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Various Artists – Stems Volume 1 (Baroque Records)

The latest release on Baroque Records finds the label presenting the first of their ‘Stems’ series of releases.


For those unfamiliar, Stems is a new program from Native Instruments which allows multi channel mixing; of a track’s bass, drums, vocals or melody for example. With each element available independently, you can mix in ways that just weren’t possible in the past. Needless to the say the possibilities are endless and Baroque is one of the first labels I’ve seen offering a project like this. They’ve assembled a stellar cast for the inaugural release of the series which includes brand new music from Omid 16B, Sergio Fernandez, Brett Gould, Terje Seather and TR20.

The collection begins with Omid 16B, who both new and long time fans of electronic music should be more than familiar with. With a storied career that has spanned over two decades, the London based producer has been responsible for some of electronic music’s most acclaimed tunes. The blissful grooves of ‘Escape (Driving To Heaven)’ remain some of the most enchanting around, while deeper collection’s like ‘Sounds From Another Room’ still sound as fresh as the day they was released. Omid’s contribution here ‘Drops of Acid’ gets the collection off to a huge start with a slow building, acid epic. From the beginning beats this rolling techno excursion is immediately compelling. Waves of rugged synths and charged rhythms make for an electrifying journey, which is carried wonderfully by Omid’s unmistakable hypno-vortex groove. Heady stuff from Omid which is both a delight for your mind and feet!

Next up is Sergio Fernandez who is making his 18th appearance on Baroque Records. The Spanish producer is a veteran of the scene and a regular contributor to top brands such as Toolroom and Stereo Records. Sergio’s contribution here is entitled ‘Tactical Surface’ which definitely has a nose for the dance floor. It’s smooth hypnotic groove is full of boundless energy and a frantic complement of drums builds a dramatic tension throughout. Wicked vocal hooks and two mesmerizing layers bring the electric nature of the piece to a sizzling peak. There’s a bevy of short breaks with impactful drops as well, which should make this absolutely destructive at peaktime. Monster tune from Sergio.

The EP’s third selection is provided by Brett Gould who is making his third appearance on Baroque Records. After making his debut on Lowbit Records in April of 2012 the UK producer has gone on to be a primary contributor to the long-standing Glasgow Underground and Toolroom imprints. Brett’s fusion of deep house and funky techno continues to evolve with each successive outing and his contribution here ‘Reflections’ showcases a vocal motif that your sure to be hearing all summer long. It’s smooth groove flows through a storyboard of tension building filters, short breaks and tantalizing melodies for what results in one of the feel good tunes of the year. Beautiful work from Brett.

The EP’s fourth selection comes from Terje Saether who is making his sixth appearance on Baroque Records. I’ve been following the Norwegian producer since his early releases on Darkroom Dubs, Frisky Records and Night Drive Music. His cool blend of Tech House, Deep House and melodic sounds then caught the attention of Nick Warren who signed a three track EP from him which was remixed by Eelke Kleijn. More recently Terje has released two EPs courtesy of the excellent Music To Please Friends and his contribution here, the funky jam ‘Insane’ is equally exciting. It’s big, bold stabs and old school acid flavours strike a timeless club chord early and then a wicked vocal hook is unleashed which provides a lovely soulful element. The stripped down middle section might be the highlight though with its distorted groove building a grinding tension which eventually culminates with the lead tones getting dropped back in. Massive work from Terje.

The EP’s fifth and final selection is provided by TR20 who are making their sixth appearance on Baroque Records. The Kyubu Records bosses continually amaze me with their thematic, analogue creations. Each and every piece of music that’s released from these two is good for countless listens as you’re constantly discovering new intricacies about the productions. It’s a pretty rare thing these days and each of their new works is met with much anticipation because of it. Their contribution here ‘Juxta’ is an irresistible blend of acid funk and dark melodic motifs. It doesn’t take long to realize this is bursting with ultra sonic quality, the production literally sounds alive as the acid hooks flow through an unpredictable storyboard of modulation. It’s tweaked out in all the right ways and the dark undertones that accompany the journey take just enough of the edge off for it to have some emotional impact as well. Superb stuff as always from TR20 and a smashing start to the STEMS series from Baroque Records. Don’t miss it.

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