Review: SevenDoors – Mesoplodon EP

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3.5 Stars

UK producer SevenDoors is back for another emotional, passion-infused ride through the dreamscape of melodic techno on Mesoplodon (Carioca Records). SevenDoors’ unique sound is layered with seemingly random 808 attacks, staccato rolls and a synthetic lushness. “Oceano” ushers in heady atmospheric swirls around a pulsing bassline and galloping drums. “Belaena” brings big bottom beats with stuttering acid rips and hypnotic percussion cresting melodic layers of techy riffs. Title track “Mesoplodon” packs a gut-punchin’ kick drum and lays a solid foundation for stacking sounds and fills, each finding its own order from techno chaos. As they drop into place the big picture slowly builds into something you hoped for but weren’t sure you should expect. The angelic chorus and smashing breakdown wash back into the heavy undercurrent of drums; this is my top pick of the release.

Review: CEV’s – Raw EP

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4 Stars

As the name suggests, CEV’s Raw EP out now on Hi! Energy Records is just that: raw. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The nervous energy might be a bit busy to some old-fashioned ears, but it works here. “Raw to the Roots” serves up a fat, almost garage-y groove with big beats, stuttered hits, fun fills and percussive rolls. Twisted samples reach up through the musical madness and electric keys sprout from the chaos to punctuate the groove. Nico Medez’s “Raw” remix ditches the faux-garage reminiscence as he retools the tune in a deeper, more sinister tech-house image. The EP rounds out with the upbeat “Set Me Free,” a driving house shuffle riding a funkin’ bassline into a classic club vibe. Solid cuts all the way around from French producer Julien Cadet.

Review: Giorgio Moroder – ‘Déjà Vu’

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★☆☆☆☆

Giorgio Moroder was pioneering the sound of the future long before he gained international notoriety in the ‘70s. Lauded for his groundbreaking production work, musical partnership with disco diva Donna Summer as well as collaborating with David Bowie, Blondie and countless artists, Moroder’s artistic renaissance began to take shape in 2013 by way of “Giorgio on Moroder,” a track on Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories. The expansive 9-minute homage opened him up to a new generation and gave him the chance to provide a first-person account of his amazing career. “Nobody told me what to do, there was no preconception about what to do.”

After beginning his DJ career at 74 later that year, the now 75-year-old synth legend presents his first album in 30 years, Déjà Vu. Despite of his impeccable credentials, influence on dance music and heartwarming comeback story, Déjà Vu is underwhelming pop fluff.

With its cookie cutter buildups and breakdowns “4 U With Love” is schlocky and unimaginative EDM. “Don’t Let Go” featuring Mikky Ekko is one of those unlistenable faux inspirational songs torn from David Guetta’s crossover songbook. “Diamonds” featuring Charli XCX and “I Do This For You” featuring Marlene are both horrific pop-dance schmaltz. Both tunes fit the archetype of the frustratingly awful Euro songs you’ll hear bleating from a pizza joint on Collins Avenue in Miami any day of the year.

Moroder’s cover of Suzanne Vega’s “Tom’s Diner” featuring Britney Spears is the album’s strongest moment. Spears’ voice is bold and suits Mordor’s rock-solid production which builds upon Vega’s 1987 original and DNA’s subsequent chart-topping 1990 remix. In the end this glimmer of hope isn’t nearly enough to turn the tide.

Giorgio Morodor’s 17th album, Déjà Vu, is one I’d prefer not to have again.

Track of the Moment: Frankee – “Snarl”

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Emerging London-based drum ‘n’ bass DJ/producer Frankee (a.k.a. David Franks) comes out swinging on his kick-ass All Four One EP on Andy C’s mighty Ram label, adeptly displaying musical diversity on many fronts. “Deep Down” featuring vocals from Caan is a radio-ready roller packing the right balance of melody, wobble and bottom end to serve many masters with aplomb. Bass jams “Drop It Low” and “Flim Flam” are well designed to inflict maximum dance floor devastation, but for me it’s all about the appropriately titled “Snarl.”

A properly dark and menacing affair following the blueprint drafted by influential tech-step pioneers including Dom & Roland, Doc Scott and Noisia, the straightforward, no-nonsense track’s click-clack hypnotizes as basslines rumble and chug beneath like an express subway car bound for the center of the earth.

It’s been said that the best club tracks are all about simplicity. “Snarl,” a wicked tune destined to incite plenty of rewinds, is a fantastic case study for those who believe in this ethos.

Track of the Moment: The Juan Maclean’s “A Simple Design” (Remixes)

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The Juan MacLean’s In A Dream, which was released in September on DFA Records, is one of the best dance-music albums of 2014. I’m chuffed that one of the album’s standout tunes, “A Simple Design,” has been released as a single, replete with an array of kick-ass remixes.

The Single Edit positions Nancy Whang’s vocals front and center in the mix as a chugging electro-pop groove meanders and synthy shenanigans prowl behind her gorgeous croon. From the get-go L.A.’s Magic Touch stays true to the album version, gradually building with infectious piano until a breakdown strips everything down and we’re blessed with an epic crescendo.

Berlin’s xxxy distills the jam into seven minutes of heaven while hot-stuff Swiss producer Deetron takes “A Simple Design” on a completely wild acid trip.

A track that’s been on continuous play here at Big Shot HQ for the better part of two weeks, we’re pleased to declare The Juan MacLean’s “A Simple Design” our track of the moment!

Read our exclusive interview with John MacLean about The Juan Maclean’s In A Dream here.

Track of the Moment: Soul Clap feat. Robert Owens – “Misty”

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The history of Soul Clap’s “Misty” dates back four years ago to a 48-hour recording session held at Marcy Hotel in Brooklyn with Crew Love cohorts including Wolf + Lamb’s Gadi Mizrahi, No Regular Play’s Greg Paulus, Deniz Kurtel and Lee Curtiss. When Eli and Charlie of Soul Clap met legendary house singer/songwriter/DJ legend Robert Owens at the Garden Festival in Croatia in 2011, the song had found a singer. One thing led to another and — voilà — “Misty” is finally here.

Despite the long and winding road the song has taken, “Misty” arrives right on time. Owens once again plays the lovelorn protagonist to maximum effect, recalling the lyrical themes he explored on his seminal tracks with Larry “Mr. Fingers” Heard. Owens’ trademark velvet croon is in tip-top shape and it’s tailor-made for the Clap’s expertly crafted groove.

In contrast to the original downtempo version, the Louie Vega Roots NYC Mix and Louie Vega Swirl Bass Mix both up the tempo just enough for dance floor consumption. They’re both sublime offerings and are as deep as the Atlantic Ocean. Tanner Ross’s remix featuring Greg Paulus on trumpet is stripped down, spare and is not to be missed.

Available only on vinyl, the Louie Vega Way Back Mix is dark, brooding and sexy. Vega keeps Owens’ voice front and center and lets Owens’ swagger flow (“Where you been girl/Why you playin’ me like that?”). The master retrofits the song with a walking baseline a la Bobby Konders circa 1990, allowing us all to imagine for a moment what Nu Groove Records would sound like in 2014.

Track of the moment!