Formed over the course of four years during a “transitional” period after moving to Berlin, ‘Self Portrait’, as the title suggests, is a true reflection of Danny Berman and his influences.
Red Rack’em has fully mastered his signature blend of house and disco along with his cut and paste attitude to sampling on the forthcoming LP. Crowd noise can be heard from live recordings, whilst hiss and crackle from snippets of Youtube clips add texture – the distinctive repeated vocal on ‘Tomato Pope’ is from an old heavy South American funk track, gleaned from an obscure DJ mix.
It’s an approach that is innately tied to the producer, whose love for DJing started out in sample-heavy hip- hop and who taught himself to produce whilst working full time as a television editor.
His talent for writing original vocals stands out elsewhere, on ‘You Used To Make Me Feel’ “a self dissection of past attitudes to romance”.
‘Hot Weekend’, an early highlight of the album “about tripping your head off with a lover and wondering if the relationship is worth anything” – features the vocal and songwriting talents of City Hayes, a.k.a DJ Flic. A New Zealander now living in Bali, and friend of the producer, the pair are regular collaborators.
Elsewhere, Detroit legend Rick Wade makes his featured vocalist debut on ‘The Music’ after Berman was inspired by interviewing him on his Smuggler’s Inn radio show whilst Rick was staying at his apartment in Berlin.
Picking out a section where Rick talked about secretly listening to disco and funk as a child, Danny hit up the deep house pioneer who loved the idea and was happy to be a part of the album.
Much of ‘Self Portrait’ carries a somewhat cinematic, dreamy quality, with every track having its own personal story. Yet it never loses its sense of fun or danceability, as is evident on the first single, and one of this year’s biggest tracks, ‘Wonky Bassline Disco Banger’.
Played out everywhere by the likes of The Black Madonna, Moodymann and Motor City Drum Ensemble, the quirky hit set expectations high for the upcoming album.
‘Self Portrait’ is the culmination of years of musical exploration from an artist who started his career as a teenage scratch DJ in a remote Scottish fishing village. He moved onto jungle in Bristol, techno in Edinburgh, and house in Liverpool before finding his sound in Berlin. He spent years teaching music before taking it up full time, and has long been championed by Gilles Peterson.
He’s been running his tastemaking Smuggler’s Inn radio show for a decade with an accompanying label, in addition to Berman’s other two labels Bergerac and Nettles. Berman’s genuine love for his craft is evident across all these multiple projects.
“I just want to show everyone who I am and what I am about. This is my personality and character and what I believe in. Do you hear what I hear?”
01. April Fool
02. Hot Weekend ft. City Hayes
03. Something That I Thought About
04. Wonky Bassline Disco Banger (Video Version)
05. Mad House
06. Tomato Pope
07. The Music ft. Rick Wade
08. Kos Mich
10. You Used To Make Me Feel
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