Times Are Ruff is a Hague-based vinyl only imprint that launched in the winter of 2012 with Part 1 of their 'No Dough, Just Cookies' compilation which brought the bouncing disco-infused house edits back into the spotlight. Times Are Ruff is also the name of the label's 3-manned production crew that dominated the next two releases, showcasing their innate talent for cutting, sampling and arranging some of the tightest house jumpers around in both the aptly titled 'Cutz EP' and in the playful 'So, Where Is Your Bottle? EP'.
For their fourth release, the above mentioned 'No Dough, Just Cookies' compilation released its second instalment, featuring an impressive array of styles and sounds straight from Holland's underground scene. 2014 finds Times Are Ruff showcasing their best work to date on 'DC Streets EP', a Soundstream-esque collection of sampled disco loops, finely filtered cuts and tight thumping beats, a must-have for any serious house head or DJ out there. This finally brings us to 'Funny Angle EP', the label's sixth instalment for which Times Are Ruff share an entire side with Junktion, whom you might remember from our Outplay feature one month ago.
Side A kicks things off with Junktion's trademark deep house sound as the leading track 'Funkin Great Times' rides steadily driven by a subtly distorted kick and a hypnotic horn loop. Building into the climax, a few soft chord notes start flowing along and a lively mix of male shouts and eerie voices lift the mood up to the roof. Next up is 'Old Souls', an old-skool hip-hop-themed body slammer that features tight hard kicks, lovely swinged percussions, a rhode line that starts deep and warm, but grows wild and dominates the entire second half. And of course, who could omit the hoodly loop and smooth voiced inserts whispering "Slow" deep into your Soul!
On the flipside Times Are Ruff introduce us to their world which quickly becomes your world as 'My World' starts unfolding under your ears. A deep bassline hums low as tribal drums, echoed voice fragments and traveling hats loop around a nostalgic piano line. At certain key moments, a distant sample erupts out of the tropical sky and extra hats, claps and cowbells appear suddenly only to vanish away in an instant. Putting an end to the saga is 'Moodish', a rather peculiar african drum looped theme that's interrupted twice by a coarse bassline and kept in groove with sweet bit short string cuts.
'Funny Angle EP' is already on pre-sale at Decks and while you're placing your order, I strongly suggest you to check out their previous releases, especially TAR005.