Uncut Gems is a new series where we attempt to shine a light on tracks that, for whatever reason, haven’t quite got the kudos they deserve. But far from taking our word on it, we decided instead to rope in some seriously discerning cats to pore over them instead. Step forward Kosta Athanassiadis aka XDB. The owner of the always on-point Metrolux label, Kosta’s productions have also found a home on Lawrence’s Dial (where he released his debut LP, Inspiron last year), Patrice Scott’s Sistrum and Steffi’s Dolly to name but a few.
As you might imagine, Kosta is no slouch when it comes to selecting tunes either, and is a regular at in-the-know festivals such as Freerotation and at Europe’s most respected nightspots. Though I’ve never caught him in the flesh, I’ve lost count of the amazing recommendations I’ve picked up from his ‘Tracks I Really Love’ posts, or indeed, his online sets, the last of which—a killer set from Dana Ruh’s KMA60—saw him serve up an extremely delectable seventy-or-so minutes of quality deep house. Big thanks to XDB for stepping up big time here and being a good sport. And by the way, we barely caught him out here. What this man doesn’t know about the deep ain’t worth knowing!
Mickey Oliver featuring Tage – Just A Tease (Club Mix) (Hot Mix 5) (1987)
Hot Mix 5 Records. The House Sound of Chicago. This is a really cool Mickey Oliver release. Uplifting Vocals, on-point drum programming, jazzy keys, a dope bassline… total perfection. If you had a bad day, just pick a bunch of records of this calibre and you´ll feel instantly much better, I swear. I want to hear this on a good soundsystem in a warehouse.. no phones, just the focus on music. Strangely, I’ve never actually been to Chicago. I’d love to go and visit the Gramophone Recordstore. It must be a dream to go through the crates. There must be hundreds or even thousands of records I would love to buy and I would need lots of cash and a few valid credit cards the first time I finally manage to go there… if at all. Well it’s on my bucket list. This track is on repeat mode now… super addictive!
Bizarre Inc – Technological (Blue Chip) (1989)
Wow this is some very old but quality UK stuff, and I see Mark Archer is involved in this production. Mark is a hero in my book: a top bloke, excellent producer and brilliant DJ. I met him and his wife at a festival (of course, Freerotation!) and they are both so admirable human beings and the cutest couple alive. Bizarre Inc is well known for their high energy anthem “Playing With Knives” which came out years later, but I like this one way more. For me, it sounds like it’s inspired by the first wave of Detroit Techno. There is so much soul in there and I can see and feel Archer’s sound signature as it reminds me also of some of the Nexus21 stuff.
Many classics are getting repressed these days, and I think the “Technological” LP is worth a remaster and reissue too. Let’s see if it’s going to happen at some point. Otherwise you will have to pay good money to get hold of this classic piece of wax. I´ve read, Mark Archer was forced out of Bizarre Inc. I don’t know why. Will have to buy him a beer and ask him the next time we meet up somewhere over the years. Bizarre Inc´s sound changed over the years… went from underground to quite commercial but the “Technological” LP will remain a classic and should be in any good vinyl collection.
Laser – Body Dub (Pin Up) (1993)
I have to admit i´ve never heard this release before. Italian deep house that’s quality… i like it. A feel good tune with a nice hook line and a sweet melody. I have a different 12″ on this label so I should really go check the complete catalogue. It’s so easy [to do that] nowadays as most of the stuff, at least the good tracks are online in full length on YouTube. That’s become kind of normal, but in fact when you think about it it’s just crazy! Well it won’t have the same magic and cannot reach the feel like stumbling upon a gem in a record store.. but it’s still great to be able to listen to such an endless amount of music online nowadays. I don´t wanna sound like one of the old farts who always say “Früher war alles besser” = “back then everything was better” either. i see this has been repressed ON Apollonia. I heard Dyed Soundorom DJ at Heideglühen and now that I think about it he mentioned this and his own label. I hope they did a good remaster too, at least the YouTube upload sounds like they used way too much reverb on just about everything including the beats and drum sounds. Flash Forward is also a very nice Reissue label out of Italy.
Taksi – Rohrbruch (Steve Rachmad remix) (Music Man) (2002)
Yes I know this one… Taksi was a techno Project by German duo Andre Galuzzi and Paul Brtschitsch. Galuzzi was a resident DJ at the old Ostgut.. now Berghain. I don’t have much of their stuff but I bought a 12″ they did on Ongaku and a Taksi 12″ with some stars as artwork. This release came out on Belgium’s Music Man, a legendary good label. I might be wrong but if I remember correctly “Rohrbruch” was a huge hit at least in Germany and also on top of the Groove Magazine Top 50 charts listing at some point. I am a huge fan of Steve Rachmad’s productions, especially the old chordy and Rob Hood-alike tunes he did back then are all super good and timeless sounding. He kept it close to the original here and didn’t change it that much. This here is definitely some peaktime stuff and I am sure it’d do good damage on the dancefloor. I still remember the moment I was listening to this record in a record store and I bought it in the end but I wouldn’t know where it is right now amongst all my other records! I’ll have to find it though because i would like to give it a relisten via headphones on my Rodec mixer. This is powerful techno. Thanks for the reminder.
Sebastian San – Great Cities (We Play House) (2011)
Good stuff. Simple but effective. The pads are beautiful. Well pads are always beautiful.. well not always but you know. I have never met or wrote to Sebastian San but I have all of his releases on Echocord Colour and the one on Planet E with the Carl Craig rework. I have to check the releases on Ab Initio. I noticed this one is on WPH Records. Bart Van Neste / Red D sent me a We Play House Recordings package last year including some really cool releases and this Sebastien San record is so nice too, I should buy it!
Perseus Traxx ft. Lucy Barker – Closer (Boe) (2013)
Boe Recordings! Quality imprint from Ben Boe who is also doing an amazing job over the past few years with his For Those That Knoe imprint. My utmost respect tpp for Nigel Rogers / Perseus Traxx who keeps it classy on each of his releases and this one featuring Lucy Barker’s vocals is no exception. Excellent sounding claps, a deep bassline, super synth programming, that´s perfection! Never played it out but i have to change that as I do own this record and it should finally find its way to my bag of recent goodies. How could i forget how good this actually is? I wish this kind of music would be on air on normal programming someday but it’s like UR used to say: “I wanna kill my radio station!”. Especially where i live, it’s just horrible what commercial nonsense autotune music they are playing these days.This track flew under the radar, but have a listen as it’s really good!
Ray Escortienda – Time Waits for No Man (Echovolt) (2013)
I love this track. Electro / broken beats drum programming, epic sounding strings and a very oldschool feel overall. I don´t know who lent her voice to this one, but
Ray Escortienda is an alias of Danny Wolfers, who is best known for his work as Legowelt. And “Time Waits for No Man” came out on the fabulous Greek label, Echovolt Records.
Anyway, this guy is such a genius and seems to be so down to earth too.. I love these kinds of artists. Unfortunately I’ve never managed to catch him live, but his productions are always top notch and his studio must be like a museum full of synthesizers. You have to watch this video to understand what I’m talking about!
Nicuri – Holding the Four Winds (Growin) (2015)
Ruben Candelario aka Nicuri is an amazing producer, his tracks are right up my alley! Quality contributions for DJ Qu’s Strength Music, a brilliant debut EP on my Greek friends label Bliq and a must have release on Mora Music. He knows how to to do it, his sound is analogue sounding, sometimes a bit rough, always deep and warm. This one on Growin Music is no exception. He’s from New Yersey if i remember correctly. One of those types of artists who lets the music do the talking. He hasn’t brought out that many releases lately, but i always say quality is better than quantity. Looking forward to his upcoming stuff.
Brian Kage – Shut Your Eyes (FXHE) (2015)
Brian Kage is a native Detroiter. Here he is together with Omar S on one of the best Detroit House labels around. I will never forget the first time I came across this label at Freebase, a record store based in Frankfurt, it must have been about 15 years ago now. FXHE = SEXY and so is this brilliant tune featuring James Garcia on the microphone. It’s an anthem, 100%… I would love to hear this at 6 am at Panorama Bar. I know we all have to wait as clubs are closed almost a year now and there is no end in sight. But when this pandemic is hopefully going to be gone forever, I am going to play this track at the right timing and the right place and it will hopefully bring tears into not only my own eyes. I’ve bought most of the Omar S stuff and his recent collaboration with John FM is absolutely brilliant too. Also, Brian Kage runs the Michigander label, which is also not to be missed. Looking forward to his upcoming productions.
Deep88 & Melchior Sultana – Grand Piano M1 (2017)
I came across the Deep88 stuff via my distribution partner, who is based in Berlin. Alessandro Passini (Deep88 ) runs the label 12Records and I used to get these as a promo copy from Johannes at DNP. As soon as a new catalogue number popped up I had the opportunity to have a first listen. Actually this one came out on deepArtsounds, a label from Switzerland. I don’t have this in my record collection, but I like it a lot and i should change that. Very classic sounding Chicago House at its best, with lush keys played by the one and only Melchior Sultana who collaborated also with Jus Ed who I admire for being a relentless soldier of the deep. Much love brother!
By the way, Melchior is from Malta and I have worked with two artists from Malta on my own Metrolux label. Been also there once for a gig and they have Kinnie…it’s a drink full of herbs with a bitter orange feel. I absolutely loved it… you can only get it in Malta though. A few years ago they brought me a six pack to Freerotation. Such a nice gesture. Anyway, back to the track. As i am listening to it already for the third time in a row now via YouTube while typing these words and i have to mention my focus on the pads which create this special mood and atmosphere. I could listen to this for hours and hours nonstop. Well done!