Review: Bufi – Siempre EP

Bufi Siempre EP sincopat

4 Stars

Bufi (Mexico’s Mateo Gonzalez) is breaking down the walls of musical stereotypes and re-writing the rules of genre classification. The Siempre EP (Sincopat) is a chuggin’ fusion of house music, techno, acid, and electronica with an emphasis on intricate breakdowns and hypnotic beats. The top two tracks are heavy, dark affairs; the pair on the flipside are a bit lighter with a more upbeat attitude. Though slow to grow and following a somewhat a predictable song progression, once the cuts hit their stride there’s no turning back.

Title track “Siempre” rumbles in with a grinding bottom and crisp snares, building with staccato synths as the song takes form and new elements are shuffled in, allowing the glitchy layers weaving around each other. “CV Smoothie” is a thundering tech-ish cut with a mundane build but industrial-strength sound that winds up to let loose with a pounding kick and hypnotic leads. “El House Es Tu Idioma” might be an 8-bit reminiscence, somewhat brighter than the others with a vocal that stands out more than the earlier tracks’ simple samples. Finally, “Slowfall” adds something different with an eclectic and breezy underground twist.

With four unique flavors, the Siempre EP has something for everyone. The release works because, as the song says, house music is a universal language.

Review: Demuir – Girls, Girls, Girls EP

demuir-girls-girls-girls-great-lakes-audio
4.5 Stars

Toronto house hero Demuir has been not so quietly slaying the competition over the past few years, releasing funky, disco-inspired jams on DJ Sneak’s I’m A House Gangster, Luke Solomon and Derrick Carter’s Classic Music Company, and Mark Farina’s Great Lakes Audio.

As many of his peers explore the depths of all things deep, Demuir, a seasoned cratedigger, has been hitting hard, mining classic records and obscure gems to create party-perfect floor burners. It’s all part of a logical progression that led to 2016’s TruSkool (Magnetic Recordings) full-length, a snapshot of a producer at the top of his game. Perhaps he best sums up his musical ethos on the album cut “Aesthetics”: “Do not give a fuck about what other people think. You do your own shit. Play the music as you see it.”

Demuir’s Girls, Girls, Girls EP (GLA) affirms his ascension. Using TruSkool as his North Star, he conjures up one hell of a release.

Related: Demuir shares 10 records that inspired his sound

“Out in Scarabia” is a sample track overflowing with jackin’ goodness; “Unicorn” is a disco-charged romp with a sexy female sample that picks up where Stardust’s “Music Sounds Better With You” left off; and “Luvin’ To Nothing” is a soulful sampledelic jam of the highest order.

Unmoved by fleeting musical fads and trends, Demuir’s talent lies in his impressive ability to make everything old sound new again.

Review: Clyde P & Tim Baresko – True EP

Clyde P Tim Baresko True EP

3.5 Stars

Raised on a healthy diet of funk and hip-hop France’s Clyde P (a former resident at Sankeys Ibiza) and Tim Baresko have been slowly building their global reputation the good old-fashioned way — by crafting great house music for the dance floor.

With releases on Miguel Campbell’s Outcross Records, NYC’s SOUP, Amine Edge & DANCE, CUFF and Sleazy G, the duo team with Kerri Chandler’s MadTech Records to deliver the fiery True EP. Chicago’s musical influence is celebrated and embedded into the grooves of the two-track feast.

The EP’s title track features big and bold vocals by Chicago-based Russoul, a DJ/singer who has lent his voice to tracks produced by Windy City peers such as Green Velvet, Gene Farris and Mark Grant. It’s a tough-sounding, bass-heavy peak-time groover that has just the right amount of peaks and valleys.

Next up is “J.A.C.K.,” an homage to the early days of Chi-town house music. A crazy, raw sample track with a vocal snippet oozing with swagger (“I do the jacking / I don’t get jacked!)”, it’s fodder for those who want to jack their bodies all night long.

While they’re serving entrées just yet, the pair’s True EP is tasty hors d’oeuvre that left us wanting to nibble a bit more. Bon appétit!

Review: Depeche Mode – Spirit

depeche mode spirit
3 Stars

Depeche Mode is revered for their angsty ruminations on religion and sex, and they’ve been reflecting on the larger state of the world for decades. On 1983’s Construction Time Again they took aim at corporate greed and corruption (“Everything Counts”), poverty (“Shame”) and the threat of nuclear war (“Two Minute Warning”). “People Are People,” an anthem about the ridiculousness of racism, followed along similar thematic lines on 1984’s Some Great Reward.

Thirty-plus years later their fourteenth album, Spirit, is rife with disdain for today’s fractured political climate. And who could blame them. Where past albums married topical commentary and memorable synth hooks, Spirit falls mostly flat. In short, their lyrical hand-wringing is exhausting to listen to.

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Spirit, which was produced by James Ford of Simian Mobile Disco, opens with “Backwards,” a lament on the failed promise of technology (“We have lost our soul / The course has been set / We’re digging our own hole”). “Revolution” is a call to arms without a takeaway message (“They manipulate and threaten / With terror as a weapon / Scare you till you’re stupefied / Wear you down until you’re on their side”) and is a musical cliché of a musical cliché. The cinematic “Cover Me” finds Dave Gahan self-righteously drowning in the glow of the Northern lights for no apparent reason (“And you know we’re sinking / We could fade away / I’m not going down / Not today”).

“So Much Love” finally hits the mark. Gahan’s voice is spot on (“You can forsake me / Try to break me / But you can’t shake me / No”) and Martin Gore’s twangy, reverb-drenched guitar played over a clanking drum machine is chum for die-hard fans. “No More,” another welcome breather from the political rhetoric, is a compelling, melancholy requiem about the end of a relationship.

While Spirit is largely an unsatisfying whingefest, there is a lot of passion behind their preaching. In the end, the uneven album at least affirms Depeche Mode’s core tenet that everything counts in large amounts.

Review: Inner City feat. LaRae Starr – Good Luck

Inner City feat. LaRae Starr Good Luck
4 Stars

From its start in the late ’80s as a collaboration between Detroit techno pioneer Kevin Saunderson and Chicago vocalist Paris Grey, Inner City’s singular sound has often been imitated but never duplicated. With a treasure trove of classics — “Big Fun,” “Good Life” and “Pennies From Heaven” — few acts have remained as consistently relevant.

The outfit is back,  firing on all cylinders with “Good Luck” (KMS) and never sounding better. Kevin Saunderson is joined for the first time behind the boards by his up-and-coming DJ/producer son, Dantiez. With Motor City vocalist LaRae Starr on the mic, they’ve created a brilliant floor mover in “Good Luck.”

The father-and-son duo collectively take Inner City’s trademark sound  — staccato keyboard stabs, lush strings and bumpin’ percussion — into the stratosphere. In the process, they give Starr’s powerful voice plenty of room to reign supreme.

On the remix front, Sure Is Pure ups the quotient of disco-style strings tenfold; Chuck Daniels slices and dices Starr’s vocals for a rawer re-rub, and Polish techno upstart DEAS delivers a pair of techier, rough-and-tumble bangers.

The Saundersons remain the standard bearers of Detroit flavored house music.

Inner City: the legacy continues.

Review: Amberoom – RHIT EP

Amberoom-RHIT-EP-Ovum

4.5 Stars

Amberoom is a project comprised of Manuel Tur, Adrian Hoffmann and Ramin Nouyan. The threesome produce Balearic music that isn’t afraid to draw outside the lines. Their first proposition, titled the RHIT EP (Ovum Recordings), is a sublime collection of mid-tempo masterpieces. What’s enthralling about it is the way the trio unravel their ideas in an unhurried manner.

The title track opens with a simmering digi-funk groove. When the cut reaches a rolling boil, it spills over into a euphoric, piano-driven romp. Likewise, “Hover” builds in the same organic fashion, tickling our ears with washes of synths, synths and more synths. Clocking in at 11 unhurried minutes, “Machine” boasts deep keyboard melodies, serene washes of guitar, clacking drums and an improvised vibe. The pièce de résistance is “Hover” (Beatleass Guitar Mix), a sprawling masterpiece where choppy guitar runs and analog synth stabs coalesce into a magical jam.

Though their musical union is in its infancy Amberoom have sketched out a template that’s wise beyond its years.