Casio Royale – In Basements Vol2 (Dixon Avenue Basement Jams)
Dixon Avenue have been celebrating their recent Best Label award from DJ Mag with a strong start to 2016, and have lost no time sticking out a pair of EPs from Casio Royale and a digital only release by Big Miz. In Basements Vol 2 picks up from where the first record left off by taking a particularly manky and British take on acid house and pumping it full of the oddball funk of vintage techno, little bursts of saccharine, day-glo cheek and a whole bunch of nods to Chicago. While A-side warms things up nicely with Luna’s wobbly acid whoop and Rudderless’s surly, clattering drive, it’s the B-side where things go to a different level with a couple of the best tunes from either release.
Speaking as someone who had a bit of a run in on social media recently due to political views, I would have probably given Save It (For Yourself Tory Scum) top marks for the title alone, but it gets that on its own merits due to being a corking slice of Relief fueled jack which builds slowly into a twisted acid soaked groove that holds things just below critical mass until the vocals kick in and shuffles everything off towards the secure ward. A future classic. Sneakin’ Out replaces the warped insouciance with a slug of wild pitched, floor moving funk that’s as frisky as it is warm. Two out of two for Casio Royale, and a blinding start to the year for DABJ.
Reformed Society – Optimistic Chaos (What Ever Not)
Harsh Puri returns as Reformed Society with this release on Italian Label What Ever Not. Just as with the record above, Optimistic Chaos blends all sorts of classic influences together until it comes up with something fresh. Although it occasionally tips a little too far towards the big room bluster, it brings itself back with some stone cold grooves that whir away under the meat, providing more than enough oomph to get things going.
Where Casio Royale’s release worked its magic with its Chicago rutting, Reformed Society layers in the moodiness of Detroit’s symphonic soul, and dives towards the sunset, even though it sometimes falls a little short. While Incognito and Detracid push and pull all the right emotions, they never quite get to that dusky horizon. Incognito in particular meanders along pleasingly enough, but seems a little too content in its path, and never quite makes the most of its shimmering and seductive qualities.
Better are the other tracks. Hope wraps Chez Damier-esque deepness with tight, up front drums and glides stylishly from quiet beginnings to a sleek, midnight stomp. It could be a big tune in the right hands. Optimistic Chaos itself is a wave of aquatic funk which harnesses some lean kicks and razor like percussion to sharpen the tune nicely. Tight, yet wobbly chords and little bursts of melody seal the deal, and leaving us with a bubbling tune full of darkened emotion. Very, very nice.