Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

Welcome To B&S



Ben Lovett's Grooveyard House n' Dance Column October

Ben Lovett - The Grooveyard (October 2013)
Ben Lovett - The Grooveyard (October 2013) Body & Soul Jon Cutler: 4-Real (PAPA Records) Heidi Presents Jackathon Jams: Waif & Strays vs Lukas & DJ Sneak EP (HPJJ) Copyright: Cross My Heart (Defected) Christoph: Guffaz EP (DFTD) Daniel Bortz: Patchwork Memories (Suol) The Orb History Of The Future (Island/Universal) Alex Barck: Reunion (Sonar Kollektiv) Traxbox (Box Set): Harmless Records

October is the month when Body & Soul’s three DJ'ing amigos, Francois K, Joaquin ‘Joe’ Claussell and Danny Krivit come to town.  London to be precise....  The legendary dancefloor trio haven’t played the capital together for over 18 months now, so their return – and that of their Body & Soul party - is generating serious buzz.  Can they feel it?


"I can imagine it," K opens. "The last time we played London, at the Oval Space, I felt a significant shift in terms of how the people responded to what we were doing. For me, there was a real kinship akin to playing in New York. I could see the regulars, I could feel a particularly strong reaction to the records we were was beautiful.  I'm not saying there wasn't anything positive in London before but last time there was another big step forward. Remember, it takes time for people - the DJ's and the dancers - to get comfortable with one other and I have to commend Need 2 Soul [Body & Soul's London promoters] for sticking it out. We all feel next month's show in Brixton will be the best yet."

Body & Soul started out in New York 17 years ago. It built its formidable reputation as a weekly Sunday daytime affair, its three founders informally mixing all manner of deep, soulful grooves (no genre out of bounds) to the sheer delight of a seriously open-minded, infectiously upbeat crowd. Reputation grew, thankfully at no cost to the music, and today Body & Soul compliments its Big Apple travails with regular tour and festival dates abroad. Naturally, the topic of crowd engagement - however fantastic the set list - must resurface. How much of a challenge is it to beguile audiences outside of Body & Soul's long maintained home turf?

“Places that are less familiar will always be more challenging” Krivit says. “But we don’t ever change tactics for different audiences. We’ve always held true to the deep soulful groove and most people around the world have an anticipation of that, which we’re able to build on. Over time, places get used to what we represent and what the party is about... London and Japan are great examples.”

The trio’s attention to detail with regards to venue, soundsystem and on-the-night warm-up also stands them in good stead. “The clubs in Japan just keep getting better and better; the sound is often so good” Krivit enthuses. “But we never take anything for granted. We usually arrive for our international parties a day or so early so we can sound-check and ensure the set-up is as we need it. It’s a lot of work.”

K adds: “For the forthcoming London party we were keen to revisit our relationship with Andy Hanley, who warmed up for us at the Oval Space. He started the last London party beautifully, playing all this jazzy, trippy, mellow music. We gave him an hour or so and it worked so well. We reached out to him again recently, requesting him for this month and he was really taken aback. But having that consistency will strengthen the party and, of course, the beginning of our parties is very important. We’re not looking to blast our 4-4 from the start; we want to build purposefully... let the serious dancers do their early exercises before stretching out with what follows. We want to create a unique atmosphere.”

That doesn’t mean Body & Soul is built solely on meticulous planning; far from it in fact. “Body & Soul hasn’t really changed over the years” Krivit remarks. “We launched it for the joy of music... at a remove from the way most clubs in New York were run. It was all about the music; and about everyone having a great time together – us, the DJs, and the crowds on the dancefloor. The approach is the same today and I think some of the magic would be lost if we became more prescriptive and methodical.”

Claussell agrees: “We love what we do; we have this huge passion for the music but we don’t over-think things. That is the foundation of Body & Soul. That and the respect we have for one another; we’ve been close for so many years now and that only adds to the organic, close-knit experience we’re trying to create. There are certain records we’ll be thinking about playing a few days before a show – records we’re especially excited about – but the show has its own energy. It a representation of what we’re feeling at the time and what the crowd is feeling; there’s a unique collaboration between us and the crowd whenever we play together.”

K, Claussell and Krivit all speak at length about the special bond that exists between them – “always expect the unexpected,” K says, “these two guys constantly amaze me”; Krivit responds: “I think we all amaze each other” – but are there ever creative frictions? Often, the most successful music groups exist where individual members regularly challenge one another and, as result, constructively drive themselves forward.

“There was probably an element of questioning one another at the start” Krivit admits. “In the early days, we weren’t always completely satisfied and there was a sense of restless experimentation. That’s natural when you’re working up to something but sometimes one of us might want to try a record and the others might not be sure at first. After a while they got it and we all evolved. The fact we were all committed to improvising, was the perfect build for Body & Soul. We still experiment now but we’ve gotten to know each so well that we’re all on the exactly the same wavelength.”

How does one (or three) go about ending a Body & Soul party How do you round-off hours and hours of intense sonic journey? “On a high note” K answers simply. “I remember Southport [Body & Soul played the Weekender’s ‘Grand Sunday Finale’ in May] this year and that last hour or was so intense. When you’re peaking at that level...that’s it, it’s the right time to go. We like to leave our audiences on a high note...on several high notes.”

Does the trio take it in turns to push the crowd’s final buttons? It must be hard to resist wanting the final emphatic say? “It doesn’t really work like that” Claussell suggests. “I think we all share the moment of that last record whatever it may be or whoever selects it. Each show unfolds in its own way as does its ending. We don’t take turns to sign off!”

And what have they to say about including legendary diva Jocelyn Brown as part of their London event? Body & Soul doesn’t usually do special guests. “I’d refer you to the announcement we put out on London a while ago,” K answers. “We all put a lot of thought into that byline; it references It’s Alright, I Feel It [Nu Yorican Soul’s 1997 Brown-fronted anthem] as a near perfect ode to all that makes music so special, and a near perfect representation of Body & Soul – the lyrics, the groove, the build, everything. I remember when ‘Joe’ played that off acetate a year before its release; that was an amazing moment at an amazing party. Jocelyn Brown is most welcome.”

Looking ahead, Body & Soul’s stop in London is surrounded by additional stops in San Francisco, Italy and Japan, as well as a return to spiritual homeland New York (at the newly renovated Webster Hall). Reflected by earlier answers it is difficult to pin K and co. down to any longer-term plans but surely the issue of legacy must have raised its head with them at some point. Being that the three are committed to building a high quality, soulful dancefloor legacy would they ever introduce other artists to the Body & Soul family, with a view to extending the lifespan and values of their party?

“The concept of legacy is an interesting one; one we’ve not really been asked about before” K suggests. “We don’t own this thing, it’s simply about playing together and sharing the love; if there are more of us out there with the same mindset, then who knows about the future?”

Krivit adds: “There are no egos with Body & Soul. There never has been, nor will there be. This party is there to give back to the people who appreciate and love great music, and want to have a fun time. We’ve never chatted at great length about the future because to plan what we do would take some of the magic and edge away. But because of the lack of ego here, anything is possible in the years ahead. As Francois says, who knows?”

K is more decisive when the question of a studio collaboration between the three – Body & Soul or otherwise – is raised. “I’ve told the guys that I don’t do singing, so that probably cuts that down right there” he jokes. “You could say, again, that anything is possible...there have been times when two of us has recorded, but never three. And there’s nothing planned right now, for sure.”

Claussell, very nearly, has the final few words: “At the end of the day, we’re totally focused on holding these great parties. And when we see what is happening in a lot of other clubs around the world then we feel very lucky to have what we have. We have a happening, hardcore crowd, totally committed to the music, and that’s really special.”

K is keen to say more: “I think it’s like ‘wow!’ for the three of us...when we see this special crowd. We cherish our followers. So often today people are using their phones and technology in the clubs and letting themselves be distracted. They take it for granted; there’s something else going on for them beyond the music. It’s a personal thing for me, I admit, but I’m glad I don’t see it too much when we’re playing. The music and the feelings that that music brings are the most important things.”

Body & Soul ‘London’ takes place October 20, 4pm to Midnight, at the Electric Brixton, London. Event details at


Jon Cutler – 4-Real EP (UK Papa)

Brooklyn’s house maestro returns with a killer four-tracker for Papa, sister label to Reel People Music. The titular opener is a brooding, beautifully building slice of deep house, layers of snappy percussion sweeping across those anchor-like 4-4 kicks, subterranean pads and cool spoken word vocals with purpose; it all leads to swirls of euphoric synths on the home straight. Cutler wisely includes an instrumental version – no less impressive – before dropping sweet piano-sample house for "I’ll Take You" and raw cut-up groove for "The Thrill Is Gone." The thrill most definitely hasn’t gone....

Heidi Presents Jackathon Jams – Waif & Strays vs Lukas & DJ Sneak EP (UK HPJJ)

Radio 1 shaker Heidi serves another Jackathon EP, this time combining the talents of Bristolian bass conglomerate Waif & Strays vs Lukas, and Chicago loop-house legend DJ Sneak. The match-up is inspired Opening track Gimme Luv provides satisfying disco chug, underpinned by pulses of bass and bleeps, hooky vocal snatches and scissoring 4-4, whilst Dance Me (Dance You) adds greater urgency to its slick, low-end fusion of drums, vocal samples and spidery keys. Both Stokes and Sneak contribute remixes of Gimme Luv, the former’s stoner dub in effective contrast to the latter’s boogie-ful Chi-town rub.

Copyright – Cross My Heart EP (UK Defected)

Long-term Defected affiliates Copyright – Gavin Mills and Sam Holt – return with deep swing. Sacrifice, featuring Jody Findley, is superior soul-house spliced with delicious retro MK-style key riffs and bass notes. [i]Cross My Heart[i], fronted by Martha, ploughs a more melancholic furrow defined by sweet bass loops, shimmering keys and those delicious jazz-flecked vocals – the combination bears comparison to some of South Africa finest contemporary deep house. Pure.

Christoph – Guffaz EP (UK DFTD)

Not to be confused with Christophe, part of Bristol’s Futureboogie crew, this fast-rising Northern talent fires off his own whip-smart house salvo. Christoph’s long-cherished love of Chicago and Detroit can be heard loud and clear, Guffaz motoring on dark twists of the classic deep house blueprint whilst Dunka blends sharp techno hi-hats and glacial melodies to blistering effect. Final entry, Surprised You, is similarly muscular, injected with taut analogue bass and those thumping 4-4s. Lean, mean and supreme....


Daniel Bortz – Patchwork Memories (Ger Suol)

The title says it all, German DJ-producer Bortz filtering sketches and arrangements recorded over several years to provide the springboard for a debut album. Patchwork Memories isn’t purpose-built, but its various ideas and inspirations work incredibly well together, revealing hitherto unseen detail in Bortz’s minimally-inclined repertoire. Bortz manages an agreeable balance between look and feel. House tracks such as Spend The Nightand Monkey Biznizz demonstrate ruthlessly efficient production values, pivoting on only a few basic elements (including Bortz’ own robust vocals) to work feet and heartstrings - the latter is especially euphoric. First Love, featuring singer Eva Gold, is seriously cool Goldfrapp-style electro-disco; The Misery, fronted by Nils Corben, represents punchy downbeat torch song, and Pictures interplays synths, harps and fluid club drums with spine-tingling simplicity. Whether operating up or downtempo, Patchwork Memories plays seamlessly. Bortz has discovered rich new patterns and textures but not at the cost of his trademark discipline in the studio. The combination allows for something truly memorable.

The Orb – History Of The Future: The Island Years (UK Island)

Ambient house pioneers The Orb are 25, incredibly, this year, and whilst this four-disc box set only looks back at one particular passage of their reign it is as complete a retrospective as one could wish for. Complete, in that History Of The Future clearly captures the formative, atmospheric magic that delivered the outfit so much of its subsequent global success – both underground and mainstream. Across their 25 years, The Orb – consistently fronted by Alex Paterson – have released over 20 albums and countless singles, but History Of The Future hones in on that crucial mid-90s period of the band’s CV. Vintage productions A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain The Rules From The Centre Of The Ultraworld: Loving You (also included elsewhere as Orbital’s classic remix), Little Fluffy Clouds (mellow perfection) and Blue Room (deep, sludgy house hypnosis) are all there on the ‘Singles’-focussed disc one. A second disc corals weighty ‘Remixes and Rarities’, such as Coldcut’s edgy Little Fluffy Clouds dub, Andrew Weatherall’s epic, psychedelic extension of the reggae-lilting Perpetual Dawn and Ganja Kru’s rollin’ drum & bass take on 1997 chart-scaling hit Toxygene (based on The Orb’s unwanted remix of Jean Michel Jarre’s Oxygene 7-13). Disc three conveys the lofty magnetism of The Orb’s early live shows, as performed at Trekkoner, Copenhagen and Woodstock 2 between 1993 and 94 – ‘Sunset’ performances of Blue Room and Towers Of Dub sounding as excitingly improvisational as they do majestic; perhaps the keenest expression of The Orb’s powerful sonic adventurism. Finally, a bonus DVD showcases promo videos for several of the aforementioned singles (and others), and rounds us off in suitably panoramic style. Confidently and comprehensively summarising the pivotal embryonic moves of one dance music’s most revolutionary forces , History Of The Future is an essential electronic chronicle.

Alex Barck – Reunion (Ger Sonar Kollektiv)

Jazzanova co-founder Barck preceded this stupendous debut album – named, at least in part, after La Reunion, the Indian Ocean isle where he lived last year – with bright and breezy vocal house cuts Re-Set and Don’t Hold Back; both are included here but neither, at their time of release, gave any sense of the panoramic spectacle to come. For Reunion is, make no doubt, an amazing, utterly complete record, which smoothly connects smart dance tracks with profound sweeps of electronic atmosphere, via sumptuous, impressively written songs and, in general, a wide variety of consummate instrumentation, musical arrangement and kick-ass beats ‘n’ bass. Opening gambit Doubter is a stunning curveball, mournful soul trip-hopped to perfection, whilst Oh Africa, featuring eminent La Reunion vocalist Christine Salem, blends Afro-tribalism, delicate synths and deep b-line shuffle with mesmeric effect. The highlights keep coming - Atmosphere delivering club-friendly skank in keeping with its title; Spinning Around, capably fronted by The White Lamp’s Pete Josef, coiled upon infectious swirls of cosmic disco; and the epic title track rounding things off in a golden, melodic haze of Moroder-esque keys, crashing drums and heavily modulated bottom-end. Barck’s lengthy career speaks for itself but Reunion, remarkably his first album after 20 years in the game, is the most emphatic possible artistic evolution. A definite album of the year contender....

Various Artists – Traxbox (UK Harmless)

One box. 16 discs. 100 pages. In other words, an utterly complete compendium of one of electronic music’s most important labels, Trax Records. Harmless’ mighty box set documents Trax’s first 75 12” releases, which arrived between 1985 and 1989 and largely defined Chicago’s revolutionary house sound – a sound that quickly catalysed club culture around the world, as we know it today. Traxbox is a collectors’ dream, combining the painstaking and pristine digital transfer of so many poor quality source recordings (Trax was renowned for using inferior recycled vinyl) - A and B-sides, classics and long forgotten gems alike – with lovingly detailed notes in a lengthy fanboy booklet. There are too many moments to report back, needless to say popular anthems of the calibre of Mr Fingers’ Can You Feel It and Frankie Knuckles’ Your Love are present alongside lower-key, but no less alluring productions by the likes of Virgo Four, Mr Lee and Evie (with the rock-edged Just Stay The Night). In between are those powerful workouts by Phuture, Marshall Jefferson, Kevin Irving (the superbly soulful Children Of The Night), Lidell Townsell, Santos and Farley ‘Jackmaster’ Funk - the list goes on.... – covering all sides of the Trax spectrum from raw jack and squelchin’ acid to heartfelt gospel, soul and funk-edged groove. The relatively uninitiated might be daunted by this gargantuan release but they shouldn’t be; there’s a stack of wax to get through but thrilling surprises and recollections at every turn. At a time when old-skool house is back in demand, Traxbox’s thorough and passionate compiling is even more significant and powerful. Truly, the original house....

Ben Lovett

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