POLICY “POSTSCRIPT” LP (SILK065) $12
Manhattan filmmaker-turned-beatbroker Francis Hsueh aka Policy has been unfolding a skewed yet chic house blueprint across the last three years, as evinced via a series of EPs for eminent dancefloor wholesalers such as Rush Hour and Argot – yet his latest seems his most assured and distilled to date. Postscript plays street dice with choppy electronics and disrobed rhythm architectures, maxed out but close to the chest, splashed with off-grid percussive patterns and muted jazz textures. Policy’s policy of artisanal layering has never been more elegantly executed; metropolis gems like “Postscript 187,” “Ghost In The Groove,” and “Big Beast Anthem,” swing and stutter, brisk and bouncy, graffitied with smoke-lounge keys, soft pad dub-stabs, synth-flute streaks, burnished brass, city grit. A uniquely contemplative take on funky uptown house by one of NYC’s rising talents. Cover photograph by Francis Hsueh. Mastered by Dietrich Schoenemann at Complete Mastering.
TEMPLES “EARRINGS II” 12″ (SILK063) $9
Portlandia house bastion Ecstasy termed Temples’ 2012 debut mini-LP, I-VII, “ambient jack,” which captures something of the project’s contradictory strengths: airy yet agile, sparse but plush, flights of intuition mapped onto morphing grids of percussion, crystalline electronics, and pastel skylines. Avalon Kalin’s latest collection of tech finery, Earrings II, dials back the atmospheric quotient somewhat, though there’s still a rock garden spaciousness to his mixes, each element arranged with regard to some higher harmony, the poetry of negative space. Recorded in his home studio “while dancing,” the four tracks here ebb between passages of pressure and release, euphoric but unstable, dusted with pyramid-chamber slap back and live dubbing acrobatics. Their melting clock asymmetries more closely echo Kalin’s hardware improvisations with Scott Goodwin as Polonaise than the velvet vocal house of his other solo vessel, Finesse, but Temples is ultimately a holy place all its own. A sleekly compelling statement from one of the Pacific Northwest’s secret heroes. Mastered by Eric Hanson.
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.
OCTO OCTA “CAUSE I LOVE YOU” 12″ (SILK061)
New England deep house patriot Octo Octa logged some real miles in 2013, flexing his live muscles, refining his crowd vibe antennae, and tracking a trio of fresh EPs to kick off the new year. Cause I Love You is the first – to be followed by 12′s for Skylax and Argot – and it’s a real 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 true banger to break the mold of Between Two Selves’ moody collective soul. It’s not all so raring though. 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 craftsman hot in the pocket, still picking up steam, alive with ideas. Mastered by Dietrich Schoenemann. In sand-dune fantasia SILK sleeve designed by Luke Brown/Les Level.
MAGIC TOUCH “PALERMO HOUSE GANG” 2×12″ (SILK060) $20
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 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 Cups takes 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.
POLYSICK “UNDER CONSTRUCTION” 12″ (SILK049) $9
Visionary Roman hyperrealist Polysick (aka Egisto Sopor) 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, etc. Four instant time-travel crate-dug classics by one of today’s most clued-in constructionists.
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” LP/CD (SILK045) $12/$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.
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 Cloud mixes 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.
MAGIC TOUCH + SAPPHIRE SLOWS “JUST WANNA FEEL” 12″ (SILK038) $11
Just Wanna Feel is 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.
LA VAMPIRES BY OCTO OCTA “FREEDOM 2K” 12″ (SILK031) $11
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) $9
ONE TIME REPRESS of 100 COPIES
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. Compliments to the chefs.
OCTO OCTA “OH LOVE” 12″ (SILK023) $8
Burning deeper and yearning harder than his first SILK outing, Let Me See You, Oh Love projects dreams that can’t be followed, love that can’t last, futures that won’t solve the present. The dancefloor dissolves into warm and womby atmospheres, tear-jerk body-works, poised for poignancy.
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.