holy ghost

Album Review: Fabric 59 - Jamie Jones

Jamie Jones' album Don't You Remember The Future was reviewed on BlackPlastic.co.uk two years ago and it felt a bit like drinking Diet Coke when we'd rather go all out and fill our gut with The Real Thing. It's an accusation you could level at a fair number of contemporary artists but it's a fair one - who wants to settle for 'not quite as good as...'?

Jones' Fabric album is a bit of a surprise. Firstly because it isn't the fairly minimal tech I've come to expect from artists associated with Crosstown Rebels, the label Jamie calls home. But even more surprising is that fact that it is the most easy-going, celebratory Fabric albums in ages. But this isn't a thinking person's mix - the track listing is pretty obvious - but it's a great collection of disco and house cuts to soundtrack a party to.

There is a mixture of newer and older records on Fabric 59 but Jamie clearly isn't afraid to be obvious. There was a time when finding a new mix album without Felix Da Housecat on it would be more difficult than with. Despite that Jones drops 'Madame Hollywood', from Felix's defining Kittens and Thee Glitz LP, immediately before plunging into the reverb heavy 'Body Shiver' by Waifs & Strays. Thankfully it has been long enough since Felix mania that it just feels great to hear it again. Similarly Metronomy's mix Sebastien Tellier's 'La Ritournelle, shows up in the mix early on.

Fabric 59 is at its best in the closing third. Crazy P's 'Open For Service' is bonkers disco that feels every bit as classic as it aims to, with the most glamorously over the top chorus I've heard in ages. Holy Ghost's mix of 'Goblin City' by Panthers is the show stealer though. It's another track that has been around for an age but it never seems to have quite as much recognition as it deserves. If you haven't heard it you need to and it is here, at eight-minutes long, in pretty much full form. It melds house and disco like champagne and liquid gold, the inevitable guitar solo peak and subsequent break being one of the best things to feature on any Fabric album.

The pace is kept up through to the end. On Oppenheimer Analysis' 'The Devil's Dancers' Jones drops a track that harks back to times when the future sounded like the future rather than the past (just don't tell anyone it's only six years old). Soho808's 'Get Up Disco' is exactly as it says - a gorgeous loose rhythm and sparkling melody - and the stark 'Fear of Numbers' by Footprintz rounds things out.

Fabric 59 is almost in danger of being undermined - Jamie Jones has played it so obviously that it almost veers into parody, yet the final third of the album is so gorgeous I can't help but celebrate it.

BP x

Fabric 59 mixed by Jamie Jones is out now, available from Amazon.co.uk on CD and MP3 [affiliate links].

Album Review: Holy Ghost! - Holy Ghost!

When duo Nick Millhiser and Alex Frankel first unleashed 'Hold On' upon the world as Holy Ghost! I was a little bit awestruck. It is pretty much the perfect modern house record - a nod to label mates LCD Soundsystem in the rock song structure and snappy, live sounding percussion combined with a brilliantly restrained shuffling bassline and synth combo that managed to turn up just as Italo was tipping over. Even the lyrics somehow manage to transcend what are actually pretty conventional sentiments - some how the formulaic "Hold on, hold tight" chorus felt edgy when pressed up against that killer couplet: "I love this city but I hate my job".

For me nothing else the duo have done has quite lived up to that moment. The Static On The Wire EP had some moments - the catchy if slightly sterile track it takes it's name for starters, however it was second single 'I Will Come Back' (also on that EP) that really suggested there was more to come.

Here we are then, some four years on from 'Hold On'. Whilst that track appears here alongside 'Static On The Wire', 'I Will Come Back' is sadly only notable by its absence. It's a peculiar omission given that this album is just ten tracks long, clocking in at under fifty minutes. Regardless - what you have is a solid selection of vocal house tracks that more-or-less all hit the mark. 'Dot It Again' opens things on an even footing with a serviceable if risk-averse number - it is undoubtedly Holy Ghost! at their most commercial.

It is the album's middle that delivers though. The exposed sound of the vocals on 'Hold My Breath' when the melody all but completely drops away, the lyrics pushed out with a rapid insistence as though the singer is all to conscious they are running out of time. An ode to label mate and friend Jerry Fuchs, 'Jam For Jerry' is the perfect bittersweet electro-pop record. The vocals betray a certain guilty feeling at Fuchs' untimely death - "I've got the feeling I've done / something half wrong / it surrounds me, it drowns me in it". Paired with an undeniably sparkly melody it feels like the sound of the party going on whilst everyone there struggles to come to terms with what has happened and the result sounds like pure New Order: I'm unhappy but I'm still dancing

From there the album flows in to 'Hold On', and then on to 'Slow Motion', which stands out with it's drum-heavy breaks before closing on 'Static On The Wire' and 'Some Children'. The latter incorporating a chorus of children singing that feels like it aims to add a bit of soul but sadly just over complicates things - the duo are at their best when stripped back and left to their own devices.

As a debut this proves Holy Ghost! Are more than just a one hit wonder. Four years in the making means it suffers slightly from the burden of expectation though and I can't help but with there was just a bit more to discover here.

BP x

Holy Ghost! is out now on DFA, available from Amazon.co.uk on CD, LP and MP3 [affiliate links].

Album Review: Future Disco Volume 4: Neon Nights - Various

The Future Disco albums always look as if they are a little too cynical to be any good. The concept just feels too well worn, too obvious.

Yet every time BlackPlastic hears a new one there is always enough to impress, and the same definitely goes for Future Disco Volume Four, subtitled Neon Nights. In fact, we'd go so far as to say that volume four is probably the best yet.

Things start well, with Greg Wilson's mix of a cover of Dillinger's 'Cocaine' by Escort - a wobbly heavy-based take on a classic. But it is Stefano e Bene's 'Why Your Love' that really kicks things off, starting off a series of absolute gems... The transition into the Classixx Acapulco mix of Holy Ghost's 'I Will Come Back' is beautiful. And what's more this is easily Holy Ghost's best track since 'Hold On' - exactly the kind of classic house with attitude we had been yearning for.

Ray Mang's mix of 'Ocean' by 2020 Soundsystem is equally epic - subtle and cool but with lush muted vocals running through the song - and then the listener is treated to Bad Rabbits' 'She's Bad', which we have already declared our affection for. Next up is 'Zombie Tropicana' by Hannulerauri, a track which sounds like something New Order would have made if they never came back from Ibiza after making Technique and had instead just kept on the E and given up wearing clothes. In other words, expect lush basslines, warm synths and a pervading sense of loved up apathy.

Elsewhere Tape To Tape's 'Pure & Easy' shines for it's sprinkling of starlight and peaking basslines and the double dose of Kaine feat. Kathy Diamond's 'Love Saves The Day' really pays off when it hits the original mix but in all honesty it is the middle third that really makes this album special.

In the age of MP3 blogs and Soundcloud mixes proper mix albums are feeling increasingly rare - each good one feels like it my be the last. You could worse than make Future Disco Four the last one you buy.

BP x

Future Disco Volume 4: Neon Nights out on Need Want on 7 February, available to pre-order from Amazon.co.uk on CD or MP3 [affiliate links].