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: Mick Harris is a master of bludgeoning sound, whether wringing out apocalyptic steppers in his Scorn guise or wrestling D&B into contorted shapes as Quoit. Monrella is one of his aliases that reaches back to the mid 90s and Regis' ZET label. These four new tracks capture the same mood of granite heavy Brummie techno as the original run, wholly compatible with the tougher end of the Downwards oeuvre, sculpted with the masterful ear for sound design that Harris has displayed throughout his accomplished career. Following on from the retrospective compilation on Berceuse Heroique last year, it's a real treat to have some fresh Monrella to chew on for the hardest of techno sessions.
Review: The Fantastic Voyage label kicks off with a summery joint from RFX, otherwise known as Pharmacy Records mainstay Romain FX, straight out of Hong Kong. There's an undeniable African lilt to these tracks, shot through with a classic 90s house twist - just check the infectious bump of "Indaba Kabani". "Gambian Neptune" has a snappier feel, channeling the vibe of 80s extended dubs with its strident drum section and bombastic atmosphere. "Nigerian Charon" has an interesting mixture of vibes going on, part Art of Noise mash up and part peak time synth sizzler, while "Sudanese Xena" heads into the heat of night, conjuring up a seductive, swirling mood to get truly lost in.
Review: Amato brings the kind of nasty electro business that fits right in on Helena Hauff's mighty Return To Disorder stable, and you know it's serious from the opening strains of the VHS noir monster "Escape From Grenoble 2018". "Hydraulic Funk" takes things slower, coming on like a freaky Frak flipside and sounding excellent for it. "Machine Outil" takes things in a more muscular direction that sounds built for bench presses and body jerks - the consummate peak time sledgehammer. Umwelt takes this sturdy starting point and demolishes it into a hailstorm of acid malevolence that'll melt your face clean off.
Review: The Well Street family continue to bloom with this assured grip of adventurous steppers from Significant Other. You know you're onto something serious as soon as "Postdrome" fires up in a tangle of break slices, percussive rattles and poised kicks. The sparse drum-focused style continues in a quicker fashion with the tense and twitchy "Delos", while "Brain Fingers" amps up the bass flex to make for a dance-wrecking-ball of a track. "Memory Drum" completes the set with interlocking patterns balanced between organic and electronic and draped in tones of icy dread.
Catch Me If You Can (Jorge Savoretti Ethereal dub) (7:08)
Review: Michael James' "Winds Of Change" EP was a big look for Constant Black, and now the eminent minimal house label draws on a hit list of sharp shooters to deliver some deadly remixes. Huerta is up first with an angular but rolling dub twist on "Catch Me If You Can", before Nick Beringer pings things in a wonderfully hazy direction with his "7am Dub" of "Stormy Skies". Pascal Benjamin gets into a tight, focused funk on his version of "Reservoir", and then Jorge Savoretti flies in an "Ethereal Dub" of "Catch Me If You Can".
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: Unstoppable electro machine Carl Finlow (aka Silicon Scally) lands on Orson with more of that impeccable robo-funk he's so revered for. "Elastic Collisions" leads the charge with a tough and teasing workout that works around a heavy low end and plenty of sparkling sound design up top. "Octodecillion" keeps things on a dystopian tip, where a bleak future sounds as funky as it does ominous. "Probabilities" heads into a less floor-focused space where thick layers of buffed and polished synth wriggles collide in high-definition. "Mechanomics" completes the set with another taut belter geared towards the heads down section of the party.
Review: Hot on the heels of a re-work of Bobby Caldwell, edit stylist Caserta is back with another golden nugget. This time he turns his attention to the one and only Luther Vandross and serves up two equally essential but very different tunes that pay homage to his unique voice. The King Street Mix is all hip swinging claps and nodding bass riffs that are organic and heartfelt, whereas the Henry Street Mix nods to the '90s heyday of New York. With warm neon organ stabs that will get any floor pumping, both interpretations have Luther's soulful voice front and centre.
Review: Unlike some in the growing electro scene, Datassette has been serving up far-sighted electronic music - both club electro and what some call "IDM" - since the dawn of the century. This, though, marks his first appearance on C.P. Smith's incomparable Central Processing Unit label. It's a pleasingly varied affair, with the British producer storming between club electro/early Autechre fusion ("Kestrel Manoeuvres In The Dark"), acid-tinged, beat-free electronic symphonies ("To The Scullery!"), hard-edged and suitably intergalactic Drexciya style workouts ("Stoatle Excelsior") and sparse, glitchy electro minimalism (wonky EP highlight "Polyhedron Navigator"). Even by CPU's infamously high standards, this is a particularly fine EP.
Review: The Advent made for a perfect addition to the formidable Thema catalogue, and now he's back with the second volume of his "Dorian Blue" series. There are plentiful loops to get creative with, but the fully-formed tracks have their own cyclical qualities to inspire technically-minded DJs. "Structures" is an urgent, tightly wound piledriver, while "Interactive Loop" and "Digitize" cuts both take a sprightly, Motor City-styled approach to electro. With loops derived from these classy tracks and more besides, there's a lot to get the creative juices flowing as well as bodies popping.
Review: Dr Rubberfunk (AKA long-serving DJ/producer Simon Ward) may have reached the start of middle age, but he's showing no signs of succumbing to a typical "midlife crisis". In fact, his recent releases have been among the strongest of his career to date. The third part of his ongoing "My Life At 45" series is another belter, with opener "A Matter of Time" - featuring talented, fast-rising vocalist Izo FitzRoy - being a particularly strong exercise in revivalist 1960s soul. Elsewhere across the EP, "Slim's Mood" is a fine chunk of hazy rhythm and blues featuring some awesome, Peter Green style jazz guitar solos, while closing cut "Moody Drums" is a chunky beats track tailor-made for funk and hip-hop DJs who like to get busy in the mix.
Review: Since signing with Ransom Note Records in 2016, Bawrut has been on a fine run of form. Remarkably, this is the Madrid-based Italian's fifth EP for the imprint and it's every bit as memorable as its four predecessors. Like much of his work, title track "Pronto Arpeggio" is rich in razor-sharp analogue electronics, with high register arpeggio synthesizer lines rising above punchy beats, manic drum fills and mind-altering acid motifs. It's successfully toughened up by KiNK before Bawrut returns with "Shooreee", another boldly percussive and constantly building exercise in analogue electronics manipulation. Ruf Dug's brilliant remix takes the track to another level entirely via even denser drums, rougher acid riffs and more glistening lead lines, while "Atchu" is a chugging chunk of late night acid sleaze.
Review: Mainz-based house hooligan Butch teams up with good studio pal Christian Vogt (Yellow Tail/Rebirth) once again for their new thumper - a remix of Andy Gibbs of The Bee Gees' 1980 hit "Desire". Said to have been circulating for more than a year on selected USB sticks, it's finally available for all. The sexy and low slung main remix is sure to burn up any dancefloor, and is backed by a groovy and swing-fuelled dub version, a handy and functional drum tool and a nifty vocal tool too. It's what Gerd Janson & Co. best described themselves as "blue-eyed R&B house.. made to please and evoke those unifying and uplifting dancefloor moments".
Review: Munich duo Rhode & Brown have been bringing the good stuff to Toy Tonics for some time now, and they're sounding especially vibrant on this new joint. "Nine To Shine" is a sweet and soulful, 90s flavoured deep house jam with catchy vocals and a bittersweet mood to help you throw off the baggage of the working life once the weekend rolls around. "Honeymoon Affair" piles on uplifting piano chords and smooth acid bass for a full-fat house burner, while "Sumthin" chops up some serious funk samples for a massive dose of feel-good. "Your Beauty Is A Spoiler" completes the set with a wistful mood centered on an impeccably edited soul hook, making this a house 12" with plenty of mileage for a multitude of situations.
Review: REPRESS ALERT: Thule are back on the Icelandic techno reissue trip, this time returning to a serious classic from Sanasol (Yagya & Thor) that originally came out in 1997. This particular, highly sought after, gem leads in with the majorly heady house throb of "Seveneleven (Original Mix)" which piles the dubby processing and lush melodics on heavy while still retaining a sense of airiness to uplift the soul. By contrast, the "Closedonsundays Mix" focuses on a tough but crooked beat and that undulating bassline for a completely different flavour. On the flip, the "Sanaramalonger Mix" returns to the mellower flow of the original but with a more submerged finish and some pronounced dub stabs. Then the "Ozzy Mix" finishes the package with a minimal take that prefigures the upsurge of dubby clicks n' cuts laptop beats that would explode in the years to come. Essential tackle for all deep techno explorers.
Review: J Room steps up with a contribution to the minimal tech house conversation that sees emergent artist Jale making a strong statement with three powerful original tracks and a remix from Cosmjn. Jale's style leans on Detroit string synths for a sense of melancholic grandeur, and densely packed rhythm sections that bump as much as they punch. "Orbital Dream" takes things in a dreamy after hours direction, and "Eclipse" works up some rugged synth trysts that snap around a subtly broken beat. Cosmjn's remix of "Orbital Dream" is not to be slept on either as it subtly adjusts the accent of the groove to make an immersive tech house roller par excellence.
Just An Illusion (Ilija Rudman Night Institute mix) (3:04)
Don't Look Any Further (Ilija Rudman True Colours mix) (4:38)
Review: Off the back of the awesome "Sagittarii" LP on Stevie Kotey's Bear Funk earlier in the year, Croatian deep disco hero Ilija Rudman is back with a couple of sweet re-edits on Brooklyn Highs. He takes on Imagination's classic "Just An Illusion" for a "Night Institute Mix" where he pitches this sexy late night lovers anthem down a few notches for that good ol' low slung effect. On the flip, he delivers a respectful edit of Dennis Edwards and Siedah Garrett's 1984 classic "Don't Look Any Further" for a "True Colours Mix", which again goes for that slo-mo vibe just nicely.
Review: James Ruskin's Blueprint label might be more than 50 releases deep, but it is still turning out vital techno. Famous beer lover Truncate is behind this latest no nonsense three tracker and first up he races out of the blocks with the wall rattling kicks and brilliantly linear grooves of "The Bell" which indeed has some eerie bell sounds bringing mystery to proceedings. "Initials" is for the messier late night hours, with loose synths unfolding in unpredictable patterns and melting your mind. "Timbre" is then the atmospheric closer that takes you inwards. Timeless stuff.
Review: Perpetual Rhythms continue to offer up fresh variations on the deep house formula with this classy new drop from Taelue. Crooked electro experiment "The 4th Dimension" opens the record up to any number of possibilities, before the forthright pump of "Twin Flame" locks things into a haunting workout. "Rage Against Oppression" takes things in an angrier direction, all ragged and snarling production values with an acid-techno leaning. "A Bleak Moment" provides more space for exploration away from the floor, and then "The Sunken Place" sinks into sinister soundwaves driven by a nervy arpeggio. "Reflections" finishes the EP off with a trip into slow, spaced-out, acidic ambience.
Review: The latest Hands Off joint features three artists making waves in intriguing corners of the deep house firmament. Desos opens up the A side with the dreamy groove of "Dubs", before Space Age lays down the classic, Mr Fingers-flavoured haze of "Sunday Rain". Desos returns on the flip with another subtle yet punchy cut, keeping the melodies submerged and sublime on "Jaaa" before Common Mode takes things in a distinctly dubby direction with "Beauty Queens".
Review: Legendary UK hip hop head Rodney P makes a triumphant return with this vital little 7" on Tru Thoughts. The godfather of the UK scene is coming off the back of a big collaborative with Ty & Blak Twang as KINGDEM and now serves up a commentary on how rap and hip hop is such a pivotal force on the a-side of this new one. The flip goes deeper, musing on his second-generation immigrant status and doing so with panache. The production is as deep and accomplished as the song writing and reminds us why Rodney P is so well revered.
Review: The latest drop on Mr KS & Friends comes from Sylan 101, an artist making a truly accomplished debut brimming with musicality and fresh beat constructions compatible with, but not beholden to a deep house vibe. "Nostalgia (Healing Of Time)" is a smoky broken beat groove with gentle piano chords and muted trumpet, while "Brief Encounters" draws on subtle guitar licks and harmonious pads for decoration over snaking drums. "Been There Once" heads in a more mysterious direction, throwing some spoken word refrains into the mix and keeping the instrumentation more subtle and atmospheric.
Review: After launching the Gudu label with a superb EP of her own productions, Peggy Gou has recruited Ed Upton AKA DMX Krew - one of the most reliable producers in the house and techno scene - to handle release number two. Upton is in fine form from the off, sprinting his way through the atmospheric late night chords, garage style organ motifs, bustling acid lines and jacking drums of opener "CJ Vibe". He moves further towards vintage Motor City techno territory on the lusciously melodious but percussively punchy peak-time skip of "DXIOO", before reaching for the boogie synths and proto-house drums on futurist electrofunk number "Don't You Wanna Play?". To round things off, Upton brilliantly dips the tempo and layers up spacey melodies over classic analogue bass on "110 Series".
Review: Heavy co-lab business, Bristol boys Mako and Mikal tag-up for a serious lesson on Mako's Utopia. "Under The Earth" takes the lead and you can spot the breaks as they fly by, all switching and cutting almost every beat at points before suddenly dropping out of the mix and leaving you in a bewilderingly oceanic breakdown. "Switch It", meanwhile, lives up to its name with a fantastically strange beat. Kinda 4/4 in spirit, there's a new sound lurking in this which is only just being explored here. Switch? Completely flip things beyond belief more like.
Review: When you use words like "prickly", "abrasive" and "uncompromising" it's rarely flattering. Consider Kim Gordon's exceptional powerhouse long form one of the exceptions. As far removed from music for the masses as you could hope for, it takes a particular talent to deliver work like "No Record Home". Labels such as punk certainly apply, but it's less about mouths gushing spittle amid the deafening screams of guitars and raucous vocals, and more about overall attitude. No change there for this co-founder of the mighty Sonic Youth then. Loud and intelligent, forthright and yet heartfelt and tender in its own unforgiving way, it's as far removed from wall of sound discordance as it is anything you could describe as remotely over-explored. Marrying the bloody-lipped electro of Peaches and body blow lows of EBM with gritty rock 'n' roll chords, those looking for originality that oozes repeatability should consider their hunt over, for now at least.
Review: The well-established drum & bass label Circle Vision continues with its often mysterious, uncredited white label series. This third instalment comes under the Circle Vision alias, which could be one person, loads of people or whatever else. What we do know is that "Hollow" bangs - frazzled bass zips about under big jungle breaks, with sci-fi pads bringing a sense of futurism to this bassbin bothering banger. "Tings In Boots" hits just as hard with raved up, strobe lit chords and some brilliantly old school sub-bass. Dark, raw, physical, it is pure dancing music of the highest order.
Goody Gap & The Inn House Crew - "Madness Badness" (feat Vin Gordon) (4:16)
Goody Gap & The Inn House Crew - "Madness Badness" (feat Vin Gordon - version) (4:19)
Review: The Inn House Crew has been serving up the platters that matter on Room In The Sky long enough to have a firm following by now. Once again they bring rather melancholic vibes to this new one. "Madness Badness" feat. Vin Gordon is a flabby dub with pillow bass and rounded drums, but the trumpets that ring out are beautifully muted and sombre. Flip over for an alternative version that's more amped up and direct for those who are after something more energetic. Whichever side you go for, this is one you will want to add to your collection.