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Ron Trent - I Feel The Rhythm (Paul Johnson Remix)

I wanted to start and set the tone with a track that is one of the closest things to a religious anthem I know. Although I’m not religious, I’ve always been fascinated by how certain rituals can bring people together on a deeper level than mere shared interests. Borrowing from the introduction of the book “Last Night a DJ Saved My Life” by Bill Brewster, the role of a DJ can be likened to that of a shaman, guiding the tribe through a dancing ritual. It's rare to find dancefloors that elevate a simple night of escapism into something transcending rational understanding, but when you do, it can feel spiritual. If you’ve ever experienced this, possibly aided by certain empathogen stimulants, you’ll know what I mean. You enter a state of hypnosis, where nothing else matters but joining the tribe in dancing to the rhythm, with a focus on the well-being of those around you. Conflicts disappear, everyone becomes your brother or sister, and forgiveness prevails because what ultimately matters is the love for each other. This sounds very familiar to the teachings I've heard in much holier contexts. It’s an experience that resonates deeply, much like a sermon. The ability of music to unite people in such a profound way is something I find really fascinating.

 

Murrin - Barefoot In The Backyard

Continuing with the suggestive picks, "Barefoot in the Backyard" by Murrin is a fantastic tune that perfectly captures the feeling in its title. The track closes his “King Puck” EP, made of four gems that could be described as mostly downtempo, blending Balearic and proto-house styles with plenty of organic, played elements that soften any hard edges. Despite the chill vibes, it's very solid and danceable, striking a balance between the quantized drum machine sound and a laid-back studio jam. The first time I heard it was record digging at Lighthouse Records in Tokyo, and I had to pause my browsing to listen. It was so captivating, evoking an image of a summer picnic with friends, smoking gear on the table, and a few glasses in. You naturally start dancing as the sun sets and a gentle breeze cools the evening. The perfect tune for winding down or kicking off a relaxed Sunday afternoon rooftop set. I still have to enjoy a full downtempo cosmic set on a proper soundsystem with a crowd ready and hungry for that kind of sound. I don’t even know if something like that exists, but I enjoy picturing it when I close my eyes and start daydreaming while Murrin’s EP is playing in the background...

 

Michigan Nights - Loftsoul & Miruga

As mentioned, I was recently traveling through a few Asian cities, with my last stop being in Osaka. Spending nearly two months there made me realize how much attention to detail and sense of harmony is ingrained in Japanese culture. This track exemplifies that perfectly: It’s minimal in both sounds and arrangement but feels warm and soothing. I think the producers, one of them also being the owner of Loftsoul Recordings, aimed to capture the warmth of early house music while avoiding a peak-time banger. Instead, he kept it simple, pruning away superfluous elements to create an essential track where everything is on point. It’s very interesting to discover how Japanese artists subtly reinterpret many Western trends. It might be an acquired taste, as the balance and lack of extreme peaks can be unnerving for some. However, once you dive deep, you begin to appreciate the absence of elements rather than their presence. This is something I still struggle with in my music creation process but hope to incorporate more in the future, inspired by the meticulous craftsmanship and the subtle nuances, a truly understated beauty.

 

Schatrax - Get It Right

Talking about original arrangements leads me to mention next this beautiful oddity. Selecting these tracks was quite a challenge because much of what I play isn’t on Spotify, so I’m glad to see Schatrax has made their catalog available online. This track, in particular, stands out because it challenges the conventional norms of club music I’m accustomed to playing, especially when it comes to the arrangement and mix, with its smooth fade-in of the "Oh Sheila" sample by Ready for the World, coming in in contrast with the raw break and sub bassline solos. I wonder if this could be considered some sort of proto-vaporwave. If you place it at the right time, maybe after a series of straight four-to-the-floor tracks, it can refresh the dancefloor and create one of those memorable moments. It requires the right audience, one with the patience and curiosity to appreciate the slow rise of the track. It’s not a versatile secret weapon that always works, but it distinguishes a solid, yet potentially dull, set from one that will be remembered. I first tested it during my debut set at Lux Frágil. My selection on that occasion started at 90 BPM and ended with hardcore-friendly breaks on the high side of the 120 BPM. The animal-like sounds coming from the dancefloor when the sample kicked in spoke volumes about its impact.

 

DHP aka Life Dee - KC Deep State (Da Bass)

Next is a track by a very good friend of mine, almost like a brother from another mother. We’ve been DJing together for almost 20 years (!) and a few months back we were working together on the first track of his first EP for Whoopee Rec, a label for which I’m doing A&R work. He would send me drafts and I’d send back 7-minute-long voice messages with detailed feedback. One day, out of nowhere, he sent me a draft for a new track, claiming he was inspired and that his hands had almost started moving on their own. In less than 30 minutes, he had a solid draft that only needed some polishing. I tested this track on various dancefloors, and the response was always very positive, marking yet another point in favor of the spontaneous bursts of inspiration versus the carefully calibrated creations polished to the very last sound. Doing A&R work for Whoopee Rec is new to me, but I thoroughly enjoy working with the artists. Some are very protective of their tunes, while others are open to feedback. It’s definitely more time-consuming to work with the latter, but it’s gratifying because I can shape the sound to a specific vision while maintaining the right amount of detachment.

 

Fidelfatti - The Power

To close, yet another excellent club tool, this time by the Italian old-school DJ and producer Piero Fidelfatti. He helped shape the Italo sound with several underrated masterpieces and has recently been rediscovered, I think mostly thanks to Budino including one of his tracks in a Sound of Love International compilation. This is my contribution to encouraging people to explore his discography. I’ve recently purchased his biographic book and I’m looking forward to diving into it, because I don’t know much about him personally or even as a DJ. I only remember a few years ago he was involved in an unfortunate incident where some people, unhappy with his refusal to fulfill their requests, waited outside the club and beat him up. This story adds to the almost mythological idea I have of him, which I’m very tempted to continue cultivating by avoiding further research. Sometimes it's better that way; you might think you’re meeting a legend, but reality reveals them as regular humans with a regular amount of imperfections. I’d love to hear one of his sets in a club, but I fear being disappointed, as it’s happened way too many times before. For now, I’ll keep the legend alive through his music, which continues to inspire me. His tracks carry an aura of mystique and nostalgia that is both timeless and deeply evocative, and at the same time, their groove never fails to speak to the body.