Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1084

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BEN LOVETT'S GROOVEYARD

The Ben Lovett Grooveyard Column @bluesandsoul.com
The Ben Lovett Grooveyard Column @bluesandsoul.com Tortured Soul Kevin Saunderson: History Elevate Azuli Records Keyboy: Viva Blue (UK PAPERecordings) The Virus Syndicate: Malaria EP (UK Contagious Music) Panjabi MC: Snake Charmer Hook N Sling: The Best Thing (UK CR2 Records) Jason Herd feat. Roland Clarke: I Feel Good (UK CR2) Adam Shaw: Engage (UK CR2 Records) Murk Pres Liberty City: Some Lovin̢۪ (UK CR2 Records) JJulien Jabre: Vicious Circle EP (UK Defected) MOVEMENT MUSIC FESTIVAL Ministry Of Sound̢۪s Saturday Sessions

Well, what can I say? I̢۪m here and can̢۪t quite believe it! Like the vast majority of you I grew up with Blues & Soul, eagerly awaiting its pearls of wisdom on the vast spectrum of soul-driven music out there before splurging my cash on vinyl and gig tickets. The Blues & Soul name is impeccable, a true benchmark for honest, insightful comment on the sounds and scenes we love, and now I find myself writing under its banner as club music columnist, and grinning from ear to ear. In short, it̢۪s a privilege, and I̢۪ll be doing my utmost over the coming months to bring you up-to-date news, reviews and interviews in as engaging a format as possible. But don̢۪t just take it from me! If you have something to share, drop me a line and I̢۪ll consider including it next time round... OK. Enough of the chit-chat- You don̢۪t need me waffling with intros any longer; let̢۪s get cracking! There̢۪s certainly been a lot happening this month. I̢۪ve been chatting to Tortured Soul, Inner City legend Kevin Saunderson and Azuli Records boss Dave Piccioni for starters.

TORTURED SOUL - big plans

Tortured Soul are planning – fantastically – a summer UK tour and have some cool new singles planned with remixes from the likes of Mark de Clive-Lowe and Dimitri From Paris. Frontman John-Christian Ulrich couldn’t actually get his words out about just how slick Clive-Lowe’s early demos were, and I really hope the next single paves the way for even greater fame and fortune. This live house music band really is amazing in both studio and concert – it’s no wonder superstar DJs and producers are currently scrabbling to work with them. Read my interview with Tortured Soul right here on B&S.

KEVIN SAUNDERSON - in with the old, in with the new

Kevin Saunderson’s an interesting kettle of fish, too. I’ve literally just hung up the phone on an interview with him, around the Fabric-backed released of remix collection Kevin Saunderson - History Elevate, and he, too, is planning some big shows this summer - with Inner City. The ‘City’ of course helped bring Detroit house and techno to a mainstream audience back in the day and whilst Saunderson is quick to point out that there were several other factors too, he is happy to confess his part in that revolution.

Inner City was amazing the first time round, and I think it’ll be amazing a second time round too’ he firmly states. ‘There’s a lot of other music to Kevin Saunderson’s name, and to Detroit’sâ€Â¦ but you can’t deny the impact Inner City had on modern electronic music, and that’s something I’m real proud about.’

Saunderson tells us that he’ll be re-connecting with original Inner City partner-in-crime Paris Grey – the band, best remembered for late 80s hits Good Life and Big Fun, had some further, minor forays into clubland in 2004 but nothing compared to what is being lined up for this summer and beyond. Nevertheless, History Elevate – one half classic Kev remixes, one half classic Kev remixed – must be a welcome opportunity to showcase the other key elements of Saunderson’s impressive techno legacy: ‘Without a doubt; there’s a lot of musical visions on the album, and it’s been great to have other happening producers come in and give my material their unique spin. I want people to enjoy the album, but feel educated by it too – inspired enough to spread the techno word.’

DAVE PICCIONI - a break from the norm

If Kevin Saunderson is crusading, then DJ and Azuli Records mastermind Dave Piccioni is unwindingâ€Â¦ but not too much. Thinking about it, Piccioni is actually quite manic! Mr Azuli has just launched (this week) a brand new restaurant, bar and members’ space in a private, sun-lashed cove of unspoilt Ibiza, and the last minute painting and decorating has been keeping him up at night (NOT the music!)

There have been inevitable comparisons to Radio 1 Lovegroover Danny Rampling, who announced a new-fangled career in restaurants a few years back after quitting the ones and twos. In Rampling̢۪s case, however, the dream was short-lived and a pursuit of other business activities beckoned. Piccioni is determined to stick things out.

"I have genuinely been waking up in the middle of the night" he admits, ‘and wondering what the hell I’m doing. This is completely new for me but then I’ve always had this special connection to the White Isle, and always dreamed of setting up something of my own there that captures its beauty and offers people a real getaway. Something other than just another clubâ€Â¦.’

Dave̢۪s new venture, Amante Beach Club & Restaurant, situated in Santa Eularia, was previously run as Sol Den Serra under different management. Amante has benefitted from a major refurb which fully incorporates natural materials like wood and stone, and offers cool, sophisticated spaces for a wide range of punters.

"Clubland is broadening; there̢۪s a wider mix of people following the music these days, holidaying in Ibiza, and heading to summer festivals." Dave explains. "Ibiza is certainly no longer the province of hedonistic youngsters; there are families, couples, even pensioners!"

Which explains the varied facilities and entertainment Amante promises to offer guests over the summer months. Detox breakfasts in the bar will compliment yoga workshops and exercise classes; Amante’s authentic Balearic restaurant will offer romantic, panoramic coastal views by evening candlelight; a daytime crèche will operate for those Ibiza-lovers with kids and a slick sound system will, of course, dish the very best club and chillout music – supervised by Dave himself.

"Amante won’t be a full-on clubbing destination," he laughs, ‘but we have put some serious effort into the musical policy – again it has to reflect where we are and what we’re about.’ That policy will also extend to beach parties, at which Dave will DJ, and special one-off parties with special live acts and DJs.

"At the end of the day, music will always be in my blood – it won’t ever leave me’ he adds. ‘But the reality of it is that I have tinnitus, from years of playing on the circuit, and whilst I can tune the buzzing out, it’s a signal for me to now sayâ€Â¦ enough’s enough; take a step back. I’ve not had the grand retirement party yet because you can never say never, but I do hope Amante is the start of something. The venue will close in October at the end of the season, and I’ll head back to London to see my kids, but I’m planning to be back next summer."

If Dave is winding down his musical commitments he certainly isn’t silencing them altogether. Amante will clearly have its place, as will Azuli. The illustrious house label will continue to host Beach Azuli parties along Ibiza’s Playa d’en Bossa strip this year, as well as club nights everywhere from Amsterdam to Belfast via Brighton and Bournemouth. Mr P’s ‘downtime’ in London over the winter will be put to good use compiling the next wave of Club Azuli compilations.

"I’m still running around like a lunatic and this is supposed to be me taking it easy" he laughingly concludes. "Now that Amante’s open we’ll be trying to make sure that service and cuisine remains exceptional, and that we remain good enough to draw people in. I’m sure there will be a few more sleepless nights but I wouldn’t have it any other way. You’ll have to come and see usâ€Â¦."

I might just do that, but let’s not even talk about work ‘expenses’! Such a dirty word (Editor: Filthy even!!). You can check www.amanteibiza.com for more on Mr Piccioni’s plans, but perhaps after I take you through some of the new tunes whistling through my letter box.
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REVIEWS
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Keyboy: Viva Blue (UK PAPERecordings)

It̢۪s so good to have Paper back. The Manchester house label launched to huge acclaim in the mid 90s, and earned a raft of good reviews and major DJ support, such was its consistent quality and spine-tingling originality. It wound down, sadly, a few years later but has literally just re-surfaced with a mission to re-work the classic back catalogue (some 100-plus tunes,) seek out the lost re-edits, and nurture new talent.

For Paper̢۪s second new outing, Norwegian crew Keyboy re-rub their golden oldie Viva Blue in twinkling, rather awesome space-disco fashion. Phat, gloriously lazy beats compliment a rich smorgasbord of cosmic FX and funky future-instrumentation, and offer a strong indication of just how impactful Paper̢۪s return to the club fold could be.

Martin Venetjoki drops a beautiful deep house remix built on neat synths, tight b-lines and sparing use of filters and trumpet, whilst Ralph Myerz reworks the original with a snappy, jazzy tech-groove that could be described as 21st century Charleston. That leaves Kahuun’s chunky mix, ploughing much the same spaced-out furrow as Keyboy, and Mudd’s super-laidback overlay – think Balearic, think Choral harmonies, think bass guitars, and you’re half way thereâ€Â¦.

5/5

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The Virus Syndicate: Malaria EP (UK Contagious Music)

Both label and EP title sum this up – aggressive, infectious and pretty damn unstoppable. Manchester’s Syndicate boys, including MRK 1 and Goldfinger, are up to their usual frenetic, but well produced and grimy mischief on this new slate, dropping lyrics and flow to (easily) rival Dizzee and enough production tricks to keep the listener doubly hooked. Hijak is the killer cut, making shrewd use of horror movie samples, fiery jump-up beats and Godzilla-like sub-bass.

This release forms part of the Syndicate̢۪s Break Out Trilogy, a sequence of three similarly high-octane, high standard EPs which should give the boys yet another step up the underground ladder.

4/5

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Punjabi MC: Snakecharmer (UK PMC)

It’s a return for the Asian MC who slapped Bhangra firmly onto the mainstream club map with monster 2003 single Mundian To Bach Ke and those irrepressible Knight Rider-sampling remixes. Hell, even Jay-Z dropped some bars on a subsequent edit. Two further words –global hit.

The Punjabi MC makes his comeback now, having toured the world off the back of Mundian To Bach Ke’s fame, and the result is, disappointingly, not that amazingâ€Â¦. Snake Charmer, lifted from new album Indian Timing, sounds pretty much the same as its illustrious predecessor; if anything, a little more subdued. The rave-driven remixes lower standards even further, pumping beats running the MC vocals ridiculously ragged.

1/5

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Hook N Sling: The Best Thing (UK CR2 Records)

Aussie dance producer Anthony Maniscalco revisits the 1989 single by Melbourne pop-rockers Boom Crash Opera with mixed results. There̢۪s no denying the original is slickly produced pop-trance in the Dirty vegas vein but there̢۪s nothing fresh here, nor via TV Rock or Noel Sinner remixes. It̢۪s Tonite Only̢۪s re-rub that kind of excites, thanks to those effective Inner City-inspired synths and a cool b-line loop. Average.

2.5/5

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Jason Herd feat. Roland Clarke: I Feel Good (UK CR2)

It̢۪s obvious but all rather wonderful. Herd pushes some classic piano-house buttons and Clarke adds one of those goose-bumpy spoken word monologues in an effort to get feet moving and, without exception, they should. There̢۪s a darker, tech remix thrown in but it̢۪s all about the simple beauty of that original.

4/5

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Adam Shaw: Engage (UK CR2 Records)

Good work from Shaw, a relative newcomer to the studio. Various remixes tucked under his belt, our man now attempts his first original release. Engage is a throbbin’ club track utilizing cool FX and some gargantuan hoover bass wobbles – simple but brutally effective.

3/5

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Murk Pres Liberty City: Some Lovin̢۪ (UK CR2 Records)

Murk, heavyweight house duo Oscar G and Ralph Falcon, cornered the house market back in the 1990s with some deliciously sleazy four-to-the-floor tunes totally befitting a hot ‘n’ humid Miami backdrop that was to form their recording base. Murk wanted to twist garage’s pure gospel roots and hit after hit proved that mission totally possible.

Some Lovin’, one of the boys’ finest moments, gets a re-release and whilst Steve Mac’s full-throttle remixes deliver a certain degree of dancefloor punch, the kudos is still with that included original. Jilted vocals slide all over the languid, trademark drums and off kilter keys – glorious, super-intense house musicâ€Â¦.

4/5

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Julien Jabre: Vicious Circle EP (UK Defected)

A Defected release continuing to ride high in the usual, respectable online and retail chartsâ€Â¦. Jabre pulls yet another original house track out of the bag, his electro-throbbing intro builds into soulful strings, killer loops (as befits the EP title) and striking female vocals, and all with massive potential to outlast the summer months. Some nice surprises in the form of John Dahlback’s jackin’, more percussive remixes and a cool Jabre B-side, Radio Angels – wigglin’ FX, blips and beeps fused to heavenly keys and swinging drums.

3.5/5

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MOVEMENT MUSIC FESTIVAL NEWS

Beyond that little lot there’s just time to tell you about Detroit’s award-winning Movement music festival, which has just come to a close for 09 but is already announcing exciting developments for 2010 – namely, legendary Motor City DJ and producer Carl Craig has been confirmed as next Creative Director.

Craig held a similar position with the Detroit Electronic Music Festival (DEMF) back in 2001, helping raise its profile to an international stage before being controversially sacked by organisers just two weeks before the grand opening. He was accused of failing to submit crucial artist contracts in time.

The festival was relaunched as Movement in 2006 by Paxahau Events; its Director Jason Huvaere said of Craig̢۪s new appointment: "He has a complete understanding of the history of techno. He understands its impact around the world because he lives it every day." Craig will once again take on artist booking responsibilities as well as a brand ambassadorial role.

And finally... Ministry's Saturday Sessions

In London meanwhile, and later this month, Ministry Of Sound̢۪s Saturday Sessions night is hosting a one-off boat party to celebrate the 20th anniversary of seminal New York house label Strictly Rhythm.

The line-up is a belter, Osunlade and Ben Westbeech joining Defected̢۪s Simon Dunmore and the Martinez Brothers on a River Thames cruiser during the early evening hours of Saturday, June 20, before heading off (with the exception of Westbeech) to Ministry for the Saturday Sessions in full.

The Pride Of London cruiser departs Waterloo Millenium Pier (next to the London Eye) June 20, 6.30pm, before returning to dock 11.30pm. Tickets are £30, including access to Ministry later on. The club’s Defected In The House Presents Strictly Rhythm party runs 11pm to 7am, and also includes Aaron Ross, Chocolate Puma and Phil Cheeseman.

Tickets available exclusively @ Ticket Web

That̢۪s all for this month people, see you soon!

Ben
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Please feel free to contact me at B&S with any dance orientated news that you feel would benefit others - Cheers!

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