A blast of shimmering sounds opens from the title track of It’s Alright Between Us begins the first album in five years fromHans-Peter Lindstrøm. Before you know it, the minimal disco crackle of “Spire” blasts us into orbit with rhythms that keep on building, setting the tone for the whole album.
Lindstrøm has built a reputation as an artist who creates beautiful electronic music that will set your soul alight. There is even more of a blissful quality to the music on It’s Alright Between Us As It Is, especially on songs like “Tensions,” the sweeping euphoria of “Drift” and the mid-album interlude “Versatile Dreams.”
There are a number of vocal-led tracks that make the album sound even more blissful. The vocalists that he’s chosen are definitely inspired: Swedish chanteuse Frida Sundemo graces “But Isn’t It” with her glacial and beautiful vocals; “Shinin” features American singer Grace Hall (who has worked with Lindstrøm in the past and should do so more often) for a song that would captivate any dance floor with its infectious energy; and Norwegian Jenny Hval lends her unique vocals to “Bungl (Like A Ghost)” for a track that is full of intrigue as well as charm.
The glittering funk of “Under Trees” closes the album on a high note, breaking through and reaching a crescendo. It sounds amazing and couldn’t have ended the album better.
The main strength of It’s Alright Between Us As It Is is not only the blissful and life-affirming nature of the music but just how rounded an album it is. As the cold nights draw in, put this album on and it will warm your body, mind and soul in no time at all.
Re.You, the proprietor of Younion, consistently decimates dance floors by way of his dark, brooding tech-house productions for labels like mobilee and Moon Harbour. “Work It Now” finds the Berlin resident reconnecting with Cacao Records after lending his remix touch to K.E.E.N.E.’s Bocaracá EP issued in the spring.
The Work It Now EP shows us more sides of Re.You’s musical personality. For starters, the title track is unadulterated deep-house manna. It’s set atop a smoldering bedrock of soulful vocal loops, heady filters and a groove that won’t quit.
Jeudi boss Doctor Dru transforms “Work It Now” for the big room, edging up the tempo and building up suspense and drama. Tiefschwarz’s iteration goes in the opposite direction, with Berlin-based brothers Ali and Basti Schwarz reimagining the track as a stripped-down tech-house dalliance.
The EP is rounded out by “Mlu,” a hypnotic loop of tribal chants and beats. It’s a wickedly good mixing tool from an artist who’s at the top of his game.
Rising Big Apple DJ/producer Layton Giordani continues to grow his international reputation. Notoriety came relatively soon after he presented “Careless Suggestions” on Phobiq Records in 2014. Since then he’s released ripping tech-house tracks on Intec and debuted earlier this year on Drumcode by way of the seismic bomb known as “Where It Begins.”
Giordani, who cut his teeth working the decks at Manhattan Meatpacking Mecca Cielo and shuttered spots like Pacha and Sullivan Room (RIP), couldn’t possibly return to Drumcode in a bigger way than with NYC hard n’ soul legend Danny Tenaglia at his side on “Live Inside.” A major influence on Giordani’s sound, the track is quintessential Tenaglia at the core — deep, dark and deliciously dirty — with Giordani’s trademark groove anchoring the production.
The EP is rounded out by two worthy cuts: Firstly, there’s “Take It Back” is a dramatic rollercoaster ride of banging beats, ethereal female vocal snippets and undulating bass. Secondly, “Secrets of Vibration” is a cracking percussive track. Its only flaw is the inclusion of a clichéd self-help vocal sample. (Producers, I’m calling for a moratorium on this type of dance floor chum — who’s with me?)
What’s next for Layton Giordani? Place your bets on world domination.
The narrative of MANIK’s sophomore album for Josh Wink’s Ovum Recordings tells the story of his coming of age in NYC. It’s a throwback to an era when house music was percolating in the underground below the mainstream’s radar.
MANIK, who is now based in L.A., forges ’90s-tinged deep-house tracks with authority: “Lefrak City” (the name of an apartment complex in Elmhurst located near where he grew up) shines with sweeping pads, clacking percussion and a soulful female vocal sample; “People Of Rhythm” is aligned with the famed Wild Pitch sound; and “Restart” is emblematic of the era’s techier house productions. Close your eyes and you can hear these tracks sauntering into Tony Humphries’ late-night ’90s KISS-FM Mastermix Dance Party.
MANIK peels away layers and goes deeper, revealing furtive acidic romps (“Devils Dance,” “Restart”) that channel the essence of The Todd Terry Project. Greg Paulus of No Regular Play makes a wonderful cameo on the meditative “5 Pointz,” where he contributes his trumpet mastery.
“APT 3D1” is the only throwaway track; it’s a pastiche of samples culled from movies and sports he watched as a kid growing up in Kew Gardens. You had to be there to appreciate its context.
“PS99” is an interlude featuring shout-outs from Eli Goldstein from Soul Clap, Doc Martin and Option4 and a fake message from “the mayor’s office of New York” reminding him to “Stay original. Stay true to the game. And do not worry about anything anyone else says. Take your first, stick your middle finder up in the air and wave it like you just don’t care.” It doesn’t can’t get more New York than that!
A personal reflection of his roots, Undergroundknowledge eschews nostalgia and sentimentality in favor of celebrating a childhood spent in the greatest melting pot in the world. As any New Yorker will tell you, nothing is stronger than writing about what you know.