Jessie Ware – Running

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Can you ask the same question about a remix? Simply put, no! Without an original track, what would there be to remix. That doesn’t mean to say that in order to discover a remix you need to know the original. Certainly that was the case with my first encounter (so I thought) with South London’s Jessie Ware.

Driving can be a great time to listen to music for the first time. If something doesn’t grab me on the radio within the first 15-30 seconds, the dial’s getting switched pronto. So it’s probably a good thing that the first time I clocked the Disclosure remix of Jessie Ware’s new release Running it was post drop (circa 1:17). As a rule, I don’t fall deep for 90s influenced, disco beat house tracks. This one however shot straight from the hip and planted itself firmly in my mind from the first listen. I waited anxiously to hear the track again and was rewarded two hours later when I arrived at my final destination, only to sit in the van, eyes closed, soaking up the full glory of what I have absolutely no doubt will become a terrace / dance floor / roller disco filler this summer.

The intro is sparse, like you’re late on in a dream and being woken gradually by a soft voice before being kick jolted out of your slumber. That initial post sleep haze is still in place before the first deep intake of breath, signaled here by the upward sweep into rapid vocals and expanding synth lines. All of this ushers you along before dropping you into an infectious 125 disco shuffle, all soft claps with equally soft vocals. There’s definite power behind the voice, it’s just not forced. The bass is deep and stutters subtly at times. All in all, you’re going to struggle not to be hooked in by this one.

So what of the original? I’ll be honest, I’ve been left feeling short changed before when hunting out an original after being introduced to a track through a super strength remix. Thankfully, this couldn’t have been further from the case with Running.

Having absolutely no knowledge or preconception of what this track may be like, I was in a good frame of mind when I got round to my first listen. At first you think you’ve been sucked into a sci-fi special, that is before the organic kick (complete with a slight rim shudder) beats its way into the track. The next thing to hit you is the soft parp of a horn (sampled, synthesised, I’m not sure, I don’t care, I do love it). The song keeps giving, next up is the beautifully layered vocal, with an even more seductive tone to it at the more relaxed tempo of the original. This continues throughout the track with the addition of simple yet devastatingly hooky guitars, 60s soul style backing vocals and a jumble of natural and artificial percussion.

Listen on the best pair of headphones you can get your mits on because the production values on this track are top, TOP drawer! The way sounds appear in exactly the right place at a level that complements all around it, whilst still holding their own at the same time. Jessie has Radio 1 new boy Julio Bashmore and The Invisible front man Dave Okumu to heartily thank for this. Nice job boys.

Ms Ware’s name is one I knew I’d heard before, but it was only after some iTunes searching that I fully appreciated her presence in the UK scene over the past year or two. She’s previously teamed up with SBTRKT on a few tracks from his (D&V rated) self titled debut. She’s also featured on tracks with fellow SBTRKT contributor Sampha and Bristol heavyweight Joker.

Whilst all being solid offerings, I think JW’s found her home with the sound of Running. And by all accounts that the direction we can expect from her debut album which is expected later this year. I know where I’ll be running to for that one!

P.S. Much love for the video. Watch…

Mikhael Paskalev – I Spy

I don’t want to say much about this video, and so, I’m not going to, it really does speak for itself.

What do I know of Mikhael Paskalev, not a lot other than he’s from Norway, studied at LIPA, has gigged alongside the likes of Jonas Alaska, sports a rather fine moustache and has something of a Joaquin Phoenix look about him.

Directed by Andre Chocron, the combination of stylish lighting, beautifully executed effects, Mikhael’s curiously hypnotic pelvic thrusting and semi-attire, the video for “I Spy” is a testament to how a very good song can be elevated in the mind to a great moment that you want to revisit over and over again.

Sadly, I Spy is only available on Norwegian iTunes at the moment, so for now, just enjoy the video. DnV out!

Kodiak – Spreo Superbus

All turbo charged and glistening with an aggressive retro sheen, juggernaut independent label Numbers have once again delivered the goods with their latest offering; Spreo Superbus from the now named Kodiak (I heard stories they were going to apply the moniker Milk at one point).

Retuning the engine to the big rig and possibly having a word with Jay Kay from Jamiroquai along the way, Fact described it as “[a] track that sounds like driving a Ferrari straight into the middle of a packed dance floor”, and you know what, that’s bang on!

Before hearing the original mix, I heard the Actress remix. A very different direction. It’s got the future laser blasts whilst also making you think you’re back in 1983, having a chin wag with Tony Montana early morning in the Miami harbour when he’s in one of his more sombre moods. There’s a healthy slice of grit thrown in mid way (shit, Tony’s flipping out on me), but it mellows down again nicely to round off.

It’s nice to see a bit of attention’s been given to the video angle too. Someone’s obviously remembered about that flight sim game you could get in Microsoft Excel back in the 90s, filmed themselves playing it a slapped some nice colours on the top. I think it works.

Kodiak – Spreo Superbus is released on Monday 5 March on Numbers. You’ll probably find it in a record shop like one of these // Piccadilly Records // Rubadub

Follow Kodiak on twitter // @k_odia_k

Friends of Dash & Verve: Barnaby J. Spigel

Everyone knows a music maker or two. Barnaby J Spigel is probably the first producer/DJ/music aficionado I had the pleasure of meeting and I’m happy as Larry he’s still doing his thing to this day. Words, links and music below.

When I first met you over 14 years ago, we were both into Drum ‘n’ Bass, were loving Roni Size Reprazent’s New Forms lp and you were busy producing. When did you first start making music and what were you using to do it?
I started when I was 13 using Cubase and a Roland SC-7 GM sound module on the family PC, trying to make drum’n’bass and hip-hop mainly. Two years later I was using Music 2000 on the Playstation, which was a basic sequencer with a bunch of different instruments, sounds, FX and an audio sampler with 2 whole seconds worth of sampling time – just enough to lift a quality break from DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing, chop it up and play it back in different patterns. I managed to have some fun with it for a couple of years and make a few tracks before I got my first iMac, Logic and other bits of outboard hardware, which I used for years until I eventually went completely digital and now everything’s inside the machine! The gear is still sitting there on a rack in my studio, looking at me blankly.

Why Drum ‘n’ Bass for the teen years?
You were one of only a small handful of people I knew who had actually heard of and knew anything about drum’n’bass / jungle and we had a strong connection through our love for the genre at the time, and in particular through listening religously to Jumping Jack Frost & Hype on KissFM, Fabio & Grooverider on Radio1 and Bryan Gee & Swift on Kool FM. It felt fucking cool being into this music at such a young age when hardly anyone knew anything about it. We’d go to these epic Full Cycle & Movement nights at The End and Bar Rumba and be totally blown away by the innovation and energy of the music. We missed the Metalheadz @ Blue Note boat but we still managed to catch some great moments between 98 and 2002 when our favourite producers were putting out what was arguably their best work. It’s fair to say I was obsessed with drum’n’bass during my teens, but the magic slowly wore off for me. The music from that period still does it for me, though – good music always stands the test of time.

Which producers did you look up to when you were you were younger?
Liam Howlett from The Prodigy, Mix Master Mike, DJ Shadow, Roni Size and Goldie were probably the biggest influences on me when I first started producing. Others worth noting are Underworld, Massive Attack and Photek before went on to become obsessed by the whole of the Full Cycle records collective ie Krust, Die, Suv and Bill Riley as well as other d’n’b producers like Digital, Marcus Intalex, Klute and then J-Dilla via Slum Village, Gangstarr, Pete Rock, DJ Spinna etc…

How have your tastes and inspirations changed since then?
My taste has broadened so much over the years… I got well into jazz, soul, dub, rock, synth pop, post punk and some classical too through Reich, Herrmann, Shostakovich etc.. Right now I’m feeling Grizzly Bear, Talking Heads, Prince, Redinho, Pearson Sound, Michael Kiwanuka, Field Music, Tom Vek, Baxter Dury just to name a few as well as some of the more interesting and innovative stuff in the whole future space bass and hyper melodic dance and brain music scene. A lot of stuff that gets played on BBC 6music is great for inspiration and films by Kubrick, Scott and Lynch among others really influence me when I’m working on stuff.

Ever since getting your first pair of technics 1210s, I’ve associated you with DJing as much as producing. Has one of these disciplines become more important to you over time?
They’re probably both as important as each other. DJing at a party with your mates or at a club making strangers dance is a huge buzz and gives me an instant response to what I’m doing musically. Producing and composing is much more of a personal thing. Sometimes I have an idea in my head that I want to work on and sometimes I just like to sit down and see what comes up. If I’ve got a lot of positive energy in me I can really get into a track and just have fun seeing where I can take it. It can also be a very cathartic thing, for example if I’m anxious or have shit on my mind, I can transform any negative energy into something truly positive. To try to answer your question by picking a side… producing and composing is much more interesting to me simply due to the fact that, unlike DJing, I can create something truly unique and explore instantly fresh sound in whichever direction I choose to go, without a crowd to please. Every time I find that melody, chord change or beat that makes a track bounce in the way it was meant to, it feels fucking awesome! The next step is playing the stuff live of course, that’s the ultimate buzz.

Remember rifling through vinyl at selectadisc or buying 12″ vinyl from Ray Keith in Blackmarket? Crate digging was something of a pastime then – is it still as exciting now we’ve entered the serato/traktor era?
What was once crate digging for me is now searching through pages on Discogs.com and Whosampled.com to find those great forgotten classics. Maybe it’s not as exciting as when you stumble on a rare piece on vinyl, but the joy of discovering great music for the first time, however you manage to find it, will never get old.

How would you describe the music you’re producing now?
I’m aiming for something that’s kind of like Talking Heads meets Fleet Foxes meets J Dilla meets Talk Talk meets Boards Of Canada meets DJs Shadow meets Kraftwerk meets Vampire Weekend meets Massive Attack meets Tom Vek meets Flying Lotus. I’d like to know what other people think.

Finally, what can we expect for you as a producer and DJ in the year of the London Olympics?
Right, well I’ve just put out this studio mix featuring a bunch of unreleased beats & pieces from over the years, on an instrumental hip-hop tip (see below).
The plan right now is to put out a 4-track EP asap, then get my live set together and start gigging. I’ve been purely focused on the production so no gigs to shout about yet. Just watch out for a release soon, check www.spigelsound.com for my latest work and come follow me at wwww.soundcloud.com/barnabyspigel and www.twitter.com/spigelsound for updates.

Mickey Pearce – Don't Ask Don't Get

Over time, people change, it’s a fact. They absorb the world around them, it influences them and they progress as individuals. Some even change their name! In the case of the artist formerly known as shortstuff, he’s moved on with certainty with his new moniker; Mickey Pearce and crowned this shift with a mighty release on Loefah’s Swamp81 vinyl only label.

The new name’s no secret, the man’s been wearing both hats for some time now, and the official shift happened a while back. I’ve been waiting (much like Ed with his SBTRKT show) for a fair while to finally get my hands on what had proved to be a pretty elusive track in the digital world of music that I often trawl, and wanted to wait until I had a copy of Don’t Ask Don’t Get / I Am firmly planted on the platter before I threw my tuppence worth down.

I’ve heard the title track Don’t Ask, Don’t Get snapping along on a few radio shows for the past 3/4 months now and was sold on stories of a late October / early November release. Only in the last week, upon hearing B-side I Am in full for the first time did I twig that the tracks were finally out.

Tribal in its introduction, industrial in its body and with a pulsing wave swell of bass rippling underneath, you catch yourself latching on to subtleties in the production with each new listen of Don’t Ask, Don’t Get. It’s a song of multiple movements, a full days travel packed into one six minute offering.

For a flavour of how this track should be embedded into a mix (which it should), listen back to MP’s mix for Mary Anne Hobbs’ XFM show late last month.

On the back of the limited press vinyl only release (don’t even bother trying to hunt this down digitally online, you’re going to need to smash the piggy bank and walk to the shops to have this one) is another stripped tribal affair. I am opens as more of a dance floor ready beat before dragging you under with its aggressive, again mechanical, almost alien sounding rasps and vocal splashes.

With a release roster that’s included the likes of The Bug, Kryptic Minds, Addison Groove, Skream and Ramadanman, Mickey Pearce’s first outing on Swamp81 is a progression for both the label and artist. Get your copy from Surus.