JAMES BOOTH “HUMAN RITES” 12″ (SILK084) $10
Mancunian producer James Booth holed up in various Hulme flats and half-studios with nothing but an old iMac to craft the six lushly overcast house designs comprising his vinyl debut, Human Rites. And, as is sometimes the case, the limitations were liberating: “With all of my gear in storage I downloaded a couple of plugins and tried to breath some life into them… with none of my old dusty buttons and keys I ended up focusing more deeply on the melodies and sound of each instrument.” Building on the misty-lensed techniques of his 2013 SILK cassette, Reunion, Booth’s new set of tracks feel even more nuanced and rain-streaked, streetlights dissolving through night bus windows, suburbs and moors glowing grey in the motorway’s false dawn. Structurally these songs swirl more than peak – synth lines spiral woozily, rhythms flex and fade, emotions come in and out of focus. He sees it similarly, describing Rites as “music for processes and passages; time elapses and we change.” Personal music for an impersonal world. 33 RPM black vinyl 12 inches in SILK label jackets designed by Roland Tings. Mastered by Eric Hanson.
HUBERT CLARKE JR “AL DENTE” 12″ (SILK083) $10
Impressionistic dub-house devotee Hubert Clarke Jr. fluctuates through several deviations of Sydney afterhours circuit specialties on his debut, Al Dente. Alternately wired and unwound, classic and contempo, vibed soul and lean house, the EP threads soft-focus funk into longform live voyages, naturalist emotion, dance as relaxed delirium. The vocal samples (“I’m not into this to be traveling around the world / I’m not into this to impress anybody”) evoke a mood of reflective idealism, spirits undiminished, hope in spite of it all. Dusted with memories and reveries of Heavenly, Picnic, and Mad Racket parties, hallucinated Omar-S demos, newer Sex Tags sides, and various nations under a groove, HJC’s 4 originals (plus a remix by Adelaide vibe squad MBM) feel like a beginning, a submerged energy swelling to the surface. Black vinyl 12 inches in stickered sleeves designed by Peta Farago with smiley meatball illustrations by John-Henry Pajak and Geordie Cargill. Mastered by Eric Hanson. Edition of 175.
BOBBY BROWSER “CLUBSPINNING” 12″ (SILK075) $10
Bobby Browser’s human counterpart, Andre Ferreira, decamped to Brooklyn last year after nearly a decade in San Francisco but his Pacific moods and Portuguese slang remain undiminished. Clubspinning is his latest EP, culled from a series of 2013 sessions based around a Yamaha SU700 Sampling Unit, the tracks “selected to represent the most unique and memorable performances during that time.” Mission accomplished. “Clubspinning” and “No Attachments” are deluxe glitterball glides, soft-lensed and silk-spun; “Manchester” boasts a prowling bass line dubbed with synthetic flute and Factory samples; and “Go 90” is a ghostly soul-in-the-rain comedown, misted in piano, voice, and percussion. That tracks this sculpted arose via hardware intuition is beyond impressive – limitations turned hyperfocus. This is Browser at his best, strobing but smooth, four gems of elegant smiley face minimalism. Mixed by Matthew Patterson Curry at Transmitter Park Studios in Greenpoint, BK. Mastered by Eric Hanson at Maven in Los Angeles. Center label artwork by SF club cat Primo Pitino.
JUPITER JAX “VISIONS” LP (SILK072) $10
Two years ago Maltese musician Rudi Agius aka Jupiter Jax was in London, finishing a PHD in computational biology, awake late and usually alone, when Visions emerged: “My life was literally getting back from the lab, and spending the night (usually till 4-5 AM) making some music… the gloom is something that I love.” Many nights bled into dawn while designing presets for his synths – “sounds that give me feeling” – from which bass lines, beats, and the exploration of “further territory” flowed forth: quartz-clouded, questing house (“Armed For Peace,” “Soul Searching”), foggy breakbeat (“The Deepest”), tranced technoid (“Beyond The Walls”), plus glimmering, ghosted-vocal guest spots by Merwyn Virgo Four, Xosar, and Mykle Anthony. Across eight hazed vistas, Visions never wanes: “Jupiter Jax is about ethereal music.” Deep planetary Italo disco moods dissolved through overcast city voids, haunted by the heartbeat of melancholic early Chicago jack. See beyond the walls. Grid-mapped cloudscape cover art by the artist. Mastered by Alex Nagle.
NOTE: LP is available individually or with exclusive full-length companion cassette, Visitors (SILK073), limited to 100 copies. (The tape is not for sale separately). While supplies last. Paypal accordingly.
UPDATE: Visitors tape is now sold out.
POLICY “POSTSCRIPT” LP (SILK065) $9
Manhattan filmmaker-turned-beatbroker Francis Hsueh aka Policy traffics a chopped but chic vein of house, releasing EPs for Rush Hour and Argot, and his latest continues the positive flow. Postscript layers fractured jazz textures over shuffled electronics, on & off grid percussion, and lean bass lines for an elegant metropolis rhythm complex: soft pad dub, synth-flute streaks, burnished brass, city grit. A uniquely contemplative take on funky uptown house by one of NYC’s secret heads. Cover photograph by Francis Hsueh. Mastered by Dietrich Schoenemann at Complete Mastering.
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ROCHE “STILLHOPE” 12″ (SILK062) $8
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.
OCTO OCTA “CAUSE I LOVE YOU” 12″ (SILK061) $9
New England deep house patriot Octo Octa logged serious miles in 2013, flexing live sets and DJ gigs worldwide, refining production techniques, and tracking a trio of fresh EPs. Cause I Love You is the first (to be followed by 12’s for Skylax and Argot), and it’s a shot to the heart. “Cause I Love You” jacks out of the gate, a jubilant drag race of tumbling percussion, intestinal bass, and slipstreaming vocal samples, a bold banger to break the mold of Between Two Selves’ moody collective soul. Live staple “So Lux” lives up to the title, a creamy, serene slice of stereo software, while “Give” (featuring Raw Moans) coasts on a mesmerizing melody loop, filtered, flowing, and low to the ground. Closer “Mine (Second Chance Mix)” is classic Octo: lens-flared, high-stepping, turned on, turned loose. Though more of a variety pack than a linearly themed collection, these four cuts show a crafter hot in the pocket, still picking up steam, alive with ideas. Mastered by Dietrich Schoenemann.
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.
MAGIC TOUCH “PALERMO HOUSE GANG” 2×12″/CD (SILK060) $15/$6
After three thick years of performances, passport abuse, and pumping, pleasure-principle EPs, Damon Palermo aka classic house torchbearer Magic Touch presents his pinnacle statement to date: Palermo House Gang. Joining forces with a vast cast of collaborators sourced from his intercontinental travels – Octo Octa, Newbody, Benny Badge, The Horses, Sarah Bates, Sorcerer, Ash Williams – the album’s eight cuts swing and sweat through funky new wave club mixes, freestyle R&B, mesh-top house, freeform hardware workouts, and decadent disco, a sprawling celebration of communal motion and dancefloor idealism. Sustained heavy touring often grizzles some musicians into cynical survivalists but it seems to have had the opposite effect on Palermo – these are his most generous, playful, and sensual tracks to date. Let go, lighten up, join the Gang. Mastered by Dietrich Schoenemann. Krazy cat artwork by San Fran cartoonist Primo Pitino.
BOBBY DRAINO “BRAIN DRAIN” 12″ (SILK057) $9
Before birthing his blasted acid alter ego, Bobby Draino drummed for various synth-punk groups around Vancouver. Some of that scorched earth crust bleeds through the five fried 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 acid, bass damage, and blown-tone sequencer patterns. The EP’s five tracks emerged across two years of TR-606 and 303 trial & error and warehouse party workshopping. The result is a radical and debased strain of melted alien mutant house, apt for shredding speakers either home or away.
PARADISE 100 “THE LOIN KING” 12″ (SILK055) $8
Paradise 100 aka Graham Peel has been percolating stripped-back house constructs onto the web for a couple years but never locked them to wax till now. Following his minimalist dictum that “any more than three tracks on a song is just indulgence,” his debut EP’s four cuts share a spare design, interlocking slinky bass, sleek keys, lean drum programming, and flashes of synth mirage into fluid, aerodynamic patterns. Touches of melodic acid and crossover new wave color the mood a hedonistic hue (further evinced by track titles: “The Loin King,” “French Kissing In The House Of Love,” etc). His own vision for 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.
LES LEVEL “HOUSE OF NEED” 12″ (SILK054) $8
Melbournian multi-hyphenate Luke Brown aka Les Level has logged time in DJ duo Leslie Salvador and dark synth revisionists Negativ Magick but it’s his solo work as Les Level that hooked SILK’s ear, birthing his vinyl debut, House Of Need. Capped by a complementary pair of mixes of the EP’s titular neo-Chicago anthem, the rest of the collection prowls through a spectrum of shuffling, Strictly Rhythmic club cuts, from the 3 AM skyline seducer “Smooth Sailing” to the jazzy, jacking classic “Working Nights.” An expert assemblage by a nuanced craftsman with style to burn.
ALEX BURKAT “TAROT” 12″ (SILK050) $9
Prolific Pennsylvanian Alex Burkat has been active in several spheres of house, disco, acid wash, and global rhythm both as DJ and producer but his 100% Silk debut skews more hazed and sensual, to great effect. Swelling loops of new age mist give way to classic Chicago figure-8 bass patterns punctuated by dubby drum fills, before billowing back into breathy warehouse atmospherics. His recent EP for Mister Saturday Night explored higher tempo dynamics but Tarot unwinds with a dreamier deja vu, waves of arpeggiatted echo, strobing stereo shimmer, and low acid warble arcing over a limitless subterranean dance floor. Hypnotic humanist mantric mystery music for the 21st century, for those invested in what the deck has to hold.
POLYSICK “UNDER CONSTRUCTION” 12″ (SILK049) $8
Roman hyperrealist Polysick is one the most inspirationally omnivorous electronic futurists in the biz right now. From the miasmic sci-fi terrariums of his 2012 opus Digital Native to his scrambled alien radio hijack tape Flow FM to his recent new age metropolis techno-fantasy Daydream, he traverses every sphere with a masterfully warped, expansive, and maximalist touch. Under Construction finds him fracking into fresh dancefloor terrains: breezy rooftop acid stretched into animal balloons, degenerated house dubs refracted through 80’s video arcade ambience, jazzy champagne-spritzed 303-dosed loft funk, screwed Barry White samples echoing across the chill out lounge. Four time-travel classics by one of today’s most clued-in constructionists.
OCTO OCTA “BETWEEN TWO SELVES” 2xLP/CD (SILK046) $14/$5
Octo Octa’s core moods of displaced identity and rapturous intimacy give way to an adrift, uneasy feeling on Between Two Selves. The album’s four sides are spacious and sensual – the reclining nude of Octo’s Blue Period – with room to breathe and swoon. There’s fewer elements in the mix but more space to explore them, amorous samples pitched down and out across abstracted, extended compositions: “I don’t want you to go,” “All his kisses taste sweet,” etc. A deep accomplishment of regal soul and melancholy.
PHARAOHS “REPLICANT MOODS” LP/CD (SILK045) $8/$6
L.A.’s best live band finally delivers a full-length after some scattered EPs and it totally jacks into the dizzy party-acid gang-groove they summon so effortlessly month after month at the city’s various far-flung afterhours warehouses. All the strobed classics are here: the 303 soul-shakedown “Everything,” nu-groove neighborhood funk-out “Syzygy,” island-synth escape pod “F&M Suite,” and sweaty set-closer, “Above/Below.” Even Miss Maria Minerva pays a visit, on the club-dub single, “Miraculous Feet.” Mastered by Pete Lyman at Infrasonic. Incan temple sleeve design by Cedric Hervet.
COYOTE CLEAN UP “2 HOT 2 WAIT” LP (SILK044) $9
Detroit’s secret weapon caps a string of deceptively excellent digital and tape collections with his vinyl (and CD) debut and it’s everything it should be. His bedroom blizzard production style shimmers here in a rare and mysterious way, like wandering graffiti’d city streets in a snowstorm: icy reverbed beats ride the rails, cascading synth freeze, sampled vocals fogging like breath. Includes dream-grime mixtape classics like “The Least U Could Feel” and “Awesome Luv.” 2 True 2 Believe. In pointillist posterior artwork designed by Bobby Houlihan.
MARIA MINERVA “BLESS” 12″ (SILK042) $8
SILK’s favorite divine-dance diva Maria Minerva dons a new wardrobe for her BlessEP. Opening with the wry ‘n witchy “Black Magick” – Minerva’s take on New Romantic synth-pop – the rest of the record explores downbeat dub-chillers (“Space 4 U”), aroused funk dee-lites (“Symbol of My Pleasure”), and meta island vacation bounce (“Soul Searchin”), rounded out with Lady Blacktonika’s “Black Magick” Garage trippin’ remix – a decadent layer cake of lush house.
SHAMS “PIANO CLOUD” 12″ (SILK041) $8
This polarizing Brooklyn performer/producer antagonizes crowds with dada pranks during his nightshift but afterhours he crafts sprightly continental brunch-house tracks for escapist addicts, comfort creeps, and next-wave hedonists. Piano Cloudmixes Balearic floatation devices with cheeky disco love-hangovers. Heart-on-sleeve wonderland anthems for the heartless and heartbroken.
LEECH “TUSKS” 12″ (SILK040) $8
Multi-scene main man and Kranky konfidante Brian Foote bounced from Chicago to Portland to L.A. before birthing Leech, his diagonal dub endeavor. Foote has helmed the mixing board and production duties for scores of innerspace artists, from Zola Jesus to LA Vampires to Grouper and beyond, but as Leech he masterminds a hybridized mode occasionally termed Chrono Dance, a non-time all-at-once synthesis of hardware rhythms, siphoned techno, and double-helix structures. Funked and freaked, rich and rare-brained.
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MAGIC TOUCH + SAPPHIRE SLOWS “JUST WANNA FEEL” 12″ (SILK038) $9
Just Wanna Feelis the expectation-shattering perfect house-pop collaboration of blonde disco don Magic Touch and whispery 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 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.
ROCHE “A NIGHT AT THE HAÇ” 12″ (SILK036) $8
Bay Area hardware burner Ben Winans aka Roche tracks long-form odysseys of spiraling electronics and technoid hypnosis, releasing sides through Hieroglyphic Being’s Mathematics imprint as well as Icee Hot and Hobo Camp. His SILK debut, A Night At The Haç, is dedicated to the San Francisco club night (not the Manchester venue), and conjures a dizzying mood of modulated circuitry and alien acid. The title of the closer captures the brain-hazed wavelength: “Psycho Zombie Dreams.”
SIR STEPHEN “HOUSE OF REGALIA” LP (SILK032) $8
This homme of homage creates a time-tripped, style-slashed virtual reality of cooltempo rare grooves, Black Box jack, fashion struts, slippy UK house, acid jazz lounge trance, and cut-loose electro-soul. Music for dancers, pure n’ sample. X-scaped sleeve artwork by digital age meme sensei Spencer Longo.
LA VAMPIRES BY OCTO OCTA “FREEDOM 2K” 12″ (SILK031) $8
Octo Octa brings the melancholy to LA Vampires’ infinite badness on Freedom 2K, their long-in-the-longing collaboration. Sleek/chic haunted house layered with vocal dubs, glass keys, and moonlit piano melodies. An extra-finessed Malvoeaux remix powers down the collection. Stark cover photography by Ashley Anthony; design and layout by SILK lynchpin Bobby Houlihan.
MAGIC TOUCH / ITAL 12″ (SILK030) $8
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 italo-boogie loops, eventually ebbing to interzone afterglow.
ROLAND TINGS “MILKY WAY” 12″ (SILK024) $8
Roland Tings is Rohan Newman, a Melbourne producer who, like recent rubies Holy Balm, Forces, and Canyons, proves there’s more and more greatness behind the great and powerful Oz. Melodic acid over rubber basslines, like a bouncy ball in a space chamber, effervescent and buoyant, cut with echo-plexed percussion and touches of Trax magic. More please.
STRATEGY “BOXY MUSIC” 12″ (SILK021) $8
PDX hardware vet Paul Dickow aka “Strategy of Cascadia” has been channeling the depths of dub, house, acid, and similarly circuit-bent rhythm voyages for approaching two decades now, issuing sides through a universe of illustrious labels: Kranky, Further, Field Hymns, Endless Flight, Idle Hands, Peak Oil, Boomarm Nation, etc. His 100% Silk debut, Boxy Music, fuses five of his most dynamic recent forays through kraut-tech, dancehall piano house, and futurist dub into one unified slab of funked electronic wizardry. A pioneering west coast force of multi-faceted avant-electricity.
FORT ROMEAU “KINGDOMS” 12″ (SILK022) $10
Sensual, immaculate, jackin’ romance masterpieces by boy London and rarefied studio craftsman Fort Romeau aka Mike Norris. Kingdoms is a swooning swirl of synth finesse, microscope-dust crate-digger production nuance, house-pulse heartbeats, heavy breathing, empty 3 AM South London streets, night bus stops in the rain, memories, etc. A stirring, secretive, subtle, and singular collection of dancefloor ghost-soul anthems.
BODY DOUBLE “MY LIFE (WHAT YOU NEED)” 12″ (SILK019) $8
Butch, bossy, industrial, and immediate, Body Double conjures KLF’s cult convictions with the same stadium strength and flamboyant fire-technics. Shifted deep down vocals, deconstruction factory fetishes, and bang-the-barrel-slowly tom fills build “My Life” to religious heights, while “Be Strong” takes another avenue to mournful masculinity and strapping sweat gospel house. Rounded out with a 5-hour energy-boost remix from Sir Stephen.