Kapote Remix EP2 (Toy Tonics)

There I was about to start bemoaning the idea that dance music had finally hit rock bottom and that we should storm the offices of Beatport et al with pitchforks and duct tape (this might still be fun) when there’s suddenly this sustained glut of brilliance! Just goes to show, don’t look to me as a barometer of dance culture- beyond my narrow underground obsessions I don’t have a fucking clue what’s going on. Anyway, there are two remixes of Toy Tonic’s head honcho Kapote that I’d like to bring to your attention: firstly the Sworn Virgins (yes them of Deewee fame) mix and secondly the Rahaan effort.

First up the Rahaan. Most readers of Heads Down will be familiar with this native of Chicago. A brilliant DJ and editor who’s best known for his take on the more soulful side of disco and the early house sound. This remix is one of the best pieces of work I’ve ever heard from the man: mid tempo, deep and syncopated, featuring subtly filtered crescendos and giddily euphoric and wildly musical breakdowns… Bravo.

The second is Sworn Virgin’s super sleazy Italo meets Chicago grinder that sounds like being trapped in a club for three days with Ron Hardy playing said remix on +6 while attached to an IV drip of pharmaceutical grade cocaine. In a good way. It’s even got monotonically intoned lyrics about the joys of sexual asphyxiation. Check and checkmate!

I have to admit I haven’t really followed Toy Tonics releases up to now, but this release will be prompting a full back catalogue review. Sterling work people! You can buy said awesomeness digitally and on the round black things here.

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James Massiah ‘Natural Born Killers (Ride For Me)’

This is without a doubt one of my absolute faves to emerge from the intra-web ether in the third quarter of 2019. James Massiah is a London poet, as at home performing at the Tate as he is in a sweaty basement getting his diaphragm shook.

This track he alluded to in a Red Bull interview as being “about sex, hedonism, violence, blood, freedom, power and companionship”- which sounds about spot on. He also describes the sound as influenced by early iterations of dancehall and Chicago house music, which is also pretty on the money. Personally I think it sounds like an MDMA trip gone wrong, where everything that once was warm, woozy and heavy-lidded slowly becomes paranoid, saccharin and toxic.

Make sure you check out the absolutely brilliant video below, directed by Ian Pons Jewell which captures the uneasy euphoria and baked claustrophobia inherent to the song almost perfectly.

The track is available on 7″ (with a super dope B side too) here and is immediately available digitally here. Buy buy buy!

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CZ Wang & Neo Image ‘Just Off Wave’ (Mood Hut)

It’s been a while since Mood Hut hit us with a straight up deep detonation party banger. The Gladys Knight sampling ‘Better’ was their last true discoid destroyer in my opinion (which I just loved mixing into that Walter Gibbons mix of ‘It’s A Better Than Good Time’), so I can’t wait to hear this loud through Club 121’s system this Friday at the final Body Electric (more about that later).

‘Just Off Wave’ is apparently an exclusive that’s been relentlessly slaying Mood Hut parties since 2014. To quote Mood Hut “Just Off Wave throws back to a pioneering moment of Pacific Northwest hip-hop mysticism. It first gained sneaky notoriety as a favourite of local DJs, eventually making it around the world thanks to some—in classic Mood Hut fashion—misplaced CDRs. The track is blessed with the hypnotic call-and-response vocals of the low-key but legendary Separated At Birth crew —an alias of two Canadian rappers born on the same day. Contract restrictions prohibit us from revealing any more.’ Pretty much sums it up really!

You can buy it digitally here now and on vinyl soon at a record vendor of your choosing.

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In Flagranti ‘Affective Placebo Effect’

Recently I posted about the staggeringly good Green Carrot & Selvagem ‘Ossain’ track on Disco Halal and I had a fair bit of enthusiastic feedback asking me to divulge a few more throwback essentials. OK then!

In 2007 I booked a young Daniel Avery to play my Discolexia night at Cargo in London. I’d followed Dan for a while on MySpace; he had a demo of The XX on his page (who were mates of his if I remember rightly) and I was intrigued to see what would come next. Unsurprisingly (in retrospect) everything he posted was really interesting and very much the zeitgeist. When I finally got him along to play I remember standing against the wall next to Richard Sen and Dbridge, both of whom almost simultaneously turned to me when he was playing to ask “who the f**k is this?”. Daniel was in full dark disco post punk mode and he was great.

Perhaps the standout track from his set was this tune. It just has so much atmosphere: the insistent drone, the discordant synth, the heavy slap bass. Subsequently I can honestly say a year hasn’t gone by where I haven’t played it… A lot. It creates a link between the warmup to the main push in a club in a way not many records can replicate. It almost feels like the dance floor drops two inches when I play it and the place just gets… darker. It sets you up to take the dance floor in any direction you like, which of course is a beautiful thing.

In Flagranti are Sasa Crnobrnja and Alex Gloor, two Swiss dance music aficionados who’ve collectively been around the block. Their music kind of sounds like Liquid Liquid, Patrick Cowley and some neighbourhood outfit straight out of Downtown 81 all roped together and liberally doused in LSD, which is this case is a good thing. I fully recommend you delve into their wonderfully rich and surprising catalogue… But start right here (please note that the YouTube video has been wrongly named… It is actually ‘Affective Placebo Effect’).

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Martyn Interview

A still-relevant interview that’s been sitting on a hard drive for a hot minute: we cover his early days and inspirations, thoughts on DJing and production… It’s a goodie. You can tell it’s 2012 though… Check out the scoop necks- HA!

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Miss Represented (Party Central)

Laughing or whimpering? Blood stained five quid notes. Cheap chaffing leather. A beaming Patrick Cowley. The wrong party at the right time. Forgetting where you are on day two.

The above were a few extremely half arsed notes that I made upon listening to this basement sleazefest for the first time. It’s a darkly gleeful diary of lessons learnt the hard way, helmed by an artist who has, to quote, “lived her life on the dark side of Scotland’s acid house scene” and who is ably co-produced by a chug-mode Thomas Von Party (known for his work with Multi Culti and Turbo).

There’s a lot to love: the ultra pragmatic ‘The Truth Is Out There’, ‘Crack That Habit’ and ‘The Prowler’ are all throbbing mid and uptempo killers, but for me it’s the lo fi nihilism of Johnny Aux’s mix of ‘Crack That Habit’ that makes me want to go out for, like, ever (which might or might not have been the record’s intention). This is V V V dangerous and worth your time if you like a lot of sleaze with your strobe light. And who doesn’t? You can buy it here.

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Evans Pyramid ‘Never Gonna Leave You’ (Joakim / Max Pask Disco Mix)

Here lies a killer vinyl-only edit of Evans Pyramid ‘Never Gonna Leave You’. Yes yes, it’s all about new music… Except when it’s not. Let’s start by stating there are countless edits of records out there that never needed editing. Someone way more famous than me once said that by removing the cheese you might also remove the contrast, meaning without the dodgy bit you might not recognise the good bit! Or something like that. Anyway, there was definitely a glut of edits that came out for a while that just sounded like late nineties house records without the sub (or slow Ron Hardy edits without the soul)… You know the ones.

This bad boy does not belong to that group. Evans Pyramid’s 1978 underground bomb was pretty poorly mixed and mastered in its original form, with an arrangement that all happens a little too quickly for a lot of contemporary DJs. Certainly a little too quickly for the record to be the megaton serotonin detonation that it was always meant to be and now is.

French legend Joakim and Brooklyn-based Max Pask need no introduction and needless to say this has been handled with a deft touch that comes from a hefty dollop of experience and huge respect for the original material. Bien joué fellas!

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Lexx ‘Eye 1-2’ feat Asé

I met Lexx aka Alexander Storrer once many moons ago: he was one of the first people I interviewed for Heads Down (see the interview here) in the early days of the blog. I remember we finished the interview after about 30 minutes and then sat around drinking red wine listening to tunes… It was one of those rare situations where you just click with someone out of the blue. We were both golden era hip hop kids whose tastes had veered way leftfield as time had gone on.

Lexx is one of those producers who’s progress has been forensically followed for years by heads for any sign of an LP. Over the years I’ve given him the very occasional good-humoured ribbing online for failing to deliver more music (pre his superb Phantom Island collaborative label). I should’ve kept quiet because the album that has emerged is immaculately conceived, painstakingly produced and is, quelle surprise, a coherent album rather than a pot pourri of tracks, as is the reality with a lot of producer/DJs LP efforts (mine included).

This horizontally-inclined beauty is from his upcoming long-player aptly named Cosmic Shift, on the Phantom Island imprint. Featuring the album-stealing Zurich-based singer Asé, it effortlessly pulses along with rich synth flourishes and beautifully represented live instrumentation. It really is gorgeous, and for me the high-water mark on an album with a slew of stellar moments.

If you want to find out more about the album, go to Apiento’s Test Pressing: Piers Harrison has painted a broader view of an album no one should really be without, as the promise of a long Western Hemisphere summer stretches ahead.

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Ruf Dug Presents The Committee ‘Down 2 It’ ft. Watson

OK, so this isn’t fresh-out-of-the-box (it was released back in April), but it’s super fresh. Newness for the sake of newness is not really what Heads Down is about. This is a stone cold mid-tempo basement detonation, period! Once again, this is not speculative; this record is tried, tested and certified at Body Electric. That might not mean a huge amount to you if you’re outside New Zealand, but let’s just say it’s a demanding dancefloor. It’s a set up banger par excellence. The project is the work of Balearic rudeboy Ruf Dug plus a host of Rhythm International associates and is just one song off an extremely listenable and lively EP.

The full Ruf Dug Presents The Committee EP features vocals from Bradley Zero, Chris Watson (on this track), Natalie Wildgoose, Sienna Mustafa and Nadina. Produced by Mali Baden Powell, it was recorded over two weeks in the South East London label’s in-house studio.

At a different time in a record industry past, this kind of record would get you a major deal. It’s a modern slice of pop-not-pop: lyrically naive (in an extremely appealing way) yet monstrously heavyweight… this record will live well beyond most from this cyclically regurgitating era. Buy buy buy.

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Rebles ‘Sweetest Taboo’ (Club Mix)

Ah Soundway. Can this label do no wrong? I could dedicate a post to the towering power of their recent output alone (Steve Monite? Flamingo Pier? Hinde? Etc etc), but I’ll refrain because this isn’t a PR release. Still, right now if it’s got Soundway Records on it it means you should definitely pause Big Little Lies or whatever and listen to it immediately.

This brand new reissue is of the 1986 Soca version (and my own favourite, the ‘Club Mix’) of Sade’s classic is by Caribbean band Reble (also known as D’Rebels Band). I’m pretty sure Soundway have sprayed each record with Hawaiian Tropic, it’s so evocative of rickety deckchair days and warm sun on your skin.

Not if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere mind you (where I am), where there’s a genital-inverting gale blowing outside and a cacophony of guttural coughing everywhere I go. Still, it’s nice to dream that I’m bethonged in some wild Caribbean end-of-civilisation type scenario, staggering around with a half-split Dark & Stormy in a plastic cup, simultaneously laughing and crying at the sheer gorgeousness of this tune and the hopelessness of my dancing (try getting that image out of your head).

Can’t wait to punt this out t’floor on the 22nd at Body Electric with Frank Booker

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