Grounding Sounds 010: Magnofon
Again, a long hiatus from us but we’re still live and kicking. This time we’ve called Harry Towell back to present another Grounding Sounds show – this time under his House/Techno moniker Magnofon. Harry also records Ambient/electro-acoustic music as Spheruleus and we heard a glimpse of his taste in House music on GS #001. This is further explored in GS #010 through a 2 part vinyl-only mix which covers Harry’s all-time favourite House and Techno records spanning the last 25 years!
Harry’s own work as Magnofon has so far been concentrated on his own digital label Warehouse Decay Recordings which began life last year. Through WDR Harry has released two EPs and his debut album Fallowfall which like the label, is inspired by urban decay.
Harry’s involvement with House music began in the early 2000s when he began collecting vinyl and before long found himself DJing locally and then in and around the Midlands, UK. Harry has shared decks in nights with the likes of JT Donaldson, Inland Knights, Fred Everything, Nathan Coles, DIY, Kinky Movement, The Littlemen and Da Sunlounge. At the turn of the decade he’s stopped DJing to focus on music production as Spheruleus but has been supplementing his record collection ever since
GS: Hi again Harry, how are you?
HT: Very good thanks – keeping busy as usual
GS: What are you up to these days?
HT: I’ve had a quiet 6 months or so since Fallowfall went up for sale on WDR but in the background I’ve been working on some new material, started some collab projects and right now I’m working on some new EP releases on Warehouse Decay
Kemetic Just – Highways and Mindwaves (2003)
I bought this one from a record store in Peterborough not long after I’d got my first set of turntables. It’s essentially what some might call soulful House music – a genre which got saturated full of wailing nonsense in my opinion. Fortunately, there are gems like this that I would happily listen to time and time again – I love all of Kemetic Just’s work as the vocals are always done well and the guitar sound is just magnificent.
Mikkiel – Soundz Melody (1999)
Glenn Underground is a huge influence and well represented in my record collection and until I came to write the tracklist, I’d always had this piece down as one of Glenn’s… It is part of an old Glenn Underground record but is in fact by Mikkiel – I realise now! It’s strange, as I’d always had Soundz Melody down as my favourite ever Glenn Underground track… Not to worry – this is a great piece of US Garage and it just had to be in this mix.
Moodymann – Long Hot Sex Nights (1995)
I am a massive Moodymann fan and have several of his records. He has such a clever approach to producing House music; it’s always so raw and interesting. I first heard this track on an old internet radio stream and just had to get hold of it. Whilst all Kenny Dixon’s work is top notch, ‘Long Hot Sex Nights’ just hits the spot perfectly – seriously Deep, moody House music.
MAW ft. Roy Ayers – Our Time Is Coming [Jazzanova The Guestlist Remix] (2002)
Masters At Work are an influence to most people interested in House music – whilst they may have skirted with out and out pop music from time to time, their prolific quality output cannot be denied. I like a lot of their more tribal, understated sounds with notes of Jazz and have many of their records in my collection. My absolute favourite has to be this Jazzanova Remix of a track they did with Roy Ayers. Roy is a great artist in his own right and he puts a huge stamp on this record with his vocals and vibraphone performance
Miguel Migs – Laptop Excursion (2002)
Like many, I got into the whole Naked Music thing around and just after the Millenium. It got a bit saturated in the end but Miguel Migs is an artist that basically epitomised that movement. He fused his influences performing as part of a dub-reggae band with Deep House music and arrived at a truly unique sound at the time. So I had to include something by him in this mix and whilst there were a few contenders, ‘Laptop Excursion’ is my choice. The liner notes state that it was recorded in an airport somewhere on Migs’ laptop…
Jake Childs – Bring It (2005)
I have an awful lot of what I labelled ‘Jazzy House’ in my collection, as I used to play in small bars, restaurants and coffee shops when I started DJing and this sound suited the venues perfectly. I have to say, listening back – I’ve gone right off some of this but there are still lots of great records which induce nostalgia when I listen back. Jake Childs used to switch between this deep, jazzy sound and more up-tempo jackin’ tracks. I’m still a sucker for licks of sacks, deep rhodes and jazzy keys…this still sounds good today
The Littlemen – Gotta Keep (2004)
By the mid 2000s I got really into the jackin’ House sound a la Inland Knights, Joey Youngman and The Littlemen. I was even fortunate enough to play at events which booked some of my favourite artists – and The Littlemen are one example and this track is from one of their best EPs, in my opinion. This track and Feelings (on the flip) got some serious hammering!
JT Donaldson – Trust Me [Broadway and Wilson Remix] (2004)
This was a bit of a signature track of mine, which regularly got played in my sets in the mid 2000s. Again, I was fortunate enough to meet JT Donaldson around this time although I doubt he’ll remember me! I first got this track around the time I was spinning jazzy house in the small bars and it sounded really fresh at the time, pretty much getting me into buying jackin’ House records.
Joey Youngman – Streets Of Nottingham (2005)
I felt I’d struck the jackpot when I discovered Joey Youngman but it turned out that everyone was playing his records, in his various guises. The Gulf Coast Flow EP was the first record I bought by him and is a real classic, in my book.
Mateo and Matos – C’mon (1997)
When I first got into House music, around 2002 I would raid charity shops, buy cheap old records on HTFR and purchase back orders from Musicstack. So I was building a collection of records from the 90s that I’d missed out on in the years previous. Another big name artist in the Deep House scene was and is Mateo and Matos – this smooth, deep piece is from one of their earlier EPs
Dino and Terry Demopoulos – Sugarcane (1996)
Whenever the summer months arrived I’d always dig for deeper, chilled out records to play in the sun and this one’s the ultimate. Funky guitar, chilled House vibes. Perfect.
Karizma – The Power (1999)
The Power is a classic in my books – beautiful piano keys and deep Rhodes – this record just goes on and on and could do forever.
Liquid City – Higher Than All (1994)
Big 90s Deep House track from a brilliant 2 x vinyl pack by Liquid City. All cuts are brilliant but ‘Higher Than All’ is the first one I reach for when I grab sight of the record sleeve.
Dark Boogie – Living My Life (2002)
This track is responsible for my long-term love of Deep House music, featured on iDJs Boxfresh House CD free with the magazine. I have played this track SO many times and will never tire of it. It’s a slow mover – subtly building but just utterly brilliant.
Loosefingers – Deep Inside (2003)
Mr Heard is an absolute genius – every sound you hear is his own – voice, keys, drums… His earlier work will likely be at the top of everyone else’s list but my favourite works of his are under his Loosefingers guise. Deep Inside shows an even deeper side of Larry and this track is the finest example. Had to speed it up to get it in the mix but even with the beats hitting quicker, the sleepy deepness still hits you.
Inner City – Do Ya (1993)
I’m a big fan of early Inner City work – with Big Fun and Good Life being obvious choices but ‘Do Ya’ has been a bit of a dark horse over the years with many public airings. Proper old skool House music.
Chez Damier – I Never Knew Love (1992)
One of the oldest tracks in my Grounding Sounds selection – this ones from the talented Chez Damier. It’s not mixed in brilliantly I concede but that’s of no importance. Nineties piano hooks aplenty and an examples of vocal House music done properly.
Brendon Moeller – Birth (2006)
When I first started DJing, I would buy records purely to ‘work the dancefloor’. However the more I explored House and Techno, the more I found the records I bought leaned towards the obscure. When I first heard ‘Birth’, I had no idea I was in fact listening to Dub Techno – the deep keys and clever production was like nothing I’d ever heard before
Furry Phreaks – Tearful (2004)
As good a testament to my penchant for obscure DJing records as I could find. I purchased it from 3 Beat Records in Liverpool in the days when you could still walk into a record store and listen to a stack of vinyl in headphones. This EP saw top Deep House mogul Charles Webster experimenting under a different alias. There is an ambient quality to all three tracks on the EP and this could have subconsciously kick started my later interest in ambient music.
Craig Nelson – Am I In Love With You (2003)
A few online distributors were knocking out random vinyl packs in bulk – which not only represented a good bargain, but also threw up a few gems you’d have never discovered otherwise. This one-sided piece by Craig Nelson is an example of excellent use of vocals in Techno music; something which should be approached with caution!
Omar S – Set It Out (2003)
It’s hard to believe this came out as late as 2003 – Omar S records have this raw quality to them, typical of Detroiters. Set It Out is another example of well-placed vocals in House music and this one’s a real classic for me. The dark, moody keys restricted me from playing it out very often but in private, it’s something I spin regularly
Leif and Tom Ellis – Just Natural (2006)
In the mid 2000s I was playing out a lot and had made a switch from funkier House sounds to Tech House, Acid House and Techno. It was pretty much the sound of the moment in the DJ scene so I was keen to search for new or different takes on the sound. I struck gold when I stumbled across the work of Leif Knowles and Tom Ellis, buying pretty much everything either of these artists had put out. For this mix I chose something from the first EP I bought, which is particularly poignant as it introduced me to both artists
Johnny Fiasco – ? (1996)
Crashing in a little awkwardly due to a needle skip is the dusty worn out grooves of this old Johnny Fiasco record. I played it everywhere and this EP rarely ever left my record box. The track I reached for most was this as I love the old-school keys. I bought many Fiasco records after discovering this but for some reason, I kept going back to his old stuff!
New Phunk Theory – Always (Inner Mood Mix) (2000)
A big record amongst my circle of friends, who were DJs at the time. We all had a copy and loved the Inner Mood mix. It has a real classic feel to it whenever I listen – full of nostalgia. It is pretty deep and tracky so rarely got played during sets but if I was last on, it would often be my last record – always a great way to end the evening.
Dan Curtin – My Deep Love (2001)
This EP of early Dan Curtin Material on Metamorphic is another huge record in my collection, that I simply couldn’t be without. Calling You is great on the flip – very playable but My Deep Love is one hell of a track. It was pressed a little quietly so criminally, it rarely saw the light of day at my gigs but if I were to do an all-time chart of favourite tracks – this would be right up there. Superb shuffling beats with seriously deep keys and I’m pretty sure there’s a Pharaoh Sanders sample in there somewhere…
Demarkus Lewis – Do You Really Know? (2004)
I’ve always been a huge fan of the prolific Demarkus Lewis and I own loads of his records – all of which are superb. Choosing a track for Grounding Sounds seemed tough to start with but after playing through everything, there were a couple of stand-out choices. One definite is my favourite of all his tracks, ‘Do You Really Know?’. Again, I’m a real sucker for deep keys and it doesn’t get much better than this! Great vocal too
Slowhouse – A1 (2008)
The newest piece on these shows but a significant contribution to my taste in House music is this EP by the mysterious Slowhouse. It made no difference which of the 4 cuts was included as all are absolutely top notch. It’s anybody’s guess as to who is behind the project or whether there will be more records from them – but if you were lucky enough to get hold of anything from this vinyl-only series then I’m sure you’ll feel as strongly about it as me
Demarkus Lewis – Happy Feet (2003)
More Demarkus Lewis – it really was very difficult to choose just one of his tracks. Especially since as a producer, I notice he has a couple of styles he flits between. Some of his work is extremely chilled, with organic percussion and jazzy keys whereas others have square beats and lots of bounce. Happy Feet fits into the latter category and is possibly the most played-out track in my record collection – never failing to connect with the floor
John Dahlback – Let Me Wait You (2005)
Just as I was getting more and more into the more electronic side of House and Techno, I grabbed this EP from David Duriez’s Brique Rouge label and it made a big impression. A friend played Let Me Wait You and I had to hunt down a copy – it is a pretty simple track but with lots of variation and different sequences throughout.
The Dopeheadz – Dumbadumba (2006)
As a DJ, it makes a lot of sense if looking back over my favourite records I consider those which I played most. One such is definitely Dumbadumba by The Dopeheadz. I hadn’t planned to include it in this mix as I had forgotten it but after playing the few previous records I suddenly remembered it and had to quickly scour my collection for it! Just managed to bring it in and so pleased to have included it; you’ll hear why
Dexter – Cheeky Cheeky Monkey (2003)
Towards the end of my DJ career, I got a bit cocky and didn’t play to the crowd – I’d delight on playing some deep, trippy tech-house and watching the reactions on the dancefloor. I dropped this one a few times and despite the quirky use of samples and haunting female vocal lines, it always actually went off anyway!
Martin Worner – Shingles (2008)
Another recent-ish record but one which really got me into minimal Techno. Despite its overall minimal nature, this one stays interesting throughout by using rolling percussion, subtle acoustic instrument and vocal samples and flares of hiss. It got a few plays towards the end of my DJing days but ever since I’ve listened regularly as it really is a superb track
Dirt Crew – Give Me House (Klaus Wunderbaum Acid House Is Not Dead You Son Of A Bit Revival Version) (2004)
A slice of Acid House that I used to play a lot. Again, at some gigs I’d deliberately try and take things as tough as I could (within reason) just to see the reaction. People used to go nuts to this – I still do…
Triggamen – Cold 45 (2002)
I was well into Tech House at its peak and enjoyed this tough, tribal sound that was coming out back then. Things have developed a bit these days of course but this Grounding Sounds show wouldn’t really be complete if I didn’t include something along these lines. I chose this track from an early Triggamen EP simply because I used to play it a lot!
808 State – Pacific (1989)
Much of my experience DJing and listening to House music was developed in the late nineties and throughout the 2000s, so many of the real early classics perhaps escaped me. Of course, I delved back through history and checked a lot of it out and although I do have many favourites which are glaring omissions from this show the one I just had to include is the brilliant Pacific by 808 State. I’m sure this needs no introduction…even if I did mix it in off phrase!