Review: The Abstract Eye is Gabriel Reyes-Whittaker, a producer who releases music most using the monikers GB, The Reflektor, Frankie Reyes and Julian Abelar. Five prolific, soulful/melodic tracks originally released in 2011 on Valentine Connexion, now available again courtesy of Amsterdam's always reliable Rush Hour. The extraordinarily gifted Los Angeleno creates striking electronic songs here which integrate the technological with the spiritual and ancestral. There's respectful nods to Motor City greats like Japanese Telecom ("Cool Warm Divine") and John Beltran ("Nobody Else") on here. "Nobody Else Pt. 2" channels the cyclical/minimal soul of Internal Empire era Robert Hood: absolutely sublime!
Review: Last year, Sadar Bahar made a visit to the Utrecht studio of veteran electro producer and analogue synthesizer collector Ben Spaander (AKA Cosmic Force). Having got on incredibly well, they decided to record tracks together under the Ben & Sadar's alias. This debut 12" is something of a treat: a two-track, sample-free romp through heavyweight disco-funk fusion. They begin with killer boogie jam "We Are Righteous People", where jammed-out guitar riffs, wavy saxophone lines and rubbery slap bass lines wrap themselves around an all-action drum machine groove. Flip for the guitar-wielding madness of "Bouncing Atoms", whose Cream style riffs and bluesy solos ride a cowbell-heavy disco groove.
Review: Original Chicago deep house producer Vincent Floyd has enjoyed something of a career renaissance since the release of Moonlight Fantasy, a collection of previously unheard 1990s productions, on Rush Hour in 2014. Here the Dutch label dips into his vaults again and unearths another gem from the late 1990s. "Hard to Love" is every bit as warm, rich and loved-up as you'd expect, with Floyd providing a yearning, soul-fired vocal to accompany his rich Windy City grooves and cascading synthesizer melodies. On the flip you'll find a fabulous instrumental version that closely mirrors the vocal take. That it stands up on its own without the headline vocal is testament to Floyd's impeccable composition and production skills.
Review: Rush Hour's latest reissue focus is Vincent Floyd, a producer with a small clutch of 12? releases in the mid-90s for Dance Mania, Relief and Gherkin Records offshoot Resound Records. Although more from the producer is promised in the year to come, the first record is Your Eyes, a reissue the producer's debut for Dance Mania. Released back in 1990, the five-track 12? brandished a title track that was pretty much a perfect example of vocal deep house from the era, and this reissued edition from Rush Hour pares the record down to just three tracks, with the Chan-featuring title cut complemented by an instrumental and "I'm So Deep," described by the label as a "sinister haunting instrumental jackin track".
Review: Amsterdam based producer Jordan 'GCZ' Czamanski wears many hats, whether as part of Juju & Jordash, Magic Mountain High or as part of Mulholland Free Clinic with David Moufang. He now makes his solo debut on Rush Hour with this awesome EP of neon treasures. From the funky old school techno vibe of "Pinball Lizzard" with its wayward melodies and cracking rhythms (on what the label best described themselves as 'a multi-ball dancefloor battle against the Grand Lizard') to the smooth neon-lit deepness of "Minor 7 Resin" - it's another terrific effort from a true hero of the underground.
Review: During a record digging trip to South Africa a year or two back, Rush Hour co-founder Antal stumbled on an obscure local cover of Klein & MBO's Ron Hardy and Larry Levan favourite, "The MBO Theme". The Warrior version, which was recorded at some point in the early '80s, is a little slower and breezier than Klein and MBO's original, with even finer fretless bass flavours and the track's famous melodies re-played on some particularly spacey synthesizers. Helpfully, the Klein & MBO version is on the A-side, so you can easily compare the two: Warriors' little known cover is definitely our pick of the pair.
Review: In recent times Rush Hour has excelled at reissuing obscure African music of the late 1980s, often pairing the original with a previously unheard cover version or remake. They're at it again here, offering up Les Choc Stars Du Zaire and Ben Nyamabo's 1989 cut "Nakombe Nga" with an obscure Belgian new beat cover by one album wonders Teknokrat's [sic]. Les Choc Stars Du Zaire's version is wonderfully positive, joining the dots between electronic soukous, ear-catching synth-pop and sunset-friendly Balearic vibes. The Teknokrat's version is, if anything, even more loved-up, with classic late '80s house instrumentation (Frankie Knuckles style synth-strings, jaunty pianos), ghostly electronic lead lines, delay-laden vocal passages and a superb synth bassline
Review: Good news for all of those who don't shop in Rush Hour's Amsterdam store, as Masalo's much-hyped debut solo single is finally available outside of that legendary Dutch institution. It's certainly been worth the wait. Both tracks doff a cap towards the spacey and intergalactic end of the Italo-disco spectrum, with Masalo opting for unfussy drum machine rhythms and throbbing, arpeggio style basslines. A-side "New Dance" is the more obviously disco-centric of the two tracks, with jaunty riffs, lilting synth-pop melodies and ricocheting, proto-house style drum fills rising above a suitably druggy groove. "Cycles", meanwhile, is a little deeper and more outer space in tone, an effect emphasized via sampled vocal chants and crystalline synthesizer melodies that appear to drift across the sound space.
Review: Rush Hour did us plenty of favours this year but by far our most cherished was the reissue of James Mason's timeless, proto-house excursions on the infamous "Nightgruv" EP. There's really not much to be said about these peerless productions, the original mix is a stunning voyage through glimmering synths backed by a chugging beat groove, but the unreleased longer edit is the one - voyaging through those gorgeous drums and piano keys like there's no tomorrow! "I Want Your Love" is another masterpiece - slo-mo hip-hop beats mixed in with those killer funk bass lines and the infamous vocals taking you to another dimension.
Review: Unbeknownst to most techno heads, 1995's Hippnotic Culture is majorly responsible for the modern rise in minimalistic dance music, especially the strains adopted by labels like Minus or Perlon a decade later. Released on the ambiguous Utensil Records, this was top-shelf material from Terrence Dixon aka Population 1, who has grown and evolved both of those monikers to this day. Holland's Rush Hour, always a source of inspirational dance aesthetics, is responsible for this re-visioning of the now much coveted original issue. "Rush Hour", to which the Amsterdam store owe their name, the wayward "Warped", "Cosmic Drill", "Lovechild", and the dreary-eyed "Lost In Space" all receive a fine remixing tweak, adding to their inherent hypnotism with another fine layer of Detroit dust. Transparent vinyl.
Review: There was much excitement surrounding Granit Records' recent reissue of Claude Rodap's sole album, 1982's synthesizer-heavy fusion of traditional Martinique styles and (then) contemporary electronic music, Syn-Ka. Now Rush Hour is getting in on the act, issuing three more obscure Rodap productions - this time made around the turn of the Millennium - on vinyl for the first time. There's naturally plenty to enjoy, from the rainforest melodies, spacey synth-bass and gentle tropical rhythms of "Hiwa", to the glistening, guitar-laden Caribbean Balerica of closer "Zouklove". The track that sits in between, the denser, jazzier, solo heavy "Paco", is also superb.
Review: Leon Vynehall's stunningly picturesque "Midnight On Rainbow Road" was one of the undoubted highlights of Gerd Jansen's second Musik For Autobahns compilation, which was released in the autumn of 2015 by Rush Hour. Here, it gets a deserved single release, with the original - a hypnotic, driving-inspired blend of fluid electronic melodies, a wispy percussion and Jonny Nash style glistening guitar lines - being complimented by a brand new "Beat Edit". This adds a slowly unfurling, head-nodding rhythm that takes the track further towards Detroit Beatdown territory. In essence, though, it sounds like an early '90s ambient house jam. That's no bad thing, given that Vynehall seems to have emphasised the sun-kissed beauty of the original in the process.