Ssaliva is another moniker of Francois Boulanger, the Belgian gentleman formerly known as Kingfisherg and more recently, Cupp Cave. Boulanger released his 10″ debut ‘RZA’ on Bruxelles-based Vlek Records after a cassette tape on Leaving Records in February 2011. The label issued his Cupp Cave debut ‘Dice Pool’ not much earlier last year and although the tone on ‘RZA’ and ‘Dice Pool’ is not completely different, it makes sense to have both records released under different monikers.
Francois Boulanger is easily recognized for his warm and erratic sound. Tape hiss and VHS-style glitches soak 80s R&B samples, ambient textures and wayward beats. Hints of mistuned Tropicalia and Krautrock can be detected in his music. The overall feel is sultry and vague, like this very VHS tape of Blue Lagoon you played just too often. With Cupp Cave, however, the House elements clearly dominate. In contract, Ssaliva is more into sound experimentation and grounded in instrumental Hip Hop beat-wise. No wonder Boulanger was picked up by Leaving Records and featured on Dublab frequently.
‘RZA’ brings the formula in beautiful shape. ‘Black Soul’ is seasick R&B, ‘SPA82′ marries upbeat 808 programming with detuned synthesizers and billowing bass dubs. ‘Tridimensional’ sounds like a 1980s version of Cluster (listen below), much in line with ‘Savaan’ which also draws influence from German minimal electro. ‘B Adventures’, ‘Night Landing’, and most of all ‘Hobo4030′ come with a decent electro boogie/ old school Hip Hop flavour that combines beautifully with the warped melody.
Words by Sven, 31 January 2012. 1 comment
Originally from Florida, Chris Roman is better known as 214 and has settled down in Seattle, Washington where he spends his free time constructing dark yet funky old school electro. He’s been making music for over a decade now, but in the last year he’s released EPs on labels such as Habour City Sorrow, Car Crash Set, and Outside Recordings each one delivering pounding 808 driven beats. These releases led to him being invited to perform at both Bloc 2011 and Seattle’s very own Decibel Festival last year. His hard work has not gone unnoticed with his sound firmly grounded in the past but eyes towards the future, he’s received recognition across the genre spectrum; his tracks have been played by the likes of Bok Bok, Peter Van Hosen, Boddika and Skudge. This year is looking to be his biggest yet with labels prepping releases from both his 214 and new J. Alvarez monikers. Given the momentum behind him we’ve asked him to take a moment to shed some light on his latest projects. If you need some material to get familiar with, his Soundcloud is a good indication of his production capabilities as there are well over ten tracks to be found there and quite a few mixes that include some real gems.
Hi Chris! How’s it going and what have you been working on over the last few months? “The last few months have been busy with production. I manage a day job and music so I’ve always been tight with time. I’ve been veering more towards the house spectrum over the last twelve months. I’ve been strictly producing Electro for a long time and have been feeling bored with my own productions and began experimenting with different styles. “
You’re obviously influenced by early Electro; what are some artists you grew up listening to that left a mark on you? “Kraftwerk, World Class Wrecking Crew, Mantronix, Hashim, Cybotron, Jonzun Crew, YMO, Two Lone Swordsmen, Drexicya, Elecktroids, Simulant, the list could go on really. “
You’ve worked a lot with Car Crash Set, a label who’s output over the last year or so has really helped define and bring new talent to the “scene” in North America. How did your relationship with them come about, considering how different your sound is from what they generally push? “If I recall, I met Will (Ill Cosby) via a music mailing list local to the Northwest, mainly Seattle and Portland. I moved out here from Florida without really knowing anyone so I wanted to get my music out to the local scene. He replied to one of my mixes and we realized we had a lot of common, both into similar music and growing up on the East Coast. I’ve sent him my tunes ever since.”
Seattle seems to have a very close knit musical community, any collaborations in future? “I don’t collaborate much, but I’m currently working on tracks with another Car Crash Set artist QP. And I’ve got another collab in the works with someone from Berlin, but until it comes to fruition I’d like to keep it unknown.”
Now let’s move onto a new project of yours. Tell us a little about you’re new moniker, what are your goals for this alias and what void is it filling that couldn’t be addressed with 214? “I mentioned earlier I’ve been venturing into the house spectrum over the last couple of months. I think it’s natural that when you stick to anything too long and it starts to become stale, creativity flourishes in other areas. I started dabbling in slower tempos, 4/4 patterns, and UK influenced sounds. Things came naturally and I was having fun with music again. I built enough tracks I was confident with and started sending out demos. Hypercolour was the first label to follow up with me and wanted to sign an EP. I knew of Hypercolour from their Maya Jane Coles EP and was really excited to be working with them as I knew they were going to be a label to watch in the coming months. Initially I was just going to use my 214 moniker, but I decided to create a new alias to separate the 2 styles of sound since they’re so far apart and most people just know me for Electro. So J.Alvarez was born. “
You’re slated to work with several established labels in 2012, can you give us any details? “This is the year I’m most excited for releases. I’ll be releasing 214 and debuting J.Alvarez 12”s. I’m unsure of the schedule yet, but I have an upcoming EP for Fortified Audio as 214, an EP for Frustrated Funk as 214, an EP for Hypercolour as J.Alvarez, and another EP for a well known label out of NY that I won’t mention for now because I’m working on one more track for that one. “
And now a few rapid-fire questions… Any upcoming gigs we can catch you at? “At the moment, I’ve only got local gigs over the next few weeks. Hoping I can tour once these EPs are officially out. “
What artist do you have your eyes on in 2012? “Maceo Plex and Boddika.”
What track makes it’s way into your dj sets the most and why? “Simulant – Wav Form. This is one of the best electro tracks ever written. Pure robotic funk.”
What’s the biggest tune in your bag at the moment? “Adonis – No Way Back. An absolute classic from Trax. Although this will probably change with each gig.”
In case you missed it, here’s a download for a freebie from 214.
Words by Jonathon Alcindor, 29 January 2012. 1 comment
Last year we wrote about The View From Above, the stunning debut EP from Portadown-born, Liverpool-based producer SertOne. He’s kicking off 2012 with a delightful release, the short but sweet “Quesadillas” EP. Inspired by and in tribute to the late J Dilla, this four-track EP is Since the young producer first came to my attention by way of “Versions”, a 13-track album of remixes and reworks (I even called his DOOM remix Dilla-esque), it’s entirely appropriate that he turn his hand to deftly introduce us to some rare Dilla beats through his own retouches.
“Introduction” drifts gently into being with its alluring samples and when the beats kick in you’re as likely to stroke your chin as nod your head. It’s brimming with an undeniable groove, but at the same it’s so ~emosh~ that it’s far from gully. In many ways it’s the most rounded and beautiful track he’s produced to date, and given how high his standards are already that’s a bold statement. “Envious (James Make Em NV)” flips Dilla’s original sample and lulls you into a state of quiet yearning with its plucked guitar and xylophone melody, before smashing you over the head with snarling stabs, MOP shouts and airhorns. Again, SertOne’s signature bleeps are present and correct so his stamp is clearly audible over Dilla’s theme, twisting this track in a manner that’s both respectful and forward thinking.
“Look” is built around a 70s prog rock sample from Gentle Giant, used by Dilla for a short vignette at the end of a track on Champion Sound, or as a production for Slum Village artist Elzhi depending on your POV – SertOne certainly hasn’t gone for the obvious samples. A short track itself, “Look” is overloaded with squelching basslines and even more airhorns, not to mention a short spoken sample from the intro to Dilla’s “Ruff Draft”, but ultimately it pays homage to the short sample that shows how Dilla knew how to dig deep. Closing out the EP is “Love In Fall”, which you probably will recognise, using as it does that recognisable snatch of beats and guitar from Slum Village’s “Fall In Love”. That said, its “Fall In Love” SertOne style – the emotion is still there but it’s surrounded by those cascading bleeps that signify a SertOne track. It swiftly winds down, and that’s the end of it. It’s such a short EP that it’s very easy to just go right back to the start and play it over again. And again.
The EP is free, but all proceeds from this release go to the J Dilla Foundation, which helps fund inner-city music programmes. It’s a worthy cause, so you’ve no reason not to donate, right?
Words by Aidan Hanratty, 28 January 2012. 1 comment
Imagining a world where Kahn releases a sub-standard track is a futile endeavour. Presumably there’s an official investigation afoot regarding the correlation between mysterious chemicals in the Bristol water supply and the propensity of the city’s inhabitants to produce sounds that distort reality. Of more immediate interest to us, however, is the most recent track to be uploaded to Bristolian Kahn’s SoundCloud page. His Punch Drunk debut from early last year, “Like We Used To”, was riotously original. Both “Helter Skelter” and the masterful title track showcased Kahn’s compositional flair, and the excellent “Tehran” from the “Illy/Tehran” EP is probably still fresh in your memory. The producer’s also been remixing away, this time turning his attention to a scalding release from Roll Deep’s Killa P and Brummie badman Badness.
The original of “Nuh Failer” isn’t anything to sleep on, all sparkling synth pirouetting beneath frenetic bars from Killa P. But Kahn brings a depth and darkness that works like an amphitheatre for the accelerated rhymes of the original, and the combination works majestically. He’s obviously got an ear for a blazing acapella, and reworking the track with such perfectly fitting percussion work should guarantee its presence at a rave near you this year. Kahn’s a producer that works like an alchemist, converting the most familiar sounds into tracks that blow you away with their creativity, and this remix is no exception.
With any luck an official release should reach our ears soon. In the meantime, soundcloud why you no have repeat button?
Previously: Recommended: Kahn – Illy / Tehran.
Words by Tabitha Thorlu-Bangura, 27 January 2012. Leave a comment
Somewhere deep in the uninhabited tundra of northern Finland, there exists a secret underground fortress where a mysterious figure channels the powers of ice crystals to craft a strain of cold, dark dance music under the moniker Desto. Okay so maybe those details are a little bit inaccurate, but there’s no doubt that Desto has been creating some of the most evocative, thematically consistent, and meticulously crafted productions in the current dance climate. He impressed us last summer with his Makowrap EP on Rwina Records, and his forthcoming No Sleep EP for the Amsterdam-based label – set for a late February or early March release – continues to dazzle with his distinct brand of heavy, club oriented music.
“No Sleep” opens with an eerie, breathy melody that sounds like a lost take from the X-Files soundtrack, setting a suspenseful tone that’s complemented by soaring string flourishes. Desto employs a deep 808 kick and a reverb-drenched clap for the brunt of the track’s rhythmic work in a bold and beautifully understated fashion. The real star here, though, is the undulating, tightly-coiled bass line that ventures up from the abyss to wreak havoc on your whole body, leaving you feeling seasick and wobbly in the knees – in the best way possible. Stationed in a similarly cold extraterrestrial landscape, “Shadow Sole” is a richer production than “No Sleep,” largely due to a menacing synth pad that imbues the track with a subtle yet inescapable sense of paranoia. Once again Desto shows off an enviable rhythmic restraint, fleshing out a halfstepping kick pattern with the kind of snappy, stuttering snares characteristic of the Lex Luger school of production.
On “Monsters About,” Desto takes things in a more straightforward direction that reveals a pronounced Grime influence. Dizzying, detuned synth tones and short white noise sweeps open the track in a way that hints at the dark territory ahead but deceptively holds back the full truth. The “monsters” appear as a slinky, cold-blooded melody and an impossibly heavy kick drum that punches you in the chest as you try to gasp for air, and the result of their tag team effort is one of the most potent and devastating dancefloor affairs you’re likely to hear in the coming months. Rounding off the EP in style is the somewhat lighter and less aggressive “Can’t Take It.” Desto flexes some impressive filter work during the intro, building up the tension before giving way to a bouncy, half-time rhythm that’s peppered with lightweight hi-hat patterns and refined juke accents. The combination of the silky, gliding synth lead and mellow atmospherics give the track an alluring sheen that demands repeat listens, while the underlying bed of bubbling sci-fi bleeps and blips keep intact the gritty edge that we love so much about Desto’s production. This EP is already getting early support from big names like Mala, Ben UFO, Oneman, and Teeth, so you know it’s going to be big when it comes out late next month.
Desto – No Sleep (Rwina Records) is out in late February/early March
Words by Sam Billetdeaux, 27 January 2012. 1 comment