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Vakula – Nema review

Eastern Europe is proving to be something of a deep house goldmine these days. The arrival of Anton Zap and Nina Kraviz on Jus-Ed’s Underground Quality imprint built an invisible bridge between Russia and Connecticut, whilst unheralded Estonian producer Bakey USTL will soon appear on Firecracker sub-label Unthank. That won’t be the first time the Linkwood-Fudge Fingas-House Of Traps axis of Scotch drinking/house music has peeked beyond the Iron Curtain, with Ukranian producer Vakula (aka Vakula Karpenko) popping up with the fifth instalment of the famed Firecracker 10” series back in June.

Here we see Karpenko return with an EP on Under The Shade sub-label 3rd Strike, which has already released some deep house fire in 2010 from Erdbeerschnitzel and Mark E. Opening gambit “Nema” – evidently named after the vocalist it features – starts with a nice rolling drumline interspersed by live bongos, which rest snugly beneath Nema’s beautiful if indecipherable vocal sweeps. It shares the A-Side with “Nerve”, which opens in a Moodymann- “MEANDNJB”-style flourish, dropping immediately into a rolling analogue crunch which works nicely with bleepy synth chops.

The flipside commences with the extended bongo solo intro of “All The Same”, before some club-friendly kick drums arrive, riding above murmurings of sub bass as chord stabs drift in with a vocal snatch uttering ‘New York’ to set the mood. “Hoopa Loopa” follows in a more understated tone, with soft chanting replacing the tropical percussion, while “Beat Ja” – definitely the cheeky hidden gem on this 12” – closes out with pitched down vocal gurgles and raw junkyard drums.

Aaron Coultate