by Friendly Fires and Azari & III
I'd never have dreamed I'd like a one-off between latter-day synth-rockers Friendly Fires and Toronto disco-house duo Azari & III (recorded special for the former's excellent new Suck My Deck volume) this much. On its own, the track builds and then explodes, strafing synths drawing lines in the air, through which the Fires' Ed Macfarlane croons the indelible hook ("It's a cold world out there/So stay here, stay here") and A&III collaborator Starving Yet Full brings it to a boil during the track's late climax. The groove struck me as straight-up house until I played it for a friend who pointed out that, rhythmically, it owes a lot to early-'00s broken beat. It's not the only smooth thing about this record, but it's one more reason to love it. (Free download available at www.littlewhiteearbuds.com.)
by Cosmin TRG
by Falty DL
This one is less surprising—New Yorker Falty DL and Bucharest's Cosmin TRG are friends. I reviewed both of the originals a couple months ago, and it's a pleasure to revisit them. This is one of those dream team-ups that works on every level—if anything, the remixes improve stellar originals. Cosmin TRG's "See Other People" moves through a series of lush but faded instrumental touches (machine glugs, falsetto syllables, floating organ) over a crisp stop-start rhythm. In New Yorker Falty DL's hands, it liquefies: Wavering organ becomes the model for nearly everything else in the track, with the bass's measured charges keeping the track upright but not overwhelming it. "St. Marks" was the cut-up house highlight of Falty DL's All in the Place EP, hypnotic and jittery, but TRG ups the hypnosis quotient on his house re-rub: Hallucinatory, pink-noise-rimmed vocals and a test-tone switch-around make the track.
The number in Bristol producer Adam "Kidkut" Jackson's "ILove04" would more aptly be '92—the year the breakbeats got faster, three-year-old rave classics (in this case, 808 State's "Pacific State") were frequently sampled, and a simple vocal phrase like "I waaaant you" said it all. It's kind of amazing how much life that formula still has. Ditto a B-side that, with its gradually-worked-up-to steel-drum hook and countless other rhythmic touches (the police whistle, for example), handles the present day just as well.