Though it may lack the veiled political inferences of the Queen’s Message, the unfathomable misery of the Eastenders special or the hilarity of your uncle’s festive excess, the Themes For Great Cities yuletide 12” is a tradition worth upholding. This year’s Christmas cracker comes from label favourite Lucas Croon, a synth-wielding maverick whose CV includes neu-Kraut freakouts with BAR, technoid ticklers with Stabil Elite and unconventional house hits on a solo tip. Where 2016’s ‘Schlachtof Aufnahmen’ drifted through icy kosmische and ecstatic Anatolian house, ‘Ascona’ offers a digital distillation of Madge’s ’80s resort pop, Hardcastle’s ‘Rainforest’ and those random Euro 7” you dig from Flemish flea markets (check the dreamboat digi-dub of ‘S.W.E.D.’ for ultimate balearic B-side brilliance). Packed with knowing ’80s references, playful production and a whole lotta chug, you can file this next to Phaserboys or the Early Sounds Crew.
Themes For Great Cities is back in the house, bringing more Mogul madness for the whole family to enjoy. While label favourites Stabil Elite and Wolf Muller are on hand to bring their usual brand of weird-dance, '#4' welcomes new school crew Phaser Boys and TFGC buddies the Aiwo Posse to the table. The synth obsessed Stabil Elite start the party with the propulsive rhythms of "Snack Jam", an alt-warehouse jacker which builds from the brainfizzing intro of backwards guitar and grumpy bass into the pilled up swell R&S '93 pads and percolating 303. Just when you're aching for a breakdown, the track switches into Chicago piano and nuanced percussion before blasting off into the future via the funky Moog solo which twists and turns through the next two minutes. Tight shit! Underground upstarts Phaser Boys tag in for the A2, indulging in a little upside down electro funk number called "Tennis Camp". Mournful electronics and fx-addled synths work their way around the irresistible machine rhythm before that big bboy b-line wriggles up your trouser leg. Soon enough insistent piano vamps and a mystical melody come to the fore and pull me to the floor, spinning into a six step dressed like a recycling bin robot. Tropical drum fiend Wolf Muller takes over on the B1 with the evocative, exotic and eerie 'Der Vogel Aus Der Unterwelt', a techno tribal funk cut complete with tumbling toms, jews harp, synthetic birdsong and intoxicating oriental hooks. Vintage Schulte featuring homeboy Niklas Wandt, this cut should kill it in the club, and probably embalm it as well. Finally, the mighty Aiwo Posse, the collective name of DJ Normal 4, DJ Carrera, Rasputin and vocalist DJ Rainbow take us into another dimension with the retro futurist house maneouvres of "Your Love". Boasting a bassline not too far removed from Plez's "Thing For You", ethno-synth melodies, tribal touches and a killer breakbeat this rave rocker is gonna unite us all in a egalitarian future.
STAFF COMMENTSPatrick says: Fiyah from Dusseldorf! Themes For Great Cities drop their fourth Mogul comp, inviting newcomers Phaser Boys and the Aiwo Posse to join old hands Stabil Elite and Wolf Muller for some alternative dance excellence.
Here we have something very spezial from Dusseldorf's mighty Themes For Great Cities - the debut release for new outfit Neuzeitliche Bodenbeläge, which seems to be a collaborative project from Joshua Gottmanns and recent Growing Bin sensation Niklas Wandt. "Ich Verliebe Mich Nie" is an A-grade NDW dancer, stomping through the smog of your nearest punk club fuelled by grumpy synth bass, neon tinged keys and hushed vocals. Neat nocturnal melodies, warped fx and a snappy song structure recall the best bits of DAF, Grauzone und Der Plan, but this is fresh and forward thinking enough to offer more than a plain pastiche. Over on the flip "Pfleg' Mich" (something like 'care for me' in English) extends a warm embrace and leads us through some optimistic synth riffs and uplifting vocals while the motorik rhythm section drives the track from synth pop serenade into the more kosmische end of the NDW spectrum. As limited as it is lovely, this is every bit as essential as you'd imagine.
STAFF COMMENTSPatrick says: TFGC can do no wrong in my book, and the Dusseldorf label join Growing Bin at the top of my most recommended releases this week. This slender 7" hosts the NDW grooves of Joshua Gottmanns and Niklas Wandt, who join the dots between the contemporary German scene and the 80's pomp of Grauzone, Za Za and Eiskalte Engel.
It's a double drop from Dusseldorf this week as Lucas Croon supplies the twelth release in the totally essential Themes For Great Cities catalogue. No stranger to the label after previous appearances as a member of Stabil Elite and in collaboration with Carsten Dämbkes (of run-out groove/mega mastering fame), Lucas perfectly judges the vibe here, switching between chilly kosmishce, horizontal synth voodoo and hypnotic house abstractions over three expansive cuts. Opening cut "Urania" holds us in its icy grasp from the get go, massaging temples with structural synth work, while mechanical textures and klingklang percussion keep the blood pumping at a regulation 120bpm. Perfect for your next neo-noir adventure into a greyscale mega-city, this is the soundtrack to high-rise trains, holgraphic adverts and chrome-cast dystopias, eventually bursting through the high-polished glass and falling into an opiated nightmare. A2's "Flötenmelodie" offers a moment's respite from all that futurist gloom, finding Croon slowly tesselating a beautiful collage of pulsating sequences, organic percussion and moonlit synthleads into something almost Balearic...B-side cut "Türkischer Tee" sees a caffinated Croon shift through the gears in peak-time mode, swerving the straightforward 4/4 in favour of a polyrhythmic, afro-beat shuffle, perfectly suited to the jazzy keyboard abstractions at play above. Restless, hypnotic and entirely immersive, the track boasts a heady sound akin to Spirutal Life, Wania or vintage Feedelity though really it exists in its own weird headspace. As infectious as they come despite a whole load of melodic complexity, this should be the secret weapon in any forward thinking DJs bag.
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