Now into its second year, the cultured operation that is London label Chasing Unicorns follows EPs from the likes of Howson’s Groove and Brabe with a new two tracker from Graphics, who has previously released on Well Rounded and Made to Play amongst other top labels.
From serene and melancholic headspace tracks to dancefloor slayers, Graphics can do it all and has picked up props from the online dance authorities XLR8R and FACT for his first few releases.
After a year’s break to concentrate on his studies Graphics returns having honed a slightly different style to previous releases. Displaying a keen interest in the live elements of music, ‘Sun,Sea and Sky’ contains the producer’s own vocals “sun sea and sky can’t sleep tonight cause hun I’m always high, it gets me by, such fun” and also features sections of his own guitar playing.
Around those vocals are sketchy, rubbery beats and scattered percussive sounds that are pleasingly DIY in nature. Sombre downbeat chords add some colour and warmth but the whole thing remains resolutely fresh and original sounding.
On the flip side is ‘You’re Not Coming Down’, another slurred and skewed fusion of styles. Thebeats lurch with a heavy heart as snapping percussive sounds whip about in the midst of thewide-open arrangement. Sad strings and lazy guitars also wallow and bring a beautifully insularvibe to proceedings. Such rich sound design and tightly woven organic instruments make for acompelling bit of music that is truly unique.
Once again Chasing Unicorns prove themselves to be a label that deals only in the most forward thinking music. Graphics, then, was a perfect choice for their latest EP.
Following rough and ready house groovers from Tanka and Admin, Chasing Unicorns returns with something a touch deeper. Veering between liquid bass music, which channels Border Community as much as Burial, and sensuous Detroit techno, this debut EP from South London duo Howson’s Groove is mesmerising from the off. That it marks their entry into production is nothing short of stunning.
A love of machines flows through every track on Blithe. The title cut is like trip into some sumptuous nirvana, acoustic instruments bouncing off shimmering synths over a fractured beat that seems to loll out of the speakers like a four drink buzz. When the drums straighten up in the second half, striding into a raw house stomp, it’s like James Holden at his most ebullient. “Attempt” is rougher, strings soaring over warped synthlines that buzz and crackle like Carl Craig if he’d been raised in Croydon. It’s a record that whomps with bass yet feels deft and enveloping, with a breakdown like sinking slowly into warm water.
“Give Me”, like “Blithe”, is rhythmically experimental, its drums bounding between four-four, 2-step and fractured clattering like a collapsed Shed. Again strings sing out, euphoric synths chunter and grumble before opening up into Balearic sweeps that are bright enough to be almost blinding, as though you’ve stepped out of a club to an Ibizan sunrise. Admin slaps on the shades for a raw house roller, all stomps and synth flourishes that takes the groove back indoors and onto the sweatiest of dancefloors.
“I Wonder…” lurches as though it’s drunk too much sizzurp, a narcotic stumble through light and shade that seems to bounce back from every kick as though it’s been punched. It’s a leering, sex-drenched slice of drunken funk, that kind of record that makes you want to fuck everything in sight. London-based Italian ex-pat Baunz takes it to a more sultry place, upping the tempo and unleashing a storm of organ licks that wiggle in a way that puts even Miley Cyrus to shame. Expect this cut to be doing the rounds in a big way.
You’ll hear no more impressive debut this year. Howson’s Groove is a duo set for enormous things.
Tensnake – ‘Great Electronica and perfect baunz remix’
Danny Howells – ‘F**k .. that Blithe track is awesome!!’
Oris Jay – ‘I Love “I wonder”. Good EP overall’.
DJ Caspa (Rinse FM) – Nice Vibes
Ministry Of Sound – ‘Admin Remix is the one. Great bass! 9/10′
Moodymanc – Nice vibes and sounds
Mutant Disco Radio Show (Croatia) – ‘I wonder” stands out. Nice ep.’
Resident Advisor – ‘Dope’
Shur-I-Kan – ‘Very nice tracks – work for me on downtempo vibe’
Osunlade – ‘Nice one… Definite support!’
Terence (:terry:) Freak N Chic) – ‘Cool. Quality EP’
Andy Ash (Boogie Originals) – ‘Really nice to receive some different stuff, some of these are ace!’
Tuomas Salmela (Phonogenic (Cocoon, 20:20 Vision) – ‘Give Me sounds nice!’
After appearances on Hot N Heavy and Sub Skank, and the woofer-warping collaboration with Pasteman, Camaro, on 877, Winchester’s most renegade bass merchant, the 21-year-old prodigy Tanka, known to his mum as Francis Leigh (not the Bo Selectah dude – that’s the other way round) returns on the ever reliable Chasing Unicorns with a double track EP of thick, sinuous house music. And yes, that’s a long sentence, but the Effervesce EP is one that brooks no restraint.
The title track, “Strutt”, is one cool beast wrapping choked stabs in laughter that floats across the soundstage; a warped and creepy foil to an chiming organ filtered almost to the point that you feel rather than hear it. Amid the legion of imitators rinsing Kerri Chandler’s legacy, here Tanka proves that you can innovate on classic themes, if you’re not a lazy fucker content merely to imitate. People need to start having their own goddamn ideas again, and if you don’t have any, then get the hell out of music, and leave it to the people with some talent. Never be lazy, baby, just get deep with the strutting, soulful groove.
On the flip, ‘Motion’ is an aqueous groover, in the vein of Steve Zissou as raised in the shadow of General Motors by Moodymann. Its supple low end loops out of the bass bins like an octopus’ tentacle, entwining the audience, before hot, thick ink spurts all over them. Just imagine those urgent chants of “You know what I want” pouring erotically from a celaphopod’s beaked mouth, to know what it’s like to be audio fucked by an experimental, eight-legged bastard who won’t take no for an answer. Octo-assault of the most intense flavour.
Tasked with the unenviable task of manipulating “Strutt” into new shapes is L.A’s brightest new star Sage Caswell, who ups the jack with glassy hi hats that echo the shattering of stained glass windows (take that, tradition! That’s right, it’s a social metaphor. We went there. Nothing is sacred (O mah G – double metaphor!)). Subs as lithe as a limbo dancer wind their way below stabs more deadly than a knife fight in a Hackney underpass. It’s Jersey house on Berghain’s main floor, that eponymous strut given a heads down techno edge, making it a crowd killing fixture wherever it’s dropped.
Horse Meat Disco – Cool vibe
DJ Sneak – Strutt all day
Shur-I-Kan – Like Strutt , feeling it.
Joseph G. Bendavid (Hardrock Striker/Skylax) – Cool EP!
Moodymanc – cool… Will try ta!
Terence (:terry:)( Freak N Chic) – COOL HOUSE BEATS
WNCL - The original version of Strutt wins the day for me
Roberto Ali (Rob Mello / No Ears / Crosstown Rebels) – Original version of Strutt for me here. Thanks!
Pablo Valentino (Creative Swing Alliance/Faces / MCDE) – Dope EP! Will play and support! My favourite will be STRUTT Peace
Claudio Coccoluto – nice pack, thanx!
James Fox – Solid EP
Christian Sol (VIVa / Troll) – Some nice sounds in here!
DJ T (Get Physical) – Thank you for good music!
Jonas Kopp (Ostgut Ton, Spectral Sound) – Thanks!
Mike W (Kolour Recordings) – Good, bumpy, rolling deep house with a tidy little remix to go along with it. Cheers guys…
Ricardo Miranda (Rush Hour) – You can clean your house and go play with your girl with this EP. Do it!
Nubian Mindz (Delsin / Rush Hour) – ‘Strutt’ (original & remix) hit that spot for me. Quality music!
Tony Rodriguez (Brothers’ Vibe) – Cool, thanks
There’s something ineffable about a raw sex groove. About that liquid pulse that climbs deep inside you, that heats the blood and makes your ass bounce like a meth-wracked Tigger in a bouncy castle showroom. It’s that moment of dancefloor coherence when an entire room looks at each other and thinks ‘you know what, baby, it’s time to fuck.’
Perhaps Admin, the production guise of 20-year-old Bristolian Adam Wickens, sees himself as a sexual messiah, a love-spreading Christ here to impart a funk-infused message of dripping sweat and getting wet. Can there be another explanation for ‘For Junior’, which winds its pornographic saxophone around a low-end that goes deep enough to tap cervix. As if Prince’s libido was employed as manufacturing director of General Motors, it’s a strutting slab of Detroit house made for peak time getting down that’s as destructive in the bedroom as the club.
And how to judge ‘Looking Through’, with its lethargic Rhodes licks dancing seductive up your spine. Making your skin pop and pucker, your back arch, it’s a come on, no doubt about that; a call to the back room for Hollywood sex, all jump cuts and panning cameras, bodies entwined and indistinguishable. Play safe, kids.
The flip too crackles with between-the-sheets charge. But this is a more luxuriant, early morning fuck, a coming together of pliant bodies under a groove and moving toward a shared moment of sublimation. ‘Sunday Loops’ arcs through a static charge, its drums sparse and with the swagger of the next-morning walk home. The similarly citied Crump, fresh off his recent release for Red Bull, drops a Jamaican root extract, stares Admin’s original in the eye, and puts its skull through the headboard with a throbbing column of bass that seems like it just…won’t…fit……ohmigooooooood!
It’s perhaps of concern that two young men barely out of their teens should create such paeans to the beast with two backs. Maybe it’s because of the sexualisation of our youth, a fuck-focused effect from the grot-filled images that fill their minds every day. Then again, when the results are quite this electric, this dripping with visceral sex-funk, that’s no bad thing.
Josh Wink – Like the deep late night vibe of For Junior and the cheeky vocal sample…
West Norwood Cassette Library – Sublime!
Shur-I-Kan – Sunday Loops is a gem, especially the Crump mix – lush!
DJ Sneak – Nice stuff!
James Fox – Deep stuff. Original mix of ‘sunday loops’ is lovely.
Hannah Holland – Crump is the one
Glasgow Underground – Quality deepness from Mr Wickens. Top stuff.
Brodanse – Deep, slow and groovey! Cool Ep!
Craig Smith (6th Borough Project) – Real nice vibes on this EP. Dig it!
Tony Rodriguez (Brothers’ Vibe) – All good!!
Claudio Coccoluto – Crump rmx rocks
Tristan Da Cunha – Sunday Loops orig is the one for me here , nice deepness … Thanks
Nick Craddock (Uzuri) – Looking Through and Sunday Loops (orig) are doing it for me, cheers! Nice jazzy business.
Bastian Völker – Cool. I like thanks
Pablo Valentino (Faces / MCDE) – Sunday Loops for me! Dope track
Terence (:terry: / Freak N Chic) – love the Sunday Loops cool vibe
Much like Lindbergh baby kidnapper Bruno Hauptmann, Chasing Unicorns return with yet more valuable youth. But since they’re not the sort to hold whippersnappers to ransom, then cave their heads in with an iron bar and dismember them, they instead offer a triple-dip of floor-quaking house cuts from these Dutch groove-merchants. Which I think we can all agree is the more sustainable approach.
‘Give It Back’ is at once recognisable and wholly new, a winding groove of pulsing hi-hats underpinned by enveloping stabs that wiggle beyond your ears and onto the floor. It’s a deep and bounding cut, an eyes-rolling-back, arms-aloft strutter built on New Jersey’s finest moments, but unerringly of the now; proof that a sound coined before YB were born still has the power to make people lose their shit in dark rooms.
In Boxwork’s hands the vibe goes deeper, YB’s noises chopped and bent into an infectious rhythm of vocal snips and percussion chatter made for those early morning stalwarts still bouncing when the sun’s coming up, the roll on their jaws matched only by the snap of their hips. On the flip, ‘In My Heart’ is a rough slab of garage-inflected house music that in the mould of Dusky and Disclosure, a smile-inducing rack of rhythm and melody that bubbles up into your ear on the cab ride home and doesn’t leave for days, a funky tinnitus that won’t make you want to blow your brains out.
‘We Are’ is pure party music, sounds made for moving bodies and making sweat that draws on house’s disparate global strands and weaves them together into a crowd-whipping rope of gutter funk. This is fuel that starts fires like John Leonard Orr.
Any moron can make music these days. A bit of nous and a loose regard for copyright law can net you a set of production tools that Phil Spector would have shot a woman for back in the day. But while the tools might be available to anyone with a torrent client, making something that people actually want to listen to requires a little more talent. Which is why for their second release Sheffield imprint Chasing Unicorns decided not to type “Skrillex wub dubstep” into Soundcloud and see what popped up. Instead they extended their reach across the Channel and plucked the finest musical goodies from Amsterdam’s studio savant, Brabe.
Title track “Love Philtre” thrusts us straight into terrace territory, a bouncing house jam replete with snatched soul vocals and a kick that could slay a mule – a Tom Trago referencing cut made for playing loud in the baking sun. Citizen takes the track on a deeper tip, a clattering of hats failing to hold in check a sub who, having missed his train, rocks up to the party midway through clutching a bottle of White Lightning and generally causing havoc. From there things get more cerebral with squeaky slice of minimal tech-house ‘French Pressed’, which bops and bumps like a weather balloon stuffed full of wasps.
Of course rump-shaking house grooves are all well and good, but what about when the rain starts to fall and you’re reaching for a disconcerting slab of wiggly tech? What if you want an echo-driven, reverb-drenched, wonky mainline to put the fear of God into those debauched children dancing away in the dark, riddled with drugs and good times? Well sir, ‘Maqam’ is the cut for you. Kimba’s take is deeper still; spitting snares that rat-a-tat-tat their way into your very soul. Stick an enormous whale cry on it and you’ve got yourself a tidy of slice of freakotech. Consider yourself warned.
Chasing Unicorns’ maiden release comes courtesy of House music innovator and cross-channel compadre, René Van Munster.
‘Misschien’ serves up three original tracks of twisted house, encompassing elements of René’s cross-genre abilities with crazed vocal samples, ecstasy-fuelled breakdowns and post-fidget basslines to make even the heaviest head nod. Close friend and musical collaborator Brabe strips things back on the remix to the barest of House grooves, and rounds off what is destined to be an instantly recognisable yet refreshingly surprising EP. Don’t sleep on what is definitely Rene’s strongest release to date, and one hell of a foundation for chasing unicorns…