Review: After launching with the excellent Systems of Desire collaboration between Kowton and Hyetal, Happy Skull expand their remit with the introduction of a new artist. Describing himself as a "Caped conductor of a rusty, disobedient mechanical orchestra," little is known about London based producer Adjowa but his two original productions here hint that he won't remain unknown for long. Accompanying Adjowa's original heat is a remix from premier Eglo artist Funkineven!
Review: Adjowa's house training began with an early release on Bristol's Happy Skull label and took further flight with a fine outing on Semtek's Don't Be Afraid Dubs division (remember that nutty Max D remix?). Adjowa now returns with some fresh flexes for Happy Skull and his sound seems to have shifted somewhat, going instead for a deep and intricate form of house with a psychedelic edge. "Heartstrung" is a lovely piece of trippy tribal house, while "Sylvie Always Goes In" has more in common with '80s boogie, and "Penny Black" strips everything down to some warm, summertime funk that could appeal to a whole variety of dance DJ's. Lively, positive and incandescent music for the soul.
Review: For their fourth transmission, Happy Skull presents a trio of dystopian fantasies from analogue maverick Marco Bernardi. Opener 'Floating' is a throbbing trip in to rattling techno territory complete with discordant chords and bubbling acid lines. 'Broken Boiler' offers a trademark Bernardi fusion of sweet, visceral melodies and raw machine drums. Rounding things off is 'upside In', a fearlessly wonky voyage in to freaky techno-funk.
Review: The Happy Skull label operated by Bristol brothers The Kelly Twins round out a fine year with this 12" featuring heavyweight remixes of Creta Kano. Inspiration is Skyway Motel, the Creta Kano 12" the Kelly's put out earlier this year and it's an interesting exercise to see the different ways the cuts from that record have been pulled here. Lurka, Bruce and the unpronounceable O$VMV$M pairing are involved and each bring their own distinct vibe to the plate. Lurka's take on the title cut is gloriously dreamy yet still packs plenty of punchy rhythms, whilst Bruce's Hi Fi mix of "False Water" has a deliciously fluid feel to it. The crunched up take on "Skyway 81" from O$VMV$M feeds into the same sound Young Echo associates Neek and Amos Childs explored on their Idle Hands record earlier this year. Boss moves from Happy Skull.
Review: The Happy Skull label hasn't been afraid to look locally for inspiration, with The Kelly Twins sourcing some fine output from Bristol types Marco Bernardi, Rhythmic Theory, Kowton. But 12"s from Throwing Shade and Creta Kano suggests their feelers extend much further too! The latest Happy Skull release extends an invitation to Cologne and the severely under rated Andreas Gehm, a man who really knows how to abuse his acid lines to great effect. Lead track "Yes Or No" is the sort of cut you keep in your record box for the sweaty moments deep into a set when you really want to beat down the dancefloor. "Summer Time In Coloniae" does offer a more pensive side to Gehm's palette and perhaps inspired the Twin Peaks artwork on the 12", whilst closer "Going By" is ocean deep.
Review: Jimmy Billingham's HOLOVR project has grown into something of an essential listen for us these days, and we're not shy to say that we think this guy is one of the few remaining artists who are truly at the 'outside' of the house music spectrum. Many attempt to sound loose, explorative and lo-fi, but this guy has just cracked the formula. After an excellent string of appearances for the likes of Opal Tapes and, more recently, House Of Traps' Firecracker Recordings stable, the artist joins Bristol's Happy Skull imprint with two supremely ethereal slices of kinetic electronic waves. "Melody 4 Your Mind" is not all ambience, however, and it's flurry of melodies are actually locked into a tight percussive roll thanks to those bass drums travelling way down below; it's an endlessly wondrous affair, and one with a distinctive capability to appeal across the dance world. On the B-side, things get wilder with "You Belong 2", a buzzing, acid-laden dance abstraction that takes the whole acid house strain to a new and untrodden sort of territory. Recommended!
Review: Boris 'Borai' English has been collaborating with Julian Smith over the past five years, and this record follows on from their Head 4 Phuture record on Brstl last year. The title track is similar to the sound that prevailed on October's debut album; a wiry, insistent rhythm, shot through with an undercurrent of moody bass, provides a cushion for a vocal loop that exudes the paranoia of vintage industrial/ebm acts like Nitzer Ebb. Thundering tribal drums add weight to the track's swagger. "Nine Tomorrows" is a different proposition; more restrained and less oppressive-sounding, at the heart of its understated, metallic rhythm is a melody so frosty and icy, it'll cool even the warmest heart.
Review: Rhythmic Theory makes his debut for Happy Skull with two of his darkest, otherworldly productions yet. "Decadance of Delay" is an unflinching sprint into techno-jack territory, all distorted machine rhythms, hallucinatory whispered vocals and hypnotic electronics, while "Endocrine Creatures" is a dystopian blast of 808 electro built around titanium-clad kicks, snappy snares and rippling acid lines.
Review: After years sound tracking the dancehalls of Bristol via their considered selections as DJs, brotherly pair The Kelly Twins add label bosses to their CVs with the establishment of Happy Skull. The label kick offs in illustrious fashion with a collaborative release between two of Bristol's most interesting producers, Kowton and Hyetal. Adopting the name Systems Of Desire, the pair worked on a track together, before going off to produce their own individual versions entitled "Control" and "Consumption"; the results are exactly the intriguing cross between Kowton's raw, crunchy, grime influenced techno and Hyetal's glistening synth work you would imagine.
Review: Having previously impressed with vivid blends of cosmic R&B, skewed space-pop, glistening post-ambient soundscapes and mangled, synth-laden grime, rising star Throwing Shade (AKA producer Nabihan Iqbal) demonstrates her dancefloor side with a killer 12" on Happy Skull. "Chancer" and "Blanx" both retain Iqbal's uniquely intergalactic aesthetic,whilst flitting between jacking, Chicago-influenced house rhythms and jazzy, off-kilter dancefloor grooves. Synths sparkle, while vocal snippets drift in and out of the mix. The 12" is completed by a riotous, predictably heavyweight remix from Kowton, whose guttural techno grooves are peppered with cut-up samples of Iqbal's distinctive, dreamy vocals.