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The Weekly Froth!

  • Published in Columns

The Weekly Froth! A weekly take on six tracks, most of which have recently popped up somewhere in the blogosphere. Bit of a mixed bag with a slight leaning towards house, disco, and remixes, but generally just anything that for some reason tickled the writer’s fancy.

Track of the week: ‘Who Do You Believe In?’ by E-Work feat. Trudie Dawn Smith (Vocal Mix)

E-Work, alias Mark E, gets the slow bass rolling in this one, with the drum dictating the pace. Soon enough Trudie Dawn Smith comes in on vocals, singing If I gave you, Could you take it?, with some piano for extra dramatic effect. She puts in the drama ballad performance, with the slow bass rolling the sadness forward. It gets a slight kick in the pace at about 1:45 with the lighter, faster element, though it are still the beat and bass that are the providers of rhythm here. At about the 2:30 mark he dials it down a notch, with the vocals asking Could you handle it?. If the answer is yes, lets slowly build it back up through some synths to get the beat back in. Mind you, it is all really supportive of the feel that the vocals also exhume, with this lovely, slow trud to go with the drama of it all. Sometimes he builds up a wall of synths or drums, which he then strips to slide in another round of that bass. Got to love a good, slow burnin’ house tune, especially with those lovely, battle-worn vocals that keep asking you the same heartfelt question over and over, like a ghost roaming around the premise where only a positive answer will warrant its release.


‘Freedom! ’15’ by !!!

How about that funky start, with that wobbly (synth) bass that they start the proceedings with. I kind of like the decision to put the vocals so up front in the mix, and the music so far back. So you do feel the funk and disco, but they just make sure you hear her out, singing that You’ve got your freedom, which is the cue for the music to burst out, and thus also for the audience to really start dancing. Which coincides with the words sung, so that’s a nice theater lesson they put to use there. From that point on the bass is put a bit more to the front, though they sure don’t obscure the rhythmically delivered vocals. Which, whenever they sing “freedom”, get some help from some relatively booming instrumentals. At the three minute mark, there comes this lovely, catchy synth line, soon aided a little bit by the bass, which is this dance-daddy-dance moment in the middle of the track which is kind of fun. Soon the vocals come back, asking how that freedom is Working for you babe?, which incidentally puts the House music phrase “working” in there. After that, again, a little musical interlude with all sorts of catchy rhythm lines to make sure you’re not standing still on this one. I, personally, loved their last album a great deal, which, for my money’s worth, seemed a bit underappreciated. Or at least, I had great fun with it, and this track sure seems to build on that blueprint, so that’s one happy customer right here. Also, live, good fun.


‘Marzipan’ by Amateur Best (Ray Mang remix)

Certainly starts out with a bit of that wooden percussion, though soon you get plenty of other sounds in, which definitely fall into the weird-yet-surprisingly-wonderful category. Obviously, also, a beat comes in, at about 45 seconds, doubling the wood percussion. The song definitely is set in the rhythm department, and at 1:30 it gives you a little bass to go alongside this heavenly brass-like sound which then leads to some jungle rhythm again, on top of which the vocals come in for the first time. They sing that It was always you, careful with the careful lies, so it seems like someone had an achy-breaky-heart. Somehow, Ray Mang manages to mix the very rhythmic, very percussion heavy with this bayou laidback sound, this softness that he shows during, especially, the verses. I love Ray Mang, and on some records I have of him he really struts his stuff, and not sure I’ve seen this eye for combination from him before. Which takes on yet another dimension when he brings the lead piano in later in the track. Pretty nifty stuff from a definite talented guy.


‘Let the Music Play’ by Charles Earland (Kon remix)

Kon gets the party going again, doing a high speed, 125bpm take on the old Charles Earland song. You’ve got all the disco good times there, with the piano, the drum beat, the electric synth sound, and then some sort of deformed horns or vocals that enter the scene as well. It immediately flows over with good vibes and '70s party flashbacks, with all the retro instruments that they could muster (probably even retro for when this song was made, I reckon). At 2:10 you get this amazing horn solo, whilst in the background it’s a colourful cacophony of all manners of sounds, rhythm and otherwise. Even that horn solo makes sure the pace is kept up up up, setting in stone that this is one to just have some fun to (if that wasn’t clear already). Love the fact of how they keep the party going in the background and continuously put some instrument or another in the spotlight to just do their thing. Like the grandest ol’ jam session in funky Harlem town or wherever.  It certainly lives true to its title, with the addition “and let the people party” secretly put on the flip side.


‘Come Together’ by Cassio Kohl

Cassio Kohl starts this one with the atmospheric sounds, and just a little bit of those cymbals to at least get some of the percussion in. The rest of the percussion, along with the beat and, slightly later, the bass, follow soon enough, turning this one into a deep house slow burner. The track gets some spoken word, which is pretty well done seeing how fast-talking it needs to be (and how easily that can sound sooo wrong. The faster you go, the more risk you’re taking, I feel). I love some of those auxiliary sounds from at about 1:40 on. Those give some nice flavour, add a bit of jazziness to it as well. Plus it combines well with the floating synth line the track puts in there. In the mean time, still the percussion and the kick beat taking care of the rhythm aspects, and the synths keep it from going too deep in there. Those synths for a moment get teamed up with just the beat, the rest of the percussion having to take a backseat. Over this minimal structure the vocals come back, during which the rest of the track slowly reassembles. Definitely one for dancing with your eyes closed, it’s got a sense of hypnotism to it that adds to this drug fuelled industrial party feel it has, undoubtedly being thrown somewhere in a former atom-bomb basement in Berlin (just to add a slight And-this-week-in-history thing to it, ya know?).


‘Endless Rhythm’ by Baio

Okay, confession time, when I saw Vampire Weekend live at a festival, that was about the slowest ten minutes of my lifetime before I walked out (which surely has more to do with me than the immensely popular band). Baio, the bass player of the said band (you didn’t really think I held such a grudge that I just randomly put the above anecdote in just about wherever, did you?), gets a little bit of that surf pop going here, there’s a little Seventies vibe combined with a bit of contemporary retro. As in, it does kind of tell you it isn’t an original from back in the day, but it sure feels as something celebrating those things that were fun in the golden olden days. So what you get is this nice slice of catchiness, with especially that synth adding the feel it’s aiming for. Though the chorus sings I can wait, I can wait for you, which sounds really romantic, there are also lines in there like Every lyric that I’ve written, is a lyric I despise, Oh I despise, so make of that what you will. Again, just loving the synths and the feel they put into the track, in the end producing something that just sounds like fun.



The Weekly Froth - September #2

  • Published in Columns

The Weekly Froth! A weekly take on six tracks, most of which have recently popped up somewhere in the blogosphere. Bit of a mixed bag with a slight leaning towards house, disco, and remixes, but generally just anything that for some reason tickled the writer’s fancy.

Track of the week: ‘Dangerous Days’ by Zola Jesus (The Juan MacLean remix)

Both of these juggernauts are about to release a new album, so what better reason to team up then, eh? The Juan MacLean puts in the sounds verging on techno at the start, though it is that dull thudding sound that makes sure it doesn't sound too devoid of feel. From about the 1:20 mark you get this lovely synth sound, and twenty seconds later you get the impeccable vocals of Zola Jesus. Surprisingly, they mesh pretty well, even if the vocals are a long cry from the more rhythmic Nancy Whang. Here the vocals don’t add something to the rhythm, but they add some warmth, which counter balances the fairly “cold” sounds, without being negative about that. The Juan MacLean always has a certain industrial quality to his sound that I do really love. There are moments in this remix where the voice takes center stage, with The Juan MacLean stripping away all that makes you dance, later obviously coming back to that. It’s got the danceability you’d expect, and the vocals give it a bit of warmth to make it well worth the listen.


‘This Is Not About Us’ by Kindness

Kindness is gearing up to release his new album, Otherness, and this will give you an idea of what might be on there. He starts almost singer-songwriter like with just a piano and his dreamy vocals, but soon the rest comes in to give it some rhythm so you can do a slow little shuffle to it. I really like how he uses his vocals. First of all there’s this huge difference between the vocals in the verses and the chorus, where either they use multiple layers of vocals or there are some backing singers on there. But I also really like the way he alternates between almost pathetically admitting that “you should find someone new” to sometimes being on the verge of shouting it all out. Add to that the slight funk in the percussion that juxtaposes the vocal sound, and what you’ve got is yet another terribly good track by this guy, making the album one to look out for.


‘On&On&On&On’ by Baio

This one starts out like it wants to make you dance, as it immediately jumps in with the beat from the get go. After about twenty seconds the wood percussion gets some extra atmosphere as well, courtesy of the synths. From that point on you get an extra layer after about every so many seconds, putting down the vibe on this one. From about 1:20 you get into an almost tropical kind of sound, making you wish that summer was not yet over. There’s always something going on that a dancer can hold on to, with the bass or the percussion being in there underneath the layer of tropical synths. That is, until the break of course, which starts about three minutes in and which Baio is in no hurry to disturb, lasting over a minute. Then the tropical sounds come back in first, after which the bass is put in again for those needing something a little more sturdy to dance to. If you like your tropicana drinks free and with a slice of bass, then this might be something you’re into.


‘Spellbound’ by Justin Faust

This one puts you in dancing mode from just about the get go, and it even adds another dancing layer at about 30 to push it all out even more. Leave it to Justin Faust to keep the momentum up and happening by adding just a little bit of punch at exactly the right moments. After the first minute you already hear a bit of the vocals, and you’ll keep on hearing them as Faust is working up to the break by upping the volume of the synths more and more throughout the second minute of this one. Those synths and vocals (still fairly muted, as they will remain throughout the song) are the essence of the break, which he lifts to get all y’all dancing again. Second part of the song as well, at exactly the right moments he gives the track a little punch or smoothly transitions into a different main sound to dance to, and that keeps this one from losing any steam in its almost five minute running time. Though, near the end, he slowly builds this one down to then abruptly stop.


‘Can’t Do Without You’ by Caribou (Tale of Us & Mano le Tough remix)

Caribou is going to release his new album Our Love next month, and this is a cut off of that. As with most Caribou songs, they give you plenty of stuff, and the album versions are usually just slightly too off beat to get into unabased party mode. So then, obviously, you bring in Tale of Us and Mano le Tough, who know how to get the crowds out and moving. For this one they first let it build up, and the kick drum and all the other dance elements start to come from about 1:30 onwards. There’s also a deeper, lazy synth on top to give it some atmosphere, with Caribou repeating the title line “Can’t Do Without You’ almost obsessively. That synth line provides a nice contrast with the deeper beat, which gets stripped during the break at about 3:15, where they go with atmospheric sounds, a low volumed synth, and the voice that sings that he-- you guessed it-- “can’t do without you”. They keep with the atmospherics for a pretty long time, and then they start building it up towards the beat from about 4:30 again. With three heavy hitters on board this was always going to be worth listening, though don’t expect a full on party track, with Tale of Us and Mano le Tough keeping the vibe and feel still front and center. Though no one will deny that on 3/4ths of the track you can get some dancing done.


‘Worlds Apart’ by Seven Lions feat. Kerli (Bit Funk remix)

It starts with a batch of percussion, but after a few seconds it dials down for the first time, going for just piano and the vocals of Kerli. Bit Funk then slides the percussion under it again, and after the verse it gets a beat as the track almost moves into the pop arena here. And that’s probably how to look at it, a track that would get the people bouncing at the summer festivals. Also on the back of those vocals I reckon, which Bit Funk uses to the max and which are always going full throttle. As mentioned, there are moments where they tone it down and where the vocals and piano take center stage. Soon they work in the drums again, really going pop structure style I reckon. And it makes for a fresh, happy, catchy little tune not so much for the club. But for that summer festival and with live musicians I can see this happening no doubt.


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