PREMIERE – Phunkadelica – Phunkarama (Darkroom Dubs)

Twenty Year Weekend (Two Decades of Darkroom Dubs) is the twenty-anniversary label compilation compiled and curated by Glasgow’s Silicone Soul. Rather than take the retrospective route, they mark twenty years since they launched one of the UK’s most revered underground house music labels with a new collection of music from a fresh global roll call who like it deep, dark and a little twisted.

Also marking a quarter century since Craig Morrison and Graeme Reedie released their first Silicone Soul 12-inch on Slam’s esteemed Soma imprint, the compilation gets underway with the duo’s own Fahrenheit 625 featuring Bitch Traxx originator Franklin Fuentes on a scene-setting killer groove declaring presciently, “I’ll take you there.”

Thirteen further early-hours throbbers ignite with Italian future disco duo Phunkadelica unleashing malevolent chugger Phunkarama lashed with robotic vocals, metallic swells and early 90s bleeps and hoover tones. Mexican DJ/ producer Theus Mago, co-founder of the Duro label in 2015 with Moisees, then uncannily plugs into the metaphysical Darkroom Dubs current with Intensify, garnishing its groin-thwacking turbo groove with cascading melodic synth interplay.

Lucky Luciano uncorks another top-notch percussive workout from Glaswegian Darkroom Dubs favourite Am$trad Billionaire, its dense, percussive groove mosaic slashed with ghostly sample shards. Hot on its heels are Berlin-based, Greek-German tour-de-force Brax Moody and Vamparela – aka Local Suicide – who duet with Wiener Planquadrat for some sexy rogue electro on Flashdance, splattered with lacerating Moroder-esque sequencer savagery.

Next is the Factory City head-honcho Undo, fresh from his recent sublime house missiles on Darkroom Dubs, like Acid Summer and Aliens Go Home, who unleashes his ominous bass-driven acid monster, Vencejos. Before Nayan Soukie – aka Amount – rides the shimmering skyline surfer Figure Skating, packing the Darkroom Dubs trademark subterranean bass to the hilt. Then, the mysterious Subcisco conjures the ultimate funk party behemoth with Boiling Point evoking blaxploitation soundtracks in its aquatic stew of mangled strings and brass spectres hot-wired by contagious elastic bass.

Parisian DJ/ producer Id!r, whose Darkroom Dubs missives include 2016’s bass bin shredding Two Days In Hell, pulls off a typically dark, simmering groove beast on Haowie, topped with a gargling robo-vocal hook. Madrid-based Rotten City Records owner Alvaro Cabana then detonates 90s-style peak mayhem with Arde, casting its wailing power rhythm with crashing snare action. “Born in the 80s, raised by the 90s, lost in the 00s”, exclaims maverick techno-punk Pvlomo, immediately standing out with the sci-fi robot-gargling and Godzilla-like bass on My Little Vampire, his strength lying in lethally audacious twists and turns executed as the track powers mercilessly on into the darkness.

Oslo-based duo Of Norway are the only act to feature on both anniversary compilations (bridged by 2015’s towering Black Desert Disco Cult 12-inch). Mixing glacial electro with spaced-out strings and eastern-tinged melodies, Always Almost is suitably auspicious. Istanbul’s Gunce Aci follows with Fallen Leaves, built on a juddering mutant electro lurch lathered with devilish voices, climaxing in the snarling acid disco thunder of Lead Boys, cultivated in Bogota’s Kaputt Club by enigmatic duo Nuclear Digital Transistor. Dense and pulsing with disembodied goth-like vocals, the track makes a suitably idiosyncratic finale for a compilation tangibly driven to breathe new life into Silicone Soul’s manifesto to celebrate, nurture and push the music they love to play, make and support.

Proper underground house music has always been about fearless electronic innovation with a human soul. An ethos crystallised in this spellbinding collection. – Kris Needs

Release Date: 08/12/2023

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