Hailing from Mannheim, Germany, Nick Curly rose to prominence several years ago on a sound that brought dancefloor sensibility to techno, releasing recognizable tunes on Cocoon, Murmur, and Supernature. Not content as a pioneering artist, Curly also founded the record labels 8bit and Cécille, which have indelibly shaped the tech-house genre by bringing artists like Gorge and Butch, amongst others, into the spotlight. With his debut album, Between The Lines, released in March of this year on Cécille, Curly showcases a mature, musical approach, with cues taken from the various corners of the world he has toured through.
The album begins as any memorable club night should – slowly, respecting the ears of the audience. From “Eastern Culture,” a tracky deep house number, Curly moves on to “Piano in the Dark,” a soft, vocal-driven piece of music that resists a genre tag. Standout tracks include “Glass Ceiling” and “Hairline,” which both feature groovy dancefloor rhythms beneath dreamy soundscapes, a Curly specialty. The album meanders through dark numbers like “Truth Be Told,” and eventually ends up at “Wake Me Up,” the sonic equivalent to a soft bed at the end of a long night out.
The best thing about Between The Lines is that none of the thirteen songs try to steal the show from each other. While each track has a unique personality, some more housey, others more square and pulsating, they all hang together, and that’s what makes this an eminently listen-able dance music album.
Between the Lines can be purchased on Beatport.
Curly is no stranger to top-notch venues, with residencies at Watergate in Berlin and Space Ibiza, amongst others. Come check him out, together with Chicago’s Kate Simko and DC-based resident Chris Nitti, at U Street Music Hall on May 4th.
Over the past year, Culprit has quickly established itself as a thoughtful curator of modern dance music. Previous releases from the LA-based label feature floor moving tracks from MANIK and Subb-An, along with deeper, more introspective numbers from Nico Lahs and Inxec. The April 2nd release, The Lady B EP from jozif, continues to diversify their offerings while showcasing the talent of this rising star. Though most tracks feature eminently danceable disco-tinged elements, the main message of this EP is that dance music needn’t be shackled to the parties where it gets most airtime. It can have a personality, tell a story, and play equally well in your home and the club.
Opening with “Lady B’s Tea,” the EP harkens back to house music’s disco roots as a funky bass guitar moves the track forward. Unfiltered instrumentation is a theme across the entire release, with bold violins and piano chords popping up throughout. The selection follows a narrative structure, continuing with “Lady B’s Plea,” a deeper track featuring an acid bassline sitting beneath lush chords and vocal pads. “Lady B’s Lullaby” merges the cinematic elements of the first two tracks with more pop/dance sensibilities, recalling sunset at one of Culprit’s own rooftop parties at The Standard Hotel in LA. Rounding out the EP is “Serenade,” a strictly instrumental piece with some dancefloor grit.
Overall, a moving and sonically interesting release that pushes the boundaries of “dance” music by, ironically, taking it back to its roots. Preview tracks below:
The full EP is available for download here.