There are children of the Warehouse and children of the Garage, and they make up a family that unfortunately will only grow more intimate with age. One of those children of the Garage, Angel Moraes, has passed away according to a post on the DJ, producer and club owner’s Facebook page.
“Angel passed away yesterday abruptly,” the note read, “surrounded with the people that loved him unconditionally, Chris, the kids and me. I don’t know what to write. It is so painful. But I prefer you hear it from me.”
Moraes was born and raised in Brooklyn, coming up in the crucible of the New York City’s music scene at a time when hip hop, house, disco, new wave, no wave and punk were emerging from a dead broke city’s underground. Moraes later noted two clubs that were seminal in his life before the 1990s. The first was The Fun House, which opened in March 1979 and was presided over by a DJ from the South Bronx we know today as Jellybean.
The second club was the Paradise Garage. “The Garage wasn’t just another club. It was everything,” he once said, “like living in a dream. The first time I walked into the Garage I remember saying to myself, ‘Holy shit! Who the fuck did this?'”
Moraes credited the influence of Victor Simonelli with his decision to dive headfirst into the music industry. In 1993 he founded Hot’N’Spycy Recordings with Jeffrey Rodman, co-founder of Sound Factory Bar, later parter at TWILO. The label had a level of quality control which was unique among the upstarts of the early 1990s. Tracks were mastered by Tom Moulton; the stickers cheekily made reference to the master by calling the records “A Moraes Mix.”
The first hit on Hot’N’Spycy was 1993’s “Release Yourself.” With a lively bassline and smashing rhythm section, one can hear the influence of Simonelli but the wild, rambling organ solo made it an anomaly of the era. Not many, if anyone, was making tracks like this in 1993.
An even greater hit would identify Moraes with yet another storied dance club from New York City nightlife history. “Welcome To The Factory” was dedicated to Sound Factory Bar DJ Junior Vasquez. There were a ton of great records dedicated to specific clubs in the late 1980s through the mid-1990s. They seem like curios now, artifacts from an era when DJs were still making tracks specifically for their sets at these places.
None hit has hard as “Welcome To The Factory.” The long, meandering, slightly slurred and off-color record traveled the length and breadth of the world and took Angel Moraes with it. From this point forward he was most certainly a fixture of the international circuit that existed at the time. In 1996 he released the album Hot’N’Spycy and DJ’d for the BBC Essential Mix. Pete Tong introduced him as being “a name for 1996,” a DJ “on the threshold of worldwide acclaim”:
In 1998 Angel Moraes became one of the co-founders of STEREO club in Montreal, Quebec. Moraes build the soundsystem himself (something he did a few times over the years for afterhours clubs and friends) and said his abiding model for how it should run was the Paradise Garage. He sold the club in 2003 but was asked to return in 2009 “as a sound engineer and DJ.”
David Morales, who was also co-owner of STEREO and would play legendary marathon sets there, wrote after learning of Moraes’ passing that “I called him the ‘King of Bass’ because whether it was his tracks or his sound system he always had that bass, that was his signature.”
“He lived a full life,” the note on his Facebook page that announced his passing read, “and he always told me: when I drop dead, I will have no regrets ’cause I lived an awesome fucking life.”
“Life is not a dress rehearsal nor does it come with an expiration date,” Angel wrote in April 2014 after news broke about the death of Frankie Knuckles. “There is no warning of when any of us are going to take our last breath. So if you like someone, tell them, if you miss someone, call them, but most of all, if you LOVE someone, please by all means show them and tell them, cause you may not get that chance ever again.”
🔴 16 Essential Angel Moraes Tracks
Angel Moraes is credited on more than 300 records on Discogs released between 1992 and his death on February 27, 2021. Some of them — particularly the club mixes of Billboard charting hits — are records of their time, and were meant to be. Many more of them however should still be inspirational to producers and DJs today. Moraes in particular had a real gift for working with vocals and vocalists (and proving via his remixes that these are not necessarily the same thing.) His love of the long, long mix was legendary, and these mixes are a free masterclass in learning how to build momentum and push the energy into the red without relying on gimmicks or clichés.
We listened to a lot of Angel’s tracks to try to come up with an “Essential Angel Moraes” SELECT playlist. We originally whittled it down to 30, and then further to 16. We probably passed on more remixes than some would like. We included many of the hits, some deeper catalog cuts and alternative mixes and we left out most of what was in between. Most of our selections date from 1993 to 1997 — a real golden age when Angel Moraes produced quality records at a clip that even in the digital age would be regarded as staggering.
Angel Moraes: Release Yourself / Hot’N’Spycy 
It starts here, with a pulse and a fat chord panning from left to right in an intro that could be from a Salsoul Orchestra classic. Most people’s first records were beat tracks; Moraes put together an all-in-one party starter. It’s an embryonic version of the type of records he would be making in the future, but most of the essential Angel Moraes elements are there, from the epic scale to the lively bassline and a flair for the unexpected — that long, rambling solo on the keys.
Angel Moraes: The Cure [Fierce Garage Dub] / Hot’N’Spycy 
One of those songs that gets its hooks in you, “The Cure” featured an epic-length 12″ Megamix and this more compact, darker and dirtier Garage Dub.
Angel Moraes ft Octavia Lambertis: I Like It [Fire Island Drums] / AM:PM 
Heller and Farley were feeling the Holy Spirit when they got this one down. The Fire Island Drums remix of the Moraes and Lambertis’ track takes everything away until it’s down to bass, a couple of sparsely used FX and drums that sound like someone’s banging on the inside of your head.
Angel Moraes: Welcome to the Factory [Angel’s Journey Mix] / Hot’N’Spycy 
Today they make mixes for Spotify — no intro, no outro, quick in’n’out. In 1995 they still made tracks for the DJ. You might think a 14:55 mix on the A side of a hit record is curiously indulgent — and it is. It’s deliberately over the top, it’s intentionally dubbed a “journey” and it’s whole purpose is for a creative DJ to mix like a motherfucker.
Angel Moraes ft Basil Rodericks: Heaven Knows [Angel’s Factory Mix] / Hot’N’Spycy 
The bassline is so heavy on this one it seems to warp the rest of the record, dropping those popping drums and synth patterns down a planetary gravity well. Like most of Angel Moraes’ records from this era, this one is about the “journey,” an epic 11 minute mix that shifts several times and gives the DJ multiple moments to mix in and out of.
Angel Moraes ft Sally Cortez: Burnin’ Up / Strictly Rhythm 
The track that lead off Moraes’ BBC Essential Mix and quite a few DJ sets recorded around the same time, the track has the same spirit as the godfather of all house fuck tracks, “French Kiss,” but a druggier, more dissociated feel. The vocal was by Sally Cortes, who also did the vocals on “Welcome To The Factory,” “Sounds So Good” and “Time To Get Down.” All mixes of this are great.
Angel Moraes: Sounds So Good [The Sound Mix] / Hot’N’Spycy 
A second track featuring Sally Cortes. Hazy, with a scratch garage sound that makes it sound like a coveted bootleg or an acetate that never wears down. There is nothing dated about this — you could play it now and people would still dance crooked to it.
Angel Moraes ft the Peacemakers: For Love and Peace / Hot’N’Spycy 
Two main mixes here inspired by two of the classic NYC clubs in Moraes life up to that point, Paradise Garage (“For The Garage Heads”) and Sound Factory Bar (“For The Bar Heads,” remixed by Dirty Harry and Mike Delgado.) Vocals are by Basil Rodericks and Sabrynah Pope and they’re pyrotechnic. Classic NYC vocal track.
Angel Moraes Re-Presents Blind Truth: It’s So Hard [Thanksgiving After Dinner Mix] / Minimal 
There is likely an amazing story behind this but I don’t know it. Minimal was Arthur Baker’s label and this was the second in a series of records that were associated with Baker released in a fruitful period, including “You’re Mine,” “Down The Pub” and “Breaker’s Revenge.” Baker remixes on the B-side as “Blow Out Express” with Merv De Peyer but the A Side, which is just so fucking happy with its dub-happy self, is one of my favorite deep catalog Angel Moraes tracks.
Angel Moraes: To the Rhythm / Groovilicious 
Another bootleg style track that snags the last few words of Grace Jones’ “Slave To The Rhythm” and drives it into the fucking ground. Have you ever seen those nature films where some massive beast slowly awakens from its slumber, unfurling its limbs and stretching out until it’s ready to rip the neck out of whatever gets in its way? It’s like that.
Angel Moraes: Everybody’s Feelin’ (Like They Want Somebody] / Audio Deluxe 
This track dates from 2001 but feels older. The vocal by Latrice Verrett is electrifying, buttressed by bright chords and pumping percussion. The remix from Chad Jackson on the b-side is nice too.
Angel Moraes: Tribal Function [Angel’s Original Album mix] / … Records 
Prior to digging through the crates I forgot how many of these fuck tracks Angel Moraes put together. “Tribal Function” is one of the more unambiguous ones, with Latrice Verrett (possibly from the same session as “Everybody’s Feelin'”?) chanting “Work me baby/Pump me baby” over and over. There’s a real momentum to this track — the bassline keeps you right on the edge the whole time as you get lifted higher, higher and higher. Angel was toying with a similar effect on 2002’s “Turn It Up.”
DiRty HaRry: Hot’N’Spycy EP / Hot’N’Spycy 
This is Dirty Harry’s EP, lets be clear about that, and the whole thing is great and Angel Moraes is credited with additional production and the mix on a couple of tracks. “Let It Go” is a great way to uplift a dancefloor even now — driving, a bassline that bounces like Saturday Night Fever and a voice that just keeps shouting “HEY!” in your voice over and over again. “Mental Fusion” (not an Angel Moraes mix) is another great track on here.
Stacy Burket & Angel Audio: Shakedown [Angel Moraes Mix] / Statrax 
Big stomping remix here in the classic Angel Moraes epic breakdown fashion. Released on Statrax, Dave Tomaselli and Victor Calderone’s New York-based label. For my tastes, Angel Moraes’ sound would take turns I didn’t follow much within a few years of this release, with tracks on Subliminal and other labels that catered to a more progressive audience.
K.D. Lang: Sexuality [Angel Moraes Remixes] / Warner Brothers 
The ’90s were runnin’ wild — when else would you get a still up-and-coming Angel Moraes and Japanese hip hop legend DJ Krush remixing a country/western star-turned-pop-idol and one of the most prominent out LGBTQ+ artists into a dance diva? Unfortunately, many of the dance mixes of pop tracks of the day are very much “of the day” — a pop song is designed, after all, to explode like a roman candle and die out quickly. The Main mix hold up better but there’s still something intriguing in Moraes’ pumping dub mix.
François K: Moov [Angel Moraes Hot & Spicy Mix] / Wave Music 
This remix from the François K. FK-EP sees the return of the remix built around a long solo on the keys with a percussive, almost tech house-like groove. Like a lot of Angel Moraes tracks from this period, this was for peak hour sets, meant to keep people on their feet and sweating bullets for “just one more track.”