The Voice of Reason


Posted on August 1st, by Brad Owen in 20, House. No Comments

essays from house music’s front lines

Well…welcome to the latest installment of Voice of Reason.  In recent months Milwaukee’s club scene saw the death of Matisse.  The club was sold to new owners whose intent is to change it into a sort of ultra-hip lounge; which, incidentally, Milwaukee needs like a hole in the head.  I would like to personally thank everyone who supported my Sunday night residency throughout the past 2+ years; the crowds who made the parties great as well as the guest DJs who came and rocked it- those like John Acquaviva, Derrick Carter, Mark Farina, Ian Pooley, Nick Nice, Chad Mindrive, Luke Slater, and Ron Trent, just to name a few.  Nonetheless, the party still goes on.  The last Wednesday of every month will feature PHONO at Thai Joe’s (2239 North Prospect Avenue- Milwaukee) with resident DJ Synergy and guests.  Also, twice a month, Solid State and Erotishock present FADED at the Inferno (1718 Commercial Avenue- Madison) with residents Synergy & Chad Mindrive.  The Wisconsin club scene marches on.

On to the music…  Must-have albums of recent months include the beautiful neo-classical meets ambient Space Between Us by Craig Armstrong on Massive Attack’s Melankolic label.  This is one for the true music aficionado more than the angry techno teenager.  Full of lush strings, emotional piano leads, and tricky drum programming, this album is the perfect chill soundtrack for a stormy summer evening.  The flawless vocals courtesy of Liz Fraser of the Cocteau Twins (‘This Love’) and Paul Buchanan of the Blue Nile (‘Let’s Go Out Tonight’) are a perfect fit for Armstrong’s intelligent composing…  Essential mood music for the Nine-Eight.

Our favorite British house players have been up to a whole lot of good since last issue.  The funky yet quirky Nuphonic have issued the Nuphonic 01 double pack retrospective for those not fortunate or clued-in enough to pick up their earlier singles.  All of the label’s most important cuts appear here including tracks from Black Jazz Chronicles, Free Chicago Movement, Yellow Sox, Faze Action and the hard-to-find ‘Moonwalk’ by Blaze.  On the twelve inch front, Nuphonic has also dropped the interesting Fuzz Against Junk EP… two tracks of house rhythms with full-on live instrumentation from guitars to congas to brass.  From the Paper Recordings stable comes the timely Splinter compilation.  Similarly, this collection offers up the creme de la paper featuring the hallmark Salt City cuts ‘Downtime’ and ‘The Book’ as well as tracks from Erik Rug’s Dirty Jesus project, Shaboom, Crazy Penis, New Phunk Theory and a new one featuring Derrick Carter.  Speaking of Salt City Orchestra. their new one for the ever-impressive Pagan label is the best thing they’ve done in ages… one track of ultra-smooth funky grooves and another of balls-out rockin’ tech-house bliss.

Twisted Records has two winners this summer…  Mr. Danny Tenaglia’s long awaited ‘Tourism’ long player as well as the deeper than thou Timewriter album (see elsewhere in this issue).  Glasgow Underground have opened the flood gates of 12″ releases, dropping a series of dancefloor bangers with a bit more punch than their usual brand of chill deep house.  Check the DJ Q mix of Cassio’s “Baby Love” for maximum funk.  Our Swedish friends Thomas Krome and Jesper Dahlbeck have hit the nail right on the head with the sublime 10″ known as ‘The Real Jazz’ …the 1998 equivalent of ‘Deep in the Jungle’ with a filtered tech-house sensibility …awesome!  In a twist of fate, the Warner Brothers stable has shat out a great 12″ from Moloko called ‘The Flipside’ featuring top-rated Herbert on the remix duty.  Also back with a new one is local tweaky techno head Stewart Walker with a balls-out four tracker for Matrix Detroit… deep Maurizio styled drones with innovative rhythms and loop trickery… this one must be heard.  Lowdown Records out of Vancouver have hit it right with the Racquet EP from Iridium- first record I’ve seen from this label which makes me salivate for more… deep deep deep!  England’s Toko Records has another funky 12″ from Pat Barry called ‘Skipped A Beat’ which is fantastic.  Our main man Crispin J Glover has a new Masterbuilders cut featuring Corrina Joseph of Basement Jaxx fame on vocals.  Swag’s new Jazz Jumper EP is too funky for it’s own good.  Low Pressings have a string of fantastic releases over past months including the amazing Shelltoe double pack which is a must-have.  The Big Wheel keeps on turnin’…

On the non-techno front, why not spice up your collection with some classic jazz titles…  In my CD player on Sunday afternoons over the New York Times has been Dexter Gordon’s ‘Go’ and ‘Our Man In Paris,’ various Chet Baker releases (highly recommended), the Modern Jazz Quartet’s ‘Odds Against Tomorrow,’ Bill Evans’ ‘Conversations With Myself,’ and some obvious-but-essential albums like Miles’ ‘Sketches of Spain’ and Coltrane’s ‘Blue Train.’  In this day and age, it’s appropriate to study these musical innovations as we approach the close of the millennium.

Thus brings us to the close of another article… keep the dancefloors full and the music deep…

Ciao for Now!