March 1999 Reviews
This month's guest reviewer is Scott Lazaruk, a DJ from Toronto, Canada.
Preface: I don't rate records on a numeric scale, I've never thought you can nicely categorize the wide variety of music out there into 10 levels of quality. Suffice to say that I won't review a record that doesn't have at least one track getting played. - Scott Lazaruk
Rainfield / Wiggle EP / Chair Recordings
Toronto producer Dan Lui delivers deep and funky wiggles here on Chair
Recordings' second release. 'Hiccup Wiggles' bounces along a deep
techno vein with plenty of funky percussion, and the stripped down funk
and warm synths of 'Liquid Wiggle' make a great late nite groove.
'Serious Wiggle' has a deep atmospheric feel, and 'Machine Funk Wiggle'
drops blips and throbbing bass to get you wiggling. All in all a super
release with crisp, clear production.
Daniel Lui / Calculated Misconceptions / Chair Recordings
Dan returns with another great 12" of deep techno and techhouse. I am
absolutely floored by the beautiful deep techhouse to be found on 'Soft
Knife' -- this track won't be leaving the crate for a very long time.
The intricate, deep weavings of 'Unrespire Pt 2', 'Distracted Focus',
and '(Bonus).Head.(Cheeze).Kick' are sure to please the techno elite,
with their atypical sounds and abstract rhythms. Dan's unique style and
superb production make this ep a great listen on the sofa or dancefloor.
House Marty / Party Marty Trax / Chisel
Both hard and deep techno to be found on this new Chicago release. All
three tracks are characterized by pumping rhythms and pulsing techno
grooves. My pick is definitely 'Rhythm 808', with its crisp percussion
and ass-shaking bassline. And for all those out there who haven't been
keen on past Chisel pressings, the new cuts are nice thick slabs of
Mark Jellybear and Miguel Migs / Very Chic EP / Aquarius
Another superb release from Toronto's Aquarius records. 3 tracks of deep
filtered and funky house here. The full-length track opens and builds on
a filtered disco riff, then breaks into a monster bass and the funk riff
that Moodyman fans will recognize from 'I Can't Kick this Feeling When
It Hits'. The flip has a deep mix grooving on the disco riff from the
a-side, and a deep jazzy groover. Solid.
Nick Holder / High Society EP / DNH
Nick Holder brings beauty to the world of deep house. Listening to the
seagulls, tribal percussion, and sax solos on 'Paradise 98' is pure
bliss, and the deep remixes of 'She Likes It' (released earlier on
Stickman Records) are sure to please the heads with its sleek & sexy
Mazi / North & Damien ( Get Up) Pt. 1 / Underground Construction
Another pumping house release by Chicago's Mazi, also known for his work
under the moniker 'Abstract Beating Systems'. The original is what I've
come to expect from Mazi, jackin' filtered Chicago house. The other two
mixes come from Rick Garcia with another filtered funk stormer, and a
nice brooding techhouse cut from Johnny Fiasco. A great ep.
Common Factor / Get Down / Planet E
A great variety of quality cuts on Nick Calingaert's latest on Planet E.
'Get Down' is what's been finding it's way out of the box in my sets,
with it funky latin feel and sick, sick bassline. 'Feel What I Feel'
and 'Positive Visual' both retain a classic Detroit sound while sounding
completely fresh, with slick sampling and bouncy basslines. The final
cut 'The Sky I Stand Under' is a more laid back track for a relaxing
listen. Nicely done.
Alton Miller / 100% / Planet E
Enough good news has been written about this one, but I have to add my
laundry to the pile and say what a fantastic release this is. If you
haven't heard it yet, 'Extasoul' is a loungy walk on the moon, with its
layered synths and filtered snares, and 'Paper Mache' is one of the
most beautiful, striking deep house tracks I have ever heard. Damn.
Check this one out if you haven't yet.
Pete Moss / Infrared EP / Earthtones Recordings
A beautiful techhouse 12" here from California's Earthtones Recordings
label. All four tracks will definitely appeal to the Pagan crowd --
deep, groovy, and lush. The percussion in particular is interesting,
verging on a breakbeat. Beautifully layered synths and sparse sampling
make this a release well worth picking up. Definitely a label to watch
in the future ...
white / white / Crayhound
Definitely the finest work I have heard from California's Crayhound
records. While the b-side mixes are an unremarkable tribal number and a
dark downtempo track, the A-side mix is definitely worth checking out.
It's a deep, building tech house mix that borders on trance with it's
interweaved, flowing synth lines. I haven't been impressed with
Crayhound's material in the past, it's nice to hear such a marked
Len Lewis / Dancing with Alcohol b/w B-B-Ques and Ballgames / Swag
A wicked techhouse 12" from the fine folks at Swag. 'Dancing with
Alcohol's bouncy, clappy bassline gets butts shaking, and sample of the
preacher telling the sins of his past is well used (and appropriate).
The 2 mixes of 'B-B-Ques' both fall into the tech-breakbeat area, deep
and funky. The sample used on this is simply too cool -- from the movie
'Heat' when Pacino and DeNiro sit down for coffee in the diner:
"I do what I do best ... I take scores.
You do what you do best ... try to stop guys like me."
"So you never wanted a regular kind of life?"
"What the f**k's that, b-b-ques and ballgames?"
Gemini / Take Your Time EP / Cyclo
Spencer Kinsey with another killer deep techno/house release, this time
on the Cyclo imprint. All four tracks on the deeper tip, with stripped
down highs and complex, funk-ridden basslines and percussion. 'Karma'
has a tribal feel, with faint female vocal chants and a deep throbbing
kick. 'Take Your Time' has an almost electro feel, a cool vocal sample,
and haunting, pulsing synths towards the latter half of the track.
'Return to the Jack' features complex hihat patterns, stripped down funk
riffs, and bouncy rhythms. The final cut, 'Where You Belong', is a
mellow little deep house number with sweet vocal sampling. A must have.
Tony Rodriguez / Tracks From the Lab II / Sound of Music
This 10" is a good follow-up to part I and is likely to please the
househeads. 'Brasstrax' is a saxxy jazz number with smooth backing
keys, a nice piece of work. My pick of the release is 'Natural High',
a deeper techhouse groove with a dubby feel to it.
Tony Rodriguez / Dub Plates 4 / Brother's Vibe
Another solid deep house offering from Brother's Vibe. Raw Skin
is a tribal number, featuring live drumming over a deep pumping bassline
-- the breaks and drumming solos here are not to be missed! The b-side,
'A Taste of Disco' is just that -- grooving on a filtered snatch of a
disco riff -- but this track left me feeling like it was unfinished. Might
work well as a tool. The drum track is definitely the attraction on
Urban Art Trio / Mixed Dimensions / Area Code Records
Josh Milan and Kevin Hodge from Blaze productions and Tee Alford from
Area Code team up on this great deep house 12". 'The Art of Dance' is
the pick from this one ... a spoken word sample about the art over a
pumping house bassline. Add super key solos and you have a floorfunker.
Odyssey, with its spacey disco funk feel, and 'Sweet Potatoes' with its
blazing sax solos and deep smoky mood make this one well worth checking
Retroactive / Super Disco Drops III / Brother's Vibe
If you've been loving the deep filtered disco cuts coming out of
California lately, you'll want to watch out for this excellent 12".
'The Message' is based around a steady disco groove and cool latin vocal
samples, while 'Everybody Move' loops a muted funk riff and deep male
vocals, retaining a gritty, raw feel. 'Soul Love' is simply stunning --
deep but bursting with soul. The last track, 'See This Woman' picks up
the tempo and mood with a bouncy funk bassline and more wicked sampling.
Overall the best release I have seen from the SOM/Brother's Vibe camp.
Jerry Ricci Miello / UnReel EP / New Generation
This is the first release I have seen from New Jersey's New Generation
label. Solid house and techhouse production here -- great samples,
pumping basslines, and great progressions make this one of my top picks
of '98. All 4 tracks are definitely floor-worthy. Keep an eye out for
these guys in '99 ....
David Alvarado / The Sunkiss EP / YoshiToshi
No surprises here -- 4 tracks of deep, funky, techhouse. Superb
production, beautifully layered synths, wicked basslines. Moody morning
Joystick / Scream for More b/w Go Insane rmx / YoshiToshi
Can't say I expected much out of a Go Insane remix release, but I remain
pleasantly surprised by this one. 2 techhouse tracks here that will
work well on the dancefloors. 'Scream for More' is my pick off the
release, a simple tech groove with a chugging bassline, hard hihats, and
a whipping acid line. The 'Go Insane' mix is one of the
techhouse/subbass (spd garage for the politically incorrect =) hybrids
we've been seeing lately. Nice production, layered synths, and distorted
samples. The crossover appeal from Stretch & Vern's original will be a
blessing or curse, depending upon who's dancing.
Moonman / Love in Me / Nite Life Collective
Boo Williams joins the NLC camp to produce yet another fantastic release
on this excellent new Chicago label. Deep house bliss packaged in four
delicious servings. My favourites were hard to pick, I've been playing
'Rolling Down the Mountains', with its beautiful flute and vocals, and
'Are You Ready', a stripped down funk masterpiece.
Troy Brown / Feel Alright / Aquarius
Another wicked release from Toronto's own Aquarius Recordings. Troy
Brown heads this one up with 3 tracks of quality funky house with tech
influences. 'Feel Alright' and 'Keep on Grooving' are the two I've been
playing, featuring funk-ridden basslines, filtered vocals, and great
production work. All in all a super release that works very well on the
C & M Productions / Lesson One / Juicy Music NY
This 12" is the first I have heard of NY's Juicy Music, and was a
pleasant surprise. All four tracks are pumping house mixes. Two of the
mixes are more geared towards a commercial club crowd, while my picks
are 'Brief As Possible' with it's warm tech synths, and the '68 Beats
Doing the Groove' mix, a hard house track with a dark stomping bassline
and incredibly groovy filtered samples. Decent work overall, but only
the 'Doing the Groove' mix really stands out.
Richard F / Blue Dice Project EP / Subliminal
Richard F. follows up on his 'Good Love' single with a doublepack in a
similar style. While not really breaking any new ground, all four tracks
feature killer hihats, filtered samples, and pumping basslines. My pick
is 'Find Me Sugar (Show Me Love)' with is sweet vocals and funky, crisp
percussion. Well produced material that will work well in a hard house
or techhouse set.
Copyright © 1999 Scott Lazaruk. Reprinted with permission.