For many producers reduced, raw and classic house tracks have become the be-all end-all. But while this is an increasingly trendy affair now, there aren't many artists who have been at this game as reliably as Stuttgart's long-running mainstay Michel Baumann, AKA Jackmate. As a DJ, Baumann mostly plays newer stuff that gives off a traditional house and techno vibe in his sets. "I love to include classic productions, but not in an orthodox way. When I hear a DJ who only plays house tracks produced before 93', I ask myself: is this guy playing in a museum?"
Baumann is dragging on his self-rolled cigarette. Friday night in Stuttgart city, five days to Christmas. The spacious rooms we find ourselves in are not only home to Baumann's extensive studio and band equipment, but to his bed, shower and kitchen as well. Living and working in an industrial building: Quite befitting for a producer from Germany's motor city. "Ha! The motor city. Sure, the automobile industry. But that's were the parallels between Stuttgart and Detroit stop. Stuttgart is a nice and tidy place to live, whereas Detroit is a ruin. And with the US automobile sector going to pieces now, the outlook for the city is bleaker still. When we tagged our first label compilation as Motorsoul, that was purely for nostalgic reasons."
In the '60s and '70s, the US army garrison in the city flooded the area with soul, funk and jazz. A great habitat for young Baumann: As a kid he absorbed the black music tradition to the bone. "My mother introduced me to psychedelic and soul when I was twelve, later I got into funk and rare groove, started to DJ with breakbeats and then hip-hop. And later, of course, I got hooked on house music from Chicago and New York. The early productions by Lil' Louis and Larry Heard did it for me."
The phone rings. It's Baumann's buddy Tobi Ettle. He wants to fax a signed contract for Baumann's upcoming gigs in Japan. Usually, Baumann is booked under his moniker Jackmate, which encompasses the trackier side of his DJ spectrum. A DJ set as Soulphiction, on the other hand, is potentially more open-minded: "People should be aware of who they book. It's quite annoying when I'm pestered every ten minutes I should play minimal. But sure, I can bang the night away at 115 BPM," says Baumann without a trace of irony in his voice.
While DJing is unsurprisingly Baumann's main source of income, his Philpot and Phil E labels fare well. Like many imprints, Baumann and Ettle have adopted the policy to launch digital downloads six weeks after the physical release. "Also, we're considering to stop offering MP3. With WAV-Files, at least you safeguard the artist's intention that his productions sounds the way it's intended to be and not something that's mutilated by an algorithm. This is our statement of appreciation for vinyl." Speaking of musical treasures pressed in plastic: The visitor's request to inspect Jackmate's vinyl collection is politely denied. "I'm afraid the room where I store my records is currently not in a state for a visit," explains Baumann.
Thankfully, Jackmate's selection of all time faves and current will shine a light through his musical cosmos anyway. "I hope my selection will interest the RA readers. Keep in mind that it's good music that counts in the first place, no matter what genre."
Undisputed Truth - Cosmic Truth [Gordy]
"This is a classic psych soul album produced by Norman Whitfield. I first came across Whitfield as a teen. My mother gave me two of his records. Whitfield produced everyone from The Temptations to Marvin Gaye, but this one stands out of the Motown stuff. A record that combines ingenious arrangements with great instrumentation and breathtaking mixing. You want clever hooks and atmospheric density? Whitfield is the man. One of my favourite artists of all time."
Newworldaquarium - The Dead Bears [NWAQ]
"This LP has been a regular in my flight case ever since it was released last year. I love everything by Dutch producer Jochem Peteri, but this is simply one of the best techno albums ever produced on European soil. A fair example of timeless dance music. It's very loopy stuff: Peteri tweaks and modulates his tracks out of the machines. Check out 'Avon Sparkle,' my favourite track of the bunch."
Kenny Larkin - Keys, Strings, Tambourines [Planet E]
"Kenny Larkin has had a great influence since my early techno days. His new album is what I like to call the new testament of Detroit techno. Keys, strings and tambourines definitely rule: I love this orchestral, sci-fi feel in techno. And this release is so much more advanced than a lot of the stuff that comes out of Detroit these days. High-end sound design complete with jazzy breaks and 5/4 timing, ambient structures and floor-anthems. 'Androgenous,' 'Bass Mode' and the main title are in heavy rotation in my sets."
DJ Koze - The Reincarnations 2001 - 2009 [Get Physical]
"This is a new remix compilation by Stefan 'Kosi' Kozalla, featuring his incredible reworks of Mathias Aguayo's 'Minimal,' Lawrence's 'Rabbit Tube' and Sascha Funke's 'Mango Cookie.' My favorite is his remix for Ben Watts 'Guinea Pig': This gem clearly illustrates that Stefan has made the final step into his very own musical world. His blend of obscure analogue instruments, a great sense of humour and the proper production skills is something very rare in German techno."
Kink & Neville Watson - Full Flight [Rush Hour]
"When it comes to jacking, Kink is always a good choice. After the great 'Inside Out' and 'Traffic' releases, here comes another burning EP with Neville Watson on Rush Hour. Raw and charming tracks, FM-bassline and shuffled 909s, topped with pitch-bending chords and noiseclouds. Don't miss 'Blueprint.' The name says it all."
Mike Dunn - So Let It Be House [Westbrook]
"This Mike Dunn release is a cornerstone for any jackin' set. Which I don't feel like playing too often these days, with everyone suddenly under the spell of classic house. But still: It's got great rhythm, 303 and all that funky shuffle that made Chicago house my main playground in the beginning and ever since. Unfortunately, my record is nearly unplayable, so if there's anybody holding a better vinyl copy..."
Shed - Another Wedged Chicken (Martyn's 131 Remix) [Ostgut Ton]
"Dubstep is a mixed blessing. Perhaps I am too much of an original reggae lover to appreciate the productions more on the reggae-side of the spectrum? Anyway, I prefer releases that have a slight techno-edge, and In 2008 Martyn's 'Vancouver' was right up my alley. This remix for Shed takes off where 'Vancouver' ended: a great tool for integrating some dubstep into a four-to-the-floor set. Cool original, awesome remix."
Tim Toh - Join the Resistance Pt. III [Philpot]
"Forgive me for shamelessly self-promoting my own label, but this kid needs to be mentioned here. Since I heard him the first time, Tim Toh's productions give me goosebumps. It's the freewheeling spirit with which he approaches his arrangements: Every track is a session and it comes through in a very positive way. Tim Toh gives house music a new twist with layers of improvised keys and twisted transitions. Very tasty to play on the dancefloor. His third release on Philpot and part of the 'Join the Resistance' trilogy will be released in March. It will include a remix by myself."
Round Four feat. Tikiman - Find a Way [Main Street]
"Mark Ernestus and Moritz von Oswald: I love their Maurizio stuff and especially the Main Street series. All of these productions are essential to me, but the vocal version of 'Find a Way' tops it all. I usually play this track in the late hours of a set, as it lowers the temper a bit. I guess this is just one of my favourites to endow a club night with a touch of soul."
In Sync - Storm [Irdial Discs]
"This is a track by English producer Lee Purkis, which he did in the early '90s. Those noise-pads and the Larry Heard-like FM-bassline: absolute killer. Plus, you have several breaks to mix in and out. I heard this track several times in the early '90s, but I could only identify the track when the repress came out. An eternal piece of techno. I only wonder why it took this record such a long time to find its way into my crate?"