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Fantastic Four

DJmag.com reveals our favourite dance artists for this fortnight - Annie Mac, Pentatonik, J*S*T*A*R*S, and Silicone Soul - we salute you!

Annie Mac

Annie Mac
Supporting dance music: Annie Mac

Radio 1's Annie Mac should be applauded for her constant support of decent dance music.

Since her current Thursday night show hit the airwaves two years ago, she's given props to some of the best up-and-coming electronic music artists around and pushed dance music to a mainstream audience that doesn't often get the chance to hear the scene's best offerings.

Not to mention her quality nationwide club night 'Annie Mac Presents' that has seen her play alongside some of the best DJs
in the biz.

"I love dance music," Annie told DJmag.com.

Ibiza Rocks
Ibiza Rocks
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Ibiza Rocks

"I especially think the more alternative stuff needs to be pushed in order for it to crossover.

Right now, the dance scene is very, very healthy. People are doing it for themselves, there are loads of fresh young producers coming out, and more and more cross-genre club nights are being built around an ethos or an attitude rather than a strict music policy."

Annie's latest 'A to Z' compilation, out now on Sunday Best, showcases just how deep her love for dance music goes, taking in classic tunes from the likes of Orbital, Xpress 2, Cut Copy, High Contrast, The Knife and Jamie Lidell.

What's more, the double CD features 26 tracks by artists whose names run from a to z, so that's 26 reasons why dance music rules. Minnie Mac, we salute you! (TC)

pentatonik
Listen to/buy music by this artist

Pentatonik

The right honourable R. Simeon Bowring is spiffing chappie, not least because his new album 'The Five Angels' (released on Hydrogen Dukebox on 18th September) is a saintly slice of experimental electronica that proves dance music can be just as emotional as classical music.

Bowring aka Pentatonik is a master technician of sound and has created what can only be described as a deep and hauntingly melancholic soundscape that could easily be played on Classical FM, if they had the balls.

"I like to think that my music is impassioned, it's about describable emotions and intangible feelings," said Bowring.

"But in genre terms I can say that it isn't 'ambient' or 'chill out'. When listening to some tunes you may feel chilled but others are disturbing, whilst some are profoundly angry or contain a sense of loss."

Like Aphex Twin, Pentatonik has found true spirit in electronica, successfully merging classical music, acoustic rhythms and guitars with techno.

"It's not so much how a sound is produced, but the effect it has," said Penta.

"On this album I used everything from a guitar I bought for £5 from a catalogue, to vintage synths that weigh a ton, real instruments and computers."

WARNING: only listen to Pentatonik if you've got a handkerchief handy. (TC)

pentatonik
Groovy sunkissed jazzy and electronic - J*S*T*A*R*S

J*S*T*A*R*S

Despite the fact that the curtain's already coming down on this summer, it doesn't mean that the groovy, breezy and funky tunes of sun-drenched dancefloors needs to be put away.

In fact, we need them even more now, which is lucky since debut LP 'Put Me On A Planet' from J*S*T*A*R*S production duo Sim Lister and Steve Cobby has just arrived.

Its tight selection of tunes remain very easy on the ear, but heavy on the ass-shakin'.

More than a touch of jazz and plenty of parping brass keep things light and funkified, while some infusions of electronica ensure dancefloor currency beyond the BBQ season.

"We started out with the intention to make some solid tunes that would translate to 12s in as perfunctory manner as possible," J*S*T*A*R*S told us, candidly.

"Over the course of the recordings though, we widened the parameters to include a few deeper tracks, to make for a listenable whole without too much repetition of styles."

It was a good plan, producing a smooth ride that avoids veering from uptempo biggie to obvious filler.

"We wanted to make good tunes folk might want to dance to, but we don't like dance music as it's currently perceived.

"An appallingly large amount of it is generic and homogenous tripe with little or no magic.

"We wanted to inject some back in." (TK)

silicone soul
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Silicone Soul

Glasgow's Soma imprint are a magnificently reliable bunch. Consistently presenting the finest takes on both in yer face and outta space techno, the latest offering to hit our office stereo and stick is the third Silicone Soul LP, 'Save Our Souls'.

True to form, it is classic Soma material from the word go, with deep and introspective soundtrack material rubbing shoulders with uplifting techy stormers.

It's the product of a new style of working which has seen Craig Morrison and Graeme Reedie quit their old studio and
both set up two virtually identical ones in their own homes.

They can work together or apart with the minimum of fuss, which accounts for the speedy work rate and polished outcome.

"We were in a much better position in general for producing this album – so it was quicker for us," said Graeme.

"We hope the new album picks up from where the last album left off."

That previous LP, 'Staring Into Space' was only released a year ago so it's testament to this new double studio setup that the latest work sounds so confident.

Rising suddenly to prominence with their classic strings and bongo combo 'Right On' five years ago, the guys held down a steady path rather than let themselves be swept up and spat out by the hype machine.

This latest crop of tracks should see them further cement their quality reputation while easily safeguarding the long-running tip-top reputation of their label.

This pair of souls are the real deal, baby. (TK)