Review: Stonem – ‘Todo O Nada’ (Phonotheque)

There’s something special happening in Uruguay.

From the outside, Phonotheque Records appears to be quite the family affair. Taking its name from the infamous Phonotheque club; known simply as ‘Phono’ to locals and found in the country’s capital Montevideo. As a small 300-person basement club, Phono has become somewhat of a mecca for local heads and a few intrepid international explorers; with run times that go well past its official 10am closing time. With the often tricky initial records entrusted to local Uruguayan talent Z@P and Santiago Uribe, the label announced its arrival on to the scene delivering a versatile mixture of peak time club stormers and spacier slower tracks for home.

For their 3rd outing they’ve turned to Stonem for his debut vinyl release. Somewhat of an enigma online, Stonem is a hard person to research. Resident Advisor reckons he is an Uruguayan man called Martin, however from the one grainy video you can find online it’s genuinely hard to say. In all honesty though it doesn’t really matter, he could be Patagonian fish for all I care. This EP is powerful, brooding and has already found its way into the record bag of many a European DJ trying to bring a taste of South America to the Northern Hemisphere.

A1 ‘Antes De Empeza’ shoots straight with an infectious bassline and differing high-hat patterns that hark back to classic UK garage rave cuts. It’s that rare and wondrous thing, a genuine head-bopper that uses a recurring chime pattern to great effect and goes down well in most situations whether it be club, warehouse or living room after party.

The EP’s title track ‘Todo O Nada’, hits you with thumping 4×4 kick and ethereal high tones. The track builds quickly as a snarling wet bass, robotic rattle and similar chime pattern to A1 are thrown into the mix. The track has a real urgency, half strutting with confidence, half yearning for transcendence and guaranteed to get hips swinging.

On the other side B1 ‘Alunizaje’ doesn’t mess around, dropping you straight into a broken beat wonderland with a frantic drum pattern and high frequency tones that swell and twist. A spooky chime hook propels the track forward, and during the breakdown, is coupled with a simple clap & high-hat pattern that buries itself into the listeners head. When it does drop, hold onto your hats because we’re going to space, as waves of robotic synth are layered on top of the returning broken beat that hits you square in the chest. Despite strong competition from A1 and A2, this is the standout anthem of the EP, use with caution as it’ll be a hard one to follow.

B2 ‘Surcando’ is a slower affair, more digital and futuristic than the rest of the EP. Another break beat number, Stonem uses similar components of the other tracks but gives them more space to breathe. The ever present high-hats return with warm swathes of synth combined with a sweet jingle. It’s an ideal warm up track or palette cleanser for a crowd in need of a chance to catch their breath.

When translated from their native Portuguese to English, the track titles are all loosely themed around going on a journey, which neatly describes what makes this EP so immense. Each track is a vehicle in which anyone brave enough can be transported to a small dark basement club on the other side of the world where all your daily troubles are forgotten. If this is what we can expect from future releases, then take my money and sign me up, wherever he goes it’ll be an unmissable voyage.

This production oozes confidence and quality production. It’s hard to believe Stonem has managed to create such a fine EP first time of asking. Whether Phonotheque Records will start to look for international producers is hard to say, but with fellow Phono alumni including Michelle, Nico Etorena and Fabricio, if they decide to stay local they’ll be spoilt for choice.

Todo O Nada by Stonem is out now on Phonotheque Records.

Buy it here.

Words: Jack Watson

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