Dark Entries has a surprise delivery! Malebox brings us six previously unreleased funk-fueled jams from the archives of the cybernetic disco titan himself, Patrick Cowley. Best known for his chart-topping disco anthems, Cowley left us with an incredible body of work before his tragic death in 1982 due to AIDS-related illness. Since 2009, Dark Entries has been working with Cowley’s friends and family to uncover the singular artist’s lesser-known sides, including his soundtracks for gay pornographic films on compilation albums School Daze, Muscle Up, and Afternooners. But Malebox gives us more of the Cowley we know and love: churning disco-funk and hi-NRG tracks that are spacey and sleazy, gritty and sublime. Recorded from 1979-1981, these six tracks illuminate what was one of Patrick’s most creatively exciting periods. “If You Feel It” and “Love Me Hot” were both early Paul Parker demos; the former is a peak hour hi-NRG bomb, while the latter dips into Cowley’s zoned-out space disco sound. Jeanie Tracy’s soulful vocals feature on the demo version of “Low Down Dirty Rhythm”, which was later re-recorded by Sarah Dash. The slower, less-varnished rendition here hits with a wild psychedelic edge. Meanwhile, Patrick’s gifts for careful orchestration and infectious melodies shine on “Floating” and “Love and Passion”, which were likely demo tracks for Loverde. The songs on Malebox display the vitality and inventiveness of a brilliant composer taken from us too soon.
Underground hero Bill Converse returns to Dark Entries with Take Parts, perhaps his most muscular and floor-focused work to date. Converse has honed his analog craft since the early days of the Midwest rave scene, absorbing lessons from luminaries like Claude Young and Traxx. His skill as a producer has been established with releases on labels such as Dark Entries, Fit Sound, and Obsolete Futures, and his prowess as a DJ has been witnessed on floors the world over. On Take Parts, Converse peels away the layers of acidic gauze that have characterized much of his work, revealing his sharp grasp of dancefloor dynamics and DJ functionality. While the 808’s, 909’s, and 303’s are on full display, Converse does not indulge in retro-fetishism; he channels the future forward impulse of the originary rave ethos.
Cult Argentinian darkwave act Euroshima’s Gala sees a vinyl reissue courtesy of Dark Entries. Euroshima was formed in 1986 by Fabián Iribarne, José Wyszogrod, Ricardo Parrabere, and vocalist Wanda. Originally released in 1987 on Polygram, Gala was a success throughout South America. But to the band’s dismay, they received minimal support from the record label, which meant the album would linger in obscurity outside of the region. This reissue is co-presented with Twilight Records.
Hassan Ideddir’s 1989 single “Atfalouna” sees an expanded repress courtesy of Dark Entries. Born to Berber parents in Morocco, Ideddir began making music at the age of 10 after being discovered singing in the stairwell by his school’s headmaster. Encouraged by his peers, he began playing concerts, and his status grew. In 1987, he played a string of sold-out concerts in Casablanca, Rabat, and Marrakesh, in support of a children’s charity. The success of these concerts secured him a record deal, and he went to Paris to record his debut single “Atfalouna” in 1988. Released in 1989 on WEA, “Atfalouna” is a dense slab of multi-genre pop. An opening wash of digital synths and reverberant vocals quickly falls away to a cascade of orchestra hits and pulsing electronic drums; the monotone chant-rap of a female chorus collides with Ideddir’s soaring melismatic vocals, pleading against the injustice and hunger in the world. While Hip-Hop and New Beat borrowed tropes from Arabic music, “Atfalouna” inverts the gesture, resituating orchestra hits and sampling techniques within a Moroccan music framework. A shorter instrumental version follows, which preserves the female vocals. Also included are two tracks not on the original 12”. “Ibina” is a moody, downtempo instrumental that sounds like a cult Italo B-side. The record closes with “Ydouchababe”, an electro number driven by funky guitars, electronic claps, huge horn riff. Here, Ideddir sings of a youth festival honoring Hassan II, former king of Morocco.
The end of the year is always a good time to step back an reflect and for me is also a time to take a look at what our readers enjoyed the most on hipodrome. This is a summary of the top 3 albums, compilations and recordings that our readers liked the most this year. I’m really proud with our visitors and you can see they have a good taste in music.Continue reading “2021 Top 3 – Readers List”
Greek electronic music legend Lena Platonos returns to Dark Entries with Balancers, an LP of previously unreleased material recorded between 1982-1985. Athens-based Platonos has worked with the label previously to reissue her three solo LPs – Gallop, Sun Masks, and Lepidoptera – as well as to release three accompanying 12” EPs featuring modern remixes of her work. She is renowned for her forays into cutting-edge electronic experimentation as well as her striking, impressionistic poetry and lyrics, always recited in Greek. The twelve tracks on Balancers reveal a murkier side of Lena, one draped in tenebrous washes and oneiric utterances. Ragged analog rhythms feature on several tracks, even breaking into a brooding electro groove on “A Cat in the Corner”, but the predominant tone is sparse and somber. Mournful instrumental “Phaethon” swells to mythological proportions, while “In September” feels small enough to fit in your pocket. Lena’s poetry sits amidst lush pads and Radiophonic Workshop-esque squiggles, her voice setting an intimate tone in the shifting electronic sea. Inspiration is drawn from Greek mythology and architecture, and lyrics evoke a soft sorrow, an ambivalence towards love, life, and the passage of time. Although the material here spans 3 years and features a range of recording fidelities and synthesis techniques, the collection possesses the heft of a singular artist’s vision.
On Back Up: Mexican Tecno Pop, Dark Entries brings us 10 divergent tracks of Mexican electronics from 1980-1989, full of skittering analog drum boxes and saucy synthesizer hooks. 8 of these songs were culled from the 2005 CD-only compilation Backup: Expediente Tecno Pop on AT-AT records. Also included are two previously unreleased cuts. This release marks the first time many of these songs will have appeared on vinyl; it is also the first ever vinyl compilation of Mexican New Wave and post-punk. While synth pop and obscure electronics from Europe and the United States have been extensively documented, much less attention has been paid to such offerings from the periphery. Back Up serves as a vital document of Mexico’s flourishing DIY scene in the 1980s, surveying a wide range of styles and moods. By using home recording techniques, the bands featured here were able to circumvent relying on the expensive studios of the era. Tracks by Avant Garde, Vandana, and Silueta Palida mine the kind of dreary-but-infectious wave that long-time Dark Entries fans will celebrate. Meanwhile, Volti and Artefacto offer a floor-ready pop sound that has echoes of NY freestyle, with Latin percussion and boxy beats. But darker turns are present as well, with Decada 2s New Beat-inflections and electro experiments of Syntoma and their side project Escuadrón Del Ritmo.
Dark Entries is again presenting an essential classic: the Chicago house anthem Essence of a Dream, by Risqué III. K’Alexi Shelby’s illustrious career has included releases on legendary labels such as Trax, DJ International, and Transmat, as well as collaborations with high profile artists such as Marshall Jefferson and Pet Shop Boys. But his musical journey began at the young age of 12, when he befriended Ron Hardy and Frankie Knuckles while frequenting the Music Box and Warehouse. In 1987, Shelby’s first solo release, Risqué III’s “Essence of a Dream” b/w “Risqué Madness,” was to be cemented in Chicago dance history. He was accompanied in the studio by his cousin and production mentor, Mr. Lee. The tracks effortlessly propulsive house rhythms (courtesy of the Roland TR-727, TR-707, and TR-909), salsa-inflected bassline, and oneiric strings fuse magnificently with K’Alexi’s steamy, Prince-esque verse.
Dark Entries reunites with longtime idols Xymox, also known as Clan of Xymox, to reissue their Peel Sessions. Xymox was founded in Nijmegen, Netherlands in 1983 by Ronny Moorings and Anka Wolbert, who were joined shortly by Frank Weyzig and Pieter Nooten. Melding the synthesizer-driven experiments of post-punk and New Wave with the doom-laden atmospherics of the burgeoning goth rock scene, Xymox were one of the key progenitors of dark wave. The success of their 1983 debut EP, Subsequent Pleasures (reissued by Dark Entries in 2014) paved the way for a string of epochal releases on 4AD, where they honed their lush, despairing sound. Following their 1985 debut LP, Clan of Xymox, DJ and tastemaker John Peel invited them to BBC studios to record for his Radio 1 show. These recordings were released in 2001 via the Strange Fruit label on CD and are now available here for the first time on vinyl.
Traxx(Nation) created a 6-hour selection dedicated to Danny’s in Chicago where he held his monthly party Passage. Curated and programmed musically by Traxx, transporting us to a full night of music from 9-pm til 2am. Passage focuses on the new wave/new beat era with a personal collection of music fashioned to alleviate your senses discovering different outtakes and unknown songs. It’s a lengthy journey that hopefully people will enjoy…
Dark Entries announces a deluxe reissue of Sexual Harrassment’s 1983 opus “I Need A Freak”. Lynn Tolliver, DJ/Program Director at Cleveland’s WZAK, adopted the pseudonym David Payton in order to keep his musical endeavors separate from his public persona. Sexual Harrassment (misspelled deliberately) was formed as a concept band, with members selected based on appearance and choreographic skill rather than musical ability. Tolliver’s explicit lyrics focused on the central themes of desire and sexual relations. Working at a studio in Akron, he recorded an album of quirky-yet-lurid electro funk, which was released on Heat Records. I Need A Freak is presented here for the first time on double LP, pressed at 45 rpm for maximum DJ-friendliness.
From time to time I like to take a brief look at what our readers enjoyed the most and the end of the year is always a good time to do so. In order to do this I compile a top 3 of the most appreciated albums, compilations, mixes our readers liked in the last year.
As a cover for this year’s post I choose a map showing from where our visitors come and the first 10 places are the US, Germany, Romania, UK, Ukraine, The Netherlands, Spain, France, Russia and Italy.
Group Rhoda, the solo project of Mara Barenbaum, returns to Dark Entries with ‘Passing Shades’. An integral member of the Oakland electronic music scene, Barenbaum has been writing, performing, and plunging into oneiric depths as Group Rhoda since 2009. This is the project’s fourth LP, and the third time Barenbaum has collaborated with Dark Entries. Passing Shades is an investigation of the metaphysics of loss and the transitory nature of the material world. But it is not a grim collection; over 8 songs, Group Rhoda diverges through synthesizer-laden symphonics, four-to-the-floor inflections, and cosmic musings. Barenbaum’s striking voice and singular songcraft guide us through this labyrinth. Arpeggiated waltz “Flow” channels wisdom sought through martial arts; “Earthly Ark” sets a Margaret Atwood poem from the God Gardener’s Hymn Book to somber electronics. The vocoded canticle “Nevermore” is dedicated to the memory of a beloved cat. ‘Passing Shades’ is both mystifying and revelatory. Folk forms are echoed only to detour into the alien. Each song functions as both a fragment of a larger puzzle and a koan unto itself.
Dark Entries is humbled to continue digging through the archives of legendary producer Patrick Cowley. While best known for his production on chart-topping cybernetic disco anthems, Cowley, who passed away from AIDS-related illness in 1982, left us with a substantial body of work. Since 2009, Dark Entries has been working with Cowley’s friends and family to shed light on the lesser known facets of this singular artist’s output. ‘Some Funkettes’, the latest addition to this series, is a collection of previously unreleased cover songs recorded from 1975-1977. These raw, unembellished tributes both showcase Cowley’s early musical interests and chart the development of his production techniques. ‘Some Funkettes’ was made possible with help from Patrick’s brother Jim and his former studiomate Maurice Tani. The sleeve is a collage designed in 1975 by Cowley’s former roommate Francesca Rosa that was found covering a reel to reel box. It features a yin-yang symbol and a photograph of a scruffy 24 year old Patrick, to which we added his original handwriting. This peek into Cowley’s formative years arrives just in time for what would have been his 70th birthday.
In eleven years of deep digging, Dark Entries has uncovered many curiosities, lone exemplars of the scarsest breeds. They are lurking in Croatia, on the streets of New York, maybe in the back of your own dusty closet – these odd-ball Italo and synth-wave monsters are too rare to live, too divine to die. Once-lost creatures now have a home with Dark Entries’ new Endangered Species series. The inaugural edition features five specimens previously deemed extinct, only mentioned passingly in lore and speculation, but now safely preserved on vinyl. The first cut on Endangered Species Vol. 1 is the previously unreleased electro-New Wave gem “Munich” by John King, an artist best known for his work as one half of the Dust Brothers, lauded producers of the Beastie Boys’ legendary Paul’s Boutique. “Munich”, a Danceteria-ready cut produced in 1983, sheds some light on King’s earlier interests, bridging between freestyle and emotive synthpop. Next up is a rare demo version of The Actor’s “Picture 210”. The Dutch duo here channel both the minimalism of Kraftwerk and the Surrealism of Throbbing Gristle to create one of the finest teary-eyed Goth club anthems. Brazil is a synthpop band from Croatia, and they feature with their 1990 cover of Tears for Fears’ “Mad World”, which is sure to turn some heads on the dancefloor. The eerily faithful production belies Brazil’s re-working of the song’s lyrics. “L’Étranger (Ana Gharib)” by Jamal Khe follows, a pearl originally only available on an impossibly rare French 7” from 1983. Khe is from the Ain Beida region of Algeria, and his Arabic vocal melodies perfectly complement the propulsive percussion and airy arpeggios from producer Jacky Bourgogne. Closing the record is the previously unreleased “Abemus Mind” from Marzio Benellil’s project Nightless. Recorded in 1983, this moody, low-tempo Italo groover features Gregorian chant-inspired vocoders and jazzy piano courtesy of Benelli’s collaborator Marco Falagiani. All songs were mastered for vinyl by George Horn. The sleeve is the first in a series of endangered animal designs by Eloise Leigh, featuring the glam tiger in its natural, 1980’s habitat. Also included is an insert with lyrics, photos, and notes. Please assist us in our efforts to preserve this planet’s weirdest beasts.
Dark Entries unveils the debut of Berlin-based, Dutch-born Steffi new project Crushed Soul, a moniker she had used only once in 2013 for an Ostgut Ton compilation track. ‘The Family of Waves EP’ represents both familiar and novel pastures for Steffi. While her love of electro and classic Detroit techno have been oft-evident, here we witness the darker shades of new wave and industrial creep to the forefront. This turn for the twisted feels not just natural, but predestined, an inevitable succumbing to morbid forces.
Dark Entries presents their first digital-only compilation, featuring reissued rarities and new songs from 10 key artists on the label (Bézier, Bill Converse, Billy Nightmare, Borusiade, Doc Sleep, Group Rhoda, Magnus II, Max Mann, Patrick Cowley and Sepehr).
2020 marks the tenth of collaboration for Red Axes, the Tel Aviv-based duo of Dori Sadovnik and Niv Arzi. Informed by post-punk, new wave, and a plethora of club sounds old and new, they have cleaved a singular path with their hefty discography. To celebrate their anniversary, they reunite with Dark Entries for an eponymous 11 track LP brimming with jagged guitars, spacy arpeggios, and hypnotic vocals. ‘Red Axes’ is their first effort written and conceived of as an album-length listening experience. This work flows effortlessly through a variety of stylistic detours, highlighting their ears as both keen listeners and skilled DJs. Opener ‘They Game’ is a grooving number that unifies the psychedelia of cosmic disco with the early 90s ‘baggy’ sound. The energy mounts further with “Shelera”, a guitar-driven acidic banger, and “Sticks and Stones”, a certifiable club hit fueled by sassy vocals courtesy of Adi Bronicki. Launching Side B is “Break the Limit”, an EBM-laced number that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Razormaid compilation. The following tracks wax moodier, with “Brotherhood (Of the Misunderstanding)” touching on darkwave territory. “Udibaby” and “Arpman” close out the album with their respectively dense and sparse takes on kosmische lysergia.
Dark Entries welcomes back San Francisco based DJ and producer Sepehr Alimagham for his debut album ‘Shaytoon’. Drenched in nostalgia from his upbringing, ‘Shaytoon’ pays homage to 1970s Iranian albums that were on rotation throughout his youth. Eight tracks of twisted acid, left-of center electro, sludgy psychedelia, and things-you-can-maybe-call-techno are a few of the sonic elements found within. Regular listeners will find Sepehr’s signature perspiratory dance-floor vibe, but some songs also showcase a low-slung, cerebral approach. Sepehr’s unique sonic palette carves an interesting space in the dance music world by harnessing the spirit of his cultural ancestors. The artwork pays tribute to ‘70s Iranian pop and funk albums with bold Farsi calligraphy and portraits by Sahra Jajarmikhayat. In relation to the music, the album cover creates a dichotomy much like Throbbing Gristle’s ’20 Funk Jazz Greats’.
A segment from Passage, a party at Danny’s in Chicago curated and programmed musically by Traxx on the last Wednesday of every month. Passage focuses on the new wave/new beat era with a personal collection of music fashioned to alleviate your senses discovering different outtakes and unknown songs from far off countries.