- Two excellent house mixes sourced exclusively from the Skylax Records catalogue.
- Skylax Records, the label run by Joseph G Bendavid, AKA Hardrock Striker, has a reputation for house music that often stands up to the classic sounds that inspired it. Its fiercely independent ethos, encapsulated in its slogan "Stay underground, it pays," might not have resulted in piles of cash rolling in, but it has reaped dividends in terms of winning it respect.
Few seals of approval carry more credibility in the house underground than that of Terre Thaemlitz, an artist whose convictions around the cultural and commercial appropriation of house music show she prizes integrity in the music she produces and plays. For all the gems brought to light on Skylax House Explosion, a mixed, two-CD label compilation, it's for records like the reissue of Routes Not Roots, an album by Thaemlitz's K-S.H.E alias, that Skylax might be best known.
The duo's strongest connection stems from a shared fascination with New York deep house, a heritage referenced in the titles of two EPs, Under The Loft and Under The Garage, both of which were released at the same time as the compilation. The Paradise Garage is invoked from the start of Thaemlitz's mix with An Expresso's "Club Called The Garage." But as the forlorn synths of Jason Grove's "John Blue" encroach, you realise the mood isn't exactly celebratory.
The rest of the mix follows in typical DJ Sprinkles fashion. Gil Scott-Heron's voice surfaces on "Everything Must Change," as it did on Sprinkles' 2013 remix of Oh Yoko's "Seashore." What really stamps this as a DJ Sprinkles set, though, is the melancholy and tenderness of moments like Damien Zala's vocal on "Shake Vibration," or the deep-blue synths of Carlos Nilmmns' "Gwen's Song." The mix's atmosphere makes even uptempo moments like Joey Kay's "All Night" feel downbeat and introspective.
Where Thaemlitz's mix has a slow-burn feel, Hardrock Striker's crackles with energy. It's also more diverse, and the more enjoyable of the two. Though the tracks are all from this decade, they use tried-and-tested house music tropes. Chunky basslines, saxophones and pianos are all slammed in with an energy that keeps things fresh. It's a masterclass as a classic, no-frills house mix, whose highlights include the spacey synths of Kuba Sojka's "Walk On Moon," Signal ST's springy funk on "Bongo Trax," and "Dreamtime," Bendavid and Peter Black's excellent end-of-night vocal tune. In borrowing so heavily from house music's past, Skylax House Explosion does nothing you haven't heard before, but it's still rare to hear it done this well.
01. Garage Shelter - Soul 2 Soul (An Outro)
02. An Expresso - Club Called The Garage
03. Jason Grove - John Blue
04. Nick Beringer - Gasp
05. Simoncino - Inga's Creme (Chez Damier Morning After Mix Part One)
06. Soul System AKA Nicholas - Everything Must Change
07. Sameed - Bad You
08. Damien Zala - Shake Vibration
09. F.T.G., Belfie & Alex Tea - Public Enemy
10. Joey Kay - All Night
11. Lady Blacktronika - Right Direction
12. Carlos Nilmmns - Gwen's Song
13. Violence FM & The Underground Soulsavers - Soleil Mauve
01. Lady Blacktronika - Again See Spring
02. Sinan Kaya - Whats's Mine
03. Urban Inc - Beatdown
04. Jason Grove - Streets
05. Love Island - A Feelin'
06. Octo Octa - We Will Be Together Forever
07. Rosenhaft - Voyager
08. Concept e25 - What Did You Say
09. Kuba Sojka - Walk On Moon
10. Groove Riddim feat. Nathaniel X Project - The Difference
11. Niko Marks - Real Funk Don't Die
12. Signal ST - Bongo Trax
13. Mike Sharon - Free Your Mind
14. Garage Shelter - Attempt (Lonely Heart Dub)
15. Peter Black & Hardrock Striker - Dreamtime