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Sunday, 28 September 2014

Phonique featuring Rebecca – Feel What You Want (X-Kom Rework)

Pick of the Week 57 - Phonique

In a cynical attempt to up our blog ratings Phonique are this week’s selection. Sounding like a cross between Electribe 101 and Above and Beyond this is a quality piece of cultured deep house music. The video is another thing altogether and poses lots of questions; what the hell is she doing? Has she never heard of curtains? Or sensible pyjamas? Some nice moves though that I have incorporated into my own dance routines.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Subsoul Compilation – The Soulful Side of Bass Music

Allegedly base can kill. If this is the case then Subsoul’s compilation of ‘upfront and exclusive house, garage and bass music’ could be the smoking gun in several cases of base related murders. It’s a mysterious, underground and distinctly old school mix of vocal deep house with the emphasis squarely on your sub-woofer. It reminds me of those old Todd Edwards mix CD’s if they’d taken steroids to simultaneously beef them up and slow them down. It sounds great on paper but in reality it’s a mixed bag…

As with all ‘mix’ albums in my experience, there’s a handful of great tracks but padded out with acceptable but unremarkable filling fodder. The Subsoul compilation is no different and although the assembled tracks blend seamlessly to form a coherent atmosphere, there’s a distinct lack of real quality on show. The more soulful numbers generally hit the spot but reliance on ‘Ride on Time’ style sequenced vocals in several of the others only served to irritate me and I was soon flicking them.

Worthy of special attention are Wilkinson’s pulsing ‘Take you Higher’, Robin’s urban tinged, bleepy ‘What Ya Wanna Do?’ and Kidnap Kid’s soulful, unctuous vocals on ‘So Close’. Easily the pick of the bunch is the opening track ‘Real’, it’s a near perfect mix of smooth soul and aggressive baseline. If only all the tracks were actual ‘songs’ like this prime offering from Gorgon City.

So another Curate’s Egg of a compilation, but on the upside, it will make you look cool as you cruise round with it on the car stereo at full volume (or maybe not). It’s well worth a listen but there’s always a health warning on these DJ mix disks. Listen with limited expectations and enjoy that base!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

The Geraldine Fibbers – Butch

After the Geraldine Fibbers festive fifty entry this year with ‘Fancy’ I famously stated ‘Where have the Geraldine Fibbers been all my life?’ Sadly, this may have been a little rash on my part. ‘Butch’ is a hotch potch of semi-alt-country soundbites that often don’t quite hang together as songs, let alone as a full album. It’s reminiscent, in spirit anyway, of albums by Sufjan Stevens, Done Lying Down and Guided by Voices. There’s just something  that doesn’t gel.

That’s not always a bad thing, but in this case it is. ‘Butch’ is seriously hard work apart from the way too catchy opener; ‘California Tuffy’ and the dark growl of ‘Toy Box’ which is a cracking little song. The rest just gets flicked.

The Geraldine Fibbers sound much better when the female singer provides the vocals. I’m assuming this is Carla Bozulich and I’d be really keen to hear some of her other work. Apparently she’s been quite a prolific artiste. Maybe it should have been ‘Where has Carla Bozulich been all my life?’ I hope so anyway.

2014 has been a tough year at the Into the Valley office and it’s already the end of April!

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Banco de Gaia – Apollo

Years ago in the early nineties I owned a Banco de Gaia album that I desperately wanted to like. ‘Last Train to Lhasa’ was a vast concept album that charted a mystical train journey, possibly into Tibet. It was ambient, deep and intelligent and even with years of perseverance I could never get into it. In fact it used to drive me a little insane.

Roll on twenty years and Evlkeith has bought me ‘Apollo’; Banco de Gaia’s latest album for Christmas. Surly they’ve moved on musically? Surly I’m deeper, more intelligent and more open to ambience? Well apparently not. Essentially it sounds exactly the same as ‘Last Train to Lhasa’; self indulgent, boring, chugging techno that holds my limited attention for less than five seconds. Unfortunately there’s no train journey theme this time either.

However all is not lost. Sandwiching all that dirgy techno are two outstanding, stark tracks featuring some ethnic yodelling/wailing. It’s atmospheric, beautiful and passionate in contrast to everything else I’ve heard by them. If only they could produce that kind of stuff all the time. ‘Lamentations’ is especially stark and ethereal with ‘Aquiescence’ darker, deeper and more breathy in its hypnotic incantations.

It all goes to show that being a pop star is still a really secure job and as long as you keep peddling the same old rubbish you’ll have a career for life. If only there was more yodelling the world would be a better place.