Adrian Shala and Adrian Schweizer, the Swiss duo recording and performing as Adriatique, sign the third Afterlife release of 2018, ‘Ray’. The two-track single follows their remix of Tale Of Us & Vaal’s ‘Monument’ in 2017, and marks the beginning of Adriatique’s own journey with Afterlife Recordings.
We first heard of ‘Ray’ in Tale Of Us’ sublime fabric 97 CD, where its soaring melody ended the mix on a euphoric high. It stands out as a scintillating dancefloor composition, whose lead synth line will no-doubt create many memorable dancefloor moments. ‘Voices From The Dawn’ takes a more subtle approach to the same thrilling effect. Driven by the rolling beats, it reveals itself sporadically in spirited surges of life.
These two tracks not only show the range of Adriatique’s production focus, but show them to be highly-accomplished whether making hypnotic, peak-time grooves or epic songs for the end of the night.
Review from www.inyourspeakers.com .
Released in late April on Mind Of A Genius, ZHU’s Nightday EP is a creative, well crafted electronic dance record. ZHU’s skills for sample selection and combination come through clearly across the record and across the record’s genres. ZHU plays around with tropical house sounds, deep house, and chillout with little nods to progressive house. The resulting combinations of sounds and samples are sometimes strange, but somehow ZHU manages to make them work. That miraculous exercise makes the Nightday EP worth a listen.
The first track, “Stay Closer,” is a hypnotizing, dark, funky house track. One listen to this track and it will make it to the hot indie electronic music playlist. This is a simple song in that it is composed of simple elements, but ZHU layered these samples in different ways and created a complex, fascinating track.
Following “Stay Closer” is “Faded,” a more straightforward track than the opener, but is slightly better for it. It features a darker bassline and prominent high pitched vocals. ZHU uses those vocals to make the contrast of the drop into the dark bassline more apparent. That is, the vocals make the bass sound much darker and more intrusive. This effect results in a compelling, grungy sound. Toward the end of the track, ZHU repeats this tactic, but he uses a high pitched synth to set up the drop. Also in this drop, ZHU layers the vocals and dark bassline on top of each other. It is a well deserved and hard-earned, awesome moment among many in “Faded.”
The fourth track, “Superfriends,” is a funky, slow, deep house track. The various vocal parts keep things interesting; they serve as effective transitions and complements to the production. This is the funkiest track on the album. How the vocals and beat work together is an intriguing but amazing mystery as they sound like they should not work. However, their cohesion works all the more and reflects well on ZHU’s sample selection.
Final track “Cocaine Model” is a tropical house track similarly styled to the third track, “Paradise Awaits,” but this one is better. Smooth, airy vocal samples frequently glide over a simple beat-clap pattern with bongo drums. ZHU takes these elements and combines them and mixes them differently with modern electronic samples. With his tropical beats, vocal samples and other well chosen samples, like acoustic guitar, ZHU crafts a chill, beachside, dance winner and concludes the EP in a fantastic way with “Cocaine Model.”
For a debut EP, ZHU has produced an admirable work. There are not many, if any, flagrant faults to point to on this record. It might be too unusual and a little too different for mass appreciation, but this is one record where trying out different sounds worked out positively. The beats are steady, the samples are funky, the vocals are smooth counterparts to the dark, grungy bass, and many of the tracks are head nodding and get-up-and-dance good on ZHU’s Nightday EP. His full length album will be awaited with great anticipation.
Review from www.pitchfork.com .
No one ever wants to admit that summer’s totally over, but it’s even tougher this year considering how fun it all was– seems like every other day, an evocatively named band would come about and contribute to this glo-fi/dreambeat/chillwave thing that was perfect for those unbearably humid August nights rife with possibility, imagining an alternate universe where the narcotic of choice in danceclubs were Galaxie 500 and Saint Etienne records.
More than a few of these singles came from Philadelphia’s Dayve Hawk in the guise of either Memory Cassette, Weird Tapes, or Memory Tapes. To this point, he’d served as something of a microcosm for this sound, which has created intriguingly hazy, wistful but beat-informed one-offs and EPs, but nothing weighty enough to get it past “something we did that one summer,” as if it were a road trip or ill-fated romance recalled years later. That was before Seek Magic, a record of achingly gorgeous dance-pop that captures both the joy of nostalgia and the melancholic sense that we’re grasping for good times increasingly out of reach.
Initially, Seek Magic‘s power derives from an intensely personalized ability to unlock hidden chambers in our memory banks. The half-submerged guitars that introduce “Swimming Field” suggest this is as a soundtrack for a restless evening, but between its F-G chord progression and aqueous thumb-piano and panflute synths, I’m reminded of scorching July days vibing out to Wilco’s A Ghost Is Born. Instrumental breaks “Pink Stones” and “Run Out” recall the unconventional beauty of Apehx Twin’s Richard D. James Album. “Green Knight” smacks of Police’s “Wrapped Around Your Finger” in its verse and any number of mid-80s light funk with its guitar licks, the sneaker squeak in the instrumental break is one of the most evocative found sounds I’ve heard in a while.
Seek Magic is something of an inhabitable universe that proves there’s far more to Hawk’s sound than a way with reverb and passing familiarity with dance loops. The rubber-smacks-road beat of “Bicycle” would be content to mirror its titular vehicle, but nearly every minute packs some sort of detailed compositional surprise: the widescreen breakthrough where Hawk’s androgynous vocals shake lo-fi two minutes in, the bass breakdown that soon rights itself into the second half’s backbone, and the choral coda that lays a euphoric vocal sigh over wave-running New Order guitars. By comparison, “Plain Material” is streamlined, but not by much– the way Hawk’s voice hits the fuzzed-out guitar chords, you might think this was an unearthed Flaming Lips track, and at first, it sounds like the first time on Seek Magic that he’ll adhere to a standard verse-chorus structure. It does, but only after a drum beat cribbed straight from Organized Noize turns in a bridge of teen screams imported from In Ghost Colours‘ nastier breakdowns.
And yet in Seek Magic‘s centerpieces, you sense a nocturnal unease usually attributed to more spare albums. “Stop Talking” could’ve been content to ride out its gummy bass riff to infinity, but it morphs through so many phases in its seven minutes that the half-time post-rock finale doesn’t feel tacked-on. On the following song, “Graphics”, Hawk offers an unnervingly lonely sentiment– “I don’t even recognize the sound of your voice, the feel of your touch, you could be alone even though I’m here by your side.” Lyrics are mere suggestions through most of Seek Magic, but Hawk lays out an “I can’t go on, I’ll go on” vibe throughout. One second, he sighs “this is the last time” and immediately thereafter, “one more time, baby, one more time.” It’s a sentiment that’s underpinned great works of art from Daft Punk (“One More Time” natch), F. Scott Fitzgerald (This Side of Paradise), Kanye West (“Why can’t life always be this easy?”), and um, Old Milwaukee– the times where you think “it doesn’t get any better than this,” and it’s simultaneously the happiest and saddest thing you can say.
Review from www.avclub.com .
Back when genres still mattered, Mount Kimbie—a duo hailing from England, where genre names flourish like bizarre slang for snacks—took pains to distance itself from the “post-dubstep” tag it had been saddled with. “Post-dubstep is kind of a shitty name,” Kai Campos and Dominic Maker said in a Red Bull Music Academy video titled, tellingly, “Don’t Call It Post Dubstep,” pointing out that the umbrella term unfairly lumped together an entire continuum of British dance music, and was “hypercritical and self-deprecating” besides—diminishing your own music as a response to a style that’s still extant and plenty vague itself. Really, “post-dubstep” is just a clumsy way of saying, “We like big bass sounds and synthesizers, but we don’t sound like Skrillex,” but that’s not nearly catchy enough. So “post-dubstep” stuck, and Mount Kimbie has been one of its torchbearers ever since 2010’s dreamy, 3 a.m. banger for the nightclub-of-your-mind Crooks & Lovers gave critics something to point to.
But whatever the hell “post-dubstep” meant, it became even less aptly applied to 2013’s Cold Spring Fault Less Youth, a vibrant, varied record that allowed live rock instruments, motorik rhythms, and a noticeable mess to puncture its carefully blown bubbles. More importantly, it added vocals—Campos and Maker’s own narcotized croons, but most notably those of King Krule, a.k.a. Archy Marshall, whose rude-boy, defiantly slack jawing gave their music a street-tough edge. The duo has spoken of how much Marshall’s “energy” inspired its new Love What Survives, but more than that, it seems to have given Mount Kimbie a whole new purpose: as backing band for a rotating lineup of other artists. The result is an album that’s certainly lively and often lovely, but also a tad indistinct, as whatever identity Mount Kimbie has (even something as vague as “post-dubstep”) tends to get subsumed by whoever happens to be on the mic.
Campos and Maker’s longtime pal James Blake drops by for two tracks that, well, sound very much like James Blake: “We Go Home Together” stands out for its unvarnished simplicity, pairing Blake’s robot choirboy voice, here pushed to the bleeding edges of its register, with little more than some gently whirring soul organ and a tambourine. But on closer “How We Got By,” aside from sections that briefly lift its warped piano tones and plodding bass line into the kind of echoed, dizzying, off-kilter abstractions Blake is usually too mannered to indulge in, it could well be an outtake from last year’s The Colour In Anything.
If you like James Blake (or King Krule, or Mica Levi, or Andrea Balency, etc.), obviously none of this is a problem. But unlike Cold Spring, which excitingly freed Mount Kimbie from the hermetic seal of forever mining garage beats and ambient haze, Love What Survives mostly just feels like a lateral move. And disappointingly, few of the non-guest tracks make as great an impression. With its tremolo-ed feedback and gnarled, Pornography-era Cure bass, opener “Four Years And One Day” is an exception, getting things off to a thrillingly noisy start that’s later mirrored in “Delta,” which is all frantic synth pulses, train-hiss hi-hats, anxious organ, and forward momentum.
But the loose “Audition” feels every bit the rehearsal-room jam its title suggests; “SP12 Beat” resembles the underscore to some ’80s action caper in South America; and “Poison,” a pretty little ambient loop of cracked piano tones, mostly just comes off as calculated filler. Campos and Maker’s sole solo vocal turn, “T.A.M.E.D” is also a bit of a letdown, their monotone delivery not done any favors by the song’s repetitive refrain of “Think about me every day.”
Review from blog.kexp.org .
In the summer of 2009, if you had only one dance tune to soundtrack your adventures to day and night, you could do a lot worse than Classixx tune “I’ll Get You”. With a gloriously upbeat vibe and Jeppe Laursen of Junior Senior on the joyful bass-loving vocals, “I’ll Get You” was a song you could put on infinite repeat and still dance to it on the 200th listen. But alas, the release was minimal, and we didn’t see any new original material from the band for a while. Sure, there was a remix here and there (including a great one of Phoenix track “Lizstomania”), not to mention a great DJ set in quite a few cities across the nation, but fear dwelt in my heart that Classixx would be a one trick pony. But in 2011, through Mountain Dew’s Green Label Sound, Classixx released “Into The Valley”, a soulful disco track with Karl Dixon on the vocals. Once again, the band had made a hit that you could play at any party in the world and start a riot, but much like the release of “I’ll Get You”, there was no word on a record any time soon. Yes, LA dance duo Classixx have kept us in the dark for a couple years now, but after traveling the world and settling down just long enough to string together a record, we now have Hanging Gardens, their debut full-length that has more style and swagger as a whole album than we could have ever anticipated. Hanging Gardenswas entirely worth the wait, and it is the perfect introduction to this fantastic dance duo, who will not remain in the dark for much longer. That is for certain.
Classixx is made up of two really interesting dudes. Tyler Blake and Michael David grew up in the suburbs of Los Angeles and have known each other since middle school. After David tried out a couple other musical endeavors and Blake dropped out of Berklee, the two took their craft to a new level, bringing east coast dance trend of harking back to disco, funk, and new wave to west coast dance halls itching for something new. The result is Classixx, an indelible blend of old and new – retro without rust, progressive without distancing, and hopefulness and passion without cheese. Perfecting their live set, Blake and David started traveling the world, playing shows wherever they could, and even taking an extended leave in Australia to act as weekly resident DJs on Triple J. Now, the band has remixed and joined the ranks of YACHT, Gossip, and others that aren’t afraid to get past the grimy surface of dance music’s dark and sweaty exterior. Classixx bring a fresh vibe and fresh sound to the dance-floor, and you’ll be worse off missing out.
Hanging Gardens is a fitting and accurate exhibit of the culmination of Classixx’s work thus far. Here, you’ll find “I’ll Get You” in a more refined form alongside some new dancehall anthems, like the bittersweet glory of “Holding On” and all the sultry attitude “All Your Waiting For”, vocally led by Nancy Whang of LCD Soundsystem. These two will certainly be the breadwinners of the record, as they are indubitably fit for any summer DJ set across the globe. Words can’t express how fun “Holding On” is. The disco bass line and the powerhouse build are perfectly paced, but the passionate outcry of “I can’t take it any more” creates an emotional connection to the track up and beyond its danceable prowess. It’s a prime example of a Classixx hit. “All Your Waiting For” is maybe the most polished piece of work the band has created yet. It’s a complex disco masterpiece that puts them in league with their heroes.
But when the album ventures past the singles into more unknown territory, Classixx really start to show their stripes. The two part soundscape of “Rhythm Santa Clara” and “Dominoes” shows a telling characteristic for the band. The former is a funky rhythm dance mixer that could be thrown into the middle of a set as the hard and dirty breakdown between more melodic tracks. But the beat digresses into gorgeous melody at the start of “Dominoes”, maintaining the same rhythmic groove, but adding the bright, warm Classixx atmosphere to the mix. This makes “Dominoes” one of the strongest offerings on the record, but it wouldn’t be half as strong without the fitting introduction of “Rhythm Santa Clara”. In this way, Classixx show themselves to be DJs who, while young, know the rules of the game and want to play them to the limit. Classixx have a unique vision to offer the dance floor through their vast, hopeful sound that keeps the energy building while giving the listener something more euphoric to experience.
Through the rest of the record, Classixx continue throwing new and unique sounds towards the listener that soar through their wide array of influences and interests. The chill house vibe of “A Fax From The Beach”, the electro-funk breakdown of “Supernature”, the quiet trance-induced exit of “Borderline” – all of these fit onto a Classixx record perfectly with a grace and a eclecticism that few other new acts could muster. Hanging Gardens is a record that should not be missed, and will give you summer tunes for many seasons to come. With their full-length debut, Classixx have not faltered from the instant classics of their past. Rather, they’ve built on their energy with prestige, and we can’t wait to see where the road takes them next.
Review from www.pitchfork.com .
Kieran Hebden first came on the scene in the 1990s as a member of Fridge, a post-rock outfit that to me always looked better on paper than they sounded on record. Whatever you think of his first band, Hebden’s subsequent career can be seen as the idea of post-rock done right. His appetite for music, on the evidence presented in his albums, singles, DJ sets, and collaborations, is voracious. But Hebden has a way of transforming and integrating influences rather than channeling them. So if his loose improvised collaborations with drummer Steve Reid captured something of the spirit of the classic late-60s free jazz records on Impulse!, they also managed to carve out a unique and identifiable aesthetic that sounds very much like today. When working with others, like the wooly free-folk unit Sunburned Hand of the Man or the dubstep producer Burial, Hebden knows when to lead and when to get out of the way. But all the while, whatever the context, he’s absorbing. And when it comes to his own records as Four Tet, he has a knack for combining sounds from all over and making them his own.
Rounds is the one undisputed Four Tet classic, but all are at least good. It’s not unusual for Four Tet records to have a few dull patches, but given Hebden’s M.O., that’s never a big problem. You expect him to explore a bit, so it’s okay when once in a while something doesn’t quite gel. Ringer, an intriguing EP from 2008 that throbbed with a minimal pulse and revealed a surprisingly austere side to his music, is a good example. It was the kind of record you wanted to inch closer to, because you had the sense there might be more going on beneath the surface than you’d initially realized. The follow-up album, There Is Love in You, is the glorious sound of those ideas being drawn into the light.
This is the most focused Four Tet album by a huge margin, and for some listeners that could be an issue. Hebden apparently refined this music over the course of a long stint as a resident DJ at the London club Plastic People. He’d play developing tracks in his sets, see how people responded, and return to them armed with this information. And while the result isn’t dance music proper, There Is Love in You definitely functions on that plane. This isn’t fist-pumping music that toys with the pleasure of pop music, like one of my favorite Four Tet tunes, “Smile Around the Face”. And it’s not an album that bowls you over with the density and intricacy of its textures. Instead, it’s both heady and physical, subtle but powerful music for thinking and moving or ideally doing both at the same time: It’s been a while since a brisk walk through the city sounded this good.
Very early in the 2000s, the corny word “folktronica” was sometimes applied to Four Tet’s style. It never defined him, but the tag was applied because it described his fondness for samples of sounds that seem to be reverberating in a physical space. He sampled jazz cymbals, guitars, gamelan-style percussion, and voices, mixing them in with electronic squiggles and choppy breaks culled from hip-hop. Hebden’s fondness for acoustic sounds caused his music to come over as unusually airy and bright. It made you think of daylight rather than the nocturnal crackle of sampled vinyl. Though Love is a very different album from those earlier records, remnants of the sound palette remain, imparting a similar sense of clarity, brightness, and warmth despite its late-night club-bound inspiration.
The album begins with a crisp cymbal tap on “Angel Echoes” that sounds perfectly live until a quick digital stutter comes a few bars in, and then a clipped female voice, reduced to just syllables but still conveying a strong sense of yearning, begins looping into view. There are bells, a steady midtempo 4/4 kick, and that voice, and that’s about it. But “Angel Echoes”, like most of the record that follows, is strangely moving in spite of its limited toolkit. After it ends abruptly and tumbles into the brilliant “Love Cry”, a much more drawn-out and darkly shaded tune, it starts to become clear that another inspiration could be in play: the music produced by Hebden’s schoolmate, Will Bevan aka Burial.
The pair collaborated on an intriguing two-track 12″ last year, and if nothing else, Hebden’s consistent return here to the texture and expressive possibilities of vocal fragments forms a clear link. “Sing”, halfway through the record, is the most affecting and flat-out gorgeous example of the technique, as it laces the propulsive housey rhythmic thrust– the push and pull of the kick and snare, bits of percussion, a short and repetitive synth motif– with an alien, genderless voice that curls into a kind of weary howl. The effect reminds me of nothing so much as the “ah-AH-ah” vocals that snake through Aphex Twin’s immortal “Windowlicker”, and Hebden’s processing gives “Sing” a similar sense of simultaneous grounding and weird dislocation.
Hebden has studied Aphex Twin carefully, having made his first splash in 1999 when he remixed a track from SAW II for one of Warp’s 10th Anniversary compilations. Elsewhere on Love, you can find the creative melding of beats and classical minimalism that producers like Richard James and Nobukazu Takemura were exploring in the 90s. An array of metallic percussion pops up, organized into hypnotic grid-like patterns that gradually build and change over the track’s duration. The voice sample in “Circling” doesn’t appear until two-thirds of the way through the track’s runtime, and it brings with it a cluster of bright electronic tones that call to mind the iconic pulse of Reich/Riley minimalism. The loping, sleepy “This Unfolds” has several layers of quietly twinkling sound happening at once, and you can shift your perception to follow along with any one of them or simply let the whole thing wash over you. Though it mostly lays back and doesn’t waste any notes, There Is Love in You always has just enough going on to pull you back in any time you feel like relegating it to the background. It works best taken whole, rather than broken into individual tracks.
Whenever There Is Love in You comes to the closing “She Just Likes to Fight”, a quietly pretty instrumental built around a straightforward guitar melody, I start thinking of Hebden’s early days. There’s a moment at the 2:18 mark where the music pauses for a moment as a tapped guitar harmonic rings out, and it brings me back for a split-second to “Harmonics”, the acoustic guitar instrumental that is the one Fridge tune I love without reservation. It’s such a basic and elemental thing, the overtones of one metal guitar string vibrating in place, but in the right hands it becomes a tool that can be used to deliver a surprising blast of feeling. The simple power of sound is something this guy has understood from the beginning.