July 1999 Reviews

This month's guest reviewers are Scott Lazaruk and Thomas Robbs, a.k.a. ones & twos, a techno & house tag-team from Toronto, Canada. (Click on the link for contact & realaudio sets).

Fervor :: Niche & Neeper :: Chair Recordings :: CHAIR004

Toronto based Chair Recordings is back with yet another finely tuned techno 4-tracker. The A-side is a bit of a departure from the style of the Chair catalogue so far -- more driving and dancefloor oriented. 'The Call' opens the release with a bit of cycling madness reminiscent of a Purpose Maker release -- but with far more progression. 'The Toll' maintains the intensity with another nutty stomp -- relying on one hook moving in and out of the soundscape to drive the listener mad ... (mission accomplished). 'The Harvest' gets back into familiar Chair ground ... minimal and intricate, constantly progressing from the original rhythm. Very nice indeed. The final cut is 'Enlightment', a deep, bouncy rhythm with a beautiful chord progression riding over the top. Layers of percussion gradually build the track up to a full-on dancefloor pleaser. More exceptional work from one of the most original and innovative labels I've had the pleasure of coming across. 5/5

Roy Davis Jr. & Peven Everett :: Don't You Dare Stop Loving :: NiteLife Collective :: NLC010

As could be expected, smooth and silky house from the creators of 'Gabriel'. Included on the release are 4 gorgeous vocal mixes, two from Roy Davis, and two from Glenn Underground. Roy's 'Live Disco Garage mix' kicks off pumping and strong, while the 'God is Our Rock' mix has that 'live' feel -- kicking into a rock guitar solo at times. Glenn's 'Narrative Soul' mix leads in with a long groove, and then breaks down into the vocal part of the mix nicely. The 'Dedicated Dub' showcases Glenn's jazz influences beautifully. Another solid piece from NLC. 5/5

German Broadcasters :: Radio Active :: Chisel :: CH2002

From 'tha depths of thee German undaground' reads the release and so naturally I'm curious about 'the fresh new millenium techno/house group from war grounds unknown'. Now I'm listening to this madly tweaking radio frequency assault on the senses from the German Broadcasters, thinking about what will go through the minds of the speaker freakers when this one is laid on them. LA's 'Knob Mix' on the flip is a bit more subdued, but no less of a mind killer, relying on subtle shifts in the rhythm and a more muted radio frequency for the stealth attack. Serious stuff from Chisel... 4.5/5


Various :: Abstract Fusion EP :: Trackmode Recordings :: TM011

Brett Dancer's Trackmode records gifts us with a superb compilation of abstract music from some of North America's finest deep house heads .. Tony Rodriguez from Brother's Vibe, Norm Talley, Jordan Fields, Mike Clark, Frankie Valentine, Chris Energy, Mike Grant and Trackmaster Lou. The tracks ranged from the deep minimal nature of 'Electronic Breeze' (from Mike Grant and Trackmaster Lou) to Norm Talley's bumpin, funkin', 'Detroit Bounce'. All of the tracks show a commonality in their originality and departure from the formulas so commonly used by house artists. Their odd, quirky sounds and heavy emphasis on rhythm really makes for house music with a unique flavour. 4/5


Chris Gray :: Trippy Fingers EP :: Trackmode Recordings :: TM012

Chris Gray, Trackmode Recordings' newest artist, brings us a deep & dreamy treat for the late summer nights. 'In Trippy Flight' showcases Chris' excellent keys while a quiet vocal sample lilts in & out. 'Universal Spirit' pulses along a techhouse line with light keys drifting through the soundscape. 'High Above' starts off with a long atmospheric intro, gradually dropping the elements of rhythm into the mix. Beautiful work from Mr. Gray, look out for his album this fall. 4.5/5


Brett Dancer :: Urban Visionary Series :: Trackmode Recordings :: TM013

New York's Brett Dancer back with another deep gem. He kicks off the ep with 'Melodic Communication', a dreamy bleepy stroll that lays a hypnotic groove. 'Still Motion' is my pick of the release, bumping yet still deep, with sweet piano melodies and interesting snippets of vocal samples. 'In Da Groove' rounds out the ep with a space jazz bomb sure to please. Visionary music. 4.5/5


V/A :: The Focal Point :: Cynosure :: CYNOSURE 001

A new entry into Southern Ontario is Cynosure Records, based out of Kitchener, Ontario (just outside of Toronto). Cynosure's first release showcases tracks from Mike Shannon, DJ Roo, Bishop, and Altitude (of Toronto's Blue Recordings). Tracks on the release range from Altitude's dubby techno cut to Mike Shannon's deep bass groove -- this is Mike doing what he does best. On the flip Bishop drops a slightly more house oriented cut keeping with a solid bass, which wavers in and out giving a unique feel to the track. The intensity is turned up a notch with Roo's Chicago jack track 'Jack's Hammer' closing out the EP. 4/5

Miguel 'Migs' :: The Roundup E.P. :: Transport Records :: TSP 003

Transport Records drops a serious groove on us compliments of Miguel 'Migs' from San Francisco . On the A side we're treated to two serious remixes of 'Easy Does It'. The first cut is the 'Discoteque mix' which gives a good solid kick and a 'Discoteque, yeah' sample that is cut up and tweaked just right. The 'Deluxe Soul Mix' is a deeper groove using the same sample. On the flip, Gigi adds in a lush vocal over a sweet, sweet bass groove in 'Mood Is Right'. "Pirate Radio" brings on a filtered bass groove and vocal samples that fills out with that big warehouse sound. This track brings out many different emotions depending on how you work it. 4.5/5

Jordan Fields :: Off the Muthafunkin Hook E.P. :: Catalyst Recordings :: CAT 9906

Jordan Fields puts out a 4 track EP on Chicago-based Catalyst Recordings, operated by Terry Mullan. It's been a while since I've seen a Catalyst release come my way, so this one has taken me by surprise as it leans more on the house side than past releases. The first side features two filtered disco house numbers - one dropping a vocal sample in and out, and the other offering more of a solid ride. The flip features the two tracks that really caught my ear - thick house grooves all the way! The first pulls in a gritty saxophone sample that is cut up and looped through a big bassline. The second is given a bit of a Motown feel with the sample it uses. I'll be watching out for more new Catalyst releases. 3.5/5

Troy Brown :: Feel Allright E.P. REMIXES :: Aquarius Recordings :: DISCO 18

Aquarius Recordings is a sub-label of Toronto-based Stickman Records, featuring some strong disco house tracks since it's inception. With their 18th release, they bring Troy Brown back to put out two long remixes of the hit 'Feel Allright'. The first mix lets the vocal drop in sparsely over the intro and drops out only to filter back into the familiar vocal loop. The bass shuffles in this mix give it a sweet bounce. The second mix has a longer build but drops a new take on the bassline as the track peaks out. 3.5/5


Kenneth Graham & Steven Loria :: Transitions E.P :: Stickman Records :: STIK 053

The latest pairing on Toronto, Ontario's own Stickman Records comes in the form of a solid tech-house cut from Kenneth Graham and Steven Loria. Featured on the 'Transitions E.P.' is a straight up pumping tech-house track with some smooth shuffling which brings a different groove through the track. A solid kick makes for great long mixes. On the flip you'll find a dub mix that takes things deeper with a synth melody over the top and a break. Also provided is a beat track for doubling up and extending out the mixes. 4/5


Copyright © 1999 Scott Lazaruk & Thomas Robbs. Reprinted with permission.

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