Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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Ben Lovett's House n' Dance Column 'The Grooveyard' (February)

Ben Lovett: The Grooveyard
Ben Lovett: The Grooveyard Timmy Regisford Timmy Regisford: At the Club (UK Tribe) Hi:Rise Reel People feat. Darien: Sure (Reel People Music Ltd) Charlie Kane: Bass Invarderz (Bleach Feast Records) David Herrero: Spanish Lick (UK Defected) NDKJ & Ivan Pica: Groovy Obsession (UK Urbana Recordings) Lo:Rise Thomas Brenner feat. Andrea Love:  Still In Love (UK MN2S) Neil Pearce feat. Dawn Tallman: Out Of My Head (UK MN2S) Danism: Love The Way (UK Defected) K-Klass feat. Bobbi: Capture Me (Part 1) (UK Nocturnal Groove Digital) Tipper: Broken Soul Jamboree (UK Tippermusic) Maceo Plex: Life Index (UK Crosstown Rebels/!K7) Chaim:  Alive (Ger BPitch Control) Werkschau - Various Artists (Ger BPitch Control) Dwayne Omarr: Multi Funk (UK Rephlex) Reel People: Reel People Present The Golden Lady (UK Reel People Music)

It’s my first column of 2011 and all about Timmy Regisford... For those – strangely – that don’t know, Timmy is currently promoting his new album At The Club, a smart, contemporary interpretation of the soulful house sound. I say ‘contemporary’ and ‘interpretation’ because for many in clubland soulful house has a tendency to noodle and stagnate rather than spark and progress.

Regisford’s fresh new long-player should go a long way to quashing those flaky misconceptions in 2011, such is its kaleidoscopic range and sheer studio verve. Traditional scene vocalists such as Kenny Bobien and Arnold Jarvis offer meaningful vocals free of gospel cliché on deep, percussive, totally engaging cuts such as Still and Special One; there are controlled but highly individual performances from singers Lynn Lockamy and Georgia Cee (the latter on mid-tempo scorcher How Does This Feel,) dark, tracky, early hours instrumentals (Game) and wonderful Fela Kuti-sampling afro-tech (Sorrow, Tears And Blood, and Beats Of No Nation.) Old-fashioned gospel flourish isn’t dispensed with completely, however, with Bobien’s soaring ride over aisle-stomping beats for Old Landmark a memorable opening – and handy benchmark for Regisford’s subsequent genre-bending.

“Technology is pretty key” Timmy tells me over the phone; “it’s opened things up for me on this record. Technology gives artists great capabilities but it still depends on how they apply it. Computers don’t necessarily mean things will get watered down; if you know how to put great songs together then you’ll still inspire people.”

Songs, of course, are very important to New York’s long-standing guardian of sophisticated, emotive house music. We can talk about genre-bending all we want – and At The Club is most definitely a loosening of routine – but for Timmy his approach to both the DJ and studio booth is still exactly the same.

“It has to be about songwriting, songcraft… good songs. Only with a good song will the technology and everything else work” he explains. “I’m happy with how At The Club unfolds to the listener, there’s a lot to connect with. Songwriting has been missing from dance music for some time now but I do genuinely think it’s making a comeback. And that’s right, after all look where house first came from… from disco in the Seventies for example."

“Technology did start to take things away from the house artist. You knew it, I think, when you were in the record shop and unable to tell the owner what you’d heard the night before and wanted to buy… because you had no lyrics to sing back to them. I think that’s still happening today but there are signs of change.”

Trinidad-born Timmy Regisford has, to date, enjoyed 25 magical years in the music business. He earned his first break in 1985 at New York radio station WBLS where he worked as Assistant Music Director and then Head Music Director. “I worked under Frankie Crocker who opened me up to music, in general” he enthuses. “I learned about everyone from John Coltrane to Earth, Wind & Fire… just everything, Frankie was an inspiration.”

From there, Timmy hopped to a variety of pivotal A&R posts at labels Atlantic, MCA and Motown. He’d sign and develop a wide range of artists including Colonel Abrams, Eric B & Rakim, Soul II Soul, Johnny Gill and New Jersey’s slick deep housers Blaze. At the same time he would progress his remix portfolio for the likes of Gladys Knight, Diana Ross and Bobby Womack.

And then suddenly it was the mid-nineties and Timmy’s New York club night Shelter was in full swing, building serious soul-house momentum across clubland and supporting his now international reputation as major DJ performer and producer. Timmy’s associated labels 157 Shelter, Restricted Access and Unrestricted Access would host a steady stream of soulful, engaging Regisford remixes and productions (as well as stylish material from other carefully developed artists,) not to mention reputable house imprints such as West End, King Street and Downtown 161.

In recent months he’s been fronting a new Big Apple club night Areacode but it won’t, he tells me, be for long: “This year’s all about Shelter. I’m bringing Club Shelter back in a new space on February 27 and I’m real excited about that. It’s Shelter’s 21st anniversary year, so there’s a lot to commemorate and celebrate. There isn’t, strictly speaking, a lot of stylistic difference between Areacode and Shelter but the former has given me some sort of rest from the latter over the past year and now I can fully focus on a rebirth for the Shelter brand.”

One thing’s for sure, talk of brands does not in Timmy’s eyes mean commercial opportunity. That’s not to say he isn’t business savvy – Shelter has, after all, been running for over two decades – but in his world the music comes first and the rest always follows.

“We’re not selling out with anything we do this year” he promises. “It’s the same soulful party. I know I’m working in a niche but that niche will support you if you stay true to it. I’ve seen the rise of superstar DJs; I’ve seen artists change their style to feed a frenzy and ego, and it’s hard to stop. They sold out along time ago; I mean, I saw the whole Morales [David] and Morillo [Erick] coming a mile off. I had an opportunity to take that route too but I stuck to my guns.”

Shelter anniversary plans aside, Timmy is taking one day at a time. There are no hugely strategic business visions, or creative masterplans, just organic creative process and artistic freedom. “I’m living in the moment” he says, “and letting my music happen as it happens. There’s a lot of over exaggeration in the dance marketplace today… pigeon-holes, hype, flash trends… but I’m sticking with what I’ve always done. That comes easy to me and helps me avoid all the ego and politics. In my various club nights I have a wonderful testing ground for new material and, importantly, great parties on tap. I’m content.”

As I’m sure you will be when you here At The Club – on the excellent UK indie Tribe Records (

NEWS... Hi:Rise & Lo:Rise

One bit of news to mention – the arrival of two new closely entwined house imprints Lo:Rise and Hi:Rise, both headed by Defected A&R Aaron Ross. The former will tackle deeper, underground vibes from a mix of up-and-coming and established artists; the latter will embrace soulful, song-based house, promoting largely new singer-songwriter talent.

Ross, a respected DJ and producer in his own right, was previously A&R at Soulheaven Records and collaborator at DJ Spen’s Code Red imprint. “I’m over the moon to be given the chance after five years at Defected to have my own imprints within the company” Ross comments. ‘I’m very passionate about the launch of the labels – it’s all about quality house music! Look out for timeless songs on Hi:Rise and killer standout tracks on Lo:Rise.”

Tom Middleton supplies Lo:Rise’s first release, the Latin-tinged Cicadas, on February 28. Hi:Rise launches simultaneously with soulful flavour from Parisian producer Simbad; his cut, Come Join In, features vocals by Brian Temba and the remix attentions of Bertrand Dupart. Reviews to follow next month….

But what of reviews for this month? Singles first….


Marc JB – Sugarnova (UK Sainted Records)

A neat electronic twist on those early Chicago house vibes, Sugarnova mixes deep rolling keys with cast iron percussion and slick bass. There are bigger, bolder remixes from Van Hej and ku ka Chu but, frankly, they’re standing in the original’s weighty eight-minute shadow.

Reel People feat. Darien – Sure (UK Reel People Music)

Oli Lazarus’ Reel People always know where to find the best vocalists and Sure is no exception – a wonderful precursor to new album Golden Lady (see below.) It’s New York soulster Darien providing the tonsils here, backed by Latino guitars, infectious percussion and lush soulful grooves. US house legend Frankie Feliciano contributes a masterful key-led remix; the fast-rising Layabouts drop smart tech overtones. Impressive.

Charlie Kane – Bass Invarderz EP (UK Bleach Feast)

Kane is a wee 15 years old but this is big, big stuff – raucous b-lines, nasty electro wobbles, razor beats and bags of energy. Uncompromising ‘bassline house’ likely to find quick support from followers.

David Herrero – Spanish Lick EP (UK Defected)

Herrero has form with cuts on both DJ Chus’ and Steve Lawler’s house labels, and this new EP on Defected maintains the tempo – two delicious, track-y cuts pivoting on hypnotic drums and sweetly sliced ‘n’ diced vocal samples.

NDKJ & Ivan Pica – Groovy Obsession (UK Urbana Recordings)

Major tech-house funk flava from this feisty release on David Penn’s ever-appealing Urbana imprint; Groovy Obsession folds in mirroball gleam and brassy Latin hustle for added effect….

Thomas Brenner feat. Andrea Love - Still In Love (UK MN2S)

Brenner and Chicago-based singer Love are a match made in heaven if this ‘true’ soul-house gem is anything to go by. Sumptuous old-skool production on the original – supported by everyone from Robert Owens to Danny Rampling – give way to similarly polished remixes from jazzy Richard Earnshaw, Roy Paxon and Brenner himself.

Neil Pearce feat. Dawn Tallman – Out Of My Head (UK MN2S)

Sultry delivery from experienced club chanteuse Tallman, complimented by Pearce’s well-rounded, warm and emotive production; even more soul-power courtesy of DJ Spen’s Muthafunkaz reworks. Proper vocal house music….

Danism – Love The Way (UK Defected)

The Danism boys deliver swing and snap in equal measure, their belting tech-house groove underpinned and propelled by a monster Philly-soul vocal hook; one which could well ensure (classy) anthem status by the end of 2011. Cosmic disco dons Crazy P offer the remix, vocals, keys and bass heading deep down and providing tasty twists galore.

K-Klass feat. Bobbi – Capture Me (Part 1) (UK Nocturnal Groove Digital)

Brit dance veterans K-Klass return with a sassy new cut echoing the wider clubland trend for re-creating ‘proper’ old-skool house in a contemporary setting. Bobbi’s vocals work well alongside the FX sweeps, bouncy drums and heart-in-mouth piano breakdowns; remixes from Jason Chance and Riley & Durrant push techier territory and complete a solid mainroom package.

And now albums….


Reel People – Reel People Present The Golden Lady (UK Reel People Music)

The aforementioned long-player from which single Sure has been taken Golden Lady is Reel People’s third artist album (following the excellent Second Guess and Seven Ways To Wonder) and a delight in everyway. Not least, in truth, because it straddles artist album and compilation – alongside several gorgeous new Reel People productions lay similarly-vibed pieces by others in the wider Reel People camp. So we get Renn’s beguiling afro-beat stomper Nights In Africa and Choklate’s sweet nu-soul glide The Tea alongside peppy, live-arranged Reel People nuggets like '80s Love (slammin’ boogie jam,) Tell Me Why (bubblin’ mid-tempo groove fronted by Incognito regular Tony Momrelle) and that Stevie Wonder-covering title track (Momrelle again, taking his queue from Jose Feliciano’s Latin-licked cover of Stevie.) The end result is expectedly wide-ranging but, crucially, consistent – bearing all of the quality, live-orientated hallmarks of Reel People’s previous output and possibly improving on them. Huge dancefloor soul.

Dwayne Omarr – Multi Funk (UK Rephlex)

Aphex Twin’s eclectic imprint heads firmly into electro-funk waters thanks to Omarr’s new long-player. The Boston-born multi-instrumentalist and producer has long worked behind the scenes, pulling studio strings for others including New Edition’s Ralph Tresvant and Skyline singer Angie Griffen. Multi Funk gives Omarr the opportunity to present new cosmic funk-rock R&B – talkbox craziness, snakin’ synths et al – alongside some of his classic 80s moments such as Breakdown New York Style and Save The Children. Peppy, but surprisingly thoughtful….

Various Artists – Werkschau (Ger BPitch Control)

A smart, immensely likeable representation of the 12 years for which revered Berlin techno label BPitch has been running. But don’t go thinking this is a ‘Best Of – the 17 tracks on offer, from founding colleagues and newcomers alike, are all previously unreleased and cover an amazing amount of sonic ground. Dillon & Coma’s beatbox electro (Aiming For Destruction,) Chaim’s old-skool tech-house (The Country) and Zander VT’s punchy jackin’ (Gotta Look Up To Get Down) are all major highlights.

Chaim – Alive (Ger BPitch Control)

Tel Aviv’s Chaim Avital has been doing the rounds for some time now, entrancing clubbers with his carefully composed, hardened but exotic house sounds. But this, remarkably, is his first studio album and the scope of his vision has, indeed, widened. Alive is testament to Chaim’s growing inclination towards song and melody; tracks like the opener Rain and future single U & Eye proving particularly accessible. Don’t Shout does, admittedly, follow Chaim’s historical Orient-inspired blueprint but there’s so much else going on around it – deep, spiralling house on Naturalness, Balearic groove via Runaway Frequencies, even the rich string sweeps and chords of Everything. Chaim’s Alive is very much kicking….

Maceo Plex – Life Index (UK Crosstown Rebels/!K7)

Some seriously sexy, futuristic house beats are about to bolt the Crosstown Rebels’ stable – in the way, shape and form of nimble Valencia-based producer Maceo Plex. Mr Plex, who has previously released on Cocoon and Mothership, serves up a deep and percussive yet flowing suite of music owing as much to intricate househeads like Moodyman and Isolee as future-tech terrorists Model 500 and Kenny Larkin. The Detroit-styled Dexter’s Flight and G-funked Gravy Train are out and out standouts; released both as seamless mix (CD) and track-by-track collection (vinyl, digital,) Life Index is worthy stuff.

Tipper – Broken Soul Jamboree (UK Tippermusic)

A challenging, maybe even exhausting sweep of music from the British composer and producer Dave Tipper, unfurling creative tendrils in a million and one different directions, but one absolutely worth bearing with and which should reap rewards with repeated play. There is an awful lot to soak up and, yes, enjoy – Broken Soul Jamboree is Tipper’s ‘concept’ electronica album and, as such, experiments and invents wherever it can. Tipper leans on ambient, psychedelia, classical, and a whole heap of other, far-flung influences and studio techniques – everything from gamelan drums and Tablas to sample multi-layering – to concoct his mellow but radical, totally iconoclastic vision. It’s a subtle, continually evolving listening experience and, for the patient, willing ear, an accessible, game-changing one. A real diamond in the ‘smooth’.

Til next time

...Still working the late shift!

Please feel free to contact Ben with any House & Dance news that you feel would benefit others Thank you.

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