Nobody would probably expect anything else than deep emotional music on a label run by Robert Owens, but what Mark Rogers of Hollywood Beyond fame comes up with on the sublime “Twilight For Some”, is even more. Despite the gentle tone of the music and the understated vocal delivery, not too many vocal house tracks are as touching this. The lyrics are very melancholic, offering little relief to the troubled people they address, and the music is a companion that stresses rather than distracts. Everytime I listen to this, and the track fades out to a loop of the words “identity, identity, identity…”, I can’t help wishing this experience would last much longer, and more often than not, I put the needle right back to beginning.
Cabaret Voltaire “Searchin” [Parlophone]
A track lifted from the album “Groovy, Laidback and Nasty” from 1990, that most of the fans and critics of the UK electronic pioneers dismissed as mere attempt to cash in on the increasingly fertile house sound. Worse than that, nobody was really willing to accept Cabaret Voltaire venturing into musical terrain that was nothing else than pure pop, with one of post punk’s most recognizable voices crooning blissful melodies with uplifting messages, and one of post punk’s most adventurous experimentalists gladly supplying the according tunes and harmonies. But Cabaret Voltaire enlisted Marshall Jefferson at the time of full creative swing for the production, and he made this song his very own, even bringing in Paris Brightledge, on of Chicago’s most wonderful voices, for the background vocals. So this might be not the most original Cabaret Voltaire record, but they had proven their merits enough before and after, and I am really thankful that they took the chance of doing this album. Maybe imagine this track not being sung by Stephen Mallinder, but Brightledge all alone for instance, and not being by Cabaret Voltaire, but by Marshall Jefferson, and house’s history books would treat it like a bona fide classic. I at least do, no matter what constellation.
Shades Of Rhythm “Exorcist” [ZTT]
Shades Of Rhythm were better known for their rave anthems, filled to the brim with crowd noises, joyful diva vocals and plenty of pianos. And while there is nothing really wrong with that (but admitted, on many occasions it IS really wrong), they were also capable of doing something completely different. “Exorcist” is a pitch dark beast that establishes a really intense mood on nothing more than the basis of a break beat in moderate tempo and a plethora of sinister sequences that seem to spiral into the ether. This still makes any room go boom.
I-F “Energy Vampire” [Disko B]
Now that the UK bass elite is embracing an electro tinge to their latest dubplate, it is maybe a good time to drop a reminder for the Dutchman who already seemingly could look well into the future when he released a series of relentless and uncompromising classics in the past. The moody stop-and-go groove of “Energy Vampire” would not look out of place on a post-dubstep production of 2010, yet it already appeared on I-F’s album “Fucking Consumer” in 1998. Things go in circles, as they say, and the robots shall have the last laugh. And if sometime the italo disco groundwork will seep through the bassbins of the younger bass generation as well (there are already hints that this is not as improbable as it sounds), there is a good chance that I-F will be involved in something else entirely, and equally influential.
Cybersonik “Technarchy” [Plus 8 Records]
At a time when they had no interest in minimalism, conceptualism or fine wines, Daniel Bell, John Acquaviva and Richie Hawtin released “Technarchy” in 1990, the year their imprint Plus 8 came into being, and properly illustrated that techno could embrace the sound heritage of the pioneering industrial artists, acid house, and the emerging Detroit sound at the same time. The devastating result hinted at the hoovers, cornfields, and love parades to come but back then nobody would have predicted all that. What this record confirmed, however, was that there was a potential for all that. From the introducing metal beats, building a harsh yet funky groove, to the 303 squelches, and then, of course, to one of the most bone-crushing bass breakdowns in the history of club music. Most DJs playing the record at the time when it came out even emphasized the experience by turning up the bass even louder when the kick drum came to a halt and just the bassline was rummaging around in the intestines of the floor, but then again it was already doing its work untouched by any mixing antics. In any case whoever heard the track unprepared and for the first time in a club, would possibly never ever forget it. I certainly did not.