KAAZI “ZEN TRAVEL” CS (SILK097) $7
Emergent New York City producer Kaazi conceives of his woozy rhythm experiments in lofty terms – utopian extensions of self, alternate windows of perception, “something to move beyond the static,” etc. – but their mesmeric and transportive properties need little explanation. Zen Travel voyages through nine winding, textured terrains of breathy acid funk, foggy jungle dub, and violet vaporous house, inspired by youthful trips to Tokyo and the adventurous synthetic fusion of Hiroshi Yoshimura and Yasuaki Shimizu. Recorded in the summer and fall of 2015 using a Bass Station, Prophet 600, and minimal palette of FX, the tracks were born from long-form improvisational sessions, then later edited for brevity and essence. The titles gesture at the mood and motion of each microcosm – “Air,” “Tropics,” “Skate,” “Street,” “Cruise” – but taken as a collection Kaazi conjures a sense of expanse, altitudes, flux, and feeling, where the dance floor and the devotional dissolve as one. Mastered by Rioux. Artwork by David McLeod.
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.
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.
BOBBY BROWSER “CLUBSPINNING” 12″ (SILK075) $9
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 great glitterball glides, soft-lensed and silk-spun; “Manchester” a bass-prowler dubbed with synthetic flute and Factory samples; and “Go 90” a complete soul-in-the-rain ghost comedown, misted in piano, voice, and percussion. That pieces this sculpted came mainly via hardware intuition is beyond impressive – limitations turned hyperfocus. This is Browser at his best, strobing but smooth, four gems of weirdly 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) $8
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. Postscriptplays 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.
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 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 wrecker worth watching. Mastered by Eric Hanson.
CHERUSHII “QUEEN OF CUPS” 12″ (SILK056) $8
Bay Area native Chelsea Faith’s debut as Cherushii – a name she’s been recording under since her first teenage techno Tascam experiments more than a decade ago – spills over with loves and lessons gleaned from a lifer voyage through the city’s expansive 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 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 SILK label sleeves designed by Bobby Houlihan.
PARADISE 100 “THE LOIN KING” 12″ (SILK055) $8
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) $8
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” 2xLP/CD (SILK046) $14/$5
Sophistication and elegance have not always been the strobelight honey of many dancefloor pursuits but it’s been Octo Octa’s strongest suit since the 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.
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.
ROCHE “A NIGHT AT THE HAÇ” 12″ (SILK036) $8
Bay Area Balearic burner Ben Winans aka Roche designs long tranced nights with no sign of morning. Opener “A Night At The Haç” kicks loose an epic dialogue of classic house thematics while “Insider Outsider” is all acid/alien gears-turning progression. Side B’s “CG Vision” refracts a fish-eye lens while closer “Psycho Zombie Dreams” tunnels through a sphere of modulated raunch – seductive, intoxicating, mind-eating.
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.
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
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.
MI AMI “DECADE” LP (SILK020) $8
The transformative duo of Damon “Magic Touch” Palermo and Daniel “Ital” Martin-McCormick have created a hardcore soft-serve swirl of afro-punk, disco-dance freakout, and primitive techno along their half-decade journey toward Decade’s fine exploratory house. The yin of Damon’s deep focus rhythm, an endless horizon-riding beat, powers the yang of Daniel’s DC anarchic tension. “Time Of Love” is soul on the move: cymbal-crash symbolism, flanger fingerplay, drum roll triggers. “Free Of Life” shoots across reverbed pad stabs and synth-shred sweeps, before giving way to the final cut, “Bells,” a kiss of guitar shrapnel, walls closing in, beats pumping into the tree of life. Decade is a chemistry test, a steady study, a link of love. Ten-fingers-to-touch-you sleeve art by the one and only Bobby Houlihan. Comes with an 11×17 poster/insert.
BOBBY BROWSER “JUST BROWSING” 12″ (SILK017) $8
Bay Area whiz kid Andre Ferreira aka Bobby Browser makes People-Mover music: refined glides, dewy bass, escalator acid, sunny techno. Spot him around town biking the Bay Bridge with a 909 in his knapsack or grabbing organic produce alongside some Berkeley techno vegans. A Man Of The People, primed for all your Uplift Mo’ Blow Party Plans. Just Browsing? Just Buying.
PHARAOHS “UHH UHH” 12″ (SILK012) $8
Mad Madchester vibes all over Pharaohs debut Uhh Uhh, happy mondays, tuesdays and wednesdays full of synthetic drums, funky 808, pitch-shifted vocals, freaky dancing, baggy world party heaven. Add a bit of bubbly acid, some extended jazz grooves, a dash of KLF big band UK mayhem, and a touch of 94.7 FM liquid sax/velvet breath and you’ve got the deep pleasure of these LA kings can conjure. Taking the shiny dance floor to the warehouse cement, then out on to the sandy patio floor for some hot Hacienda nights.
MAGIC TOUCH “I CAN FEEL THE HEAT” 12″ (SILK009) $8
Groove into Magic Touch’s pleasure factory, a floor-to-ceiling inventory of disco-covalence, guitar rush, even-better-than-the-real-thing samples, and jumpin’ jackin’ flash. A vice is nice but pills will never thrill you like the sensation of Magic Touch, his feverish fantasia of sweet heat. “I Can Feel The Heat” features additional shredding by So-Cal amigo Josh Anzano while “Clubhouse” stars additional instrumentation by Miracle Clubber Honey Owens.
GILLETTE 12″ (SILK005) $8
Gillette are a monorail through black-lit airbrushed metropolis cityscapes, liquid metalheads and bladerunners bargaining in back alleys for stolen hardware. Dying yet eternal, scenic but bleak, formless though fated. Remote with control. Craft/work for the machines of men.
THE DEEEP “MUDDY TRACKS” 12″ (SILK002) $8
The Deeep’s Muddy Tracks is the kind of Toronto shamanism you never knew existed: like someone pulled the stinger out of Beth Gibbons and sucked the poison out of Tricky, leaving a stripped zombie trance-hop. The remixes fold in jubilant Indo-Eastern moves, for sophisticates only.