Charlotte de Witte is on top form right now, we know it, she knows it.
Welcome back to our weekly roundup of the best and worst the dance music world has to offer. Most dancers and DJs will be at Sonar this week, where some of these tunes will likely be sending crowds of thousands wild. For those of us who aren’t, there’s plenty of material to get us on our toes as we head into the opening weekend of the World Cup.
Dompe/Agenti - Fruit Salad 001 on Jackfruit
If you’re looking for four bloodless and washed out washing machine tech house cuts, you’ve found them! Jackfruit’s a new label that tries to mask the mediocrity of the music by issuing their first EP on coloured vinyl, but the truth is the wax itself is the most colourful thing about this middle of the road collection. Aimed squarely at white boys in sunglasses and v neck t-shirts who like to pump one hand in the air for hours on end, it’s brilliantly uninspired.
Saint Paul - Naturist Behaviour on Better Listen
Now this is a house EP. It’s from contemporary producer Saint Paul but is imbued with the same authentic sense of musicality and texture that people are often searching for when they dig back through house history. The whole thing is impossibly summery, from the funk bassline and trilling flutes of ‘Naturist Behaviour’ to the tropicalia of ‘A Hawaiian Trip.’ ‘Tell Me’ recalls the disco brilliance of early NYC label labels like Prelude and ‘Feels Good’ is a leggy deep house cut that oozes cool.
Great Ghost - Telmex Beach on To Be Real
Ambient has been on the up for the last few years. At its best, it’s a genre that instantly distracts you and takes you to another world. This four tracker from Great Ghost is one such EP. There’s a summer bliss to the gentle synth breezes and lightly rustling trees of ‘Untitled33’ that will have you horizontal in no time. ‘Alien Hotel Del Mar’ is a more watery affair that makes it feel like you’re drifting in an ocean as shafts of light pierce the surface, and ‘Luv Track’ has a churchy architecture that’s utterly celestial. In these over stimulating times in which we live, this is a perfect antidote.
Marco Effe - Uneven Light on Break New Soil
Progressive house (and prog rock, for that matter) eventually ended up as dad music derided by all. It seems like Marco Effe didn’t get the memo and is channelling those vibes into a techno framework with the same tedious results. The prosaic melodies that loop up top are not real enough to suck you in, and the arrival of hi hats and big synths are as predictable as stops on a bus route. Driver, please let me off.
Floorplan - Never Grow Old on M Plant
This EP epitomises the simple but effective Floorplan sound. A-side ‘Never Grow Old’ pairs a euphoric gospel vocal straight from church that will rouse the crowd, especially when layered over the surging keys and cantering kick drums that race along below. That is exultant house in all its glory, while ’Phobia’ offers loop techno with sci-fi motifs. Subtle filter tweaks help build then dissipate energy so even when little else happens, you constantly feel on a purvey towards… something.
Charlotte de Witte - The Healer on Novamute
Charlotte de Witte is on a roll, and not just from one festival main stage to another: her productions continue to be dark, compelling, uncompromising techno affairs that are decorated with just enough detail to keep them interesting. There’s a warmth to her pounding drums and admirable restraint in the synths that stops her sound from veering into boring main room territory, and here, next to three more sparse post-human rollers, she even offers a cinematic ambient cut in ‘Song of the Wood Nymphs’ which shows another side to her sound.
Neirich vs Hackler/Kuch - Numbers on Collision
There is so much clutter in these tracks from oversized hi hat ringlets, swooshing white noise and saw tooth synths, that it’s not only distracting but annoying. Clearly designed to try and make an impact in a vast club, the wall of sound is overbearing rather than all-consuming and leaves you feeling cold, if not respectful of the utterly appropriate label name.
More news and reviews to kick off the weekend:
And just in case you missed it, here's a classic podcast from Charlotte: