Various Artists - Conclave Series Volume 6 (Release Sustain Recordings, 2021)
On their latest offering of club orientated excellence, the Release Sustain imprint bring together some of dance music's most important contemporary stars on an all killer no filler affair that highlights just how forceful and engaging House and Techno can be.
Here at EG we really do enjoy the family affairs, where record labels bring together some of their already established relationships and pair them with new ones that do much to move the direction of the imprint's sound in bold directions indeed. Compilation records feel like chapter breaks in a label's story, their presence providing a round up of sorts on where the label is now and where it sees itself going in the future, with the flows between tracks bound together by an overarching synthesis that links them all together. These records feel bound by the label's vision, a bringing together of heads who share similar values in relation to audial identities, and as a result the guidance and selection often leads to spectacular results that only serve as a furtherance of a imprint's journey. It often gives an indication of the true intentions behind it all, a pointer to what the heads behind the label have in mind when giving over music to us, and when music gets presented in beautiful little packages, we feel the full weight of the passion come aflowing from all directions. Compilations are no new concept, with many labels during the 80s and 90s releasing some outstanding group works that featured both new and familiar artists alike, with the results always a mixed bag of established tropes and new threads that weaved their way into the foundations of the label's audial identity. In recent years, the compilation record has certainly reached new heights of popularity, particularly within the digital age that has meant it has become more easier than ever to bring together like minded individuals from across the seas and into the fold. This has made the mix of producers and musicians even more intriguing as time has passed by, with certain labels becoming the go to for bountifully dynamic mixes of genres and styles, whilst others have become masters in their respective fields in attracting a collective hivemind of a particular strain to their light. Both representations are full of merits, with the one providing a plethora of sounds that operate almost like the most bombastic of DJ sets, with their presence touching upon all manner of the electronic music experience, whilst the other sticks more to the singular yet epically scaled notion of exploring every facet of a small collection of genres. As self-contained experiences, you can't get much better, and there will be a label out there for all manner of tastes to be accommodated within, such is the range of artistry to be explored within the multi-artist format and how these songs all vibrate alongside one another. Within the compilations that push a smaller collection of sounds, its often the case that these pieces do much to the further the genres in which they reside within - a hybrid mixture of the many strains of DNA that co-exist within the greater sea of expressionism, a collab of sorts that is bought together within an enriching set of tracks that do much as an experience to open our eyes to more possibility. We hear of artists we haven't come across before, we listen to musicians we know and love trying their hand at something different, we explore a label's core values within an abundance of twists and turns. From start to finish we are entranced by all that comes forth, the music never stopping still as artist upon artist build upon what came before and keep on pushing further into the realms of possibility, our hearts firmly on board with all that comes forth from an audial identity built on togetherness, symbiosis and passion.
If there was ever a label to embody a lot of the ideals we just discussed, then London based Release Sustain Recordings is the label for you. For a while now, the imprint has been pushing all manner of cutting edge electronic music, with a unreal range of flavours on display due in part to the who's-who list of producers they invite to take part. From the off, the label was concerned with seeing how relationships can be built between their core values, the values of producers, and the shared values that come about through collaborations and joint releases, with so many of the records brought forth containing some input from another artist or artists. This approach has lead to some wonderful moments indeed, with original cuts reworked to see how they might sound in a different pair of hands, as every release feels just that little bit different than what came before but still shares that concept of cross-pollination. Thus the identity of the label is a deeply profound one, with all manner of genres cropping up over time, which include Minimal, House, Techno, Electro, Breaks, Electronica and seemingly everything in between. Its an approach that has served the label very well indeed, with many listeners flocking to their diverse offerings content in the knowledge that what might come next will be just as compelling as what came before, and this anticipation is what makes good labels turn into great ones. Not only has the label released compilation chapters, they added in sub plots and narratives that help to reflect the full spectrum of their musical undertakings, with the 'Conclave' and 'The Sound Of Deepest London' collections interspersed with some very fine EPs indeed that continue to bring together some special talents indeed. From the EPs on show, our favourites include the excellent grooves found on the 'Get Ready' record, that arrived in 2013 and was released by Brooks Mosher, with Fred P recruited on remix duties; the wondrous vibes found on the 'Sunetul Marii' record, that landed in 2014 from Costin RP, with remixes provided by Life Recorder and African Space Program; the bombastic feels found on the Afriqua record 'RM 1776' EP, which arrived in 2014 also and featured remixes from Matthew Burton and Eric Ericksson;
the chilled out rhythms found on the 'Muse' EP, which was released by Edistant in 2014 and featured Mr Fiel and Kind Of People; the progressive spacey feels found within the 'The Beginning Of All Existence' EP, released by Alva in 2016; the excellent up tempo feels of the 'Journey' EP, released by DJ Aakmael in 2017 with the record featuring wonderful edits from Norm Talley and Losoul; the brilliance of the 'A Says Hello' record, which was released by Alton Miller in 2018 and features a remix from Chaos In The CBD. From the compilation side of things,
both the 'Sound Of Deepest London' compilations 'In Between The Eyebrows' and 'Right At The Physical Heart', both of which were released in 2013, are well worth checking out, with the tunes found within a wicked mixture of house, techno and beyond; and finally, of course be sure to check out the 5 previous Conclave volumes, trust us when we say they are some of the best compilations going in the marketplace. In all, Release Sustain has done a fine job at fostering a highly positive relationship when it comes to bringing artists together under one roof in order to craft spellbinding rhythms and melodies, with each release that comes out identifying with the producer who made it, the remixers who came in and spun their twist on proceedings, and finally with the overarching sound of the label. In what feels like the truest of family affairs, Release Sustain have made it their mantra it seems to investigate to the deepest depths the possibilities of bringing together talents in order to oversee the most compelling of unravelling narratives. Its something you can hold in your hands, keep in your mind, and remember for the rest of days, a feeling of shared values and feelings that remain with the listener for a long long time, and with dance music that is a very powerful feeling indeed.
And now we arrive at the subject of today's review, 'Conclave Vol 6', which continues the values of the Conclave series and truly smashes it out of the park in regards to producer selection and quality of tracks. The mixture of sounds elegantly toes the line between melodic House and deep driving Techno, with a breezy feel linking the tracks together within an overarching spectrum that transplants us right into the heart of the most compelling nights around. Featuring the likes of Joey Anderson, Juju & Jordash, Lord of the Isles, Kaspar and Reggie Dokes, along with label staples like Amir Anderson, Life Recorder and Prince Apache, there's plenty of vibes in which to revel in, from the very beginning to the end we are locked into the abundance of flavours that spew forth. Its a compilation that narrows its focus to a small handful of genres but due to the artists selected the structures feel very much their own on each track, which crafts a flow between the tracks that feels incredibly natural, the overall package presented with expert levels of care and attention. Release Sustain said they wanted to make a compilation that you could start off at the beginning and not need to change or skip, and its fair to say they have achieved this and much, much more - so without further delay, lets dive right into this wondrous collection of tracks......
Up first comes Reggie Dokes with his cut '99 Wishes', and this one begins with the kicks and light percussive features to get us going. The ensemble continues onwards for a few bars but they aren't left hanging for long, as a gorgeous weaving key line begins to merge and morph within the drumming structure, its arpeggio nature delicately balanced with sporadic chords and light textural touches. The drums switch it up with additional edged hats to keep the progression moving very much in an upward trajectory, with the track switching between differing densities and textures with such ease and flair. The feels that abound from this cut are off the chain, with this notion only intensified as the piano slides into view, its beauty cutting through the foundation like butter as we glide along within a sea of intoxicating colours, feels and tones. The emergence of further synth flourishes do much to intrigue and delight, the overall feel one of utter serenity that floats then floats some more, our minds embracing everything that this track has to offer. What an opener. Up next comes Merv with their track 'Heat', and this one starts out with the sequenced bass notes and kicks to get us going. The arrangement takes its time to allow us to fully immerse ourselves in every little detail, and before long we see a flickering synth line emerge across the horizon line, its texture and application full of life and meaning, with additional percussive features cropping up here and there to add further feels to proceedings. The track continues to add elements in the subtlest of ways, with distant pads humming along in the backdrop as various features filter in and out of view, as the hats emerge to give us a little dose of energy when required. There's plenty of wondrous sonics on display, with beautiful textures filling in for overloaded melodics, and it all operates so damn well. Beautiful stuff. Up next comes Amir Alexander with the track 'Sharks Feed At Night!', and this one begins with the kicks and two chord progression to get things moving. The keys flutter in the air, their tone expanding beyond the initial placement to bleed into the percussive structure that keeps on strong underneath, with the spaces provided filled up by the light hats and rumbling bass line. The snares then permeate into view to craft further percussive energy, with their arrangement leading into an explosion of colour, as deep pads are contrasted by a centre stage synth line that punches right through the middle. This new melodic arrangement then recedes to leave just the drums, as the pads lead the way in their return, with the keys leaving a decent amount of space between in order for us to be utterly infatuated for when they do return. The soaring feel of the keys is something to behold, our breath baited as we lust after their presence, and as the track dips down in energy we are allowed a bit more time with the keys, as the pads keep returning for more. Mesmerising stuff.
Up next comes Aleqs Notal with the cut 'Get Ya', and this one starts off with the singular solid synth line to get us going. The keys act as an anchor of sorts, with the light congas adding feels underneath as the kicks slide into view to get us moving onwards with the progression, with the ensemble joined by the bass and further excursions in percussive excellence. The resulting melting pot of rhythm and tone is superb, with dips in tone afforded by clever manipulation of the sonics, with the spaces created by these filled in by repeating pads and cosmic tinged key lines. The layers on display here are what makes the listening experience so pleasurable, our mind moving through the gears to arrive at a very special place indeed. Beautiful! Up next comes Kaspar with the track 'Deep Meio Zuca', and this one starts off with the filtering percussive structure coming into view. When the mix reaches its apex its quite a sight, with this feeling only intensifying as the kicks come into view and the distant pads start to swirl within the mix. The blends are expertly pulled off, with the vibe continuing to rise then rise some more as the atmosphere becomes more intoxicating as time slides on by. The track continues to build then build some more, with the delightful key line that emerges adding further to the mix, as the dips in energy continue to add more to the compelling narrative. The tune builds itself up from one of these deep dives which reaches the climax of the big beefy bass laden chords taking over, and its a pretty triumphant moment indeed, and one that will leave a lasting impression on us. Superb. Up next comes Prince Apache with the track 'Enemy In Yourself', and this one begins in some very dubby territories indeed. The drums at the start are fully formed and full of texture, with the spaces inbetween filled impeccably by the bass line that swirls and grows as time goes by, as this beautifully built foundation leads right into the chordal progression beginning to emerge. The chords rise high then further still, their tone manipulated in order to fill up the entire soundscape with meaning and purpose, as a further key sequence slides into our vision to add further feels into the mix. This line worms its way across the spectrum of sound, taking in all that it can see before leading us right back into the main progression, as the intricacies contained within take hold and really transport us away. Sublime!
Steve Mc Cready comes up next with their track 'Only Light', and this one leads us right into the mix from the off. The drums get the blood flowing with all manner of layers to get involved within, as the melodics begin to simmer away on top, eager to throw their name into the hat, and before long the sequences cannot be held back any more as a gorgeous tap like key line begins to float up top with a real sense of intent. This chimes along to the driving beat, propelling us forwards into the breakdown, that sees the kicks move away to lead us into a deeply compelling segment indeed, and before long we achieve liftoff once more as the drums return in their full glory, the keys swirling constantly around our heads as we float further and further into the night sky. The second half of the track sees all kinds of shifts in tone and texture, as additional key lines emerge to make the experience as complete as it could possibly be. Pure magic. Next comes Moody Waters with their cut 'Live Your Life To Vega', and this one begins in suitably up tempo territories. The impeccable drumming pattern is quickly joined by some dream like synths, their presence moved far up above the drums to provide a sense of scale and mystique, as the bass line rolls into view to give further agency to the rhythm. Additional chiming keys are placed within the mix to keep the progression going on strong, as hats fuel the momentum which finds itself shifting into a breakdown as the vocal snippets slide into view. This downtime allows for us to get to know the keys a bit more, as the various layers on show take the time to swell and contract in equal measure, and as the drums come sliding back in our eyes close, smiles pasted across our face as we slip away into euphoria. Bliss. Life Recorder is up next with the track 'Lost Frequencies', and this one starts with the skipping technologic sounds to get us going. These swirling neurones are joined by additional dreamlike chordal sweeps and the lighted of percussive touches, all of which works so very well as the big old bass line swings into view, with the hats not far behind. The track retains a very intricate and intimate feel to it, with all the varying elements working alongside one another to craft a scale that feels very human, with emotional flashes reaching out from within to caress our faces as we look within the deep set pool. The solo sequences are particularly effective at filling in the gaps that emerge, helping to continue the feeling that grows inside us, the anticipation of what might come next always fulfilled and then some as the track continues to tread the line extra carefully between tone and texture. The atmosphere feels very alive, a constant morphology that keeps moving with the times, and we are completely along for the ride. Incredible stuff.
Up next comes Lord Of The Isles with 'This View', and this one begins in suitably ear pleasing territories. We are greeted with an array of synth laden goodness, with the sound feeling beautifully designed as to give over to us a feeling of dubby serenity, with the sequence content to carry on and keep moving with the times. The keys cut out for a moment to then shift quickly into the next phase, which sees patterned synths adding a sense of rhythmic pulse as another layer on top fuels contrast with the softly undulating core, as a series of hats add presence to the foundation. The track keeps evolving at a lightening pace, moving along with an eagerness that bewilders the mind with its majesty, with the swell that occurs around the 3 minute mark particularly satisfying. The kicks emerge towards the end of the cut, as to bring the composition together one final time, leaving us to continue dreaming til the early hours. Mesmerising stuff. Joey Anderson comes up next with the track 'Third Eye', and this one begins with the kicks getting us going. The structure is quickly added to with hats, toms and snares, all of which help in locking us deep into the groove, with further excursions into rhythm occurring as we dip and dive around the pulse in a beautifully executed drumming pattern. The drums are then joined by a repeating bass line that quickly grows in scope, rising from beneath to up top in mere seconds, as a singular chord squeezes through the density to provide a melodic backdrop to the intricacy. The bass line shows off its acidic undertones, our intrigue kept at feverish levels, and to top it all off the synth starts to rise then rise some more, as the scale of the track goes from quite a tight one to one of greatness. The drums continue to chime away within the mix, keeping the blood pumping as we serve across the pan with a buoyant enthusiasm, our hearts completely enveloped by all that is going on in front of us. Superb! Next comes Maura with the track 'Break It Down', and this one doesn't mess around in getting things going. The kicks prop up a wavelength like synth line that weaves and dips within the top ends, as sporadic chordal quivers ring out across the top ends, and before long we shift into a segment of pure momentum. The sporadic sparks become regular occurrences, with a bass line to die for arriving soon after to provide further weight to the progression, as the slightest of inputs continue to give over life to the track. The track continues into all kinds of depths that remain too numerous to list here, they just keep on washing over us as we place ourselves in differing zones within it, with the vocal sample that emerges the icing on the cake in terms of sonics and textures. Grand stuff.
Up next comes Juju & Jordash with their track 'Live From Tresnor', and this one begins with the impeccable drumming pattern to get us going. As we get acquainted with the percussion, a suitably appropriate acidy key line peeks its head above the top ends, and as we continue further into the track we are greeted with short blemishes of the melodic outlay of things to come. The chords that emerge are beautiful, their texture so pleasing to the ears as hats start to fill up some of the spaces in the drumming structure, with the track moving from its initial structure and into an utterly sublime one indeed. The chords that had been sitting by this whole time suddenly explode into life, their presence becoming one of a backdrop feature and switching into a soaring lead line, moving way up high to the peripheries of sound and peering down at us, covering the whole sky with a very special spectrum of colours indeed. The drums respond to this with flurries of action, and as we move from one density to the next we are left with the warmest of feelings in both the heart and the mind. Gorgeous, to the very end. To wrap things up on this superb compilation, we have Jamn Ensemble with the track 'Departure', and this one starts off within the realms of deep deep techno. The fast paced kicks are mingled together with a suitably dubby chordal line that feels so very right indeed, and our attention is peaked as the hat aligns itself with the momentum as the kicks up their volume ever so slightly. The ensemble is joined by a equally compelling cosmos leaning key line, with the overall vibe one of industrial like energy that channels all its energy into a perpetual line of thought, and we are simply carried along in a tidal rave of energy and rhythm. Its a fitting end to a record filled to the brim with ideas, diversity and majesty, where each producer brings something slightly new to the table - a kaleidoscope of rhythm and melody that would compliment any kind of party style situation you might find yourself in. Brilliant, just brilliant.
Release Sustain said they wanted to make a record that you could hit play on and just listen to, or listen back to whenever you feel the need to, and we can't tell you how much they achieved this and more with the latest volume in the Conclave series. Over 14 cuts, we are dipped in and out of individual audial identities that when placed together reads like a sequential experience that flows from one to the next, effortlessly conveying the magic found within the finest examples of House and Techno. Each track holds its own as a singular object, with priorities shifting between tonal experiments, rhythmic murmuring and climatic sequences, with every cut showcasing a dexterity in understanding how tracks begin and where they end up. With such a powerhouse of a team brought together on this record, you wouldn't expect anything else, and as dance music compilations go, there aren't going to be much better in 2021. Pure magic, from start to finish, you will always come back to this one.
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