LABEL FOCUS-NAKED MUSIC.

LABEL FOCUS-NAKED MUSIC.

 In this article, I want to discuss one of the most influential labels in urban music. Over many years, Naked Music have released a wide variety of albums that include deep and soulful house music, broken beat, mid-tempo and nu-jazz releases. Such was the popularity of the albums, that they have achieved an almost cult status, and are very much in demand by collectors, even today. In this article, I will look at the best of the compilations released on Naked Music and recommend the best ones to buy, should you be inspired to investigate this labels’s great releases.

Naked Music started life in 1992 as a production company. The label was founded by Jay Denes and Dave Boonshoft. From the beginning, their releases proved to be both successful and popular, and they released tracks on OM Records, and the XL and Wave labels. After that, they released a series of high profile remixes for artists including Kellis, Sade, Maxwell and Britney Spears.

Denes and Boonshoft however, became frustrated, they felt that they needed greater   artistic freedom. Their solution was simple, why not to start their own label. That is what they did in 1998. Since then Naked Music have released many compilation albums, artist albums and 12” releases. Each compilation album they have released is quality, and packed with great tracks. I will now look at the best compilation albums released of Naked Music.

NUDE DIMENSIONS VOLUME ONE.

Nude Dimensions Volume One was released in 1999, and was compiled by Bruno Ybarra and Petalpusher (Miguel Migs). This was the first compilation album that Naked Music released. However, what a debut compilation Nude Dimensions Volume One was. This album contains some fantastic deep and soulful tracks. 

Out of the fourteen tracks on this compilation, there is not a weak track. From my experience of buying and listening to compilations, and I have bought and listened to many of them, this is unusual. Usually on a compilation album there will be at least one weak track. This makes choosing the best tracks on this album difficult, as I could choose any of them. On the album you will find tracks by Petalpusher, Janet Rushmore, Weekender, Blue Six and Gigi.

The opening track by Petalpusher, Breakin’ It Down (Jay’s Naked Vocal) is a great track. It has an interesting vocal sample at the start,  and then the track features some great vocals, percussion and drumbeats. The vocal on this track has a Naked Music sound. On their tracks, this sweet and lush vocal is often found. From this track on, the quality just keeps coming. Take Me To Paradise (Summer Lover’s Dub) by Miguel Migs has a real summery vibe to it. It is, in my opinion, a classic soulful house track, and epitomizes the Naked Music sound.  Surrender also by Petalpusher, is another standout track. Here the sound is similar, to Breakin’ It Down. The softly sung, lush, vocal, and the drum sound and percussion make this a track that is one of the best on the album. Very much in the same vein as the previous tracks, is Blue Six’s track Music and Wine (Th’ Attaboy Mix). Again, the track features the sweetest of vocals, and has a steady tempo throughout. Here, the drums are not as prominent in the mix, as they are on previous tracks. The other track that I thinks is a particularly strong track is Gigi’s Mood Is Right (Migs and Jelly Mix).  This track features a vocal that is accompanied, and complimented by the rest of the arrangement. On this track, 

It would be unfair to specify what particularly makes this track. Instead, what I will say is that the whole track has been well arranged and produced, and care has been taken when making this track. Standout Tracks: Breakin’ It Down (Jay’s Naked Vocal) and Surrender by Petalpusher, Take Me To Paradise (Summer Lover’s Dub) by Miguel Migs, Music and Wine (Th’ Attaboy Mix) by Blue Six and Mood Is Right (Migs and Jelly Mix) by Gigi,

NUDE DIMENSIONS VOLUME ONE.

 

NUDE DIMENSIONS VOLUME TWO.

Nude Dimensions Volume Two was released a year after Nude Dimensions Volume One. It was compiled by San Francisco DJ Mauricio Aviles and released in. As with its predecessor, the album features some of the best deep and soulful house that was around at the time. 

On this album you will hear tracks by Blue Six, Undercover Agency, Aquanote, MJ Cole and Lisa Shaw. Throughout this album the quality of music is the highest standard. Like Nude Dimensions Volume One, the music on Nude Dimensions Volume Two still sounds fresh, and has not dated. Mauricio Aviles has chosen the tracks carefully, and managed to find some of the best tracks released back then.

Choosing the best tracks on the album is difficult, as there are so many contenders for the best tracks. On Nude Dimensions Volume One there was a great Blue Six track Music and Wine (Th’ Attaboy Mix), and on this album they have an even better track. That track is Pure (Mig’s Petalpusher Vocal) and it features a fantastic vocal on it. The track also benefits from a strong drum sound sitting prominently in the mix. This is one of my favorite tracks on any Naked Music compilation, never mind this album.

Undercover Agency’s track I Need You In My Life (Dub) starts with a crunching drum beat, and several vocal samples accompany, and compliment the drum beat. There is a repetitiveness to the track that actually keeps your attention. The track is not the fastest house track you will ever hear, it is only about 121 beats per minute. However, the track is well constructed and mixed.

Aquanote’s track True Love (Migs Petalpusher Love Dub) has the trademark Naked Music sound. The track features sweet vocals and has a real summery feel to it. This version was remixed by Miguel Migs, who has played a huge part in the Naked Music story, arranging, recording, and writing songs, as well as later compiling albums for the label. Migs influence is found on the next track I have chosen as one of the best on the album. He is responsible for the remix of MJ Cole’s Sincere (Mig’s Petalpusher Vocal) used. Here the female vocalist sings the song well, and Mig’s remix totally changes the sound of the track. The use of drums and percussion gives the track a big sound and funkiness that make this track one that will sound great on any dance-floor.  Standout Tracks: Pure (Mig’s Petalpusher Vocal) by Blue Six, I Need You In My Life (Dub) by Undercover, True Love (Migs PetalpusherLove Dub) by Aquanote. and Sincere (Mig’s Petalpusher Vocal) by MJ Cole.

 NUDE DIMENSIONS VOLUME TWO.

NUDE DIMENSIONS VOLUME THREE.

Nude Dimensions Volume Three was the final installment in this series. Volume three was released in 2001 and like Volume One,was compiled by Bruno Ybarra. This album sees the quality keeping up the same standard as the previous two installments. It appears that Naked Music were unwilling to make the same mistake as other record companies have previously made, by finding a winning format and then releasing so many installments that the quality suffers. One only has to point to the Hed Kandi and Cafe Del Mar compilations to prove this point.

On this album there is a change to the two previous albums. Whereas previously, the album featured deep and soulful house music, this album features a variety of different styles of music. Listen carefully and you will hear electro, broken beat, nu-jazz and the by now familiar deep and soulful house. This change of musical direction does not affect the quality of music. Quite the opposite. Maybe the change in format freshens things up, and helps the music appeal to a wider range of people.

As I have already stated, there are many quality tracks on this album, but the album starts with one of the best. That track is Gaelle’s Rain. This is a atmospheric and moody track, that Gaelle has just the voice to carry the song off. The song starts slowly with a softly played piano, and the tempo quickens mid-way through the track. This track is well arranged and the production on the track is not overblown.

The second track on this album that is worth featuring is Don’t Stop by Deep Sensation. This track has a much fuller sound, and features a wide array of instruments and samples. One thing I like about this track is the way percussion, vocal samples and effects that are used. Here they have not been overused, as is often the case, in similar tracks.

Earth Is the Place (Dub/Beats) by Nathan Haines has a funky house feel to it. The drums and percussion used have a latin influence. Some people may feel that the drum sound is “too busy”, however, I do not. I  like the way samples are used repeatedly, and the snatches of vocals that drift in and out of the track. This is a very different track to those found on Volumes One and Two, as it lacks the soulfulness of many of the tracks.

The Satin Soul’s track Recover has a much more Naked Music feel to it than other tracks. This is more like the tracks found on the first two volumes. The track a prominent drum beat, a breathy vocal sample and a gorgeous vocal. For me, this track is one of the best on this album. It is well arranged and produced, and still sounds fresh today. Standout Tracks: Rain by Gaelle, Don’t Stop by Deep Sensation, Earth Is the Place (Dub/Beats) by Nathan Haines and Recover by Satin Soul.

NUDE DIMENSIONS VOLUME THREE.

MIDNIGHT SNACK VOLUME ONE.

Midnight Snack Volume One was released in 1999 and was compiled by Bruno Ybarra. This is different type of compilation from the Nude Dimensions compilations. On this compilation you will find a selection of some of the best downtempo and mid-tempo tracks that were around back in 1999. However, when I look at the tracks on this album, I would struggle to agree that some of the tracks are either downtempo or mid-tempo tracks. The reason for this is quite simple. Some of the tracks have the tempo that one would expect to find on a house track. For example, Extended Spirit’s track Propulsion is 126 beats per minute. Regardless of what genre I would call the tracks on this album, the tracks here are of the highest quality.

Cold Water Music by Aim is one of the finest tracks on the album. This is a mid-tempo track that you will find on many downtempo or chill-out albums. It is a track that features a multitude of sounds and samples that together, that have been arranged to produce a great track. It is a track that I never tired of hearing, as each time you listen to it, you will hear different things and sounds.

Central Living by Dave Warrin is a an atmospheric track that features amongst other things, bass and drums. The track to me, has the tempo of house track. It starts slowly and the tempo quicken after about a minute. There is almost a drum and bass feel to the track. It is a good track that works either as one to chill to or on the dance-floor at the start of a set.

Natural High by Jonathon Maron is a track what I would call a downtempo track. The track is only about 75 beats per minute. It features a male vocal sung over some very spacey drums and instruments. There is plenty of space in the arrangement for the track to breath. This is easily the best track on the album.

Always (Original) by Lovetronic is a track that starts slowly and goes on to feature a gorgeous female vocal singing some lovely lyrics. This track has a spartan arrangement. Here it is definitely the case that less is more. Again, this is song that has a downtempo feel to it. Standout Tracks: Cold Water Music by Aim, Central Living by Dave Warrin, Natural High by Jonathon Maron and Always (Original) by Lovetronic.

MIDNIGHT SNACK VOLUME ONE.


BARE ESSENTIALS VOLUME ONE.

Bare Essentials Volume One is another compilation on Naked Music that was compiled by Bruno Ybarra. This compilation was released on 2001 and features the best tracks released on Naked Music, and also some tracks that were unreleased. 

On this album you will find some of the best artists on the label. Here you will find Blue Six, Petalpusher, Lovetronic and Night Source. However, I have three criticisms of the album. Firstly, on this album you will find several tracks that can be found  on other releases on Naked Music. Secondly, on this album five tracks are featured twice. There are two versions of tracks by amongst others, Petalpusher, Blue Six and Lovetronic. My third criticism is that there are two separate tracks by Blue Six and Petalpusher. Even though I have voiced these criticisms, what you will find here are some great deep and soulful tracks.

As I have discussed some of these tracks elsewhere in this article, I will not go into them in depth. However, this is album is still worth buying, even though some of these tracks are available on other Naked Music compilations. Standout Tracks: Breakin’ It Down (Jay’s Blue Vocal) by Petalpusher, Music and Wine (Th’ Attaboy Mix), Soulmate (Original) by Summerland and You Are Love (Si Brad’s Payback Vocal) by Lovetronic.

BARE ESSENTIALS VOLUME ONE.


BARE ESSENTIALS VOLUME TWO.

Bare Essentials Volume Two was released in 2003 and was compiled again by Bruno Ybarra. The previous year 2002, saw Naked Music release artist albums by some of their best known artists, Blue Six, Aquanote and Miguel Migs. It was from these releases and previous releases that the tracks from this album were taken. So, what we have here, are some tracks from familiar artists and some new artists. Like the album cover says, this is the best of Naked Music. As was the case with previous compilations, this album is crammed full of quality music. 

Inside by Central Living has the feel and sound of a classic house track. This track has a soulful feel to it and has the trademark Naked Music sound to it. Here you find the lush, sweet vocal, that features on many of the label’s best tracks. The track is well arranged and does not feature a multitude of instruments, sounds and samples.  

All I Need (CJ One Remix) by Andy Caldwell starts with a prominent drum beat and then goes on feature a lovely arrangement that has within it, percussion, keyboards and vocals. This is the type of track that Andy Caldwell does well. In the same way that there is a Naked Music sound, Andy Caldwell has his own unique sound, and is responsible for producing numerous top quality tracks. This is easily one of the best tracks on the compilation, and probably the only one to feature a flute solo.

Brighter Day (Quant Remix) by Kaskade has an interesting sound. Here there is much more going on in the mix,  and there is almost a broken beat feel to the track. The use of percussion and vocal samples with echo and delay adds to the track. What this track has in common with the Central Living track, is the vocal sound. However, on this track the vocal is used more sparingly, and this adds to the vocal’s impact.

The best track on the album is Rely on Me (Jay’s Bodega Vocal) by Petalpusher. This track has a fantastic arrangement. The track builds slowly, and has a wonderful sound, very melodic, featuring a lush and sweet female vocal and a keyboard solo that is one of the track’s highlights. This track has a great hook, and some good lyrics, that are well sung. Like the Andy Caldwell track this song features…yes a flute solo. Standout Tracks: Inside by Central Living, All I Need (CJ One Remix) by Andy Caldwell, Brighter Day (Quant Remix) by Kaskade and Rely on Me (Jay’s Bodega Vocal) by Petalpusher.

BARE ESSENTIALS VOLUME TWO.

CARTE BLANCHE VOLUME ONE.

Carte Blanche Volume One was released in 2000. This was another compilation that was compiled by that arbiter of taste Bruno Ybarra. Like the Midnight Snack Volume One compilation, this album features a mixture of downtempo and quicker tracks. Throughout this album you will hear a variety of tracks unlike previous Naked Music compilations. What is still present is the quality. Naked Music never let the quality drop on any of their compilations.

The Groove by Global Communications is the first song on the album. It is also a beautiful downtempo track. Although this a relatively short track, it is quality from the intro to the outro. The pace throughout the track is pedestrian and the drum beats and other sounds that are on this track, have a lovely summery feel.

Soulmate (Swag Remix) by Summerland has a stuttering start, and track starts slowly and quickly the tempo increases. The track uses effects, such as echo, to accentuate the sounds used within the track. This is effective and works well. The track sounds to fast to be a downtempo track, but too slow to be a house track. What it is though, is a track that is well arranged and produced, and has an atmospheric feel to it. Even if you were to listen to this track numerous times, you would not hear all of its subtle nuances.

Heartbeat by Qale Mota has the sweetest vocal in it. This sits behind an array of drums, percussion and samples. The track has a repetitive quality that is appealing, and pleasant to listen to. This track has a slower tempo than Soulmate (Swag Remix) by Summerland and has a similar tempo to The Groove by Global Communications. It has the sound and feel of a downtempo track. It is a pleasant song to listen to, and is one of the best on the album.

Beau Mot Plage (Freeform Reform Parts 1 and 2) begins like a classic house track. It has the tempo and feel, and is well structured. The track gradually builds up, then suddenly, at the song’s bridge, the tempo drops, only to build up again. Throughout the track a huge variety of instruments, sounds and samples are used. However, this does not have the effect of overcrowding or overpowering the song. Quite the opposite. This is a well structured song with a funky house feel to it. Standout Tracks: The Groove by Global Communications, Soulmate (Swag Remix) by Summerland, Heartbeat by Qale Mota and Beau Mot Plage (Freeform Reform Parts 1 and 2).

CARTE BLANCHE VOLUME ONE.

CARTE BLANCHE VOLUME TWO.

Carte Blanche Volume Two was released in 2001. This installment in the series was compiled by Bruno Ybarra and Gabriel Yene. The music on the album is a mixture of styles and tempos. As usual, Naked Music have produced a quality album, crammed full of top class music.

Flute Salad by Sven Van Hees is a mellow and spacey track. It begins slowly and features a flute throughout the track. Apart from the drum beat, instruments and samples are used sparingly. The track seems to meander gently for just over four minutes and is a lovely track that would grace any downtempo album.

Flight by Sidewinder is a slightly faster track. On the track an organ and saxophone are used, and this gives the track a warmth. This is complimented by the more traditional sounds found on a track like this. The use of drums, percussion and vocals make this a memorable track, that has a much fuller sound than Flute Salad by Sven Van Hees.

Silver Surfer by Cpen has a broken beat feel to it. This track benefits from a strong arrangement and production, and the way the drums are programmed is interesting. This is neither the drum sound you would find on a traditional house track, nor is it the drum sound that is found on the best downtempo tracks. However, this is a good track and is one of the best tracks on the album.

Goddess by Wai Wan is another good track. It starts slowly and gets quicker as the track develops. In places the sound is sparse, then all of a sudden, there is a frantic feel to the track. The drum beats get really quick, then all of a sudden, their tempo decreases. After that a variety of sounds, stabs and vocals drift in and out of the mix. This has a pleasing effect. Again, this track, in places has a broken beat feel to it. This is an interesting and enjoyable track. Standout Tracks: Flute Salad by Sven Van Hees, Flight by Sidewinder, Silver Surfer by Cpen and Goddess by Wai Wan.

CARTE BLANCHE VOLUME TWO.


CARTE BLANCHE VOLUME THREE.

Carte Blanche Volume Three is the last installment in this series. It was released in 2002 and compiled by Bruno Ybarra. This installment saw a change in musical direction from mid-tempo music to a more eclectic variety of music. Within this album you will hear deep house, jazzy beats, electro and retro-funk. What this really is, is fifteen quality tracks.

Light by Burn Burn has a slow start and features strings and keyboards, and moves slowly along. The track wanders slowly, the drum beats complimented by strings and various percussive sounds. This is a quality downtempo track.

Fall Into You by Stateless is easily the best track on the album. The track features a vocal that is accompanied by a beautiful melody. This is a mid-tempo track, that would not be out of place on a downtempo album or the dancefloor. The track has almost a soulful house feel to it.

Lectropic by Andy Caldwell is different from a lot of his other work. This has the tempo of a classic downtempo track. It is a slow atmospheric track, rather than house music he is better known for. However, Caldwell is a talented producer and has the ability to produce a wide range of different tracks. This track benefits from not having a huge variety of sounds on it. There is a spartan feel to the track that I like.

Falling by Gaelle is a track from her album Transient. This is slower track that is given an almost broken beat remix. Gaelle is a talented singer, and sings the song well. This remix totally changes the song. Unlike many remixes, this compliments the song. Too often, the remixer takes a perfectly good song, and does nothing to improve. In this case, this is a lovely song, that is one of the best on this compilation.

CARTE BLANCHE VOLUME THREE.

Now that you know more about the Naked Music label, I hope that you will feel inspired to go out and buy some of the music I have featured in this article. Should you do so, I am sure that you will not be disappointed. What you will have purchased is some wonderful music. Within the nine albums I have featured here, is a wonderful eclectic selection of music, from deep and soulful house, to downtempo and mid-tempo, and from broken beat to retrofunk. What all of these tracks have in common, is quality. I hope that should you buy these albums, you will want to find out more about the Naked Music label, and also the music that is on each of these albums.

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