What a week this has been – David Bowie released the incredible “Blackstar” album, Kanye West dropped a teaser for the upcoming Swish album, and Panasonic have confirmed that the iconic Technics SL-1200 will return to production. So I think I’ll write about an old house record that was released sometime in 1997.
Olav Basoski has been a prolific producer and remixer of not ‘quite commercial’ house music for three decades now. Although the quality of his output isn’t always guaranteed, there’s usually something worth a listen to. Having acquired all fourteen volumes of his Samplitude EPs, I guess I need to tell myself that.
I purchased this because it was a record by a man called “Basoski”, titled Moscow Street Rock, and adorned with the communist hammer and sickle. That may not seem much now, but when it was sitting in a record shop in rainy Glasgow in the late 90s, it looked like it came from another world.
As I previously said, the record features three tracks, all mixes by Basoski himself, no guests or label mates. “Half The Bet”, “Mo Fun Mix”, and “Super Funky Animal Mix” – all variations on a theme, and genuine remixes of the initial concept not the cutting room floor remixes we’ve become accustomed to in the past two decades.
Half The Bet mix is the most straightforward of the three. A busy, tough sounding piece of house music. Heavy, fast kicks drive forward with thick metallic snares and frantic percussion. There’s a loud reverb laden drum roll that rings out at every break. The mix clearly gets its name from the filtered vocal snippet that continually tries to emerge from the background. The deep “Moscow… ROCK!” motif is heard in the first few bars here and is used to great effect when layered over the previously mentioned vocal. It’s chopped and teased throughout the whole track. A very short, extremely heavily filtered loop pops in and out, pinned down by a deep synth bass and over laid by filtered minor synth sweeps that could be taken from a track fifteen years younger. It fucking kicks ass.
The horribly titled Mo Fun Mix is really unusual for a release like this. It starts off very similar to the other mixes, with the same drums and patterns – but it never builds. It’s clearly emptier. It chugs and stutters, ebbs and flows. The drums slowly disintegrating and giving way to (wait for it) a saxophone solo. A long ass, fucking saxophone solo. Ace. A long funky saxophone jams, subtly cut and looped, synth bass pulses away beneath the muted chord stabs. It’s sporadically punctuated by a drum roll that disappears into reverbed emptiness. Olav teases beats for minutes, threatening to disturb the space of the piece, only to pull them away at the last-minute. The saxophone continues, unfazed. After three minutes, rhythms finally drop and the “Moscow” motif returns. What a tune!
The Super Funky Animal mix is something a little different again. Coming in at only five minutes eleven seconds, it’s almost a full minute shorter than any of the other mixes, but it’s utterly jammed with little edits and variations. There’s more focus on the individual elements here, and the filtered vocal is a little tighter. If I was even more of a pretentious dick head I’d be tempted to call it one of the first examples of minimal house. Luckily I’m not. The synth chords (which just sound great here) take centre stage, and are filtered and delayed a little more than any other track. The main vocal creeps in and the kick drum slams relentlessly, only ever dropping in order to introduce another element. The main break has the percussion dip and a massively delayed minor chord. It’s just magic shit.
Listening to the whole thing leaves me quite in awe. Everything is wonderfully original, yet hard as fuck. There is no denying that this is one of the best house records of the 90s, and it’s aged incredibly well. It blows my mind to thing something this detailed and tight was made entirely on hardware – an Atari STe if I remember correctly.
I need more of these, more hammer and sickle, hard as nails, funky as fuck house music.
Moscow Street Rock was released on Work Records “Work32” in 1997, and should be in the collection of anyone remotely interested in electronic music.
Olav Basoski “Moscow Street Rock (Half The Bet)”
Olav Basoski “Moscow Street Rock (Mo Fun Mix)”
Olav Basoski “Moscow Street Rock (Super Funky Animal Mix)”