Damiano Von Erckert
‘Mickey M. and the Marlboro Man’
Any question marks surrounding Cologne-based Damiano Von Erckert’s much-hyped name have very much been dispelled by his latest EP for his AVA imprint. Already noted for collaborations with lauded talents like MCDE and Tito Wun, the ‘Giant Pandas and Other Nice Things In Life’ EP earlier this year presented rickety, dusted-down house that sounded instantly vintage but fresh at the same time. Here, however, we hear him fleshing out more soulful, funkier territory that shares more in common with Floating Points or Moodymann.
Drafting in the vocals of Peven Everett, best known for his contribution to Roy Davis Jnr’s garage classic ‘Gabriel’, ‘All About Lovin’ Me’ is full-bodied soulful house with a swinging underbelly of lumbering, viscous funk. At 124bpm, it has a drive that defies the track’s supple tones, where dreamy xylophones and dainty organ keys are offset against smooth vocals that bridge melodic jazz breakdowns. Expertly worked, it’s a rousing soul tune on one hand, but a gorgeous floor-filling groove on the other.
Saying that, the record that’s going to be most ubiquitous on dancefloors is ‘Diamonds & Girls’, a slab of vintage house-funk complete with Chi-town vocal skit, filtered disco bassline and a winding flute hook that could easily have been ripped from a Curtis Mayfield track. Timelessly class, it’s destined to get hammered over and over again by the most distinguished spinners of wax in the game.
Meanwhile, Von Erckert proves he’s no slave to a 4/4 on ‘A Lot Of Love’, a two-minute slice of Amen breaks shrouded in a rich brass ensemble. With a more obscure Max Graef remix, plus another thumping one entitled ‘4 O’ Clock. You Are In A Club’, ‘Mickey M. and the Marlboro Man’ is more like a mini-album than an EP; a candid introduction to Von Erckert’s vivid debonair dancefloor world that in 2015 is going to really unravel.
Liverpool-based Irishman The Cyclist is gaining traction for his submerged experimental house and cosmic rave throwdowns. ‘Tape Grunge Rave’ here is buried in deliberate busted speaker distortion but carries a sick bassline and primitive house percussion, before opting for fusillades of rave artillery. But even better is ‘Daisy Spirals’, like a forgotten, gorgeous ‘80s house classic turned inside out, again buried in distortion but with a bassline to die for and lovely keys that The Cyclist can’t hide from appreciative ears.
Coming via 2020 Vision sister label Fina, this fresh EP from Detroit man Appian is a veritable delight. ‘Chatter’ itself is suffused with a soulful, typically 313 feeling, all warm analogue bass, synthetic flutes and a melodic switch-up in its central synth motif to a more reflective tone, while DJs will gravitate to fellow Detroit cat Monty Luke’s flip of ‘Operator’, with its Gary’s Gang key lift, disco drums and oceanic pads. Sweet release.
‘How Many Times (andhim Remix)’
Those crazy Germans andhim take the original’s bleak, broken neo-soul atmospherica and rework into a dancefloor delight. The warm descend- ing three-note bass that comes in early doors is genius, and the melancholic vocal works in a post-Hot Creations, Leon Vynehall kinda way. They may wear funny trousers and lark about in interviews, but there’s no messing around when andhim come to produce their immaculate brand of ‘super house’.
Mat Playford continues his run of form with ace new track ‘ISON’. Beginning with a gurgling, snaking 303 and slamming beats, ‘ISON’ soon develops into piano house euphoria — but not
in a cheesy way. A looped old skool piano refrain mesmerisingly carries the track for a minute or two before some amazing, mazy jazz piano tickles the sensibilities. Boogie-woogie scale-traversing freestyling, some dynamite ivory-tinkling not seen on a dance track since ‘Uncertain Smile’ by The The, it totally makes ‘ISON’. Awesome.
‘Paradoxes of Progress’
Following in the melodic, leftfield footsteps of fellow Catalan producers John Talabot and Pional comes Sau Poler and this lovely EP. Garage skipping drums, vox cuts, rave stab riffs and a bittersweet air fuel ‘For NYC’, while it’s full of grooving Juno-style warm electro bass, clever cut-up percussive breaks and grand piano loops on ‘Mental Invasion’ — all brilliant.
This is actually a reissue of two of Nail Tolliday (ex-Bent)’s classic house tracks, contemplative, “proper” deep house tracks that also possess dancefloor finesse. ‘Our Love’ loops up its classic piano riff and is powered by hefty beats, before turning to pitch-bent Detroit-style techno lines midway through. ‘I’ve Been There’ meanwhile is all spacey pads and 4/4 garage bass and drums, with a distinct pirate radio vibe. You need this!
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