Review: If you're new to the Alex Giannascoli's world then make yourself comfortable - chances are, like us, you'll be here for a while. There are so many tangents, threads and stylistic shifts of shape it's possible to dive into his back catalogue and spend years never getting bored. It's now far quicker to understand what we're talking about, though, thanks to his latest album. There are multiple personalities at play here than you'd think could be coherent, but coherent this record is. Opener "Walk Away" sounds like an overview of the whole thing - growing from desperate cry into a grandiose, captivating thing of real beauty via reversed-out backing track and looped lyrics. All very Beta Band. From there we're locked-in, through the shimmering melodies of "Taking" to "Sugar"'s deep, tense atmospheric crescendos and vocoders. Ending on the stunning brass-accented blues rock of "SugarHouse (Live)", it's as complete a record as you could ask for.
Review: The Philadelphian Alex Giannascoli has managed to hammer out eight solo albums in less than seven years, and one would be forgiven for assuming he's confused quality with quantity, were it not for the fact that 'Rocket' is unquestionably his most coherent, most memorable and most diverse work yet - replete with the same bleary-eyed charm that has always characterised this amiable slacker's work, yet with sharply constructed songs that bear the stylistic wanders from bucolic folk-pop to Elliott Smith-style angst to Beck-style bewilderment with ease. A piece de resistance from an increasingly fascinating ingenue.
Review: After spending last autumn working alongside Rampa and Adam Port (see the trio's excellent "You Are Safe" album on Keinemusik), Andre "&Me" Boadu has enjoyed a quiet 2018. In fact, this outing on Pampa is his first release of 2018. He begins with the atmospheric and undulating delight that is "In Your Eyes", a slightly jazz-flecked rolling deep house excursion that brilliantly builds energy throughout. Boadu accomplishes this using two contrasting melodic elements: fluid piano solos and a foreboding electronic motif that increases in prominence and intensity as the track progresses. Over on side B, "As Above So Below" is an altogether deeper proposition, with hushed, cymbal heavy percussion, tech-tinged drums and a spacey, undulating synthesizer melody combining to create a hazy late night mood.
Review: It's common knowledge now that #.4.26. is Ilian Tape mainman Dario Zenker, who under this alias released a slew of hard hitting DJ tools on cult label Frozen Border - and this is his first new material under the name since five years. From the sheer terror of dynamic opener "Mono Middle", a dystopian electro number saturated in dense lo-fi fuzz, the broken beats continue on the minimal boom and thump of "Whenever Voi". But it's the B side that proclaims no more Mr. Nice Guy here, with the slamming old school energy of "Free Upload" calling to mind the early '90s sound of Djax or Pro-Jex, while "Van Cul" again demonstrates Zenker's fine ability to weave broken beat arrangements into epic, big room techno bangers.
Review: 100Hz have consistently snuck out 12"s since the early 90s, but their productivity is at an all time high and their Modugroove label is the perfect vessel to get more of their smartly crafted tech house treats into the ears of discerning DJs and dancers everywhere. This second release on their label kicks off with the atmospheric twinges of "Klon 6 Step", a sizzling, simmering cut for transcendental moments on the floor. "Wild Fudge" is a snappier affair peppered with folky string plucks that sound fresh in the club track context. "Infrastructure" takes things on an emotive tip with a range of strong melodic leads, and "Tinky Tink" ramps up the unease with a creeping jam for the less salubrious end of the night.
Review: Florence based label Bosconi is back with 100 Hz aka UK legends Lee Renacre and James Chapman who have been around since the late eighties. This is their second release on the Italian imprint; their Mila EP was their first for the label back in 2009. On the A side we have a re-issue of their 1989 track "Shoot The Bar" a sturdy and cyclical house groove on the tougher side of things with a nice double bass holding the track above a tight rhythm and dreamy Rhodes piano. "Primary Colours" sounds more like minimal, but given more of an edge by all the dusty and lively analogue machines that power it along. Its bumpy bass and restrained synth stabs supporting some simplistic rhythms and works quite well. Finally "Oliva Funk" is more of a classic NYC house cut, those rapid fire cowbell strikes will help it bear even more resemblance to classic Kerri Chandler style vibes.
Review: Hot Piroski is a newly minted label that promises to serve up "a boisterous mix of space disco, deep funk edits and Balearic beats" all commandeered by Barcelona producer 12Tree. Things get off to a sultry start with the cosy undulations of "Lazers", which sports a housey strut to carry its wistful melodic tones. "Gamma Ray" is a spicier affair with rugged bass that firmly plants the tune in the dirty disco department. "Swamp Love" has more of a classic edit feel with its dusty, looped up samples and choppy edits, but it's equally a delightfully laid back groover to suit a whole plethora of situations.
Review: Chris Romans has been rolling out crucial electro jams for a number of highly regarded labels since the early 00s. Amongst them are Touchin' Bass, Shipwrec, Frustrated Funk and Central Processing Unit, so that tells you everything you need to know about the level he's operating at as 214. Now he comes to 20/20 Vision with some body-poppin' jams of the highest order, broadening the tech house label's remit to embrace the thriving electro scene with one of its most vital practitioners. "Potential Events" is a brooding, atmospheric affair while "Windeye" draws on a more playful, Detroit indebted palette of sounds. Radioactive Man remixes "Windeye" with a steady, finely detailed approach, and then "Back To Sine" finishes the record off with another snappy salvo of funky drums and bubbling synths.
Review: Frustrated Funk, Shopwrec and Central Processing Unit are just some of the quality labels on which the enigmatic 214 has delivered his wayward strains of electro and techno. This new single for Lunar Disko is straight-up, high calibre business, as per usual, starting with the mesmerising pads and alluring soundscapes of "The Breakfast Club", a beat-driven escapade through a wave of majestic synths. "Lunar Landing" is more on the Dutch electro side of things, thanks to its sub-aquatic beats and general demeanour while, on the flip, "Jade" injects some Chicago house live through an industrial filter, and "Hurley" liquifies its synths down to a thick pool of sonics and subtle beats. Gorgeous music.
Review: 2DeepSoul are the core crew behind Inner Shift music, so as you might expect they've got a keen instinct for the finest strains of pure deep house as you'd happily dig from the likes of Patrice Scott or Fred P. They open up the Windows EP with the dreamy haze of "Clarity" before "Contour Lines" brings a pulsing, techy lead into the mixture of sweeping pads and snappy beats. "Someday" is a rich, harmonious ambient excursion, and then "It's A Sign" finishes the EP off with a truly meditative trip for the smoothest deep house cruisers to lock onto.
Review: The 3rd Generation Band hail from Ghana, recording only six tracks in their time together, all for the Essiebons label and now Mr Bongo reissue these two super rare tracks. The life affirming Afro Rhythm & Blues of "Because Of Money" was also featured on Soundway's Ghana Soundz compilation previously. It was compiled by Andrew Edwards. The band was formed in the late 70's by leader Rockson, a soldier at the time. The original record is extremely rare and this reissue is a replica 7", including the original picture paper sleeve that was carefully restored by Andrew Edwards. B side track "Obi Ye Saa Wui" is African style soul-funk, very influenced by James Brown.
Review: Emotional Rescue again delves in the world of private pressings, with a reissue of British electronic pop meets proto-House duo 4AM. With copies of their self titled album now highly sought after, this timely reissue presents two of their songs as a stand alone 7".
Consisting of multi-instrumentalist Steve Kirby - piano, guitar, bass, programming - and vocalist Kevin Finch, 4AM came together after youths filled with a love of music. Following a string of band attempts, Steve dived in to the world of midi, allowing him to build a studio set up and play solo. A meeting with new work colleague Kevin quickly developed to joining forces to expand on his early demos.
Their melodic, dance-influenced pop draws on a love of Japan, OMD and The The, but also ECM jazz and a touch of "white boy soul". The TR-808 drum and hi-hats, string stabs and random acid squelches - although no TR-303 was used - highlights the influence the nascent House sounds emanating from the "second summer of love" of 1988 / 89 had in their music melting pot.
Over this, personal lyrics flow, full of honest emotions and a touch of youthful naivety thrown in - of relationships, love, sex and passions. Intended as a personal artifact, the original album was released in 1990 with no promotion or live shows and has taken until now, some 30 years, to find a cult audience. I want you with a Passion.
Review: Surface Records has never pulled any punches as one of the UK's toughest techno labels, and The 65D Mavericks have embodied the same spirit with their charged, lyrically provocative approach. After a lengthy hiatus label and artist are back in action, and sounding as fierce as ever. "False Prophets" is not for the faint hearted - an avalanche of thunderous drums and expletive-laden diatribes. "Cosmic Drift" is marginally more meditative, but still positively unhinged in its execution. "You Lost Your Mind" flails around a muddy, punky swamp of deviant sonic behaviour, and "Immovable (dub)" throws one last curveball into the long grass, stripping out the bark without losing the bite of this proudly individual group of techno marauders.
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: Fresh from serving up some savage "Rave Reworks" on an ultra-limited 12" single, techno's leading number crunchers return with an EP of fresh studio jams. As usual, what's on offer is intense, full-throttle and mind-altering in the extreme. Check, for example, opener (and title track) "000000005", where increasingly ragged, wayward and psychedelic acid lines surge forwards over a stomping, kick-drum dominated beat, or"000000006", an acid techno onslaught that waves a glow-stick towards the Halcyon days of German techno-trance. The acid-fired '90s techno revivalism continues on the flip with two more chunks of sweaty, mind-altering peak-time insanity. Not one for the faint hearted.