Switched On – Various Artists, John Digweed & Miles Atmospheric – Quattro III (Bedrock)

by Ben Hogwood

What’s the story?

Bedrock are an enterprising label, constantly rethinking how best to present their albums and compilations – and they always take a classy approach that puts the artist and the music first.

Quattro III is no exception. Put simply, it is four mixes from label head John Digweed that differ in tempo, beats and style – and as a substantial bonus, Ancestral Communication, a full artist album from DJ Miles Atmospheric.

The four mixes are given simple titles – Soundscape, Tempo, Breaks and Redux – and they can be listened to consecutively or as single units.

The brightly coloured package presents more than 50 exclusives, the result of Digweed’s inexhaustible search for new music and talent.

What’s the music like?

The mix titles are a good guide to how Quatro III proceeds, and over the four hours of John Digweed’s mixed material there is plenty to enjoy, however you slice and dice it.

Soundscape operates in an almost timeless void, performing an intensely calming meditation as it sets out a spacious sound picture. Wide-open canvases from the likes of DNA presents Charlie May, Circulation, Luke Chable and the excellent Davide Squillace present dreamy backdrops but also regenerate as part of a cleansing listening experience.

Tempo moves up to walking pace and starts to gain a strong sense of forward movement, realised throuh tracks like Dino Lenny’s Rocking To The Rhythm and Robert Babicz’s Afterlife, where the music is let off the leash. There are some lovely weightless textures here, though the increased percussion brings the music firmly towards the dancefloor, ending with the superb Thermal Drive from Speakwave.

Breaks presents what initially feels like a straightforward but strong mix, but as it progresses so there is more emotion introduced. The smoky vocal behind the Lexer Breaks mix of Quivver’s Nothin New To Feel is keenly felt, while Circulation’s Fruju has a breakdown to dive into. The music veers towards the minimal after this before the rolling beats gather towards a powerful finish.

Redux brings together a fine set of remixes, and really gets a shift on with the superb David Morales reworking of Pig & Dan’s Make You Go Higher. The inclusion of two tracks each from Captain Mustache and Aubrey Fry works a treat, Scan 7’s piano doodles matching the vocal of the latter’s Catch Me rather nicely.

As if the mixes weren’t enough, Miles Atmospheric’s album is a considerable bonus. There is an immediate temperature increase in these notes, fulfilling its brief from Digweed as a long player with ‘some quality warm deep ethereal techno that is a breath of fresh air’. Presented in a continuous mix of just over an hour, it includes the lush Tranquility, the fat bass lead of Mysterious Return To Forever then two extended treats in A Quiet Place For Distant Souls and the quicker Destination Lyra, showing how to make minimal source material go a very long way indeed.

Does it all work?

It does, because of the hours of thought and preparation that have gone into making the album. John Digweed’s famously meticulous working ethic comes up trumps again, but not at the expense of raw feeling.

Is it recommended?

With enthusiasm. Bedrock fans will lap it up – but each of the five musical canvases here works extremely well in the home listening environment too. Add the top quality presentation to the mix, whether on vinyl, CD or download, and Quattro III becomes a hugely desirable package.

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You can explore streaming and purchase options by clicking here, while you can visit the Bedrock shop for hard copies of the music on vinyl or CD

Switched On – Quattro Artists: albums from Quivver, Captain Mustache, Satoshi Fumi & Lopezhouse

quattro-artists

4 Albums – Captain Mustache Indigo Memories; Quivver Revelate; Satoshi Fumi Mysterious Phenomenon; Lopezhouse Apollo

reviewed by Ben Hogwood

What’s the story?

This is a novel idea from John Digweed’s Bedrock label. The Quattro project presents four new albums from Bedrock artists, put together in typically chic packaging. The four producers in question range from the new to the experienced, namely Quivver, Captain Mustache, Lopezhouse and Satoshi Fumi.

The care and attention to detail with the release gives it a prestigious air, but also shows the depth of investment Bedrock are prepared to make in their artist roster.

What’s the music like?

There is a wealth of electronic music goodness here.

First up is Quivver’s Revelate album, released separately in November and given a bright green light on this very site. As Arcana said at the time, the structure of John Graham’s album is impeccably cast and tells its own story, acting like a DJ mix. There is a really rewarding mix of deep, warm house tracks but also those laced with a bit of attitude, all geared squarely towards the dancefloor.

Altered and Funkfly are two great examples of just how strong Quivver’s groove can be, while Crystals offers enticing warmth. What really impresses though is Graham’s mastery of his tools, never using too many or too few notes, and generating impressive momentum through his rhythm tracks.

The music of Satoshi Fumi offers the ideal contrast, generally operating at a slower tempo. There are some lovely, warm soundscapes here, proving well suited for a poolside session but also more immersive home listening. That’s because Fumi’s compositions have rich, melodic layers, such as the cellos in A Ray Of Sunlight, or the warm pads used in Dawn And The Moon. Star Gazer is appropriately awestruck as it heads outside with busy pianos and heady strings, while Bamboo Forest presents an intimate set of loops. Fumi has great control over his music at all times, but that doesn’t stop him from expanding his thoughts on occasion, using music made by instinct as well as process. His works are descriptive too – Out To Sea and Air Castle paint vivid pictures as their loops unfold.

Contrast this with the work of Lopezhouse, the Spanish duo adding darker colours to their work in a very effective set of brooding instrumentals. Apollo is a fine debut after 3 EP releases, sporting some dark and tense numbers in Clouds and Soyuz II, while Burning gets just the right balance between poolside chill and a gritty, urban undercurrent. Love On A Spacecraft goes widescreen with pulsing electronics and big boned drums, while the title track is slightly dreamy. Someday, meanwhile, is prime end credits material.

The tempo increases again for Captain Mustache, whose Indigo Memories album gives the double benefit of sounding like home-produced techno while producing grooves destined for a far bigger room. Bleu Ciel, previously released on Bedrock, gets the album off to a pulsating start, sounds flitting above an electro beat that could be imported from the 1990s. Catch Me has a cinematic air, and Andromeda works up a head of steam, while Paola proves to be a compelling electro / techno loop fest.  Midnight Man is a great futuristic track with a touch of Jean-Michel Jarre about it, while Shapes & Oddity also reaches back into the vaults to create a Tron-style thriller.

Does it all work?

It does. Each of the albums will stand well on their own, but given as part of a package they complement each other extremely well. Although John Digweed might not have contributed a musical note here, his influence runs through each of the releases, as you could expect any of these tracks to crop up in a DJ mix under his guidance.

By that you will gather production standards are high, each track is impeccably structured, and the attention to detail is reflected in the artwork adorning this handsome box. There is an album for each mood, too – Quivver and Captain Mustache tending towards moments of dancefloor-based hedonism, Lopezhouse getting the moody end of day lead up to the big night, and Satoshi Fumi floating between the start and the end of the night.

Is it recommended?

With great enthusiasm. Quattro feels like a bit of an indulgence on the part of the buyer, but in the best possible way as this is a labour of love from Digweed’s label. If you plump for the physical version the rewards are many, since not only do you get the music but you get the clever, minimalistic packaging. For those of a certain age – yours truly, for instance, who bought the package just before Christmas – this middle-aged electronica fan means something, at least!

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You can buy the Quattro CD set from the Bedrock shop here

 

 

Switched On – Quivver: Revelate (Bedrock)

quivver

reviewed by Ben Hogwood

What’s the story?

Quivver, the alias of John Graham, has been held in high regard by lovers of house music for more than two decades now, channelled through the decks of top level DJs including Paul Oakenfold, Sasha and John Digweed. Graham’s moniker stands for high quality house, occasionally known as ‘progressive’ or even ‘trancey’, but never regarded as anything other than consistently good.

Graham has overseen a stream of good singles releases that have been lapped up in the clubs, and occasionally he has put them together in album format. Revelate is the third of those, delivered for his good friend John Digweed’s Bedrock label – the two DJs having been acquainted for a good three decades now.

What’s the music like?

Everything Quivver has already established is present here – and yet he always manages to make music that sounds both old and new. By that I mean that some of the tracks could easily fit on a Renaissance compilation from the mid-1990s, but equally they sound fresh out of the studio.

The chunky beat and flickering electronics for Altered are a great example of his craft, while Funkfly sounds like a classy update of one of those Renaissance tracks. Hold has some lovely washes of sound while Crystals has a similarly deep warmth, a flicker of heat at the edge of its synth lines. The disposition of the album is gloriously moody, but fully supports an extended session on the dancefloor.

Rather than do what many house albums do and opt for tracks of 7-8 minutes, Graham has gone for tightly formed tracks, almost all of which clock in after 5. Just occasionally – Funkfly especially – the track could easily go on for double its length, but other than that the Quivver instinct for punchy and effective material is rewarded.

Does it all work?

Yes. It’s great to see such a long-established name back with a high-quality album like this. Graham’s structure is impeccably cast and tells its own story, acting a bit like a DJ mix by one artist.

Is it recommended?

Definitely. If you’ve had even a passing acquaintance with the music of Quivver in the past, you need not waste any more time in adding Revelate to your collection. If his is a new name to you, it’s also a great place to start!

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