Review: Phil Gerus is a rising talent that fits right into the (Emotional) Especial mould with his sharply realised 80s bombast and dynamic electro funk production style. Treating body-popping club tracks as a vessel for heartfelt expression, these tracks have it all from Linn Drum boogie to fully capable instrumental chops, all shot through with Gerus' choice new wave vocals. Lauer hops on board for a seductive remix of "Still Blind" that ups the sensual intensity of the track while keeping the club foremost in his mind, before Jamie Paton steps up on the flip with a couple of freakier turns that dub the original out into deadly, spooky jams for more adventurous party people to get loose to.
Review: Hailing from Tel Aviv and featuring Antinote-affiliated Alek Lee, Project Runaway make good on their initial promise with a sterling club-ready record for [Emotional] Especial. "Met" is a perfect statement of intent - a dynamic peak time record with an urgent, insistent groove peppered with organic percussion, zippy FX and a freaky vocal to get overground and underground party people shaking unanimously. The dub on the flip takes things out to weirder territory for the freak-out crew, without losing sight of the necessary functionality of the track. This is as direct a hit as you could ever expect from [Emotional] Especial, but loaded with bags of personality to satisfy the more curious minds out there.
Review: The 1 Life crew had a strong start with the likes of Kerri Chandler, DJ Spen & Karizma and Joey Negro contributing to a disco-fied house sound. Volume two on the label is no slouch either, ranging from Vincent Inc & LA's smoky "Cafe Tropical" before launching into Rico De Almenda's sassy, joyous take on "Watermelon Man". Venus Attack Project get into a deeper, percussive mood on the incendiary "Grass Culture" before Vincent Floyd completes the set with the heartfelt acid bubble of "Trail Of Tears". From organic sounds to box jams, these tracks speak directly to the foundations on which house music was built.
Review: Representing Californian house music culture with its heart on its sleeve, 12 Inches Deep return for a second volume of "West Coast Dance Traxx" that features four up and comers from the underground. Ricky Tinez captures a perfect hazy summer mood on the dub mix of "That Day" - a true product of his environment. Akumen brings a sweatier vibe to "Inner Life (All Of Music)" which captures a little Chi-town pressure and then blows it wide open with some choice organ licks. Le Smoove is on a serious garage tip with "G Groovez" and Urbanite reaches skywards with the utterly infectious "Triple Filtered", spilling good vibes out from every angle.
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: Ted Krisko and Eric Rickers hail from Detroit, and their distinctive brand of snappy, playful electro and techno has already landed them releases on KMS, Visionquest and others. Now they land on 20/20 Vision with the devilishly fun "One LFO," an unremitting acid jam shot through with crafty drum programming and enough robotic lubricant to get the rustiest joints greased up and moving. Fellow Detroit champs Luke Hess and Delano Smith shore up on the flip with classy remixes, Hess waving his dubby strains over the original in inimitable form and Smith taking things deep, smooth and just a little spooky.
Review: This is proving to be a big breakthrough year for Kosh, a producer hailing from Casablanca in Morocco. After making a first appearance last year on Casa Voyager, he's returned to that label a second time before dropping the "Endless Quest" 12" on eudemonia. But now he's made a marked leap forward with this transmission on 20:20 Vision, where his incredibly well-read take on vintage electro sounds right at home. There is quality pouring from every corner of this record, but we recommend you make a beeline for the sumptuous "Vicious Love," an acid-laced burner with soul to match its snarl.
Review: A master of all things dark and gritty when it comes to jungle and drum & bass, Ray Keith is back with a vengeance here across two devastating cuts. A side "Jungle Fi Dread" is built on his archetypal dread bass sound, stepping breaks and flailing hits, and it adds up to a controlled bit of dance floor frenzy with numerous peaks and troughs. "What Time Dread" on the flip has a rude vocal stretched and warped over rinsed out breakbeats that shimmer while a droning bassline conjures up some sort of doom-laden final level boss scene from your favourite RPG.
Extreme Love (with Lily Anna Haynes & Jenna Sutela)
Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt
Evening Shades (live Training)
Bridge (with Martine Syms)
Godmother (with Jlin)
Review: When it comes to working with voice and voice alone there's few artists out there that can really dissociate speech and its connection with the brain. Proto is the third full-length album by composer and sound artist Holly Herndon, and it brings out on onslaught of sounds that will keep you rooted in your seat. Opener "Birth" for example sounds something like a poor soul struggling with the deepest of emotions and most spellbinding of speech impediments. The music embraces rave and extreme cut up techniques with bass music and a myriad of experimental beats, ideas and philosophy. Much like SOPHIE's music there are so many reference points to discover; with our best comparisons being Enya, Laurie Anderson's "O Superman" and the cluster of music coming out of experimental label PAN. The album also features a collaboration with Planet Mu's Jlin with the gnawing beatboxes of "Godmother". What a trip to redefine what we might one day call 'prototypical' - but for now, take a deep breath and dive into the multi-dimensional abyss.
Review: To live a life with harmony is some of the first lyrics spent on Aldous Harding's anticipated Designer album, and she gives us plenty here. Easy going '90s coastal pop nostalgia is subtly blended into folky storytelling of up-front, breathy vocals, strumming and finger picked guitars, to acoustic drums and various strokes of piano. Patti Smith influences, to Nico, Kate Bush and even Cat Power similarities and inspirations are there to be found on this LP too. And with the New Zealand singer-songwriter already making quite the impression with her Party LP from two years ago, her debut on the always impressing 4AD, this sophomore album looks to conjure up more of her sweet and dreamy flow yet.
Jarvis Cocker/David Cunningham - "The Interrogative Mood"
The Katzenjammers - "Cars"
Joseph & Louise Spence - "Won't That Be A Happy Time"
Andrew Wartts & The Gospel Storytellers - "Peter & John"
Bob Welch - "Don't Wait Too Long"
Alternative TV - "Cold Rain"
Serafina Steer - "Day Glo"
The Kings Singers - "After The Gold Rush"
Miranda July - "Rock Intro"
Morgana King - "It's A Quiet Thing"
Nina Simone - "Baltimore"
Art Garfunkel - "Waters Of March"
The Legendary Tigerman - "The Whole World's Got Eyes On You"
Cabaret Voltaire - "The Single"
Derek Cain/Derek Bowskill - "December"
Deanna Storey/John Brion - "Little Person"
Jake Thakray - "Old Molly Metcalf"
The Camarata Contemporary Chamber Group - "Gymnopedie No 3"
The Phoenix Foundation/Christopher Hitchens - "Corale/Thoughts On Religion"
Headless Heroes - "True Love Will Find You In The End"
Review: He will forever be known as the frontman of Pulp, but for many music lovers Jarvis Cocker has also won our affections with his erudite selections for his BBC 6 Music show. Entitled Jarvis Cocker's Sunday Service, it ran every week from 2010 to 2017 and now a selection of his personal favourites get the compilation treatment. Reflecting the mood of most Sundays, the music is soothing, soft and mellow, but always high quality. There are stunning covers or Beyonce by Anthony & the Jonsons and Gary Numan's "Cars" on steel drums, plaintive piano pieces from John Baker and a classic from Nina Simone amongst a whole treasure trove of gems.
Review: Yadava made a sterling debut appearance last year with the fully realised "It Rains Here" album on Church, and now he's following up that strong start with this equally excellent four tracker for Ad Hoc. The Manchester-based artist leads in with the natural bump and flex of "Grapefruits" and his jazzy chops are plain to hear throughout. "Heart Strings" lets spiritual strings and plenty of reverb shape out a misty mood that it's impossible to resist, while "Camomile Samba" brings a more uptempo feel to his honey-coated production. "Go Slow" finishes the record off on a supremely mellow beat down for those oh-so-sweet chill moments after the party.
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: 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: Aesthetic got off to a strong start with a various artist release from rising talents Nick Beringer, Niko Maxen, Stevn.aint.levn and Sy. Now they return with a solo release from LOY, who's previously been spotted on labels like Minim and Laate. You can expect sleek and refined minimal house grooves of the highest order, warm and dubby but equally honed for the more energetic hours of the party. "Dubdiver" is especially immersive with its shimmering ripples of brain-massaging melodic content, while "Blind Trip" takes things in a more brooding, emotive direction for duskier moments in the midst of the endless house shuffle.
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: Alchemy Dubs have cooked up more heat here with a ninth 7" that is a collaboration between Ojah and Jamaican singer Ras Tavaris. "Long Run" is a live mixed, proudly analogue cut with a stepper rhythm overlaid by Tavaris' important lyric work that muses on plenty of contemporary issues. Some lively percussion adds character and a flip-side instrumental dub lays even more fantastic studio work. That this one comes in a hand-stamped, hand-numbered, thick custom sleeve and is limited to 500 units makes it all the more collectable.