Classic House Series Episode #23 – The New Wave – Daft Punk

When Daft Punk burst on to the North American consciousness in late 1996, for most of us it was via the mind-blowing, genre smashing throb of their first single released through Virgin Records, Da Funk.  Combined with its surreal video, convincing most of their fans that the group consisted of one dude in a dog mask, it was a fitting way to introduce the French lads to the world and the critical and commercial response to the single was explosive.

The single was, however, not the first or even second time the duo had appeared on wax.  After signing their very first record contract with Scotland’s Soma Records imprint, their first E.P. began making its rounds and is the real source of the early buzz behind the two mysterious producers.  Entitled “The New Wave, this is the first official release by Daft Punk and while it may not quite have had the success of “Da Funk“, it was our first introduction to what would become some of the most crucial components of Daft Punk’ signature sound.

The title track of the E.P. is a raw, almost primitive slice of techno delivered at a much faster tempo than we would see on later releases.  Appearing in its original form and an edited version, the sonic sheen that would emerge quickly via their future releases is not quite there, but plenty of their other trademark flourishes take the forefront:  the heavily compressed sound of the track, booming percussion, and the in-your-face feel of the mix were all early clues as to where they group might take their sound to next.  The track does itself sound like an unfinished production, but also strikingly similar to a cut from their debut album that was heavily featured in their live sets at the time.  Flipping the record over would provide us with the answers we were seeking.

Side 2 of the E.P. opens with “Assault”, a slightly more polished, but again minimal piece of hypnotic techno.  You don’t hear quite as many layers of sounds in this one compared to “The New Wave“, but the track does serve its purpose; repetitive, late-night, almost acid-sounding techno with a few switch-ups on the drums to keep things moving.

The final track would also prove to be the final mix of “The New Wave” complete with a new title.  The penultimate track on their debut album “Homework” first appears to close out the E.P. under the title “Alive(New Wave Final Mix).  The sonic similarities between the two track should now be fairly obvious, but compared to its original form, this mix of “Alive” is an absolute MONSTER.  Big sounding doubled kicks, stabbing synth lines and an enormous bassline close out this record on a massive note and shows us the full potential that Tom and Guy-Man had right from the get-go.  The E.P. was also released on Italy’s UMM records and is not impossible to find.  This is one release every serious fan or collector of Daft Punk music should own, or at the very least, listen to so they can experience what it was like to hear the first tunes to come from these legendary producers.

Classic House Series Episode #22 – Makes Me Love You – Eclipse

1998 and 1999 were such strong years for disco house that it’s easy to see why some of the best records of that era are often overshadowed by the ones that crossed over into commercial success.  Such is the case with the gorgeous piano house anthem “Makes Me Love You” from Eclipse, one of many pseudonyms used by veteran house producers Bini & Martini.

The Italian duo began producing tracks together in 1996 under the name House of Glass and soon developed a strong reputation as remixers lending their touch to releases from Wamdue Project, Soul Providers and their classic remix of “My Washing Machine” – Sikk.

Makes Me Love You” is a shimmering piece of summertime house based around a loop lifted from Sister Sledge‘s classic “Thinking of You“.  Serving as the 100th release on Britain’s renowned Azuli label, Bini & Martini add some fittingly tropical percussion and a soaring piano line together with some re-sung vocal stabs from the original.  The result is a 10-minute anthem, perfect for the end of the night and a great way to bring your crowd back down to earth before sending them home.  Hitting #25 on the UK charts, this one may not have hit the same commercial heights that Stardust, Armand and Phats & Small did at the time, but it remains a top disco house tune and is worthy of being added to any late-night house set.

 

Review – Daylight to Midnight – Night Safari feat. James Newman

It seems like the tide may finally be turning for dance music after the glut of “EDM” tunes that have been dominating the scene for about the past 5 years and the monotonous formula of build-up/ breakdown/ build back up/ peak/ and drop is being replaced with classic drum samples and grooves.  Recent releases from the likes of Calvin Harris, EDX and even “This Girl” – Kungs vs. Cookin’ On 3 Burners all feature vintage Roland 808 and 909 percussion elements and Roland’s recent reveal of their forthcoming DJ 808 controller for Serato are all strong indications that old-school sounds are being revived for today’s dancefloor and that’s great news for fans of good house music.

Any good DJ knows that you can happen across great tunes anywhere at anytime and that’s exactly what happened to me last night.  Just before heading out for the evening, I flipped on an “electronic” station just in time to catch a huge sounding, old-school house-flavoured bomb that was released just over a year ago through Armada Music.  “Daylight to Midnight” arrived courtesy of Night Safari, a duo comprised of house music veteran D. Ramirez and songwriter and former frontman of The Infadels, Bnann Infadel.  Featuring the vocals of James Newman and a gorgeous,  throbbing bassline (clearly influenced by or played on the legendary Korg M1 synth), the track brings together all the elements that make house music great.  The hook is catchy enough but kept relatively simple and it doesn’t some cross over into “cheesy” territory even after a few listens.  I’m amazed that I missed this the first time around but I’m glad I discovered it as this one should be able to work anywhere.  I hope to see more producers embrace the classic sounds and bring the groove back to the electronic scene that has been dearly missed.