After quite the long hiatus, I am back posting on Machining Dreams blog and I am starting back with a various piece featuring several Chicago luminaries.
Welcome to the Barbershop. This LP arrives with tunes from some of your favorite artists representing Chicago’s underground dance music sphere on the city’s bred label; Perpetual Rhythms. A wide variety of fresh cuts and genres are showcased, ranging from Deep House and Techno to Experimental and Ambient, providing an eclectic listening experience. The central theme of the LP is “things that relate to a barbershop”, topics such as hairstyles, hair products and humor. We invite you to stay a while and experience this sonic journey with an open mind.
dcee – Suavecito // A smooth, deep house track filled with colorful chord pads, sparse bassline, and metallic percussion coupled with a chirping melody.
Chicagodeep – Blow Out // An in your face house beater where the bassline keeps the groove and organ stabs color the tune all while a low synth pad modulates underneath the groove.
DCook – Comb Over // Beat down sounds reside here through the slow tempo and chord progression. Sounding clean, the track takes the listener on a journey of tasty house elements.
Taelue – Razor Line Up // Continuing is another beat down track except we delve into darker territory. The bass line establishes the diabolical character while the tune builds momentum slowly and more dark sounds join the fray.
Hakim Murphy – Finger Wave // Sparse percussion strikes that lead into modulating chords of emotive goodness. The chord motif and percussion make playful changes as if one was floating through the clouds.
Obsolete Music Technology – High Top Fade // An energetic tune that straddles the house and techno genre pulsates with a steady bassline, melodic pads, and phasing percussion.
Specter – Butters Whipped // A classic drum set oozes from the speakers introducing warm sounds that tepidly caress the listener’s ear drums. The elements build up quite quickly assembling a sparkling groove that beats through time.
Isoke – Soul Glo // A bright banger that wastes no time establishing its feeling; driving percussion and 1 bar synth lines pay homage to the Chicago track masters from yesteryear.
Damon Lamar – Bermuda Triangle // Rounding out the LP is a deep rider that serves up a plate of beautiful nostalgia. The wonderful myriad of shuffling drums, bass and synth pads bring forth thoughts of sailing away on the Atlantic Ocean.
Chicago Skyway – Edged out // Reverb and delay introduce melodies of grandeur. The tones swirl around almost as if they are filtered through a kaleidoscope. This effect gives the tune several interesting tonal characters as it progresses.
As I’ve listened through the LP several times in order, I think it has a lot to say in these musical dark ages.
Chris Mitchell is back on Anunnaki Cartel with a three track 12″ that features strong drum programming with a dystopian feel. Mitchell is pushing the worried and anxious sound, apparently he thinks house and techno is not always roses and peaches. The Remnants EP features three tunes with the mechanical feelings of cyborgs running around in industrial areas creating dance music.
Remnants///Panning arp lines, boxy percussion, with long bass notes that double as a melody begin this 12″. Later the beats become chunky as the toms strike and shimmering sustained crashes appear. The tune remain crunchy until its conclusion as the dystopian feeling is prevalent.
Opinions Are Prisons///A full palette of sounds begins the B side of the wax. A voice in the background states something that is not recognizable. An arp line is the main focus with long bass notes serving as a complimentary line. The voice modulates as the percussion moves along. A melody line comes in to add depth. The elements continue to change as the vocals ring out until the end.
Succubi///A sub kick begins the end as a voice and synth slowly gain steam and volume. The pulsating kick leads us into percussion which is a change from the first two tracks. The vocal moves around as two synth lines play off each other with slow modulations. A melody line appears to cause an emotive feel as all the elements progress to their peak. The synth lines become a bit more fuzzier as a filter also becomes audible which leads a listener right to the break.
Tyree Cooper career has span four decades releasing music which is illustrated by his discography. Tyree is still active and has just released Da Soul Revival Classics Vol.2. This two track 12” brings Tyree back to some of his earlier roots with acid house and an homage to a fallen homie Kool Rock Steady, whom Cooper recorded with in his early years. Quite simply a house sound from one of the earliest architects of the genre. Warehouse to loft, club to festival, stoops to bedrooms; these tunes will work for all occasions if you looking for the house sound with contemporary adjustments.
Let It Go featuring Blake Baxter///Blake Baxter is on vocal doing saying, “Free your mind from all pressures.” begins this journey as the acid builds, the groove is established and a mixture of vocals is continuously sprinkled over the top. The acid synth continues to modulate so slightly as percussion elements change. Later, fuzzy chord stabs add more texture and a extra groove making for a quick tease, just to lead back to the acid line.
New Dub featuring Kool Rock Steady///Bright drums began, as Kool Rock introduces Tyree then the chords and melody come in followed by the bassline. The arrangement moves around as each of the synth parts have a time to shine. The happy tones is really uplifting and the track rocks a house feel of yesteryear.
With its fourth release, Perpetual Rhythms appears with three tunes from label owners Chicagodeep and Taelue as Ghosts of the Sky. When we look up into the stars we see them as they were millions and in some cases billions of years ago. This fact intern gives way to the name of the collaboration, timeless sounds that fill your soul as they travel through the reaches of your mind via your eardrums. The self titled release features three deep tunes that extend the genre of deep house with groovy rhythms, plush chords, and a quintessential Chicago touch.
Asylum///The journey begins with a slow-motion, beatdown tune, in which many sounds swish together as the kick enters to establish the pulse. The tune continues to build slowly as more elements come in that subtly make your head bounce as the baseline pulsates. Ghosts of the Sky is born.
Squash///Tune two is quite a bit harder as the bass line begins, slowly modulating and then joined by percussion and a chord progression. The tune continues to pick up steam as more hats join in. A droning string note comes in over the top, sounding like a rover on an alien planet picking up samples for study, the tune rocks until the end.
Cycle Tunings///The final tune begins with percussion filled with modulating reverb, that leads us into a chord progression. More percussion sounds as it moves through time, eventually settling in with toms grabbing the attention right before a harder baseline comes in. With this baseline, the tune sounds more electric while a melody line slowly appears to complete the idea.
Jazz and house newcomer Kareem Ali laces up Synapsis-012, at times some trumpet, some samples, but always solid beats and melodies as Synapsis Records presents his debut 12″; Nocturnal Respiration. Hailing from the NYC, Kareem composes eight tunes that show off his imaginative composing skills.
Can you feel it///The experience begins with jazzy chords and Kareem on the trumpet. The jazzy feelings continue as the trumpet sounds over the 7th chords.
Sands of Time///Synth melodies rain out as the beat drops and builds. A bassline appears for a second to provide a groovy intermission.
Flavor///Bouncing melodies begin as percussion strikes that leads into chords. Later voices filter into the background as another melody line sneaks into the mix.
Deep Space///Flowing arpeggiations begin as a bass line and other synth lines appear to cause a mystical swelling of sounds. No beats all heart.
In Orbit///The b side begins with crunchy beats and 7th chords. Trumpet notes ring out and flow, an B section quickly appears, and then right back to the A section.
Heart///Fast jazzy sample appears as the bpm is pushed up to give a nice flavor and variety to the vinyl. Short and sweet tune for the heads.
Solid///Classic drums start the action, quickly followed by arpeggiations and pulsating bass sound. Head knotting tune.
Portal///To end this this release, a bass sound begins and quickly joined by drums. The bass melody continues to ride in the forefront meanwhile supported by a vocal sample. Later a chord progression comes in and takes it deep.
Chris Mitchell is up next on Vanguard Sound with a solo piece called Phrenetic EP. A four track 12″ that shows off Chris’ versatility as each track has a different style and feel. Some new music from the American south that is making waves as Chris is creating his own sound. Check the prose from the one sheet:
Vanguard Sound is back with its newest record. Chris Mitchell‘s Phrenetic EP is Vanguard Sounds second release. Coming on the heels of the wildly popular Vanguard Sound Vol. 3, this EP continues to uphold the aesthetic created with the first release, while simultaneously expanding it. The Phrenetic EP features four tracks from the mind and studio of a quickly rising North American talent that all walk the fine line between house and techno. All are very complex rhythmically, with both banging drums, and lush tones. A perfect 3 way marriage of classic Chicago, Detroit, and New York vibrations, the record contains set peaks, as well as transitional tracks that allow DJs to traverse from house to techno and back. Already receiving massive amounts of positive feedback, this EP is proving to be a more than worthy follow up to VS001.
Phrenetic///Floating synths stabs appear as the percussion hits, later joined by another synth line to round out this banger.
Lazerdrive///Bumping bass sounds with a matching synth are driving the track. Suddenly a stuttering voice appears that adds more flavor to the tune.
California///Definitely a west coast sound; guitar riffs sound, a vocal phrase appears, and finally a chord progression comes in with percussion driving it along.
Y.I.C.U.///Synths and bass begin the last track as a filter voice saying Y.I.C.U. floats the forefront. Later more synth lines appear as the vocal gets longer as the tune fills up.
Available at these fine retailers among other places:
Ah yes, I have prepared a special segment featuring my friend and mastering guy Amir Alexander. Definitely making some moves, and case in point with this new digital release from Plan B entitled Sonic Subversion EP. I’ll let Amir elaborate on himself and this release.
Amir what up homie?
Hakim my man, at the moment, a lot of things are up. I’m lucky to be a part of a very inspiring collective of very creative, unique individuals. I have found a true home in Plan B Recordings. I am focused on building the brand Vanguard Sound! Plus, a bunch of other personal growth/self realization stuff. So, I have a full plate.
Channeling: A man speaks and then a gritty driving bass accompanied by some syncopated chords that begin to take you to the altered states through the hypnotizing grooves of the lower sound registers. Lost in the groove, channeling knowledge is dropped into the psyche.
So Where are your from, who are your influences?
I’m an army brat so I say that I am from the “states”. I moved around a lot as a child. Eventually settling in Florida, where my parents are from. I graduated high school and then lived all over the state for a minute. I eventually moved out to San Francisco where I spent a couple years or so. For the last six years I’ve lived in Chicago, and/or the Chi-‘Burbs.
My first influence as a DJ was Mr. Larry Levan. Even before I had ever heard a mixtape, I was aware of his legend. I decided that I too wanted to touch people in that way. Ron Hardy also tops that list.
As far as DJ.’s I’ve heard live go, Vanguard Sound Crew member DJ. Chang a.k.a. Carlitos Corcho would’ve been the first.
As you may be aware, Florida is primarily known for unsophisticated commercial sounds (notice that I didn’t say music). When I first encountered Chang, he was playing real house. As opposed to the prominent of the sound of the state, which I have labeled halfway house. Chang, along with my other Florida influence Chris Milo a.k.a. DJ. Three, were champions of quality underground techno, which I love.
The next major influences are members of the same San Francisco clique, “The Wicked Crew” Those gentlemen are DJ.’s Marky, and Garth. Their crew is single handedly credited as the collective who brought house/techno to San Fran/Cali in the late 80’s early 90’s. They threw legendary full moon parties on isolated beaches though out the state. Old school style. You had to go to the check point and then call for more directions to find out where the party was.
My last influence as a DJ. hails from Chicago. As you know, I just left there after a six year stint. Anyone who lives there for any amount of time will dicover that the best DJ’s in Chi don’t got much press, and many are unknown outside of their neighborhoods.
I had heard all of these big names who sounded like they were going through the motions. Then I heard Traxx……
I like him ’cause he plays like me. I could tell that he comes from the same place sonically. He influenced me to keep doing me.
It is the same with my production influences with the exception of one.
Robert Hood (Detroit), Omar S. (Detroit), Dj. Spider (NYC), and Dakini9 a.k.a. Lola (NYC).
I was blessed to make a bit of a name for myself in Chicago relatively quickly. Upon completion of that task, which is no small feat, I dropped out of the local Dj. rat race to focus solely on production.
For 2 1/2 years I didn’t go out and I didn’t listen to any music I didn’t write except for the occasional track sent to me by my producer friends. I purposely lost touch with the outside world so that I could access the “God within”.
When I resurfaced, minimal was the new it. I quickly began to discover that I was making minimal without ever having heard of it. What’s more is that I heard elements in both Robert Hood and Omar S.’s tracks that were not too dissimilar from what I do. Needless to say, it was major validation because as I began to study and catch up with the “scene”, I realized that the world loved these men, and if I could figure out how to be heard, they might love me as well. Then the universe led me to Plan B. I had the exact same experience with Spider and Lola. I had never heard of them, but when I heard the first note of the first track of theirs, I knew that Plan B was my home. The final influence as a producer is and has been you. Through the fellowship and support you provide me I am able to do my thing knowing that at least one person is listening. Thank-You Hakim.
How would you describe your musical taste?
Eclectic. Provocative and Varied. In my school days I was a skateboarding b-boy who was also in jazz band etc. so I came into contact with a wide spectrum of music. Every thing from New York hip hop to punk rock bands such as the Dead Kennedy’s, to Bach, and Mozart as well as the dance music of the period. I learned early on to be open to new experiences, sounds, people and points of view.
Deep Banger: Dark and gritty the acid bass grabs you as the bass bins shiver. The neo acid grooves takes you on a dark journey of tones with subtle passing sounds to accompany you on the ride.
How long have you been producing and djing?
I decided to become a Dj. In the fall of 1993. My first mix tape was a pause mix on one turntable and a cassette player. I bought my first set of decks and an old Gemini mixer in April of 94. Technics SL-D202 and a SL-D303 the ones with the tiny little rotary pitch control. When I started learning how to mix records, I was attracted to the difficulty/ challenge of learning to match beats. I loved the fact that it was hard, and that to get to any level of proficiency, you had to practice your ass off. Back then it was considered cool to be good at something. These days it seems that it’s all about short cuts. The true disk jock loves everything about the vinyl format, Everything! Being a Dj. was never about taking short cuts. I have been told that I sound anti digital, which is not the case at all. I am against the systematic killing of the vinyl based recording industry that we all owe a major debt of gratitude to. Being that I have, and will most likely continue to have some of my releases out digitally, I have been forced to adapt. Records are heavy. They were when we all started. Nothing changed. If you are a vinyl jock for long enough you will lose or have some of your favorites stolen from you. It’s always been the case, so all of the convenience based excuses fall on deaf ears when it comes to me. What the fuck ever. Pioneer and laziness is killing us. The old school heads would use their reel to reel players the way that I use c.d.’s…… as a supplement, or a third turntable.
Every now and again there will be music that is not available in vinyl format. That’s when I use c.d.’s.
I started producing with my friend Chris Mitchell in 1998. I had an electric bass, and he had an Akai MPC 2000 w/effects and the 8 line outs, a Boss Dr-202 Dr. Sampler. The one with the sweet filter, and ring modulator, a Roland tone generator, and a Juno 106. When I moved to San Fran I didn’t have access to any gear other than my electric bass, turn tables and the sampler that Chris gave me. When I got back to Florida in 2000 or so, I began making music on a Roland mc303 groove box for 3 years really learning how to program until I finally got a computer in 2003.
Jabberwocky: Happy beats masked with a bit of flange with acid house undertones. A voice is heard, encouraging you to listen closer and dance to the sounds at hand.
Where can we find your other releases?
My releases that are not on Plan B Recordings NYC can be found on Bearatone Recordings Chicago. And eventually Machining Dreams, (I hope).
What’s your philosophy on making music?
Let’s see…… I can start by stating that I believe that an artist should try to give their best effort every time, and that there is no room for playing it safe amongst the elite in this field. The day you start to play it safe or go through the motions is the day that you should get out of the way. I am blessed with among other things, the gift of long vision. I wish to contribute to the postmodernist sociological history of art culture as a whole. Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Parker, Coltrane. Ornette Coleman, Sun Rah, Hendrix, etc. History will record their contributions. I am just trying to do what it takes to be in that club. For me as an artist, I wish to inspire someone. To do for someone else, what was done for me. And most importantly. I believe that one should strive to be genuine and not be afraid to find their own voice/sound.
Nocturnal: The bass undertones guide the chords and drive the track. Probably best banged late at night, preferably on a dance floor. The melody takes it over the top, completing the presentation of the tones though the various spectrum of octaves ranges.
So I’m also part of Vanguard Sound!, since it is your vision could you elaborate more as to what it is and where it is going?
Amir: Wow! This might be a very long multi-part answer………..
We can and are really going to get deep on this………
Thank-you so much for being the catalyst. In that you asked me to define Vanguard Sound As I see it.
It’s all about fuckin’ shit up sonically!
Hakim: Yeah, this crew is about your vision.
It’s about making everyone involved stretch a bit
It’s about the first time you heard some crazy ass shit you’d never heard before, and instantly knowing that you’ve finally found your home, it’s about facilitating that experience for our decedents, as our ancestors did for us.
It’s about excellence! It’s about fun and for us, the Vanguard Crew, it’s about war!
We are artists!
We do what we do because we have to. It is our life purpose. Vanguard Sound is about a coup de tat.
I, as Guerrilla Soul a.k.a Agent #8 am a reconnaissance shape shifter.
My purpose as said agent is to identify and co opt sleeper cells.
I am a politician, a world Bridger bringing disparate militias together.
We are all co captains in this regiment who seek vengeance upon the idolaters and worshipers of hype and excess……
As previously stated Vanguard Sound seeks to subvert the dominant paradigm… the exposure of the truth…….
There you have it my friend.
It used to be cool to be smart and different. I know that went out of style but with Vanguard Sound we can bring it all back to basics. The music.
Flowing … that’s cool.
Sky’s the limit but as artists we support and bring out the best in each other.
Sounds like a good philosophy.
People used to look at me like I had a turd on my forehead when I would get on this in the Chi.
The purpose is to advance the art form. Because it really is art.
You can tell by the music where producers are coming from.
Basically just do what you feel.
Feel…….. that’s right! You know it when it’s right. Hakim you have helped me to begin the process of defining the parameters.
I think people have a hard time understanding my creative process. I just do whatever with my music.
Because you sir, are an artist.
I always felt them. I just hadn’t manifested them into the material world
But, I understood it from the jump.
That’s why even though I moved to Florida, in many ways between us it’s like I never left.
Real recognizes Real.
Back to the war…..
Evil forces have taken this music/culture that we love so much and reduced it to a gimmicky product
We Will take it back!
I’m on a mission too.
Between the members of the crew we got around 130 years of perspective
You are on a mission, that’s how we linked up. As espionage Agent8, I am duty bound to attempt to make allies of those I recognize as true soldiers who don’t give a fuck. I have thrown everything into the pot a far as this shit goes. Chez Damier said if you really believe in what you’re doing then take a risk.
We are about to build a legend…. the future is now, and we will bring it as a battalion.
We all are.
One fiber is a thread, several can braid and become a rope. We are all much stronger together, but we still all hold our own much like the Wu Tang Clan.
Overwhelming force of numbers.
It’s gonna be somebody…. we are true of intention and, we’ve put in work. why not us?
There you have a synopsis of Amir Alexander and his music life. I will leave this post with a mix from Amir called: