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Compilations - Issue 615

Special Request

DJ-Kicks

!K7
Under his Special Request alias, Leeds DJ and producer Paul Woolford has specialised in exploring various manifestations of UK dance music. Albums like ‘Soul Music’ and ‘Zero Fucks’ for Houndstooth, and EPS such as ‘Modern Warfare’ for XL, found him focusing on roughneck jungle, but others, like ‘Bedroom Tapes’ and ‘Vortex’, have drawn on home-grown electro and golden-era Warp-style IDM for inspiration. All these styles and more feature on Special Request’s ‘DJ-Kicks’ mix, which finds him also taking in the techno and house he’s reserved for projects and appearances under his own name. Those expecting the tear-out Amen breaks of his most famous moniker will get them, but not till the end. Instead, Woolford builds a mix that acts as a love letter to all the forms of club music that have fed into his sets and productions over the years. Opening with the warm gospel house of Alicia Myers’ ‘Right Here Right Now (John Morales M+M Remix)’ might feel like an anomaly, but it makes perfect sense when you consider that Woolford has a long history with house, dating back to his remixes for Murk and Liberty City. Building into the piano-laden cosmic disco of Melbourne artist Harvey Sutherland and Morgan Geist’s distinctive analogue synth funk, the mix takes a left turn with the mystic synth eddies, questing bassline and propellant electro beats of new Special Request track ‘Vellichor’ (a word meaning the strange wistfulness of visiting a used bookshop). Classic Virgo house track ‘R U Hot Enough?’ gets a spin, before we’re immersed in archetypal IDM classic ‘De- Orbit’ by Speedy J, with its rolling break and interlaced bleeps and melodies, and AceMo’s 2020 bassline-driven gem ‘Sequence Of Life’. For every new track, there’s a lesser-heard classic, with tracks from μ-Ziq and Psyance leading up to the compilation’s heavier denouement. To kick off the final segment, he gives FC Kahuna’s chill-out classic ‘Hayling’ the Special Request treatment, accompanying its amniotic pad tones with chopped-up jungle breaks. A second μ-Ziq track, ‘Twangle Frent’, is transformed into a hyper emotional roller, its circuitous bleeps spinning over kinetic breaks, while Galaxian’s ‘Glasgow To Detroit’ becomes a hyperactive tempo bridge to faster material. Blissfully melodic remixes of Tim Reaper shape-shift into Amen powered, screw-face Reese bass workouts. The final track is a beatless Special Request collaboration with 96 Back, with addictive Oberheim bass and a brooding atmosphere, suggesting things unresolved. The variety of styles on this mix is in line with Woolford’s diverse output, and especially his previous mix compilations. The 2012 mix ‘The Lab 04’, released under his own name, similarly darted between house, techno and IDM, using tracks by Shed, Mr Beatnick and Aphex Twin, while 2017’s ‘FABRICLIVE 91’ found ways of knitting together techstep, industrial and electro perfectly, in a manner few others would even attempt. Putting together this latest ‘DJ-Kicks’, Woolford looked back to early editions, which sparked his imagination when they were first released. “This mix was a real labour of love,” he says. “I’d had it in my mind since the mid-’90s when I heard Carl Craig and Claude Young’s instalments, so when it came around, I just got lost in it all properly.” You can hear that love and dedication come through in the seamless transitions, and the way in which certain sounds or ideas recur. Woolford skilfully finds the common ground between his disparate musical sources, showing that while the tempos or beats might change, the same emotions, transcendent energy, joy and heartbreak are threaded through all the best dance music. Special Request’s ‘DJ-Kicks’ deserves a place next to other classics in the series. BEN MURPHY
Ben Murphy

V/A

AFFINITY II

Ploink Records

New techno from Norway
Norway is better known for its disco scene, but as Thomas Urv and Miss Mostly’s PLOINK highlights, their techno scene is just as idiosyncratically out-there. From the dubby, throbbing ‘Jokkemokken’ by Nordenstam through to Skolopender’s brooding and heavily textured ‘Morkel’, there are moods aplenty, each delivered with aplomb. The bouncy arpeggios of Angermund’s ‘Rastløst Rævhål’ recall Prins Thomas while Vakum’s meta- monikered ‘Annoyingly Lengthy Title Tune’ is as full of attitude as you’d imagine, bouncing around with an irregular kick pattern, then sketching out into silence before setting off again. Elsewhere, Pettø sets ‘Phases’ to stun with a swirling haze of percussion and delay and Thomas Urv’s ‘Ssskummel Skog’ gets wonderfully weird, recalling Hugg & Pepp in the minimal days. A snapshot of the Norwegian scene seven years into the label’s history, it’s a tantalising release. JOE ROBERTS
Joe Roberts

V/A

Anjunadeep 12

Anjunadeep

An abundance of riches
Last year’s ‘Anjunadeep 11’ was a revelation, among the most resonant instalments to date, syncing uncannily with the melancholy descending alongside lockdown at the time. Its follow-up leans into the same evolution on the Anjunadeep formula — a broad mix of atmospheric interludes, sumptuous vocals, and a trove of hypnotic progressive bombs. There are a whopping 56 new tracks spread across three mixes, each released separately in spaced intervals, a clever strategy to maximise attention on social and streaming platforms. Though, with this rise in quantity, there are some diminished returns. Careful curation is swapped for a glut of new tunes, with all three mixes failing to crack that elusive flow-state. However, this feels like nit-picking when even the filler is produced to a rich standard. Its standout moments of nightclub euphoria and deep ambience are sublime. ANGUS PATERSON
Angus Paterson

V/A

Edo Funk Explosion Vol. 1

Analog Africa

Nigerian funk, ripe for house sets
That the country who gave us Fela Kuti, Tony Allen and Naira Marley is not considered one of music’s great exporters really means my predecessors weren’t doing their job. That’s finally being corrected thanks to records like this, a compilation of late-’70s and ’80s dance music from Benin City in southern Nigeria. The sound is Edo funk, played here by three artists: studio pioneer Sir Victor Uwaifo, political Osayomore Joseph, and “philosopher king” Akaba Man, whose ‘Ogbov Omwan’ is possibly the peachiest pick of this party potpourri. Joseph’s ‘Who Know Man’ and Uwaifo’s ‘Obviemama’ will also make you move, tracks you could imagine Tash LC sprinkling into a set amid a bevy of funky house. Listen if you like The Specials, the original FIFA Street soundtrack, or the feeling of dancing as though everything might just be alright. SAM DAVIES
Tristan Bath

V/A

J Jazz Volume 3: Deep Modern Jazz From Japan 1969-1983

BBE

Dive into jazzy waters
The liner notes for the latest in BBE’s ‘J Jazz’ series underline the knowledge and passion compilers Tony Higgins and Mike Peden have for Japanese jazz. This third instalment brings together rare recorded live performances, Yasuhiro Kohno Trio’s dramatic ‘Song Of Island’, Hideyasu Terakawa Quartet’s flowing ‘Black Nile’, with studio tracks from some of the era’s pivotal figures. Venturing from far-out experimentation, Koichi Matsukaze Trio’s ‘Acoustic Chicken’ is so called, we imagine, because of the sax trills that ride its strutting double-bass, to deeply immersive listening, Aki Takase Trio’s ‘Song For Hope’ swelling with the sentiment of the title. It even touches on the dancefloor, Shigeharu Mukai’s ‘Cumulonimbus‘ a joyous, guitar- licked samba. If you like what you hear, BBE’s J Jazz Masterclass Series is reissuing some of the albums sampled here. JOE ROBERTS
Joe Roberts

V/A

La Ola Interior: Spanish Ambient & Acid Exoticism 1983-1990

Bongo Joe

A warm, wonderful revelation
The second comp by Bongo Joe focusing on Spain’s 1980s underground swaps the post- punk of ‘La Ola Contra’ (‘the wave against’) for the hidden ambient world of ‘La Ola Interior’ (‘the wave inside’). Following the hedonism of the exploding Madrid scene in the wake of fascism’s fall in the ’70s, this collection finds a network of home recorders and self-pressing tapeheads forging their own fourth worlds all around the country. The mode on display is far from Eno’s methodical furniture music, or the utilitarian New Age sounds emerging in parallel around the world. ‘La Ola Interior’ is above all heterogeneous in its timbres and moods, with sacred indeterminate early electronics, Sufi tunings, and distant drums populating a vast soundscape stretching from the beaches of the Canary Islands to the streets of Barcelona. A warm and wonderful revelation. TRISTAN BATH
Tristan Bath

V/A

New Age Steppers

On-U Sound

Punk-minded dub
Over a decade on from the passing of Ari Up, the legacy of New Age Steppers is ripe for re-examination. The loose collective centred around Slits vocalist Ari Up and dub producer extraordinaire Adrian Sherwood, New Age Steppers formed in 1980. Across three studio albums, the duo assembled post-punkers and reggae artists to make punk-minded dub, inserting rugged guitars and rough sonics into smoke-filled echo chambers. A young Neneh Cherry even debuts on mixing-desk bubble-gum deconstruction, ‘My Love’! This set packages it all together beautifully, adding a full disc of off-cuts and dub versions mired in the unique weirdness that emerged from reggae and punk’s fruitful love affair. Diminishing in experimentalism over its short lifespan, the full story remains a wild inspiration consumed in its entirety. Ari Up’s sheer charisma and Sherwood’s singular vision elevate every second. TRISTAN BATH
Tristan Bath

V/A

Profondo Nero

Dekmantel

Sought-after Italo gems
Red Light Radio mainstay Cinema Royale compiles his favourite ‘leftfield Italo’, meaning — bar International Music System’s synthy ‘An English ‘93’ — an eleven-track collection of largely obscure, sought- after gems. Galvanica’s ‘Nightlights In Japan’ is pleasingly hammy and hooky, Isamar & Compañia’s ‘No Estas’ warm proto-house, and Robert Sandrini’s ‘Occhi Su Di Me’ dewy-eyed last dance sentimentality. This diversity serves to highlight Italo’s vast range of ’80s influences. Jet Set’s ‘Love Break’ stands out thanks to electro-boogie drums and bass meeting lush, longing chords, but so does Mark’s more traditional sounding ‘Dreamland’, pulling off the trick of a vocal that’s both addictive and virtually incomprehensible. Special mention goes to Loukas Thanos’ soaring ‘Jazzburger’ which opens with the lyrics, ‘I feel the burger inside me, I feel the jazzburger in my brain’. JOE ROBERTS
Joe Roberts

V/A

Saturday Night: South African Disco Pop Hits 1981-1987

Cultures Of Soul

Fun, colourful hits
Few nations experienced as much change as South Africa did in the ’80s, starting the decade with UN-backed cultural boycotts and ending it with Madiba’s release from prison. This compilation documents the country’s wave of disco pop. Not a music of resistance, it’s rather a South Africanisation of Italo disco and early Madonna. White singer Margino in fact perfectly apes the young Madonna on ‘You and Me’ and even covers ‘Holiday’. Black singers from townships on the other hand, such as vocal trio Hot Soul Singers or popular singer Brenda Fassie (once dubbed “The Madonna of the Townships” by Time Magazine), decrease the bubble-gum factor and leave behind more traces of the Zulu roots music which had ruled in the ’70s. More than any history class, though, this is just a massively fun and garish party of forgotten ’80s hits. TRISTAN BATH
Tristan Bath