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Issue 1084

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Ben Lovett - The Grooveyard (September)

Ben Lovett - The Grooveyard (SEPTEMBER 2011)
Ben Lovett - The Grooveyard (SEPTEMBER 2011) Soma Records

I was chatting to Soma Records co-founder Glenn Gibbons the other day. Somaâs lofty position in the clubland firmament has been doubly reinforced by the fact that it celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. This month in factâ¦.

SOMA RECORDS

Not only is Gibbons and his team organising anniversary events up and down the country, including one very special affair (September 30) in home city Glasgow (at The Arches, where Soma hosts monthly night Pressure) but it is releasing a fairly comprehensive compilation of its âbest bitsâ so far, Soma Records â 20 Years.

âWe never expected for the label to get so well established and well-knownâ Gibbons says. âWhen we started the aim was just to release a few of our own tracks and then organically the label just grew from there.â

Soma was founded by Gibbons alongside Slam producers Orde Meikle and Stuart McMillan, promoter Dave Clarke (not the techno star) and Jim Muotone (who used to record as Rejuvination alongside Gibbons). The five are still firmly involved, Gibbons actually a director and Somaâs chief A&R. Clubland continues to develop at lightening quick pace and its overall financial health continues to waver but Soma is still there, going strong.

âItâs down to being tight Scottish gits!!â Gibbons jokes. âNo seriously, it has been really hard to adapt to the ever-changing landscape within the industry and survive. Weâve had to make some very serious decisions within the past few years to ensure Soma keeps running. Today, we have a really tight, efficient team of people who work hard but have real passion. We also believe we have a really strong A&R policy, which is crucial. In the early days there was a lot of partying, which was fun but not conducive to effectively running a record label; weâve grown up but not at the expense of our output.â

Soma evolved from an massively cult late 1980s party hosted by Meikle and McMillan at Glasgowâs now defunct Tin Pan Alley club; the night was named after classic Phuture track Slam, as was the pairâs now legendary production alias. Meikle and McMillan eventually moved to another key Glaswegian night spot The Sub Club (with night Atlantis) but by then Somaâs foundations had been laid.

There have been countless classic releases â just check the new album, which features headline cuts such as Slamâs Positive Education, Silicone Soulâs Right On, Right On and Daft Punkâs raucous remix of Scott Groovesâ Mothership Reconnection, not to mention deep house and techno treasures by H-Foundation, Desert Storm, Mark Henning and Tony Thomas.

The album also features a previously unreleased Daft Punk lick, 1994 burn-up Drive. It was originally recorded on a tape entitled Daft Drive and discovered when Gibbons and co. started researching 20 Years - hidden among boxes of old DATs and photos: âwe are terrible hoarders, we have posters, flyers, dusty SCSI hard drives and lots of other toot from the early days.â

Punkers Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo intended to release Drive as âSoma 25â (recorded, astoundingly, over excerpts of their parentsâ own music collections) but it was replaced by Da Funk, Soma asking the pair to properly finish their first choice record. It has finally been polished up ready for public consumption.

Gibbons feels more than a tingle of bass-pulsing nostalgia: âI remember climbing to the top floor garret of a building in the winding streets of Montmartre, Paris to listen to a Tascam Portastudio four-track recording of a couple of tracks by two young French boys who had been introduced to us by a local French fanzine writer. I was thinking that Toulouse Lautrec and Vincent Van Gogh may have had their studios here in the 19th Century when Bangalter hit the play button and âBOOM!â blew us away with a couple of hard techno tunes The New Wave and Assault. We walked back down past the Moulin Rouge, having heard the first tracks by Daft Punk and knew there was something very special happening in Paris. Da Funk came soon after Soma released Daft Punkâs first three EPs and the rest, as they say, is history!â

There have been lows for Soma too. The most recent, just a few weeks ago when âsocial networkedâ rioting across England prompted the destruction, by fire, of one of Sonyâs major distribution centres in Enfield â the entire stock of several pivotal PIAS-distributed labels, including Desolat, Buzzin Fly, Warp and Soma, went up in flames. Back in 2000, fire ripped through Somaâs old offices and studios in Glasgow.

âFire follows us around. Our whole back catalogue has been destroyed in the most recent oneâ Gibbons sighs. âWe will not be able to afford minimum runs â 500 units â on all our previous releases so it looks like all of these will be deleted as CD or vinyl releases and only available in digital format from now on. All copies of our Soma Records - 20 Years compilation were destroyed too, and weâve had to repress all stock there which is hitting our cashflow pretty badly. Itâs a really difficult time, but weâre working on resolutions. Weâre confident weâll get through.â

Such indefatigable spirit is at the very core of the label. âWe want to release exciting, wide-ranging music consistently and, frankly, just survive,â Gibbons rounds off. âIn the short-term we have a great new album from The Black Dog Liber Dogma; itâs really innovative techno and fortunately, all of our copies were in Glasgow waiting to be shipped to Sonyâs warehouse when the fire hit. Beyond that there are albums scheduled from Alex Under and Gary Beck in the early part of 2012. It never stops!â

Soma Records â 20 Years is released on September 19.

Some quick news elsewhereâ¦.

NEWS

US house heavyweight Kerri âKaozâ Chandler will join Hot Creations star Jamie Jones (currently promoting his excellent new mix for Fabric â see below) in London on October 9 for âThe Big Oneâ, the latest hedonistic instalment of Creche. Founded by Cozzy D and Alexis Raphael, Creche has been playing out on Sundays in the capital for nearly two years now. Previous venues have included The Brickhouse and Queen Hoxton; details of the space for next monthâs event, however, are still to be announced. Further performers are also expected to be announced. Email crechelondon@gmail.com

Not long now to the launch of this yearâs Warehouse Project season in Manchesterâ¦.

It all starts on September 17 with DJ Shadow, Skream, Falty DL and Hudson Mohawke. Subsequent nights will feature Sven Vathâs Cocoon imprint, Lucianoâs Cadenza, Damian Lazarusâ Crosstown Rebels, Berlinâs Ostgut Ton posse and drum & bass stalwarts Hospital Records.

Artists lined up include Aphex Twin, Jamie Jones, Pearson Sound, Pete Tong, Maya Jane Coles, Annie Mac, Eric Prydz, James Blake, Loco Dice, Martin Buttrich, Calvin Harris, Felix Da Housecat, Seth Troxler, Moodymann and John Digweed.

The seasonâs wrap party, on January 1, 2012, features Pearson Sound, Jamie Jones, Derrick Carter, Tensnake, Yousef, Julio Bashmore, Joy Orbison and Space Dimension Controller.

This will be Warehouseâs last event at their current venue, beneath the cityâs Piccadilly Station.

For further updates and ticket details head to www.thewarehouseproject.com

Now on to reviewsâ¦.

REVIEWS

Liquideep â Angel (UK Tribe)

More highly accomplished soul-house from South Africa, upon which all clubland eyes are well and truly focussed right now. Johannesburg duo Liquideep â Jonathan âZiyonâ Christian and Thabo âRyzorâ Shokgolo â blend heart-warming rhythms, keys and vocals (Ziyonâs own) with sweet melody; DJ Spen & Gary Hudge drop funky, bouncy remixes, alongside deeper, no-less classy interpretations from Sean McCabe and Tribe boss Zepherin Saint.
4/5

Acid Invaders â Change/Innovation EP (UK Introduce Records)

The amplified Belgians drop a new EP combining peppy techno, funky acid house and plenty of spacey electronic Euro-groove. Fans include Inner City legend Kevin Saunderson, who has just remixed Change, with added Detroit punch, for an additional, forthcoming release.
3/5

HMC (Hannah & Miami Calling) â When The Sun Goes Down (UK Snowdog)

Singer-songwriter Hannah and DJ Lee Dagger follow-up trance-y UK Club Chart-topper Taking Over Now with the similarly-vibed and paced When The Sun Goes Down. Remixes from Kryder, Peppe Nastri, Robbie Rivera and Ali Wilson & Tristan Ingram offer varying levels of progressive, prime-time bass thump but leave no lasting impression. When The Sun Goes Down is explosive without impact.
2/5

Marc JB Vs Rita Campbell â Let It Go (UK White)

Radio-friendly vocal house from JB whose previous work has earned support from the likes of Roger Sanchez; pulses of bass and solid beats work efficiently enough beneath Campbellâs confident if over-poppy delivery and Max Jackson contributes a welcome, aptly titled âdirty funkâ mix for deeper moods.
3/5

Mangesto feat. Aysha â Slow (UK Restless Soul)

South African producer Mangesto formerly studied maths in Manchester â as such, Slow is well calculated; a classic deep soul-house burn, with sassy vocals from Love Soul UK choral singer Aysha Roberts. Fans include Osunlade and Dr Bob Jones.
4/5

Matthew Bandy feat. Josh Milan â Wish (Ger Foliage Records)

Bandy, of Deep House Souldiers fame, provides a rich multi-layered production â melodic b-lines, swells of synth, neat keys â for former Blaze legend Milan to dress his wistful, soul-stirring vocals over. Real-deal stuff.
5/5

Zakes Bantwini â Wasting My Time (Fr Real Tone Records)

Durban dancer-turned-producer-and-singer Zakes Bantwini releases another slick Black Coffee-produced cut from acclaimed debut album Love, Light And Music. Succinct lyrics about phony relationships cosy up to lush afro rhythms, double bass-lines, snatches of trumpet and tinkles of Rhodes; remixes from Dan Ghenacia, Rocco, an elegantly minimal Abicah Soul and Real Tone boss Franck Roger complete the colourful picture. Class.
5/5

Neil Pierce feat. Taliwa â Time Is Now (UK MN2S)

Velvety soul-house from Pierce and songstress Taliwav, the latter demonstrating real poise in her delivery. Time Is Now follows Pierceâs January outing on MN2S alongside Dawn Tallman, Out Of My Head, and comfortably maintains the quality control.
4/5

Various Artists â Marcel Fengler: Berghain 05 (Ger Ostgut Ton)

Herr Fengler, lynchpin resident at famous Berlin club Berghain, compiles this fifth instalment of its ever more popular mix CD series. Berghain 05 is a flawless splice of house, techno and electronica, enlivened by such highlights as Regisâ atmospheric re-rub of Tommy Four Sevenâs G, DifferentWorldâs (AKA Detroit head Claude Young and studio partner Takasi Nakajima) soaring, soulful piano-led and house-tinged Think Twice, and Bugz In The Attic beatsmith Seijiâs glorious dub-tech ditty More Of You.
4/5

Various Artists â Fabric 59: Jamie Jones (UK Fabric)

Hot Creations head Jamie Jones is seriously hot property right now, riding a mega-wave of popularity centred around him, his Hot Natured alter-ego (alongside Lee Foss) and close associates such as Visionquest and Crosstown Rebels â all of them boldly experimenting with house musicâs long established (and for the most part untouched) rhythmic, tonal and vocal tenets. Such experimentation flows through Fabric 59, to its immense benefit â impeccably chosen cuts, well mixed, include Metronomyâs peppy electro-funk take on Sebastian Tellier classic La Ritournelle, Felix Da Housecatâs delicious (but purposefully slowed-up) glam-sleaze groove Madame Hollywood and Jonesâ own tech-y lick The Lows (taken from his forthcoming solo album); not to mention two neat Hot Natured collabos with Art Departmentâs deep âGoth houseâ darlings Kenny Glasgow and Ali Love (opening snippet Time Intro and longer bass-warblinâ glide Assimilation). The result is a party at its most stimulating, creative and memorable.
5/5

Various Artists â Soma Records: 20 Years (UK Soma)

As mentioned above, the Soma guys are celebrating 20 illustrious years on the dancefloor with a triple-disc CD spanning all of their major house and techno moments â both underground and crossover. The first un-mixed disc of âclassicsâ includes Daft Punk exclusive Drive, not to mention Silicone Soulâs epic disco-looper Right On, Right On and vintage material by Slam, Black Dogand Funk DâVoid; the second disc, mixed by Slam, features punchy jack ânâ groove entries from Loco Dice, H-Foundation and themselves; the third, mixed by Silicone Soul, gathers together Mark Henning, Desert Storm and Ralph Lawsonâs Otaku (whose Percussion Obsession was the first record Silicone Soul ever bought) for a similarly deep and epic showcase. Standards rarely drop, track selection and variation clearly having been given major thought and shape. Two decades in the making, 20 Years is well worth the wait.
5/5

Various Artists â Masterpiece: Created By Gilles Peterson (UK Ministry Of Sound)

Worldwide guru and Radio 1 mainstay Gilles Peterson presides over Ministryâs latest Masterpiece compilation, a magical three-disc journey into his eclectic yet utterly soulful roots. Discs fall under the categories of Dawn, Dusk and Twilight and cover everything â delightfully â from Incognito (early jam Summers Ended), Roy Ayers (Evolution) and Young Disciples (Carleen Andersonâs stunning torch song As We Come (To Be) to avant-garde housers Art Department, multi-styled beatsmith Four Tet and deep Detroit head Theo Parrish. Petersonâs warming, whip-smart vision is as broad as it is unified, earning his Masterpiece the prospect of countless visits and lasting appeal. Artfully done.
5/5

Various Artists â Get Lost 4 mixed by Damian Lazarus (UK Crosstown Rebels)

Chief Crosstown Rebel Damian Lazarus is in charge for the fourth volume of his labelâs cult Get Lost mix series â a series that goes hand in hand with the global parties of the same name and offers fearless pioneer spirit. Get Lost 4 is good, forward-thinking stuff, introducing a host of interesting house-rooted newcomers such as Left, Fosky and Iranian Amirali alongside suitably iconoclastic Crosstown faves Dana Ruh, Aquarius Heaven and Art Department. 10 of the 16 cuts on offer are exclusives; together, they tread an irresistible path through all shades of garage, house, tech and bass.
5/5

Santos â If You Have Meat You Want Fish (Ger Rockets & Ponies)

Italian producer Santos (AKA Maskio) is credited by Timo Maas as a major factor in his recent artistic reinvigoration. The pair formed techno revisionist project The Mutant Clan in 2008, and from that spawned Maasâ refreshingly free-ranging Rockets & Ponies imprint onto which If You Have Meat⦠now appears. Santosâ album strikes a fittingly independent, genre-hopping note, moving from sweet Latin grooves to deeply hypnotic house to flecks of funky hip-hop and soul-charged vocals (courtesy of Gerideau on the excellent Neter) with relative ease.
4/5

Kid Creole & The Coconuts â I Wake Up Screaming (UK Strut)

August Darnellâs famed Eighties alias Kid Creole is back, and back in some kind of style. Creole presents infectious Caribbean dance (I Do Believe, the updated Ticket To The Tropics) and powerful, sashaying ballads (Tudor-Jones) as once before, but injects both styles with clever, purposeful lyrics, fantastic instrumentation and a charming theatricality, whilst avoiding most of their common clichés. I Wake Up Screaming, featuring studio input from Hercules & Love Affairâs Andy Butler, is a relevant, rousing return with plenty to surprise and delight.
4/5

BEN

...Still working the late shift!

Please feel free to contact me with any Dance news that you feel would benefit others ben@bluesandsoul.com Thank you.

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