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Various Artists – STEMS Volume 2 (Baroque Records)

The latest release on Baroque Records finds the label showcasing the second volume of its STEMS series.

STEMS Baroque Records

Working in conjunction with Native Instruments the long standing UK label launched the STEMS series just last month with new music from Omid 16B, Sergio Fernandez, Brett Gould, Terje Saether and TR20. Now we see Baroque following that up with a highly anticipated Volume 2 which features brand new original productions from Quivver, Innate, Stereo For Two, Ben Coda and Sonabit.

The release begins with something new from Quivver entitled ‘Keeps Me Awake’. The UK producer has appeared on Baroque seven times in the past and has been an integral part of the label’s artist roster since its inception over 10 years ago. His latest follows a long line of successful outings highlighted by a three track EP on Bedrock which reached #1 in the Beatport Deep House chart. ‘Keep Me Awake’ finds John exploring a the more techno influenced side of his studio repertoire. Anchored by those unmistakable Quivver beats the track flows through a variety of hypnotic motifs while sinister stabs, vocal elements and gates assault your senses. The second act strips things right down with the tripped out vocals building a sizable amount of tension before the bassline kicks in and those gnarly stabs rip through the atmosphere. Outstanding stuff from John and a great start to the release.

The EP’s second selection comes from Model1 who is making his 13th appearance on Baroque Records. The Italian producer last appeared on the storied UK imprint with his remix of Yuriy From Russia’s ‘Korean Doll’ which was released in March of this year. Model1’s contribution to the STEMS collection is entitled ‘Innate’ which features more of the deep, timeless sound we’ve come to love from him. Getting underway with a spacious airy framework, an acidic bassline soon drops in to power the groove. There’s a slew of gorgeous elements which come to light shortly thereafter, from a soulful vocal hook to warm bubbly accents to a well crafted set of tonal themes, which complement the vocal perfectly. It all makes for a vibrant, fun and dance floor friendly tune that’s sure to be perfect for the tail end of the summer season. Beautiful work from Model1.

Next up we see Stereo For Two returning to the label with ‘Parawatte’. Tim Verhees and Joris Bylemans make up the Stereo For Two production team and currently reside in Antwerp, Belgium. If you follow their productions you know their adept at crafting a variety of styles and seem to excel at almost everything they put their mind to. On ‘Parawatte’ we get a proper deep, hypnotic groover that should be absolutely smashing on the dance floor. From its swing heavy framework to an on the money vocal hook you can literally feel this groove tearing down a back room. Killer stuff from Stereo For Two.

The EP’s fourth selection finds Baroque label artist Ben Coda returning for his 25th appearance. The Uk producer has been busy this year with his solo productions and also his Nanoplex project with DJ Ipcress. Most recently Ben reworked Meat Katie’s ‘Dog Eat Dog’ into a tech house bomb which was met with rave reviews. Ben’s contribution here is the crunchy, driving ‘These Days’ which lifts the energy up a few notches. Ben’s tough beats, electric sounding groove and razor sharp synths cut through the atmosphere with ease. A storyboard of acidic designs quickly develops and keeps the freshness alive as a bevy of sonic sweeps drive the track forward. A sinister vocal sample then descends over the framework and carries it into a dramatic break. It’s short duration is ideal and expertly builds tension for the stripped back and storming groove to bring it home. Huge track from Ben.

The collection concludes with Sonabit making his debut on the label. Gaston Notsag aka Sonabit hails from Buenos Aires, Argentina and began his production career in 2013 with a string of releases on the Elliptical Sun label. Sonabit then went on to appear on the more techno oriented imprints Inlab and Funktripes. His contribution here, ‘Jupiter Blues’ marks his first original of 2015, with his only other production being a remix released in early January. It’s certainly been well worth the wait as ‘Jupiter Blues’ comes with a variety of unique themes and clever beats. A cross cultural vocal motif really shines against the wall of shifty electronics and dynamic beats. The warped vibe this carries is absolutely sensational and the heavy guitar, although completely unexpected lights up the break and adds immense character before a killer conclusion. Amazing work from Sonabit and one of my favourites in the release. It rounds out an awesome second edition of the STEMS series from Baroque Records in fine style. Can’t wait to see what they put together for volume three.

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