Round #4 in the land of forum reviews. If you don't know about the Test Pressing forum it's a sort of hidden quiet place full of amazing music with a load of knowledgable heads in it. Go ask a question on disco through to house in there and I reckon someone will know the correct answer... Point being there's loads of amazing music being posted daily.
Anyway this week we have @dreambeam aka @aschir1 on Instagram, zounds aka @ewancduncan on insta and @u.f.stylus (user and insta name) from the forum reviewing three released for us.
We should also mention that u.f.stylus has recently set up an online radio station named Loose FM that some of the folk from the forum do shows on as well as there being loads of other great things on there. You can follow that on Instagram HERE for more information. Right. On with the program. First up this week...
Earl Young – Let Him Be Your Everything (Athens Of The North)
dream beam – What with their lovers rock For the Love of You comps, Linkwood & Foat originals, & soul reissues, all killer no filler is what we expect from AOTN and this 7” (surfaced from obscurity and rescued from Discogs sharks) is no exception. This is not Earl Young of the Trammps. A-side is an ace uptempo gospel banger. The spartan arrangement gives this a private press vibe – not much more than a rhythm section and a gurgling clavinet line to set up Earl’s lovely understated vocal, somewhat reminiscent of Stevie Wonder. The flip is a piano-driven weeper with a sweet vocal from Earl crescendoing to a lovely falsetto before the fadeout.
@u.f.stylus - Take Me In Prayer by Earl Young, apparently “one of the finest gospel bangers ever cut to vinyl”, is immediately ear-catching and grabbingly emotional, and with a hand on the mixer it would be ill in the dance. I say this because the vocals are upfront and the bass and drums are tucked down in the mix. It’s one for the disco-ended DJs who could make it sound amazing for others but I wouldn’t buy this for my own listening without wanting to EQ it some more. Let Him Be Your Everything on the B-side is a gospel ballad belted straight from the pulpit and is a surprising show-stopper, an undeniable slice of premium soulfulness and tear-jerks that would hit the core on a hungover Sunday morning.
zoundz – This was described in the notes as “Probably one of the finest gospel bangers ever cut to vinyl” and my only argument against that statement is the probably. “Take them in Prayer” is a sublimely smooth journey from groove to groove. Playful and innocent yet flirtatious, it glides between verse to pre-chorus to chorus to bridge in an unpredictably charming way. The whole time it plays with you thinking this is the main hook, then it hits you with a flurry of beautiful transitions down to soulful tranquillity, building up to this exuberantly colourful chorus. The best thing about this track has to be it’s almost juxtaposing subtlety - Each time it reintroduces an element or motif it hits you with a development that is one of the finest examples of technical playing done correctly that springs to mind. It’s not overdone, not trying to be the main focus, it’s just contributing to the bigger picture. This is one that is just too difficult to not throw on again and again – you want that groove to just keep going and going and going. As soon as you hear that fade out you’ll be reaching back to start this one over.
The other track on this release is “Let Him Be Your Everything”, a much more textured and reflective number that show’s off just how dynamic Earl can be. It introduces elements slowly and you can feel that coming from the start – but you’re so happy with what it does and how it doesn’t over do it, really respecting the space and atmosphere it creates for itself. The hooks are still there, tastefully introduced and placed, and really navigate you from being lost in it’s smoothly transcendent aura to welcomed into it - with firm reassurance your feet are still on the ground.
From start to finish you really see how Earl has absolutely mastered their craft and chosen some incredibly capable musicians to work with. My biggest takeaway from this is how every single person involved in this record knows their place and what to do whilst still showing just what they can do. I hate how short these tracks are - an absolutely essential one for anyone to have in their collection.
Patchouli Brothers / Mary Mundy – Love Me, Love Me / Love is Gone (Dodo Records)
(Note - I couldn't find a link to the edit online so the original is above)
@u.f.stylus - This disco edit, the debut release on the Patchouli Brothers first legitimate record label Dodo Records, a a collaboration with vocalist Mary Mundy reworked from the original tapes, is a useful enough tool for DJs to keep the dancefloor building. Love Me Love Me will hold your attention, with lovely dramatic chord changes as the melody develops. Doesn’t really peak or hypnotise enough to make me want to buy it, and, again, the production is a little on the stingy side when it comes to the rhythm section. I’d like some more attack in the bass and drums, please. Love Is Gone on the flip is bit more generous in that area, and the vocals more soulful and gospelly in that Joubert Singers way, but the tune itself, when it develops, is a bit too sweet in that I-need-to-clean-my-teeth-now way.
dream beam – Having established a solid track record of memorable disco edits (on Basic Fingers & Pleasure of Love among others) Toronto-based Patchouli Brothers serve up the inaugural offering of their Dodo Records—two legit & approved reworks of cult 80s vocalist Mary Mundy (try getting a copy of her LP Mother Nature). Love Me, Love Me is from that LP—it’s a fabulous percussion/guitar workout with horn stabs and a sensual vocal …but it’s the B-side that will really bring down the house: a lush track that has it all—an unforgettable chorus that could bring a room together at the right moment, a piano riff that recalls Chaz Jankel, synth accents, & top percussion; all tastefully extended & reworked. Nice work, boys.
zoundz – Edit specialists the Patchouli Brothers present some super functional cut-ups of two excellent Mary Mundy tracks here, both cut from the original tape and done with the involvement and blessing of Mary themself. The first track, “Love Me Love Me (Patchouli Brothers Edit)”, introduces you slowly to the groove. It really isn’t afraid to explore the places that the original went to, and I found that giving these grooves room to breathe and a much fresher and brighter mix down really helps cement the idea that a edit doesn’t always need to do something complicated or nuanced to be special. There’s a couple moments on this track where the Patchouli Brother’s really show their ear for spotting a sample, not being afraid to make you wait for that vocal to come in and come to the forefront, and hearing those bass pops and slides just adds so much depth and dimension to that melody. And it’s not overdone either, each time it happens it has its own magic little groove to it, and it gives you just the right amount of it that you need. It’s something incredibly simple that I found that it really pushed the track far past the other thousands of Disco edit’s out there.
The second track to this release, “Love Is Gone (Patchouli Brothers Edit)”, brings a main vocal line to the forefront pretty much from the offset, but the groove that it sits on feels a little flattened in comparison to the original. That cosmic sliding keyboard/guitar (?) feels out of key – and the backing vocals have a really strange harmony that add this slightly dissonant feeling to most of the track. It’s prominently featured too, and fills out a lot of the track. I can only imagine how great that lovely piano and drum line was to work with, so it feels a little disappointing overall.
Where “Love Me Love Me” is a fantastic example of what changing up arrangement can do to a disco track, this track falls quite short of the standard they set for themselves on the record arrangement-wise. It feels a little lazy, a little looped. But those are really my only criticisms – it’s clearly something that has been done by people who know what they’re doing, and they’ve already shown that. The whole release feels functional, it feels like this mix has made it a lot more lively and zestier, and the space that has been given to the main vocal line here really shows off how wonderful a singer Mary is. Overall, It’s just the way the second track sounded didn’t sound right to me, and the negatives here don’t overshadow just how good that first track is.
Unkle – If We Don’t Make it (Unkle)
dream beam – In all honesty I haven’t really listened to Unkle since 2002 so it was a nice surprise to see they were still at it—those early Mo’ Wax releases are still close to my heart—so checking up on Unkle’s latest (Ronin) to prepare for this review was a little disappointing. The Radio Edit of “If We Don’t Make It” (from their Ronin mixtape) is a sort of edit/reworking of the of the Tom Brock & Barry White classic—dropping the EQ in/out, adding a vocal & chorus, and looping the disco strings. DJ Nature slows it down, adding a pitched-down synth arpeggio and creating a kind of uptempo hip hop track—dubbing out the original at the margins and adding some moody pads near the end. Would fit in nicely near the start of a set. Fresh from his LP on Rhythm Section, Melbourne-based Prequel gives us a mix of two halves – a percussive intro the loops the new vocal, before breaking down into some underwater bass and then building up to the original vocal sample.
zoundz – The first remix of “If We Don’t Make It” is slow, chuggy, spacious. It lets you know with some dissonant floaty arps that it’s going places, unpredictably, reinforced by switching to what can only be described as a destructive pluck hammering down into the low-mid frequencies, then switching out to synths that sound like rasping bleepy electric pulses with perfectly sculpted attack decay sustain and release. To be short on this one, the production is absolutely spot on – really nails the sound palette and fits the original samples into it so well. The low end rumbles and just cements the production on this as absolutely nailed. It floats towards this constant build and return, taking the space with it, playing with each element seeing the best way it can fill the space - you think that when this was made it would be super easy to drown everything in a massive verb but it is such a spacious track all the elements fill it up wonderfully. I really really enjoyed this one.
The Prequel Remix takes its time to build into the space here, nicely decorated with the odd conga hit deeply submersed in a meticulously produced groove where everything has room to breathe nicely and synchronised. Then the subs come in, which sound a little swampy and hidden, almost even clipping. Everything starts to fall apart a little bit. What was nicely spacious is a little bit too far apart now – and it stays in that place for six and a half minutes… It’s far too boring to be psychedelic. The peak of the crescendo feels too little too late, you’re tired of the sample being looped and looped over again, the strings are too much… A real contrast to the first track and a big let down in comparison.
There’s about ten different mixes of this track out there, but you can pretty safely say that none will be as good as the DJ Nature mix – it really gives it this vibe of sunset parties and a montage of heroin overdoses in neo-Tokyo, which I don’t think I’ve ever heard before.
@u.f.stylus - I was never one for Unkle’s output really, and always associate the project to the point when Mo Wax started to tail off in quality. If We Don’t Make It from their new mixtape Rōnin is a mixed bag.
The radio edit of the lead track is some serious 6 Music playlist-bothering fodder and is quite good in a “I think I heard this in the early 00s and thought it was alright then” kind of way. Doesn’t set my world alight.
The DJ Nature remix is a slow-down tripped out deep-house sort of affair that wouldn’t sound out of place in an oligarch-stuffed cocktail bar in Kensington. Make of that what you will.
The Prequel remix is deep and mid-tempo, hits with some big surprises with a massive LPF’d bassline and tasty percussive changes hitting you up just when you think it’s not going anywhere, and adding an insistent vocal for the hand raisers. It’s the pick of this release for me and in the right hands, set and setting I can see this doing a lot of damage. The second half of it needs a mix out pretty swiftly though as it just plays the first half backwards, taking the elements away in a similar way to how they were built.