28 October 2013
This is the third Hobbes Music release and the second in a series of remix EPs featuring up-and-coming Scottish artists remixed by well-established and emerging local and international talents. Clips below. Full EP on Bandcamp.
Dawn Chorus will be released by Hobbes Music on Monday 11th November 2013 and available as limited edition (of 300) vinyl 12”s and via all download platforms, with worldwide distribution by Rubadub.DJ Reactions “I really like the first half of the Ali Renault mix. The CAS is quite sweet. The Auntie Flo is a good tool…” (Ivan Smagghe, LDN/Worldwide)
Pavement K (from the Leonidas & Hobbes debut EP, Machines, Tapes & Electronic Setups) featured as the soundtrack for the ‘Spooks’ film by up-and-coming Edinburgh visual artist David Lemm (aka A Little Island) and Spooks has recently been invited as a submission for official selection of this year’s Cut Out Festival of animation and digital art in Mexico (Experimental Category). The work was originally commissioned by Hobbes Music and Go Reborn as a visual installation for their Day Of The Dead ‘secret warehouse party’ event in Leith last Autumn. You can view Lemm’s animation here.
31 July 2013
We did some remixes for the Pet Shop Boys’ new single, Vocal, recently (from new album Electric). We’re really proud of them. They’re currently unreleased but you can check them out below and download them both for free via my Bandcamp. Please leave a comment etc if you’re feeling them. Feedback welcome.
This second label release is an introduction to productions lovingly slaved over by myself and my studio partner/old friend, Leonidas. We started working together about four years ago and this debut collaborative EP demonstrates our mutual love of classic disco, techno, electro, acid, house and UK bass/dub, to create an EP with one foot in the past, one foot in the future and both eyes aimed squarely at the dance floor.
Much like previous release (Midnight Thunder) Machines, Tapes & Electronic Setups has been getting some excellent feedback thus far, including a great Mixmag review. Check out the audio clips below or listen to the whole EP in full on Bandcamp. Scroll down for selected feedback/quotes and a bit more info about the music.Selected Feedback ‘Favourite: Jackin Pschidt – An excellent an varied EP, Big support. 5/5′ (Ashley Beedle, UK – Various, Worldwide) ‘All the EP has a lot of originality, driftin and program my favourites. 5/5′ (Bot/Crookers, Italy – Various, Worldwide) ‘Favourite: Driftin – Great to see Hobbes Music taking off. Great EP. 5/5′ (Auntie Flo, UK – Various, Worldwide)
A1) Driftin’ employs a vintage gospel sample and a bank of equally vintage synths (ARP Odyssey, Roland Juno 106, Roland SH101, Sequential Circuits ProOne) for a very contemporary, hybrid mix of UK bass and house. This track received early support from Rob Da Bank on BBC Radio 1), has proved popular on Soundcloud and has been dropping extremely well when played out, so we think you’ll agree it’s rather special!
A2) Penthouse Dub is a more spacious composition. Classic disco congas and a delaysoaked guitar line recall the Balearic style of Norwegian modern disco don Todd Terje, then the vintage (Sequential Circuits Prophet T8) synth lines drop… The title is a nod to Heaven 17’s classic album, Penthouse & Pavement - a key reference point during this track’s production.
B1) Jackin’ Pschidt treads a more European path, referencing Belgium’s late Eighties Nu Beat scene via its drum programming and acid line, with a heavily arpeggiated synth for its euphoric main riff and classic Nineties techno claps driving the beat home. A vocal refrain, compelling you to ‘break it down: get into the groove’, is as simple a call to action as any you’ll find in dance music. But, again, it’s the track’s bassline which will really get people moving their bodies: no fuss, few effects, just simple dancefloor dynamics. This mix has also proved popular on Soundcloud and been dropping well when played out. The title is a nod to a certain Chicago legend…
B2) Referencing after-hours parties in dingey warehouse spaces, Pavement K flips the script completely, slowing things down and spacing them out all heavy reverb, plodding kicks and atmospheric toms that ring out like some tribal gong in an old Kurosawa film. The bass stabs are as fierce as anything DMZ have put their name to, while the acid line and skittering hats are closer to early Plastikman. The brief vocal snatches are hardly any less abstract, before more waves of bass wash moodily over you and that familiar voice returns to let you know about ‘a lot of machines, tapes and electronic setups….’ Watch yer bass bins!
Digital Bonus Track: Upping the tempo again to end on a lighter note, Program is an electro tribute to one of our favourite Eighties films, Tron. N.B. Program is not included on the vinyl release and available as a free download exclusively to people who buy the full EP (vinyl or digital – nb purchasing the vinyl includes free download of all digital files) from Bandcamp.More Feedback
Leonidas & Hobbes, Machines, Tapes & Electronic Setups is released by Hobbes Music on Monday 3rd June 2013 and available as a limited edition 12” vinyl and via all digital download platforms, with worldwide distribution by Rubadub.
This track is taken from the Midnight Thunder EP, the 12″ vinyl of which will finally hit record shops this Wednesday/Thursday (worldwide distribution via Rubadub), with digital downloads to follow at the end of May. Read more about the artists and check out all the excellent DJ feedback here. Listen to the whole EP below.
A lot of people have been talking about Daft Punk’s new hit, Get Lucky, over the last few weeks, with the majority seeming to agree that it’s pretty big. Now I don’t hate this record but i don’t think it’s that special either. Are you bored of it yet? Even with that, admittedly killer, guitar refrain (the only really decent hook in the tune) by Nile Rodgers, whose funk is clearly undiminished by his advancing years, the ravages of cancer etc, Get Lucky is still a pretty disposable tune and thus unlikely to last much longer than summer.
‘So what?!’ you might very well retort. ‘I love the way it sounds and how good it makes me feel right now!!’ And, up to a point, that’s completely fair enough. A lot of pop is very fleeting, and i’m definitely not saying Get Lucky is bad but the best (pop) music does so much more than just distract you for a few seconds (and Nile Rodgers knows this better than anyone – see below for more about that). What’s more, everyone involved in this record’s creation has made much better records before…
Let’s break Get Lucky down into its main component parts. The guitar hook is great but, bar the chorus, it lasts for the whole song without any changes. They all knew full well that it was the best part of the song and they didn’t really have any better ideas, so they just leant on that one all the way. The rhythm section is all good: the bass and beats do their job, filling out the groove that propels the whole song forward and makes it work well on the dance floor. Pharrell’s vocals do sound quite good but the lyrics are a bit weak really: this part could have been so much better. Daft Punk’s vocoders are even weaker (used/abused so much since their second album, Discovery, and now sounding massively clichéd – bit of a lame ‘trademark’, no?) but i guess if you’d never heard them before you would probably think they are pretty fun. Clearly a lot of pop music functions/succeeds on the back of such clichés but it doesn’t endure that way. After that, there’s only really that wee keyboard flourish towards the end before the whole thing is over. So, that’s one great idea, a decent rhythm section and then two or three fairly weak/average ideas. As our US cousins like to say: do the math. On balance, this is good but it’s not that great, is it?
And, with the dawning of the realisation, mid-song, that the tune isn’t actually going to progress past Nile Rodgers’ initial guitar hook, it becomes clear just how half-baked Get Lucky is. It sounds like the three of them spent about one afternoon/evening cooking up these ideas in the studio before phoning in the results from the pub/club later. ‘Let’s raise the bar,’ croons Pharrell, as if he knows that the mere mention of such an endeavour, coupled with all their names, is enough to fool the world that they’re doing just that. Oh, but they just did, didn’t they? More fool me… In the grand scheme of things, Get Lucky barely moves the bar at all and, if it had been made by anyone else, it wouldn’t be nearly as successful as it is right now. It will be played to death for a few weeks before everyone – very quickly – tires of it. Those layers will peel away to reveal a shallow heart…
If you still don’t understand where i’m coming from, take a few minutes to listen to these three moments of genuine pop genius from the back catalogue of the three acts involved here. These records all became summer anthems when they were released and I think they all trump Get Lucky for creativity. I’ve included a bit more background info below for anyone who doesn’t know the artists’ significant history.
While most people would probably say Studio 54 ‘tribute‘ Le Freak is the bigger tune (and on a worldwide scale it was, especially in the US), I Want Your Love was bigger in the UK and its impact has endured ever since, thanks first to Detroit maestro Moodymann’s huge Nineties re-work, I Can’t Kick This Feeling When It Hits, and second to Norwegian disco edit don Todd Terje’s more recent re-edit, which pasted the two versions together to create a hybrid fix for the Noughties’ disco revival circuit. Genius like this will always endure.
And, in Chic guitarist Nile Rodgers’ case, the list of hits and classic tunes is a very long one indeed: Dance, Dance, Dance; Everybody Dance from their 1978 debut album, ‘Chic’; Chic Cheer, Le Freak, Happy Man, I Want Your Love and instrumental B side Funny Bone from second album (also released in 1978) ‘C’est Chic’; while, from 1979’s ‘Risqué’, Good Times played a massive part in the evolution of hip hop when the Sugarhill Gang sampled it for their equally anthemic hit, Rapper’s Delight, but there’s also My Feet Keep Dancing, My Forbidden Lover and What About Me. Sister Sledge’s classic 1979 album, We Are Family, was a Chic production (and largely also co-written by Rodgers and his partner/bassist, Bernard Edwards), as was Diana Ross’s most successful album, 1980’s Diana (featuring Upside Down and I’m Coming Out). And that’s before we even start on his even more prolific and often equally classic work with pop music royalty in the Eighties, among which: David Bowie, Let’s Dance; Madonna, Like A Virgin/Material Girl; Duran Duran, Notorious; Steve Winwood, Higher Love… You see, I’m really not averse to great pop music. I just think it needs more than one great idea to make it as good as that.
[N.B. I have the utmost respect for Nile Rodgers. His autobiography, Le Freak, was easily the most compelling book i read last year. It details a childhood surrounded by beatnicks, artists, criminals, weirdos and junkies (two of whom raised him) in Fifties New York, the ups and downs of the music industry, his own battles with addiction, losing his life-long friend and sparring partner, very much the yin to his musical yang, Bernard Edwards (who died of pneumonia when he only 44), plus plenty more incredible anecdotes, while imparting a fair few nuggets of wisdom for anyone thinking of pursuing a similar line of work. The BBC made a good documentary about him recently, which you can view here.]
2) Daft Punk, Around The World
Again, just about anything on the French duo’s 1997 debut album, Homework, shows more imagination and/or depth than Get Lucky. From the same album, Da Funk is arguably the bigger/more classic of the two tracks but was always designed more for club than radio play. Also, check out Thomas Bangalter’s ace Tracks On The Rocks EPs, Vols I and II (Roulé), from 1995 and ‘98 respectively. This duo went slightly the boil after Homework. 2001’s Discovery was definitely a bold side-step but most of it didn’t do much for me when compared to the consistent peaks of Homework. Sure, One More Time has its time/place, but i think this is basically at a wedding or children’s birthday party… I still rate Daft Punk massively for the way they changed the game for house/dance music in the Nineties. They incorporated everything that had come before them into their own style and spearheaded what was labelled the ‘French Touch’ movement by British journalists at the time and their production style has arguably been more influential than anyone else’s ever since. However, they were always very reluctant pop stars and their classic tracks are almost all best experienced at loud volumes in a club. It’s also worth noting that they adopted a more Seventies approach to production in the making of Get Lucky, and they perhaps didn’t appreciate how much more time, effort and downright sweat this would actually involve, as Nile Rodgers hints in this recent interview. No doubt making Get Lucky was a lot harder than making any of the tunes on Homework etc. Oh, the irony.
3) Pharrell Williams, Frontin’
Much like the others, Pharrell worked as part of a duo in his early days and much of his work with Chad Hugo as The Neptunes and N.E.R.D wipes the floor when compared to Get Lucky. Check out Noreaga’s Superthug (from 1998), Kelis’s 1999 debut album Kaleidoscope (featuring Caught Out There, Get Along With You, Good Stuff), 2002’s In Search Of N.E.R.D album (featuring club banger Lapdance, among others), Nelly’s Hot In Herre (2004). Oh yeah, they also produced Britney’s I’m A Slave For You – a worldwide hit, which still sounds great today. Frontin’ was massive for us at Trouble when it came out, you couldn’t escape it that summer and it also still sounds fresh today.
The main reason all these records are so powerful is because they contain more than just one great idea. Get Lucky contains one. I don’t think anyone who loves dance music can really hate it and it’s not really about that. It’s about desiring that wee bit more from people of whom we’ve generally come to expect great things. Nile Rodgers is the only person who can really be commended for his part in this release and that part is the only real reason it’s actually sticking for so many right now. It’s a shame this trio couldn’t let Get Lucky incubate until they were able to turn out something that was genuinely worthy of all their talents. But, perhaps more fundamentally, isn’t its massive success really a complete indictment of what a parlous state contemporary music is in?
I’ll leave the final assessment to Gareth Sommerville, a DJ for whom i’ve always had enormous respect, whose talent is definitely very much undimmed after 20 years on the circuit and who has always had a way with a pithy phrase: ‘It’s the disco equivalent of walking around Ikea whilst sipping on a Starbucks latte.’ Quite.
10 March 2013
13 February 2013
This is the second part of a compilation (fully mixed this time) of my stand-out tunes of the last year or so (includes a few 2011 killers that I missed in last year’s Top 50). 125-170bpm and back via some half time action, it lasts 3 hrs.
12 February 2013
Partially funded by Creative Scotland, this debut release is the first in a series of remix EPs marking the tenth anniversary of Trouble (not to mention the fifth anniversary of Limbo) and featuring up-and-coming Scottish artists remixed by established and emerging local and international talents. All told, it’s a formidable package, catering for diverse tastes, as the overwhelmingly positive reactions from international DJs and tastemakers across the board demonstrate (97% positive: 17% 5/5, 44% 4/5 and 36% 3/5 stars). See all the feedback/quotes below.
Midnight Thunder will be released by Hobbes Music on Monday 22nd April 2013 and available as limited edition (of 300) vinyl 12”s and via all download platforms, with worldwide distribution by Rubadub.
Selected Feedback:‘Auntie Flo is big!’ (Justin Robertson, UK – Various, Worldwide – club) ‘Favourite Mix: Sun Ritual – Will be following this label close. Great release! (Sinden, US – Various, Worldwide – club) ‘iO Sounds mix is great’ (Alex Metric, UK – Various, Worldwide – club) ‘Favourite: Sun Ritual – Fresh’ (Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, UK – Various, Worldwide – club) ‘Like the Auntie Flo track. Nice nod to Primal Scream in there’ (Plump DJs, UK – Various, Worldwide – club) ‘Favourite: Sun Ritual – Thanks men i like this mix’ (Zdar, Ed Banger, France – Various, Worldwide – club) ‘Favourite Mix: Sun Ritual – Will download. Thank you for good music!’ (M.A.N.D.Y., Germany – Various, Worldwide – club) ‘Wicked package’ (Doorly, Rinse FM, US – Various Worldwide – club) ‘Favourite: Sun Ritual – great release, top notch in quality and diversity’ (Ben Mono, Berlin/Germany – Various, Worldwide – club) ‘Auntie Flo is my fav’ (Arveene, Ireland)’Very nice – love Twitch’s mix’ (Sean Johnston / A Love From Outer Space) ‘Favourite: Treehouses – Skippy House flows, we like. good work’ (DJ Locksmith / Rudimental, UK – Various, Worldwide – club) ‘Auntie Flo is the jam’ (Maetrik/Maceo Plex, USA – Various, Worldwide)
A1. Edinburgh/Glasgow electronic duo Conquering Animal Sound open the EP with Treehouses, singer Anneke Kampman’s distinctive voice reminiscent of a young Bjork. The band are already a live favourite locally and this track is a highlight from their forthcoming second album (due out via Glasgow indie behemoths Chemikal Underground in March). Dazzling new London talent iO supplies the remix, having garnered props from Mary Anne Hobbs and Mad Decent and currently adding a slew of releases to a rapidly burgeoning repertoire for labels such as Fortified Audio, Mad Tech, Future Shock, Infinite Machine, Diamond & Raw, Symbols, Senseless, Black Butter and Audio Culture. iO fuses a well-honed bass aesthetic with twenty-first century beat programming and a deep house sensibility, maintaining the integrity and melancholic feel of the original without forfeiting the demands of the ‘floor. Early feedback suggests this track has the potential to win fans across the board. An instrumental version will be available on a later release.
A2. On the back of a tremendous year which saw his debut album, Future Rhythm Machine (Huntleys & Palmers), widely acclaimed and tour dates all over Europe, Glasgow’s afrofuturist warrior, Auntie Flo, delivers Sun Ritual (the original of which was released by Cologne electronic giants Kompakt in November). This track has been given a heavy makeover by Edinburgh techno legend Neil Landstrumm (Planet Mu, Tresor, Peace Frog), who harnesses the African groove of the original and infuses it with his trademark industrial/bass/rave aesthetics, doffing his cap to Screamadelica-era Primal Scream in the process. Taking no prisoners, it’s an absolute beast and guaranteed to do the damage in the right clubs.
B1. Another local live favourite, HRH (above photo taken live at Limbo by Scott Carroll) deliver postmodern sleaze in their uniquely punky, electrorockabillyglamraggapop style, thanks in no small way to awe-inspiring front-woman Heather Craig, whose impassioned live performances are like John Lydon crossed with Siouxsie Sioux. Scottish DJing legend JD Twitch (Optimo) turns the dark, moody, DAF-inspired original into a menacing stealth bomber of a club cut, ensuring everyone will be dancing like drones as the metaphorical storm clouds descend. Again not for the faint-hearted, this track has already proved popular with those who appreciate music of a darker disposition! [Twitch’s own formative Nineties residency at seminal Edinburgh club night Pure (more info here) was where I had my schooling in classic electronic music before he went on to transform the clubbing landscape in Glasgow with the still more influential Optimo nights, so this remix lends the project a personal symmetry].
B2. Last, but by no means least, up-and-coming Slovenian star Nightwave puts her highenergy stamp and frenzied beats all over Heavy Weather, my own collaborative production with Leonidas (whose own debut EP, Sequential, has been winning fans in underground clubs across the globe since its summer ‘12 release via Japanese-owned label Round In Motion). Maya Medvesek, aka Nightwave, is a Glasgow/London-based Producer, DJ, Vocalist & RBMA graduate. Classically trained from an early age, her releases on Svetlana Industries, Unknown to the Unknown, Fortified Audio and Seed Records, as well as Ministry of Sound’s ‘Adventures in Dubstep & Beyond’ and the Cassie Tribute album ‘Skydiver’ out on Local Action Records either as Nightwave (or her retired moniker 8bitch) have garnered her international acclaim for a forward-thinking combination of Chicago juke, UK bass, techno, grime & 80s funk. 2012 saw Maya play to a packed RBMA stage at Barcelona’s Sonar festival where her set was heralded by international press as one of the festival highlights. Having supported artists like Rusko, Anthony Shake Shakir, MNDR, Dopplereffekt and Death Grips, appearing at festivals such as Outlook, The Electric Picnic & Exit and guesting on Rustie’s critically acclaimed debut album ‘Glass Swords’ with the single ‘Surph’ (which hit daytime Radio 1, garnering support far and wide from the likes of Pete Tong, Annie Mac, Nick Grimshaw and Huw Stephens), not to mention participating in the prestigious Red Bull Music Academy in Madrid, it’s not difficult to see why tastemakers have cited her as one to watch.Other DJ feedback so far (11/03/13) ‘Favourite: Treehouses – Liking the deep vibes. Great voice too’ (David Cox / AutoKratz, UK – Various, Worldwide – club) ‘I really like the iO Sounds Remix’ (Kruse & Nuernberg, Germany – Various, Worldwide – club) ‘Favourite: Treehouses – Loving this, very emotion heavy and subtle, thanks will support!!’ (Jody Wisternoff/Way Out West) ‘Favourite: Pinky Ring – sounds good’ (Heiko Hoffman, Groove Magazine Editor, Germany)’iO remix is really cool – very nice deep groove going on here’ (Ben Gomori, UK – Eastern Electrics Podcast – radio) ‘Favourite: Treehouses – Was a close call between this and Keith’s mix but the iO wins… lovely production… Interesting and varied EP’ (Kevin McKay, UK – Various – Glasgow – club) ‘Neil’s is my pick – really properly tribal but without being cheesy like a lot of ‘tribal’ things are’ (Ollie,Bugged Out, UK – club) ‘Favourite: Treehouses’ (Serocee – Various, Europe – club) ‘Favourite: Pinky Ring – cool mixes’ (Benoit Carretier – Tsugi, France) ‘Favourite: Treehouses – Great remix package! Exciting first release!’ (goldFFinch, Belgium, Audio Culture, fm brussels, MND BRatislava – club/radio)
‘Neil Landstrumm remix is fantastic. I’ve been fan of him for many many years, and still…. thanks!!’ (Angel Molina, Barcelona – club) ‘Favourite: Sun Ritual – GREAT. Keep this coming! (DJ Wool, The Glass, Berlin, Germany / Awesome Agency / America – club) ‘Optimo remix is incredible’ (Roy Kerr, aka The Freelance Hellraiser, UK) ‘Neil Laundstrumm does no evil’ (Daire Carolan, Ireland) ‘Twitch’s rmx and Landstrumm’s mix of Auntie Flo are really nice’ (Nacho Lovers – Toronto, Canada) ‘Favourite: Heavy Weather – Badass’ (Justiy, GALACTUS, Italy, Kiss Saturdays, Carrick-On-Shannon/Various, Ireland – club) ‘Top draw EP. Especially into the Neil Landstrumm mix’ (Mister Sushi, UK) ‘Neil on the house road again!’ (Embryo, Slovakia – Various, Slovakia – club) ‘Really like the iO Sounds remix. Nice techy vibe, will use at Plug, Sheffield’ (Geoff Ticehurst – Shuffle, Plug, Sheffield / Freshly Squeezed, Leeds Uni – club) ‘Favourite: Treehouses – Support’ (Alex Ormas / MAGNVM!, Juke Box Hero, Plastic Club, Milan – club) ‘Favourite: Sun Ritual Loving this!! Def in my set and prob next mix’ (Mike Mago, Boemklatsch) ‘The Neil Landstrumm mix is ace!’ (Kosmos, Spain, BOOMBOX, NASTY MONDAYS, NITSA-APOLO – club) ‘Love the Neil Landstrumm remix!’ (PMcQ, Glasgow/UK – club) ‘Thanks for this…. LOVE!!!! (Rebecca Vasmant, Ministry Of Sound Word Tours, Resident – club) ‘Thanks for this.. Nightwave mix the highlight for me’ (Dam Mantle, Glasgow – Various, Europe) ‘Thanks, the Neil Landstrumm remix remix rocks!!’ (Ionik/Traveller Records, Finland) ‘Really liking the tracks, well produced all of them’ (Astroboy, Kelburn Garden Party/Various, Scotland) ‘Favourite: Neil Landstrumm/Twitch – Well done, I’m well impressed!’ (Kris Wasabi, Wasabi Disco/Various, Edinburgh)