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The Weekly Froth!

  • Published in Columns

Shakarchi Straneus

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 year:  ‘Hissmusik’ by Shakarchi & Straneus (HNNY edit)

How about that start, eh? That is seriously old school right there, with that bass doing some of that jazz ditty. You won’t mistake it for the original of yore though, as you can hear some of that modern programming and cutting and slicing. I always kind of enjoy if something uses old school sounds, but does make clear that it’s not actually that old school sound, that it isn’t merely copying that. The vocals are punchy, and the delivery is fast-talking. After about a minute, just after the first round of vocals, the track really gets going, upping the pace and taking it to the dancefloor. At about 1:45 he dials it down for just a moment to give the vocals some room, who are telling you that she Will be coming around again, and she most certainly will be remembering what you said. The secondary sound on top of the bass counteracts that rather ominous statement actually, with it’s light-hearted demeanor. This one has just so much flavour, which gets highlighted when the bass stops for a moment, with just the secondary sounds and the vocals taking center stage. The bass does come back one more time to ride this one out, and I just love how this track is build up and structured, and those sounds and that vibe is just delightful indeed.


‘Shine on You’ by Satin Jackets feat. Esser

Some synth and handclaps are never a bad way to start it all off, in my opinion. As are using those lovely vocals of Esser who, apparently, just wants to Shine on you (ok, sure...). I like the way the vocals go up around the minute mark, which is also the cue for Satin Jackets to increase the tempo a bit and really get into catchy synth-pop mode. It is definitely an easy-on-the-ear track, with the instrumentals really giving off this dance-and-be-happy vibe. They use the vocals very well, manipulating them a bit here and there, and it’s got this pop sense of when to tone it down and when to get it up and running. Esser’s vocals definitely help with laying down the right mood for this one, and the instrumentals give you plenty of variation to make this one not too straight forward to avoid the risk of it becoming grating after a while. Actually, it is one of those catchy ones that you might find yourself hitting the repeat button for.


‘Highlights’ by Tuff City Kids feat. Shan

The way this one starts you just can’t help but be transported to the dancefloor. It’s just got this house vibe going on from the get go, definitely making it easy to envision this one in a set as you’re clubbing or whatever. After a minute in Tuff City Kids change it up a bit, adding an extra sound to the mix, and thirty seconds later adding another percussion element as well. Love the organ-like synth sound at about 2:10, that’s a nice touch, juxtaposing all the rhythm elements nicely. Tuff City Kids do a nice job of adding and subtracting elements, changing the tempo and changing the feel of it on occassion to keep it varied and interesting. And, of course, danceable, which is their prime goal from the sound of it. Working up to the 5:15 mark they, for instance, go for some extra noise and momentum, just to slide to a more low key beat and slowly work their way to the ending credits. A lovely slice of house, with plenty in there to keep the dancefloor occupied, I reckon.


‘Fractals’ by Keep Shelly in Athens (Tomas Barfod remix)

Keep Shelly in Athens sure have made some nice sounding tunes in the past years, and here again you hear these lovely, dreamy vocals as a key part of the track. Barfod, who released both a solo album and a WhoMadeWho one last year, is on remix duties, adding some big drums as a template, taking the track into a very theatrical, dramatical arena because of that. It’s actually quite nice that, when listening, I heard some elements that I thought, Yeah, that’s a sound Barfod uses more often. It’s nice when artists bring a bit of character to their work, I find. It’s very nice to see that, even though the instrumentals are pretty powerful, the vocals are still very much up front in the mix, and that this dreamy voice isn’t getting drowned out by the fireworks of Barfod. He adds a little moment of tranquility just before the three minute mark, returning with a nice drum line with some wood percussion to bring this one to a close.


‘Kong’ by Julio Bashmore feat. Bixby

How about some of that woodwork percussion to start this one, eh? Soon the beat comes in though, with some synth sounds to top it all off. The male vocals soon take center stage, with Bashmore working the momentum in the background, certainly not leaving the vocals all by their lonesome. In that sense it is really more of a power song this, sliding to the more chart side of the dance spectrum, as Bashmore makes sure there are plenty of booming sounds in there so there’s no time to zone out. The way the vocals are just so up front and in-yr-face, that works well in that system. At about 2:50 you get some kind of craziness, but the core sound in the back still has a solid rhythm to it so you don’t have to dance that funny if you don’t want to. There’s actually some melancholy in the vocals near the end, which is a nice touch, especially in such a booming track.


‘Make It Now’ by Thatmanmonkz

Thatmanmonkz starts out with this nice loop that’s got quite a jazzy vibe to it I find, though obviously with the bass in there it’s dancefloor friendly as well. There are some auxiliary sounds that are quite fun and unexpected, stuff you don’t hear too often. The muffled sense of the beginning vanishes at around the one minute mark, when the track opens up completely, and adds some percussion in to give you more rhythm next to the bass. Some female vocals walk onto the set as well, as dashing as a diva can with a stylish “oooooohhhhh, don’t hesitate”. In the mean time Thatmanmonkz is still doing some of that mean looping business to keep the crowd dancing, dialling it down a little around the three minute mark, bringing the punch back in about a minute later. At 4:50 you get a nasty piece of bass in there for just a little while when he turns away the percussion for a moment, and so there are different elements that take center stage and that you can latch on to. The ending, for instance, is more beat and vocal heavy, as the whispery female vocals ask you to not hesitate, echoing their way to the song’s end. Lovely little piece of looping house with lots of little elements, some making you work that dancefloor, others making it just a bit more colorful.





The Weekly Froth! - June #4

  • 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: ‘Girl I Know It’ by Thatmanmonkz

I just love the drums this one starts with, they immediately want to make your body move, don’t they? Thirty seconds in Thatmanmonkz brings out the big sounds to make sure that this track is not going to be denied. The thing is basically put on loop for about a minute, and he certainly knows not to let a good thing go to waste, riding that main sound into the sunset and putting everything he deems worthy on repeat. Just before the two minute mark he goes with a new, deep bass as the only instrumental sound, and soon that bass proves to be the canvas for the soulful vocals that come in. After that, again, the drums and all the other things return to get some additional richness back into this thing. Just before the four minute mark he again pairs up the vocals with a different main sound (this time a beat), but soon the rest of the sounds return, with obviously that bass providing everyone with plenty of dance opportunities. I love the vibe to this one, and it really makes me want to get off my seat and find a club to play this in and have a dance to. Surely, that’s what this column is about, ain’t it?


‘A Place Called Space’ by The Juan MacLean

I love The Juan MacLean, I really do. Those epic 23 minute versions of ‘Happy House’ are awesome, and they’ve got some other happy-vibes dancefloor killers in their arsenal. This one, as you might have assumed from the title, is all about space disco. Their previous album seemed sci-fi infused mostly by lyrics and the robotic feel it exhumed, but this one is a space travel to Mars, Moroder-meets-Bowie type of thing. The synth is the thing that drives this one forward, and that prominent guitar is something we haven’t seen from them before (or, well, at all since the Seventies, really). Just before the three minute mark they strip away the synth for a moment, and when the break ends the vocals come in for the first time. I believe they are John’s vocals at first, and after that Nancy Whang comes in. By this time, the track has turned down its Moroderness a touch to veer into a territory a bit more familiar to them. Not to say that the grandiose glam rock guitar isn’t still popping up from time to time. The singles they’ve released between their last (and great) album and this one certainly prepared absolutely no one for this, and though Nancy Whang sings that it is “too late late late”, it certainly isn’t too late for them to come back with an album again. There’s always room for the experts at House that are The Juan MacLean.

‘Raw Cuts’ by Motor City Drum Ensemble (Marcellus Pittman remix)

Starts nice and “raw” this one, with that grainy beat that gets offset by the cymbals that then appear on the track. I just love the vocals that come in, they’re so warm and emotional and they balance out the more mechanical sounds of the beat perfectly. It’s that combination that makes both work. Even the additional percussion that comes in sound slightly industrial, but, as said, it all gets countered by that voice (and, a little bit, that synth). All that percussion and the beat, by the way, do make you want to move a bit, preferably in this kind of cold, underground club environment I would say. Just after the three minute mark he mixes it up a bit, as he strips the more mechanical sounds for a moment in favor of some African percussion, and after another short round of vocals he goes back to his original vibe again. Just before the five minute mark the two lads again throw a curveball out there, going left where you’d expected them to go right, and that makes the track so interesting. Raw cuts is an apt name for this one, as it certainly doesn’t provide a smooth (deep) house ride, but the more intriguing it is for it. And it does, in the end, after all, go back to a version of the original percussion and beat sound.

‘Your Darkness’ by Benoit & Sergio

Certainly starts with a big and banging beat this one, but the interesting sounds come after about 35 seconds in, where you get these nice and light synth sounds that totally even this one out. You’ve got that big, thudding beat in the background, but I just like the playfulness of those lighter sounds. The boys add some altered vocals to the mix to bring the amount of different feels to three, as those have a more mechanical sound to them. The big, thuddy beat is ditched at one point, and a more nuanced backbeat takes over. Though, by now, it are primarily the synths and the vocals that are at the heart of this one. Apparently the guys are working hard to complete their debut album (produced by Nicolas Jaar and Dave Harrington of the Darkside project), so it will be interesting to see what Benoit & Sergio can do with a full LP. This groover is on an upcoming EP though, so at the very least you can snatch that one up if you like some lovely synth work.


‘Sunlight’ by The Magician feat. Years & Years

Obviously, The Magician is a big draw at the box office, though he starts this one out with a not-so-nuanced beat as far as I’m concerned. The more mood injected synths are better though, and for me, I’m waiting for the vocals of Olly, the singer of the up and coming band Years & Years, whose singles so far I’m pretty into. Sure enough, from out under the synths and the African percussion sounds here they come, those vocals, asking you to “bring the sunlight”. By this time, thankfully, that beat has been done away with, and what remains is this happy sounding festival pleaser that’ll get people grinning and dancing on those late night beach parties this is made for. Just after the third minute mark there’s a major break, and there’s only a little bit of piano to assist Olly in his singing. Obviously, the synth gets louder and louder, and when it hits its top that is the key for all the rhythm sounds to be thrown in there again. It’s a straight up party track with a bucketful of happy vibes and some good vocals to boot.


‘Uptight Downtown’ by La Roux (Midnight Magic remix)

I love the people of Midnight Magic, they sure know how to give everything this lovely, NYC disco vibe. Here, too, they manage to do that with those typical synth sounds and that bouncy bass on which you just have to get down to. They don’t speed this one up too much, keeping it a slow burner, which is a lovely and sexy pace for this one. Especially around the two minute mark you get the La Roux vocals in, though they seem to be made a bit more dreamy and distant to fit this remix. They are a nice complement to that bass though, with their high pitch and dreamy demeanour. That’s so disco, really, isn’t it? Naturally you’ve got those punchy and gutsy divas (like the frontwoman of Midnight Magic herself, really), but you also have this dreamy side to it, but there’s still this physical reaction it elicits with the bass (which, really, is the main thing on this one). There’s this lovely transition around 5:15 where they kick the pace up a notch with the beat and the vocals, though about a minute later they return to the main sounds again to push this one to its ending. Not only do I love it, but it’s a free download too! Madness!



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