Review: You'd probably have to take out a loan to buy an original, second-hand copy of Master Force's sole single, 1979's "Hey Girl", so this dinky reissue is more than welcome. The title track is a dewy-eyed slice of two-step soul sweetness rich in Curtis Mayfield style lead vocals, glistening guitars and trumpet solos that sound like they've been lifted from an early Herb Alpert recording. Arguably better for dancefloor plays is "Don't Fight The Feeling", a Clavinet-heavy disco-funk affair that boasts some brilliant group backing vocals and heaps of authentic New York flavour.
Review: Glaswegian disco overlord Al Kent is particularly fond of dusty, hard-to-find records that combine great grooves with the kind of sugary, flowing orchestration that marks out some of the greatest late-'70s dancefloor records. It's these records that he tends to re-edit. He's at it again here on a surprise two-track GAMM outing. Check first A-side "The Light Of You", a peak-time ready Stevie cover version disco cut that adds a myriad of instrumental solos to a heavily orchestrated backing track originally recorded by latin disco soul outfit LaSo. It's rather good, all told, as is the wild flipside Latin jazz-funk workout "Sing A Song". It's pretty sweaty and even boasts some serious eyes-closed guitar solo action (along with tons of authentic South American percussion).
Review: The hardest-working man in West London is back! By now we've become accustomed to Kaidi Tatham offering up regular doses of soul and jazz-funk-fired dancefloor goodness, but even by his high standards "You Find That I Got It" is something special. Warm, woozy, groovy and full of intricate musical details - brief synth solos, subtle orchestration and so on - the A-side title track is a wonderfully sunny slice of instrumental boogie-soul. Tatham's world-renowned keys playing comes to the fore on the organic broken beat/jazz-funk fusion of "Mjuvi", a flipside cut that's almost as good as the exceptional title track.
Review: Afrodesia may come on like another dusted down gem from those dedicated detectives at Best, but it is in fact a modern construction from the talented studio trysts of Mystic Jungle and Whodamanny from the Periodica camp. These Italian producers have more than proved their knack for crafting sublime, honey-smooth jams with a nod to the golden studio era of the 70s and 80s, and they're more than up to the task on this killer 12" of heavy funking jams with a dose of boogie and a nod to Ivory Coast disco. It's quite simply perfection, rendered with love and attention to detail, but utterly natural in its feel and flavour.
M&M Vs Andrei Swipe - "Analog Express" (Don Carlos remix) (7:29)
Review: There's an undeniable air of quality that lingers over the 12"s emerging on 14th Level Of Paradise, the mysterious label presenting originals, edits and repressed tracks for true house devotees. First up is a little known track from Sasha Makin and Suntetic, given a shimmering polish by Don Carlos and Steven Perri to become a heavy funking masterpiece, before Joe Claussell drops in a percussive dub delight on Monday Michiru's "Higher". On the flip, Vincent Inc and LA get things pumping with the slow but chunky, jazz-licked "Red Room", before Carlos returns for another deep house reverie as he remixes M&M and Andrei Swipe's "Analog Express".
Review: Emotional Rescue turn their attention to Rare Silk and their sublime cult classic "Storm". It's one of those rare tracks with a wonderful otherworldly quality that manages to be smooth and accessible, and somehow not like anything you've ever heard before. It must be somewhere in the mix, between the dreamy harmonized vocals, lush instrumentation and curious sense of space. The original on the A side is a treat enough, but then throw in a mercurial dubbed out version by Arp on the flip and you've got yourself a 12 inch portal to a most delightful dimension.
I Can't Get Along Without You (instrumental) (6:36)
Review: Kalita has already served up some seriously good reissues, but their latest may well be the most essential yet. It's the first licensed reissue of Vance and Suzzanne's sole single from 1980, "I Can't Get Along Without You" - a Larry Levan favourite that was only ever pressed in small quantities first time around. In it's A-side vocal form, the track is a deliciously warm and loved-up duet that mixes rich, mid-tempo New York disco grooves with some of the heady, glassy-eyed musicality of Philadelphia soul. It's genuinely magical - a super-sweet cut that sounds like end-of-night gold. Like the original 1980 private pressing on Vanton Records, the Kalita edition is backed by the similarly sweet, atmospheric Instrumental Mix, but this time we're also treated to a never-before-seen press photo, and extensive interview-based liner notes.
Review: Mick Harris is a master of bludgeoning sound, whether wringing out apocalyptic steppers in his Scorn guise or wrestling D&B into contorted shapes as Quoit. Monrella is one of his aliases that reaches back to the mid 90s and Regis' ZET label. These four new tracks capture the same mood of granite heavy Brummie techno as the original run, wholly compatible with the tougher end of the Downwards oeuvre, sculpted with the masterful ear for sound design that Harris has displayed throughout his accomplished career. Following on from the retrospective compilation on Berceuse Heroique last year, it's a real treat to have some fresh Monrella to chew on for the hardest of techno sessions.
Review: The Fantastic Voyage label kicks off with a summery joint from RFX, otherwise known as Pharmacy Records mainstay Romain FX, straight out of Hong Kong. There's an undeniable African lilt to these tracks, shot through with a classic 90s house twist - just check the infectious bump of "Indaba Kabani". "Gambian Neptune" has a snappier feel, channeling the vibe of 80s extended dubs with its strident drum section and bombastic atmosphere. "Nigerian Charon" has an interesting mixture of vibes going on, part Art of Noise mash up and part peak time synth sizzler, while "Sudanese Xena" heads into the heat of night, conjuring up a seductive, swirling mood to get truly lost in.
Review: Amerigo's The Big Payback series finds him bring together some fantasy all stars for his "J.B. and The Soul Mates" tribute concept. Here, James Brown's music is reworked, edited and chopped together with the work of hip hop giant Notorious BIG. It results in speaker blasting, floor filling, ass wiggling jams that mash up all the most iconic verses and choruses from each singer with their most recognisable guitar riffs, drum breaks and samples. It's a colourful collage that is as fun as it is funky.
Instant Funk - "I Got My Mind Made Up" (Late Nite Tuff Guy remix) (7:21)
Orlando Riva Sound - "Body To Body Boogie" (Late Nite Tuff Guy edit) (5:30)
The Salsoul Orchestra - "Ooh I Love It (Love Break)" (Late Nite Tuff Guy Muscle edit) (6:42)
Review: Salsoul has always been good at getting contemporary producers to reinterpret classics from its bulging catalogue, with recent years bringing fresh edits and reworks by The Reflex, Moplen, DJ Pope, Dimitri From Paris and Late Nite Tuff Guy. Here the latter returns with a second helping of tastefully tooled-up revisions. The Australian producer kicks things off with a warm and woozy hybrid disco/house take on Instant Funk's "I Got My Mind Made Up" that's quite a departure from the original mix. Over on side B, he turns in a languid and groovy, mid-tempo house version of Orlando Riva Sound's overlooked "Body To Body Boogie" before successfully revising Salsoul Orchestra's much-loved "Ooh, I Love It (Love Break)" whilst retaining most of the original vocals and instrumentation.
Review: REPRESS ALERT! Best Record Italy take the time machine all the way back to 1979 to revisit the wonderful Italo-Disco delights of Adolf Stern, whose "More... I Like It" represents the strangest end of the genre as it was taking shape. With heavily processed vocals injecting some serious strangeness into the chirpy disco backdrop, it's the kind of track to turn heads without a doubt. "Twenty Seven" on the B-side is equally magical in its capturing of the era, with the more obvious surface elements underpinned by a truly intoxicating line in synth arpeggios. Once again Best comes up trumps refreshing the history of Italian music of all shapes and sizes.
Pieces To Share (Kyle Hall & Steve Lehane mix) (3:14)
Nothing To Fear (4:00)
Review: Some ultra-limited business here from Kyle Hall, which remarkably marks his first release of 2019. The Detroiter is in fine form from the off, first peppering a hip-hop tempo "beatdown" groove with 8-bit sounds, jazz-funk synth doodles and rich Fender Rhodes motifs on "Rising" before breaking up the beats and channeling Kaidi Tatham/Dego on the warm and luscious "Full Play". Turn to the flip for the similarly inclined, loose and languid, analogue-heavy melodiousness of "Pieces To Share" and the delay-laden sunrise shimmer of "Nothing To Fear", a glistening and smile-inducing number that's almost overwhelmingly positive.
Review: Alphonse has already dropped a pair of 12"s on Especial in the past, but he's on especially excellent form this time around. A veteran of the halcyon rave days of the 90s, he's got a lot to draw on to conjure his particular kind of machine jams. "Moan Up" is a truly dazzling track, all twinkling synth lines interweaving around a crisp old school groove. As well as the loved up peaks of the original, there's also a beatless mix of the track that lets the melodies shine on their own. "White Pepper" takes things moodier and lets some sultry sax wail over the top, while retaining some of that boxy drum machine energy. There's even space for some tasteful guitar wailing - excellent.
Review: When you use words like "prickly", "abrasive" and "uncompromising" it's rarely flattering. Consider Kim Gordon's exceptional powerhouse long form one of the exceptions. As far removed from music for the masses as you could hope for, it takes a particular talent to deliver work like "No Record Home". Labels such as punk certainly apply, but it's less about mouths gushing spittle amid the deafening screams of guitars and raucous vocals, and more about overall attitude. No change there for this co-founder of the mighty Sonic Youth then. Loud and intelligent, forthright and yet heartfelt and tender in its own unforgiving way, it's as far removed from wall of sound discordance as it is anything you could describe as remotely over-explored. Marrying the bloody-lipped electro of Peaches and body blow lows of EBM with gritty rock 'n' roll chords, those looking for originality that oozes repeatability should consider their hunt over, for now at least.
Review: Amato brings the kind of nasty electro business that fits right in on Helena Hauff's mighty Return To Disorder stable, and you know it's serious from the opening strains of the VHS noir monster "Escape From Grenoble 2018". "Hydraulic Funk" takes things slower, coming on like a freaky Frak flipside and sounding excellent for it. "Machine Outil" takes things in a more muscular direction that sounds built for bench presses and body jerks - the consummate peak time sledgehammer. Umwelt takes this sturdy starting point and demolishes it into a hailstorm of acid malevolence that'll melt your face clean off.
Review: The Well Street family continue to bloom with this assured grip of adventurous steppers from Significant Other. You know you're onto something serious as soon as "Postdrome" fires up in a tangle of break slices, percussive rattles and poised kicks. The sparse drum-focused style continues in a quicker fashion with the tense and twitchy "Delos", while "Brain Fingers" amps up the bass flex to make for a dance-wrecking-ball of a track. "Memory Drum" completes the set with interlocking patterns balanced between organic and electronic and draped in tones of icy dread.
Review: After taking a year out (presumably to rotate his head 360- degrees and hoot at the moon), wide-eyed re-editor The Owl returns to action with another essential collection of reworks. Check first the hot-stepping James Brown style funk strut of "On It" - all rubbery but thrusting grooves and guttural grunts - before switching to the slick and rising disco goodness of "Boogie". There's something of a switch on the flip, where he works his magic on the low-slung disco tune that Paul Johnson sampled for his classic house cut "Get Get Down". Best of all, though, is the filter-sporting disco-house bagginess of "Sly Lovin", which rounds off the EP in fine style.
Catch Me If You Can (Jorge Savoretti Ethereal dub) (7:08)
Review: Michael James' "Winds Of Change" EP was a big look for Constant Black, and now the eminent minimal house label draws on a hit list of sharp shooters to deliver some deadly remixes. Huerta is up first with an angular but rolling dub twist on "Catch Me If You Can", before Nick Beringer pings things in a wonderfully hazy direction with his "7am Dub" of "Stormy Skies". Pascal Benjamin gets into a tight, focused funk on his version of "Reservoir", and then Jorge Savoretti flies in an "Ethereal Dub" of "Catch Me If You Can".
Review: The Aesthetic label is steadily growing as yet another strong side to the Constant Sound empire, and they're sounding fit as a fiddle with this latest drop from Niko Maxen. "Aesthetic 04" leads in with "Calibans Dance", a swirling, dubbed out affair with intriguing percussive tones to add an intriguing edge to the stripped back house groove. "Lessons" has a heads down, twitchy demeanour it's impossible to resist, and then "Twelvty" summons up some elegant synth strokes that hover in between the shuffling beats. The latter provides more than enough inspiration for Kepler to deliver an astounding remix that plays around with bouncy arps and pointed house rhythms in his inimitable style.
Review: REPRESS ALERT!: Giorgio Gordano and Giorgio Dolce originally produced "KKK" back in 1983, and the track was taken into the hearts of the blossoming Balearic scene hovering around DJ Alfredo at Amnesia. It's as gentle and sweet natured as Italo disco can be, and of course it makes perfect sense that Best Records would dig it out of the archives and give it the shiny new reissue it deserves. The "Club Mix" of "KKK" is a feast of simple, charming programmed melodies and crisp drum machine rhythms with the innocence of the early 80s in its heart. The "Dub Mix" and "Bonus Beats" on the flip are handy for the technical DJs out there, but the "Club Mix" is where it's at for the lovers.
Review: Saucer-eyed rave revivalists Tone Dropout can usually be relied upon to deliver the goods, especially if you're looking for sweaty, energy-packed slabs of warehouse ready techno, acid and electro. The label's latest missive is packed to the rafters with such giddy and forthright fare, to the bleeping, mind-altering insanity of Dawl & Sween's acid-fired throb-job "Laser Guided", to the "Bleep and Breaks" pressure of Samuel Padden's bustling "Quad Damage", to the stripped-back machine techno heaviness of Daif's similarly bleepy "Mysterious Freakin History". Elsewhere, the Ascot/WW track sits somewhere between early breakbeat hardcore and ambient techno, while Skywave Transmission v XOTR's "Warehouse 101" lives up to its name. Serious heat!
Review: In 1996, Dreamscape's Ed Marshall donned a new alias, Aplomb, and delivered the first fruits of his new project to New Age House Records. Only one track was ever released on a limited label promo, "Wondering". World Building's Ari Goldman, who previously put out a compilation of Marshall's work as Dreamscape, is a fan and has decided to rescue it from obscurity via this single-sided 12". The track itself is hard to accurately pigeonhole, combining as it does dense, carnival style drums, female scat vocals, warm bass, dreamy deep house chords and synthesizer flourishes reminiscent of early '80s jazz-funk. Either way, it's a sunny and groovy chunk of obscure house positivity that's well worth a place in your collection.
Review: It's not hard to understand why people so often ignore album release blurb. Sales-y, hyperbolic, and on more than the odd occasion rather poorly written, it's hardly required reading in order to get the most out of the record. That is unless it's Big Thief's 'Two Hands', a collection of music that genuinely makes more sense when you know the back story. For one thing this long form offering is arriving just months after its predecessor, which is always either the sign of a band that don't need big ideas to facilitate rapid-fire output, or a band that have so many big ideas they literally can't stop the momentum. This is a case of the latter. Timescale aside, "Two Hands" genuinely feels as though it was born in the Badlands, epic songs that invoke endless vistas across barren settings in a way that makes you feel as small as you actually are in a global context. Like cosying up in a log cabin away from the chilly endless dark of a desert night.
Review: REPRESS ALERT: Thule are back on the Icelandic techno reissue trip, this time returning to a serious classic from Sanasol (Yagya & Thor) that originally came out in 1997. This particular, highly sought after, gem leads in with the majorly heady house throb of "Seveneleven (Original Mix)" which piles the dubby processing and lush melodics on heavy while still retaining a sense of airiness to uplift the soul. By contrast, the "Closedonsundays Mix" focuses on a tough but crooked beat and that undulating bassline for a completely different flavour. On the flip, the "Sanaramalonger Mix" returns to the mellower flow of the original but with a more submerged finish and some pronounced dub stabs. Then the "Ozzy Mix" finishes the package with a minimal take that prefigures the upsurge of dubby clicks n' cuts laptop beats that would explode in the years to come. Essential tackle for all deep techno explorers.
Review: Under the Special Request alias, Paul Woolford has released some stellar music this year. Astonishingly, "Offworld" is his third album of 2019; it could well be the best, too. It explores different sonic territory too, drawing heavily on electro, futurist Detroit techno, Boards of Canada style IDM and the slick 1980s productions of Jam and Lewis. The result is a stunningly beautiful, spacey and far-sighted set that contains some of Woolford's most emotion-rich work to date - and that's saying something. It also finishes in stunning style with an impeccable remix/re-make of the Grid's "Floatation" that sounds like the best early 90s Orb remix you've never heard.
Review: A new enigmatic duo from London named Two Shell present Livity Sounds' next installment. Their debut "Access EP" draws influence from the South London underground of the late '90s and early 00's, with a nod to more contemporary Bristol sounds across these four wicked tracks. From the off-kilter stepper that is "Heart Piece', through to the glacial and deconstructed dub techno of "Contactless" and the rolling bass-driven entrancer "SYNC-2020" - they have forged an EP of warm but stripped-down, deft UK style grooves to mark an anthemic debut. More groundbreaking future sounds from the ever reliable Bristol label.
Review: J Room steps up with a contribution to the minimal tech house conversation that sees emergent artist Jale making a strong statement with three powerful original tracks and a remix from Cosmjn. Jale's style leans on Detroit string synths for a sense of melancholic grandeur, and densely packed rhythm sections that bump as much as they punch. "Orbital Dream" takes things in a dreamy after hours direction, and "Eclipse" works up some rugged synth trysts that snap around a subtly broken beat. Cosmjn's remix of "Orbital Dream" is not to be slept on either as it subtly adjusts the accent of the groove to make an immersive tech house roller par excellence.
Review: Following a string of sizzling singles released over the best part of a decade, The Pendletons (AKA E Da Boss of Myron & E fame and Bay Area producer Trailer Limon) has finally got round to recording a debut album. It's something of a slick, soulful and groovy affair, offering a mix of breezy West Coast grooves, sun-kissed instrumentation, snaking horn solos, colourful synthesizer lines and oodles of soul-powered vocals from the group and guests including Howard Johnson, K-Maxx and Gizelle Smith. While it's something of a time capsule, stylistically at least, few do this kind of warm, glassy-eyed nostalgia better. Put it this way: it's every bit as good as we'd hoped for and much more besides.
Review: Holden's 2006 debut album was an astonishing one that gets a timely reissue on double crystal-clear splatter vinyl. A high watermark for proudly synthetic and computer made music, it was the bold arrival of an artist who endures as an innovator to this day. "The Idiots Are Winning" is a masterclass in unhinged grooves, glitchy electronic sounds and mutant sounds that set a new benchmark in experimental textures, sound design and dance floor clout. "Idiot" is the standout banger, "Lump" is more trippy and heat workout, and "10101" is the twitchy and mesmeric workout you cannot escape. Music as idiosyncratic as this doesn't come along too often, and even 13 years left it still sounds fresh.
Review: Four years ago, Vincent Lemieux + Guillaume & The Coutu Dumont made their collaborative debut as Flabbergast via a fine EP on Circus Company. They've been silent since, meaning that this belated sequel on Yoyaku feels like a big release. "Enweye" operates towards the deeper end of the stripped-back tech-house spectrum, with the duo wrapping intergalactic synthesizer melodies around rock solid kick drums, crashing cymbals and fluid tribal percussion on impeccable opener "Nowel". "Jowanne" is arguably even deeper, with cascading ambient lead lines tumbling down over a shuffling rhythm track and more tropical drum hits. Over on side B, Varhat offers his interpretation of "Nowel", in the process delivering a loose-limbed tech-house percussion jam with hazy, sun-kissed melodies occasionally rising above the sweat-soaked beats.
Review: First time round, this bonafide classic reached #23 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was the highest charting tune from the Geto Boys. Sampling Isaac Hayes' "Hung Up On My Baby", the Geto Boys' edit plays out in several movements and goes big and small. Stretched over a long legged beat with crisp snares and languid chords with lyrics that touch on a range of deep subjects such as post-traumatic stress disorder, the track was originally destined for a Scarface solo album before it was decided it was more valuable as a Geto Boys single. Wise move.
Review: Disco Fruit come correct once again with that bright and bold house sound to get everybody shaking their thing. 84Bit's "Mamma Jamma" is an impossibly catchy, diva-led funky house jam with pristine production that harks back to the glory days of radio-friendly house music with more hooks than a fishing tackle shop. Hotmood keeps the vibe of the original intact but edges a little more club-ready bite into the mix, master editor Dr Packer takes a subtle approach that keeps the disco vibes front and centre, while Tonbe cools things down with a filter riding version.
Review: Three months after rapper turned singer Lizzo's major label debut first appeared on CD and digital download, Atlantic has decided to offer up a deluxe vinyl edition of the well-received set featuring three bonus tracks. Prior to release, Lizzo admitted she wanted to become "this generation's Aretha Franklin"; while she's not at the late soul legend's standard just yet, there's enough on "Cuz I Love You" to suggest that she's going in the right direction. Her vocals are variously confident, powerful, strutting and tender, with the accompanying backing tracks mixing hip-hop and R&B style beats with raucous guitars, bombastic basslines, Daft Punk style synth stabs (think "Robot Rock" and "Technologic") and occasional nods towards more pastoral, semi-acoustic sounds. Above all, though, the album is funky, forthright and hugely entertaining.
Mahogany - "Ride On The Rhythm" (Michael Gray remix) (7:05)
Raw Silk - "Just In Time" (Michael Gray remix) (6:25)
Review: Full Intention man Michael Gray is the latest contemporary house producer to get his hands on the parts to classic cuts from the bulging West End Records catalogue. He has opted to rework two slightly deeper early '80s jams, starting with Mahogany's 1982 boogie cut "Ride On The Rhythm". His version is warm, sparkling and bass-heavy, offering the right balance between modern production techniques and the kind of effects utilized by the track's original producers. It's really good, keeping the spirit of the original track while dragging it into the 21st century. The same could be said of his boogie-house take on Raw Silk's "Just In Time", which boasts a similar balance of tidy new drums, spruced-up synths and swirling effects.
Review: Mukatsuku struck gold again on this latest first time on a "45" issue. It boasts a couple of lesser-known jazz-funk fusion jams which originally featured on Argentine musician Jorge Navarro's 1977 album "Navarro Con Polenta", an LP that has never been issued outside of South America. A-side "Funk Yourself" is a bustling, high-octane jazz-funk Hammond licks and spiralling horns jumping above a Blaxploitation style backing track. "Repartamos El Funky" is a more laid back but no less musically intricate affair, with a variety of high-grade electric piano and guitar solos riding seemingly endless jazz style drum solos and rubbery bass. Juno hand-numbered copies come in exclusive sleeves and this 45 not be repressed. DJ Support comes from Ge-ology, Dom Servini, DJ Koco (Japan), DJ Food,The Allergies,45LIVE.net ,Dr Bob Jones,Rob Luis, Smoov and more
Review: Many disco-era modern soul collectors regard, Larom Baker's "You're The Best", which initially appeared in 1978 on an impossible to find, single-sided 7" single, as one of the style's genuine "Holy Grail" records. It's good news, then, that Athens Of The North has secured the rights to reissue it, releasing the full studio version (rather than the shorter edit that was released all those years ago) for the very first time. It's a genuine gem, with Baker's deliciously breezy West Coast soul vocal seemingly floating over a killer backing track rich in hazy horns, bustling slap bass and crunchy Clavinet lines. Turn to the flipside for the more disco-minded "Train Of Thought", one of a string of recently discovered Baker recordings that form the basis of a forthcoming album of previously unreleased tracks.
Review: Sartorial and Moodena's Tropical Disco imprint has become a go-to label for discerning house and disco lovers around the world to devour. On their label's 12th edition, main man Sartorial kicks things off with the thumping, Latin-inflected summer scorcher "Fat Freddy's Party", co-head Moodena takes charge of the second track, bringing a softer sound palette full of '80s energy, blessed keys, signature feisty horns and nifty filter sweeps on "No More Sushi". The enigmatic Phazed Groove takes over the B side with stylish night moves, dishing up a respectful edit of a timeless classic on "Sweet Talker" and some sultry deepness on the familiar deep house groove of "Sunshine".
Review: REPRESS ALERT!: Roberto Lodola has a rich legacy in Italian music, not least as a DJ and at the helm of early 90s outfit Rhythm Factory. Recognising the cult status of his first single, the 1986 12" Marimba Do Mar, Best Records have done the right thing in remastering this sun soaked classic with both original mixes and two previously unheard studio outtakes. The "Fusion Version" of the title track is a rich, sensual jam festooned with cascading pianos and tumbling percussion, while the "Vocal Version" brings a beautiful female vocal front and centre in the mix. "Feeling Of The Sun" is a delightfully spaced out lo-fi take on the original, and then "Hey George!" strips the music away and leaves you with a gorgeous beat track perfect for extended mixing potential.
Barely Breaking Even (Louie Vega Boogie mix - radio edit) (3:33)
Barely Breaking Even (Louie Vega Boogie instrumental mix - radio edit) (3:31)
Review: Here's something to set the pulse racing: an all-star re-recording of Universal Robot Band's boogie classic "Barely Breaking Even" that brings together Masters At Work man Louie Vega, original vocalist and arranger Leroy Burgess, iconic disco producer Patrick Adams and an impressive backing band of hired musicians including Michael Kelley (better known in electronic music circles as Metro Area collaborator Kelley Polar). While there are plenty of audible nods towards the early '80s original - extensive use of cowbells, that oh-so familiar synth sound - the re-recording is altogether warmer, fuller and a more contemporary sounding affair rich in sweeping orchestration and tactile synth bass. Both the edited vocal and instrumental versions are superb.
Review: Since launching last year, Lil Static has offered up new, lightly altered editions of classic tracks from Jeru the Damaja, Kraftwerk, Run-DMC, Nas and the Notorious B.I.G. Here they continue to serve up vital beats for break-digging DJs via classic cuts from Eric B. & Rakim and Mountain. The A side sports an edited version of 1986 cut "Eric B. Is President", a synth-bass propelled NYC hip-hop gem rich in unmistakable rap vocals and tight scratching. Over on side B there's a chance to savour Mountain's late '60s rock cut that provided the Eric B. & Rakim track (and so many others since) with its distinctive drum break, "Long Red". This edited version gives more prominence to the breaks, making it an ideal mixing tool for hip-hop DJs.
Kool & The Gang, Gene Redd - "Give It Up" (DJ Soopasoul edit) (4:04)
Aretha Franklin - "Rock Steady" (DJ Soopasoul edit) (3:30)
Review: Fast-fingered mash-up merchant and lauded scalpel fiend DJ Soopasoul can usually be relied upon to bring the goods. In fact, we've yet to hear an edition of his "Soopastole Edits" series that doesn't include the kind of sure-fire, party-starting fare guaranteed to get any DJ out of a dancefloor hole of their own making. Should you still doubt the validity of this statement, we suggest you check this timely reissue of the series' second volume, which has been going for serious bucks online. On side A you'll find a suitably punchy, funky and chunky revision of Kool & The Gang's Gene Redd produced 1970 jam "Give It Up" - the original source of one of hip-hops most familiar breakbeats - with a tight, club-ready revision of Aretha Franklin classic "Rock Steady" on the flip.
Review: Arapu is very much one of the key Romanian artists of the moment. Of course, like his revered countrymen, that means techno that is elegant, minimal, and delicately detailed. His own take on the style is often littered with curious little motifs and trippy loops that also characterise this new one on heavyweight vinyl for Liniar. "Over" is a brilliant opener with languid Balearic guitar riffs echoing over supple drum work which will hook you in and encourage your mind to wander, whereas "A Gain" is a more direct, driving minimal techno cut with warped synths peeling off an urgent groove. "I" closes out with a funky undercarriage and dub house overtones that will get any basement popping off.
Review: Helena Hauff returns to her own Return To Disorder label after last year's joyously received "Qualm" album on Ninja Tune. It's the first fully solo record Hauff has released herself, and it more than lives up to expectation. "Catso" is a wonderfully expressive slice of noirish electro draped in vintage synth arps and twinkling leads as enchanting as they are spooky. "Why Look At Animals" has a more low down funk, but once again sports the richly harmonic synth hooks to make this appeal right across the board. "The Brush" ups the tempo, but keeps things sparse and moody, while "Slim Filter" gets a touch more nasty and sounds utterly fantastic with it. Compared to her rabid DJ sets, these productions represent the more measured side of Hauff, but they're no less deadly.
Review: By his usual prolific standards, Romanian producer Barac Nicolae has been rather quiet this year. "The Real You Is Not You", a double-pack of varied dancefloor cuts in his trademark minimal style, is only his second outing of the year. It's rather good, though, with sparse but groovy rhythm tracks providing the backing for all manner of ear-pleasing musical touches and mind-altering electronic effects. Our picks of the bunch are the funky, dreamy and sun-kissed hypnotism of "A Story Behind Everything" and the tipsy wonkiness of the title track, where trippy vocal samples and blissful synth riffs rise above an undulating, off-kilter groove.
Review: UK dub techno maestro Steve O'Sullivan is back with another payload of deep immersion heaters under his Bluetrain guise, this time on the Future Primitive label. There's a deadly restraint at work on "Congo Shuffle", where the elements get reduced to needlepoint precision and the low end rhythm section stalks with purpose. "Invisible Guest" takes things in an explicitly dubwise direction, channelling serious Rhythm & Sound vibes for an immaculate head-nodder, before "Paralyzed Dub" slows down further into an end of the line skank for the weary to find solace in - masterful movements in the echo chamber from start to finish.
Review: Bjarki's BBBBBB label has carved out its own unique niche in the techno world and next to occupy it is core label artist Stian "EOD" Gjevik. The former Rephlex artist shows off his magnificently complex and busy yet harmonic and melodic sound across five fantastically restless cuts that has lead synths taking you down a number of rabbit holes. Calming pads vie for your attention on "(Untitled) (W-R6)" while the acid laced "The Battery Poles (Are Conic!)" is so bright and shiny it'll have you reaching for your sunglasses. Few people speak so freely through their machines as this man right now.
Otis Redding - "(Your Love Lifted Me ) Higher & Higher" (Soul Flip edit) (4:03)
Gerri Granger - "I Go To Pieces" (Soul Flip edit) (3:33)
Review: Sometimes you just can't beat the golden oldies and so it is that Soul Flip turns his attention to a couple of raw soul bangers. Up first is Otis Redding's classic "(Your Love Lifted Me ) Higher & Higher" with a rousing bass section which drives along the original version.The hits hit hard, the vocal is given room to breathe and the swing in the drums is infectious. The flipside houses a soaring tweak of Gerri Granger's "I Go To Pieces", with its clattering keys and rolling soul all quickly finding a way into your affections.
Review: Dinky-Di is a modern disco ensemble conducted by Waq Takahashi with just a few key releases spread out across the past 15 years. Now Million Dollar Disco main man Al Kent has cherry picked one of the hottest jams from their oeuvre and given it a special rub down - the kind of treatment that warrants a single-sided 12" no less. In Al's hands, 2005 track "Gold Wave" becomes a sizzling party monster that romps along for more than 10 minutes. With scintillating peaks, heavyweight drum breakdowns and sumptuous musicianship throughout, this is how an epic disco bomb should sound in 2019.