Review: Kamaal Williams has described The Return, his now reissued debut solo album, as "a natural evolution from the Yussef Kamaal project". Yet while that was made in collaboration with drummer Yussef Kamaal and played around with jazz in its myriad forms, The Return sees the man sometimes known as Henry Wu stamp his own mark on proceedings. So while "visionary jazz" (as the press release puts it) is his aim, this manifests itself in a range of ways. Contrast, for example, the leisurely jazz-funk flex and stoned feel of opener "Salaam" with the more groove-driven, dancefloor vibes of "High Roller", where sinewy strings tumble down over hip-hop influenced live house beats, meandering Herbie Hancock style synths and a superb bassline.
Review: Eliphino continues to explore his emotionally charged, modern sound with this new mini LP for Secretsundaze. Following the trend laid out by his previous turns on Hypercolour, The Love Below and Meda Fury, he unfurls a richly harmonic sound that places emphasis on melodic progression to tell a particularly personal story, ranging from the emotive "Studio Time" to the crooked break-flecked "Old Lemons". "Second Sunday" flirts with electro and "Breaking Up Is Hard" veers towards jungle, but throughout Eliphino's personality binds the record together in fine style. Thoroughly contemporary and unbounded by genre restrictions, this is the sound of someone making the record they want to make.
Review: Two years on from their last outing of note - the deliciously melodic and atmospheric "Elephants EP" - PHCK returns to All Day I Dream with a surprise debut album. The German trio is in fine form throughout "More Than A Machine", effortlessly moving between the hazy, slow burn dreaminess of glassy-eyed opener "Heaven's Gate", the deep Afro-house shuffle of "Whiteout", the tech-tinged ambient house hypnotism of "A Flock", the chiming melodies and hushed grooves of "Harps" and the hard-to-pigeonhole flex of "Essential Return", where a metronomic drumbeat is overlaid with metallic Indonesian instrumentation and woozy freestyle vocals.
Review: Perpetual Rhythms continue to offer up fresh variations on the deep house formula with this classy new drop from Taelue. Crooked electro experiment "The 4th Dimension" opens the record up to any number of possibilities, before the forthright pump of "Twin Flame" locks things into a haunting workout. "Rage Against Oppression" takes things in an angrier direction, all ragged and snarling production values with an acid-techno leaning. "A Bleak Moment" provides more space for exploration away from the floor, and then "The Sunken Place" sinks into sinister soundwaves driven by a nervy arpeggio. "Reflections" finishes the EP off with a trip into slow, spaced-out, acidic ambience.
Review: Axel Boman's 2013 debut album "Family Vacation" was something of a triumph, so it's heartening to report that this belated sequel is every bit as inspired. He begins in fine style by delivering his most loved-up and glassy-eyed track yet - a Sister Sledge sampling chunk of rushing sunrise deep house - before flitting between booming sub-bass and more bliss-inducing musical flourishes on the down-low throb of "Slave To The Vibe". There's an intoxicating and exotic feel to the gently percussive cut that follows, killer ethno-house jam "Paid By The Rhythm", while "Copacabana Dub" is an expertly executed exercise in deep house/Latin percussion fusion. As if that lot wasn't enough to set our pulse racing, trippy slo-mo house chugger "Don't Bug Me" and opaque deep techno shuffler "Konoba Boba" are both suitably sublime.
Review: Enduring underground stalwart Lee Burridge has carved out a cosy little space for himself with his dreamy, melancholic house label and party All Day I Dream. It is grown up music that deals in slow-release pleasures, and as the late summer sun throws out its final rays, he treats us to a sampler of recent highlights. Our picks: Squire's "Inimagina", which is an archetypal ADID cut with soft melodies and pillowy drums, YokoO & Retza's "Drifting" for those late, romantic nights thanks to the gooey chords, and Kevin Di Serna x Max & Nim's "Presence" which has the sort of yawning pads that have you craning your neck to the heavens. Along with plenty of other escapist grooves, it all adds up to a comprehensive overview of this cultured little crew.
Review: The new incarnation of the famous fabric mix series serves up a big one here with Ibiza kingpins and US house torchbearers The Martinez Brothers laying down a fulsome 23 track mix. It brims with the sort of energy that they always have themselves in the booth and takes you on a contemporary trip through the bendy minimal of Cabanne, Frak's percussive workout and some tropical curveballs from The Bayara Citizens. The Brothers also impress with two of their own tracks - "Jam Joint" and "Mistakes" - full of wonky synth work and shuffling drums, and it marks another highpoint in their longstanding career.
Hardsoul - "Back Together" (feat Ron Carroll - Director's cut Classic club mix) (8:33)
Spencer Parker & Dan Beaumont - "The Look" (Director's cut Signature mix) (7:59)
Review: This second round-up of high quality tracks and remixes by Frankie Knuckles and Eric Kupper's Director's Cut project is as loved-up and action-packed as its predecessor. It begins with versions of the pair's re-recording of Knuckles' classics "Baby Wants To Ride" and "Let Yourself Go" (the latter a breezy and summery piano-house treat), before offering up a soulful singalong with Inaya Day and a stomping disco-house cover of Sylvester classic "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)". Record two offers up some of their hard-to-find remixes, with the pair's Lou Rawls revision and soaring version of Hardsoul and Ron Carroll's soulful house classic "Back Together" standing out.
Sly & Lovechild - "The World According To Sly & Lovechild" (Andrew Weatherall Soul Of Europe mix) (8:25)
Deniro - "Epirus" (6:34)
Psyche - "Crackdown" (5:59)
Hiver - "Paert" (7:04)
Aphex Twin - "Vordhosbn" (4:46)
Review: South Korean star Peggy Gou continues her seemingly unstoppable rise by serving up her first ever DJ mix CD. It's a contribution to one of the longest running series in the business, DJ Kicks, and she's used the opportunity to showcase the depth and variety of the music in her crates. Beginning with the classic early '90s ambient of Spacetime Continuum, Gou flits between humid, mid-tempo Balearic house (her own "Hungboo"), acid-fired downtempo electronica, throbbing 1990 peak-time anthems (Weatherall's ace but largely forgotten remix of Sly & Lovechild), hypnotic techno minimalism, main room throb-jobs (Hiver), pulsating electro, classic breakbeat hardcore, post-dubstep, dark tribal drum jams and sunrise ready Motor City brilliance (Deniro).
Review: Of all DJ duos currently operating in British dance music, Belfast boys Bicep might be the hardest to pin down (Optimo aside, of course). Certainly, this debut album is not easy to pigeonhole, though it is an enjoyably cohesive listen. This is largely down to two factors; the frequent use of deliciously colorful and loved-up synthesizer parts, and the duo's innate ability to utilize beats tailor-made for dancefloor devastation. So while keen dancefloor historians may notice sly (and not so subtle) nods to '89 rave, U.S house and garage, Italo-disco, late '90s progressive house, jungle and early British hardcore, the album never sounds anything less than a fine set of Bicep tracks. Expect it to be one of the biggest albums of the year.
Review: With previous releases on Blind Jack's Journey and Tessellate, London via Istanbul's Aleksandir returns with this great new six tracker courtesy of Seb Wildblood's Church imprint. Shades of jazz, soul, broken beat and house linger throughout these lush and dusty downbeat selections. Take for instance the smooth opener "Before, After" with its seductive leads, airy pads and reduced polyrhythms, the late night deepness of "Gone Swimming" (which is so sensual) or the simply evocative mood lighting of "Between Summers" which respectfully recreates the vibe of UK greats such as 4hero or At jazz's classic nu-jazz antics.
Review: If you were judging Kieran Hebden's 11th Four Tet studio album merely on the way it's presented, you'd immediately think he'd spent the last two years immersed in early '90s ambient house albums. While it's unlikely he's done that, it's fair to say that New Energy does owe a debt to classic electronica sets from that period. For all the exotic instrumentation and subtle nods to post-dubstep "aquacrunk" experimentalism and chiming, head-in-the-clouds sunrise house, the album feels like a relic of a lost era. That's not meant as a criticism - New Energy is superb - but it is true that his choice of neo-classical strings, gentle new age melodies, sweeping synthesizer chords and disconnected vocal samples would not sound out of place on a Global Communication album.
Review: We've been waiting on this one since "J&W Beat" six years ago; there's something about Floating Points sound that instantly lends itself to full-length album immersion. It's clear he feels this way too; using the album to delve deeper into electronic deconstructions and delicate ensemble arrangements. At its most adventurous and contemporary classical "Argente" is up there with Frahm, at is dreamiest and jazz-influenced "For Marmish" is a deeply cosmic affair with disparate chords making more sense than they perhaps should. At its most traditional Floating Points we hit the finale "Perotation Six" where the brushed drums are buried under layers of sound and elements in a way that's not dissimilar to Radiohead. Well worth the wait.
Review: With a story intrinsically woven into the fabric of the Deep Explorer catalogue, Leo Gunn presents his debut album in a sultry haze of natural, heartfelt deep house with all the soul the genre has to offer. The LP begins in a laconic fashion with the slow-ticking "Leo & Leo Jr" before "Journey Inwards" presents a more focused kind of track for steady warm ups and hazy mornings. "Digital vs MIDI" is equally a subtle kind of party starter with its solid rhythmic foundation and "Home Base" fixes its gaze on a more lively time of night, but here and throughout the mood is predominantly mellow, as it should be with a release on Deep Explorer.
Review: Church founder Seb Wildblood may only be six years into his production career, but he already has an impressive slew of EPs and singles under his belt. "Sketches Of Transition", is the South London producer, DJ and label boss' long-awaited debut album and arguably his most musically expansive and on-point set to date. Largely warm, gentle, summery and sunrise-ready, it sees Wildblood drift between sumptuous Balearic grooves ("Twenty Eight"), sumptuous neo-soul ("Thought For Food"), liquid deep house ("Small Talk"), dusty-but-toasty workouts ("Bahn"), ultra-deep synth-pop (the Andras & Oscar style goodness of "Amelia") and impeccable ambient tracks capable of making the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end ("One For Malcolm").
Review: The second part of Omar S' You For Letting Me Be Myself album in vinyl form sees another 8 tracks across four sides of wax; aside from the '80s inflected sounds of the album's title track, the 303 workout of "Ready My Black Asz" finds itself with the dubbed out loops of "Messier Sixty Eight". As a bonus for those who already have the album, this part contains two vinyl exclusive tracks; the soothing deepness of "She's Sah Hero Nik" and the delayed organ weirdness of "Broken Bamalance Horn" - both more than worth the price of admission alone.
Magic Mountain High - "Tiny Fluffy Spacepods" (7:17)
Dusted Links (8:47)
One Small Step... (with Reagenz Meets Thomas Fehlmann) (7:00)
Move D - "Building Bridges" (with Fred P - Move D Inside Revolution mix) (10:46)
Perpetual State (feat The Poem Alles Ist Eins by Thorn Hoedh) (4:56)
Review: Given that he's a born collaborator, as his vast discography proves, it's perhaps fitting that David Moufang's latest album as Move D is packed to the rafters with killer collaborations. Check, for example, the ultra-deep, woozy and off-kilter "Innit", a superbly dubby and opaque studio hook-up with German rave pioneer D-Man, and the shuffling, intergalactic deep house warmth of Fred P collaboration "Building Bridges". Fittingly, his renowned collaborative projects also feature. There's a wonderfully elastic and out-there dub techno/minimalist track by Reagenz (Moufang and Jonah Sharp AKA Spacetime Continuum) with German veteran Thomas Fehlmann, and a Magic Mountain High (alongside Juju and Jordash) track that takes slow-burn, softly spoken deep house/dub techno fusion and runs with it. As you'd expect, the solo tracks are impeccable, too.
Review: In the 11 years since he made his debut on a split 12" of techno productions, Melchior Sultana has developed into a fine producer of smoky, evocative deep house. Here, he more than proves that point, returning to Jus-Ed's Underground Quality imprint with his fourth solo full length. Seemingly inspired by his Maltese roots, Mediterran is chock full of the kind of warm, mature, impeccably produced deep house that sounds like it was designed to soundtrack dusky St Julian's sunsets and baking hot afternoons amidst the ancient walls of Valetta. There are nods towards the bluesy jazz-house of St Germain (see "One Take"), classic Balearic deep house ("Paradise") and the emotion-rich grooves of Jus-Ed ("Lead The Way"), with the overall feel being lazy, relaxed and groovy.
Review: Italian duo Nu Guinea has previously proved adept at creating humid, sultry deep house and tropical-infused electronics. Here, they focus a little more on the latter with a concept album based around the distinctive Afrobeat rhythms of legendary drummer Tony Allen. With his blessing, and that of the Comet label on which he's been releasing since the 1980s, the Early Sounds Recordings pair has cut-up and re-constructed Allen's drums, combining them with their own steamy electronics, vintage synthesizer lines and classic drum machines. It's an intoxicating and hugely entertaining blend that sits somewhere between their previous outings, Danny Wolfers' material under the Nacho Patrol guise, and the dreamy late '80s/early '90s work of forgotten Italian producer Mr Marvin.
Review: Fizzing all over the shop like an F1 winner's magnum, Frank Timm celebrates 20 years of Sound Stream with this outstanding slab of uncut floor jams. No messing around, just straight up disco house music. At points plain trippy ("Flash Back"), at others straight up sexy ("Love Remedy", "Get Down") but always unifying and obese in width and weight ("Disco Advisor" especially) Timm has cleared the board right here with the full range. Essential.
Review: Since the release of debut album Charmer three years ago, Claptone's profile has rocketed, despite his continued insistence of disguising his identity using a "golden-beaked mask". Fantast, the Berlin-based producer's second album, feels like a major release: a set of woozy and attractive pop-house songs with serious crossover potential. As with its predecessor, Fantast boasts a dizzying range of guest vocalists - Kele Okereke, Zola Blood, Ben Nicholson, Tender and Ben Duffy included - as well as sparkling, radio-friendly cuts that variously doff a cap to Daft Punk style disco-pop, Balearic piano house, '80s boogie, rock-tinged synth-pop and, of course, Claptone's deep house roots. Impeccably produced and full of attractive, hooky songs, this should cement Claptone's reputation as a producer on the rise.
Review: Christopher Rau is a true stalwart of the German deep house scene, with releases on a who's who such as Smallville, Office, Mule Musiq and Die Orakel over the years. FME Hustle is the Hamburg native's new one, where he can count Berlin urban house heroes Money $ex to his list of credentials. Expect the same soulful and dusty deepness from the man, as he's been consistently pumping out for close to a decade from his new home in the capital. From the broken emotive groove of "Jetlag Alter", the neon-lit lo-fi hiss of "Uebelst Bekorbt House Mix" or the textured/dub-laden tech house of "Drama - Chamber" Rau further demonstrates exactly why he's still one of the most highly respected producers within the genre.
Review: For deep house diggers, Soichi Terada has long been a source of inspiration. While he's still active, it's the early '90s material he released on the Far East Recordings label - an imprint he founded soon after his graduation in 1990 - that most excites. Following the 2014 re-release of his sublime hook-up with Nami Shimada, "Sunshower", Rush Hour has decided to put together this excellent retrospective. Compiled by self-confessed fan Hunee, Sounds From The Far East contains a mixture of hard-to-find Terada originals, collaborations, and tracks by fellow Far East Recordings artist Shinichiro Yokota, all in the label's trademark melody-rich, evocative deep house style.
Nata Alma (feat Sidsel Endresen & Bugge Wesseltoft (You Might Say)) (4:22)
Bezique Atout (feat Oxia) (4:08)
Ende #2 (4:29)
Anton III (2:31)
Ila I (3:05)
Review: While he's tended to maintain a fairly steady stream of singles, Robag Wruhme has never been a prolific producer of albums. It took him seven years to deliver a full-length follow-up to debut EP 'Wuzzelbud "KK"' and another eight to get round to creating "Venq Tolep", his latest album length exploration. So was it worth the wait? Undoubtedly! Beginning with the hazy grooves, gentle melodies and simmering strings of "Advent", the veteran German drifts between slow-motion ambient pop ("Westfal"), ethereal soft-focus deep house ("AK-Do 5"), intoxicating beat-free soundscapes ("Volta Copy (Ambient Version)") and undulating, glitch-heavy workouts that doff a cap to both pastoral techno and the glistening IDM of British greats such as Plaid and Boards of Canada.
Colors Of Autumn (feat Speech Of The Group Arrested Development) (4:10)
This Is My Rock (feat Sophia Kennedy) (5:19)
Illumination (feat Roisin Murphy) (4:40)
Planet Hase (feat Mano Le Tough) (4:18)
Pick Up (6:37)
Scratch That (feat Roisin Murphy) (5:02)
Muddy Funster (feat Kurt Wagner) (5:23)
Baby (How Much I LFO You) (4:31)
Lord Knows (4:04)
Seeing Aliens (4:53)
Drone Me Up, Flashy (feat Sophia Kennedy) (6:26)
Take A Run (feat Ada) (4:51)
Review: DJ Koze's music is very much suited to the album format. Although his last effort through this medium was back in 2013, his explorative nature and wide-eyed, improvisational style are simply made to branch out into areas outside of the more predictable house and techno formats. Knock Knock comes through on his own Pampa label, with its seventeen tracks all providing us with something different and wonderful, from slo-mo r&b sounds to funky, wayward house music that is most certainly at the 'outside' of the house spectrum. There are plenty of special guests, too, including Mano Le Tough, Sophia Kennedy, and many other relevant talents. A Koze speciality.
Review: Parallel Dimensions was first released in 2000. Since then, this seminal LP has been reissued on numerous occasions, and it's easy to understand why. Much like the work of his Detroit compatriot, Moodymann, Parrish's early work helped to define the sound that we now refer to as 'Detroit house'. Through an intricate, soulful blend of the Motor City's infamous Motown funk sounds, Parallel Dimensions has been one of the albums to showcase a particular style of sampling, one which focusses on rhythmic concoctions and a palpable sense of the city's struggles. Don't get us wrong, this LP is very much playable on the dancefloor, but it can't possibly be reduced to being categorised as a 'dance' piece. Hip-hop, soul, funk and disco are important parts of the formula, and the house and techno nuances that do emanate from the tunes are strictly a filter for Parrish's more jazzy, musical tendencies. It's an album to get lost in, to enjoy in different scenarios, and one in which you'll find something new every time you approach it. Unmissable.
Review: Having previously collaborated on tasty 2013 single "Speckbass", partners in audio insanity DJ Fett Burger and DJ Speckgurtel have united for a full-length excursion full of "dance music for clubs and pubs and some easy-going jams to jazz the sheets". In practice, that means a saucer-eyed mixture of retro-futurist house treats (see jaunty opener "Harpo" and the Italo-house giddiness of "6Drops (Piano Mix)", loved-up deep electro (the spacey warmth of "Red Scorpions"), unashamed Larry Heard tributes ("Sunshine In The Limousine"), densely percussive peak-time workouts ("Enjoy This Limousine"), ragged acid ("6Drops (Technocid Mix)"), rushing Balearic synth-pop ("Sting Collins") and chiming, early '90s style ambient house (the beat free lusciousness of "Sonnen Ambiente").
Review: Lo-fi house hero Ross From Friends presents his debut album for Flying Lotus' Brainfeeder imprint - this follows up the terrific Aphelion EP he presented on the label earlier this year. Like the title suggests, Family Portrait refers to a very specific personal aspect of Felix Weatherall's life: the influence of his parents. Dance music was always around during his childhood, where he grew up learning about music from his dad - who apparently had a penchant for banging out hi-NRG tracks on the decks. It's a riveting listen from start to finish: from the the intensely vivid groove of "Pale Blue Dot" to the moody "Project Cybersyn" with its tunnelling aesthetic - perfectly geared for those heads-down moments later in the night.
Review: With just a few low-key releases behind him, you'd be forgiven for not being familiar with the work of South London beatmaker Al Dobson Jnr. Such a situation will undoubtedly soon change with Dobson Jnr primed to release album length projects on IZWID and Rhythm Section International, two fledgling labels associated with respected selectors. Before Sounds from the Village Vol.1 drops on the former (overseen by KUTMAH) the man called Al inaugurates the latter label, an extension of the Rhythm Section club night hosted by Boiler Room's Bradley Zero. Despite his status as a South London celebrity, Zero is a steadfast supporter of his local roots and the vinyl format so it's great to see him offering Dobson Jnr the platform to shine. And shine he does on Rye Lane Vol 1, a wonderful 11 track collection that is comparable in execution and mood to Mo Kolour's sublime debut.
Review: The deepArtSounds label goes from strength to strength as it searches out the deepest operators in the contemporary house music scene. Melchior Sultana last appeared on the label alongside Deep88, but here he delivers an album of purely solo material (well, apart from Janelle Pulo's vocal turn on "Free"). There's a consitent smoky ambience across the eight tracks on offer here, but each individual piece has its own characteristics, from the melancholic synth meanderings of "Dusty Guitar" to the Detroit-tinted machine soul of "Romance". There's not a duff moment on here, making it an album you can sink into for the start-to-finish trip, or a useful collection of refined deep house cuts to fit into any set with ease.