Josey Rebelle - Josey In Space (Beats In Space Records, 2020)
A bit of insight into the musical wonderment that is Rebelle's sonic landscape, with such exceptional cuts found within a collection that is certainly up there with the year's best.
It's always a pleasure when a formidable DJ decides to share their passions and favourites in the form of a compilation, as it helps to build links between listeners and themselves. The art of the mixtape and compilation album has always been held in a high regard, with the notion of telling stories, describing contexts or crafting audial interests something which can be found within these collections of music. A personal and reflective saunter through tastes, a dip into the spectrum of sound that for years this one person has dedicated their life to, with patterns emerging in what they perceive to be excellent music. Each compilation brims with character and identity, acting almost as a vessel which contains within a little bit of the person behind it, a sense of the club being bought through to our living rooms, where we can get to know their selections a little bit more each time. The flows that begin to emerge between tracks begins to show patterns emerge about track selection or taste, in some cases often acting as a real surprise when the music within is very different to the music that might be pushed in a club or on an album, but that's the beauty of it. It acts as another form of expression, a snapshot into a spectrum of emotional investment and love this person has for a certain genre or spread of genres, a dip of the toe into a collected experience that they wish to share with us. From the bigger series such as LateNightTales and !kr, through to label compilations, individual producer collections and rave tapes, there's a whole series of worlds to be discovered, with each one released crafting a mini universe for us to get lost within and swim around in. Many of these compilations have since attained legendary status indeed, flashes in the pan that helped to reflect and define a particular moment in time, opening up windows to the past, but with many contemporary ones there remains a deft blend of old and new. Classic records stand tall alongside music that very much inspired thrilling contemporary pieces, with this dynamic creating a wonderful dynamic that reflects not just the glories of the past the but showcases the selector behind it who looks to celebrate both eras. From seeing your favourite DJ in the club, to then be able to hold a collection of their favourite music in your hands, is quite a treat, and allows us to enjoy their vibe whenever we wish, our memories of their ethereal club sets now put on the player whilst we have our coffee. Just like the moment when they first came across a track that would transfix the dance, we now have that pleasure, a shared experience that draws us a little closer into their world, and keeps the vibrations going no matter the weather or context.
If you enjoy your DJ sets to be full of power, depth, dynamics and bridge building between past and present, then Josey Rebelle might the person you see next absolutely tearing it apart in the club. Rebelle's name constantly comes up when discussing DJs who currently are offering up the goods in regards to selection, rhythmic weaving and above all else a serious passion for the music she plays and mixes, as sonic melodies begin to play out like a journey through time and space and landing right in our surroundings, swirling around us for hours on end. Her music reads like a written dialogue of the UK's rich dance music heritage, with all manner of stylings linked together by knowledge and narrative skill, providing many reference points for listeners to then go away and learn much, much more. From jungle to d'n'b, breakbeat to house, techno to wonky and funky, Rebelle mixes it all with phenomenal ability and love, with the little characteristics that join these genres together acting as the guide that binds the mix with all the right blends and motions. There are many examples online of Rebelle's excellent mixes, with her Rinse FM shows a good place to start, where she has been a resident since 2011, with her Sunday slots lauded for their perfect tone and easy going feel alongside showcasing her exceptionally broad tastes. Other sets to look out for and enjoy include her brilliantly heavy going but emotionally touching New Delhi Boiler room set (2015), the excellent flow between time and space on her RA.505 mix (2016), the superb Rainbow Disco Club set from 2019, that remains a benchmark for blending percussive heavy techno, acid house and breakbeat, and finally the brilliant Dicowoman 18 mix she conjured up earlier this year, that shows Rebelle at her most dynamic and genre blending. After years of behind the decks excellence, Rebelle has earned an enormous amount of plaudits and love in the dance music community, with listeners enticed by her abilities and attitude to the art of the mix, fuelled by her adoration for the records she plays and the stories that she starts to whip up from her unique style and rhythmic flow. Each track remains as strong and meaningful as the last, from the very first second right through to the last, never for one moment do we feel a lull in energy, maybe but a mere change in tempo from full to sparse, before it all comes right back into it with all the meaning and purpose in the world. What Rebelle channels into her craft is hard to find anywhere else, her style very much intrinsic to her and her tastes, something which will forever resonate with listeners across the globe.
The time feels very much right for Rebelle to conjure up her first compilation record, entitled 'Josey In Space', that lands via the Beats In Space label. From the very off, we are immediately drawn into a beautifully curated and seamlessly unravelling soundscape, one filled with rare previously vinyl only cuts from the 90s and equally impressive contemporary productions, in perhaps Rebelle's most ambitious and daring mix yet (although thats highly debatable!), with the flows, blends and transitions as excellent as ever. As compilations go, this remains one that really demostrates all that the DJ behind it is going for, with Rebelle's passions and character leaping out at us all throughout this incredible collection of music. A little further insight into her world, one populated with nothing but the highest quality of cuts, a world that positions tracks at the right place and the right time for maximum enjoyment and engagement. Arriving as both an album sampler vinyl and full digital mix, we will be looking in depth at the mix, as there's so much goodness to cover and get to know, so why don't you put it on at the very beginning, and lets free our minds for a wee while and get into this incredible spectrum of music.....
Up first comes DJ Marcelle / Another Nice Mess with their cut 'Dub (Dub)', and like that we arrive with the sonics and the boundaries that will come to largely guide the rest of the mix. Deep set droning bass tones meander in and around initially sparse beats before things begin to climax pretty rapidly, as the kicks and snares harshly stamp the ground with their textured reverbed feel, abounding with delight and feel around this ever present sub base of sound and tone. As a intro, you cant get more out there, as the track sonically sets us up for what is to come. Next comes rRoxymore with their track 'What's The Plan', and this one introduces some melodic features to get the blood pumping. The track contains a similar pulse to the previous cut, with the biggest evolution being the full blooded keys that grace the intro, with their rising tone providing a nice contrast to the throbbing bass that makes its presence known underneath. The tune then evolves and grows with the times, the atmosphere of progression leads to a crest that leads directly into a beautifully chuggy breakdown, where the drums, bass and tonally perfect melodic features shine in a sea of arm swaying rhythm. The feel is sparse yet full at the same time, with lots of little additional features thrown in to keep the mind turning over, with time at the end for one final foray of the keys to keep the hearts beating. Tenesha The Wordsmith Feat. Daniel B. Summerhill arrive next with their track 'I Dream So Loud', which introduces the first vocals of the mix. The undertone of the track is excellent, a simmering cymbal and hi hat heavy percussive blend with beautiful rising chords that crafts a gorgeous bedrock for the words, which are undeniably heavy hitting, flowing with all the power in the world as the two vocalists swing between lines with ease and meaning. The spoken word feel makes the words come across with clarity, every word spoken with meaning and personal relation, with the narrative flowing about dreaming about the past and being young and black in America, and how looking back now and reflection on youth when being an adult. There is a real message of hope in their words, of 'dreaming loud', dreaming so loud that the images and messages cannot be denied. A very powerful piece of music indeed. Next comes Afrodeutsche with their track 'Phase Two', and we begin this one with the kicks leading the way. The drums then become more full blooded around the pulse, with claps, metallic sounding fills, snares and rhythmic sequences swirling around within the spaces, creating a sense of excitement that cannot be denied. The bass line then arrives, appropriately rising to match the feel of the groove, that continues to evolve and bring more features into the mix, with the track moving between moments of drum lead sequences and bass driven melodic parts, its hypnotic feel wrapping us around its little finger and whisking us away to new realms and places. Bliss!
Up next comes Fotomachine with their track 'BBoy', and this is the big one. The full blooded synth line leads the way, its feel and tone wetting the appetite for what is to arrive next, with the wonderfully placed drums and underlying bass lines leading the way, with the track landing into this excellent array of emotive feels and strong acid progressions. The tune moves through this sequence for a moment before reverting to a slightly differing structure, before swaying right back into its initial melodic tone, one of maximum engagement, a swirling hypnotic groove with chords to match, as we are swept up by its excellence. A absolutely brilliant piece of music, a dance floor cut to end all, a real highlight! Brassfoot arrives next with his track 'Kingu's Sceptre', and the feels continue on this one from the previous cut. The track arrives pretty full blooded right from the off, the high end of hat contrasting well with the sea of bassy tones that occupy the middle ground, as the bottom end is filled with expressive drumming structures, as vocal samples abound on top. Its a real force to be reckoned with, relentless in its energy and feel as minor moments of tonal switches are made here and there to provide differentials in momentum, all of which adds up to a phenomenal slice of hard hitting techno tinged excellence. Automation arrives next with their cut 'Electricity', and we are transported back to the fields and hangers of the golden era of rave. The track starts off subtle enough, with the delicate twinkling of the keys and soft drumming suddenly cut out for the hard hitting stabs and aggressive stabs we all know and love, with the track showcasing some wonderful cascades of sounds and arpeggios, all which work hard to whip up the crowd into a frenzy. The track then makes some wonderful transitions around the 2:30 min mark, going through three to four short but very sweet movements in tone and melody before moving right back into the hard hitting shit, and its absolutely glorious. By this point in the mix we are fully succumbed to the energy, and we're loving every minute of it. Up next comes Hieroglyphic Being with his cut 'Bird Songs 4 Amelie', which begins in typically melodically rich environments. The key line loops and weaves around our consciousness, its tone and feel really filling up the space with all the meaning in the world, as the hats arrive to provide a consistent bedrock for them to really flourish, and before long we are greeted with the deep warm cosmic pads that really elevate things to new levels. The additional key line that then worms around the two elements with feel and groove, with the kick soon landing right after to bring the track into a new sequence that is sure to turn heads. In full flow, its quite something, with so much care and attention placed on the balance and flow of the track, with a wonderful array of instruments all working on a common goal of moving the heart and the mind. A true sonic beauty. Up next comes Uschi Classen With Robert Owens, with their cut 'Only In Your Eyes (Nwachukwu Innervision 1)', and the feel of the track is appropriately melodic to match the previous. The chiming looping feel of the chords provides a beautiful foundation for all to build on, with Owens coming in with his beautifully dynamic range not soon after the intro, his voice doing all the work in terms of crafting melodic depth, which the instrumentals soon look to match. The track becomes choppy and very breaky, with Owen's voice doing much to match this level change, the two elements working hand in hand to blend and weave us into a new realm. The track continues to meander and dip into and within varying sequences and segments, providing a real sense of forward momentum, as we remain blissed out throughout its excellence.
Titonton Duvanté are up next with his track 'Avenues', and its a stomper for sure. We begin in slowed surroundings but you just know things will begin to kick off from here, and sure enough that is exactly what goes down, as the kicks arrive alongside some beautiful additional hats and cymbals, the stab like singular note holds down the pulse with meaning and feel, before the transition sweeps us into the bass laden groove. The bass is suitably deep and driving, providing a solid base for the melodicness on top to really do a number on us, in the form of sweeping chords that fill up the top end of the track with all the feels in the world. The track reverts between these two segments for the rest of the time it has, a switch up we could listen to for days on end. Up next comes Reggie Dokes with his cut 'Piano Seduction', and oh wow this is a keeper for sure. The kicks set the pace, their presence soon joined by jazzy chords and cymbals, which work alongside each other to set the emotive tone, and before long the twinkling of the keys sets in perfectly. The intertwining of piano lines and keys does much to craft a wondrous and joyous feel in the track, the layers upon layers all changing and switching on top of the original jazz chords, crafting a seamless sequence of melodic expression. Within this track you go through many differing layers, from the moments of pure piano through to a spectrum of deep chordal undertones, you will not feel for one moment left alone, the song holding your hand as you both ascend into melodic driven euphoria. Truly special. Up next comes Nubian Mindz with his cut 'Sunrise 777', that represents a real switch up to the mix. The drums are deep and heavy set, with the melodic features consisting of a continually morphing bass line and droning synth pad lying on top of proceedings, with the drums continually switching rhythmic patterns to match the ever shifting tonal intensities. The track has this ever present sense of movement, a fluidity found in the driving feel the cut is going for, so when the track descends into a moment of softness, Mindz introduces new melodic features that drive the cut even further forward. Its a wonderfully blissed out moment, something which adds enormously to the overall vibe, a dip in energy that then builds and builds into something very special indeed. Rum & Black are up next with their cut 'Zombies At Dawn', a proper ode to the early 90s UK breakbeat rave scene, and its a proper intense one for sure. The track doesn't hold back right from the off, descending right into a proper heavy set workout where the fuzzy chords slam right down on the drums, the two features whipping us up into a destructive frenzy that will take a hold of our bodies for years to come. One for the heat of the mix, for sure. Up next comes Loraine James and her cut 'Glitch Bitch', and after all that heavy intensity its seems appropriate to take the broadness down a notch. This track however somehow matches the previous in terms of fullness, with the soft undulating synths and gentle drumming patterns acting as delicate vessels for the progressions, but providing a high level of density that peeks through from the top right through to the bottom. Its a beautiful saunter right from the off, taking the time to point out all manner of elements and features that crop up, with little switches and moments shining very strong indeed.
Coming up next is Shy One with her cut 'Route II Romeos', and the energy here transfers over very well from the previous track. The intro is spacious and intriguing, the build up into the beat structure really wonderful and expertly pulled off, as the pulse starts to allow the melodic elements to align around it as the track moves with the breeze. The melodic features here are really dynamic and delightful to listen to, with the slowed down moments building so softly right back into a full on rhythmic workout, its a hypnotic slice of broken beat house that you will move to right into the night. Access 58 land next with their cut 'Jazz Drama', with the intro singing from the same song sheet as the previous cuts. The beautiful sweeping chord progression provides a wonderful backdrop to the swinging beat, the two elements working alongside each other expertly, providing lots of space to the jazz keys that land right in the heart of the track. The switch into a full on jazz exploration is superb, a truly jaw dropping moment that lends itself so well to the rest of the mix, with the track then moving back into its deep melodic sensibilities, moving gracefully forward with all the meaning and feel in the world. What a cut! Up next comes Andrés with his offering 'Café Con Leche', and the jazz flows just keep on coming. The chords start us off before descending into the full blown calypso conga laden beat, with the bass line pounding underneath as the drums look to match its impact on the pulse. This sequence goes through a few times as chords filter in and out of view on top of proceedings, leading into a full on break that is really wonderful to get involved within. The energy is brimming, the feels are emphatic and full of vitality, its a sure fire way to get lost in a sea of gorgeousness. Molinaro is up next with his cut 'Amber Beach', and its a real beauty. The chord progression remains the key focus here, flowing through a sultry sun kissed skyline with its warm rhodes deep house feel, evoking feelings within the listener from deep within, as the progression goes through the notions time and time again. The drumming pattern provides all the little textured moments underneath, acting wonderfully alongside the deep swelling chords, which remain all encompassing and full of flavour and might. One to wrap your head around late at night, as Rebelle looks to end the mix on the highest of notes. Up next is Rogue Unit and his track 'Dance Of The Sarooes (Nookie Remix)', and we have really hit the beautiful end of the set with this one. The deep triumphant chords lead the way, with the vocal sample adding further to the emphatic feels, with the jungle breakbeat percussion underneath really whipping up a storm. Its the tenderness that exudes from the track, its pairing of deep evocative chords with the expressive beats that elevate the listeners, a lead into the night and to new places of emotional understanding. To finish up this mix, we have Lex Amor with her cut 'Praises', and we couldn't think of a more perfect way to end a blend of music that will define our imaginations for months to come. The beat and melodic elements on top are particularly sombre yet with a uplifting core, as Amor's distinctive flow unravels and winds on top of the dynamic instrumental, the two providing some final thoughts and comments on a comp that has a significant amount to say, be it either through words spoken or keys played, beats crafted or environments nurtured.
To really craft a narrative through a mix is somewhat difficult, with that kind of feeling only coming across with how you link feel, tone and style, or indeed in how bold you wish to be in terms of transition and switching it up. Within this mix, you feel such a natural thread that ties it all together, with each cut seemingly giving over to the flow that Rebelle is going for, with enormous peaks in energy and emotion that provide something special to reside on top. Songs open up from rhythms, melodicness grows from the shots of intensity, words unwind from the depths of tonal exercises, the mix something to really marvel at, with each track by itself a self contained experience but when placed alongside each other act and give over such feel and emotion. Rebelle saw a journey she looked to take us on, one filled with detours to the past and back to the present again, bound together by a DJ with immense skill in relation to crafting paths for us to meander down, a DJ with a deep pool of knowledge and understanding to draw from. We found ourselves feeling so inspired and enriched by listening to this mix, which in some ways is one of the things you want to see from DJs - a passion, a knowledge, an ability to delight and surprise in equal measure. You might feel all these things from this incredible collection of music, so why don't you check it out, you might find yourself researching and learning as you go. For us, this is up there with the very very best of the year, if not the the best.
You can purchase the full digital collection here, alongside the 4 track album sampler!: