UK disco-house stalwart Daniel Berman has recently enjoyed a surge in acclaim for his Red Rack'Em project. His tracks under that alias are simultaneously classicist and experimental, moving with a bumpy grace that recalls the fêted house scenes of Detroit and Amsterdam in equal measure. With the amount of emphasis on Red Rack'Em, it's easy to forget that Berman first made his name on a string of edits his Discogs page refers to as "naughty pirate soul." His work as Hot Coins—a moniker last heard from in 2009—is distinctively slower and more low slung, filtering those edits' influence into cushioned modern disco tracks. Geek Emotions (Remixes) represents Berman's first effort to revive the name, though its choice of remixers hews much closer to the Red Rack'Em sound.
With no original to complement these remixes, Berman leaves the listener in the dark about new Hot Coins material. It does apparently offer a wealth of possibilities, at least in the able hands of Ajukaja and Gerry Read. Ajukaja (a.k.a. Raul Saaremets) might be a new name, but he's evidently well established in the Tallinn, Estonia scene, running parties and recently releasing a 10" alongside Maria Minerva. His take on the title track builds on a raw pound, swiftly introducing vocal chops and an organ motif that repeats throughout the piece. The latter plays like a homespun take on Maya Jane Coles's "Little One," its descending melody both catchy and considered enough to remain perpetually in the foreground. The organ gets progressively scratchier until it's broken up into wisps, while the vocal develops into a calm monologue which implores, "I need your help to work out who is who."
Gerry Read's take is similarly blunt, though considerably less hooky. Apart from sporadic stops and starts, the track's rhythm remains straightforward, leaving space for the producer to slide a variety of wonky elements into the mix. Read most noticeably deploys an acid line throughout much of the track, but rather than resorting to the typical tweaks, he uses it as a bassline, keeping its gurgle smothered. To augment this, he adds a frantically wobbling synth, background static, and corroded pads, as well as clips of the same vocal sample that Saaremets uses. If it weren't for its sturdy rhythm section, the track would constantly threaten to collapse, as its sounds seem forged out of the most unwieldy debris Read could find. Both he and Saaremets make heady use of "Geek Emotions," and while Berman's original remains a mystery, it's hard to quibble with such inventive previews as these.