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.
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.
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.
Globetrotting German mixmaster Ray Okpara, who helms AMA Recordings and has recorded and remixed tracks for Anja Schneider’s Mobilee Records, Nick Curly’s 8Bit and Get Physical, has outdone himself on his three-track Gipsy EP, a release which serves as his debut on Nic Fancuilli’s Saved Records.
The refreshingly inventive title track is founded on a wicked groove accented by jangly guitar chords that meander in and out of the mix. After building momentum, “Gipsy” unfolds into a boiling-hot houser that simmers on its own, thankfully without the use of a clichéd breakdown.
But there’s more! With its pitched-down vocal samples (“oh yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah!“) — is this a tip of the hat to Yello’s classic “Oh Yeah”? — Okpara takes “Atlixco” into a deeper, somewhat darker direction, while “Buster,” a sinewy vocal 4/4 number, wields a massive kick drum that takes no prisoners.
If you’re one who thinks outside the musical box on the dance floor, you’ve just discovered your next DJ hero.
Ray Okpara’s Gipsy EP is released September 1 on Saved Records.