Golden Dawn by Ben Rau – Luna Records
Paul Bowen’s Luna Records sits like a beacon in the north east of England, railing against the traditional London/Manchester/Leeds triptych with its own slant on deep and all-enveloping house music. Now in its third year, it’s played the long game, with a pared-down release schedule that ensures full focus on its releases, and it’s a method that’s brought it deserved attention, with excellent EPs over the years from Avatism, Dan Drastic, DJ W!ld and So Inagawa. It reaches the dozen with London-based Berliner Ben Rau, whose residency at Enzo Siragusa’s Sunday Fuse party has brought him well-earned praise, and from this evidence, his production skills are heading him in the same direction.
The title track tipifies Rau’s no-nonsense approach, focussing on the groove to guide the listener smoothly through its seven minutes, bassline and mid-range synth jousting for centre stage but never competing for the same space sonically. Lush chords in the middle of the track change direction adroitly, before a new melody adds yet another layer seamlessly. The Unified Field is a deeper, more slow-burning affair, biding its time before ushering off-kilter chords that dance around the low end, phrasing each segment differently, its echoing vox adding colour. Simulacrum retreats even further down, its purposeful b-line laying foundations for the metallic hits and mutli-tracked, ghostly vocals before a piano lights up the shadows. Arguably the most muscular of the trio, it rounds off a solid EP from an artist with a bright future in store.
Rise On High by Elliot Wright – Sideways Recordings
Kent stalwarts Sideways Recordings have spent their four years building a roster that keeps faith in artists that have been part of the label’s extended family rather than go for broke in an oversaturated market, and the results, both in terms of reputation, and music, have been impressive. Londoner Elliot Wright first appeared on the label back in July 2010 alongside Scott Harrington, remixing Keydin & Episodes’ Buzz Werner, but this is his first full EP on Sideways, having already notched up work on Influential, Endemic Digital, Unrivalled and Ecology Records for the likes of Farley, Rocky and Onionz in a production career that’s been alive since the early part of the last decade.
Rise On High wears its influences on its sleeve, the acid bleeps and raw percs showing a joy for the sounds that bore the house scene’s birth, but it’s far from a shallow tribute, instead blending warm and head-nodding beginnings into a tweaking dancefloor excursion. A rolling b-line gives solid foundations, choppy hats providing rhythm, and male vox sits back in the mix to add another glimpse of the whole. From midway onwards, the 303 enters the fray, wrapping itself around the chords and upping the tempo until the close. On the remix is UK legend Jamie Anderson, bringing his twenty years of wizardry to bear on Rise On High, and stretching it into an epic nine-minute workout. Pads and a subtle arp build pressure while the original’s chords punctuate, the squelching bassline standing firm and allowing the elements to flit in and out of the story. The result is a fantastic angle on Wright’s original, and another notch on Sideways’ steady history.
Tiger by Nick Jun – Fullbarr
It may be some months now since Fullbarr’s last digital release, but that seeks to dodge the fact that in the intervening time they’ve put out arguably their best music on good old, solid, thick vinyl. There’s something heartwarming when a digital label sinks some hard-earned capital into a physical release, and for Arthur Barr’s imprint, now edging towards its fourth year, EPs from Luke Solomon and Samaan put them firmly on the map this year, and proved that their commitment lies some way beyond the standard premise of hurling out monthly digital releases in a race to the bottom, sinking the average record buyer in four-four sludge.
And having set the bar high, Nick Jun’s Tiger EP has admirably kept the juices flowing, with a William Blake-inspired cut of roomy house that leaves nothing behind. It’s a rare experience hearing the words of a two-hundred year old poem echoing through a deep house record, but it fits perfectly into the layers of Tiger, its lush pads, reverb-laden female vox and delayed hits filling the outer reaches of the eardrum, never losing momentum and stretching melody far into the distance. The flip contains Immer’s fantastically-named Wankin’ Wobble remix, but it’s more studied than its name makes out, dropping the bpms and focussing on the percs and b-line, stripping back the original’s layers and providing a chuggy, woozy take on its shimmering house.http://fullbarrdigital.blogspot.co.uk/