Review: On his second album titled Siku, Ecuadorian producer Nicola Cruz continues his exploration into ancestral Latin American cosmology, as well as expanding his vision towards new stories and other cultures as sources of inspiration. The title is named after a wind instrument of Andean origin, highly symbolic in ancestral rituals. Cruz merges electronic and organic elements with symbolic/spiritual connotations, plus studies of the samba, cumbia and rhythms of African, Andean and Hindu origin. Hypnotic electronica merges with the folkloric on the title track and "Senor De Las Piedras", traditional music is respectfully explored on charming vocal-led tracks like "Hacia Delante" (with Chato) and he goes deep into the jungle on exotic journeys like "Obsidiana".
Review: Swiss venue Zukunft Club Zurich made the logical expansion into a record label earlier this year with Zukunft Recordings, which was inaugurated in fine fashion by The Legendary Lightness, with Ripperton making the 12" all the more special thanks to his wonderful remix. Zukunft clearly felt there was further room to explore "Hey Ron" with two more remixes pressed up for their second 12" release. Up top Frank Wiedemann from Ame/Howling creates a hymn for the dancefloor, whilst the flip sees Kejeblos veering off into groovy disco territory on a revision blessed with early electro influences.
Review: On previous releases, the Maghreban brilliantly fused a wide variety of global influences - Middle Eastern music, heavy African rhythms, dub, techno, house, cosmic disco and weirdo electronica - to create brilliantly off-kilter tracks that inhabited a sonic realm of their own. He's at it again here, giddily flitting between wonderfully tropical Zouk/house fusion (the bustling drum machine beats and marimba-style synths of "Effendi"), Chateau Flight-esque end-of-days techno insanity (the locked-in weirdness of "Switched On"), skittish highlife/breakbeat business (the surprisingly fuzzy and funky "Finagling") and intergalactic punk-funk dub ("Rocky & Bullwinkle"). It's sometimes hard to keep up with his brilliant musical flights of fancy, but it's a ride you'll want to take time and time again.
Review: This collection of four long and reflective instrumental pieces may comprise the last album Alex Zhang Hungtai makes as Dirty Beaches, and it's a record on which he largely jettisons the more electro and rock 'n' roll tinged abstraction that made his name on records like his breakthrough 'Badlands' for an ambient-tinged widescreen sweep that's more Cliff Martinez than Chris Isaak. Yet the cinematic melancholia that always remained at the heart of his work is very much present and correct on Stateless, an elegant and rewarding statement which is as laudable for both its less-is-more aesthetic as its emotional impact.
Review: Pat Biggerstaff's ZIP catapults itself into the modern soul game with an arresting statement of intent; St Louie-born, Kansas-based Bryan Austin takes time off his calling as a missionary to lay down two soft, dreamy, string and piano based ballads. "What Would Marvin Say?" is rich in references and respect while "Sunday" takes The Moments' classic to slower, deeper, emotive pastures. Both establish ZIP as a new label with promise.
Review: If you're unfamiliar with the name Mavi Gunes 69, don't worry: it's a brand new project from Osman Murat Ertel - co-founder of cult Turkish psych-folk band BaBa Zula - and his life partner Esma Ertel, a talented singer, songwriter and dancer. There's much to admire on this out-there debut single, not least the lo-fi psychedelia of "3 Cember", where Esma Ertel's half-chanted vocals rise above hallucinatory Middle Eastern instrumentation (drenched in copious amounts of reverb) and a dark, low-slung groove. Flipside "Yafta" is a slightly more up-tempo affair, with flash-fried acid-funk guitar flashes and exotic instrumental flourishes rising above a near tribal late night groove. Both tracks are hugely atmospheric and undeniably intoxicating.
Review: ZamZam 72 comes from one of our favorite producers for the last few years, the elusive Andy Mac. Known in particular for his "Diving Bird" series, a buy-on-sight trilogy of 12"s on Bristol's Idle Hands, the idiosyncratic producer also has releases on No Corner (in collaboration with Ossia), and the seminal Punch Drunk label. His unique style of chopped, techy, warm, pastoralist dubwise had us from the first, and the tunes he sent us flew through our A&R gauntlet with ease. His are records we return to again and again, revealing more subtlety with each listen, free from genre or tempo constraints.
Review: Back in 2016, Crackazat created a bespoke EP for Z Records in which he blended vocal acapellas from the label's archives with his own jazz-fired deep and soulful house grooves. Three years on, he's decided to repeat the exercise, in the process serving up four more killer cuts. He begins by layering Sunburst Band vocals atop bouncy pianos and rich Latin house instrumentation on "Fly Away", before effortlessly joining the dots between deep house, disco and jazz-funk on the superb "Crystal Eyes". "I'll Be There" is a colossal slab of gospel-tinged revivalist New Jersey garage smothered in weighty organ riffs, while "Some Day" offers a deeper and jazzier spin on the same retro-futurist sound.
Review: Having made its bow on digital download last autumn, JKriv and Adeline's brilliant "Vertigo" finally makes it to wax. The original Club Mix sounds like a long lost cut from Brooklyn disco revivalists Escort, a band that both JKriv and Adeline were members of. It's absolutely brilliant all told - think strong choruses, Nile Rodgers guitars, jangly pianos and walking bass - as is JKriv's throbbing, delay-laden Dub. In between you'll find a dusty disco-house revision from Yuksek and a storming interpretation from Z Records chief Joey Negro, who wraps Adeline's vocal and JKriv's bassline in colourful new boogie synths and some classic disco-funk horns. There's no doubt about it, this will be one of the biggest disco records of 2019.
Songhoi Band - "Africa Africa" (Faze Action edit) (4:50)
Stylus - "We All Need One Another" (3:29)
Oscar Perry - "Body Movements" (8:31)
Spats - "Hot Summer Madness" (3:25)
Review: For the latest volume in their crate-digging disco series, Under The Influence, Z Records has turned to long-serving British brothers Simon and Robin Lee AKA Faze Action. In keeping with the series' dusty-fingered ethos, there's plenty of brilliant rarities to set the pulse racing - see the smooth '80s boogie of Leston Paul's "All Nite Tonight", the up-tempo hustle of Oscar Perry's "Body Movements" - as well as a smattering of obscure versions of classic dancefloor hits (check Michele Claire's version of "In The Bush"). You'll also find a smattering of killer Faze Action edits, too, with their version of Midway's "Set It Out" and Mikki's freestyle-era boogie ham "Dance Lover" standing out.
Synergy - "More People Than Me" (feat Donnell Pitman)
Al "Man" Muntzie & The Embraceables - "We Are Steady Rockin'"
Are & Be - "If There Is No Struggle" (long version)
Juice - "Mercy On Me"
The GT's - "Let's Do It Together"
Eklips - "My Love"
Ms Victoria Barnes - "Never Too Late" (disco version)
The Olympics - "Do You Like It"
Suave - "Salsa Gon Gitcha"
The Rappers - "Funky Juice" (part 1)
Review: It would be fair to say that Winston is nowhere near as well known as some of the record collectors who've compiled volumes in the "Under The Influence" series (think Nick The Record, Sean P and Red Greg), but it seems his crates are every bit as deep. Check, for example, the unashamedly celebratory, slap-bass propelled disco-funk of Doug Payne and Polygon's "Holiday", the heady, high-octane disco thrills of Expose's "I Just Wanna Dance With You", the low-slung early funk-rap headiness of Jungle Band's "Jungleland (Part 2)" and the wickedly percussive salsa-disco heaviness of Suave's "Salsa Gon Gitcha". In other words, it's a killer collection of top-notch cuts that you'll never have heard before. What's not to like?
Lonnie Liston Smith - "Space Princess" (JN Space Goddess mix) (10:44)
Lonnie Liston Smith - "Space Princess" (JN Break mix) (3:52)
Gwen McCrae - "Keep The Fire Burning" (JN Special dub #3) (6:49)
Wardell Piper - "The Power Of Love" (JN Power Of The Boogie mix) (7:11)
Review: Thanks to soaring demand on the second-hand market, Joey Negro has decided to re-press this killer collection of disco remixes that originally appeared on a limited-edition Record Store Day release. All four were created, but not released, during the making of his superb Remixed With Love albums. The A-side boasts two versions of Lonnie Liston Smith classic "Space Princess"; an epic, peak-time disco revision and a brilliant beats version (the "Break Mix"") that consists of little more than punchy percussion, trippy effects and bags of energy. Turn to the flip for Negro's impeccably delay-laden, New York style dub of Gwen McCrae's "Keep The Fire Burning" and a spine-tingling, sing-along rearrangement of Wardell Piper's lesser-celebrated disco-boogie classic "The Power of Love".
Tony Antoniou - "Send In The Night" (instrumental mix)
Spats - "Hot Summer Madness"
Banzai - "Runaway"
Review: For the latest volume in their crate-digging disco series, Under The Influence, Z Records has turned to long-serving British brothers Simon and Robin Lee AKA Faze Action. In keeping with the series' dusty-fingered ethos, there's plenty of brilliant rarities to set the pulse racing - see the smooth '80s boogie of Leston Paul's "All Nite Tonight", the sublime Afro-disco brilliance of Bebe Manga, the up-tempo hustle of Oscar Perry's "Body Movements" and the South American disco swirl of Don Lurio's "Ruba Ruba" - as well as a smattering of obscure versions of classic dancefloor hits (check Michele Claire's version of "In The Bush"). You'll also find a smattering of killer Faze Action edits, too, with their version of Midway's "Set It Out" and Mikki's freestyle-era boogie ham "Dance Lover" standing out.
Bobby D’Ambrosio - "Moment Of My Life" (feat Michelle Weeks) (9:08)
Carlos Romanos - "121" (Doug Willis Raw edit) (5:15)
Joey Negro - "K-Jee" (Philly World mix) (8:48)
The APX - "Lose Yourself To The Groove" (JN Future Boogie edit) (6:55)
Review: Z Records' compilation style "Attack The Dancefloor" EPs rarely fail to deliver, with big cheese Dave Lee (AKA Joey Negro) collecting together floor-friendly treats with the label's vast catalogue. There's plenty to set the pulse racing on this 12th volume, starting with Negro's organ-heavy revision of Bobby D'Ambrosio and Michelle Weeks' classic '90s house cover of Inner Life disco classic "Moment of My Life". Purist disco thrills are provided by Lee's tidy Doug Willis re-edit of Carlos Romanos' boogie-era disco-funk bumper "121", as well as his vintage cover of MFSB classic "K-Jee". Arguably best of all, though, is Lee's sparkling, synth-heavy "Future Boogie" mix of The APX's revivalist electrofunk jam, "Lose Yourself To The Groove".
Christopher Cross - "Ride Like The Wind" (Joey Negro extended disco mix)
Thelma Houston - "I'm Here Again" (Joey Negro Ready To Roll mix)
Grace Jones - "Pull Up To The Bumper" (Joey Negro Bumper To Bumper mix)
Cheryl Lynn - "You Saved My Day" (Joey Negro Tell The World mix)
Willie Hutch - "Brother's Gonna Work It Out" (Joey Negro Return Of The Mac mix)
Norman Connors - "Stella" (Joey Negro Jazz Ride)
Jean Carn - "Time Waits For No One" (Joey Negro extended disco mix)
Loose Change - "Straight From The Heart" (Joey Negro Straight To The Groove mix)
Wanda Walden - "Don't You Want My Lovin'" (Joey Negro Back To 81 mix)
People's Choice - "Here We Go Again" (Joey Negro Philly Stomp mix)
Review: With the possible exception of The Reflex, no other producer can match the multi-track re-edits and remixes delivered by house maestro and long-time disco digger Dave 'Joey Negro' Lee. Having laid down a marker with 2013's Remixed With Love, the veteran producer has decided to emphasize his credentials with this similarly superb follow-up. Over the course of two action-packed discs, Lee skillfully re-arranges 20 disco and boogie favourites, using the inherent swing, funk and energy of his source material to create superb, dancefloor-friendly tweaks. Amongst the well-known cuts - think "Pull Up To The Bumper", "Keep The Fire Burning" and "Brothers Gonna Work It Out" - you'll also find sublimely soulful rearrangements of overlooked cuts from Nicolette Larson, Cheryl Lynn and Norman Connors.
G-Force - "Feel The Force" (feat Ronnie Gee & Captain Cee) (7:23)
Tyrone Brunson - "The Smurf" (6:09)
Review: Over the years, Joey Negro has delivered compilations focusing on a wide range of styles and sub-genres, including soulful disco, Italo-house, early U.S disco-rap, and Washington D.C go-go. Now he's turned his attention to electro, the style that did more than any other to inspire Britain's first wave of DJs and dance music producers. This "personal collection" contains a mixture of stone-cold scene classics - Aleem's Leroy Burgess-fronted "Release Yourself", Hashim's scene anthem "Al Naayafiysh (The Soul)" and Dwayne Omar's P-funk influenced "This Party's Jam Packed" - alongside deeper selections such as Kosmic Light Force's brilliant - and hard to find - L.A electrofunk classic "Mysterious Waves", and The Russell Brothers thrillingly intergalactic "The Party Scene".
Everybody Loves A Good Thing (JN More Of A Good Thing mix)
Review: The latest edition in Joey Negro's ongoing "Remixed With Love" series sees the veteran producer turning his hand to two tracks from the 1978 debut album by Phreek, an all-star studio band helmed by Patrick Adams and Leroy Burgess. Side A boasts a superb revision of "I'm A Big Freak (R*U*1*2)" in which the Z Records boss turns an already wild cut into a synth-laden freak-out of epic proportions (think crazy synth solos, heady party atmosphere and urgent vocals). On the flip you'll find an arguably even better version of "Everybody Loves A Good Thing" that places Leroy Burgess' killer lead vocal right at the heart of the action. Joey Negro's extended mix is very respectful of Adams' original version, but that's no bad thing.