A Man’s Dream
(BWC Records, 1994)
Released by an Italian deep house label, there is not much else that can be found out about this project. It’s a sublime display of the art of omission; a bass heavy, marble-coloured, mid-tempo stomper with a thick bass line and those prototypical conga accents. Should be played at high volume for full effect.
(New International Recordings, 1987)
Bourbonese Qualk were a product of the U.K. industrial movement of the late seventies. Inspired by Throbbing Gristle and Cabaret Voltaire, their harsh and highly political sonic assaults would slowly evolve into a “warmer”, more electronic and eclectic sound over the years. From time to time you even read about people who compare them to contemporary acts like Hype Williams or James Ferraro, nevertheless: “Mean Street” is a non-ironic, primitive little rhythm study, similar to some records Cluster were making on the fringes of their career. A brief glimpse into the chaotic dimensions of sweet stinging nostalgia and the diffuse yearnings in a cold, urban environment. I’ve lost count of how many times I have listened to this track in the past year.
(Gene’s Liquor, 2014)
Breezy, sun-drenched, highly danceable house banger from L.A. Club Resource founder Brandon Perlman a.k.a. Delroy Edwards. In the the words of the great Joe Pesci in Goodfellas: “Give us a couple of fucking steps, Spider!”
(99 Records, 1981)
Fun fact: ESG remain one of the most sampled bands in hip-hop history. Whosampled.com states that the Brooklyn group has been sampled over 530 times by now — mostly without the permission of the band and therefore also without any profit (hence the title of their ’92 EP Sample Credits Don’t Pay Our Bills). In their heyday in the early eighties, the band somehow was able to transcend genre terms, playing in underground punk venues as well as in queer nightclubs. “Moody” is a heavy, super minimalist tune that conveys a certain feeling of significance and fierce tension while being groovy and fun. File under: proto-house or no wave-disco, if you want to be extra with it.
(Editions Gravats, 2019)
Massive, martial-infused rhythm study by this obscure French industrial/electronic duo. As if the cold shell of reality shatters in one place to reveal the pure, dynamic underground of the universe. Well, not quite, but almost.
Aman Yavrum Nazlanma
From the press release of the 2016 reissue: “Turkish ancient melodies get an ’80s electro-funk treatment on this obscure album, originally released on the Diskotür label in 1985. Probably the work of an “ad-hoc” studio band (nothing is known about the musicians), this is a delirious mix of exotic melodies and lots of analogue synths, cheap Atari-styled electronic effects, distorted guitar and ’80s beatboxes.” ‘No better way to describe this highly infectious tune.
Low Pitched Killers
Bouncy, erratic sci-fi electro tune. Ron Schofield a.k.a Container has most likely listened to “Prone” once or twice in his lifetime. I can imagine that this was an absolute dance floor killer somewhere in a scuzzy underground venue in the U.K. back in the late 90s. Definitely can’t get enough of this sh*t.
Orient Express were a one-off french electro-disco project by Bernard Torelli and Jean-Pierre Massiera. Namely, completely unknown to me before, the internet describes Massiera as “the inventor of French progressive rock” and his work as “a fetid miasma of sick humour, sound effects and unexpectedly first-rate musicianship”. Make of that what you will, you could even write it off as a novelty tune, but “Abdullah Dollar” is most likely the catchiest, grooviest song on this list.
(Dance Mania, 1994)
Straight out of the slums of south and west Chicago comes this rougher version of dance music they called ‘ghetto house’. To be honest most of the music released by Dance Mania records from the mid-eighties to the early nineties has not aged particularly well. An exception is some Traxmen — a communion of Chicago DJs, among them Robert Armani — EPs, which, in my opinion, are still filthy, kickdrum-led careless fun without coming off as too hokey. If it all, then it can serve as a nice antidote to the slick, key-driven house music that was being released around the same time. As online magazine The Quietus writes:”It’s apparent that the Dance Mania brand was more concerned with the dance floor as centre of the communal universe, the movement of bodies, the act of having a good time and living for the moment.” Sounds somewhat similar Berlin club culture nowadays.
No More Pain
(Death Row Records, 1996)
If I’m not mistaken this was one of the first beats that Timbaland (co-)produced. A big and sinister sound, with proto-trap-like hi-hats, that corresponds well with Tupac’s anger filled — he’s fresh out of jail at the time of the recording —, combative delivery and wordplay. He’s not finessing here, he wants to crush his so-called enemies: “Prison ain’t changed me, it made me worse.” Tupac was well aware of the fact that his anger — sometimes drifting into paranoid rage — would fuel his record sales. Along with his loyalty to Suge Knight and Death Row Records, and therefore the affiliation with Los Angeles gang culture, is what also cost him his life in the end. “No More Pain” remains one of the better, more impressive songs on an otherwise slightly overrated, at times even painfully banal double album.