Review: Robin Ball's Memory Box dips once more into the acid-laced honey pot and comes up with the lysergic maestro Luke Vibert, who delivers a crucial gurgler in "X To C" that ranks amongst his most incisive 303 workouts in recent memory. A snappy 808 drum line and quintessential vocal chops make this an all-round masterful jam for heads down moments in the dance. Robin Ball himself steps up on the B side with two equally proficient cuts, from the big and bold peak time propulsion of "Gripper" to the punchy tech-noir of "The Edge".
Review: Having demonstrated the breadth of his artistic vision with the excellent One Against Time album last year, John Dimas returns to Half Baked with a focused 12" of dancefloor heaters that keep the vibe varied but the beats ever-present. "5putn1k" is a cheeky, boxy workout with plenty of swing and some wriggling bassline flex. "@L5d" takes a trippier route through spaced out synth lines and a subliminal rhythm section for maximum lock-in, and then "5p@c3 T@lk" heads skywards with a gorgeous tapestry of melodious expression strapped to a rock-solid groove. "@rkyn" completes the set with a snagging 2-step funk and plenty of the space in the mix for the meditative crew to get all eyes-closed to.
Review: The Micronesia label has always impressed with its various artists releases, although they're never in a hurry to get another record together. Finally volume three is here, and it features another intriguing cast of characters. Rudolf C brings some crisp and crackling deep house bedded down with hazy pads and sprinkled on top with curious cosmic trills. LK is back on the label with a mellow roller, while Leonid gets things hot and sticky for the clamoring throb of "Cosmic Origin". Alpha Crucis pings off into super-deep backroom quarters with the gorgeous "About U", and DX2OV keeps things chilled but funky on the dust-caked "Cone".
Review: Trustworthy techno outpost Chronicle are the kind of label you can still get behind when they drop an unnamed artist. Whoever's behind Cycle De Motifs, the bar remains reassuringly high for those wanting fresh firepower in the serious techno game. "GPS" is a fist-shaking piledriver, but it's not without its cerebral nuances between the surging low end. Who needs a kick when you can have a relentless sub to carry you through the night? "C-Signature" darts out into equally intriguing territory with a creeping, insectoid array of sound design working around a minimal beat. "Gateway To Infinity" piles the eerie, looping figures on and continues spiraling outwards, and "Nepthys" plies an old-skool drum machine jack in the finest Plastikman tradition.
Review: Mihai Pol is undoubtedly the current favourite of Romania's storied minimal techno scene at present, and continues with his consistent output with a new one for Berlin by way of Frankfurt's Subtil here - after some thrilling outings on Telum, Synaesthesia and Ibiza's More Than Music. Pol's signature groove is bouncy and uplifting as heard on the reduced funk of opener "Lost Ark" which was no doubt tested thoroughly on Bucharest's afterhours scene. On the flip, two more cuts await: the tough bass-driven entancer that is the title track ("Making Waves") which could be used to easily lead in to the peak time, or the heady and infectious tool that follows - fittingly titled "Mentalist"
Review: Miami-based label Fake Society return with their third release, this time a various artist EP featuring four servings of sublime minimal tech house - all rolling, ethereal and as hypnotic as you like! They haven't been shy either, tapping some of the scene's biggest names at present such as Romanian heroes like Lizz (who provides the mesmerising Sunday afternoon bliss of "Destruct") or Bucharest wunderkind Sublee - sounding a bit different than usual on the breakbeat driven "Found Jazz". In between is label boss Camelia on the bass-driven groove of "Protostar". On the flip, ascendant producer Los Bastoneros delivers the blissed-out dub of "La Joaca".
Review: Since 2015, Jacob Chenaux has been serving up singles made in collaboration with fellow Offenbach resident Martyne. Here he goes solo for the very first time with a four-track outing on Traffic. He eases us in gently via the crunchy techno-funk of "Frostnach" - all bouncy drum machine beats, rumbling bass and minor key organ melodies - before heading to deep space via the sci-fi bleeps, supersonic noises and robust drums of "Challenjour". Flip to the B-side for the wayward early morning techno throb of "Jericho" and the rubbery goodness of "Wrath", where Motor City style chords and chiming melodies rise above unfussy machine beats and a squelchy analogue bassline.
Review: Illyus & Barrientos are the rising Scottish tech-house duo that are staples of top labels DFTD and Glasgow Underground, and who had a breakthrough year in 2018. They kick start this year with a future anthem on the label they now call home: Toolroom. There is a couple of worthy new bangers here: from the exhilarating funky house explosion of "The One" and its infectious disco loops, to the fierce tech-house stomp of "Shout" named after the pitched-up diva vocals throughout - that will no doubt whip the crowd into a frenzy. This in combination with a tough rolling, bass-driven groove that is aimed squarely at peak time dancefloors in the main room and it's a hit prediction right here! Expect to be hearing it a lot in 2019 for sure.
Review: Kiwi brothers Chaos In The CBD return to Mule Musiq with their third EP for the long running Japanese label. They are in fine form throughout, offering up cuts that combine great ideas and intriguing musical motifs with just the right amount of serious dancefloor grunt. They're in full on saucer-eyed mode on A-side "Hydrate", a breakbeat-sporting deep house roller whose extended ambient intro, swirling chords, whispered vocal samples, gentle acid lines and early '90s U.S garage stabs combine to create a suitably loved-up vibe. Flipside "Searching For Signal" is similarly inclined but sounds a touch more psychedelic, with trance-inducing electronics and heady chord sequences catching the ear above another shuffling breakbeat-driven groove.
Review: Commonly found rocking out on Unison Wax, Constant Sound and Pleasure Zone, Diego Krause is a certified mover and shaker in the minimal house scene, and he's on fire with this latest round of missives for Blind Box. "Malice" leads the charge with a plethora of eerie synth textures flexing organically round the sturdy beat, while "Monolith" slips into a slinkier groove while keeping the tripped out tone tweaking at the forefront of our minds. "Return" brings a tougher, fist-pumping rhythm section with a snaking syn-cussion tones trickling throughout, providing Blind Box with plenty of material to sink their gnashers into on the remix.
Manuk & Oli Silva - "Nevermind The Crispies" (5:55)
Eliaz - "Verdico" (7:06)
Meta 4 - "Urnammu" (7:45)
Jorge Gamarra - "Dypac" (5:42)
Review: There's a certain air of buy-on-sight mystique around EYA Records, somewhere between the low-key presentation of the music and the cult artists they're calling on to realise their particular vision of deviant dancefloor business. This is unabashed freaky party tackle, from Manuk & Oli Silva's delirious B-movie jack track "Nevermind The Crispies" to the uneasy electro snarl of "Verdico". Meta 4 has equally nightmarish moods to share on the graveyard acid of "Urnammu" and Jorge Gamarra seals the deal with the schlocky braindance horror of "Dypac". It's the kind of record that you'll be reaching for come Halloween, trust.
Review: Reductionist house masters Thomas Melchior and Fumiya Tanaka team up once again to provide some choice basic trance inductions on this terrific new EP for Perlon. This follows up 2017's amazing "The Warmth" on Melchior's Aspect Music and likewise will hypnotise you into submission with its deep and afterhours vibe. On the A side we have the ultra-smooth bounce of "Soa" with its disorienting vocal cuts ups, sparse keys and immaculate rhythm arrangements, altogether making for an intoxicating late night vibe. On the flip, go further (and weirder) into the late morning with the classy minimalism of "I Believe I Need" which reaches near psychedelic levels.
Review: Following releases from Huerta, Mandar and Makcim & Levi last year, Oscillat kicks off 2019 with an assured, brooding club 12" from long-serving producer Matthew Dekay.
Since surfacing in 2001, Dutch producer Dekay has put out a formidable body of work under a variety of aliases and in collaboration with producers including Lee Burridge and Maher Daniel. His sultry tech house approach has graced labels as highly regarded as Innervisions, Cecille, Aras and Maeve, and now he comes to Oscillat with "Spellbound," a track that finds him diving deeper than ever before into hypnotic, swinging rhythms loaded with atmosphere and longing.
On the B side, Oscillat bosses Mandar (Lazare Hoche, Malin Genie and Samuel Andre Madsen) take Dekay's original and inject it with an infectious peak time energy, creating a straight-up, acid-flecked workout that sits in neat contrast with the immersive shuffle of the original.
Review: The OdD Music crew are back with more of that off-kilter, subtly freaked up house music shuffle to make your bones shake. This sixth release on the label has everything any minimal head craves, not least on opening jam "Forty Five" with its nervy piano licking away underneath a heavy filter while the groove rolls on incessantly. "Thirty Three & A Third" takes a different approach, dropping some deft broken beats into the mix and letting some spaced out synth wobbles ping the track into a curious new orbit. "Nine" finishes the EP off with some immersive percussive tones that call to mind ritualistic dancing and transcendental experience, just like all good party music should.
Review: We're not sure who's behind the mysterious AC-EXP project, but the shadowy figure returns with more of that strange, submerged house music he's been tickling discerning DJs with over the past few years. After taking last year off, "1A" is a fine place to start things up again with a strutting jack track carrying acidic synth pulses that flirt with measured delay processing. It's a jam that sounds steamy and sinister all at once. "1B" maintains this restrained but seductive vibe with the slightly trancey throb of the lead synths pivoting around the snappy drums to great effect.
Review: After an excellent first release featuring Freerotation lynchpin Steevio, Russ Gabriel's Rivers Of Groove label returns with a pair of excursions into lush, bubbling techno from Gabriel on his own. As a first generation UK techno stalwart, it's little wonder that he can turn out productions as accomplished as these, but there's no sense that he's treading water. "Ambulate" bears the hallmarks of modular production, all twinkling, morphing synth tones chiming around a delicate beat, while "Dover Calling" favours a snappier electro palette, but both stand out from the crowd for the sheer quality in the production, the warmth in the composition and the needlepoint focus given to every shred of detail in this crucial cuts.
Review: Following a strong cast including Myles Serge, John Barera, DJ Skull and Hakim Murphy, Mentha continues its strong run of form with a various artists 12" that broadens the horizons of the high-grade deep house label. Michael Lovatt keeps things groovy and understated on "Tides", while Kareen Ali gets into a slow and trippy mood on "Arnaldo Tamayo Mendez". Anaxander's "Unspoken" brings some neo-soul synth lines to the table, and Michael Zucker turns out a brooding, introspective workout. Each track may have its own traits, but the whole record hangs together as a fine next step for a promising label.
Pimping People In High Places (Woodword Ave alternative mix) (6:50)
The Medusa Touch (6:52)
Review: Gary Martin is well known for his unique productions and his label Teknotika is surely a classic coming out of the famous motor city. This special 10" holds two sought after tracks that were found on a lost DAT tape by Yossi Amoyal and Gary Martin himself. On the A side we have a long time secret weapon, it's a hypnotic groove that was heard on many classic sets, Zip and Ben Klock to name a few. An extremely insane, hard to find Gigi Galaxy track that was changing hands for silly prices is on the B side, for those who know... massive release!
Review: Constant Black continues its superb string of releases with this latest outing for the imprints close affiliate Michael James. The label run by Burnski and Jon Woodall hands things back to James for an outing of deep minimal grooves. "Bosh!" starts things out just how you would expect with a title like that, strong punching swinging rhythms ready to sway any party. "Pol" and "Hallucinate" keep the momentum going with sleek minimal works, which are sure to be utilised across the globe this summer!
Review: Turkish producer Mutlu San steps up to Lessizmore as yet another example of the Belgian label being incredibly on-point when it comes to signings. The emergent talent from Istanbul has a luxurious sound that taps into the minimal vein while offering a richer spread of textures and moods than your average micro roller. "Deep Sea Mosaics" is certainly a highlight, and it's left to Tolga Fidan to do the reducing on his remix of the track. "Phylum" sees San team up with his production partner in Bartaub for a more linear beat track, but with "Subglacial Funk" he nudges a little more of that unpredictable magic into the mix without losing the dancefloor essence of the track.
Review: Baby Ford's minimal minded label is back in action with some psyched-out goodness from Alex Celler. The long-serving Greek producer has many strings to his bow, but this release finds him tapping into his foundational sound as a steady ticking groove carries a richly produced bed of chimes and tones for the deepest moments in the dance. Where "Feudade" is a lilting, soothing trip, "Vis A Vis" heads into a more mysterious headspace peppered with nagging rhythmic trysts, crafty licks and fulsome bass to get the synapses popping. It's exactly how stripped down house music should be done, inventive to the last and yet utterly danceable.
Review: Astonishingly, 23 years have passed since Glenn Underground and Boo Williams established the Strictly Jaz Unit project, a fluid collective of underground Chicago deep house producers. These days, SJU mainly operates as a duo, and it was this stripped-back line-up that produced "The Tempest", a rare album-length outing bristling with quality cuts. As a whole, the album is far more intergalactic, electronic and sci-fi sounding than either man's solo productions, with just a few hints of the luscious instrumentation and swinging grooves associated with their previous work. There's no dip in quality, though, with the dubbed-out deep house hypnotism of "Heard Syndrome", the Patrick Cowley/Giorgio Moroder influenced "The Struggle", the Chicago-goes-Yorkshire bleep flex of "Time of Speed, Not Day" and acid-fired gorgeousness of "The Flat (London Projects)" standing out.
Review: Madonna, Depeche Mode and Kelis - what do East End Edits have in store for us next? This seventh instalment harks back to the charming deep jazzy house of their inaugural release - think of the legendary St. Germain and that should give you a fairly good idea. The track's smoky, late night jazz bar vibe is complemented by a rolling bass and swinging rhythms that should appeal to the likes of Rhadoo or Petre Inspirescu - legends of the Romanian scene who themselves have lent their deft hand to the French producer's work as remixers in the past, too.
Gus Gus - "Your Moves Are Mine" (Sanasol remix) (9:24)
Thor - "Black" (7:32)
Biogen - "Stream" (Sanasol Lost In Time remix) (6:39)
Review: Next up on the ever-excellent Oscillat is "Spellbound" by the supremely talented Matthew Dekay. This moving deep house jam uses a few key elements to make a soul-stirring confection for truly spine-tingling moments in the middle of the dance. From the slithers of vocal to the insistent key riff that bounces throughout, this is an outstanding slice of contemporary house music loaded with feeling. Mandar then take the original and inject it with a feisty peak time energy shot through with a little trancey magic and an acidic undertone. It's not a raging beast but rather an energizing workout for the brain and the body - just what you need in the midst of a marathon.
Review: Crisp Recordings is a record label and production company founded by legend DJ Ra-Soul and Chicago by way of Memphis' Don Crisp. Black in Time is the moniker used by the pair which has resulted in three previous collaborative releases on the label, and they're back with the fourth after a long hiatus. Now they present the politically charged "Democracy Is Hypocrisy" with its powerful narrative fuelled by a groovy minimal acid arrangement. Comes with a handy instrumental version on the flip, in addition to a rough and ready acid dub that's perfect for getting weird at the afterhours. Much crossover appeal anticipated on this little treasure -tip!
Review: REPRESS ALERT: Sideway Invisibility Theory are already well versed in the Romanian minimal scene both individually and as a duo - on top of their releases on Do Easy and Amphia, Cristi Cons and Vlad Caia represent two of the most prolific operators in the second wave of Bucharest-based dance music. With a mammoth wedge of music delivered to Sushitech in the form of two double packs entitled Invisibility Chapter I & II, this single serves as a pint-sized distillation of those records for the DJs with less time on their hands. "Alternate" is right at home on Sushitech, all elegant beat programming and huge, billowing clouds of dub chord. Label regular Steve O' Sullivan is right at home on such smoky ground, although his remix on the B-side blows the vapour away to deliver a tightly woven tool for the heads down crowd.