April showers brought the May flowers, and now the June sunshine and Dog Days of July are around the corner. Is it me or is everything better with lots of sunshine? With the official start of summer less than a month away, I’m excited about a lot, including the music … It’s gonna be a massive summer for electronic artists! As always, the global stage of electronic dance music pulses with life, and many ambitious forward-looking albums are on their way or were recently dropped—the sounds are futuristic, the grooves killer, the tunes huge. So what are some of the things that I will be listening to?
1. Kikomoto Allstars “House Music LP”
Dance music has a globe-spanning history, and right now few encompass that spirit more than Cam Farrar. Hailing from Melbourne, Farrar takes his moniker from Tadao Kikomoto, the guy at Japanese synth-giant Roland behind the TR909 and the TB-303. Of course these instruments landed in Chicago and helped to set new directions for the emerging house music sound, perhaps most famously in the case of the 303 whose growling baselines defined Acid house. (It ’s called acid because the 303 is a bass machine…get it?) This release is all original material, but also very much a tribute to the roots of electronic dance music. All the original instruments are used, and tracks such as “I’ll Make You Jack” and “Jack the House” conjure bygone days of nightlife as do “Can’t Stop the House” and “Warehouse Days.”
2. Louie Vega and Dj Pierre “Da Jungle EP”
This EP features nine different versions of “Da Jungle,” a colloboration that is itself special because Vega and Pierre are two pioneers of dance music. Vega is one half of the legendary duo Masters at Work, and a solo marvel for his soulful, Nuyorican flavored NYC house, fitting for the nephew of Hector Lavoe. Similarly, DJ Pierre is also a superstar of house music, a certified institution of Chicago House, responsible for bringing Wildpitch and Acid styles to that city’s house sound, and so to the world. Pierre’s Afro-Acid label grew out of a party in Chicago, and this collaboration is another remarkable track from what has quickly become one of my favorite labels in dance music.
3. Kris Menace “Idiosyncrasies 3-Disc” LP
Um, wow…just, wow. Kris Menace’s is my no doubt going to be my fav album of the summer. This one is a 3-CD release—two albums of original tracks and a third that’s a DJ mix. An embarrassment of riches, and almost too good to be true—this one is for anyone who likes airy and melodic synthesizers airy or dance music inflected by the eighties hold the cheese. Lots of that here, all spilling over tightly knitted beats, some of them in collaboration with others—Felix Da Housecat, Spooky, Alan Braxe, Fred Falke, Hexstatic all show up to lend different directions to these 26 tracks. The album certainly has a “sound”–one that after so many tracks remains surprisingly fresh, and non-repetitive.
4. DJ Hell “Teufelswerk” 2-Disc LP
I’ve been waiting for this record since I heard DJ Hell’s guest appearance on Tom Wax’s radio show in Berlin. There’s been a lot of hype around this one… It. Is. All. True. Hell’s third full-length artist record is brilliant. Dance music at its best. The double CD is split into Day and Night. “Day” is somber, melodic, and in places experimental–“Carte Blanche,” “Action (Interlude),” and the extended opening of “Germania” each sound like something out of Karlheinz Stockhausen; this dance music is one of ideas, extended languishing tracks filled with color and atmospheric subtlety. “Night” gets down to the brass tacks of the dancefloor. For this one, Hell enlists P. Diddy and Bryan Ferry of Roxy Music as vocalists as well as a number of other producers including Frankfurt’s Anthony Rother on “Bodyfarm.”