Boomkat Product Review:
Smiling C have us beaming again with ambient house treasure from a lesser-hailed node of the early ’90s UK house and rave scene
Dancing between the lines of jacking Chi-house, psychedelic bleep techno and ambient house, the ‘Mad Vibe’ EP is the sole output by DJ Mad & Dr. Stevie The Ambient Guru, who, if we’re not mistaken, hail from the raving outpost of Middlesbrough on England’s North East coast - a sorely overlooked bastion of the original northern UK rave circuit. This level of detachment from the UK rave scene perhaps explains the offbeat formulation of the ‘Mad Vibe’ EP, which clearly echoes the styles of Yorkshire bleep ’n bass an hour south, but with a rawer, radgy, playful edge.
A-side sports ‘Northern Echo’ with its properly charming mix of palm wine or Hawaiian guitar and simmering, latinate machine rhythms in deliciously woozy style, while ‘Communication’ hops around on a sparky jack attack with tumbling toms, nagging bleeps and catty psych guitar licks in the last third. B-side only gets ruder with ’System Shock’ working on the cusp of New Beat and some other strain of quintessentially UK rave nuttiness, and ‘Levitating Pharaohs (Full Frontal Spacehead Ambient Mix)’ wraps up in the barminess in balmy ambient guitar, sweet synth chords and rustling NYC deep house rhythms.