
Any record using the words ‘intergalactic’, ‘space’ or ‘odyssey’ let alone all three is guaranteed to get my attention. And if it also happens to involve the underground’s first couple of house and techno Brad Peterson and Rai Scott then all the better.
So the second offering from the Edinburgh-based duo’s own Inner Shift Music imprint, a four-track various artists affair entitled, yup, Intergalactic Space Odyssey, was always going to whet the appetite.
Warm, organic, spacey and with a generous sprinkling of funk is the order of the day on beauteous opener Cepheid Variable from Mick Welch, he of the excellent Elektrosouls imprint. When it comes to thoughtful, ambient-tinged beats then Rai Scott is rapidly developing into one of the best in the business. Her cut here, Beyond Earth’s Atmosphere, is deep-end deep and again straddles that line between euphoria and melancholy that she does so well.
With outings on the likes of Aesthetic Audio, Ornate and his own project Atmospheric Existence Recordings, Miles Sagnia has been around the proverbial block, in the politest possible sense of course. His contribution here, Tears Of Saturn, has a delightful, shimmering and tranquil quality thanks to those, dare I say it, warm pads that radiate emotion. Deep beats don’t get much better than this.
Head honcho Brad Peterson’s Ice Planets is spot on too if you like your deepness intelligent, soulful and with a chunky as bass. Quality with a capital ‘Q’.
Leonid – Midas – Photic Fields
Proper international man of mystery that Leonid. Indeed, ‘enigmatic‘ and ‘anonymous’ are the two words most often used to describe Paul Smith, the much-talented Irish-born producer now residing in Madrid. So not that anonymous then.
But he is certainly a man of few words and even fewer releases with a mere four in five years on his curriculum vitae. Yet he is also a man of much ability and his work, however infrequent, is invariably worth the wait.
On Midas for the Dutch-based label Photic Fields, he again has the golden touch. With 67 Jam, the tone of this lovely EP is established immediately. Understated, emotive and, yes of course, very, very deep. Followers of Leonid would expect nothing less. Yet whereas the opening track pumps with a very small ‘p’ and is the perfect scene-setter for Midas, SD2 is distinctly more relaxed and effortlessly beautiful with it.
Such is the strength in depth of Midas that closing cut Random Waves will, for many at least, steal the show with its gently soulful approach and atmospheric strings that transcend it and Mr Smith way above the also-rans of house and techno.
Shane Linehan & Shane Bambrick – Basic Grooves Volume 5 – Basic Grooves Recordings
It must be something in the water. Because Ireland seems to be producing no end of talent of a house and techno bent; John Daly, Bicep, Slowburn, the aforementioned Leonid and many more. Even Italian maestro Lerosa upped sticks and relocated to Dublin back in the nineties.
More recently though Shane Linehan, who cut his teeth gigging around his homeland alongside the biggest and brightest names in house music, has caught the attention of many thanks to a string of fine early releases on his own much-fancied label Basic Grooves. On this the imprint’s fifth release he teams up with compatriot and namesake Shane Bambrick for another must-have EP.
With the two Shane’s tackling a side apiece, it’s all about the original versus the remix. You pays your money and takes your choice.
The key to Bambrick’s track The Process is its sheer simplicity. Less is more is not always an easy trick to pull off but Bambrick manages to do so here with aplomb. Built around an incessant and beefy kick, the track finds its groove quickly and stays there to great effect. It’s hypnotic too and is aided and abetted by some delightful chords, sparing percussion work, an increasingly urgent synth and the occasional vocal snatch.
Linehan’s approach on the remix appears to be ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’. And why not. So in some respects it is even more thrifty and direct than the original with a meatier bass and snappier tempo. Basic, yes, as the name suggests but beautifully executed.
Above Smoke – Inner Vibe – deepArtSounds
So key to the Spanish deep house scene are Minuendo’s Ernie and Deep Explorer’s Dubbyman that sometimes another of its own, the wonderful Above Smoke, slips under the radar somewhat.
Not that the man also known as Javier Álvarez (he is Dubbyman’s brother) is in the least bit underrated by those that know, the more discerning punters. No siree! Top-notch releases for the likes of Fear Of Flying and Yore are testament to his talent. So it is also credit to the Zurich-based deepArtSounds crew’s impeccable taste that they too have plumped for Álvarez for this strictly-limited two-track vinyl treat that more than hits the spot.
Inner Vibe is all about just that. Atmospheric writ large, heavily jazz-influenced and featuring a distant and credible sax that never strays anywhere near the ‘jazz house’ end of the spectrum, which is an entirely different thing altogether. Irresistible from start to finish.
On the reverse comes Tricks & Treats. It’s entirely a treat. The jazz motifs are dropped in favour of straightforward deep business, wave after wave of glorious synths washing all over the track leaving the listener no choice but to surrender and be drawn in. A cut above.
V/A – Stuntman Mike Car’s Soundtrack (Part 1) – Troubled Kids Records
Steadfastly deep and with more than a nod and a wink to Chicago and Detroit, there is something genuinely comforting about Troubled Kids Records. Now five years old and 10 releases in, the imprint appears to be really coming of age with its first various artists release that cherry-picks some of the underground’s best talent.
Taking the wheel first on Stuntman Mike Car’s Soundtrack (Part 1) is Chicago native Ricardo Miranda, who has appeared on the likes of Noble Square and Minuendo. The man from the Windy City kicks off proceedings with the superb Polysynthetic Jungle which, not surprisingly given its title, is an unabashed techy affair yet still groovy and infectious.
Label boss Jesus Gonsev and his Troubled Kids Gang are next up with the truly lovely Neon Nights, a deeply soulful offering leaning heavily on Marvin Gaye vocal samples, which can only be a good thing if done well. It is.
Things take a decidedly deeper turn with Winter Feeling from Life Recorder, French producer Kriss Kortz who has turned heads lately with some downright classy work not least of which has been for Keith Worthy’s Aesthetic Audio. Here Kortz lets it roll deep and soulful to joyous and uplifting effect.
Finishing, no pun intended, things off just nicely is the enigmatic man of mystery from Helsinki, Trevor Deep Jr. Although his cut T To Da P may not trip off the keyboard that easily it is certainly easy on the ear. A glorious slice of deepness from one of the producers du jour that bounces along wonderfully with plenty for the head and the feet. Highly recommended.