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Various Artists

DJ Kicks - Avalon Emerson

    Avalon Emerson's contribution to !K7's DJ-Kicks series, out September 4, 2020, encompasses her maverick sound. The 70-minute mix traverses a wide range of tempos, styles and eras with the grace of an experienced selector who distinguishes herself based on technical skill, clever methodology and a unique vision. Old-school house records mingle with references to rave and Italo, but the set isn't confined to a specific era or style — besides her own.

    "I wanted it to be representative of how I sound in the club while incorporating new original music," Emerson says. “I thought of it as a good opportunity to summarize the last few years of DJing for me and share my original productions, covers and remixes.” Avalon's DJ-Kicks is a confident and competent summation of what makes her one of the underground's most in-demand DJs. The diverse selections are tied together by her own edits, remixes and productions. New material bookends the mix: she opens the mix with her own voice featured more prominently than ever before on a bold, fresh and playful cover of The Magnetic Fields' "Long Forgotten Fairytale." At the end, she shuts it down with her "14th Life" remix of Austra's "Anywayz," which reimagines the song not as a dancefloor tool, but rather in a distinctly Avalon flavor of pop.

    Various Artists

    DJ Kicks - Kemistry & Storm

      To celebrate 25 years of the legendary series, KEMISTRY & STORM DJ-Kicks is re-mastered and re-issued for the first time since it's original release in 1999 on CD and 2LP.

      It all began in the late 80s: KEMISTRY & STORM had had enough of their hometown in middle England and moved down to London. Until then, Birmingham-born Kemistry had spent most of her tender years studying as a make-up artist in Sheffield while Storm was studying radiology in Oxford. The pair discovered acid house in London, partied at illegal warehouse raves, and at the end of the 80s stumbled upon ‘Rage’, Fabio and Grooverider’s legendary and influential club night at Heaven, which can be legitimately dubbed as the origin of the entire Breakbeat/Jungle/Hardcore/Drum ‘n’ Bass movement. This is where they decided to dedicate their future entirely to music – as DJs.

      The Who’s Who of 90's British Drum ‘n’ Bass producers abounds on DJ-Kicks, and with Goldie, Dom + Roland, Digital, DJ Die, Johnny L and J Majik, features old friends of KEMISTRY & STORM. Any trainspotter can see that with labels like Metalheadz, Full Cycle, XL, Test, Renegade Hardware or Formation, the duo work their way through a range of the most diverse styles, and make DJ-Kicks an exciting testament to contemporary Breakbeat culture.

      James Alexander Bright

      Headroom

        James Alexander Bright's music is as visual a voyage as it is a sonic one; a kaleidoscope of colours that swirl, swoon, soar and sing. Stepping into his musical world is a multi-sensory experience, one where smooth grooves, wonky rhythms, dreamy melodies and immersive atmospheres coalesce to form their own sphere. “Sound as vision,” says Bright of the audio aesthetic he relates to and aims for. “Music you can bite into.”

        Based in the Hampshire countryside and an illustrator by day, Bright’s world is often a dual one but one where elements overlap and inform one another. “I spend a lot of my day creating things visually and everyday life can be an assault on the senses, ”says Bright.“ Evening is my quiet time; time for my ears. Invariably I’m inspired by the things that people and creatures do in the dark.

        ”This creative duality extends beyond just the visual and the music too. It’s found deep rooted in the music itself, which explores a mix between lo-fi and hi-fi, possessing an intimate bedroom recording-like quality but with production that sounds glowing and golden. Similarly, the sunny sheen found in the music-via a kind of psychedelic pop meets electronic soul-is one born from dichotomy.“I feel at home in the deep south of England,” he says. “I’m in the middle of nowhere with lots of green land, fresh air and head space. I feel like the sunshine in the South in the summer months really reflects in my music. However, I tend to make music in the dark hours and winter months, so it’s almost like the music is my sunshine and happy place in these moments.

        ”The end result is also an album that exists in a dual world, one that at times has enough bounce and buoyancy to fill a dance floor-as on the disco funk strutting “Lead Me Astray”- and others feels perfectly suited to introspective headphone listening as on the breezy, woozy ambience of “Cala Llenya”.The latter track pays tribute to the Ibiza beach of the same name, whereas “Dancing with the Birds”- a delicate exploration of pastoral folk-is a nod to one of Britain’s most beloved treasures. “It’s based on a late night walk having just watched a David Attenborough documentary, featuring these beautiful birds that have a crazy mating dance. I love his documentaries and I was listening to a lot of Bert Jansch. The next night I had this vision of dancing birds come into my mind.

        ”Elsewhere Headroom touches upon, in Bright’s own words, 60’s sunshine doo-wop, mutant disco, and mystic mountain top vibes. It’s an album that explores a great deal yet even amidst its dualities it retains a sense of cohesion throughout. It’s a mixture that Bright feels pleased to have managed to juggle so seamlessly. “I think there is a good balance around experimentation on the record-a nice mix between fun and substance.”


        Released in February 2017 Tosca's acclaimed 8th studio album Going Going Going saw Richard Dorfmeister and Rupert Huber go back to their experimental roots. After a series of album's that had seen them experiment more and more with vocal collaborators and traditional song structures, Going Going Going was a clean sweep of the table and a return to the deep beats and dubbed out sounds that first made their name two decades ago. Now in the grand tradition of their previous albums Richard and Rupert have handed Going Going Going's parts over to a handpicked roster of producers from around the world.

        The result is BOOM BOOM BOOM, a radically altered image that sees Tosca's original compositions blasted into pieces and rearranged in kaleidoscope fashion, from the elastic digi-dub reworking of Love Boat by Shanti Roots & Scheibosan and Brendon Moeller hazy, space filled interpretation of Amber November through to Stereotyp's jittering, percussive take on Chinabar and Steve Cobby's rubbery, funk fuelled house remix of Tommy. Like the best remix albums, Boom Boom Boom builds upon its original's foundations, taking us in unexpected new directions without ever losing site of the source material.

        When Saints Go Machine

        Konkylie

          The Danish four-piece — Nikolaj Manuel Vonsild (vocals), Jonas Kenton (keyboards), Simon Muschinsky (keyboards) and Silas Moldenhawer (drums) — are a complicated mix of influences. There’s dance music in there, for sure, but also post punk, some experimental electronica in the Aphex Twin mould, and, crucially, a healthy dose of pop. You could describe the end result as a heady mix of Caribou, The Knife/Fever Ray and Arthur Russell. But, really, it doesn’t sound like anything else out there.

          The band formed in 2007. They started out making dance music, but quickly left four-four beats behind and started fusing electronics with pop melodies. They caused a local stir when Danish radio picked up on some tracks they’d uploaded onto Myspace. The buzz meant that their first ever gig was at Vega, one of Copenhagen’s leading venues. Then, last year, they opened the Roskilde Festival in front of 45,000 people, an experience Nikolaj describes as “fantastic”.

          The band’s debut album, ‘Konkylie’, (Danish for ‘conch shell’ incidentally), has been two years in the making. It sees them moving their sound on into new, uncharted territory. On ‘Parix’, Nikolaj’s spectral vocals, a mix of Antony Heggarty’s tremulous falsetto and Talk Talk frontman Mark Hollis, are pitched against a shimmering mirage of synths. There’s an echo of their clubland past on ‘Kelly’, which is underpinned by a chugging, mid-paced beat. It’s the jumping off point for four-minutes of electro pop perfection, like Empire Of The Sun with some added Scandinavian cool. Nikolaj’s vocals, meanwhile, are never more beautiful that on the closing track ‘Add Ends’, where they float over skillfully orchestrated strings and gently popping electronics. It’s an atmospheric reverie that transports you to another place. All told, it’s stunning stuff, esoteric, yet instantly accessible, the kind of underground record that everyone can buy into.

          One of the things that sets When Saints Go Machine apart from their peers is that there’s a warmth to ‘Konkylie’. Electronic music can sometimes sound rectilinear, like a Cubist painting. It was something the band were keen to avoid. They went to great lengths to inject an organic feel into the record, experimenting with new recording techniques and locations. All the vocals on the title track and opener ‘Konkylie’ were recorded outside in such unlikely spots as a tunnel and a forest. Then there was the assemblage of effects they created to inject a random element into proceedings. “We had this set-up of effects that we ran sound through to create an organic feel. Like tape echoes, other effects and synths. We’d control one element each and we’d mess around,” explains Nikolaj.

          The band make no apologies for the fact that ‘Konkylie’ is a dense, at times complicated record. It’s partly down to the fact that they’ve spent a lot of time on it. “If you spend two years on 11 songs then there will be a lot of detail and strange sounds in there,” confirms Nikolaj. But it’s also a product of the four members different music influences. “Our musical backgrounds are so different from each other. Jonas and Silas are from a clubby background and they still make house and techno together as Kenton Slash Demon; Simon’s is jazz and neo soul; and I’m somewhere in between, ’60s and ’70s breaks, bands like Broadcast and The Slits and White Noise. That’s why there are so many elements in there — dance, post-punk, classical. But it’s hard to pick out tracks and connect them to one particular song. I think that’s a good thing.

          And if it’s been a difficult, at times protracted process, the band are convinced it’s been worth it. “We’re really pleased with the album,” says Nikolaj. “All the songs fit together more than anything we’ve done up to this point. A lot of details we left in the songs from earlier versions. I think it gives the record a sense of many layers. The arrangements are bigger and better. It’s more evolved all round.”

          True enough. When Saints Go Machine: you’ve never heard anything like them.



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