DEARLY DEPARTURE “GENESIS” CS (SILK110) $7
Santa Clarita daydreamer Daniel Crook flipped his DX-7 to dent tuition at California Institute Of The Arts but while there fell in with a crew of fellow hardware heads and began making periodic pilgrimages downtown to soak the city’s thriving warehouse scene. His own productions soon followed, inspired by the moodier fringes of LA’s nocturnal underground as well as the “dark gothic energy” of certain fatalist new wave.
Genesis spans 40 minutes across eight tracks, crisscrossing stained glass house, lovesick jack, and varied states of rhythm delirium into a raw, reflective self-portrait of empty streets and midnight memories. Crook’s process is part planned and part exploratory, mapping melody in advance then ripping live takes at a table of synths in his bedroom. From cobwebbed dub-dance (“Serpent”) to cyber-mechanical disco (“Move”), the songs feel intuitive and imprecise, grainy screengrabs of systems in flux. Most are solo instrumentals but Crook’s classmate Bludwork guests on the sci-fi sequencer trance “Infrared” while local morbid beauty duo Morticia My Angel haunt the mic for “Words Unspoken.” Even his own voice makes an appearance on “Own Perceptions,” mixed into a glimmering grey haze: “I don’t know what to do with me / no more.” Mastered by Matt Tammariello.
OLSEN “DREAM OPERATOR” CS (SILK109) $8
Manchester miasma-house specialist Andrew Anderton aka Olsen sculpts swirling, stream-of-consciousness rhythms inspired by subliminal perception, hyperspace anime, and reflections on how the mind works. His latest is also his haziest, tracked at home on analog synths bathed in echo, tape-hiss, and found sounds, conjuring a liminal realm between sleep and reality ruled by a shadowy figure: the Dream Operator. Opaque acid, mumbling voices, and decayed keys whisper in the periphery, tethered by black hole bass, a narcoleptic kick, and dusty claps. This is music for “the space between,” where the dream operator takes control, and “shows you an image of a tree, soft fruit growing… night falls, and the black dog serenade continues.” Compelling contemporary warehouse noir by a producer poised for heady depths. Mastered by Matt Tammariello.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.