This is an overview of the music that the 909 crew are feeling this month. Not focused on new releases, it serves as an insight to our musical journeys and the discoveries we make on the way.
Kamaal Williams – Catch The Loop
Been listening to this whole album the past couple of weeks. Don’t really know anything about jazz or jazz-funk or whatever this is but I know for sure that I like it. My Dad – an ex-drummer for a punk band – has found this highly hilarious because he lowkey thinks I’m a soulboy and continually asks me if I stay in on Monday’s (If you are under the age of about 52 you are absolutely not expected to understand this… and no it’s not that good a joke). Envious amounts of groove and talent oozes from this song. Henry Wu’s drum skills are pretty otherworldly, the patterns are so complex and confusing but he executes them all so damn tightly. I’m finding that this tightness is far more common in jazz than in rock, dare I say it because jazz guys are generally more talented drummers. You can’t make the joke that drummers are just like gorillas banging sticks about when you’re listening to music this smooth. I don’t know the politics of why Yussef Kamaal has become Kamaal Williams, but to be honest I have enough politics in my life so I’ve decided to not give a shit why, no questions asked. Again, I know nothing about this genre, but this song must surely be at the forefront of the scene at the moment. The first two minutes are just an explosion of funk energy, with the almost hyperbolic drums and weird samples that wouldn’t sound out of place in a George Clinton cut or in To Pimp A Butterfly. The pace eventually drops and it becomes a lot more like a staple tune for a jazz lounge. This is when the meaty bassline then kicks in, where its groove penetrates deep into your bones. From here, it seems as if the song is being lead in a completely new direction, seemingly blind. However, this is the magic of jazz where meticulous planning and improvisation unite. I don’t know where on that spectrum this song lies, but when the end product is this good, what does it matter?
Odia Coates – Win With Love
One of my recent pick ups. Even hardcore electro and techno diehards like me need some colour in our lives and some glossy, gloopy disco to grab us by the cuff of our necks to uplift us. Odia Coates has a fantastic voice and it absolutely dominates this song. I wouldn’t say that her voice has the quality of a true musical Thespian, such as Loletta Holloway or Jocelyn Brown, but it is remarkably polished and assuringly pleasant. This song is achingly accessible, while also managing to be relatively unknown and pretty elusive to find. You could play this at the Selectors stage at Dekmantel or at your Aunt’s 60th and it would go down well. Critics might argue that this song is maybe too cheesy, and that it has neither the raw power to electrify a headline set nor the dripping euphoria to draw the night to an end. While these points aren’t specifically false, there is certainly a place for this song in a set, and it would just take a decent DJ to find it. I have every confidence that there are loads of DJs, particularly guys and gals like Mafalda, Floaty P, Hunee, Donna Leake (Dr. Blowfin???) etc etc etc who would utilise this devastatingly.
Dreamcast & Sasac – Leo
So Liquid Deep has already featured on my tracks of the month before, and I am generally apprehensive about having repeat offenders on this feature – Sotofett being the exception – but I recently blind bought the new 7” from Dreamcast & Sasac assuming that it would be great. What a pleasant surprise to find out that it was better than great. In ways the musicianship and samples are very similar to Liquid Deep, but I see it as using the same successful elements to make a song that is entirely different in feel, energy and emotion. With a voice that strong (am I the only one that can hear hints of Sting in it?!) it is hard to make the lyrics sound bad. But the composition is equally wicked and the beautifully strained voices of the two singers complement each other perfectly, creating an almost uncomfortable sense of longing and wistfulness. Those sleazy guitar keys are somehow an embodiment of nostalgia, not even for my own nostalgia, but my subjective perception of nostalgia in general. I cannot explain why, perhaps because their hints of psychedelia are reminiscent of the sound coming from bands in the US from the 60’s. Perhaps the mind makes a subconscious connection between that sound and the times and spirit that they represent, and reminds you of that summer day, driving down that beautiful stretch of road in that convertible, with that girl, in that moment. Maybe it just reminds you of those times.
E.Myers – I Am Alive
I had heard this a couple of weeks ago, and although I’m a massive fan of E.Myers (hearing Hate played by Ben UFO at Dekmantel 2016 was a special moment), I kinda dismissed this song a bit. Probably cause I just skipped through a preview of it at the wrong time in the wrong headspace. But I listened to Peach’s absolutely excellent Boiler Room yesterday…. actually I will correct myself, I watched Peach’s absolutely excellent Boiler Room yesterday, because it was the most engaging and entertaining BR party I’d probably ever seen. What a talented DJ she is, gay italo disco is my forte and she could match me track for track easily. Her set was a bundle of ecstasy and excitement, accessible and joyous yet headsy and intelligent. This was the second song she played, blended in slowly and pleasingly to the brash opener. It instantly changed the mood and dynamic of the party, pushing the crowd deeper into the rave while still maintaining the italo flavour that the scene and the night was begging for. Honestly, watch the boiler room and don’t tell me that cheesy italo disco is the perfect soundtrack for it. Peach did what a killer DJ does; read the room and adapt your set to the surroundings without compromising the quality of the music. Playing stuff like this and bits from Chase Smith and Kid Machine was perfect for the room and for the night. As for E.Myers, he has proved that he can make brooding, synthy electro that is intriguing and intergalactic. It’s also a pretty good DJ tool as well, we love those long intros and outtros!! I imagine this will do the rounds for the next month or so, and you should be going to your next party expecting to hear it. Here’s hoping the DJ is as good as Peach.
The Orb – Blue Room (Frank de Wulf Remix)
I found this when I heard Eris Drew gushing about it recently on a podcast for Rinse France. She highlighted that she had only played this song out twice, and that it only ever came out of the bag when the moment truly demanded it. I have now played this track out 50% as much as Eris, as I couldn’t resist dropping this near the end at mine and DJ Paramedic’s recent set at Unbound. I only ever play stuff that I feel is right for the time, so I make no apologies for playing it. However I do recognise Eris’ assessment that this really is a song that should only be played when the moment demands it, and that when played it really will send the crowd clawing towards a higher realm and towards a higher state of consciousness. In a way it really is quite a minimal song. I clumsily define it as minimal, bassline-driven dream house. But the beat is driving and the distant, ethereal organ chords are transcendent, almost liturgical. The elements of the song all build up nicely, with the simple, sparse vocals being a lovely addition and the wailing guitar sounding thing is also cool. My absolute favourite part of the song is 5:40. There is a moment of silence, and then the bassline kicks back in and the song hits its crescendo. That bit of music is just absolute magic, and it would send a crowd absolutely wild. It’s proper opening-the-shutters-at-Panorama-Bar music. Imagine light flooding the infamous dancefloor at that peak of the song. Eris is right, it really is just for those special moments.