ROCHE “DAWN OF THE NEXT CYCLE” CS (SILK089) $7
Ben Winans’ work as Roche resists niches and deadzones, threading through various outer rings of electronic trance, proto-techno, and unnamed house. His latest logbook of tracks, Dawn Of The Next Cycle, spirals as deep as ever into red-eyed trips of pulsing, gaseous patterns, electric body music reflections on “a world at war, a world that is falling apart, or perhaps reforming.” Shades of tribal jack, slap bass, submerged disco, cyber club, and programmer haze interweave and evaporate; nebulous melodies swell and dissolve; cycles dawn and die. Adapt or collapse – both man and machine. Even more than on previous releases, here Winans wields an innerspace touch, sinuous and circular, heavy-lidded like a horizon line. It’s always darkest before the Dawn. Recorded in San Francisco, California and mastered by Matt Tammariello.
NACKT “VIREX” CS (SILK088) $6
Over a decade of Bay Area nightlife and warehouse culture has boiled Johnny Igaz’s production methodology as Nackt down to its rubbery, resinous husk. Virex captures the project in its most stripped and purist form, all live, all hardware, traced in strict acid. The fluid genesis of each track allows for a curvature of mood from fog machine nightstalk (“Full Coat,” “Ford”) to grooved mothership jack (“Black Widow,” “Trash Brothers”), prone to mutation and variance. Outpost party co-founder CM-4 shares much of the writing and production credit, and joins Nackt on stage for live hardware PA performances. A squad of other SF house associates also contribute cameos – Michael Claus (Outpost), Jason Key (Rotation), Doc Sleep (Jacktone) – pitching in on drum patterns, 303, and additional production duties. Both alone and in collaboration, Nackt conjures his own distinct sonic corridor: liquid metal, insectoid, mechanized rubber sculptures strobe-lit above the speaker cabinets. Recorded in Oakland, California and mastered by Matt Tammariello.
MR BRONSON “TRANS PACIFIC” CS (SILK087) $6
Melbourne hardware flatliner Mr. Bronson (aka Andrew Broughton) strips tracks back to their strobing skeletons, lean sequences of poly-synth and 707, a spiraling infinity window across Oceania. Motion does not equal movement; Pacific vertigo is its own reward. The eight woozy waveforms of Trans Pacific traverse overlapping strands of tranced acid, throbbing bass, and minimal synthesizer design, alternately stealthy and slogged, a low-slung speedboat in the dusk approaching Ball’s Pyramid. Previous limited lathes on his Bad Party imprint have explored similarly endless grids but the cuts collected here cruise the furthest into Mr. Bronson selfhood ritual, raw constructs of mantric pulse and drum machinery, gear in flight. Mastered by Alter Echo.
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.
CHERUSHII “FAR AWAY SO CLOSE” 12″ (SILK081) $10
San Fran rave loyalist Chelsea Faith aka Cherushii centered her 2nd EP around its title track, which evokes some Balearic brunch dream sequence coasting in the ether off a Mediterranean isle – swooping shorelines, seagulls, liquid sky sax (courtesy of jazz multi-instrumentalist Marcia Miget), sex surfer acid. Escape as experience. The record’s other three cuts stake her map across varied terrains, from maximalist catwalk (“Set You Free”) to sensual moonlight (“Nightsteps”) to fogged up DJ booths (“Sweet Spot”). Far Away So Close finds Faith at her most focused and free, glitter in her eyes and the dancefloor in her fingers. Music for bodies in motion, no matter the ocean. In SILK label sleeves designed by Spencer Longo. Mastered by Eric Hanson.
AUSCULTATION “L’ETREINTE IMAGINAIRE” CS (SILK079) $7
Auscultation is Madisonian-gone-Oregonian musician Joel Shanahan’s outlet for slinkier, more subliminal productions, as inaugurated on last year’s sprawling self-titled debut for 1080p Collection. His sophomore set, L’étreinte Imaginaire (which translates generally as “imaginary embrace”), was recorded off and on across France and Wisconsin throughout the last year, during and between various regional tours. The album’s seven selections swerve through jazzy, sunflared house (“Black Window,” “Composure Fuzz”), glimmering rhythm (“Stranded Love”), and misted, moody electronics (“Drop Off,” “Lost You In The Fog”). As with Shanahan’s work via Golden Donna and elsewhere, structures spiral and slide, textures phase in and out of focus, and a mood of heavy longing hovers in the headphones. Even so, the sense of focus and craft-sharpening here is unambiguous; these pieces are among his most plasmatic, pensive, and aerodynamic. Slow growth on a shadowed vine. The embrace may be imaginary but the touch feels real. Mastered by Alter Echo.
BODY-SAN “CORPORATE INTERIORS” CS (SILK069) $6
Shopping mall lobby vapors waft heavy in the strutting fluorescent house of Kansas City producer Brandon Knocke aka Body-San’s latest collection, Corporate Interiors. The album’s 8 tracks share a waterfall window display endlessness, fluttering rhythms and escalator synths chilled with air-conditioned muzak and ambient space. Dance music for posh changing rooms and DVD seminars – utopian, sensual, blanked out. Recorded in the afterglow of relocating to a new “light-drenched Florida Room”/studio in Hospital Hill, KC, MO, these pieces feel uplifted and empowered by positive motion, preferred parking, and plastic plants; the seams of experience gleam. Fantasy-funk urban planning from a musician/mastermind with the liquid crystal touch. Mastered by Alter Echo in Portland, Oregon.
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.
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.
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.
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.