Review: Some five years after re-launching his Crayon label via a fine EP of vintage "Tracks From The Vault", original 1990s tech-house producer Mark Ambrose serves up more gems from his bulging archives. The quality threshold remains dizzyingly high throughout. Check first the moody, back room dub of "Nightshift (Deeper Mix)", where gentle, alien synth lines and deep space chords tumble down over a heavy analogue bassline and locked-in beats, before turning your attention to "Space Animals", a deliciously dubbed-out affair rich in sub bass and drifting, deep space chords. If that's not enough, flip over and trance out to B side "Seduction" and finally, the slamming techno beats, looped electronics and mind-mangling TB-303 motifs of closer "Dusty Acid".
Review: UK tech house hero Burnski has been serving up some serious heat of late under the Instinct alias, channelling that old school UK vibe of drum & bass, speed garage and 2-step. His exploration into these styles bring about this sixth instalment of his eponymous series with 3 cuts set to cause havoc on dancefloors this year. A side cut "Overthrow" rides on a slick tech house groove before moving into a swing-fuelled rhythm and razor-sharp sub-bass and it's business as usual. On the flip, shadowy stepper "Phased" fuses Artful Dodger's classic swagger with the dark sci-fi aesthetic of Ed Rush & Optical. Finally, put your lighters up for the furious junglist roller that is "Free Life".
Review: As soon as the sun pops out, we tend to reach for exuberant, celebratory fare. Helpfully, there's plenty of that kind of sweaty, arms-aloft fare to be found on Dan Snaith's latest outing as Daphni. While his releases under the alias were once percussive and Afro-centric, this one comes with a big dollop of funk-fuelled goodness and more dancefloor weight than you can shake a stick at. Check, for example, the pots-and-pans percussion, soaring strings and low-slung bass of disco-sampling smasher "Romeo", the saucer-eyed rush of "Just", where another loved-up disco cut is smothered in loose-limbed carnival drumming, and the jazz-house-goes-breakbeat heaviness of "If". Best of all, though, is "Sizzling (Featuring Paradise)", a colossal chunk of pitched-up carnival disco-house full of ear-catching vocal refrains, rubbery bass and tropical horn blasts.
Review: The sixth volume in Toy Tonics occasional "Tonic Edits" series comes courtesy of label regulars COEO, a Munich-based duo who previously proved their edit credentials via a tasty 12" on Razor-N-Tape. This collection is arguably even better than its predecessor and sees them take their rusty scalpels to a quartet of Japanese disco-pop tracks from the 1980s. There's much to admire, from the sleazy electrofunk grooves, bold pianos and sparkling pianos of "Matchbox" (A2) and the slap-bass propelled boogie goodness of the Teena Marie-esque "Uber Man" (B1), to the freestyle influenced synth-pop bounce of cheery closing cut "Tibetan Dance". Arguably best of all, though, is lead cut "Japanese Woman", a bi-lingual disco song rich in rubbery bass, Chic style guitars and sparkling synthesizer flourishes.
Review: Prolific Dutch producer Boris Bunnik wears several hats: Conforce, Silent Harbour and Vernon Felicity, but some of his most exciting music is produced under the Versalife alias where he delves deep into the electro sound. He makes his debut here for Leeds institution 20/20 Vision with "Machine Life", taking the classic electro sound further but with a modern twist. We're going deep underwater on the moody title track, before coming up for air via the soulful android funk of "MO5". On the flip, the eerie dystopian themes continue on the sombre "Monospace" and the seething reductionist electro-bass of "Axion".
Review: George and Glen Miller are undoubtedly best known for their West End Records released 1982 boogie-soul classic "Touch Your Life". They released plenty of other records that flitted between soca, reggae, disco, and - in the latter stages of their career - electrofunk. "Easing", which appeared at some point at the turn of the '80s on London label Third World, remains one of their most potent releases - and, in its original form at least, formidably hard to find. This Soundway reissue wisely replicates the track list of the original release, beginning with the title track - a deliciously percussive, musically intricate chunk of peak-time disco smothered in sharp, Afro-funk style horns and George and Glen Miller's lilting reggae-soul style vocals. The flipside "Version" strips out the vocals, allowing listeners to hear in greater detail the pair's impeccable arrangements and instrumentations (particularly the fine orchestration and rich groove).
Review: While their obscure disco and Balearic re-edits tend towards the warm and groovy, Psychemagik's original productions have been getting increasingly tough and druggy in tone. "Rattlesnake", a hypnotic chunk of club-ready psychedelic disco rich in wonky electronics, trippy riffs, mind-altering bass and locked-in drums, may well be their most intoxicating and hallucinatory track to date. The duo's out-there original mix is made even weirder - and arguably more alluring - by Magda on her "Blotter Traxion Remix", which sounds like a tripping hippie trying to simultaneously mix electro, tech-house and techno. Vyvyan provides the other rework, wrapping doom-laden electronics and fizzing acid lines around crispy disco drums.
Review: From Copenhagen with love. After two years of planning, tweaking and fine-tuning, Danish groove monkeys Kasper Marott and Alfredo92 are proud to present their new label Axces. Repping their local crew, the label represents a community of artists including this single's co-producers Carl Emil and Lauge. "Os To" (which translates to 'the two of us') is as cute as it sounds. Dreamy, cosy, unhurried. "Fest Pa Taget" (party on the roof) raises the psychedelic factor a little as unearthly bubbles and chimes spin 360 around a jaunty rolling percussive beat. The start of something exciting and fresh; everyone has access to Axces.
Review: The consistently great Olympos series reaches its fifth installment with none other than Aphrodite on the credits. The goddess of love is a marquee booking in this celestial scene, so expectations for the beats she yields are high. "Aligenis" makes for a strong opening statement as lysergic layers of effects processing and sound design writhe around a snaking techno backbone. "Enalia" nudges down into a more subterranean sound without losing that attention to detail, before "Morpho" swerves towards electro-flavoured beats without breaking the shroud of mystery and studio proficiency at work elsewhere on the EP. "Pitho" possibly saves the best til last - a simmering, subliminal ride through atmospheric percussion for the Dozzy-devotee crowd to get lost in.
Review: In recent years, Detroit Swindle's outings away from their own Heist Recordings imprint have been few and far between, so it's nice to see them popping up on Will Saul's Aus Music imprint. He's done a good job A&R-wise, with all three tracks hitting the expected highs. The Dutch duo are in fine form with "Wado Baya", a rubbery chunk of hot-stepping Afro-house where bleeping electronic melodies and glassy-eyed chords rise above a snappy-but-bouncy groove. "Rhythm Girl Swing" sounds like a slipped and slightly skewed take on hypnotic mid-90s house - all trippy riffs and slowly rising filtered motifs - while "Vibrations" sees them join the dots between warm and woozy early '90s deep house and organ-rich New Jersey flavours.
Review: Oh gosh. Total Science ante up for the summer with this exceptional V/A EP on their CIA imprint. Kicking off with a crucial new remix of their classic "Nosher" by their new hybrid gang comprising of themselves, DLR and Hydro, full breadth and variation abounds as we dip into the gilded soul of Zero T & Phase's "Talk To Me", the gnarled grizzles and dubby danger of their own "Devils Gate" with Scar member Script and the grand finale; a heavyweight purring roller from two of the most respected newcomers in the game right now: Ill Truth and SATL. Each one a persy for different chapters of the night, any further information is classified.
Ronan Girre - "Je N'Sais Pas Avec Qui" (feat Arielle Dombasle)
Reserve - "Une Fille En Transe"
Review: Five years ago, French record collector Vidal Benjamin wowed us with "Disco Sympathie", a killer compilation of obscure Gallic disco and boogie gems. For this similarly dusty-fingered follow-up, he's set his gaze on French new wave and synth-pop. It's an entertaining and eye-opening listen that moves from the samba-chanson of Cecilia and the fizzing electro-funk of Electropic, to the sweet and cheery synth-pop of "Reserve". Highlights in between include the bustling synth-pop sleaziness of Sonia's "J'Sais Plus Ou J'En Suis", the throbbing new wave quirkiness of Milpatte's "Je Vais Danser" and the low-slung post-punk pop of I:Cube's fresh re-edit of Yogo's "Reve De Star".
Review: Since he's such a prolific collaborator and creator of bands, it's easy to overlook the fact that Will Holland hasn't released a solo album as Quantic for almost five years. "Atlantic Oscillations", then, is a welcome return - particularly since Tru Thoughts boss Robert Luis thinks it's Holland's "most cohesive and intricate album to date". It's certainly a strong collection, with Holland wrangling multiple styles, tempos and musical influences to create cuts that defy easy categorization. While there are downtempo moments, "Atlantic Oscillations" includes more bona-fide club cuts then he's delivered in recent years, with sun-kissed disco cut "September Blues", Cuban disco-funk workout "Atlantic Oscillations" and Afro-Latin house bumper "Motivic Retrograde" standing out.
Review: Hot on the heels of Phil:osophy's latest treasure trove comes another bounty of bliss from Artificial Intelligence's Integral. This time with old friends Zero T and longstanding vocalist Steo. "Can't Hide" is pure soul heaven; delicate layers of Steo's harmonies arranged softly over a spacious beat and lilting pianos, it's T and Steo at their most evocative and feel-heavy. "Make Time" kicks with more urgency as techno-like synths stab hypnotically, balanced by Steo's falsettos and gently rising instrumentation. Elsewhere the unstoppable Monty gives their evergreen 2016 soul-out "Too Close To See" a bittersweet twist. There's no hiding from this one.
Stanislav Tolkachev - "While You Are Drawing A Butterfly" (2:10)
Hoavi - "Aya Horizon" (3:57)
Review: Crimean label Krym Mryk returns with its sophomore release: a Various Artists collection putting the spotlight on several top musicians from Russia and Ukraine as well as a few newcomers to the scene. Highlights come fast and thick throughout; we're particularly loving the grinding cyclicality of Rim Menko's "Illusion", beatless yet hypnotic arpeggio workouts ("Amb Day Out" and "November Bad") by Pavel Milyakov (Buttechno), man of the hour Stanislav Tolkachev with slow-mo entrancer "While You Are Drawing A Butterfly" and Hoavi's "Aya Horizon", which closes the LP with its sublime ambience.
Review: Norwegian producer Henning Severud AKA Telephones has decided to launch his own label. Fittingly, he handles the imprint's debut himself, dipping into his archive to serve up three tracks recorded at different times between 1998 and 2018. Our pick of a warm, colourful and loved-up bunch is "Aquatrak (FM AM Mix)", where jangling, Balearic house style piano riffs and dreamy chords splash around atop a chunky disco bassline and rolling drums. The quality threshold remains high throughout, though, with the '90s New Jersey-influenced deep house flex of "Amerikadegari (453-459 Mix)" and the late '80s Italian deep house vibes of "Hurricane (Purple Mix)" being almost equally as good.
Review: Fresh from collaborating with Ulterior Motive and Jubei, Tyrone steps up with his first full solo EP for the label and it's yet another level up. Four hurricanes compounded in tune form, "Lunar City" rips the floor from beneath you with its booming sub and Marcus-esque raising sense of tension, "Heaton Dramaz" takes the technoid turbine factor to a whole new hair-raising level while "Warriors" kicks hard with a soundsystem vibe that hits all the spots Digital does. Finally, "Eyes" close the EP with some soul-shattering breaks and humanised textures from the stars. Massive.
Review: This tidy EP gathers together some of The Hacker's most sought-after early tracks, all of which have been re-mastered to leave them sounding weightier than ever. First up is the pulsating brilliance of electro-techno fusion workout "At Night", which - like two other cuts on the EP - first appeared on legendary 1998 12" "A Strange Day". This prime chunk of mind-altering body music is swiftly followed by the sparkling, saucer-eyed alien electro-funk of "Leather Dreams" and the hard-wired Kraftwerk style electro heaviness of "Body Electric" (a fuzz-soaked slammer based around the Robots' "Numbers" that initially came out in 1998). "The Night Flight", a bubbly Drexciya style number from 1999, completes a fantastic package.
Review: After a short break, Mako's Utopia Music have fired into 2019 all guns blazing with two long-awaited Break cuts and an album from Hydro and War. This label debut from Belgian MZine continues the heat with necksnap stepper sessions that maintain Utopia's consistent quality. "Equate" is all about those throaty moans under a yearning desert call while "Croon (feat. Afya)" takes us much deeper into the machine's stomach so you can hear every acidic gurgle and croak. Flip for two more danger sessions: "Brinkman" is made of springs and laced with glacial pads while "Generis" closes the EP with a star-gazing cosmic touch. On-point.
Review: Berlin deep house heroes Cinthie and Stevn Aint Leavn are back on their ever reliable Beste Modus imprint for its ninth edition and they aren't messing around on this one. Quality classic house vibes all the way - a timeless Windy City vibe dominates the A side courtesy of Cinthie, who serves up the sultry and swing-fuelled late night groover "Everything I Say" before taking it back to '94 with the dusty and soulful "Good For You & Me". On the flip, Stevn Aint Leavn is in fine form, too, particularly on the moody and bass-driven back room dub "Quins".
Etta James & Sugar Pie Desanto - "In The Basement" (Soul Flip edit) (3:20)
John Gary Williams - "My Sweet Lord" (Soul Flip edit) (3:59)
Review: On their latest limited edition salvo, the hardworking Soul Flip crew (AKA experienced DJs and producers Aldo Vanucci and Del Gazeebo) gets to work on two more stomping dancefloor cuts from the golden age of soul. First up on side A is a gently tooled-up and tightened up take on Etta James and Sugar Pie DeSanto's 1966 floor-heater "In The Basement", a hybrid soul-jazz/rhythm and blues jam rich in rubbery double bass, bustling drums, restless handclaps and brilliant lead vocals from the two legendary soul singers. On the flip they tackle Memphis musician John Gary Williams' 1972 cover of George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord", which brilliantly re-imagines the former Beatles' spiritual song as a sweaty gospel-soul stomper.
Review: West Midlands techno legend Surgeon is said to have produced the material on the Raw Trax series at Amsterdam Dance Event last year, with only a PIN Electronics Portabella synth and a TR-909 drum machine. Road tested extensively during his live show over the last several months, this series is "a return to the pure essence of techno" - and that statement rings true throughout this 12". In this second volume you'll hear familiar sounds from Anthony Child that throws back to the seminal days of his eponymous EP, Pet 2000 or the Basictonalvocabulary LP: all conceived during his legendary House Of God residency back in the early 90s. From the fierce and strobed-out adrenaline of "Raw Trax 10" and "Raw Trax 5", to the brutalist overdriven thud of "Raw Trax 7" with its grinding acid bassline, and the hypnotic minimalism of closer "Raw Trax 6", this 12" is packed with proper purified Techno bangers by one of the genre's very best.
Review: AE Recordings turns its attention to Oculus, who they describe as a "titan of the Icelandic techno scene", famed for his live sets that have kept bodies moving for the past decade. He commits some of his sounds to wax here, maintaining the otherworldly emotional lilt that often comes from the scene orbiting AE and Thule Records, but with a bolder sound palette than some of the icy dubbed out artists he rubs shoulders with. "Nostalgia" deals in powerful, swooning chord progressions, while "Rydgad" pings a set of metallic percussion around a sturdy but crooked low end groove. "Morph" takes things deeper, while "Flod" offers up a classy take on the minimal techno aesthetic, with added sound design trysts for good measure.
Review: In what is surely an unexpected collaboration in the field of house and techno, Mosaic mastermind Steve O'Sullivan teams up with Ricardo Villalobos for a hypnotic trip through minimal landscapes that plays to both of their strengths. The rock-solid rhythm of "Sullric" surely belongs to O'Sullivan while the rich, subtle layers of samples, tones and other such sonic decorations come straight from the Villalobos school of production. The two mixes on this 12" only have minor differences - whichever side you drop things will get considerably deeper than they were previously. Of such ingredients are classy, immersive techno joints made.
Review: Building a formidable reputation as an artist with a diverse set of approaches in the field of electronic music, Ukranian producer Cape Cod delivers his debut album on Kiev House in a fine display of musicianship. From the opening track "Among The Stars" (which features Constantine on vocal) it's clear that this will be more than a straight up collection of dancefloor tracks. There are indeed some upbeat house tracks to be enjoyed, not least on the razor sharp garage bumper "We Don't Have To", but there's also equal space given over to more introspective jams such as "Put U Down".
That's How Lovers Be (Scott Grooves That How dubs Be) (8:52)
Review: The Mysticisms label once more turns its attention to rarefied gold dust from the annals of deep house history, this time shining a light on Soiree Records, which was helmed by cult favourite Drivetrain. Nu-C Zn's "That's How Lovers Be" was an unconventional but oh so sweet curio back in 1995, and now it's been revived with Drivetrain delivering a new mix of the track that lets the smoky keys, plastic sax and gorgeous vocals hover tentatively. UK house stalwart Nail is up next with a bumping, crafty update on the track, while Scott Grooves lays down honey-coated keys that shift the mood of Nu-C Zn's original into a different emotional headspace.
Review: Stunning stuff here from the mysterious but utterly intriguing West Loop Chicago, an outfit only known for two previous releases on City Volt and nothing else. Taking cues from the broken beat and jazz scenes, this new record is a force to be reckoned with, not least as "The Serpent" comes wheeling in with a skittering drum funk and bugging synth lines to send you pinging into the cosmos. On the flip, "Divinity" has a more organic feel with Rhodes keys and piano dancing across the rhythms - these aren't specifically billed as edits, but given the project's background in disco re-rubs it's safe to assume these are two soul jazz bombs buffed up for your wild card spinning pleasure. There's even bonus beats for each track included - how considerate!
Review: Following rock solid entries from Ben Sims, Markus Suckut and Alan Fitzpatrick, Mosaic's Red Series continues apace in 2017 with a firing three-tracker from German scene stalwart Andre Kronert. "A Track Called Jinx" is a slow and nervy slice of bleepy techno that says a lot with the barest of ingredients. "The Bottom Line" is a more feisty concern, raising the tempo and the intensity without losing that loopy quality that shoots straight into the dark heart of the night. "Pressure Dub" represents the more experimental side of Kronert's output, using sparse materials to create a minimalist megalith.
Review: Out 2 are the product of a New York-based partnership between Jeremy Campbell and R. Zanzibar, who are just the kind of cult operators that Emotional Response so dearly love. With one foot in classic Talking Heads inspired funk variations and the other in the catch-all stylistic melee of the modern age, this is highly developed party music for well-read rug cutters to bust out shapes to. Just check the gorgeous synth violin styles on "Fire" or the heavy dub beatdown of "Rubber Hour" - these cats know what they're doing. All new-no-minimal-wave lovers take note!
Review: Manni Dee might be best known for his upfront techno tackle on Perc Trax and the like, but he's also been quietly building up a separate identity as Nuances, and it's a world away from his dancefloor output. Following on from some choice album appearances on Bastakiya Tapes, it's up to Tabernacle to give the project its first outing on wax. While Tabernacle can have some range in their sound, this finds the label plunging wholeheartedly into ambient climes. Heavily processed textures and delicate chimes all feed into a truly evocative atmosphere loaded with significance. Ignore the familiar name behind the music - this is an album deserving attention all on its own.
Review: Hailing from France but now based in Tokyo, Jazzy Couscous is a label that explores all kinds of sounds pivoting around the axis of jazz and deep house, but keeping things wide open for variety and experimentation. Following releases from Brawther, Klodio and more besides, it's time for a hefty various artists release that shows off a whole heap of talent. Matthieu Faubourg keeps thing pumping and Detroit-flavoured on "A Long Way", while Drezb smooths things out to a Chez Damier-influenced deep house groove. Pascal Viscardi gets things properly jacking on the deep-diving "Digital Illusion", and then the record closes out with the blissful ambient excursion of Midori featuring Victor Santoni's "Distance".
Review: The third outing for Modern Manners emerges on the back of two very strong 12"s that introduced this anonymous outfit to the world. "Timeless Vibe" continues where the last release left off, building up a wonderfully cosmic bed of processed melody under which casual hand played percussion and warm bass notes can linger. "Azzahar" too keeps things pleasantly soporific with its gentle pace and lilting guitar refrains, and then "Middle East Manners" rounds this excellent trio of EPs out with a beautifully realised swirl of sounds that find focus once a kick drum starts pulsing and the percussion starts building. Quite who Modern Manners are is a mystery at this stage, but across these three 12"s they've certainly made their presence felt in the softest, most laid back of ways.
Review: Joe Morris is back in action on Jacaranda Skies 8.02, exploring more of that balmy sound that Pleasure Unit love so dearly when having a good time down by the marina. This is how yacht rock would sound if it had got with the party program, not least on the illustrious "Jacaranda Skies". "The Lost Garden" is a more mysterious affair that trades in immersive atmospherics with a distinctly soundtracky feel. "Mangrove Dawn" is a sleepy affair that wraps around you like a perfectly timed silken scarf, and then "Skies Reprise" lets Morris sail back into those bountiful waters that gave us the lead track.
Review: The Not An Animal crew follows up excellent releases from Man Power, James Hadfield and Ian Blevins last year with this 12" of soaring 80s-inflected dancefloor boogie In:State & Giuli. It's actually a dreamy remix of "Vizitoz" from Lauer that opens up the 12" before the pulsing, wavey throb of the original kicks in. "Plus One" on the B side chops up the beat a little, but the same fulsome synth lines shape out the track. That leaves it to Lizards to wrap the record up with their own version of "Vizitoz", bringing a motorik thrum to the track that should nudge it into the bags of all manner of DJs from the cosmic warm-up crew to the EBM-favouring techno peak timers.
Review: The high grade, leftfield approach to house music Lyssna have set out as their MO continues in fine style on this new Colours series, starting with the Yellow EP and a strong cast of characters from the outer reaches. Riciar Ghir opens up proceedings with the tumbling deep house of "Cargo", making the keys dance with distinction and injection a subby rumble where it counts. Minimal Afrika follow that up with a percussive tryst entitled "Drakma Queen" that blossoms into a sumptuous ambient excursion. Robotalco takes a very different approach with some classically pumping sample-powered house music to shake feel-good fists to, and then Klubbhuset finishes up with an impassioned romp through peak time disco licks for the peak of the night.
Review: Modal Analysis continues its unrelenting march towards the darkest territory in the electro landscape with this deadly 12" from Morah, which wastes no time in laying waste to the good vibes with the sinister stomp of "Voltage#1". The second track pumps up the rhythm section and lays down a sidewinder of a synth line that smacks of understated rave perfection, and it's that same synth that courses through the marginally more hypnotic "Voltage#3". Vapauteen offers up a remix of "Voltage#3" that slows the original right down and works a kind of mechanical tropicalia into the bones of the original.
Review: Having previously appeared alongside Tommi Vicari Jr on a 12" last year, Opto Mystics strike out on their own with this 12" for Italian powerhouse Vibraphone. New Horizon very much represents the new school approach with the long serving Italian house label, keeping that deep, melodic quality but embracing new rhythms, tones and approaches. "New Horizon" almost has an Akufen quality to it, while "Bucky Triangle" could easily transmit from the Motor City house scene. "M.I.Y.E." is a swirling blur of gorgeous synths, and "Suddent" finishes the EP off on a surprisingly experimental tip.