Demdike Stare - "Demdike Stare Meets Shangaan Electro"
Demdike Stare - "Demdike Stare Meets Shangaan Electro" (version)
Hype Williams - "Hype Williams Meets Shangaan Electro"
Hype Williams - "Hype Williams Meets Shangaan Electro" (version)
Review: Honest Jons are our undisputed favourites as far as bringing forth new and unexpected projects goes. One such project is their glorious string of releases which saw several contemporary electronic producers re-interpret the South African electro deluge of Shangaan Electro, a near 10 piece band consisting of wild dancers, freaky masks and ludicrously memorable anthems. This release features the experimental duo of Demdike Stare and the mysterious but wonderful pair that is Hype Williams. Demdike's remix is a sparse and sub-aqueous drone filtered through irregular bongos and melting swirls of voices, whilst the "version" pretty much reduces those already scarce drums to mere memories. Over on the flip, Hype Williams create a sublimely majestic rhythm, those vocals swaying so darn effortlessly over the rugged drum kit pouncing lazily beneath it. Their version injects a severely chopped slice of bass and concentrates primarily on the percussion - mounds of delays and reverbs present in true HW fashion.
DJ Sotofett & Karolin Tampere - "Nondo" (feat Maimouna Haugen) (6:09)
DJ Sotofett & Karolin Tampere - "Nondo" (feat Maimouna Haugen - riddimix) (4:01)
DJ Sotofett & Gilb'R - "Drippin for 97" (mix) (5:41)
DJ Sotofett & Gilb'R - "97" (riddim run) (3:50)
DJ Sotofett & Gilb'R - "97" (outro) (1:55)
Review: Serial collaborator DJ Sotofett pops up on Honest Jon's with a typically excellent doublepack built around a quartet of studio hook-ups. Aside from Versatile boss Gilb'r (here lending a helping hand on some African-influenced ambient house), most of the collaborators are new additions to the eccentric Norwegian's out-there audio universe. The two tracks with Phillip Lauer and JKS - an intergalactic ambient affair and a chunk of early Fila Brazillia style deep house - are particularly potent, while there's something deliciously warm and evocative about the Norwegian's explorations with Finn Jaakko Eino Kalevi. Best of all, though, are the two tracks with African vocalists Karlolin Tampere and Maimouna Haugen; "Nondo Riddimix", which boasts deliciously dense drums and sparse, exotic melodies, is arguably the highlight.
Review: When it comes to crafting distinctively off-kilter "ethno-techno" built around hypnotic, polyrhythmic drums, there's nobody quite as good as Florian Meyer AKA Don't DJ. Further proof of his majesty in this regard arrives via "Eternal Return", the epic, peak-time-focused opening track from the producer's latest double-pack excursion. Those seeking percussive, floor-friendly fare should also check "Circular Time", another bongo-laden tribal techno workout that sees Meyer get locked into an attractively organic drum groove for the best part of 12 minutes. Meyer's ability to conjure up odd but brilliant home listening fare is explored elsewhere on the EP, with the noisy, abstract weirdness of "Perpetual Flow" being joined by the chiming, hedgerow-fresh ambient bliss of awe-inspiring closing cut "Perseus-Pieces".
Review: Chicago eight-piece Hypnotic Brass Ensemble return with their first album in the best part of 10 years. Maturing with age, experience and decoration, they're even more rich, measured and magic than ever before. Our souls are arrested from the moment the slow spell-binding arpeggio of "Lead The Way" ignites the smouldering journey and the dreamy drama doesn't let up until the final whirling synth echoes of the finale track "Royalty". Highlights include the yearning trumpets and pensive plucks of "Midnight", the insistency and pace of "Heaven & Earth" and the playful swooning signature switches on "Now". Once again, a truly singular trip from the Cohran brothers. Essential.
Review: Using the Turkish psychedelic project Insanlar as a jump off point, Honest Jon's have enlisted Ricardo Villalobos to turn out one of his grandiose remix projects that gels so naturally with more exotic sound sources. The original of "Kime Ne" is already an enchanting, Moog-infused groover rich with traditional vocals, and then Mr Villalobos locks the ingredients in for a typically cosmic ride into stripped and hypnotic house territory, letting the lutes intertwine with dusty reams of percussion using that alchemists touch that could only come the man himself. The remix spreads itself over two sides of wax, leaving one side of the double pack free for a fetching etching as well.
Old Apparatus - "Old Apparatus Meets Shangaan Electro" (4:00)
Review: Honest Jon's present the last twelve inch instalment of their impossibly varied Shangaan Shake remix project with the perma excellent MMM and Old Apparatus at the helm. Fiedel and Wiegand's take on the Tshetsha Boys is notable for two things: firstly it continues the duo's recent fascination with rhythms of a decidedly UK Funky nature (as executed with devastating effect on their recent Dex/Rio 12") and it further strengthens the impression Honest Jon's have given the commissioned artists a blank canvas to retain or toss as many elements of the source material as they deem fit. Thus recognisable snippets of the vocals remain alongside a brilliantly twisted treatment of the tinny melodics wrapped infinitely around butt slapping drum textures. Completely different in tone and execution, the elusive Old Apparatus invoke the spirit of Scratch Perry at his most intoxicatingly brilliant with a rusted, half stepping arrangement caked in all manner of feedback which serves to demonstrate how far reaching the project has been over the course of the 12" releases.
Review: Moritz von Oswald Trio catch up on the amount albums they've released for Honest Jon's by delivering a new and second EP for the label called Blue. It's a return to dub techno in its most purest form, which is, of course, the spacious minimalisms of mid-90s Basic Channel. Welcomingly, "Blue" is dryer than ever with a smooth groove that's peppered with caustic stabs of saw wave, while the B-side's dub version is slowed down to a 2013 synthesised version of something by dub reggae originators The Upsetters. TIP!
Review: London's mighty Honest Jon's Records - the primary home to the most obscure of African recordings - is more of an institution than a label or record shop. The imprint itself has been on fire since the early noughties thanks to a masterful selection of releases and remix series from world music outfits and contemporary electronic musicians alike. Berlin's dub techno doctor and mastering engineer, Moritz von Oswald, returns to the label with his current project, the Moritz Von Oswald Trio: Lagos icon Tony Allen takes care of the percussion, Max Loderbauer adds the electronic mystique alongside von Oswald himself, while Ricardo Villalobos takes care of the mixing duties. Well, that's quite an artillery already and as we're sure you already know, putting that lot together in a studio can only mean one thing: QUALITY. Dubby, percussive, minimalistic, psychedelic and totally recommended.
Review: Released with the minimum of fanfare, Dismantle represents Rabih Beaini's first substantial release as Morphosis since last year's Tepco Report 12", and comes in the form of a five track double 12" release for Honest Jon's The first comprises two Morphosis productions obviously aimed at more adventurous DJs, with the title track (in collaboration with Donato Dozzy) comprising subtly rattling percussion and organic tones unfolding over a steady rhythmic pulse, while "Tamrat Version" comes across as more full bodied, with thicker organ textures tied up with pulsing synths. The second 12" meanwhile is something entirely different, comprising a live score to Carl Theodor Dreyer's Vampyr recorded in Romania; free of rhythm and utilising some outlandish modular sequencing, it's the producer at his most immersive.
Review: Not content with dropping the delirious "Deadman", Sam Shackleton offers up another must-have release in the shape of this expansive double pack. Lead cut "Fireworks" is classic Shackleton - a skittering dubstep/dub techno fusion that makes delicious use of echo-laden congas, foreboding noises and distant, Middle Eastern melodies. It's utterly spellbinding. T++ remixes, delivering a ricocheting dub take. On the second disc, Shackleton reveals "Undeadman", a kind of bizzaro universe mix of "Deadman". It's pleasingly creepy, working odd samples and strange found sound around a solid, dancefloor-friendly rhythm. Flip for an excellent remix from Mordant Music, which makes brilliant use of a live dub bassline.
Review: Sam Shackleton's "Deadman" was the surprise hit of his recent Fabric mix - a sought-after gem that took his particular take on techno and dubstep in a thrilling new direction. Now, it's finally available on vinyl, alongside an impressive King Midas Sound remix from Kevin Martin. "Deadman" itself is the one for club plays, an intoxicating fusion of conga-led percussion - influenced, one expects, by the tropical beats of UK funky's most forward-thinking practitioners - and his usual densely layered atmospherics. The King Midas Remix, meanwhile, offers a spaced-out, heavily ambient take that delights and confuses in equal measure.
Review: Anthony Shake Shakir and Oni Ayhun serve up two superb remixes of tracks from Honest Jon's 2010 Shangaan Electro compilation that showcased the more frenetic sounds of South African dance music. You probably won't be surprised to learn that both remixes are splendid, although Shakir's reimagination of BBC probably just shades it - a beefy, positively booming bass drum bristles beneath traditional percussive elements and lazer beam synth stabs. On the flip the enigmatic producer Oni Ayhun adopts a broken drum pattern, with all manner of curious sonic elements warped and twisted in the Swede's idiosyncratic style. Stunning stuff all round.
Review: The in house label at West London vinyl emporium Honest Jon's has really hit on a rich strain of releases for the electronic music connoisseur this year with that Sotofett album, the Villalobos and Kassem Mosse remixes of Insalar and Simone White respectively and now this gem. Datura Mystic is a wonderful soundclash between the unheralded Drums Of Wareika Hills Sounds and Tapes, a London based artist whose unique brand of cassette manipulations have featured on Jahtari, Sex tags Amfibia and Astro Dynamics among others. Quite separate to anything anyone else is bigging up right now, both the title cut and the accompanying Dub roll to their own beat and its great music to soak up in the spring sun!