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Sean McCabe & Karmasound - A New Day EP (Phuture Shock Musik, 2021)

On the latest Phuture Shock release, two of the most groovy and intriguing house music producers going combine forces on a record filled to the brim with good vibrations, dazzling instrumentation, and a couple of world beating features.

With such an array of labels to pick from these days, more often than not you find yourself aligning with certain imprints that uphold a certain kind of narrative, an invisible thread that runs through all the releases that come out which sings a certain kind of tune and always finds the time to move and groove in a number of directions. Bristol based label Phuture Shock Musik has for sure been conveying this kind of approach ever since its inception back in 2010, with its deft blend of grooves and melodic excellence underpinning an approach that has made it one of the strongest labels going if you need both a dance orientated fix and music to soundtrack your next journey of escapism. Headed up by Josiah Hartley, the label revolves around the notion of merging the rich sounds found within the UK with audial frequencies found around the globe, with the discography reading very much like a whos who of local talents and incredible international artists, with the confluence which these two streams met cascading outwards into an unstoppable blend of energy and intricacy. The overarching feel remains rooted in the rhythms of House but to simply pigeon hole the label into one genre would be an enormous disservice to the level of diversified excellence that flows for the finger tips of the producers who feature on it, who with every release bring their own style and flavour to the table, and it is this approach which has allowed for every new record to be highly anticipated. The vibe moves around frequently, with tones of UK Garage, Dub Techno, Dubstep, Broken Beat, Future Jazz and Nu-Disco all featuring prominently, but these variations feel completely believable and natural in regards to what the label is trying to push out the door, and its for these reasons that we get into the music being presented to us in its absolute totality. Every new record brings something new and exciting to the table, its contents helping to push the boundaries of the imprint to new heights and spaces, and due to the far reaching ideals that were established pretty early on, we can get behind pretty much everything that the label decides to push out the door, due to the everything it comes up with feeling so natural and right. Hartley has certainly done a brilliant job at fostering a family vibe when it comes to the producers who feature on the label, with plenty of them coming back to release a number of records what only help to build further connections and bridges within the discography. Its the kind of story that you naturally gravitate towards, one forged on bringing some fine talents together who all share similarities and forward thinkingness whilst also finding the scope and space to push things into new realms of possibility, and this approach remains indefinitely exciting to be on board for. There's plenty of excellence to highlight from the label's discography, with our favourites including the 'Escape' EP, which was released by Opr8 in 2011; the indefinately groovy feels found within the 'On The Third' record, which was released by Roof Light in 2011 also; the equally rhythmically engaging 'Vintage Malarkey' record, which was released by Mr Mageeka in 2011 also; the warm tones that exude from the 'She's Special' release, which was released by Lostlojic in 2012; the exquisite feels that resonate from the 'Edomusia' record, which was produced by Appian and came out in 2012 also; the angular and intriguing frequencies that reside within the aptly named 'Tv Watches You' record, which was released by Nubian Mindz back in 2013; the excellent diversity of the 'Excursions 3' release, which came out in 2016 (in fact all of the Excursion records are worthy of a shout!); the trippy cosmic orientated tones found on the 'Alien Drug Store' record, which was released by Cyclonix back in 2016; and finally, the 'Dub Rockas' record from Trinidadian Deep which landed earlier this year, and remains one of our favourite releases to date. Its clear how highly we rate Phuture Shock, and this adoration comes from a number of places, but most importantly it comes from the sheer magnitude of the label's vision, and this vision is very much evident from the music it releases. You have all shades of the Electronic music spectrum come to the fore, and not only do these various strains come together in the most mesmerising of ways, but they come across as feeling like nothing else you have heard before, and that very notion makes the Phuture Shock discography feel that little bit more special. If you haven't had a chance to check out their previous releases, we implore you to go check them out, its all just so damn good.

And now we arrive at the latest offering from the imprint, 'A New Day', which comes along courtesy of label mate Karmasound and purveyor of deep sounds Sean McCabe, who makes his debut on the label. Karmasound is the main alias of Damian Botigue, who's previous efforts on Phuture Shock have dazzled and delighted from start to finish, with those records including 2018's 'Probabilidades' and 2019's 'Can See Thru You' EPs, alongside his debut LP 'La Búsqueda', which was certainly one of last year's highlights for us. Much like the music that comes out of Phuture Shock, Botigue's style is incredibly dynamic, with plenty of wonderful instrumentation permeating through a range of styles that covers everything from Jazz through to House and back again, and his releases on the label really do highlight what Phuture Shock is all about. Sean McCabe on the other hand has been refining his craft on his own imprint Good Vibrations and beyond for some time now, with his characterful and impressive take on House always serving up the goods in any context, be it thudding along in the club or soundtracking a quiet boogie at home. There's plenty of his records that are worth highlighting, with our favourites including 'Everything's Alright' from 2016, 'Starry Night' from 2017 and 'Wanna Dance' from last year, to name but a few from his impressive discography - be sure to check out his remix of Karmasound's 'Can See Thru You' also!. Whilst they might convey slightly differing moods and rhythms, there's nothing of contrast found within this joint project, which sees both producers excel in their respective talents in finding a shared voice that sings so very loudly indeed. We are treated to three cuts of the highest order, with the first and last tracks featuring the exquisite vocal talents of Erik Rico and Mabreezee respectively, with the undercurrents of all the tracks amplified by some standout keyboard movements and impeccably driven percussive structures. It all just works so beautifully together, and to be honest, its the kind of excellence we have come to expect from Phuture Shock - so, on that note, lets dive into this wondrous record and all the feels it has to offer.....

Up first comes 'A New Day’, which features Erik Rico on vocals, and this one begins with the hats and kicks to get us going. The groove is light and breezy, sauntering along at a quite causal pace, with little flickering percussive elements moving in and out of time around the core pulse, and after a little time has passed when we have gotten to know the rhythm, we are blessed with the most gentle of pads up top to really carry us away. The bass then slides into view soon after, chiming away underneath as the feel really begins to pick up, and this is the perfect time for Rico to arrive on vocals, and the way in which he feels his way into the track is perfectly executed. Starting off by using his voice as a solo instrument of sorts, words then begin to spill out over onto the top ends of the track, their placement chiming along to the rhythmic undercurrent, as further melodic elements throw themselves into the mix to really push the track into new and exciting spaces. The small breakdowns that come into view provide the surge in energy to push the ensemble onwards, with the backing vocals adding enormously to the spirit and depth fo the track. The cut continues striving forwards, as a keyboard solo emerges from within the layers, charming us with its effortlessness and soothing serenity. The track then reverts back to its core momentum, with Rico continuing to mesmerise up top with his crystal clear pitch, but there’s plenty of frequencies and tones within his voice to celebrate, helping to create this wonderful narrative up top that we can very much get involved within, moving around the dancefloor to his voice, guided through the groove right up and over the horizon line. What a gorgeous opener.

Up next comes ‘Can’t Let Go’, and this one starts off with a very snazzy rhythmic structure indeed, with cosmic aligned keys to boot. The drums spread themselves out across the pan, with little elements moving between the boundaries, and this is exactly the trend that the keys follow when they come into view, with their gentle progressions moving through the layers to provide that kind of fusion feel we all know and love. The additional key sequence that moves up top is delightful to the ears, as further pads groove along in the backdrop, chiming to the beat with such enthusiasm and joy, something which seeps out the speakers and right into your heart. The track continues to throw in some lovely variations and vibrational changes that keep your eyes peeled across the board to ensure that nothing is missed, only enjoyed it its fullest. The fact that you are placed directly in the middle of the sound creates that sense of feeling so involved in the music, so that when the vocal sample comes into view you literally feel like the person is speaking directly to you, and before long we all get up once more to herald the arrival of the keys, and everything feels very much alright with the world. Beautiful stuff.

To wrap things up, we have ‘Para Te Ver’, which features Mabreezee, and this one begins right between the energies of the previous two tracks. The drums are immediately uptempo, swinging from side to side with plenty of density, as mesmerising chords slide into view up top to really bind us into the momentum, and this continues to happen as we slide onwards and upwards through the layers, always keeping an eye on what might move into view next. Vocals and additional sequences arrive soon after to really push the track forwards, with the vocals moving from short and sweep additions to fully blown lead sequences, and their arrival marks the track to move into its first breakdown before triumphantly moving into its next verse. After a little instrumental segment, the vocals come full circle and really lead the line, before dissipating into the varying layers that persist underneath, and this remains the time for the melodies and the groove to really take over, and the layers just keep on arriving our way, persistent in their mission to really make us feel, to make us move, and it all just comes together so beautifully. The instrumentalism within this track is gorgeous, as layers float alongside one another before swerving into the atmosphere, before crashing down at exactly the right moment, and we for one feel it all in so many ways. What an experience that was.

Its always special to see in new releases from labels that you know and trust, and yet still seem excited about what they have to offer, and in the end that is the kind of anticipation that slides into your mind when you come across a label that seems intent on serving up the goods each and every time. Phuture Shock is for sure one of these labels in our eyes, as with every record they bring forth we get that feeling deep down that anything could happen, and with this new record we see all the qualities that make this label so magical come right to the surface. Both McCabe and Botigue bring their A game into the mix, with the tracks fusing together both their styles into an unstoppable force of rhythm and mood, with vocal performances that melt the heart alongside drumming patterns and keyboard layers that take the breath away. Its the kind of musical hook up that seems so natural and complete, with both musicians taking a little bit from one another in order to continually push forward their combined sound, and it works on every single level imaginable. When these kinds of records keep coming through the door, you just know that the ingredients have been cooked to perfection, and long may we continue to engage with the music of this label and these two artists. What a record.

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