The best records of January 2017

Leave the prejudices in 2016 like we did. January 2017 exploding with sounds of Baba Stiltz, Flørist, Armando Bertozzi, Pan Daijing, Richenel, Black Merlin and more. Their multi-voice is refreshing and stimulating.

Black Merlin — Proto World EP 12″ [Berceuse Heroique]

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Black Merlin got some secret, pagan and exciting knowledge after trip to Bali and Hipnotic Tradisi album. And now he projects new production like adding some a pinch of secret spice into the bowling soup. Even the EP’s name Proto World guarantees a savage, ruthless and beautiful world inside without consumerism, rules and limitations. Primal power trickling from it like from an overmature fruit. It’s a music of instincts, honest and deep in its simplicity. You can feel the pace of people in strange masks carrying flaming torches and rattling shiny bells in Spirit House. And you are watching this procession from the safe point of view. Should you join it or stay in your shelter? The tension is amplified in the Proto World, you hear the loud cries of the shaman and the furious drums of invisible fans of the cult. Then it’s a sacrifice in Vision Animal. The sound became more synthetic like the adherents have already accessed the desired magic. The final is Hope — a sad, courageous ambient, like a tear, it’s waiting for the next day in this cruel ancient world.

Richenel — La Diferencia 12″ [Music From Memory]

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What a powerful start of 2017 on Music From Memory — brilliant 6-tracker of outsider boogie and electronic minimal funk from Richenel. The record contains 2 unreleased tracks and 4 alternate takes of songs released in 1982 on the cult Amsterdam cassette only label Fetisj. Richenel was performing in the underground Amsterdam’s clubs at the time, later he became a significant figure in Dutch pop history and one of the brightest male voices in the country. Elegant nostalgic boogie with warm piano keys and text about the need of a new start when «autumn comes around» opens the EP. Sexual power spilling over the edge, Richenel’s voice purring, flirting, howling and calling. Jumping drum machine fuels the fire. This record will be followed later with further works from Richenel and the Fetisj label, so we are looking forward to it!

Armando Bertozzi — Fantastic World LP [Orbeatize]

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The man reissued this record is a teacher for me, I became who I am today after listening every record in his Boxes Of Toys. Here’s what Gianni aka Cesare Barbetta said about starting a label: «After spending thousands and thousands of hours (and money) focused on digging and listening to the weird rare records, at the age of 38 I decided to start my own label — Orbeatize». In his own words, Fantastic World is one of the best Italian LPs in history, and I believe him. The original was released in 1985 and marked as contemporary jazz. There’s a portal into Polyrhythmic kingdom opened, fabulous, sparkling and multifaceted. Armando created unearthly sound combinations. He’s mixing drums, marimbas, vibraphone, Roland and Oberheim keyboards with zanki and Zildjian cymbals, drawing a lot of polyrhythmic mosaics and stained-glass windows. It’s like Santana said: «Some songs are just like tattoos for your brain… you hear them and they’re affixed to you».

Baba Stiltz — Is Everything 12″ [Studio Barnhus]

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22-years old Swedish prodigy Baba Stiltz delivers one more release on Studio Barnhus. And it’s a hit baby. Most of the EP is a house with the modern techy edge and bizarre melodies. Everything starts in the Snowwhite, muted tech house beat with rustling background and claustrophobic melody. Then Baby appears, centrepiece of the EP (for me at least), the bright pop moment where Baba’s singing (for the first time?), laid back electronic ballad about he and she (it’s also accompanied with cool video of Baba walking and smoking down the NYC streets, check it). Want to admit also Freeeze, contemplative downtempo electronica where you feel walking in the quiet garden, and XXX200003, one more successful Baba’s experiment in the «world» dance music (do you remember his Pacific Times on Public Possession?)

Various Artists — Various Squirrels Vol. 1 12″ [Squirrels On Film]

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San Francisco veterans Solar and Brian Hock aka C.L.A.W.S. created their own label Squirrels On Film. And its first release is a bomb. There is a production of Solar on the A-side and both tracks sound like a rave on an interplanetary ship. The first track Five Seconds is based on thrilling beat and deep powerful, like a ballistic missile, bass line dipping you deeper and deeper into crazy dance behind huge redwoods, psychedelia and lights in the California night. The next track Depth Charge is something like a giant iridescent sea devil. Its slow moves are powered with thunderbolts. The flip-side is also enchanting, especially Black Magik Carpet Ride track, it sounds like from original hippie bus full of mechanical palms and changing acid patterns.

Naaahhh — Themes 12″ [Blackest Ever Black]

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The label BEB continues to explore new forms of musical underground relief. Sounds like the main instrument used in the Themes was sonar. It’s like a live stream from seething underwater world full of sacraments, otherworldly sounds and something forgotten and covered with ooze. The first three tracks are more like wandering among the inhabitants of the ocean depths, you hear the sound of a whale, while the B-side consists of oriental war rhythms pouring through the huge Persian rug.

Flørist presents V Rosco — Windows On The World EP 12″ [World Building]

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We couldn’t resist the charm of World Building, the young label of Ari Goldman from Beautiful Swimmers. The first record there was great but a little bit obvious for us, this time we included its second baby — EP from Vancouver-based Flørist. This record is like finding cool unknown 12″ from 90s in a worn cover with a cool dub mix, the sound quality is just much better :) It’s deep house with all these good old elements in it but it has something special. Maybe this special ingredient is a tranquillity (in a dance track ha!), clarity and innocence. Maybe it comes from a cool clear Canadian air and sun.

Hysteric — Pepper DJ 12″ [Edit du Plaisir]

I’m sure you already saw the viral video for Pepper DJ even if you didn’t hear the whole record. Label boss Master Phil is dancing over the funny videos from 80s and 90s. It looks like cheerful, eccentric kitsch, some satire on those characters thinking about disco like some outdated, vulgar and terribly poppin genre. But the sincerity and passion of the madness on the screen breaking the prejudices. There are fresh edits from the master Hysteric inside. George has the table full of dishes from different cuisines: dreamy edit of legendary Le Figlie del Vento — Mare, Indian hard funk, Brazilian new wave dancing with the main hit as hot as chili.

Francis Inferno Orchestra — Oasis & A Time 12″ [Superconscious]

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It’s a solid release from the FIO dude. Yes, it sounds a bit nostalgic u know. A1 has its roots into 90s breakbeat and deep house, A2 is like unreleased Enigma or something. But the execution and bass in the Celestial Body mix force you accurately to dance while the Erotikk Mix has an extra smooth texture and aphrodisiac effect. By the way, there is a main action on the flip-side, Mating Rituals In The Eastern Suburbs is a dance around the fire, invocatory drum beat, war-cry.

Tolouse Low Trax — Decades Vol.II 12″ [Antinote]

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It’s a second chapter of Detlef Weinrich opus on Antinote. It’s something outrageously mystical in the air. Some ancient civilization woke up from a thousand years long sleep. Tolouse’ sound became more multistage, advanced, relaxed but still solid. There are a lot of space and volume, new experiments with vocals. It’s some future techno beat, forest industrial created with a 3d printer. Detlef made machines sound like creatures of nature. It’s impossible but it’s reality.

P Relief & D — P&D 01 12″ [P&D]

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Long time friends Parker Harris aka P Relief and Diego Herrera aka D established a new record label — P&D, that simple! While LA dreaming and dancing on a pool afterparty with balloons on the A-side, Amsterdam is melting under European sun on the flipside. Both producers share the same delicate approach to beats and atmospheres and same affection to dreamy synth pads. Two Parker’s percussion infused tracks have some lazy dance potential, while Diego stripped his softest late summer house jam City Boy to the ambient bone.

Tapan — Tarantella 12″ [Malka Tuti]

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Sounds capitally like it was created in a company of Greek atlantes. The main track here Tarantella is a 10mins long slow techno. You are like climbing up the cliff under the dodging piles of rubble. The air is clean, the risk ups your heartbeat. You can rest a bit on a rare ledge and check the breathtaking view. The Poison High sounds like some natural phenomenon with no name. It’s as good as Black Merlin’s remix of the title track turned it into a ritual hurricane.

Pan Daijing — A Satin Sight 12″ [Bedouin]

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Musically flexible Pan experimenting with in sexploitation and techno industrial sound. Every part is dominating here: biting and dirty drums, Daijing’s vocals invading like a scalpel, ruthless and catapulting EBM heals with acid horror madness. You should just submit and dance till the engine stops.

Maoupa Mazzocchetti — Infinite Glance Court 12″ [Unknown Precept]

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The sound of Maoupa is becoming more melodic but it’s still wild and raw. Our hero created 4 short sound compositions so interesting and thrilling that it’s hard and pointless to choose the fave. The EP sounds brutal, experimental, uninhibited but harmoniously and sincerely. Mazzocchetti’s synth punk, electro, industrial add more points into Unknown Precept rating.

Words Artem Ikra (1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 13, 14), Sasha Tessio (2, 4, 7, 9, 11)
Illustrations Sasha Tessio