DRM Part 1 by Merveille & Crosson – Visionquest
Visionquest’s 2011 comes to a bright end with the last chapter in its conquest of all things four-four in the last twelve months. It’s hard to believe that the label’s only been around for nine months, its Where The Freaks Have No Name EP from Benoit & Sergio causing ripples back in February, but in the intervening time, with the full weight of messrs Troxler, Crosson, Curtiss and Reeves behind it, it’s become one of the year’s essential imprints. Fittingly, it’s one of the quartet that closes out the year, with Ryan Crosson teaming up with Cesar Merveille on a trio of woozy, elongated tracks that showcase the label’s sound perfectly.
The title track may weigh in at close to thirteen minutes, but it never loses focus or pace, revolving around a bongo-infused percussive spine and a syrupy sub that lends the track an effortless groove from start to finish. The colour is provided by disembodied chimes and a wandering melody that weaves through the fx stabs like a hobo on a journey to nowhere. Alongside it comes Orca, at a positively brief ten minutes, and is a splash of bright, cascading melodic patterns, pouring like waves through a freshly burst dam. What it possesses in energy comes in a long breakdown, its metallic hits giving the track some punch. Closing out the EP is The Day You Left, a kick-less epic that blends guitar-like melodies and handclaps into a euphoric sunrise welcomer, made for the summer months. Roll on May.
Under The Sheets by Maceo Plex – No.19
The ubiquitous Maceo Plex is an artist that can consider himself justifiably on the list of breakout artists that will doubtlessly be drawn up as the end of the year approaches. But the hype can be believed for a producer whose Vibe Your Love in 2010 paved the way for a stellar year, his album Life Index on Crosstown Rebels showing a rich selection of skills, and subsequent work on his own label, Ellum Audio, pointing to an even brighter year ahead. Closing out 2011 on Johnny White’s No.19 Music seems fitting, as it’s another imprint that’s been at the top of the pile this year.
Bucking the trend of a seemingly standard four-track EP nicely is this one-sided vinyl release, Under The Sheets, adding further weight to Estornel’s reinvention from techno to house knob-twiddler. And like previous output, it’s unashamedly bright, funky and smooth, its guitar licks and bass-led groove providing a tonic as winter sets in. The vocoded vocals may sound a little passe now, but the melody and programming is expectantly tight, and the pads that rise through the break lift the track to sun-drenched heights. While this vein of funk-led house may not please all of the people all of the time, there’s no denying it makes all but the most grumpy listener want to book a flight to a beach and throw a party. Don the wayfarers.
Father EP by Moodymanc – Landed Records
While others may be heading down the ‘avalanche’ route of label-running, happy to put out a new EP every few weeks when their last has barely had a chance to settle, there’s a lot to still be said for the calm and measured approach. Landed’s path is certainly the latter, but while it may have a meagre three releases behind it in thirteen months, the quality of its output is a rival to many busier counterparts, with brilliant EPs in 2011 from Terrence:Terry and Zumo, employing equally impressive remix work from Bearweasel, Chris Carrier and label boss Jon Reynolds. To keep the embers glowing their latest comes from Moodymanc, an artist whose output on the likes of 20:20 Vision, Tsuba and Dessous has shown a fine pedigree.
Father, like much of his previous work, has its roots in the early days of house, and is an exercise in subtlety and form. Layering lofty pads over warm low-end and breezy stabs to accompany the echoey, spoken vocal results in another of Danny Ward’s sumptuous house grooves, that prove his ear for uncomplicated house remains true. Fittingly, Landed have bagged the legendary Rick Wade to rework Father, and his Daddy’s Disco Mix is classic fare, its punchy disco percs and flute heightening the already lofty parts of the original. Sugar Hill resides on the flip, its sparse percs easing into the chords and sax, the vocal proclaiming “the music is black, Sugar Hill”, and by the end, you believe the mission statement. The DJ tool plays heavier on the beats, but doesn’t lose Sugar Hill’s lustre. Wonderful.