Just before the end of the year the sad news emerged that Maxi Jazz, lead singer of Faithless, had died. There are plenty of great obituaries and tributes out there that are worth a read. Here is one from the Guardian.

What stands out for me about him as a performer is how he brought soul and emotion into dance music. Lyrics which make you think, or move you through their poetry, are rarely found in tracks that are at home in the nightclub. His charisma and presence give Faithless’ music a sense of awe which is very, very hard to replicate. The lyrics are not necessarily complex, but they clearly come from the heart, and delivered by Maxi, have a real sense of power.

When I started my first real job at the age of 21 I was taken out to lunch by some colleagues to welcome me to the team. Putting me on the spot, one of them asked me which song in the world I knew all of the words to. They were pretty bemused by my answer of We Come 1. Equally I could have said Insomnia (which I listened to over and over again in bed on my iPod Classic). These tracks were a huge part of my dance music awakening.

Maxi Jazz left a permanent mark on music. His work will be long remembered. RIP.

Best of 2022

A very Happy New Year to you all. Thanks again for checking out the blog, and sending feedback, ideas, and love.

Before we get to 2023, here’s one final post on 2022.

Here are my most played tracks of the year courtesy of Spotify. Some gems in there. Heavily featured artists include Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Bonobo and Hand Habits.

And finally, here is a link to my top 50 on Soundcloud. Knock yourself out.

Canto Della Liberta – 3rd Face

You don’t need me to tell you that a lot changed in the world between August 2018 and August 2022. That time period also marked the gap between the second and third edition of Houghton Festival. 2019 fell victim to ‘high winds’ and 2020 and 2021 were both casualties of COVID.

The 2018 festival was the first time I came across A Love From Outer Space, the project of Andrew Weatherall and Sean Johnston. They delivered a transfixing set, which felt both completely at home in, and completely distinct from, the house music surrounding it. Fast forward four years and we are now without Andrew Weatherall, who tragically died in February 2020.

Sean Johnston has been keeping the spirit of the duo alive by playing under the ALFOS moniker, and returned to play one of the closing sets at Houghton 2022. It was highly emotional, studded with tributes to his dead friend, and once again utterly transfixing. As well as some ALFOS favourites, Sean played Canto Della Liberta by 3rd Face. This was probably the most memorable tracks of the festival for me – bizarre, punchy and loads of fun.

Sean Johnston is playing as ALFOS at Phonox in December. Trust me, not one to miss if you can help it.

More Dusky

Long time no see listeners. I’m back with a triple-helping of Dusky goodness.

First up, one of my fave tracks from 2012, their remix of Cloud 9’s Don’t You Want Me Baby. This’ll be sure to get a smile on yer face.

But look, this is Dusky we are talking about, and it all really began (just over) a decade ago with Stick By This. Earlier this year they released a deluxe 10 year anniversary edition with some tasty little edits. Here. You. Go.

And finally, they released a new album just last week. Maybe you were at EartH this weekend for the launch party. Anyway, Pressure is a tribute to the sound of their youth, which is… garage. I have to be honest, most garage isn’t really for me – but for these guys I’ll make a small exception. Check it out here.

You’re Not Alone – Olive

A short story. I was at a 90s themed birthday party the other day. A private room in a South London pub. Big outfits, big tunes, retro snacks, you know the score. David Beckham was having a boogie with Lara Croft and Baby Spice*. Everyone was getting a nice buzz on. I was having a very nice time, enjoying myself.

Then, Olive. Wow.

It’s hard to put the reaction I had into words, but the nostalgia and beauty got to me. It’s a stunner, plain and simple.

*For the record, I came as Raoul from the film adaptation of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Goodbye Country (Hello Nightclub) – Groove Armada

They just don’t make albums like this anymore. Throwing it back to 2001 with Groove Armada’s seminal third album, Goodbye Country (Hello Nightclub). Andy Cato and Tom Findlay shot to stardom with their previous album Vertigo; that release was certified Platinum in the UK and is a huge lounge record – think Inside my Mind (Blue Skies). Then, just one year later, as the title of the album suggests, they left the lounge behind to craft some bigger beats. This move was not a simple one, since ‘Chill Out’ was at the crest of a wave in 2001 (a movement that they had a hand in creating). The move also alienated some of their fans, but you have to say that history has proven them right on this one.

There is so much to love about this album. First up, Suntoucher. Six and a half minutes of the highly talented Jeru the Damaja channeled into a new world of groovy electronica. “Focus like a samurai, stronger than a Mai Tai”. Massive rhymes. You can read more of my thoughts on Jeru and this track here.

Suntoucher is followed by Superstylin’ which still hits different. The BBC wrote at the time that its bass line was “big enough to bowl over a bungalow.” You’ll understand when you listen to it.

And then we have My Friend. Try and listen to the opening two seconds and not get carried away.

Finally, a new find for me is Fogma. Groove Armada pick up a sample from the (now heavily overplayed) Bam Bam by Sister Nancy and take it into pretty brutal Chemical Brothers electro club territory.

All in all, the album is a classic. Not much more needs to be said.