Review: Synthetic Gold comes into being with a clear commitment to the finest stripped down grooves to be enjoyed in the current climate. Isherwood has already been turning heads for a little while, and brings a truly submerged, experimental mood to "Output 1-2", while Easy Changes ramp up the tempo and get quirky in the minor details of "Sviat Gepard". Nu Zau lays down a perfect crystalisation of the Romanian sound, while Tom Ellis delivers a crackling, electronic piece that edges away from his usual organic sound. It's a fitting final suggestion that this is a label intent on encouraging its artists to head off-piste when delivering a track for release.
Review: German house abstractionist Isolee makes a welcome return, surfacing on Pampa with his first new material since dropping his album Well Spent Youth on Koze's label back in 2011. Creative batteries recharged, Isolee is in familiar form on the three track Allowance 12"; the title track adopts his trademark bare bone approach with soothing lines of melodic intoxicants gently pulsing with intent over the soft edged house groove. This hypnotic opener hogs the A Side, leaving the chiming minimalist rhythmics of "You Could Do Your Memories" to duel for your attentions with the far too playful "Wobble".
Review: Hamburger DJ Koze and his Pampa imprint never fails to impress. This time he recruits the legendary German producer Isolee to work his magic on this tremendous release. It's the quirkiest of minimal house that you'd expect on "Floripa" with its druggy and hypnotic style reminiscent of Perlon or Villalobos. On the flip is "Favouride" and undoubtedly one of the darkest tracks he's ever produced with its humming sub bass and creepy pygmy chants fading in and out of the mix over some seriously tight rhythm programming. It's just got to be heard. Tip!
Review: How cheeky and loveable is DJ Koze, seriously? The Pampa boss gives us a taster for not eins but zwei upcoming albums on his Hamburg based imprint. First up is the legendary Isolee, a man who will have some trouble bettering his first two albums (but early reports suggest he has done just that). "Taktell" may not beat you over the head the first time you hear it - but that doesn't mean it's not a great track. Softly pulsing chords and a gently undulating groove mark this as a devastatingly subtle example of how deep house should be. Flip over for another album teaser, this time from Robag Wruhme, who drops a gentle ambient-leftfield house gem in "Thora Vukk", which will appear on his upcoming long player of the same name.
Review: Romanian producer Iuly.B has been turning out his wares on all the right labels, from Visionquest and Claque Musique to Memoria and Fuse London, and now he's been tapped up by Burnski's Constant Sound label to unfurl a vision of minimal house in 2018. At this stage the influence of early deep techno is as powerful as any kind of modern stripped down house sound, and that comes through in abundance on the shimmering, ambient-tinged "Spaceport". "Dynamics" maintains the celestial trajectory of the record, but with a more looped up, bleep-led approach, while "Meditate" draws upon some of the more familiar tropes of minimal house. "Spherical" finishes the EP off with another set of ethereal pad tones and a crisp, snaking beat for adventurous dancefloor trippers.
Will Saul & Kommon - "Two For One" (original mix) (5:23)
Will Saul & Kommon - "Two For One" (Appleblim remix) (6:29)
Review: As a follow-up to Will Saul's exclusive-packed - and generally well received - DJ Kicks set, !K7 has decided to reissue two of the most celebrated tracks, with fresh new remixes. On the A-side you'll find Jabru and Joel Culpepper's "Church" - a decidedly organic, soulful chunk of deep house/UK garage fusion - with accompanying Zed Bias rub. The UKG veteran gives it a bouncy, bassy two-step makeover, wisely retaining Culpepper's brilliant vocals. Flip for Will Saul and Komon's spacey "Two For One", where dreamy flourishes rub shoulders with throbbing electronics and delicate house beats. The remix is provided by Appleblim, who adds a new layer of percussive toughness - in a bruk-meets-two-step style - whilst retaining the warmth of the original.
Review: The latest release from Seekers offshoot Twig showcases a quartet of cuts by new recruits to the label's growing roster of artists. Jacopo kicks things off via the surging but squeezy synth bass and classic tech-house tropes of "Biloxi", before Chris Geschwinder joins the dots between Brown-era Orbital and jacking 21st century tech-house on acid-fired workout "Marie Pose". The B-side opens with out pick of the bunch, a jazz-dance friendly futurist house odyssey from Modex propelled by squiggly acid lines and rubbery jazz-funk bass, before Lapucci rounds things off with the deep space techno bounce of "Clouds On Mars".
Review: Having made his debut on Roots For Bloom back in 2013, Michael James was made to wait for another opportunity to impress. That came last year via a trio of highly regarded releases on Constant Sound and its Constant Black offshoot. Things are clearly going well, because he's now served up his most expansive collection of tracks to date: a seven-track double-pack featuring a variety of club-ready treats. Check, for example, the low-slung, bass-heavy tech house creepiness of "Catch Me If You Can" and "Winds of Change", the gently spacey bump of "Stormy Skies" and the fluttering late night dreaminess of "Dog Day Afternoon", where stretched-out chords recline over a chunky, dub-influenced bassline.
Review: Vox Populi's Field Works Vol.II sees the Berlin based label travelling to different parts of the world in order to collect sounds and archive some of the finest musical traditions. This record is the result of a trip to Japan led by Swiss anthropologist and label founder Fred Scharf. It was inspired by academic methods: particularly ethnomusicology and incorporates everything from field recordings, studio recordings, religious rituals, fighting championships and even wedding ceremonies. From the slo-mo acid of Japan Blues (Berceuse Heroique) seductive "Chapter V" to Frenchman Tim Karbon's exotic polythyrhms that hypnotise you on "Chapter VI" and Shizka (aka Inoue Shirabe) getting into some abstract groove theory on his splendid offering "Chapter VIII".
Review: Although he's only on his third release to date, Christian Jay is an Idle Hands boy, through and through. This return to the imprint places him in a convenient position, now able to show the world what 'bass' means to him, and exactly how he likes to construct his hybrid cuts. The lead tune "Katalox" is a suave, minimalistic garage stepper with a two-step stance, wrapped in all sorts of airy ambient waves; "Del's Kicks" is a similar sort of groove, this time breaking out yet more percussive glory. Cold, calculated, and utterly excellent.
Review: Bristol's Banoffee Pies are back with their 11th edition. But as far it goes musically: this certainty ain't Bristol! Starting out with the smoothly reduced tendencies of local lad Christian Jay's "Rhotic" which sounds inspired by the sounds of Trelik, there's more of the same (albeit much dubbier and smoked out) on "Starry Nite Life" courtesy of Utrecht's Larry de Kat; very paranoid afterhour vibes on this one! On the flip we've got some more dubbed out fare courtesy of Christian Jay, again, who enlists a bit of help from Crump on the rusty and dust coated "GG3". All Caps artist Florist adds a touch of Vancouver to proceedings with the squelchy DJ tool "Blacky."
Review: Itchy tech house label NCSS returns with a trio of new artists all weaving their way into the top charts, and if the material is sounding this good then we're pretty sure we'll be hearing a lot more from them soon! Newcomer Jhobei rolls through with "Do Milk", a creamy, synth-heavy house killer with a slap-up bass, followed by Casey Spillman's "Simply Focus", a freaky tech roller with all sorts of minimal nuances going off in its mix. On the flip, Jhobei returns with "Club Beige", an aqueous roller that sounds a little like the Cab Drivers, while Ben Balance's "Funk Tower" unleashes a dark, muddy bassline interlocked with subtle bursts of sc-fi goodness.