After the hugely successful launch three months ago with a smashing EP from Alex Agore (which I had the honour of reviewing here), the freshly established Axe On Wax records returns next week with an even bigger bang! For the imprint's second release, head honcho Fede LNG reached out to one of the most promising talents of the underground house scene to raise the bar even further. Hailing from the city of Los Angeles, Rhythm Operator is a fairly new name in this game. He released his debut in digital format on OH! Records in 2012 and scored his first vinyl feature in 2013 on Needwant and had Let's Play House secure an entire EP just for himself later that year. He also shared a record with Ejeca and Citizen on Waze & Odyssey's Street Tracks imprint and appeared on Dirt Crew, Kolour, Seven Music, Glasgow Underground and Nurvous.
'Illuminate Your Soul' is Calvin James' first vinyl release of 2014, a fully fledged dancefloor-oriented bad-boy EP that seems to have been produced with a single goal in mind: to illuminate your very soul. The title track gets straight to business, rising steadily from a deep smooth warmer with its filtered airy pads, echoed stabs and melodies to a proper body slammer, worthy of late-night club shenanigans. The playful vocal loop and lively flute-like notes, the groovy bassline and garagey percussions, all coupled with a high level of production and attention to detail make 'Illuminate Your Soul' the highlight of this EP. Next up we have the young British Liam Geddes on remixing duties, delivering a darker stripped down version of the original where a Washerman-esque chord line reigns supreme and a hard kick pounds at your very soul in this late-night warehouse burner.
Stepping into more peaceful warm-up territories, the 'Mind Wave' takes us on a fluid journey on the flip-side with its silky-smooth vibrato key stabs, soothing vocal slices and dreamy melodies. The creamy arrangement is kept going at a steady pace by a potent drum pattern that makes good use of clean acoustic percussions, swinging shakers and an incredibly subtle bongo slap completing the scenery. In an epic closing note, Calvin will 'Set You Free' of any inhibition with a deep, down and dirty house banger, a track best suited for packed clubs and crowded festivals. You can feel the energy pulsing from the very first tight kick, which is accompanied soon enough by sparse african drums, a juicy UK-house driving bassline and blunt vocal cuts. Fuelling this madness is a simple yet powerful synth key line while but the clever brass samples and sharp strings add an exquisite finishing touch.
Keeping in line with the previous release, the second Axe On Wax will be pressed on beautiful blue vinyl and will feature the same clean sharp design by Pixelate Studio. Oh, and it's out next monday at all major record store, online and off.