Event – Numbers @ Subclub – Friday 21st of Feb

Glasgow collective Numbers have got a great looking night planned for this Friday at Glasgow institution the Sub Club.

New York producer Galcher Lustwerk stole the hyperbole from manky auld Techno bores, jangly House heads and dainty bearded Hipster folk alike with his debut last year on White Material, Tape 22: A sorbet for those full to bursting on the gnarly Brooklyn sound Tape 22 mixed some seriously deep House grooves with almost spoken word ‘life-stories’ which gave us a record that sounded like nothing else around last year. His UK appearances this time are ahead of a new release, the Nu Day EP on Tsuba Music, out in March.

Londoner Midland has been around a while, involving himself in a whole bunch of UK scenes over the years. His back catalogue of Bass, deep house and the occasional Techno shiner should be a good match for Galcher.

Support from Numbers own Spencer. Ticket ten pounds in advance. I dunno about the door. Just go down and tell the bouncers you are Richie Hawtin – wear a silly scarf and you’ll probably be fine. I might even go myself if I don’t fall asleep on the sofa after work……

Austin Cesear – There’s A Crack In Everything – Proibito

The pretentious Lonely Planet travel writer in me would like to describe San Fransisco as ‘a city of contrasts’ where the rolling, vine clad hills of northern California meet the empty expanse of the pacific ocean, where lazy summer days of blue skies and cool breezes become shrouded by ice cold fogs as dense as a Lonely Planet writers metaphors and analogies. The problem is, there are no cities of contrasts, not really: there are cities of contradictions, of crazed schizophrenic confusion, and flip flopping civic madness. Not contrasts, though. We should save that word for Water Colour challenge.

Bay area resident Austin Cesear, like wise, would appear to be a man of contradictions. His debut release, Cruise Forever, appeared on Public Information in late 2012 and laudably took a harder road by avoiding the usual 2 track first time 12 inch, instead releasing a full album that was so polished it was hard to believe he was new to the scene. Across it’s 10 tracks were lessons in the creation of the sort of occasionally drifting, occasionally pounding electronica tunes that have been rising like tiny mammals from between the rotting ribs of various Techno dinosaurs. And Techno it was, albeit of a downbeat, scuzzy, playful sort, but it was the sort of record that would never had worked on one of the big, traditional Techno labels but, amongst the artiness and experimentalism of hungry hustlers like Public Information, Opal tapes, or – as here – Proibito, it fit right in.

The existence of There’s A Crack In Everything was revealed to the world following a little bit of an oops-a-daisy moment at Little White Earbuds when they posted a review on their site months before the release. You can’t really blame them, though: If I’d had a copy in advance, I’d have wanted the world to know and embargoes be damned.

Anthony Naples’s Proibito label hasn’t been around very long. It’s not quite a year since the release of their first record, but in it’s short life it has already become something of real interest. It has skirted the edge of what Ben UFO christened Outsider House (and, indeed, Outsider Techno) and although Naples himself is no fan of the term it does serve to highlight the faded tones and dusty percussion patterns that crop up here, on Cesear’s new 12 inch. A recent review on Juno claimed that it was more dance-floor orientated than Cruise Forever – a not entirely justified claim, in my opinion, as the album contained three or four proper movers that could have done a lot of damage if played at the right time of night.

In fact, aside from Cesear moving towards a more House-y feeling here, his methods and madness remain more or less unchanged. The opener, Yep, is so hazy and indistinct it could be the memory of a nights music replayed internally and repeatedly during the walk home on a cold, clear morning. There’s almost nothing to it: a looping brass sample comes and goes in the mix, coaxing out a distant echo of hi-hats and what might be a vocal clip, or maybe a 303, from the shadows. It’s skeletal, and totally hypnotic.

It’s followed by Slink, which appears at first to be cut from similar cloth. A piano sample rolls along, picking up the occasional thump of a sleepy kick drum and the slightest of hi-hats along the way along the way, before a bass line picks up the slack and carries the tune to it’s sudden termination, leaving you searching for more in the whisper of the needle against the empty vinyl. It feels nothing so much like a breakdown in search of a tune, which sounds like I’m trying to do it a disservice when I’m not. In fact, it energizes you even as it departs before answering it’s own call. It is very much of the same school as Anthony Naples’s own recent sample heavy and joyous music.

It’s on the B-side, though, that everything comes together and proves that Naples ear for talent is, if anything, getting stronger. Cesear and Naples are peas in a pod. One Year brings the same bag of tricks we found on the A-side, but adds a spine and a proper groove to build a House tune so laid back it’s staring up at the clouds. A snippet of vocal, some toms and a guiding bass lift the tune up into the sunrise, as the brass carries us back down again, only for it to roll us back around. Certain DJs out there are going to be playing this a lot, and they damn well should be. This is proper House music. It’s not Deep House, nor Progressive or any of the dozens of other sobriquets that essentially describe the same thing, it’s just House music, beautiful, dreamy, life affirming House music.

It seems almost indecent that Cesear can already be releasing such memorable music on this, only his second release. With another release on Public Information scheduled for some point in the (hopefully) near future, we might get a better idea of where he is coming from and where he is going. We know where he is right now, though: right where he ought to be. More of this please Austin, and as soon as possible, unless we wake up and have to listen to Drumcell.

And nobody wants that.

Karlist – CCCP06 – Russian Torrent Versions

Deep from within his Fortress of Machine Funk in New York, Long Island Electrical Systems head Ron Morelli spent most of 2013 injecting his record label with growth hormones and filling its ears with all sorts of confidence boosting pep talks. His efforts were successful – too successful, in fact. After approximately 1900 separate releases by 400 different artists, the sheer, collective weight of all that heavy, black vinyl caused a massive seismic event across the United States: the entire continent shirked and buckled under its burden and sprung up, throwing millions of unreleased tunes into the atmosphere only for them to slam back down again in Russia like a second Tunguska event. Out of the debris, shady Russian characters emerged and began to gather their bounty of snarling lo-fi Techno…

…Or that’s the story which I tell myself when I marvel at the release of another Morelli affiliated record. This Sixth volume of the almost covert and not-at-all LIES sub label, Russian Torrent Versions, introduces A similarly mysterious and anonymous newcomer to the fold. I don’t know much about Karlist (although the name is vaguely familiar,) other than she/he is Russian and probably isn’t label golden-boy Greg Beato under another guise. Although It wouldn’t surprise me if it was, it usually is.

Russian Torrents has remained musically distinct from LIES over its handful of releases. Where LIES have veered wildly from Retro-y Acid, mesmeric lo-fi House to proper thumping Techno and all points in between, Russian Torrent Versions has mined the more (At times) Experimental side of its artists works. The LIES artists releasing on the label have contributed some of their best music of the last few months. For anyone who retained a lingering sense of slight disappointment following Greg Beato’s LIES debut last year ( OK, I admit I’m probably in the minority here. But did you hear his two corkers for Apron?) the various knock outs on RTV more than compensate.

With only this release to go on, its impossible to say whether Karlist is mining a similarly furious seam for his label debut only, or whether it’s indicative of the rest of his work. The A-side, ‘Skins Off’ snarls along with utter determination and contempt for anyone stupid enough to get in the way. At over 140 BMP, it swirls in under a cloud of tribal rhythms that threaten to engulf the entire tune and drag it off to a demented beach party somewhere. It’s an immense work out of explosive drums and surprisingly subtle sub bass – at least on my crappy KRK monitors. There is more than a little Jeff Mills in the way Karlist has tied a simple and genuinely funky groove to the pounding velocity; so often hard, fast Techno forgoes the wiggle in favour of raw oomf. Like Mills, Karlist understands that velocity is no excuse for forgetting the funk.

The B-side, Hexagonal, is a slightly more pedestrian creation in the same way sound is slightly more pedestrian than light. It’s every bit as lithe and dangerous as Skin Off, but comes at you with a tautness and grime that hold centre ground in a wide-screen vision of chaos. This is the same beach party that Skins Off was strutting it’s stuff on, but an hour later, after a dememted Lovecraftian version of Plastikman arrives to wreak havoc. A deep bass throb rolls in and out like the surf of a metal ocean, and percussion rattles and snaps, building and falling across the expansive madness of the kicks. Of the two tracks on offer here, Hexagonal is rougher, more uncertain and possibly less fully formed, but of the two tracks here it also shows promise for where Karlist might go in the future.

It’s tempting to line it up beside other recent examples of New York-centric Noise Techno but I’m not sure this is entirely fair, or accurate. An A side that’s comparatively straight (but funky) hard Techno and a B-side that, for my money, may have more in common with some contemporary British Experimental electronica than anything else, shows welcome desire for Karlist to do his own thing, and also makes him refreshingly hard to categorise. This first release was a fun adventure. I’m looking forward to see where he goes next.

Theo Parrish – 71st & Exhange Used To Be

A few weeks ago, whilst having a drink with a friend, we got onto the subject of Will Bankhead’s Trilogy Tapes label and the sheer amount of quality music it has put out over the last year or two. I was excited about the imminent debut of House legend Theo Parrish on the label, but, also slightly wary of it. Theo Parrish, I admitted to my friend, was an artist I often respected more than enjoyed. Parrish’s propensity for drawing on a huge store of influences – many of which, in other hands, have had a difficult relationship with electronic music – coupled to the sort of musical imagination that is usually as far removed from the world of gurning dance-floor monkeys as is possible to find, often renders his output slightly oblique, even compared to the greats from his adopted home city of Detroits own recent past. My friend nodded, saying he understood and then added ‘yeah, but the thing is, the rest of the time he just nails it.’

And nails it he does on this, a three way release between Trilogy Tapes, Parrish’s own Sound Signature label and, err, Palace Skateboards, that sees Parrish finding the sweet middle ground between soulful, jazzy exploration and stomping funk.

Title track ’71st Exchange & and Used To Be’ drifts in on a raft of bouncing toms and minor chords before an enormous muscle car of a bass, and some frankly astonishing drum work lifts you up and propels you into a world that is equal parts 1970s brain-trip and cine-cam footage of drowsy summer streets. The whole thing drips with light.

On the B side, ‘Blueskies Surprise’ meanders into the dusk with an air of wistfulness that hangs on some gorgeous strings and a simple riff that keeps the thing bubbling over. Less upfront than the A side, it retains ’71sts…..’ warmth whist adding some melancholy to the proceedings – a mood so often overlooked in favour of exuberance in House music.

The closer, ‘Petey Wheetfeet’, verges into slightly more experimental territory with a vibe not dissimilar to a funk backing band having a musical duel with a jazz trio. The tune grooves into life before gliding off into the distance and makes it back just in time for the synths to drag the stomping kick drum and burps of analogue bass back onto the straight and narrow.

’71st & Exchange..’ is dance music in a very pure form. It wears it’s influences on it’s sleeve without ever letting them overwhelm the disarmingly delicate tones, fills and frills that have become Parrish’s trademarks. It is both subtle and direct and is evidence of a musician (rather than a ‘producer’) at the top of his game. It’s the sort of record that allows you to understand what Opal Tapes founder Stephen Bishop meant when he said he makes the music he does because he realized he was never going to be Theo Parrish. It’s an undoubted sadness that so few people in electronic music are, but at least we have one, and we should celebrate that while we have to opportunity to do so.