Monthly Archives: January 2014

Record Watch: Selected: Compiled by Fred P

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Fred P’s putting out an eight track release spread over 4 plates this month. As the release’s title would suggest, it’s a compilation with a focus on maintaining a consistent vibe over the course of 4 sides of vinyl. Fred P combines releases by some more familiar names with some by relative unknowns. It’s been difficult to find any substantial soundclips of the release but from what we’ve heard of the eight tracks, they’re every bit as deep, as restrained and as soulful as you’d expect, and the drums sound great on every track.

There’s builders, creepers, high point of the night tracks, early set vibes and everything else in between. Listen below.

Starting with a DeepJust AQuaBeaT cut that’s got really rich sounding percussive elements and deep synths that crescendo in and out, the A side finishes with Bassik Grooove’s Synthetic Ocean, which uses a similar sort of droney melody to A1, but fits it on top of a more funky, tribal rhythm.

The B side kicks off with Bobby O’Donnell’s The Shards of Our Childhood. This one’s got quite a fast beat, although it’s a background element, with arpeggiated synths ringing out in the foreground. This is a nice track, one that I’d probably play early on in a set, if the tempo was already quite high. B2 is a real, real nice track. Ryo Murakami is responsible for it. You might have heard some of his releases on Panrecords in the past, and Midnight Sun has a similar vibe: deep, bassy and hesitant. Great stuff.

C1 is perhaps the biggest “tune” on this release. Lapien’s My Obsession has all the required elements: a killer vocal, the slightest hint of acid and synths that fit perfectly around the beat. So it’s great to see it pulled off perfectly. Expect to hear more of this one as the year goes on. C2 is by We Are MAM. It’s a synth driven track but it seems to work pretty well. There’s a little vocal snippet to it hidden somewhere among the layers of the beats.

Last is the D side, which contains a slice from Orion 70 and one from Fred P himself. These 2 are the most peak time of the 8, I would say. The Orion 70 track is pure hands in the air vibes, with the beat dropping out for a bit before coming back in – but not sounding in the least bit cliched – and the Fred P is a dub of an old jazz track with real live sounding percussion and lovely piano chords in the background kept aloft by a sprightly beat.

We highly recommend this one. 8 masterful tracks, ranging in vibe from the early hours to the late hours. One of those that would always have a place in the record bag, because there’d always be at least one track that you could play from it.

Fred P has really succeeded in building and maintaining a vibe across this release, which is great news if you enjoy his sound as much as we do. It’s a great inaugural release for his new Boards label, let’s hope there’s plenty more like it to come.

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A Chat With…Drei Farben House (Tenderpark Records)

Drei Farben House makes house music with vocal depth and organic sounding instrumentation. He also runs the superlative Tenderpark label, which spans multiple interpretations of deep house, from Roman Rauch’s low slung, sluggish sounds to the more defined beats of Ivano Tetelepta’s Black Dynamite alias and YNK’s textured vocals. Tenderpark clearly has no shortage of talent. Read on to find out what Drei Farben House has to say about his own sound, and about the story of Tenderpark.

Drei Farben House

I would say that there’s been an evolution in terms of your sound, from As Long As It Lasts in 2005 to Choice Item last year. Do you think you’ve found your groove? Or are you still discovering the kind of music you’d like to make?

Yes, there has definitely been an evolution. When I first started making music, I didn’t use any samples at all. I sang my own vocals, made my own beats. Today this is quite different: I love to sample warm drum sounds from old 70s records and I love to sample vocals from my record collection. And still, the evolution has not come to an end; in the near future it will change again a little bit.

How would you describe the style of music that you make?

I think my music has always been fairly laid back. I wouldn’t describe it as big room music. It’s far too shy for that. I’m a pop and soul music guy. In the beginning some record labels described my music as pop house, hehe.

What would you say are your biggest musical influences? Is there any one type of sound, or “feel” that you have consciously tried to emulate?

My musical influences are really quite various. I’m a little older and I grew up with radio. Back then radio was really good. Hard to imagine nowadays. But really my biggest, biggest musical influences were the American and British charts. I’m talking about the eighties and early nineties. Back then you could hear so much good music there. Early dance music, guitar pop, soul and swingbeat, Manchester rave, indie. That’s where I got my musical education from. Back then you had really good music in the charts, not at all like today!

That’s interesting, because I wouldn’t say that your tracks are really constructed in a “poppy” sort of way, I mean you don’t really go for vocal hooks that much, and Tenderpark’s output is mostly quite introspective.

Yes, with Tenderpark it’s different. There are other artists on the label with a different background. But all the artists have a soulful vibe in common and although some of them might even hate pop music, hehe, but they all have a certain lightness in their music which is absolutely essential to Tenderpark. I consider my music as pop music with the means of house. House music with a pop background. That’s how I would describe it.

To go back to your productions, let’s talk about vocals for a minute. How do you go about finding a vocal? I’ve heard A Tribe Called Quest sampled by you and also some UKG tune I can never remember the name of. What do you look for in a vocal?

Well, some of the vocals are my own voices, but a lot of vocals come from my record collection. Soul, disco, hip-hop, dance pop… I have quite a few records and I use tiny bits from them. That’s how I pay my respect to the music that I love.

What do I look for in a vocal? Sweetness, lightness, groove, funk, soul, harmony.

Is there a particular vocalist that really does that for you?

Yes, Janet Jackson for example. Although she is not a good singer in a traditional way, her vocals have something really special and cute about them.

How do you approach making an album? You’ve had 3 goes at it. How hard do you find it to maintain a consistency over 10 tracks, compared to say, an EP of 3?

Yes, you’ve said already what I’m aiming at: I like to have a consistent sound. I think with Choice Item, my third album, I’ve really totally achieved that. I like to have different songs with different chords and lines and everything, but they all have to contribute to a bigger picture, to a consistent sound that runs through the album. Like Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers did with Chic and Sister Sledge. You can instantly recognize their trademark sound although the albums consist of a lot of different songs. I think the secret is using the same instruments throughout the album. That’s how they did it and that’s how I do it. I really hate these modern techno and house albums where there is no consistency at all and everything sounds totally different.

You mentioned things will change a bit in your sound in the near future. In what way?

Yes, I want to have a more live feeling in my music and I’m going to achieve that by incorporating my own bass playing into my songs. I started to learn bass guitar a while ago because that is my favourite instrument, but I want to go on playing live more and also record more of my own bass lines with variations which hopefully contributes to a more lively and natural feeling.

Tenderpark Records

You’ve already said a little bit about your choice of artists on Tenderpark, can you say what the original idea was behind the label, and how you came to start it?

Well, I first started it for egoistic reasons; I was a little tired with wandering from one label to another. I was a little tired with the lack of continuity, so I started to create a base for myself. But on the other hand it was clear from the start that the label should not at all be just about me. Otherwise I could have named it Drei Farben House records. Tenderpark is supposed to be a home for the light and funky and soulful side of house music and I’m really glad I have other musicians on the label who share this idea of music.

Is Berlin a natural home for this kind of house music? Most of what we hear about Berlin in England is Berghain, Berghain, Berghain…

Ahahaha, yes, Berghain is the centre of the universe, haha. I think Berlin is a good place for house music, there are a lot of other nice house labels here, but I have to admit that Berlin has always had a massive techno scene, so techno will always be the main focus here. But I like to play the role of the opposition sometimes, hehe.

Is there anywhere else in the world that you have found the Tenderpark sound to be well received?

That’s hard to say. Germany is probably the biggest market but judging from the sales there must be some Tenderpark fans in Britain as well, which really makes me happy because I have always had an affinity with the British house scene. Back in the nineties when Germany was full of techno, I quite envied England for its big house scene. The Brits always seemed to have a better understanding for house music, or at least back then.

What is there to come from Tenderpark? Any big plans for 2014?

Yes, 2014 will be great. Coming up next in spring is a record from a new signing called Tilman. He’s a friend of YNK and his sound is deep and uplifting at the same time. After that it’s the return of Black Dynamite which I’m really looking forward to. Also, we are starting a new artwork series which moves into a new direction. Till Sperrle is the art director of Tenderpark and he has collaborated with a very good photographer named Magdalena Bichler. The artwork is quite different from now, but on the other hand Till has very much taken care that there will also be continuity to what we’ve done before. I’m excited!

Be sure to check out Drei Farben House’s Choice Item LP, released last year on Tenderpark.

Buy from Phonica.

On the Tenderpark YouTube channel, you can find uploads of all their releases. Discover them for yourselves here.

Hoping For A Repress 04

It’s all about the classics this time, 3 releases that most people will probably recognise and if you don’t you’ll definitely be happy you read on. Really essential records here that we’d love to see available once again.

Rudoulpho – Sunday Afternoon (Atlantic 7567 85881-0)

Discogs Asking Price: £28.34 – £833.69

Yes, you read that right. Someone wants a 1,000 euro for a piece of wax from 1992. That said, this is a great release on both sides. 2 slices of Chicago House, and that’s the real Chicago house – a jacking, dancefloor friendly beat infused with that feeling of soul and free spirited improvisation.

On the A side, Sunday Afternoon:

It’s the kind of sound I’ve been getting into more and more of recently: jazzy motifs and slippery hi-hats. Over the track’s 10 minutes, things are kept moving forward and kept interesting by the improvisation on the trumpet part and by the little additions to the beat, like that rattlesnake sound and the two low notes every so often. These kind of touches, I always think, are barely noticeable but you could tell if they weren’t there. The synthesizer and the trumpet work together really well, coming together to make a house track that sounds loose and different every time you hear it. This one always transports me to a warm place when I hear it.

On the B side, there’s Touch Me:

The B side is vocal driven, but has a similar sort of vibe to the A side, with almost identical background synths at work. The trumpet is dropped on this one, with the “Touch Me” vocals stepping in to the void they leave behind. The beat is a bit less slippery and a bit firmer. This would be a great one to play in a set that you wanted to take the sting out of, that you wanted to bring some space into.

Schatrax – #6 (Schatrax – SCHAT06)

Discogs Asking Price – £39.99 – £79.99

Truth be told, I’ve only heard the A side of this but it really is good enough that I would buy it blind about the B side.

A1, Restless Nights is an absolute weapon.

Starting off with a pulsating rhythm, the raw bassline comes in moments later, before those high pitched sounds are added to finish off the vibe. Such an effective track, I’ve seen it destroy dancefloors before. A real bassline driven track, its effectiveness lies in its moments of subtlety. It’s somehow restrained, doesn’t peak too soon and is perfectly balanced. Rounding off the A side is Sunshine. Compared to the basement vibes of Restless Nights, Sunshine is an unabashedly happy sort of tune.

On the B side it looks like there’s a dub of Restless Nights, a more stripped back version which sounds like it could be very interesting.

Laid – Punch Up (Symple Sound SYD001)

Discogs Asking Price – £41.68 – £125.05

This record has two remixes of Laid’s Punch Up. On the A side is Frankie Feliciano’s edit, and on the B side a Scott Wozniak vocal mix.

The Frankie Feliciano mix encapsulates what deep house should be about, for me at least. A bassline hook is looped, with the “Punch Up” vocal coming in every few bars. That vocal then comes in, preaching to the dancefloor: “People, move your feet, move your feet across the dancefloor.”  The Scott Wozniak mix from what I can find seems to be quite similar to the FF edit, but makes less use of those soft synth pads in the background.