Mr. G – The Long Lost Uncle of Deep House

I first stumbled upon the music of London underground house mainstay Mr. G in 2000, off a progressive house compilation I bought in Baltimore called Duty Free 2. This was my introduction to the sound of deep house, and though I wasn’t aware of the distinction at the time, it’s effect lasted long enough to guide my musical interest toward that sound, even long after I lost the CD.

It took me a few years to rediscover Mr. G, on the other side of the fence as a musical explorer in 2008. Now, there is a treasure trove of deep grooves to be found in Mr. G (aka Colin McBean), which from what I gather only started to gain recognition until recently. An active member of the global house music movement since the late 80′s, his support for and development of this particular strain of deep house strikes at the core of the floor, but I believe the music also makes you think.

The repetitive quality, coupled with subtle evolutions in the sound over the course of each track, creates a hypnotic ambiance that has meditative qualities (do not read: Trance). Many times…many, many times have I slipped into a light sleep while listening to one of Mr. G’s tracks, as early as the night I bought the CD, I remember slipping in and out of sleep along the moonlit highway, the brain firing REM visions I can’t recall but likely remain in my subconscious to this day.

If you listen closely, you can hear some of the consistent threads of his unique sound in different tracks. There’s an almost Lynchian message that you can make out if you can locate enough of his back-catalogue to piece together. Fortunately, he remains an active producer, and will likely do so for as long as time permits. While the search engines today are still not so friendly to his name, those who know how to find him will not be disappointed by what they come across.

Find Mr. G on the following purveyors of fine house music:

Phoenix G

Rekids

Beatport Artist Page

 

Chembass, Ben La Desh, Suburb, Zoo Look

Hello again, readers and listeners. Where have the past couple months gone? Perhaps it’s just best to forget, with the winter refusing to loosen its icy grip on our fair city. Now, we all look forward with even more anticipation to the warmer months, completely forgetting about how unbearable heat can be just as pleasant as the unbearable cold, but there is something so much more comfortable about summer time. Here are some picks from my recent DJ sets which I think and hope you’ll enjoy.

Chembass caught my ear with this impeccable track appearing on Rene Breitbarth’s Deep Data label compilation EP, Slow Down. Gotta love all the different elements coming together in this track, and though the theme of the EP was “taking it slow,” I find that this track gets me energized like a good opener track to a deep DJ set. “Deeper than the ocean,” was the astute observation of one of the track’s supporters in this promo video above. Sounds about right.

Ben La Desh has been earning props around Brooklyn’s house music scene, his tracks on labels like Dirt Crew, Outernational, and Sleazy Beats have been making appearances in guest mixes on radio shows like Beats in Space, and a little digging into his back-catalogue reveals this gem. I love how smooth this track feels, invoking the namesake of the track title with sounds that conjure up images of Miami beach. Great feel-good summer sizzler that samples the illustrious Brothers Johnson.

Freerange newcomers Suburb made some waves with their track “The Kid” off of a Hafendisko compilation that I really took a liking to after hearing it on one of the best installments of the Freerange Records podcast I’ve heard in a long time, just a couple months back. Suburb is back with a fantastic contribution to the latest iteration of the Freerange Color Series compilation, this track Aspiration has a great balance of relaxing tones and percussive energy, along with playful vocal stabs that never threaten to derail the playful vibes the track exudes.

Morris Audio 84: Zoo Look – the sound of someone by morris audio

Zoo Look might have given deep house selectors the year’s best opening track, as evidenced by its appearance on Tony Lionni’s guest mix on a more recent episode of the aforementioned Freerange podcast. You gotta love the way this track sets up the mix, there are many appealing elements at work which I feel could allow the DJ to take things in a number of different directions. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

H/34 on the Shelby White Podcast

Shelby White has been one of my favorite creatives and colleagues since we first connected online nearly 5 years ago looking to exchange links for our respective blogrolls. Since that time, both he and I have worked hard to hone our respective skillset, collaborating often, throwing ideas and concepts back and forth, and constantly exchanging feedback. Last week, he asked me to be a guest on his pseudo-weekly design-focused podcast, which I have been following all year. I was honored to participate, and I look forward to seeing how the show will evolve and change as he continues to bring in perspectives of highly-respected designers and creatives from around the community. In this episode of the podcast, Shelby and I talk about everything from skeuomorphism in interface design to the implications of technologies like Google Glass on things like personal privacy, conspiracy theories abound. Check it out, hopefully it will provoke some interesting thoughts!

You can follow the Shelby White podcast on YouTube and iTunes. If you are not aware of Shelby’s other sites, you should be, especially if you are a designer. I recommend bookmarking his sites Designspiration, Mac Spoilers, and the Wanken Blog for a constant stream of fresh worthwhile information.

Ptaki, Edit Murphy, Isolee, Deft

Ptaki – Krystyna by The Very Polish Cut Outs

Beats in Space has been a constant source of new track discoveries for me for the past few years. For over a decade, Tim Sweeney has been bringing some of the most interesting DJ’s and producers into the studio at WNYU to lay down rare grooves and reveal a bit about their unique perspective. Eddie C is one name you should know about if you are into the world of the disco edit. Recently on BIS, he dropped this delectable edit by Ptaki (Polish for ‘birds’), featuring a mysterious Polish source that remains unnamed. I wish I could understand the vocal, what a sick slow burner. The Very Polish Cut-Outs will be on my radar from this point forward.

Edit Murphy has also been making waves with a handful of material, including this wildly catchy edit that you can find for free if you look around a bit. The title Motown Edits Vol. 1 is a bit misleading, there really isn’t much of the classic Motown sound, but this matters little– the music, more 80′s-sounding than the title would suggest, is sultry and warrants repeat listening. Perfect track to get everyone in the mood either early or late at night.

I caught this track being posted on the wall of a Ghostly event by the event’s co-curator, the brilliant Will Calcutt. Initially drawn to Calcutt’s photographic and design work for Ghostly and Spectral Sound, I soon found a new reason to love this man’s creative output when I heard his DJ set last spring. Since then, I make a point to press play whenever something of his gets posted– check out his recent mix on the Ghostly podcast, and keep an eye out for the No Big Deal / Real Talk parties in NYC.

Finally, here’s a track I heard on the Freerange Podcast recently. Tough to put my finger on what I find so appealing about this track, it’s aggressive-sounding at points, soothing at others, with up-front percussion that leaves no question about where this sound belongs– on the dance floor. I’m not sure if I’ve heard Deft before, but I will be sure to keep an eye/ear out for more in the future.

King Sterlz ft. Detonate, FaltyDL, Digable Planets, Deda

My man Detonate gave me a shout recently and clued me into his latest production work, with King Sterlz. Even though this track goes beyond the normal boundaries of what gets posted up here, I will always support Nate– who introduced me to Ishkur’s Guide to Electronic Music many, many years back, and with whom I shared many a deep conversation about everything from the music world to the political world over China buffet back in gloomy Pittsburgh. An excellent vinyl-only DJ and turntablist, Nate knows how to make a dancefloor move like few others I know, I can still remember the sweat and steam that would emanate and permeate the air. If this kind of sound is your bag, be sure to keep your eyes and ears on this guy and his crew.

Falling back in-line with the typical H34 sonic aesthetic, FaltyDL’s new album Hardcourage dropped last month, with this stand-out single getting lots of love. You can’t help but feel some of the pure positive energy that comes from a group of old-school roller skaters getting their groove on in Central Park, as depicted in this video. Apparently, the music they actually listen to while grooving during the summer months is really solid– classic house and techno, funk and disco are on-tap according to a friend. I will likely have to go exploring in Central Park for the mystical roller skating house music shindig this summer.

For the second half of today’s post, I want to take it back a decade. Digable Planets are one of those groups all hip-hop heads are aware of, but with only two full-length albums released while they were officially together, it’s easy to overlook the contribution they made to genuinely cool, chilled-out, jazzy, conscious hip-hop. It stands in stark contrast with the sounds of today, like those posted above, but of course, they encapsulate different states of mind. Check out Digable Planets’ 1994 sophomore release, Blowout Comb.

If you want to talk about classics that got slept-on, here’s a track from The Original Baby Pa, a Pete Rock-produced debut for rapper Deda, originally recorded in 1995, but unreleased until 2003. To me, this represents a perfect example of hip-hop’s mid-90′s “golden age” — unique, confident rhymes, content that was not yet completely obsessed with vapid materialistic boasting, filled with personality and character, both down-to-earth and sufficiently detached from reality. I don’t know what ever became of Deda, but I’m glad I got a chance to hear his impeccable flow.

Make Something Cool Today

I don’t have the discipline to impose a Make Something Cool Everyday mandate on myself, but an endeavor to make something cool as often as I can could be more realistic. Thus, Make Something Cool Today is all about spontaneous exploration of visual creative output in a short time period.

The impetus: explore and approach a specific ratio of black and white elements, as described by Keith Harring and exhibited throughout his work, but using a halftone.

Heavy Rotation for the Colder Months

Essential Producer: Theo Parrish

I hope that many of you reader-listener-explorers out there can say you know the name of Theo Parrish. I fear few of us actually boast any of his material in our libraries, and an even smaller proportion who own or have even heard a substantial bit of his discography. I decided to do some deep diving recently, and started to get a sense of just what makes Theo Parrish and his unique style so special. The tracks encapsulate the best of both Chicago disco and soul and Detroit’s dirty brand of techno and house, often accented by a lo-fi quality that comes from the DIY-sounding nature of the recording process. Some complain, but I happen to love it, this more organic, imperfect quality turn out to be one of the unique differentiators in a veritable ocean of perfectly-quantized machine grooves. If you get some time, do a deep dive and you’ll be sure to find some cuts that sound almost like they were made just for you when you were too young to comprehend it.

A mantra, via Vignelli

Massimo Vignelli imparted this wisdom to me a couple years ago while I was working on my NYC Subway Map project at Parsons. I’m not sure if it was imparted unto him at some point too, but it was his rule of thumb for designing the signage for the MTA. It is equally valid and relevant to the work I am doing now as a UI designer for mobile apps, and I imagine it could be just as helpful to you in whatever your trade may be.

LTJ Bukem – The Rebirth (1996)

At one point about a decade ago now, I had just discovered the atmospheric drum n’ bass flavors purveyed by LTJ Bukem, and it was the soundtrack to much of my existence. After years collecting dust on an old external hard drive, I stumbled back across this magnificent mix and have been hooked once again. I had no idea this mix was originally recorded in 1996, meaning I didn’t even catch it until 5-6 years after the fact, and LTJ Bukem at the time was in a largely different lounge-centric liquid funk zone with his Good Looking records imprint. Regardless of the release date (more than 15 years at this point, much to my surprise), the music retains all of its futuristic allure and glossy sheen. While I still enjoy the later Progression Sessions mixes Bukem did with frequent collaborator, MC Conrad, the lack of emcee vocals in this mix gives it a more pure, introverted, less-live feel that is great for deep thought, meditation or simple concentration.

Want more? Here’s 2 more hours.

And let’s not forget that seminal hit of his that saw exposure on pre-wishing-it-never-existed-MTV.

And if you’re still hungry for more, Scott Hansen (aka Tycho / ISO50) did a post recently about the profound influence this unique sound had on his artistry on his blog.