Jon Freer’s Early Summer Picks
Featuring 25 pimpin’ albums from the likes of: Louie Vega, Lust, Joey Negro, Dimitri From Paris, Sally Shapiro, Âme, Adam Freeland, Kitsune, Simian Mobile Disco, Slam, DJ Kicks, International DJ Gigolos, Lefties Soul Connection, Shady Bard, and various other artists…
V/A – Lust: A Personal Collection by Louie Vega
NY House don Louie Vega of MAW and Nu Yorican Soul fame brought us a spellbinding ‘Choice ‘selection on Azuli a while back and whilst this collection isn’t quite on a par, it ‘s still pretty special. This double disc set is a similarly private affair, but focuses on House and Disco material of new and old. CD1 is the House disc and features Latin infused ditties such as Louie’s Roots mix of Luisito Quintero ‘s heartening "Aquilas Coisas Todas" and club stormers like Hardrive’s thrilling "Never Forget". CD2 heads back in time to the land of Disco and electronic pop, with highlights including Giorgio Moroder’s hypnotic "Evolution" and Curtis Mayfield ‘s imploring version of " Give Me Your Love". House and Disco greats from an esteemed selector!
V/A – VIP 02
Las Vegas is not really a place usually associated with soul-kissed House music, so it comes as a surprise that this collection of tip-top delectable grooves hails from there. However, the Las Vegas connection is slightly misleading, as although Swank Recordings are based there, they’ve roped in NY ‘s Alix Alvarez to supply one DJ mix and San Diego’s Halo the other. It is Alvarez’s disc that is the one to right home about, which is full of jet-propelled sumptuous House grooves culled from his Sole Channel imprint. Winners include Alix’s own beautiful "An Introduction" and his sultry revision of Jolene’s " The DJ." House music that will make you fly!
V/A – Back In The Box: Joey Negro
Committed House master Dave Lee dons his Joey Negro guise to eschew his Disco leanings for a celebration of retro House and Techno efforts that still have an impact today. Vocal stormers rub shoulders with electrifying floor pounders and intense groovers that still excite and find their way into Negro’s club sets. Due to the quality on offer it’s difficult to pick the crème de la crème, but The Leeds Warehouse Mix of LFO’s deadly " LFO" and Faze Action ‘s empowering "In The Trees " have a special place in my heart. This collection should remind you that old House records aren’t just for eBay!
V/A – Dimitri From Paris Presents Cocktail Disco
Everybody’s favourite jet setting Parisian headed back to the 70s to source a plethora of obscure Disco gems for this fine compilation. 1975 to 1979 is the time period from which the records are sourced and their beaming instrumentation, lashings of strings and funny vocals reflect the magical nature of the genre to a tee. Cocktail Disco is a fitting title for this collection, as the records are more suited to home listening than dancing the night away, but this isn’t to say that certain numbers wouldn’t be received well in the right nightclub. Wonderful tracks include Charlie ‘s Roots sugary " Show You The Way To Go" and The Ritchie Family ‘s stringtastic "Frenesi. " Disco magic!
Hawke – Love Won Another (Dance Remixes)
Label: Eighth Dimension
Gavin Hardkiss aka Hawke’s "Love Won Another" was a great album, but it wasn’t really dance floor orientated. Here, Eighth Dimension enlists the talents of a motley crew of production people to revisit Gavin’s album for the club market. Rabbit in The Moon give "Can You See The Love? " a toughened re-extension, where dark beats back flying synths and vocal impressions. The ’10 Minute Vocal Medley Mix ‘ of " The Hardest Kiss" is all Latin guitars, dubby bass chugs and shakin’ beats. There ‘s no doubting the fact that these remixes do their job and some are rather impressive, but I don’t think any are quite up there with the original versions!
Sally Shapiro – Disco Romance
Silly Swedish discotronica with a poppy flourish is what’s on offer here from the mysterious Sally Shapiro. It is in the style of endearing yet ultimately disposable 80s disco pop, which should put a smile on the face of most. This album is unlikely to be hailed for its originality, but its hard to knock the cutesy nature of it all. "I’ll Be By Your Side" is a sweet synth driven opener, whilst the Norwegian electro jazz mix of "Find My Soul " brings gorgeous keys and angelic vocals to the table. A humorous collection!
V/A – Coast 2 Coast:Âme
Frank Wiedemann and Kristian Beyer aka Âme have been hot property since "Rej" brought them clubfloor recognition the world over in House and Techno circles. After constructing a musically diverse mix CD for Sonar Kollektiv, Âme stick to moody grooves, clean-cut techiness and lighter housey efforts on this set for NRK. Tracks of note include Carl Craig’s fearsome revamp of Rhythm & Sound featuring Bobbo Shanti’s "Poor People Must Work," Code 718’s shimmering "Equinox" and Âme’s own emotional rendition of Ferrer & Sydenham’s "Timbuktu." A smart House and Techno collection!
V/A – Mexico City: Adam Freeland
Label: Global Underground
Adam Freeland seems to have given up on breaks, instead opting for a barrage of very ‘current’sounding tech and elec flavours for this instalment of Global Underground’s geographically focused imprint. Tough electronics rub shoulders with vomiting synths, jarring vocals and guitarry flourishes on Freeland’s Central American journey. Disc 1 is an unrelenting escapade, which features cuts such as Oliver Huntemann’s twisted "37°" and the synth feast that is Justice’s "Phantom." The second disc is trippier and much less frantic, with Andrew Weatherall’s guitar wrestling "Feathers" providing the musical peak. Freeland proves that he has his finger firmly on the pulse with this compilation.
V/A – Kitsuné Mansion Compilation 4
Label: Kitsun é
Kitsuné let us into their party once more, for another dose of trashy electro, artificially toughened indie and theatrical vibes. The media darlings certainly know how to put on a soiree at their place, providing exactly the right mixture of pretentious, fun and tacky records. Boys Noize give Feist’s "My Moon My Man" a perfect electro pop overhaul, whilst Foals’ "Hummer" is simply invigorating and "Drugs In My Body" from Thieves Like Us is a brilliant paean to intoxicated lust. This collection is perhaps a little too abrasive in places, but I would still like to attend a party at the Kitsuné mansion.
V/A – Misch Masch: Radio Slave
Electronified House and drawn out technfied grooves are the sounds you associate with Matt Edwards when he appears under his Radio Slave guise. The Brighton based spinner opts to include his own handiwork alongside tracks by various familiar names and underground players on this slowly evolving mix. Highs include Rufuss’s key flexing "Obsidian Soul (The Celebration)," Canvas’s hypnotic "The Cat" and a perfect chord driven mix closer from Vince Watson, entitled "Renaissance." Disc 2 rounds up some recent Radio Slave remixes, with the winner being his jerky recut of The Pet Shop Boys "Minimal." A seemingly never-ending electronic escapade.
Simian Mobile Disco – Attack Decay Sustain Release
Simian Mobile Disco make very simple records that are likely to annoy po faced electronic purists, but will be lapped up by those who like to hear old sounds twisted in a new direction. The unashamedly raw nature of SMD’s technified electronics means that they do sound a little disposable and gimmicky at times, but there’s a definite power to their sound. "Tits & Acid" is a demented acid-rave throwback, whilst "Wooden" goes all Detroit, and "Love" comes on like an acid dipped indie-disco funk-out. Is this the future or a musical dead-end? Who knows? Either way, SMD are going to give you a good time!
Slam – Human Response
After returning to form with album leader "Azure", Scotland’s elder statesmen deliver a long player of reflective electronics and warm melodies. Every track isn’t convincing, but there are some lovely moments. "Azure" is here in all its oscillating keyed glory, as is the scowling, but addictive "We’re Not Here." The finale is provided by "Memoir," a synth bathed gem with excitable beats and calming keys. This album suggests that Slam shouldn’t be written off just yet!
V/A – DJ Kicks: Hot Chip
Label: Studio K7
Popular electronic oddballs Hot Chip down their keyboards and computers to concoct a mix for K7’s famous DJ Kicks series. They get their thrills from running through quirky poppy efforts, delirious electronica and techy electronified house at a breakneck pace. It’s hard to keep up at times and some of the cuts they plum for are not to my taste, but efforts such as Gabriel Ananda’s mind melting "Doppelwhipper" and the warped "You Got Good Ash" from Marek Bois hit home. Quirky electronic fun!
V/A – Label Series Vol 2
Label: Compost Black
Compost’s darker sister delivers a second selection of label favourites, which features everything from disco flexing electronic numbers to technified house tunes. The disco inspired numbers still retain a house shape and are in general stronger than the techier efforts. Notable cuts include Move D’s grooving "Your Rolling Hills," DJ Enne’s dilating "Lazise" and Zwicker’s dreamy "Kumquat." At a time when the 4/4 reigns supreme once more, the young upstart may have eclipsed its older sibling.
V/A – International DJ Gigolos CD Ten
Label: International DJ Gigolos
Still putting out the Gigolo compilations like there’s no tomorrow, the suave German dishes up another double CD set that ticks all the boxes you would expect. Angular techy electronics is Hell’s favoured sound and he has picked out some absolute pearls alongside colder efforts. Disc one highlights include Kevin Gorman’s bangin’ revision of Outlander’s "The Vamp" and the Late Night Blunt Mix of Foremost Poets’s slow-burning "Reasons To Be Dismal?" Winners from the second disc include Sebastien San’s disturbing "Wuxia (Dub Mix)" and The Model’s fearsome "You Are Always On My Mind." Another strong display from the Gigolo camp!
V/A – Witness Future Vintage Vol 2.
Label: Kindred Spirits
Genre: Broken Soul/Hip Hop/Nu-Jazz
Broken Soul champions Kindred Spirits delve deep on this recentish back catalogue effort, which showcases the breadth of their musical tastes. As well as the required fractured vocal efforts, there are all manner of other delicacies on show. Certain efforts here are a little dull, but it’s difficult to knock tracks such as Jazzanova ‘s warm revision of Heavy’s "Wonderlove," Rich Medina’s lovey-dovey " Too Much," and Chico Mann ‘s questioning " Say What." At a time when the wind has certainly been knocked out of the sails of the broken soul ship, it’s good to see that gems are still surfacing.
V/A – Maiden Voyage
Maiden Voyage was a Munich based club night started by Michael ‘Compost ‘ Reinboth, Florian ‘ Party’ Keller and Theo Thoennessen in 1993, which focused on dusty soul touched and horizontal discofied material. First night guest and subsequent resident record spinner Rainer Trüby, Roland Appel and original member Theo Thoennessen kept the flag flying when Keller and Reinboth left to pursue other ventures, and here they present a compilation of Maiden Voyage faves. The music on show is high in syrupy soulful goodness and ever so luxurious. Nohelani Cyprian’s " Lihue" is a gorgeous opener, whilst Norman Connors’ " She’s Gone" laments the loss of a loved one and Debra Laws "Very Special " is exactly that. This album is rather indulgent and full of all the stereotypical musical flourishes one would expect, but it’s rather enjoyable all the same.
V/A – Home cooking
Label: Sonar Kollektiv
Genre: Broken Soul/Nu-Jazz
This is a bizarre concept for a compilation CD, with Jazzanova presenting music that can be listened to whilst whipping up the recipes in the accompanying cook book. I don’t think there ‘s anything wrong with listening to music when cooking, unless you get too engrossed in the tunes and burn the dinner. However, I wonder if some of these jazzified and soul angled efforts, with their emphasis on ‘minor ‘ arrangements, will aid frying, boiling, grilling and garnishing. Due to their sleepy nature, most tracks would be better suited to be enjoyed with a glass of wine, following a meal. A few of the musical dishes are unfortunately a little undercooked, but Deyampert’s " Held Him First" is a brass touched wonder and "Mandelbrot" from Meitz is a key coloured beauty. A post feasting treat.
V/A – In The Mind Of… Nitin Sawhney
Label: District 6
Genre: Broken Beat/Nu Jazz/Soul/Downtempo/Folk
Nitin Sawhney’s selection for "In The Mind" is a ‘worldwise ‘ collection as one may expect, and it features material culled from various corners of the globe. The compilation features some fusionist joys and others that contain elements that simply don’t gel. One may question the programming, but the order of tunes is relatively logical and the highlights are the sort of tracks that would stand out a mile on any compilation. D’Angelo ‘s "Brown Sugar " is still a key blessed neo-soul ditty, whilst the strings and piano led power of 4 Hero’s mix of Nu Yorican Soul ‘s " I Am The Black Gold Of The Sun" is simply breathtaking. A musical patchwork!
Lefties Soul Connection – Skimming The Skum
Genre: Broken Beat/Nu Jazz/Soul/Downtempo/Folk
Amsterdam might not be the first place one would expect to find a modern funk outfit, but if The Soul Investigators can hail from Helsinki, then anything is surely possible. Unlike The Soul Investigators, Lefties don’ t rely on a large-lunged vocalist, but instead derive all their musical strength from their invigorating musical arrangements and actually are weaker when they occasionally opt to add vocals. Organs, guitars and drums are their weapons of choice, with which they deliver ice-cool nu-funkin’ goodness that ranges from boisterous efforts to low slung groovers. Hot efforts include an exuberant opener entitled "Fais Do-Do, " the militarily percussed "Loose Change" and melancholic closer, "The Chank. " Funkified fun for all the family!
V/A – Slope Is Dope
Label: Sonar Kollektiv
Genre: Broken Beat/House
Daniel Paul and Honesty’s Slope outfit present a compilation that features remixes of their material and their own remixes. Still favouring the fractured beat sound that they’ve been pushing for a good long time, this comp features some hot tunes alongside numerous run-of-the-mill numbers. It’s hard to argue with Slope’s jagged re-cut of 1Luv’s righteous "Daylight" or Henrik Schwarz ‘s sedated key touch-up of Slope and Desney Bailey’s " Keepingitup." There are no real surprises here, but Slope are pretty dependable, if nothing else.
V/A – Coming Home: Nouvelle Vague
V/A – Coming Home: Tim Love Lee
Label: Stereo Deluxe
Genre: Downtempo/Easy Listening/Cinematics
French production aces Olivier Libaux and Marc Collin brought an easy bossa silliness to post punketishness with their Nouvelle Vague outfit and their classy installment of the Coming Home series features music derived from film scores. The music on this compilation has the same spirit as their kinky covers and features all manner of sparkling cinematics, dramatic flourishes and sassy tales of intrigue. Eloquent instrumentation and moody atmospherics play key roles on wonderful efforts such as Lalo Shifrin’s playful " On The Way To San Mateo" and Vangelis innocent "La Petite Fille De La Mer." By comparison, Tim ‘Love’ Lee’s collection of his musical faves is no way near as stylish or as musically satisfying, but does feature nice efforts alongside some truly cringeworthy material. Winners from Lee’s non film related selection include Dub Syndicate’s friendly "Wellie" and Antenna ‘s charming " Ingenuous." Home listening gems!
V/A – Soma Coma
Genre: Downtempo/Easy Listening/Chill Out
Focussing on the more horizontal musical efforts from Soma’s back catalogue, ‘Soma Coma’ celebrates the sleepy side of the label. The imprint may be primarily known for its House and Techno output, but this compilation shows they’ve put out some beautiful chilled material over the years. Tracks like Maas’s haunting "Look At Me Now, Falling " puts lots of the label’s recent output to shame, whilst The Vector Lovers magical "Tokyo Gliterrati " suggests they haven’ t lost the knack of putting out good records completely. A rare viewing of Soma’s quieter side.
Shady Bard – From The Ground Up
Label: Static Caravan
Shady Bard are a Birmingham based 5 piece, who make loveable indietronica, which features a side garnishing of weird and wonderful instrumentation. Lawrence Becko’s pained vocals provide the topping to the their musical cake, which is touchingly tender in places and all powerful in others. Focused on natural beauty, album highlights include the stirring "Treeology" and smile inducing title track. Becko’s vocals are a little whiny in places, but this emotive musical gem is worth checking.
- Jon Freer’s Early Summer Picks
- by Jon Freer
- Published on June 24th, 2007
- Louie Vega, Lust, Joey Negro, Dimitri From Paris, Sally Shapiro, Âme, Adam Freeland, Kitsune, Simian Mobile Disco, Slam, DJ Kicks, International DJ Gigolos, Lefties Soul Connection, Shady Bard, and various other artists.
More from Jon Freer:
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