Compilations / Mixes
Alex Agore: Tygah Style Remixes
Future Ghost: Come Home
Here we have the second and third releases from Gangzhou Underground, a relatively new promoter-and-DJ collective-turned-record label based in Guangdong province, China. Guangzhou's underground dance music scene lags behind those of Beijing and Shanghai, something Gangzhou Underground hopes to remedy in embracing an approach that's eclectic and stylistically open-minded. That the label is not focused exclusively on house and/or techno is definitely shown by the content of its latest releases.
Up first, Come Home by Future Ghost (UK producer Tom Wright) supplements the titular original with remixes by BSN Posse and Chocky. “Come Home” itself is a thing of beauty, a lilting drum'n'bass number melodically sweetened with an emotive vocal by one Vicky Lewis. Warmed by soothing synths and piano sprinkles, the cut really takes flight when the muscular breaks kick in as a light-speed counterpoint to Lewis's plaintive outpourings. Spain's BSN Posse slows the tempo to bring out the tune's sultry side and accentuates the heartfelt dimension of Wright's original, and, in a head-nodding treatment that rarely ceases shape-shifting, things really take a divergent turn when a vocoder works its way into the mix. The atmospheric dub version contributed by Chocky starts promisingly in giving the original a hazy house makeover, and there's also no denying the appeal of its slinky groove. But the version ends up being the weaker of the two for being overly repetitive and, with the vocal stripped out, melodically lean.
The label's third release comes from Berlin producer Alex Agore, whose Do It EP inaugurated Guangzhou Underground in late 2014. On the new release, “Tygah Style,” a track from the earlier EP, is subjected to makeovers by three up-and-comers. Guangzhou-based producer Zenwan is first out of the gate with a hard-grooving, post-garage riff on the original that sees primal vocal yelps and pitched-down echoes strafing heady, broken-beat rhythmning. Though Zenwan sets the bar high, London producer Tim Reaper equals it with a rabid jungle-styled treatment that thunders in all the right ways, and while those familiar “Amen” snares do clatter ferociously, they're not so dominant that the animalistic vocal cries are wholly obliterated. At EP's end, the version by Borderline Jack (Stuart McClung, a guitarist with New Town Kings, a nine-piece ska band from Essex) distances itself radically from the other two in opting for a lithe deep house makeover that's guaranteed to get the clubfloor crowded. Both Guangzhou Underground EPs are strong, but it's the second one that's worth every penny.