Letter #31

Good morning / afternoon / evening everyone,

I hope that you’ve had a lovely week and you’re ready for the weekend. This week we have a brilliant guest editor, Matt Hannigan, but more on that below. This week’s letter will have you on your feet without you realising… ❤️ .

🔥 Don’t forget, if there’s someone that you think might like this letter, please share it with them 🔥

HERE’S THIS WEEK’S MIXTAPE!

– 🎼 –

As mentioned last week, this week we have a guest editor, Matt Hannigan.I think I’ve followed Matt on Instagram since the early days. Weirdly, as I moved around agencies and met more people, I’ve met more and more people that knew him (but never met him myself!). His Instagram is a sight to behold, filled with amazing cultural artefacts and nods to emerging sub-cultures – but this is unsurprising given his day job. (For more, you can follow him on Twitter or on Instagram.) Anyway, his night job is what I wanted to share with you – avid record collector and magpie for soulful music across the whole spectrum. Matt’s guest letter is a brilliant addition, and the exact reason I wanted to open up Love Will Save the Day to guest editors – it brings a perspective different to mine, music I’ve never heard, and most importantly stories that should give you goosebumps.

Thanks Matt, take it away.

– ✏️ –

My knee-jerk reaction to Jed’s Love Will Save the Day guest editor invite clicked me into my inherent ‘collector’ mentality…. My two unavoidable vices (records and trainers) have created behaviours in me that mean rarity, exclusivity, heritage and uncovering the unknown are key metrics in defining the difference between mere objects and those ‘beloved’ items.

So I started crafting a list of these ‘items’ that mean a lot to me… obscure Sun Ra and Tangerine Dream productions backed onto priceless Driftwood Records releases and some rare disco 12’s that would tingle even Sam Shepard’s hallowed crate digger finger.

After some collating, I was looking at the final list one morning, expecting a feeling of pride while surveying the fruits of my labours, and instead I was left with a real sense of emptiness. It was plain to me that this list was essentially a ‘wishlist’ to many a Discog user. For me, what was missing here was deep, personal connections through sound and experience.

I’ve been very fortunate that my career and personal passions have always been intertwined and opened me up to some incredible sonics and artists over the years. Whether being a protagonist or enabler; youth subculture, a wide selection of electronic music and the contemporary club landscape has always been central in my life over the past 15 years or so I wiped the list clean and started from there.

Being a promoter in London in the mid/late 00’s, the dancefloor is a key environment which evokes emotion for me. I started my new approach to this selection by looking at the foundations of what made Mancuso’s Loft reach such legendary status. Obviously there are myriad reasons, but for me they boil down to using track selection and atmosphere to evoke true emotion in the dancer. Tim Lawrence’s ‘Life And Death On The New York Dance Floor’ has been referenced before but to quote Lawrence: ‘Mancuso pioneered the practice of weaving together records according to their lyrical messages as well as their instrumental grooves, forging a narrative arc of acid intensity as the songs harmonized across the course of a night.’  That approach is driven purely out of the desire to use music to connect with the core of human emotion. So my approach is to select the tracks that have had a profound effect on me over the years targeting the emotions that come from David’s beloved ‘bardos’.

1. Brock Van Wey – Your Painted Armor Aches To Crack

I don’t think I could have started this with any other artist… one of my closest friends put me on to bvdub many years ago, and the visceral way his productions both calm and heighten the listeners mind-set are quite incredible to me. Theres been so many moments when I’ve listened to this track… I challenge anyone to listen to this intently with eyes closed and not feel transformed by Brok’s orchestrated, ‘pad heavy’ aural-freefall.

2. AIM – Cold Water Music

I don’t think there is another production out there that aesthetically links perfectly to its title like AIM’s ‘Cold Water Music’. Whilst the strings and looped vocal snippets do uplift the listener in parts, the icy melodic stabs and fizzing percussion cloaks the production an endless permafrost. Simply beautifully constructed from start to finish – reminds me of many a winter walk to work on a Monday morning… building you up with every layer.

3. Marvin Belton – Bleed To Be Free

I stumbled on this track many years ago through discovering the genius that is Mr. Ties. Witnessing this (then unknown to me) chaotic, bearded Italian reduce a dance floor to a bewildered clan of humans literally climbing the walls of Berlin’s panoramabar was quite remarkable.  I would say Francesco De Nittis is one of the most impressive selectors Ive ever had the pleasure of experiencing and when I returned back to London and found this mix and totally fell in love with the opener from Marvin. Blues drenched chords, an ambling rhythm and heart aching vocals make this a timeless favourite.

4. Herbert – I Hadn’t Known (I Only Heard)

My sister (who is 10 years my senior) put me on to Herbert first (I can’t recall exactly when), combined with her eclectic taste in artists plus being Sub Club alumni from her uni days, her 3rd generation iPod (still going strong) has some crackers on there. Herbert, for me is one of the true legends of UK music. His classical training really does give him a delicacy and tenderness in his productions and none more mind-blowing than this one. The organic melodies that dance so wonderfully in unison to Dani Siciliano’s warm vocals make this one of my most cherished records.

5. J Dilla – Love (Instrumental)

J Dilla is one of those producers who’s back catalogue and influence could easily fill a whole LWSTD entry. It’s pointless even going into what a studio visionary Mr Yancey was, his far reaching global adoration is unparalleled in his field. Love is a very special track to me, I suppose many producers try and distill life’s most powerful emotion into a track and I think JayDee did a fine job here. Absolutely drenched in soul, with a string sample which does something to me I can’t explain, every-damn-time I play it. Dilla, undoubtedly,  is the master of arrangement and sampling in his productions, this track showcases those skills perfectly and in doing so shows how this formulae can cut deep to the heart of the listener.

6. St Germain – Thank U Mum (4 Everything You Did)  & 7. Last Magpie – Fallen

I have to put the next two selections together as one, this is all due to the untold craftsmanship of the one and only David Moufang aka Move D. The year was 2013, the venue was Freerotation (probably the best festival in the world –  of which David owns the Sunday slot in the dome). What I witnessed there that day was a set of music that was so finely tuned to the crowd and mood of the day it finished with him being moved to tears at the end of his set. Hate using the phrase… but the blend of these two records is literal goosebumps from beginning to end. Fortunately you can listen here (check just before 28mins… although this in no way does that moment justice).

8. Soul Capsule – Lady Science (NYC Sunrise)

This one literally is ALWAYS the soundtrack to memorable moments. Whether its Floating Points + Four Tets phenomenal back to back set to close one of Londons most beloved spaces (RIP PP) or Zip aka Thomas Franzmann picking the perfect after-hours moment to pull for the record, Soul Capsule’s knack of weaving luscious pads and bleepy melodies together is a thing of wonder. Leaves me breathless at every listen.

9. Moodymann – Lyk U Use 2 (feat. Andres)   

Moodymann is one of Detroits most legendary DJs and respected producers. Much more than that is the rippling charisma and infectious persona that has created both an admiration and a mystique that will cement his place in the history books. Again, I could have put a ton of Moody tracks that I hold dear like ‘J.A.N’ or ‘I Can’t Help This Feeling Before It Hits’ which are bonafide classics, but I wanted to go for something which shows his incredible versatility. ‘Lyk U Use 2′ shows Kenny’s ability to jump from the desk to the booth with ease. Pulling in fellow D-town stalwart Andres on production duties (which he absolutely nails) he drags his effervescent character to the front and centre, laying down lustful vocals with a swagger only he can do. This unexpectedly thugged-out routine layered perfectly over Andres’ wonderful drums and clipped vocals make this an absolute masterpiece.

10. Tony Lionni – Found A Place

I used to be absolutely obsessed with the relentless output of the Ostgut Ton label, mostly dark and arresting techno records. When this came out in 2009 it was a totally unexpected release that raised many a head-down Berghain regulars eyebrows. It happened… a piano-heavy house record Ostgut! It was definitely a leftfield move at the time, but what a move… there is a simplicity to this track that is remarkable. Euphoric keys and compressed vocals are nothing new, but the intensity Lionni creates as he builds and fades them through the track brings true goosebump moments every time. Absolutely love this record.

11. Fresh & Low – New Life

Some records have very poignant stories of discovery, this doesn’t. I didn’t know anything of production duo Fresh & Low, until this track loaded up automatically on YouTube when I was at University. Instantly it blew me away and has been constantly on rotation ever since. I’m all about pads in productions and the ones in this masterpiece are some of the most all pervading ever created.. so thick, so smooth… SOOOO Good.

12. Four Tet – Love Cry

Maybe not Keiran Hebden’s most quintessential production, but definitely one of his most rousing. Only a Four Tet creation re-births sonic beauty from a place of abject chaos. Whilst the layers in ‘Love Cry’ are plentiful they come together with astonishing symmetry… rumbling percussion and rippling soundscapes play with beauteous vocals and a terrificly trembling bassline. He’s just one of a kind.

13. The Field – Over The Ice  

I actually totally forgot about this track, but writing this piece put me in the headspace to remember how special ‘Over The Ice’ is to me. A friend of mine (P-Breezy to some…who’s music library is UNREAL) used to send his closest a mix of tracks from new artists he’d found when we were younger… and on one mixtape creation, I found this… it totally blew my mind. Its absolutely mad in its make up. The arrangement is frenetic, but what it does to the mind and body is quite something. Have such great memories of getting lost in the world it creates and investigating the The Field further confirmed their unbelievable talent to do this to the listener.

14. Omar S – Day (A1)

This guy is as authentic as its comes: absolutely no bullshit. One of Detroits realest dudes. Which other artist is one of the best producers and DJs in the world, was holding down a job at the Ford Motor company (certifying engine parts with the same marker as writing on his white labels) and ripping tarmac in D-towns underground street racing scene. This is just a wonderful rethink of The Supreme’s ‘Come See About Me’. Just makes you feel so happy when listening…. as happy as I am including it in this list.

15. The Paradise – In Love With You

Mid-00s London for me was all about Erol Alkan. His Trash party’s and his residency at Bugged Out made The End club my first ‘church’. Still to this day, the club goes down as the city’s finest. The crowd was unpretentious and open to newness, the booth was in the middle of the dancefloor and the tunnel-like shape of the club made the sound incredible. Erol was to the End what Larry was to the Garage, an orchestrator of new talent and an incredible selector. One night he played this last track and the moment nearly reduced me to tears, I remember it vividly. Braxe + Falke completely smashed it with this one, pure unadulterated JOY distilled into one track. Not many more rousing ‘last-track-of-the-nighters’ than this one, thats for sure.

16. House of House – Rushing To Paradise (Walkin’ These Streets)

There was a short period when whatever got played in Zev + Gadi’s infamous Marcy Hotel instantly meant validation across the world. Many of those tracks didn’t stand the test of time.. but this one did and is quite simply flawless. The amount of DRAMA this track delivers is genuinely bewildering, the monumental fades and heart fluttering builds, make it a true workout for almost all of its six and a half minutes.

17. Mood II Swing – All Night Long (Radio Slave Re-Edit)

I’ve always been a huge fan of John and Lem, I mean these guys low-key owned the whole NYC-to-the world scene that was throbbing from the big apple at the time. My good friend Steve’s article over at RA is definitely worth a read to deep dive into their staggering contribution to the industry. On a personal level ‘All Night Long’ has always been a favourite, from being a last-track-life-saver at our clubnight back in the day to hearing it being re-invigorated by Radio Slave on his Strictly Rhythm compilation, I’ve always fallen in love with its ability to capture a the spirit of the dance. The final piece in the puzzle was seeing a rare DJ set from the duo on the roof The Standard in downtown LA with my wife (on our honeymoon). I was willing them to drop it for most of the evening and just when I had given up hope I heard those flickering synths. The rest was history… never, ever will I forget that night.

18. Kerri Chandler – Atmosphere

The New Jersey sound can be polarizing but two things are certain: 1. Without Kerri and his production prowess it would never gained the popularity that led to its fetishisation. 2. Atmosphere for me is a track that rises above all that tried to plagiarise it, no one will ever, EVER do piano stabs like ‘Kaoz’.

19. Davina – Don’t You Want It

Anyone who knows me, knows that UR are up there with my most loved artists (Great to see Carhartt WIP honouring their legacy with the recent apparel collaboration with them). Spotify has a poor Detroit selection, so I went for a CLASSIC. Davina’s genre defining ‘Don’t You Want It’ is produced by The Resistance’s enigmatic Mad Mike and was originally released on UR’s soulful house offshoot, Happy, in 1992. Its absolutely textbook good-times house track with beautiful keys and a vocal hook that etched its flow in the minds of many generations. A total JAM.

20. Global Communication- The Way (Secret Ingredients Mix)

Definitely, definitely, DEFINITELY in my top 5 tracks of all time. Monster of a record in every way, the clipped vocals, the bumping bass, the rolling tempo… just a dream production. I remember a totally unknown DJ playing it one sunny afternoon at Club der Visionaere on the banks of the Spree in Berlin. As the vocal snippet blended into the mix, the feet of the crowd on that wooden deck just went up ten notches. For those stolen minutes the sun seemed warmer, the smiles seemed wider and our hearts beat faster… such is the effect of this masterpiece.

21. Todd Edwards pres. The Messenger – Main Vibe (12″ Version)

Whilst ‘Todd The God’ Edwards is one of the godfathers of UKG, he was first and for-mostly a figure in the NY house scene of the early 90’s. Later productions cemented his chopped and sliced vocal style, ‘Main Vibe’ presents the precursor to that. Pitched down New Jersey style melodies and rolling hooks make this a record that always makes me break a smile. I love the drum patterns and flickering chords, a little groover that always stays on rotation.

22. Jin Choi – You’ve Done Me Wrong

The perfect track to flick things down a notch or two as we enter the ‘final bardo’. This release is a well used tool  by one of my all time musical mentors, Ricardo Villalobos, to evoke the same mood. I’ve heard him numerous (live and in mixes) take things to a different level with this cracker from Jin Choi. A haunting vocal and a gently oscillating tempo pulls you into its magic ever so smoothly and keeps you there with gentle hand claps and throbbing basslines. A wonderful little groover.

23. Efdemin – Just A Track

This is a frankly a perfect track from beginning to end. Efdemin is a exceptionally underrated producer and although often gains great praise from his fans as a DJ, I feel like many aren’t aware of his talent in the studio. ‘Just A Track’ is his greatest work in my opinion and I was alerted to it from a good friend (and amazing DJ in his own right, shout out TT) who played it in the early hours of a friends mini-festival. Hearing the juxtaposition of the paired back and deeply hypnotic tempo with the booming vocal stanzas… OOOSH it had me from the beginning. I mean… just listen to the lyrics, although a borrowed sample, the imagery portrayed is a real treat.

24. Ricardo Villalobos – Que Belle Epoque 2006

My biggest challenge in this selection process was to not put in too many entries in for the pre-mentioned Chilean maestro that is RV, so I settled for one production and one remix (I was going to put in his lesser known alter ego Richard Wolfsdorf too, but that would be cheating I suppose). Ricardo has the ability to transition from hypnotic maestro to thundering bass technician effortlessly and  ‘Que Belle Epoque 2006’ is a track in itself which is a fine example of both of these moods.  Theres something about how we tempers squelchy tripped out melodies with cathartic sub-bass which is unlike any producer Ive ever encountered. It is so very rare to hear a producer truly at one with the environment around him, lacing together organic and synthetic sonics with ease. There is no doubt he is a true genius of our time.

25. Larry Heard – Deja Vu (Musaria Mix)

Can you even imagine the pressure of remixing a Larry Heard production? Then add the baggage of trying to work on one of his most cherished works. Up steps a totally unknown (to me at any rate) producer from Memphis who takes a classic and transports the whole mood of the track into a mysterious dream-like haze. I first heard Dixon drop this at fabrics birthday in 2010 I think, shortly after it appeared on an Innervisions V/A release. Whilst many forgot this edit, for some reason its been a constant companion to me, I just love the mesmerising feeling it creates, chilling to the touch yet simultaneously rather rhythmic.

26. Shackleton – Blood On My Hands (Ricardo Villalobos Apocalypso Now Mix)

Whether its icons such as Depeche Mode, New Order and Beck, or more emerging names such as Mari Kvien Brunvoll, Ricardo has turned out some outstanding remixes. All pale in comparison to the dark abyss of tension that he creates in his ‘Apocalypso Now Mix’ of Shackleton’s seminal ‘Blood On My Hands’. Released in two parts and coming in at over 19 minutes, its fair to say this is an in depth re-interpretation. Delicate and eerie in equal measures, under the tortured vocals lies expansive and clinically orchestrated soundscapes. Unashamedly bleak but undoubtedly epic.

27. Trevino – Backtracking

Marcus is one of the most talented DJs and promoters of our generation, it was so sad to hear of his passing earlier this year. An absolute gentleman and trailblazer in any style he chose to work in. Whilst his lineage in the DnB scene is well documented, his transition into 4/4 forays under the Trevino monker brought so many memorable releases. The most beautiful was ‘Backtracking’, a piano and pad heavy journey that delivers multiple ‘hairs-on-the-back-of-your-neck-adrenaline-rush’ moments. So bittersweet listening to this, a wonderful artists taken too young, as with many others he leaves behind a remarkable musical legacy.

28. Sia – Breathe Me (Four Tet remix)

This one is dedicated to by best friend Ross, who often bemoaned my constant badgering / over enthusiastic excitement when we lived together of new tracks I’d uncovered that he may like. One morning he was playing this one at top volume from his bedroom. I immediately bashed his door in and demanded to know what it was. A genuinely beautiful rework by the one and only Four Tet… wrapping lush melodies around Sia’s rasping vocals…. makes for just perfect Sunday listening.

29. The Notwist – Pick Up The Phone

Moving into the finish with my favourite band of all time (Also My favourite live performance of all time at the first ever Field Day festival in 2008). The Notwist are an experimental German indie group from deep in Bavaria. Their esoteric and disruptive electronica inspired tone is unmatched by anyone in my opinion. ‘Pick Up The Phone’ is the track that wraps all what I love about the band into one song; melancholic, vulnerable and unequivocally honest.

30. Styrofoam (feat. alias) – Misguided 

The final track… always a tough one, I wanted this to be very unique to who I am and the emotional state I wanted to leave you in, placid calmness with a unexpected touch of optimism. Styrofoam (Arne Van Petegem) is a Belgian one man electronica project and a producer I love. Best described by Pitchfork as ‘wistful glitch-hop’, this track titled ‘Misguided’ is the only way I would want to finish this mix. What I love is the unpredictable but brilliant cameo from a man shrouded in mystery, the faceless MC alias. Unique and bold, this record is a gem.

This is my Love Will Save the Day Letter. Many thanks for sticking with me, I tried to be as sincere and real to the concept as possible.

As always, if you’ve read to here, thanks for indulging me ♥️.Mad Love to all,
Matt

– 📄 –
  1. Brock Van Wey – Your Painted Armor Aches To Crack
  2. AIM – Cold Water Music
  3. Marvin Belton – Bleed To Be Free
  4. Herbert – I Hadn’t Known (I Only Heard)
  5. J Dilla – Love (Instrumental)
  6. St Germain – Thank U Mum (4 Everything You Did)
  7. Last Magpie – Fallen
  8. Soul Capsule – Lady Science (NYC Sunrise)
  9. Moodymann – Lyk U Use 2 (feat. Andres)
  10. Tony Lionni – Found A Place
  11. Fresh & Low – New Life
  12. Four Tet – Love Cry
  13. The Field – Over The Ice
  14. Omar S – Day (A1)
  15. The Paradise – In Love With You
  16. House of House – Rushing To Paradise (Walkin’ These Streets)
  17. Mood II Swing – All Night Long (Radio Slave Re-Edit)
  18. Kerri Chandler – Atmosphere
  19. Davina – Don’t You Want It
  20. Global Communication- The Way (Secret Ingredients Mix)
  21. Todd Edwards pres. The Messenger – Main Vibe (12″ Version)
  22. Jin Choi – You’ve Done Me Wrong
  23. Efdemin – Just A Track
  24. Ricardo Villalobos – Que Belle Epoque 2006
  25. Larry Heard – Deja Vu (Musaria Mix)
  26. Shackleton – Blood On My Hands (Ricardo Villalobos Apocalypso Now Mix)
  27. Trevino – Backtracking
  28. Sia – Breathe Me (Four Tet)
  29. The Notwist – Pick Up The Phone
  30. Styrofoam (feat. alias) – Misguided

See you on the dance floor.
Love Will Save the Day

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