GEMINI LION “ADORATION” 12″ (HOS003) $9
Portland vocal house roots duo Gemini Lion is an ongoing collaboration between soul-singer J. Green and SILK staple producer A. Kalin (Temples, Polonaise, Finesse). Adoration, their debut, pickpockets from various downtown wardrobes for a multi-culti vibe that’s equal parts party monster, ballroom strut, and melancholic sweat. Green’s voice is a rich and dexterous presence, waxing after romantic obsessions and delineating queer terminology, while Kalin’s lean bass lines and percussion sequences shuffle and flow through fluid, reflective states. Their commitment to such a classic palette (especially on the ravey, pump-up-the-volume closer, “Best Believe”) might ruffle the feathers of certain prickly futurists but GL know the difference between affect and effect; they even have a phrase for the former: ”a boy / in a dress.” Center label artwork by GL. Edition of 150.
POTIONS “PHASED” CS (SILK076) $6
Chicago’s Potions (aka Tom Owens) oozes a suitably liquid sub-species of electronic rhythm miasma, which he’s been bottling on boutique cassette reels since 2011, exploring various vibes and viscosities. Phased collects seven of his latest and most luxuriantly languid lava lamp concoctions for what, to our ears, may be his supreme setlist to date. Recorded primarily using “MIDI technology of decades past” (not for nothing was his debut LP called MIDI Jazz Bass), the album slips and slides through jittery cyborg jazz, disjointed lounge-fusion, siphoned acid, and dubby, dissolved house, a bubbling beaker of fluid synthetic textures. The off-kilter percussion programming gives each piece a pleasingly unstable voltage, skewing the equilibrium in whooshes of phaser and stereo rainstick. Fellow ambient sculptress Laura Jane Friedman guests with some gorgeously reflective multi-tracked vox on “Glass Lake,” but otherwise this is an instrumental affair. Mastered by Alter Echo. Edition of 100.
SILK: THE FILM – DIGITAL RENTAL & PURCHASE
(via VHX) $1.99 / $6.99 / $7.99
SILK, the 100% Silk documentary and dance film, is available through VHX and Amazon Instant Video. Shot over two years, the film follows four acts from the label – LA Vampires, Ital, Magic Touch and Maria Minerva – across a lengthy 2012 tour of the UK, Europe and Russia. SILK chronicles the performances, environments, and scenes they passed through: congested underground Parisian clubs, motorcycle showrooms in Bristol, abandoned industrial lots in Moscow, afterhours Berlin compounds, re-purposed World War II gun towers in Hamburg, plus large international festivals (Distortion in Copenhagen, Sonar in Barcelona). The film is punctuated by staged dance sequences conceived, choreographed, and performed by Mecca Vazie Andrews and the Los Angeles Contemporary Dance Company. SILK premiered in 2013 at CPH:DOX in Copenhagen and subsequently screened at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark, as well as la Gaîte Lyrique in Paris. SILK was an official selection at the 2014 Amsterdam Dance Event, Melbourne International Film Festival, and Planete + Doc Film Festival in Poland. The SILK: DELUXE package includes the film as well as four exclusive live sets from the tour by each of the featured acts.
ROCHE “STILLHOPE” 12″ (SILK062) $9
San Fran synth sensei Ben Winans aka Roche ventures further into his arcane hardware labyrinths on Stillhope, his second slab of mind-wired Pacific house for 100% Silk. As always with his work there’s a great sense of spaciousness and flow, coastal fog billowing around Alcatraz and over Land’s End, invisible currents taking control. “Stillhope” and “The Medicine” skew more towards the hazed and zen, cliffside smoke seances rendered via samplers and circuitry, percussion patterns ghosting through hidden lunar cycles, while “Change” brings back the bass, riding an acid-funked electric slide into a chorus of street soul chanting. Closer “Theme For Ikaros” leaves the bay (and earth) behind, a techno spy theme for hijacking a distant moon base, filtered arpeggios ramping the suspense against a steady stalker’s pulse until it all dissolves in dubby echoes, a stark clap, and a sample whispering about “the essence of life.” Even in deepest space, there’s Stillhope. Black vinyl 12 inches in SILK label sleeves designed by Luke Brown. Mastered by Eric Hanson. Edition of 315.
BOBBY DRAINO “BRAIN DRAIN” 12″ (SILK057) $9
Before birthing his blasted acid house identity Bobby Draino drummed for various synth-punked groups around Vancouver, and some of that scorched earth live energy bleeds through the five primordial bangers comprising his vinyl debut, Brain Drain. Tracked live through one channel of a space echo straight to his computer, Draino’s MO is overdriven drum machines saturated with gritty fried acid, bass damage, and blown-tone sequencer patterns, fused into a radical and weird debased mutant house. The EP’s five tracks are the cumulation of two years of demo workshopping, TR-606 and 303 autodidacticism, warehouse party spelunks, etc; all savvy tactics for developing a shredding, progressively singular style, which BD has in spades. One of the most awesomely wrecked and raw SILK slabs to date. A West Coast wiz worth watching. Mastered by Eric Hanson.
CHERUSHII “QUEEN OF CUPS” 12″ (SILK056) $9
Bay Area hardware native Chelsea Faith’s debut as Cherushii – a name she’s been recording under informally since her first teenage techno Tascam experiments more than a decade ago – spills over with loves and lessons gleaned from her lifer voyage through the city’s thriving rave underworlds. Though she trained as a classical pianist at the San Francisco Conservatory Of Music the rigidity of the culture disillusioned her, so she dove headfirst into the Bay’s electronic warehouse scene, both as a promoter and as a performer. For her 19th birthday she received a Yamaha RS7000 sequencer, thus birthing an obsession with live PA sets, which she’s never deviated from. Recorded mostly in SF (with the exception of one track cut in Berlin), and mixed by Matthew Zipkin, Queen Of Cupstakes the expansive blueprint of slow-burn deep house but threads it through with waves of synth wash, acid flash, and simmering strobe glow, for a loose yet composed suite of 21st-century free-spirit pulse generation. Mastered by Eric Hanson. In new SILK label sleeves designed by Bobby Houlihan.
PARADISE 100 “THE LOIN KING” 12″ (SILK055) $9
Scotland-born Parisian Paradise 100 aka Graham/Africa has been percolating stripped-back, bouncy-castle house constructs onto the web for a couple years but never locked them in wax till now. High time. Following his minimalist dictum that “any more than three tracks on a song is just indulgence,” his debut EP’s four cuts share a sleek, spare design, jigsawing slinky bass, classic keys, lean drum programming, and flashes of synth mirage into fluid, aerodynamic patterns. Touches of melodic acid and crossover new wave color the mood an exotic, hedonistic hue (further evinced by titles like “The Loin King” and “French Kissing In The House Of Love”). His own vision of the project is appropriately fantastical: “The image in my mind is of tropical forests at night, torchlight, distant sounds of tribal ritual dance and ghosts.” Regal music for pleasure domes. Black vinyl 45 RPM 12 inches, mastered by Eric Hanson.
LES LEVEL “HOUSE OF NEED” 12″ (SILK054) $9
Melbournian multi-hyphenate Luke Brown has his hands in a lot of pots, from his defunct DJ duo with Ricardo Ramos, Leslie Salvador, as well as his ongoing death-disco/dark-synth revisionist twosome, Negativ Magick. But the past few years have found him exploring more classic, scruffed-up analog house terrain via his latest alias Les Level, and his debut, House Of Need, is 6 uncut bars of funky souled club gold. Bookended by a pair of of mixes of the stellar neo-Chicago anthem “House Of Need” (a “cheese mix” and a “dirty dub”), the rest of the tracks prowl through a host of suave, shuffling, Strictly Rhythmic variations, from the After Hours-ish 3 AM skyline seducer, “Smooth Sailing,” to the pumping, jazzy jack-groove, “Working Nights.” An expert assemblage by a nuanced craftsman with style to burn. Black vinyl LPs, 33 RPM, mastered by Eric Hanson in Los Angeles.
OCTO OCTA “BETWEEN TWO SELVES” CD (SILK046) $9
Sophistication and elegance have not always been the strobelight honey of many dancefloor pursuits but it’s been Octo Octa’s strongest suit since his 2011 SILK debut, and here again are those core moods of displaced identity and intimacy giving way to an adrift, uneasy feeling. Between Two Selves has a facile sensuality – the reclining nude of Octo’s Blue Period – with more room to breathe and sigh anthemic samplics (“I don’t want you to go,” “All his kisses taste sweet”). There’s fewer elements in the mix but more space to explore them, pitched down and out across abstracted, extended compositions. A deep accomplishment of regal soul and melancholy. Sleeve design by Amanda Brown.
PHARAOHS “REPLICANT MOODS” CD (SILK045) $9
L.A.’s best live band finally delivers a full-length after some scattered EP classics and it totally jacks into the dizzy party-acid gang-groove mode they summon so effortlessly month after month at the city’s various far-flung afterhours warehouses. All the strobed classics are here: the 303 Madchester soul-shakedown “Everything,” the nu-groove neighborhood funk of “Syzygy,” island-synth escape pod “F&M Suite,” and the sweaty sprawling set-closer, “Above/Below.” Even Miss Maria Minerva pays a visit, on the sleeky club-dub single, “Miraculous Feet.” The S.O.U.N.D. Of Real L.O.S. Angeles. Mastered by Pete Lyman at Infrasonic. Incan temple sleeve design by Cedric Hervet.
MAGIC TOUCH + SAPPHIRE SLOWS “JUST WANNA FEEL” 12″ (SILK038) $11
Just Wanna Feelis the expectation-shattering perfect house-pop collaboration of blonde disco don Magic Touch and heavenly weirdo wizardress Sapphire Slows. The A side floats bright and breathtaking, like St. Germain on a terrace in the early morning. The B track, “When I See You,” is an even purer piano-house pleasure. The 12” also includes a dark night rubik’s cubic remix by I:Cube, as well as a fluttering dub by M. Touch himself. A match made in SILK paradise, faraway and forever in my heart. Bi-lingual graphic design by all-seeing eye Bobby Houlihan, plus a full-color insert.
MAGIC TOUCH / ITAL 12″ (SILK030) $9
Groovesome twosome Damon Palermo and Daniel Martin McCormick disjoin forces for a split personality/12 inch. Like his previous single “Clubhouse,” Magic Touch’s “Anywhere You Want Me” explodes in a slip-disco dash, while Ital’s reworking of the track pitches things into a delirious paranoia. On the B side Ital’s “From A Dream” follows a more jacked muse, maxxed and throbbing. Magic Touch’s remix softens the beat into more of an italo-boogie loops, eventually ebbing into interzone afterglow.
FORT ROMEAU “KINGDOMS” CD (SILK022) $9
“Jack this groove,” a voice persists in “Jack Rollin’,” the tour-de-four-on-the-floor force opener of Kingdoms. Fort Romeau’s late-night lush-house captures the fog and fascination streets of East London, souls in solitude, shaded in vinyl crackle. A feminine touch, soothing and somnolent, almost a sauna sound: warm jets, sensual shuffles, breathy, beautiful.
STRATEGY “BOXY MUSIC” 12″ (SILK021) $10
Prince of Portland Paul Dickow converts his form-flowing Nudge-sludge into revved-up, tech-house arousal as Strategy. The moniker has found Dickow checking out hooks in Community Library, dubbing deep on Kranky, and shapeshifting across a host of European, Japanese, and American labels. For his SILK statement he separates into reverbed dancehall, piano-jacked class-act house, swirling vamp funk, Arabic woodwinds, and sizzling clatter data. In lipstick-pink typewriter pop art jackets designed by the artist.