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Precious Bloom

Flashlight

Two-tracker from Indonesian group Precious Bloom. 'Flashlight' on the A side is inspired by Euro disco with a touch of Indonesian city pop. The track 'Mojo' on the B-side explores a rhyme of witchery...

"What a lovely tune!" - Mr. Scruff
"Mojo is the jam!!!" - Gigi Testa
"Great" - Tama Sumo

STAFF COMMENTS

Matt says: Irresistible Indonesian music here with a sleeve that belongs on your bathroom wall. "Flashlight" takes us away on a picturesque cruise through the Java seas while the more electrified "Mojo" keeps us galloping through the night once we've reached destination paradise.

TRACK LISTING

Flashlight
Mojo

Back in 2016, Lars Bartkuhn was on a quest to expand his musical horizons. Inspired by the idea of the desert as a transformative place - an alien environment whose combination of vastness and beauty challenges those lost within it to first find themselves before they can find a way out - he loaded up his sampler with sub-Saharan samples and set about making two 12” singles, ‘Nomad’ and ‘Massai’, which subsequently appeared on Utopia Records.

Following completion of work on his 2023 album 'Dystopia', a conceptual ambient meditation built around electronic and acoustic improvisations, the German musician and producer decided to return to the core ideas that inspired those two 12” singles. Once again, he wanted to challenge himself, explore the more exotic side of his musical influences, and discover a course through the musical desert to ultimately become a better musician, producer, and composer.

The result is 'Nomad', an album that not only brings together two sides of his work - the immersive ambient explorations at the heart of 'Dystopia', and the club-focused rhythms that marked out his early career deep house explorations - but also draws on a familiar palette of influences, from Latin jazz-fusion and the deep jazz brilliance of ECM Records releases, to the ‘ourth world works of Jon Hassell and the African music that had initially inspired the ‘Nomad’ and ‘Massai’ singles.

Searching from the start for a more analogue sound - hand percussion, kalimba, piano, voice, bass guitar, acoustic and electric guitars, alongside the modular synth sounds that were such a part of 'Dystopia' - Bartkuhn combined improvisational and traditional composition techniques, painstaking editing, tweaking and reworking tracks over an extended period.

Added to impeccable sound design, even the more dancefloor-focussed excursions are optimised for headphone listening, the results are startling, even by Bartkuhn’s impressively high standards.

There are, of course, radically reworked versions of previous singles. A sun-kissed, Brazilian jazz-fusion informed re-invention of ‘Transcend’ (where Bartkuhn offers nods to another musical hero, Pat Metheny), an expansive, solo-laden take on ‘Nomad’ and a ambient inspired re-recording of ‘Massai’ – plus the kaleidoscopic brilliance of 2021’s ‘Every Morning I Meditate’, but far more never-before-heard highlights.

There’s the 6/8 time, Latin-tinged sunshine of ‘Back To My Innerself’, a track built on organic performances that were improvised straight into the sequencer; the meandering, densely layered sound world that is ‘Flame’ (a tribute to ECM recordings of the 1970s); the lightly techno-influenced fourth world futurism of ‘Ghibliman’; the organic deep house bliss of ‘African Skies’, where Bartkuhn’s vocalisations come to the fore; and the slow-motion ambient house of ‘First Kalimba’.

'Nomad', then, is an album that effortlessly showcases Bartkuhn’s unique musical personality and ability to craft warm, colourful sound worlds - some rhythmic, others not so much - while neatly sidestepping categorization. It could well be his strongest and most personal musical statement yet.

STAFF COMMENTS

Matt says: Highly ambitious project from Lars Bartkuhn who melds new-age mysticism, sprawling ambience, languid grooves and expansive aural viewpoints into a transcendental sonic experience. Landing somewhere between Larry Heard's "Alien" and Quiet Village's "Silent Movie" with a bit of Mood Hut and Music From Memory moods thrown into the mix. Epic stuff.

TRACK LISTING

Everymorning I Meditate
Transcend (Anima Mea)
African Skies
First Kalimba
Back To My Innerself
The Flame
Moving Mountains
Nomad (Album Version)
Ghibliman
Massai (Album Version)

Reissue of early Japanese house outing by Junichi Soma, Shuji Wada and Katsuya Sano. Comes with insert with liner notes.

All musical movements require a spark to set them alight; in the case of Japanese house music, that spark was provided by the forward-thinking resident DJs of The Bank in Roppongi, Tokyo. In 1989, to celebrate the ground-breaking club’s first birthday, the venue released a 12” EP featuring first-time productions from three of its DJs, Junichi Soma, Shuji Wada and Strong Katsuya AKS Katsuya Sano.

Widely considered to be one of the first ever EP of house music produced in Japan, 1st Unit was never officially released. Instead, 500 of the 1000 copies pressed were given away at The Bank’s first birthday party, with the rest initially being sold not in local record stores, but rather the venue’s own in-house shop. Three decades on, the 12” is finally set to get its first worldwide release via Rush Hour’s Store JPN Series.

The record has its roots in The Bank’s willingness to give its ever-changing roster of DJs a free hand to play what they liked - at the time a rarity in Tokyo nightclubs, whose musical offerings usually revolved around strictly defined playlists. At The Bank in 1989, it was not only common to hear European body music and the kind of post-disco New York productions associated with Larry Levan’s sets at the Paradise Garage, but also acid house - something not offered at the time by other clubs in the city.

This cutting-edge blend of sounds, combined with the venue’s unique decor (it was modeled on the inside of a London bank, complete with a cashier’s window to take entrance fees), made The Bank a go-to spot for young party-goers, celebrities and forward-thinking Japanese musicians (Ryuichi Sakamoto was reportedly a weekly visitor).

When it came to celebrating the club’s birthday by cutting a unique record, it made sense for The Bank’s owners to turn to three of their most exciting resident DJs, who were assisted by Heigo Tani and Jun Ebi. The collective name, 1st Unit, was chosen to reflect the fact that all three resident DJs were debutants with no previous studio experience.

As this reissue proves, the music remains timeless, magical, and authentic to the sound of American house productions of the period - albeit with occasional twists. Katsuya Sano’s EP opener, ‘I Need Love’, sounds like a twist on Larry Heard productions of the period - all jacking TR-909 drums, undulating analogue bass, dreamy Juno synthesizer chords and evocative vocal samples.

The influence of Chicago acid house is also evident on Junichi Souma’s ‘Ubnormal Life’, whose unusual title contains what he says was an intentional misspelling. Driven forwards by restless drum machine handclaps, sweet chords and rising and falling melodic motifs, the track is an energetic and uplifting treat.

Perhaps the most influential of the three tracks at the time - within Japan at least - was Shuji Wada’s similarly misspelled ‘Endless Load’. Deeper and more melodic with a more expansive arrangement, the track’s combination of marimba-style lead lines, tribal drum patterns, dreamy chords and jazz-funk influenced bass offered a loose blueprint for the more successful and better-known Japanese deep house tracks that followed.

STAFF COMMENTS

Matt says: True treasure from Japan's early house scene unearthed by Rush Hour and presented to us in earnest. I love hearing the worldwide adoption of house music play out, with each country injecting its own character onto the Chicago blueprint. Three timeless examples of the genre by three pioneering Japanese producers.

TRACK LISTING

Katsuya Sano - I Need Luv
Junichi Soma - Ubnormal Life
Shuji Wada - Endless Load

EP compilation of essential UK house cuts recorded between 1987 - 1990. TIP!

Before British house and techno found its’ distinctive groove at the turn of the 1990s, one act led the way: Bang The Party, a trio who emerged from London’s vibrant underground party scene in the mid 1980s and proved, beyond any doubt, that UK producers could make music every bit as magical as the pioneering productions put forward by their counterparts in Chicago, Detroit and New York.

By the time long-running DJs and party promoters Kid Batchelor and Leslie Lawrence joined forces with trained engineer Keith Franklin at legendary North-West London reggae studio Addis Ababa in 1987, they’d spent years as DIY dance music activists in Britain’s capital city. They channelled these experiences and their love of imported house and techno sounds into a new project, Bang The Party, in the process becoming the first British act to appear on Transmat, a reflection of the quality and authenticity of their music.

The latest Rush Hour Reissue Series release offers a snapshot of some of the numerous gems nestled in the Bang The Party catalogue, delivering a much-deserved celebration of one of Britain’s most significant early acid house collectives. It features four fully remastered cuts recorded and released between 1987 and 1990 – on-point and far-sighted club workouts that sound as fresh and timeless now as they did when Britain was sweltering under its infamous ‘second summer of love’.

Fittingly, the EP begins with ‘I Feel Good All Over’, the group’s ground-breaking debut single. Dedicated to their home city and one of the earliest UK interpretations of house music, the track exists in the grey area between Chicago house and New York ‘garage house’ – all jaunty organ stabs, jacking Windy City beats, restless bass and soulful vocalizations. ‘Jacques Theme’, which follows, originally nestled on the B-side of that single release. An early, acid-flecked expression of hip-house with a British twist, breakdance-friendly bongo patterns and a dose of Larry Heard-inspired deep house dreaminess, the track remains an under-appreciated classic whose rap verses reflect the popularity of hip-hop in London at the time.

1988’s ‘Release Your Body’, Bang The Party’s most celebrated early release, was reissued in the United States by Transmat, reflecting the strong working relationship between Derrick May and Kool Kat Records’ Neil Rushton. A hypnotising affair propelled forwards by sweat-soaked drum machine beats, jacking fills and an addictive bassline, the track offers another near perfect distillation of the band’s Black American musical influences while delivering something genuinely new and fresh.

Rounding off the EP is a choice cut from Bang The Party’s sought after 1990 album Back To Prison. Doused in the star-lit synth sounds of the Motor City with jaunty organ stabs inspired by the kind of New Jersey jams championed at East Orange institution Club Zanzibar, ‘Let It Rip’ is a superb slice of deep house soul featuring a lead vocal every bit as emotive as anything laid down by Robert Owens. Like the rest of Bang The Party’s output, it has stood the time better than anything laid down by their London contemporaries.

STAFF COMMENTS

Matt says: Real nice vintage house music from London during that embryonic period. Still cutting the mustard today, this one's remained quite scarce and under appreciated until now.

TRACK LISTING

I Feel Good All Over
Jacques Theme
Release Your Body
Let It Rip

When it first slipped out in 2015, Manabu Nagayama’s ‘Light & Shadow’ passed most people by. Yet it’s a genuinely overlooked gem a musically expansive and uplifting Japanese deep house workout that first featured on a promo-only compilation back in 2015. A softly spun slab of slow-building brilliance full of fluid piano motifs, heady hand percussion, the track effortlessly sashays between heartfelt dancefloor melancholia and tactile deep house positivity. One DJ to see its potential was Rush Hour co-founder Antal Heitlager, who asked Masalo to remix it. Over ‘a few years’, Masalo worked on the revision in bursts, tweaking it and subtly altering the arrangement until he was happy. The results are undeniably impressive, elevating an already excellent track to whole new levels. DJs seem to agree, too, with Masalo’s fine remix becoming something of an underground anthem following the release of a limited number of white label test pressings earlier last year.

Taking the spiritual end of deep house as his inspiration – and happy memories of attending events while visiting Japan – the Dutch-Japanese producer has delivered a slowly-building epic that subtly ratchets up energy and excitement throughout, while effortlessly eking out every last drop of emotion from Manabu’s piano-laden production.

Extensively road-tested at the Brighter Days parties he runs with long-time DJ partner Kamma, Masalo’s remix settles into a chugging groove before introducing Manabu’s tactile hand percussion – a staple of spiritual deep house cuts – and melancholic piano refrains, as well as his own lilting chords and cascading synth sounds. By the time the original’s bouncy piano riff drops midway through, you’ll be lost in the music. Fittingly given the quality of Manabu’s original, it’s a revision that showcases the track’s best elements while gently lifting it to new heights.

STAFF COMMENTS

Matt says: Beautifully rich, emotive and textured deep house here - it's the Japanese formula alright, but we haven't grown tired of it yet! Masolo is on hand to elevate it to spiritual realms. Yep, we're onto a winner.

TRACK LISTING

Light And Shadow (Masalo Version)
Light And Shadow (Original Version)

Gigi Testa is a bona fide Neapolitan hero whose work draws inspiration from local music of the last four decades - think Pino Daniele, Tullio de Piscopo, Tony Esposito, James Senese & Napoli Centrale, Nu Guinea, Mystic Jungle Tribe and rising stars such Fabrizio Fattore, Daniel Monaco and Raffaele Attansio - but also deep house and owes a lot to African music in all its forms.
He’s back with a brand new EP collating all these wild influences into one cohesive, tropical flavoured package. Three tracks of feathers n facepaint, rainforest-tinged house music that’s perfect for getting frisky under the moonlight.

Credits:
Written Arranged & Programmed : Gigi Testa
Mixed & Engineered : Gigi Testa & Paolo Convertito
Synths, Keyboards, Drum Machines, Effects, Live & Electronic Drums : Gigi Testa
Fender Bass,Live Guitars & Additional Keyboards : Paolo Convertito


STAFF COMMENTS

Matt says: Tropical house master Gigi Testa returns to Rush Hour with more of his conga-heavy jive. House music and congas are inseparable; but when you add his other trademark elements - marimbas, warm pads, delicate bells etc - it's clear Gigi Testa has a vision and a palette to back it up. A inimitable yet highly mellifluous producer who's track's just emanate positivity.

TRACK LISTING

Jinja
Malinke
Echoes In The Sky

Rush Hour-affiliate and Amsterdam local Relmer is back with what may well be his best work so far. ‘H2O’ expertly displays the vibrant energy he’s known for with two Amazon-inspired deep house groovers; a melancholic walk through the jungle; a Detroit-infused progressive anthem and a hypnotic midtempo floorwarmer. Absolutely stellar stuff from A to Z.

Produced to an exquisite standard, with maximum clarity, weight and dyanamic, "Bummer Paradise" opens and forces you to absolutely lose yourself to in the club. Heads-down, fist-pumping, sweat poring from every orifice. "Strange Movement" is a more delicate, enchanted offering, with rippling synth work, ethereal pads and crisp, midtempo disco beat.

"Naked Chimp" deploys a tribal chant and broken beat rhythm section, whirring sirens and extreme sound design to a deadly effect before "H2O" sweeps in on galactic chords, phazed hats and twinkling melodies from the outer cosmos. Space age techno funk that'd make B12 or John Shima sit up and take note. Amazing stuff here. the course of a few days. Sweet and savory both, the new material strikes a perfect balance between emotive sensibility and dancefloor appeal.


STAFF COMMENTS

Matt says: Check that "Bummer Paradise" track! Proper driving, late night tech vibe. Similar to Manchester's D. Ball. Feelin' it. Rest of the EP ain't half bad either.

TRACK LISTING

Bummer Paradise
Strange Movement
Naked Chimp
H20
Natural Disruption

Soichi Terada & Masalo

Diving Into Minds / Double Spire

Soichi Terada & Masalo team up to produce club mixes of tracks from Soichi's highly acclaimed "Asakusa Light" album.

"Diving Into Minds" is given even more umph, pushed forward with multiple layers of rhythms, be it articulately programmed congas or aggressive 909 snares. "Double Spire" is equally ramped up, it's Italo-influenced origins given extra sparkle whilst the arrangement heads straight for the mainroom with active lasers and strobe lights primed for use across this big rig smasher! Really tasty tweaks that'r more than essential for your casual Terado fanboy and likely to do serious damage in the club too. Do not sleep! 


TRACK LISTING

Diving Into Minds (Club Mix)
Double Spire (Club Mix)

Torn Hawk

Men With No Memory

    Torn Hawk re-emerges on this ace limited edition double 7" edition. Intimate, darkwave bedroom ballads, plate-reverbed electronic punk and high degrees of rhythmic noise characterize this inimitable New Yorker, making him somewhat of a favourite here at Piccadilly. Across five tracks we get a further glimpse into what makes this freak tick, as he gracefully constructs a collage of abrasive and visceral textures underpinned with a dark, psilocybin-tainted sludge that makes you feel like you're in that scene out of Fear And Loathing when the carpet's melting and Hunter's struggling to keep a grip. Torn Hawk ably demonstrates the fractal and sonic fluctuations that occur during a peak psychedelic experience like few can, but rather than revel in the flowery, faux-hippy nature of the trip, he takes it to the darkest and most tumultuous parts of the journey; what a legend! Comes with fold out, full colour insert. TIP! 

    TRACK LISTING

    1. Men With No Memory
    2. Poser
    3. With Butterfly Knives
    4. Stealing Geodes From The Nature Company
    5. Not Quite Music


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