crosstown rebels

EP Review: The Picture - Tiga

It has been some time since we last heard something fresh from Tiga so it is a double pleasure to see Crosstown Rebels celebrating their 100th release with this new track from our favourite camp Canadian techno enthusiast.

The Picture - Tiga

It being on Crosstown Rebels 'The Picture' is unsurprisingly Tiga at his most dance floor focused. A tight barrel of drums, glitchy rhythms and skittering bleeps and beats create a dark atmosphere. It is capped off with Tiga's vocal - drenched in reverb he brings his own personality to a Prince vocal. The track reflects Tiga's love of techno and, well, Prince, though I can't help but miss his more flamboyant side... The vocal here may have started with Prince but little else did.

Accompanying 'The Picture' is Subb-an's remix of one of Tiga's best records, 'Pleasure From The Bass'. Here it is given a similar feel to the A-side - a tense analogue bass line chorus and near-ultrasonic white-noise glitches provide the main foundations and that original killer bass hardly gets a look in. It's a contemporary take on a track that never really aged anyway, but it is a joy to hear it again even if it is the inferior version.

The Picture is a decent release for Crosstown Rebels' centenary, but if only we could have had Tiga at his best - we are a long way from the mechanical fury of 'Burning Down' and it feels like the music world needs a little more of that Tiga these days.

EP Review: Changes EP - Francesca Lombardo

As Crosstown Rebels approach their 100th release they show little signs of showing and this debut release from Francesca Lombardo instantly marks her out as one to watch.

Classically trained in piano, Lombardo transitioned to electronic music and started work on Changes after a chance meet with Crosstown Rebels label owner Damian Lazarus at the Miami Winter Music Conference last year. Taking twelve months to create the result is an EP that evidences a producer's hand much more refined than you would expect from a debut release yet. It's a varied suite though - the subtler moments balanced at times with more overtly dance floor focused tracks.

Things open with the title track. Of the four songs included here it is one of the more balanced moments, a groove based minimal tech cut. Expect filtered and distorted vocals and some big melodic keys contrasting a big kick drum.

Next up is the ethereal 'Is It True', an atmospheric piece with brittle vocals and watery echoes. It certainly isn't a dance floor cut despite some big bass and at times large drums. The melodic synth that creates the track's climax and plays out to the end mirrors a sparse beauty in this track and as good as 'Changes' is it is helplessly out-outshined here.

On side B 'Old School Anna' is the most focused dance track, a Detroit influenced minimal track with jacking drums and hi-hats. It's a pretty amazing contrast to know this came from the same head as 'Is It True' and yet I can't help but admire the ambition and versatility in that contrast. The EP closes with 'Sofiel', which maintains a tight bassline and some shuffling drum patterns whilst treating itself with a series of warm melodic pads and a lush progressive ambience.

Changes is released through Crosstown Rebels on 16 July on vinyl and 30 July digitally. You can pre-order the digital release through [affiliate link].

Get a taste of Lombardo's work by streaming her Crosstown Rebels mix on Soundcloud below:

Single Review: Frisky - Maceo Plex

Image source: WildbloodMore understated funk laced tech-house gallantry from Maceo Plex single on Crosstown Rebels. A Maceo release is generally always worth a listen and this one is no exception, despite some track names that are more than just a little lame.

'Frisky' is muted in atmosphere so whilst the name conjures up visions of Lynx adverts and sticky Jaeger coated dance floors it is actually something quite different. This is less collective euphoria, more mutual alienation and, a slightly mis-placed spoken word moment aside ("Sometimes you got to get loose, feel frisky") it totally works. It's the house equivalent of a long wordless car journey.

B-side 'Sex Appeal' is a different beast - it's still classy in comparison to its name but this time it is at least descriptive of the subject matter. This is a bumpy, tweaking and emotive piece of acid house. What Maceo Plex has been doing so well recently is bring a warmth and depth to pretty straight forward house and techno, and that is exactly what he does here. The acid is jacking but this is a really full, sophisticated take on the sound. The heavily filtered male vocals may be a touch too much for some though and a dub that strips them back a little would be welcome.

Frisky is out now on Crosstown Rebels, available from on MP3 [affiliate link].

Single Review: Beautiful World - Amirali

This debut release from Iranian / Canadian producer Amirali really reminds me of the whole tech-house prog movement of the early to mid-noughties. That may feel like a bit of a backhanded compliment but the sweeping cinematic sounds and large echoing bass lines come together to make a promising debut release from Amirali.

The original is a little bit gothic, and sure, it takes leads from Booka Shade and label mates Art Department but everyone here is ultimately just singing from the same hymn sheet popularised by Depeche Mode and The Normal's 'Warm Leatherette'. As source material goes you could do worse, but it inevitably feels a little sterile in comparison to the real thing.

The original is backed with three remixes. Daniel Bortz's is more minimal with a large scale breakdown complete with pregnant pauses laced with paranoia. As Hrdvsion, Nathan Jonson turns in a starker electro-influenced mix - functional but it lacks the impact of either of any of the other versions.

Deniz Kurtel, also on Crosstown Rebels, delivers the stand out mix however. Adding in a dark bass line with distorted synths and drums packing masses of reverb it is the only version that really delivers on the promise of the original, the extra flourishes playing off the darker sounds the original feels inspired by.

Amirali's debut album is out this Spring on Crosstown Rebels. Beautiful World is out on 13 February.