Music

Various Artists: Defected in the House: Eivissa 06

Both a time capsule of the current club scene on the island of Ibiza, and a historically-minded examination of past sounds.


Various Artists

Defected in the House: Eivissa 06

Label: Defected
US Release Date: 2006-06-06
UK Release Date: 2006-05-29
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Since the heyday of dance music in the late '90s, the flood of mixed-CD compilations has never abated. To a large degree, the format is uniquely flattering to the genre. So much of dance music is concerned with singles that any understanding of the genre that doesn't rely on the importance of 12" singles as common currency for DJs across the planet is doomed to be perpetually six-months behind the times, not to mention ignorant of the 90% of dance culture that exists below the waterline, underneath the major label "album artists" and boutique label experimentation.

But the preponderance of mixed CDs also creates problems for those of us in the real world who have to listen to this stuff on a regular basis: sometimes dance music can get pretty damn boring. There are specialists a-plenty in the fields of deep house, hard house, tech-house, Chicago house, Philladelphia house, New York garage (just too mention the house microgenres that leap immediately to mind), and each of them somehow manages to fill CDs with new tracks by the truckload. Even someone who really loves the music can't help but wonder where the hell all of it comes from, and how they're managing to make enough vinyl to hold all of it. Considering that such a small percentage of the music heard on dancefloors across the world will stand the test of time and ever be heard again more than six months after being pressed, it's pretty depressing to see the endless procession of new music that pours forth from DJ booths across the planet. Every song represents a hope, a dream from some inspiring producer... but most of them are just not very good.

With that in mind, most mixed CDs are little more than the aural equivalent of fashion magazines, periodic updates from the trendy trenches. Of the (literally) hundreds of mixed CDs I've heard in my life, there haven't been very many worth holding on to. For the longest time it seemed as if there was a kind of universal amnesia in the dance community which prevented DJs from acknowledging anything older than six months that didn't reflect the latest current fashion trends. Now the pendulum seems to have turned the other way: As the audience for conventional dance music grows perceptibly older, there is more of a premium being placed in some circles on quality and a newfound willingness to engage the music's substantial history on more than a superficial basis. It is in this light that I enjoyed Defected's Eivissa 2006 mix -- as both a time capsule of the current club scene on the island of Ibiza, and a historically-minded examination of past sounds.

The set is composed of three CDs, two of which are mixed by Defected label boss Simon Dunmore, and the third of which is an unmixed selection of classic "Balearic" tracks compiled by DJ Pippi. Dunmore's two CDs are both good, even if they fall prey to many of the hazards of indulgent two-disc mixed sets. There's a smooth vibe throughout, a cosmopolitan and distinctly crisp take on the conventional deep house sound that has dominated upper-deck clubbing for a few years now. Any mix possesses natural peaks and valley, and there's a lot of room for valleys on two CDs. But, thankfully, there's always an interesting tune around the corner when things get slow. "The Cure & the Cause" by Fish Go Deep is an immediately identifiable tune, the Dennis Ferrer mix of which provides the highlight of the first disc -- it's got one of those slinky basslines that sticks in your head for days. Moloko opens the disc with "Forever More", which contains elements of tracks by DJ Gregory Elle and Bob Sinclair for a suitably clever effect. Sinclair shows up again to close the disc, with the club mix of "World, Hold On (Wahoo Main Mix)", featuring Steve Edwards. There's a reason why Sinclair has proven ubiquitous on almost every deep house CD released the past few years -- his sound is instantly recognizable and thoroughly emblematic of the juxtaposition between laid-back hedonism and tense physicality that lies at the heart of house.

Sinclair shows up on the second disc as well, with the Spanish-inflected "Amora, Amor". The Latin sound is much more of a presence on the second disc, hearkening more consciously back to the early days of Manhattan freestyle and vocal house. After a brief snippet from Jomanda's "Make My Body Rock" (familiar to anyone who remembers the Micronauts' ephochal "Baby Wants to Rock"), it kicks into high gear with the likes of Kathy Brown ("Get Another Love") and Billy Ray Martin ("Your Loving Arms" -- a track so cheesy that I am surprised they got away with putting it on here). They even manage to sneak in a Willie Bobo disco salsa track from 1978 ("Always There"), as well as a classic Paperclip People (AKA Carl Craig) track from 1994.

But it's the third unmixed disc that really shines. As enjoyable as a good mix album is, there's nothing quite like having these original tracks in a pristine and unaltered form. I've always been kind of fuzzy on what exactly the term "Balearic" means, but here it's given forth as a loose approximation of the laid-back, soulful spirit of Mediterranean clubbing. I can dig that, as the tracks here are pretty eclectic, even if they share a similar upbeat tone. Where else are you likely to find something like H20's classic "You Can Run..." or the seminal Black Box's "Fantasy (Big Band Version)", at least without paying a premium on eBay? I don't want to give the impression that this CD is merely a feast of dance-music nostalgia -- you shouldn't enjoy these tracks merely because some of them are old, but because they are good. So much dance music has been forgotten, due to the constantly shifting nature of the electronic music landscape, that it is a profound pleasure to see some of it being rediscovered by a grateful audience.

6

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

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Music

The Best Dance Tracks of 2017

Photo: Murielle Victorine Scherre (Courtesy of Big Beat Press)

From the "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique to Stockholm Noir's brilliant string of darkly foreboding, electro-licked singles, here are ten selections that represent some of the more intriguing dance offerings of 2017.

In June of 2016, prolific producer Diplo lambasted the world of DJ's in an interview with Billboard, stating that EDM was dying. Coincidentally enough, the article's contents went viral and made their way into Vice Media's electronic music and culture channel Thump, which closed its doors after four years this summer amid company-wide layoffs. Months earlier, electronic music giant SFX Entertainment filed bankruptcy and reemerged as Lifestyle, Inc., shunning the term "EDM".

So here we are at the end of 2017, and the internet is still a flurry with articles declaring that Electronic Dance Music is rotting from the inside out and DJ culture is dying on the vine, devoured by corporate greed. That might all well be the case, but electronic music isn't disappearing into the night without a fight as witnessed by the endless parade of emerging artists on the scene, the rise of North America's first Electro Parade in Montréal, and the inaugural Electronic Music Awards in Los Angeles this past September.

For every insipid, automaton disc jockey-producer, there are innovative minds like Anna Lunoe, Four Tet, and the Black Madonna, whose eclectic, infectious sets display impeccable taste, a wealth of knowledge, and boundless creativity. Over the past few years, many underground artists have been thrust into the mainstream spotlight and lost the je ne sais quoi that made them unique. Regardless, there will always be new musicians, producers, singers, and visionaries to replace them, those who bring something novel to the table or tip a hat to their predecessors in a way that steps beyond homage and exhilarates as it did decades before.

As electronic music continues to evolve and its endless sub-genres continue to expand, so do fickle tastes, and preferences become more and more subjective with a seemingly endless list of artists to sift through. With so much music to digest, its no wonder that many artists remain under the radar. This list hopes to remedy that injustice and celebrate tracks both indie and mainstream. From the "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique to Stockholm Noir's brilliant string of darkly foreboding, electro-licked singles, here are ten selections that represent some of the more intriguing dance offerings of 2017.

10. Moullinex - “Work It Out (feat. Fritz Helder)”

Taken from Portuguese producer, DJ, and multi-instrumentalist Luis Clara Gomes' third album Hypersex, "Work It Out" like all of its surrounding companions is a self-proclaimed, "collective love letter to club culture, and a celebration of love, inclusion and difference." Dance music has always seemingly been a safe haven for "misfits" standing on the edge of the mainstream, and while EDM manufactured sheen might have taken the piss out of the scene, Hypersex still revels in that defiant, yet warm and inviting attitude.

Like a cheeky homage to Rick James and the late, great High Priest of Pop, Prince, this delectably filthy, sexually charged track with its nasty, funk-drenched bass line, couldn't have found a more flawless messenger than former Azari & III member Fritz Helder. As the radiant, gender-fluid artist sings, "you better work your shit out", this album highlight becomes an anthem for all those who refuse to bow down to BS. Without any accompanying visuals, the track is electro-funk perfection, but the video, with its ruby-red, penile glitter canon, kicks the whole thing up a notch.

9. Touch Sensitive - “Veronica”

The neon-streaked days of roller rinks and turtlenecks, leg warmers and popped polo collars have come and gone, but you wouldn't think so listening to Michael "Touch Sensitive" Di Francesco's dazzling debut Visions. The Sydney-based DJ/producer's long-awaited LP and its lead single "Lay Down", which shot to the top of the Hype Machine charts, are as retro-gazing as they are distinctly modern, with nods to everything from nu disco to slo-mo house.

Featuring a sample lifted from 90s DJ and producer Paul Johnson's "So Much (So Much Mix)," the New Jack-kissed "Veronica" owns the dance floor. While the conversational interplay between the sexed-up couple is anything but profound, there is no denying its charms, however laughably awkward. While not everything on Visions is as instantly arresting, it is a testament to Di Francesco's talents that everything old sounds so damn fresh again.

8. Gourmet - “Delicious”

Neither Gourmet's defiantly eccentric, nine-track debut Cashmere, nor its subsequent singles, "There You Go" or "Yellow" gave any indication that the South African purveyor of "spaghetti pop" would drop one of the year's sassiest club tracks, but there you have it. The Cape Town-based artist, part of oil-slick, independent label 1991's diminutive roster, flagrantly disregards expectation on his latest outing, channeling the Scissor Sisters at their most gloriously bitchy best, Ratchet-era Shamir, and the shimmering dance-pop of UK singer-producer Joe Flory, aka Amateur Best.

With an amusingly detached delivery that rivals Ben Stein's droning roll call in Ferris Bueller's Day Off , he sings "I just want to dance, and fuck, and fly, and try, and fail, and try again…hold up," against a squelchy bass line and stabbing synths. When the percussive noise of what sounds like a triangle dinner bell appears within the mix, one can't help but think that Gourmet is simply winking at his audience, as if to say, "dinner is served."

7. Pouvoir Magique - “Chalawan”

Like a psychoactive ayahuasca brew, the intoxicating "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique's LP Disparition, is an exhilarating trip into unfamiliar territory. Formed in November of 2011, "Magic Power" is the musical project of Clément Vincent and Bertrand Cerruti, who over the years, have cleverly merged several millennia of songs from around the world with 21st-century beats and widescreen electro textures. Lest ye be worried, this is anything but Deep Forest.

In the spring of 2013, Pouvoir Magique co-founded the "Mawimbi" collective, a project designed to unite African musical heritage with contemporary soundscapes, and released two EPs. Within days of launching their label Musiques de Sphères, the duo's studio was burglarized and a hard drive with six years of painstakingly curated material had vanished. After tracking down demos they shared with friends before their final stages of completion, Clément and Bertrand reconstructed an album of 12 tracks.

Unfinished though they might be, each song is a marvelous thing to behold. Their stunning 2016 single "Eclipse," with its cinematic video, might have been one of the most immediate songs on the record, but it's the pulsing "Chalawan," with its guttural howls, fluttering flute-like passages, and driving, hypnotic beats that truly mesmerizes.

6. Purple Disco Machine - “Body Funk” & “Devil In Me” (TIE)

Whenever a bevy of guest artists appears on a debut record, it's often best to approach the project with caution. 85% of the time, the collaborative partners either overshadow the proceedings or detract from the vision of the musician whose name is emblazoned across the top of the LP. There are, however, pleasant exceptions to the rule and Tino Piontek's Soulmatic is one of the year's most delightfully cohesive offerings. The Dresden-born Deep Funk innovator, aka Purple Disco Machine, has risen to international status since 2009, releasing one spectacular track and remix after another. It should go without saying that this long-awaited collection, featuring everyone from Kool Keith to Faithless and Boris D'lugosch, is ripe with memorable highlights.

The saucy, soaring "Mistress" shines a spotlight on the stellar pipes of "UK soul hurricane" Hannah Williams. While it might be a crowning moment within the set, its the strutting discofied "Body Funk", and the album's first single, "Devil In Me", that linger long after the record has stopped spinning. The former track with its camptastic fusion of '80s Sylvester gone 1940s military march, and the latter anthem, a soulful stunner that samples the 1968 Stax hit "Private Number", and features the vocal talents of Duane Harden and Joe Killington, feels like an unearthed classic. Without a doubt, the German DJ's debut is one of the best dance records of the year.

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