Rewind: Baby Ford – ‘Ooo’ The World Of Baby Ford

Posted: July 20th, 2019 | Author: | Filed under: Features | Tags: , | No Comments »

Although acid house exports provided the sound blueprints for Second Summer of Love in the late 80s, the rawness of the US originals often did not really match the ecstasy fuelled day-glo hedonism that was sweeping UK clubland. Of course the pioneering tracks from Chicago, Detroit and New York had the same huge impact in English clubs as they had in Continental Europe, and the American originators brought music that was informed by no less aspiring ambitions, but it was also often produced on the equipment that you could afford in problematic social environments, and its initial target group was more local, and on another street level than the almost proverbial MDMA hugs between football hooligans or other thugs and the dancers they were previously beating up. But UK pop and club culture had interpreted outside influences into something more pop before and sent it back, as it had happened with the British Invasion in the 60s and lovers rock in the 70s, and house, and particularly acid house, was no exception. In the UK, some clever people not only heard a difference, they also understood that it had potential far beyond that. Just a new, small and dedicated scene at first, but maybe more. Or even much more.

Baby Ford seemed to have a very clear vision of what was missing for the music to really cross over and reach such potential, and with his first promising releases from 1988 up to his first album „Fordtrax“ he brilliantly merged inspirations from Larry Heard, Derrick May or Todd Terry with a knowledgeable pop sensibility. But in contrast to other successful London cohorts of the Rhythm King label like Bomb The Bass, S‘Express, The Beatmasters, and Coldcut on their label Ahead Of Our Time, he did not succumb almost entirely to the charms of the wild days of sampling, instead aiming more for his own musicianship than a wild collage of references with a beat. And in contrast to Manchester artists like 808 State and A Guy Called Gerald, who achieved a similarly distinctive sound, he was ready, willing and able to sing as well, and he implied his sense of humour. Be it „Ooochy Koochy“ or „Chikki Chikki Aah Aah“, his music was catchy and smart, but instrumental gems like „Fordtrax“ already proved that he knew how to arrange and set a mood. He seemed to make fine use of his influences as much as he made them his own, and he established a mini-canon of his own work in which his ideas naturally referred to each other.

Already a year later his second album „’Ooo’ The World Of Baby Ford“ aimed considerably higher. There are variations of „Fordtrax“ material but in a different, more mellow mood („Milky Tres / Chikki Chikki Aah Aah“). Which is perfectly ok if your source material is good enough to be reinterpreted in such a short time. Other tracks like „Let‘s Talk It Over“ or „The World Is In Love“ have a similar mood, somehow as urban as pastoral, sublime and full of hope. „Beach Bump“ or „A Place Of Dreams & Magic“ are more over the top, reviving the camp fun of „Oochy Koochy“ and other livelier tracks he made before. And then there are tracks that hint at the idea of this album as a continuation of gone but yet still lasting UK youth cultures. In terms of music „Poem For Wigan“ and „Wigan“ have not much in common with the 70s northern soul haven Wigan Casino (or the Jazz Funk and later Electro played at Wigan Pier club by its resident DJ Greg Wilson), but Baby Ford grew up near Wigan and experienced what happened there, and both tracks have a sentiment true to the inspiration. You may now flock to other clubs and dance to other sounds, but the spirit is the same. Else the cover version of T.Rex‘s „Children Of The Revolution“ is more obvious, putting the 70s glam rock anthem into the context of the acid house movement, whose children won‘t be fooled either. It is time again for the UK youth to rise up against it, and this is how it sounds. And then the according modern grooves also meet the modernized version of the hippie era aesthetics that the tabloids and authorities directly diverted to blame and prosecution. Where there are loved up messages and melodies, psychedelic colours and a quest for an alternative way of living, there must be something for society to fight back, regardless of what you are afraid of in the 60s, 70s, 80s, or the decades to come. Us against them, forever irreconcilable.

This album captured the revolutionary spirit and joy of that time perfectly, and it indirectly predicted why it could not last. It was not widely perceived as a defining statement and Baby Ford did not become the defining pop star, and he seemed to abandon his bright ideas soon after. First with the subsequent 1992 album „BFORD9“, which still had some traces of his prior optimism left, but which also confrontationally displayed disillusionment, darker topics and harder sounds, until he reduced his persona and sound more and more, albeit still with consistently great creative results. Either way, Baby Ford‘s world may have not been big enough, but you still think ‚Ooo‘ when you think of it.


Live @ Lighthouse Festival Croatia, May 30th & June 1st 2019

Posted: June 3rd, 2019 | Author: | Filed under: Gigs, Mixes | Tags: , | No Comments »


@ Lighthouse Festival

Posted: May 27th, 2019 | Author: | Filed under: Gigs | Tags: , | No Comments »

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@ Washing Machine

Posted: April 29th, 2019 | Author: | Filed under: Gigs | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »
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A guide to Flute House

Posted: November 8th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Features | Tags: | No Comments »

At the end of the 80s house music added deep. Seminal artists like Larry Heard, Marshall Jefferson or Virgo Four abandoned the track-dominated sound palette and introduced musicianship to a genre that was then better known for dancefloor functionality. But it was from 1990 on that the vibe really spread and developed, particularly in New York City. I first heard the term flute house when Roger Sanchez released „Luv Dancin‘“ by Underground Solution. Some also called it ambient or mellow house. But the music was not made for home listening purposes, DJs would use it, too. As a gentle introduction, or as a moment of regeneration during peak time, or as the best possible way to ease the crowd out again into the early morning, so that not a single glorious moment of what just happened the hours before was tainted by something less. A lot of these tracks had enough kicks to have you working at any time, but they also seemed to be created for unique moments, closed eyes, embraces, disbelief evoked by sheer beauty. A lot of these tracks had tags like ambient or jazz in their titles and credits, but they did not really try to be either. The artists involved liked to display their musical abilities, and their skills to establish a mood and an atmosphere. They knew how to write a melody, they knew how to arrange their layers and instruments, they were determined to sound as good as their means would allow. By the time Frankie Knuckles‘ Whistle Song was released in 1991, the flutes, vibraphones, saxophones or similar instruments were already derided, but the sound had come to stay, until this day. This playlist gathers some classic moments that paved the way.

Logic – The Final Frontier (Acoustic Mix) (Strictly Rhythm, 1990)

Wayne Gardiner took Larry Heard’s gentle elegance (the bassline is lifted from Fingers Inc.’s deep house blueprint “Can You Feel It”) and added the archetypical swing of early 90s New York City house. His back catalogue is filled with lots of sublime grandeur, but this track is structured like a jazz band taking turns on their respective instruments, and steadily building up layer after layer of tension and drama in the process. The result is still peerless.

Freedom Authority – Expressions (Flute Groove) (XL Recordings, 1990)

That Bobby Konders quit producing house music for a career in dancehall and dub productions when he was capable of track like this, is still a an irreparable trauma for many. As with many of his tunes, this can completely zone you out. Eight minutes of considerably relentless flutiness, accompanied by a dubbed out bassline and some eerie strings. A psychedelic masterpiece.

The Vision – Shardé (Nu Groove, 1991)

Eddie Maduro was an accomplice of Wayne Gardiner (for example he co-wrote Logic‘s „The Warning“ and supplied its seminal vocal introduction), and this is one of his finest moments. It is named after his daughter, and I am very convinced that the world would be a better place if such a beautiful piece of music would be composed for every child.

The Nick Jones Experience – Wake Up People (Massive B, 1991)

New Jersey DJ and producer Nick Jones with a total gem on Bobby Konders‘ Massive B imprint, with some help by Satoshi Tomiie. Not your typical house groove, but this forever remained a special track for special moments anyway. But if chosen wisely, it can elevate those moments to something completely else, be it in the club or when you are on your own.

Beautiful People – I Got The Rhythm (Club Mix) (Cabaret, 1991)

I assume this collaboration of Joey Longo aka Pal Joey with Manabu Nagayama and Toshihiko Mori came into being when King Street Sounds label head Hisa Ishioka introduced American and Japanes producers to each other in the early 90s. This tracks bears the trademark Pal Joey mixture of hip hop ruffness and deep sounds, but it is way longer, more complex in structure, and it even adds a steady breakbeat to fine effect. Beautiful People indeed, and they sure got the rhythm. Read the rest of this entry »


@ Savour The Moment

Posted: October 8th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Gigs | Tags: , | No Comments »

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When House Met Disco – A Guide

Posted: August 8th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Features | Tags: | No Comments »

As it was a continuation in the timeline of club music it is quite natural that via sampling the early years of house were already littered with references to what happened before: disco. Pioneering Chicago house records used vocal snippets of the classic repertoire of disco and replayed its basslines and arrangements. Just take Isaac Hayes’ „I Can’t Turn Around“ for example, which was not only used in Farley Jackmaster Funk’s „Love Can’t Turn Around“, but also numerous other house tracks at that time. And acapellas from the back catalogue of classic disco labels like Salsoul, Prelude or West End never stopped being used for giving a track that extra imperative on the floor. But as well as disco always remained an integral of house music’s matrix, particularly lesser productions means led to different approaches of utilizing it. From the mid 80s on, nearly no house producer could afford to set up an orchestra in a studio, also many were not trained to write and arrange music as many protagonists of the classic disco era were. Still, the desire to reference or recreate the disco legacy with a house groove was always there until today, and the ways with which disco and house connected were manfifold and innovative. We take a look at some prime examples.

Mitch Winthrop – Everybody’s Going Disco Crazy (Everybody’s Much Crazy Records, 1991)

I first heard this record at Hamburg’s Front club, where it was a total anthem. At the time most people were actually not disco crazy anymore, but this was a perfect reminder to never forget where it was all coming from.

Reese Project – Direct Me (Joey Negro Disco Blend Mix) (Network, 1991)

Dave Lee aka Joey Negro was one of the first house producers that were not content with only sampling disco elements, but who aimed for a production that came as close as possible to disco’s original production and arrangement values. His remix for Kevin Saunderson’s garage house project went all the way. Joey Negro had the knowledge and had paid close attention, and obviously his directive was to achieve anthemic euphoria, and as all was done with loving detail, straight to the syndrum pew pew pews, he proved himself to be a trustworthy ambassador of the disco heritage, and remained ever since.

Nature Boy – Tobago (Black Label, 1992)

Milo from Bristol’s legendary Wild Bunch soundsystem deconstructing disco source material down to dark and gritty netherworld. None of the glitz of the sample references survived the process, and the music seemed to rather kick you out into the back alley through the back door than sway you in through the velvet rope on the other side of the building. I found „Ruff Disco Volume One“ in a bargain bin in the early 90s and I think it still sounds totally visionary and unique.

Romanthony – In The Mix (Azuli Records, 1994)

A tribute to Tony Humphries and the whole New Jersey legacy by Romanthony, one of house music’s greatest producers ever. If there ever was a more convincing argument to never deny your roots and keep them alive in what you are doing, I would like to hear it.

Jump Cutz – House Luck (Luxury Service Records, 1995)

One of many highlights from the Jump Cutz series, produced by Rob Mello and Zaki Dee. This really shows that often a good disco house track is no rocket science. Deconstruct source material into several parts. Reconstruct said parts as you please. Watch them go.

The Morning Kids – Free Lovin’ (Housedream) (Balihu Records, 1996)

As a true disco lover and dancer, Daniel Wang knew that it is the early morning hours when the magic of a good night out really unfolds. A rather simplistic meditation based on just a few samples compared to his later vintage syntheziser led output, but it still works a treat if the DJ decides it is finally the right time to switch gear. When it was released, the balearic revival was just a few sunrises away.

Los Jugaderos – What You Doing To This Girl? (Jus’ Trax, 1996)

A rework of Dazzle’s „You Dazzle Me“ which is indeed dazzling. The well-proven disco evangelists Ashely Beedle and Phil Asher concentrate on building up the tension mesmerizingly and release the strings at exactly the right moment. A masterclass in structure.

Turntable Brothers – Get Ready (Music Plant, 1996)

There once was a seminal live recording archived on deephousepage.com that captured Ron Hardy whipping his floor into a frenzy with an extended reel-to-reel edit of Patti Labelle’s „Get Ready“. This Chicago label already carrries the legacy of two legendary windy city clubs in its name: the Muzic Box and the Warehouse (later Power Plant). So it should come as no suprise that most records on Music Plant are a straight homage, albeit with banging beats and the freewheelin’ demanour with the use of samples so typical for Chicago. „Get Ready“ skips the traditional verse part of the original and heads straight to the climactic chorus, then rides it far into ecstacy. Read the rest of this entry »


@ Immersion

Posted: January 29th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Gigs | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

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Anthems: Bar25, Berlin (2004-2010)

Posted: July 21st, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Features | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

Although it closed in 2010, Bar25 still holds a very special place in Berlin clubbing history. Established in 2004, it introduced a hedonistic playground atmosphere to a scene that often preferred to appear sombre and serious. There are countless tales about what wild abandon happened between the wooden fence shielding the club from everyday life and its naturally occuring other boundary, the Spree river, where from the opposite bank or passing boats you could watch a very escapist crowd roam the vast area on marathon weekends. Its soundtrack of minimal and quirky tech house grooves that still work even when held back by a limiter is as synonymous with the Berlin party experience as are the improvised wooden interiors, psychedelic decor and joyful ideas that spawned a legion of other clubs to follow suit since its closure. Now rejuvenated as part of the Holzmarkt project in the same space, we’re taking a look back at the sounds that represented the club. To do this we enlisted someone very close to the project, who could also share some of his favorite memories from the club: Jake The Rapper, a former Bar25 resident DJ.

Mathew Jonson “New Identity” (Itiswhatitis 2001)

This is an excellent example of original minimal, and minimal was my gateway into the whole techno scene and later Bar25. I feel like there were a lot of parallel scenes happening in the Bar at the same time, so I can’t really say this was the blueprint for the Bar25 sound, but it’s definitely the one I went deep into. When other DJs and their fans would take over right after something I was into, I’d be like, “What is this? This is totally different. I don’t get it”—which is just fine, as the place fed on variety and experimentation. There was also a whole other floor called The Circus that was dedicated exclusively to weirdness and avant-garde music. It was a very open time for music and a very open place. It certainly expanded my tastes and skills and every other part of my mind. But this track, although it came out three years before Bar25 opened, definitely laid the groundwork for the kind of vibe that was really appreciated. This was deep and trippy and softly took me to a place I really wanted to go after having been dancing, partying and socializing—sometimes for days on end.”

Elektrochemie “Pleasure Seeker” (Get Physical 2005)

This has some elements of electroclash that were really big at the time. This was the same time when Peaches, Mocky, Gonzales, Puppetmastaz and so on were some the biggest Berlin acts. It definitely influenced pop music and of course in the Bar as well, although it generally went with a more minimal sound than this. This was a big banger in comparison to what usually came before and after it. Is it a bit cheesy? Yes it is. But it’s so smooth that it inevitably got everyone deep up in there and fully involved. Plus I had a few numbers that use this same half-tone progression, and I chose this one for being the most representative of that time and also one that is still playable today.”

Egoexpress, “Aranda” (Ladomat 2000 2005)

I know this doesn’t even seem like a dance track at all—very mellow. But if I played this during the day between minimal tracks, people really loved it. it’s instantly recognizable without being too poppy or kitschy; it’s deep without being too melancholic—it’s really quite a piece of work. The lyrics are just single nouns in a row—“a life, a room, a house, a street.” It seems to comprise cut-up parts of a poem, and yet it expresses a mood and a scenario that’s somehow Lynchian. And then there are these minor guitar chords that go easy on ya. There’s no kick drum—or any drums per se—and yet it totally grooves and got people dancing, at least in the Ranchette at the Bar25. That may be why the place was unique, you could really DJ tracks to celebrate their spirit without having to kowtow to dance floor dynamics. There was already such a suspense and energy there, even when it was half full a little would go a long way.”

Gui Boratto, “Arquipélago” (K2 2005)

I feel like this track, despite the fact that it became a tech house club hit nationally and internationally, nonetheless captured the sound of the Bar25. Remember that a lot of the time it was daytime, so something with a deep, warm sound made a lot more sense in bright sunlight than in a dark club. A lot of these kind of songs I think gained popularity through the surge in open-airs and daytime clubs like Bar25. This might have put everybody to sleep in the average German dance club in 2005. But when it’s around midday and you’re sitting, looking out at the Spree while a light breeze makes the straw in your gin and tonic move around so you hear the ice in your glass tinkle…you see yourself reflected in your friend’s sunglasses and you look like you’re really enjoying yourself, and then this big soothing, massaging synth surface lifts you up and you have to just stand up and go YEAHHH! …yeah, that’s a Bar25 moment for me.” Read the rest of this entry »


Finn Johannsen – Live @ The Pickle Factory, London, May 19th 2017

Posted: May 24th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Gigs, Mixes | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »