Master of the leftfield disco sound and drawing influence from early house, acid and techno, Daniel Wang is a bit of a hero in underground dance music circles. Born in California and raised in Taiwan, before moving to New York and settling in Berlin, he’s seen a lot of the world and draws from all corners for his productions, DJ sets and own label Balihu Records. He first made a name for himself in the mid ’90s Chicago house scene with his playful and funky 12″ release on his own label. Look Ma No Drum Machine EP was their debut and contained the groundbreaking Like Some Dream I Can’t Stop Dreaming, which has been regularly covered by Hercules & Love Affair and has had an important impact on successors like Soundstream. Overall, a mighty fine candidate to give us his Top Five, just in time for his appearance at XOYO this weekend for Jackmaster’s residency.
The Poke – Adonis and the Endless Pokers (1988)
THIS TRACK is one of the most minimally and beautifully produced Chicago acid records that I can think of. The Roland TR-808 kick drum sound is especially clear and pleasant. I never heard it in the late 80s, and only discovered it later on the soundtrack of voguing movie Paris is Burning. It has no real melody or harmony, but it has a perfectly hypnotic rhythmic quality in its sounds.
Jomanda – Drifting (Sweets Mix) (1988)
That soulful raw New Jersey house sound, on the Quark label with handwritten text. It has such a raw, beautiful atmosphere; “underprocessed” would be the right word to describe it.
Mr.Fingers – Stars (1988)
More proto-house, late-1980s synth tracks. This famous instrumental track is so unusual in its use of triplet arpeggios and an explicitly disco bassline – moodily futuristic and still so groovy!
Mr. Fingers -Mystery of Love (Dub) (1988)
Why not another Mr.Fingers / Larry Heard classic?! That deep one-bar bassline was simple but left so much space for his moody, spacey synth pads to improvise in the upper range of the keyboard. It needs no words, it speaks for itself.
Klein and MBO – The MBO Theme (1983)
An italo classic from 1983 which is actually closely related to the TR-808 sounds of New York and Chicago only five years later. The beauty of its simplicity and the fascination of the reggae-dub style treatment of synth and guitar hooks in the second half are unforgettable. And the kick drum is OH SO DEEP!