Review: Max Wuerden's latest full-length excursion is apparently entitled "Format" because the digital download and vinyl versions are completely different (I.E he tailored the tracks to each format). We've not listened to the digital edition, but this vinyl version is, at times, breathtakingly good. While each of the nine tracks is beat-free and undeniably ambient in nature, there's still plenty of subtle variety to be found throughout. Compare, for example, the pulsing beauty of "Desiccate", where what sound like processed clarinet lines slowly rise above sunrise-ready chord sequences, and the clandestine creepiness of "Format", a paranoid and claustrophobic affair that creaks under the weight of its own post-apocalyptic intent. Other highlights include the hypnotic, stretched-out analogue electronics of "Wirkungsgrad" and the becalmed musical waters of "Exothermic Reaction".
Review: With their "Foundations" series, DJ Spinna and Kai Alce continue to explore the formative years of house music culture, offering up seven-inch singles showcasing classic and overlooked gems. This fourth volume in the series contains two more must-have tracks subtly re-edited to fit the format by the effervescent Alce. First up on side A is Dreamer G's vocal anthem "I Got The Feeling", a 1992 NYC house classic - and Timmy Regisford favourite - produced by none other than Kerri Chandler. On the flip Spinna and Alce take us back to 1988, offering up an early New Jersey house production from the "Backroom Boys" team of Cassio Ware, Derek A. Jenkins and Dwayne Richardson, who would later find fame as DJ Spen. A superb song that's as soulful as you'd expect, it's largely been overlooked for over three decades.
Review: Madonna, Depeche Mode and Kelis - what do East End Edits have in store for us next? This seventh instalment harks back to the charming deep jazzy house of their inaugural release - think of the legendary St. Germain and that should give you a fairly good idea. The track's smoky, late night jazz bar vibe is complemented by a rolling bass and swinging rhythms that should appeal to the likes of Rhadoo or Petre Inspirescu - legends of the Romanian scene who themselves have lent their deft hand to the French producer's work as remixers in the past, too.
Review: Faze Action last teamed up with Zeke Manyika, formerly of 80s funksters Orange Juice, for the effervescent "Mangwana" back in 2016. Now they're back in collaboration for more classically rooted house music with a deeply infectious African twist. "Kubatana" is punchy where it counts, but it's a light and springy proto house burner first and foremost, with Manyika's vocal sounding as smooth as silk in the middle of the mix. "Hapana" is equally rich in musicality and personality, albeit on a more simmering, meditative tip. On the B side, "Kubatana" gets reworked by Rudy Midnight Machine and Paradise, who turn in distinct versions without losing the overall 80s aesthetic that powers the release.
Review: As far as collaborative delights go, this really takes the cake. Miami boogie wildcard Noel Williams, aka King Sporty, throwing it down heavy with legendary Jamaican reggae axe man Ernest Ranglin - as you might expect, the results are incendiary. "Soft Touch" has a hint of the cosmic about it as it romps through insanely catchy chorus chants, stirring brass stabs and Ranglin's sweet licks. "Keep On Dancing" has a more uptempo feel, "In The Rain" slips into a laid back reggae skank and "Be What You Want To Be" turns the vintage disco heat back up. Throughout this wonderful mini LP, the duo switch between each other's strengths and bring out the best in each other, like all good collaborations should.
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: Somewhat poetically, Anthony Naples describes his third album, "Fog FM", as a "house music transmission filtered through fluorescent static, from a station out of place and time". You'll certainly find some blasts of evocative radio static dotted around the album - see the drowsy wooziness of ambient numbers "Channel 2" and "Channel 3", not to mention the pops and crackles wrapped around sub-heavy, stripped back peak-time workout "Unhygenix" - but the lasting impression is of a smartly-produced set of mostly club-ready cuts that subtly doff a cap to many sub-genres of house and techno. It's a superb set, too, with highlights including the wayward techno intensity of "Benefit", the "Brown Album"-era Orbital heaviness of "Purple Iris" and the tough, dubbed-out deep house headiness of "Lucys".
Review: Platform 23's celebration of Exquisite Corpse wraps up with this fourth installment of visionary proto trance bubblers from the dream team of Robbert Henyen, Debbie Jones and Tim Freeman. As with the previous installments, they've picked choice tracks from across the spectrum of the PWOG-affiliated project's output, kicking off with a transmission from the debut release, "Honeymoon". Throughout the mood is loose and wigged-out, with a pleasant stew of New Beat, acid, house, trance and dub among the core ingredients flavouring this thoroughly early 90s dish. This is psychedelic dance music crafted before the genre boundaries were established to ruin everyone's fun - savour the vibe as we return to more freewheeling times once more.
Review: In the face of all those Clone reissue compilations, Tresor are doing the right thing and digging into their own archive of seminal aquatic machine funk from Detroit electro legends Drexciya, and stepping up with the Hydro Doorways EP is the kind of power move that most labels can only dream of being able to make. From the cinematic drama of "Quantum Hydrodynamics" to the textbook boogie down synth abandon of "Polymono Plexusgel", not forgetting the heavy-on-the-one throwdown of "Lost Vessel" or the alien gurgles and peppy pace of "Species On The Pod", or the... oh you know the drill. This is timeless, essential business for anyone that takes electronic music seriously.
Gari Romalis - "Start The Game (Detroit On The Move)" (7:07)
Rafa Santos - "Love Song" (7:09)
Rafa Santos - "Mystic Voyage" (6:09)
Review: Spanish label Mate kicked off in style with Javonntte and Jesus Gonsev, and now it's back once again with another smart pairing of high class house heads. The ever prolific Gari Romalis is all over the A side with the upfront pep of "No Way Around A Groove" and the late night shuffle of "Start The Game (Detroit On The Move)". Rafa Santos lands on the flip with the romantic lilt of "Love Song" and sweet, subtly kinked synths coursing through the centre of "Mystic Voyage". It's another fine combination of artists offering up highly workable contemporary deep house jams for discerning spinners.
Review: The Sudd Wax label got off to a strong start with Gari Romalis, building on the foundations of the parent digital label to now bringing respected artists to vinyl. This three-track set from Norm Talley plumbs all kinds of depths, from the metallic mystique of "Magic Wand" to the dusty string swoon of "Black Tea", and the hushed and haunting whispers of pads setting out a gloaming mood on "Feel It". This is subliminal deep house at its finest, marked out with character and warmth, and never just playing it safe for the sake of it. Top marks for Talley!
Review: Don't get mad, go nuts... The sneaky Secret Squirrel team return for their 21st mission and it's every bit as bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as everything else they've ever stashed. The A-side leads with a peppy horn-fired strutter that shoves us deep in the heart of the hottest dancefloor imaginable. Flip for an intimate, smouldering piece of end-of-the-night soul from 1979. Trust us, once you get a close hold of it, you'll never want to let go.
Review: In recent times, demand has soared for a trilogy of 12" singles that Matthew "Bushwacka!" Benjamin released on Sound As A Pound Recordings in 1996. This must-have 12" gathers together some of the series' most in-demand moments. Opener "8" is warm, positive and hypnotic, with marimba style memories and sun-kissed synth chords riding layered drums and a rich bassline, while "11" is a game-changing fusion of off-kilter breakbeats, heavy sub-bass and some seriously dreamy chords and lead lines. Flipside opener "5" adds sunrise-ready deep house chords and melodies to a funk-fuelled techno groove and is therefore the purest representation here of the early UK tech-house sound. As a bonus, Desert Sound Colony offers a tough and chunky peak-time revision of "8" that's altogether denser and heavier than Benjamin's original mix.
Les Portrait Le Diacre Astvatsatour Sarkissian (6:06)
Folle Vendredi Soir (6:14)
Review: Moscow-based editors Olta Karawane let loose on Special Delivery with five exceptional intergalactic sleaze jams. Each one sprinkled with their own sonic stardust, highlights include the sultry cake-listing koshmiche mash of "Les Portrait Le Diacre Astvatsatour Sarkissian", the Moroder-goes-b-boy-on-Omicron-Persei-8 jitters of "Farine" and the peg-leg post-punk and woozy Tropicana of "Oinj". Topped off with an epic synth chariot of fire "Racaille", it's another remarkable trip from one of Russia's most enigmatic disco acts.
When I'm Alone (JKriv & Peter Matson remix) (6:14)
Review: Adeline is undoubtedly best known for being the front-woman of Brooklyn-based disco band Escort, an outfit whose members also included Razor-N-Tape co-founder JKriv. It makes sense, then, that her latest solo single is appearing on their "Reserve" offshoot. Co-produced by Midnight Magic man Morgan Willey, "When I'm Alone" is a revivalist leftfield disco cut rich in "Beam Me Up" style walking bass, ear-catching guitar riffs and lolloping drums - all topped off by a fantastic vocal from Adeline. Jacques Renault delivers a slightly heavier, house-influenced remix with subtle Italo-disco style arpeggio lines, while Dirty Channels offers a more bustling but still pleasingly organic sounding disco-house take. Finally JKriv joins forces with Peter Matson on a remix that sounds like vintage Escort with added dub delays.
Review: Originally debuting on Well Rounded Records' Housing Project sub-label in 2012, Leon Vynehall has since become one of the UK's most in-demand of the new wave of young house producers. He's released subsequent records for George Fitzgerald's ManMakeMusic and Will Saul's Aus, and most recently an album on Martyn's 3024. Vynehall is now in cruise control and he lays back on Clone's Royal Oak with what will prove to be a favourite with DJs this summer. "Butterflies" is this record's piano-driven house jam, but really it's all about "This Is The Place", a loved up peach of a production with the strength to appease the underground and crossover into the mainstream.
Review: REPRESS ALERT!: Best Italy turn their impeccable reissue powers towards a surefire burner from 1984 given the stamp of approval by the likes of David Mancuso, Larry Levan and Ron Hardy back in the day. "Come Back Lover" was actually mixed down by another legendary DJ - Tony Humphries - and it shows. Even the original mix plays out with an extended, floor-focused flow that captures the creative energy at work at this epochal time for DJ culture. As ever with Best reissues, there's a plethora of alternative and dub mixes to suit any spinner's specific requirements, with the groove front and centre every time.
Review: Earlier in the year, sometime Blip Discs and Ninja Tune man O'Flynn (real name Ben Norris) returned to action after a two-year absence. Here he attempts to keep up the pressure via a double A-side single on Silver Bear Recordings. "Sunspear" is little less than a rushing blast of summery dancefloor brilliance - a percussively dense and smile inducing house jam rich in filtered horns, throaty funk vocalizations and what we assume are samples from a cheery Brazilian disco record. A similar production approach be can be heard on the flip, where O'Flynn delivers a lolloping, bass-heavy revision of a lesser-known disco funk cut. It's suitably heavy, but also boasts the kind of rubbery rhythmic swing that's rarely heard on similar exercises in sample-heavy filter house.
Review: Will Buck makes his bow on Whiskey Disco after appearing on sister label Lovedancing (with PRTMNTO) on the Soul Sides EP ?last year. Buck is in fine form again on this new offering, opening with the infectious groove of "21212" (listen out for a familiar hook that has been respliced to perfection) - topped with a killer brass section, too! Elsewhere on the EP, move to the sexy late-night deep house of "Touch Down", sultry vocal disco on "Make Your Move" and the aptly titled after-hours shuffle of "Harmony (6AM Mix)", reworked by label head honcho Sleazy McQueen himself.
Review: During the 1970s, Sanifu Al Hall Jr decided to form a group dedicated to blending jazz, soul and cutting-edge electronic sounds. The brilliantly named Cosmos Dwellerz Arkestra never released any music during the period - not commercially, at least - with this fascinating 12" marking their belated debut. "Love Thoughts", which was committed to tape in 1977, is undoubtedly intergalactic, offering a spiritually-minded mix of spiraling jazz-funk synths, woozy horn solos, stoned drums and toaster-hot bass. On the flip you'll find an interesting curio: an extended 1967 radio interview with Sanifu Al Hall Jr in which he discusses his musical story and approach to life.
Review: REPRESS ALERT!: Best may be best known for jazz and disco reissues, but they're also dab hands at unearthing forgotten gems from the annals of Italian deep house too. The Countach were last seen in active service back in 1990, dropping just two singles but making sure they were bona fide classics. "Aqua Marina" has plenty of lashings of jazz funk rubbed into its loins, not least on the "Sweet Dream Version". The "Paradise Version" nudges the key of the club mixes and ramps up the reverb, and then the "Original Studio Version" switches up the mood with an organic, live band groove on this crucial 12".