Since the spring release of Depeche Mode’s politically charged fourteenth full-length, Spirit, much of the world’s existential crisis has only deepened. Meditations on our society à la Mavin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” aren’t abundant in electronic music, but that’s never stopped these genre innovators from speaking their mind.
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 anti-racism anthem, followed along similar thematic lines on 1984’s Some Great Reward.
Related: Read a review of Depeche Mode’s Spirit
Spirit is a musical sign o’ the times that’s full of disbelief fueled by a belief that we can all do better, but it’s bogged down in preaching to the converted. This 12-pack of remixes sets that dichotomy aside and takes one of Spirit‘s best tracks to the dance floor and the meditation room.
The Belleville Three — Juan Atkins, Derrick May, and Kevin Saunderson — rinse “Going Backwards” with classic techno-house Detroit vibes, forging a righteous Motor City remix of timeless synth-driven strings and four-to-the-floor thump. Maya Jane Coles and Solomun do a solid job of moulding the somber number to work in the main room, while Point Point turn in a slo-mo version flavored with cosmic boom-bap. The bundle is rounded out by the Soulsavers’ re-rub of “Poison Heart” and the Latroit remix of “You Move,” which are both on the money.
The most compelling iteration is Chris Liebing’s Slow Burn Mix. It’s a brooding, stripped down remix that forgoes euphoria in favor of a beatless, meditative soundscape. The song’s urgent lyrics remain front and center: “We’re going backwards / Turning back our history / Going backwards / Piling on the misery.” Its contemplative arc is thoughtful and purposeful. If only the same could be said for our politics.
As more over-hyped pop festivals clutter our calendars and more celebrities demand a spin in the DJ booth, the frustration grows for discriminating ears to separate the pure from the pretentious. The electronic dance music scene has become a caricature of itself, pumping out disposable tunes from an assembly line of ghost writers while the corporate cash-in echoes the blind eye of a dying dance floor during the death of disco.
But for us jaded-types, all is not lost.
Enter Balance Music. The Aussie label’s newest release is conducted by Spain’s Henry Saiz. Balance presents Natura Sonoris Mixed by Henry Saiz is a journey of epic proportions, blurring the line between chill house music, techno, tribal, acid, and more.
With a runtime of nearly 2.5 hours (as either a two-disc physical set or a single continuous digital download), this project is near-perfection. It’s packed full of exclusive music, classic reworks, remixes from Saiz’s Natura Sonoris label, special samples, and unique layers.
Related: Henry Saiz shares his 5 tracks of the moment
Saiz’s confidence really shines through in his acclaimed live sets and award-winning productions and reworks. And just as importantly, he’s in touch with the dance floor; he knows how to program a set that’s interesting and emotional. His music inspires artists and engages listeners. This is his first official mix album since Balance 019 more than five years ago, and it was well worth the wait. Continue Reading
UK producer Dave Robertson, who is better known as Reset Robot, takes his bespoke brand of tech-house/techno into the stratosphere on his cosmic debut for Ovum Recordings.
With an unmatched track record of crafting transformative tracks for Adam Beyer’s Truesoul, Sven Väth’s Cocoon, and Anja Schneider’s Mobilee Records — in addition to co-founding Whiteblower Records with Alan Fitzpatrick (with whom he co-helms the Customer project), Rhymos and Con Fraser — Robertson displays his uncanny ability to summon musical nirvana.
Opening track “Bark Orders” is as a lean, mean and subtle tech-house romp. Minimal melodies ebb and flow as the track unhurriedly simmers. The synth-driven “Croquette” sprints out of the gate with a big kick drum, adding shimmering pads over an enthralling nonlinear narrative. Robertson flips the script on “Tincture,” where he cuts to the chase right away on the darkest sounding track, which is my favorite of the three incredible offerings. The fiery cut wields a stirring, ominous groove that’s peppered with a meandering melody and frog-like croaks (that’s right, croaks).
The Bark Orders EP is all killer with no filler. It’s manna for DJs with inclinations toward pitch-dark dance floors and the magic that happens when the lights are turned down low.
Analog Music drops its ninth release with the Pasiva EP from Spanish artist RiLo and solid remix support from fellow house-heads Los Fumakerz and Andy Peimbert.
The pair of originals are deep four-to-the-floor joints, each complimented by a tech-infused remix. The title track is a big bottomed house bopper with a slow unfold, a warm groove, and low-key percussions. The Los Fumakerz version pops with punchier kicks, snappier snares, and classic claps all laid atop a rolling bassline and presented with a dirty tech-house ‘tude. “Swaming” is a deliciously deep ride with a throwback vibe and sexy horns. And Andy Peimbert’s remix casts off the casual mantel for a more dynamic sound with a frantic boost.
Sometimes music doesn’t need subtleties to be effective; the Pasiva EP isn’t breaking down any walls but it does keep the dance floor fired up.
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.
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.