Review: Alphonse has already dropped a pair of 12"s on Especial in the past, but he's on especially excellent form this time around. A veteran of the halcyon rave days of the 90s, he's got a lot to draw on to conjure his particular kind of machine jams. "Moan Up" is a truly dazzling track, all twinkling synth lines interweaving around a crisp old school groove. As well as the loved up peaks of the original, there's also a beatless mix of the track that lets the melodies shine on their own. "White Pepper" takes things moodier and lets some sultry sax wail over the top, while retaining some of that boxy drum machine energy. There's even space for some tasteful guitar wailing - excellent.
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: 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: 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.
Ortella - "She's On Fire" (feat François A) (7:25)
Chocky - "Lower Synth" (5:21)
Rotty - "Secrets" (6:49)
Heat Alliance - "Got The Groove" (6:15)
Reece Johnson - "I Like The Way You" (5:50)
Lu York - "C'mon & Dance" (7:35)
Chris Fry - "Can't Stop" (6:08)
Andy Buchan - "Eighty Four" (6:06)
Review: 124 Recordings are always a safe bet for true school deep house business, and they're also dab hands at putting together killer compilations as evidenced with the "Levels EP" last year. They're back at it again with this crucial double pack, which kicks off in fine style with bright and bold vocal bumper "She's On Fire" (feat Francois A)" by Ortella. There's a deeper, trippier vibe to Chocky's "Lower Synth", while Rotty's "Secrets" chops the samples up and ramps the swing up to 11. Heat Alliance has a tough, freaky NYC touch on "Got The Groove," while Reece Johnson piles the organs on heavy on "I Like The Way You", and that's just half the set. A whole lot of house goodness to chew on, with every track purpose built for maximum dancefloor damage.
Review: 12th Isle's latest must-check chunk of entertaining experimentalism comes from Lo Kindre, whose dub-wise 2017 debut on Optimo Music was arguably one of that year's most overlooked EPs. "Chlorophytum", the producer's first solo missive since then, is another lo-fi electronic dub treat. Of course, it's not all gentle bass-heavy rhythms, endless delay trails and cute electronic melodies - closing cut "For Sleep" is a buzzing electronic raga, for example - but it's on these bass-heavy excursions that Lo Kindre most frequently hits the spot. Highlights include the extraordinarily sub-heavy shuffle of "Sounder", the ambient dub wooziness of "Aibell" and the creepy alien-dub oddness of "No Hiding".
Vincent Inc - "Rayskoye Mesto" (Vincent Floyd remix) (6:43)
Lola Allen & Vincent Inc - "Gonna Be Alright" (5:00)
Lola Allen & Vincent Inc - "NuDisco Book 1" (7:25)
Vincent Inc - "Time Machine" (Julian Sanza remix) (6:22)
Review: 14th Level Of Paradise come good with another stunning selection of high grade jams from core members of their crew. Vincent Floyd drops a remix of Vincent Inc that leans in heavy on a wistful early 90s sound that splits the difference between B12, Stasis and Larry Heard. Lola Allen and Vincent Inc's "Gonna Be Alright" takes things slower and spacier, while their "NuDisco Book 1" locks into a classic slice of disco funk to set the floor ablaze. Julian Sanza remixes Vincent Inc's "Time Machine" to close out the EP, taking a sophisticated, sweet natured approach to disco house.
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: Well hello there Mr Monty. One of the many super-talented producers to emerge from the thriving Toulouse scene in recent years, he returns to Alix Perez's 1985 with four new fire-ups. Arguably his best material to date (which is saying something), the EP takes up from the viper-like rattles and slithers of the lead track to the epic cavernous deep rollage of "Intoxication". In between we're treated to glacial soul ("Limbo" with Visages) and proper sandpaper funk roughage ("Legion") Never say goodbye...
Review: Brussels mandem Bredren get all arsonist with this scorching EP debut for Alix Perez's 1985. Four tracks, each one a flamer, we kick off with the forthright headbutt of "Inferno" where T Man holds court with savage bars. Deeper into the EP we hit their classic stripped back rolling sound on "Get Physical" before "Flick Knife" cuts straight to the chase with some sinewy, creepy low end flourishes. Last but not least "Undress" gets everyone naked with some beautiful light-at-end-of-tunnel barbed soul. Four out of four, Bredren are firing right now.
Review: Some 15 months after the first multi-artist "Folio" EP landed in stores, 1985 Music has dropped a sequel. It's another all-action affair, with all four cuts hitting home hard. Label founder Alix Perez kicks things off with "White Lies", a minimalist roller where metallic percussion hits and evocative soul vocals rise above a thoroughly filthy, wobble-powered bassline. Label favourites Submarine step up with sub-heavy hot-stepper "Grunge", before Scepticz and Lavance take things up a notch or two via the industrial strength distorted bass, mind-altering electronics and punchy beats of "Flatline". To round things off, Hyroglifics and Visages get together on the skewed but energy-packed creepiness of "Searching".
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: 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: 18 year-old Marvin Jupiter makes his bow on 2000 Black, serving up a track that effortlessly joins the dots between the bass-heavy weight of trap, indigenous South African rhythms, bustling West London broken beat and the synth-fired jazz-funk goodness of Herbie Hancock. The fact that such a young debutant is able to distill these influences into a brilliant, futurist house cut is, quite frankly, incredible. Dego and Lord's flipside revision is equally as tasty, too. Drawing on the track's bruk and jazz-funk inspirations while adding funky new Clavinet and guitar motifs, the West London stalwarts serve up a loose and groovy peak-time interpretation that should excite all those who like their beats broken and their basslines chunky.
Review: Blacks & Blues is a new name to 2000 Black, but the people behind the project are label stalwarts: Dego, Kaidi Tatham, Matt Lord (AKA Lordamercy) and vocalist Obenewa Aboah. With such talent on show, it's unsurprising that opener "Spin" - a cracking slab of broken-beat/soul fusion rich in military style drums, jazz-funk keys and summery vocals - is rather good. While dancefloor-friendly, the track feels loose, languid and tailor-made for outdoor parties. "Don't Know Why (Chant For Love)" is an even more lo-fi broken soul excursion (very Fatima), while "You Know The Feeling" recalls the jazz-funk-fired soulful club cuts of early 2000s broken beat heroes Bugz In The Attic.
Review: The hardest-working man in West London is back! By now we've become accustomed to Kaidi Tatham offering up regular doses of soul and jazz-funk-fired dancefloor goodness, but even by his high standards "You Find That I Got It" is something special. Warm, woozy, groovy and full of intricate musical details - brief synth solos, subtle orchestration and so on - the A-side title track is a wonderfully sunny slice of instrumental boogie-soul. Tatham's world-renowned keys playing comes to the fore on the organic broken beat/jazz-funk fusion of "Mjuvi", a flipside cut that's almost as good as the exceptional title track.
Review: Rising 140 sculptor Samba proudly presents his own label 26.RAIN. Following a whole string of heavily supported releases on the likes of System Music, Deep, Dark & Dangerous and Encrypted, the label is a new outlet for a fresh synth-led fusion style he's been developing gradually. Deep, musical, not shy of an 808 or a two-step or two, there's a touch of UKG, wave and trap deep across both sides. "Acecloud" is the big neon dreamer of the duo while "Cookies" crumbles a little more delicately and introspectively. An excellent launch release, we're saving our rainy day money for 002.
Review: The third volume in 3024's "mini-compilation" series "FYE" is every bit as essential as its predecessors. Label chief Martyn sets the tone via superb EP opener "Recon", a bass-heavy chunk of polyrhythmic techno smothered in Motor City electronics and toaster-warm chords. NKC steps up next with the no-nonsense, percussion-heavy tribal house workout "Honest Drums", before Jacques Greene joins the dots between spacey '90s IDM, post-dubstep and electro on the aurally attractive "Say Nothing". Finally, Djoser rounds things off via the rumbling bass, layered tribal drums and looped, xylophone style melodies of "Wera".
Review: Andre Sobota is Bungle, the Brazilian producer tearing up the contemporary drum & bass landscape with his hard hitting rhythms. He only tends to put out one EP a year, but that changes this autumn with three missives all landing in the space of two months. This is the first and features four cuts on two slabs of wax. "Mutant" starts out as an icy liquid roller before being ripped apart by rasping synths, "Dictate" is a glistening stomper with raga vocal stabs and melodic shimmers while "Enigma" is a dark, twisting and turning track that takes you down a rabbit hole. "Step Two" finishes things off in rump-wiggling jump up fashion and closes out a devastating release.
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.
Review: Venetian imprint Yay present the third installment of their sublabel 3N0 by Aljaz Gnezda aka Eliaz. The Slovenian producer's second EP features three minimal cuts from the wonkier end of the spectrum. Eliaz is said to have made the low slung acid bounce of "Lizergid" on the A side in 2013, before he switched to a mainly hardware setup. The other tracks on the flip are brand new: the tripped-out breakbeat action of "Erbiton" and the entrancing afterhours raviness of "Mental Spaceship". The man is slowly but surely becoming one of the prominent characters of his local scene.
Review: Six Ponts refers to the six bridges that connect the city of Nantes to its isle. A creative and forward-looking district where 44 Tours is located. The label presents its inaugural release with a gathering of local talents, who are all said to have met and become friends at the record shop - a place where they conversed about the wax imports at the shop, over beers on breezy afternoons. On the A side we have Marino with the breakneck and hyperaware electro groove of "Kyoto Plage" which despite its ferocious tempo is just sublime and evocative. On the flip, Mirouf goes for something more of an organic feeling on the breaks driven, almost drum & bass "Joyride", while Skrimz's "Pom'Pom" hears the drummer get wicked, until a futuristic bass and bleeps kick in.
Review: One year later, UVB-76's shadowy collective 4 6 2 5 strike again with two more unique startling schematics. Flexing across the tempo axis, "Sedition" leads with a fast 170 twist as hard pneumatic kicks cut through the dense foggy atmospherics before doubling up the momentum and taking unpredictable twists midway. "Crown Of Nails" maintains the hunchback pressure and that heavy foreboding sense synonymous with each member of the collective, but does so at a cool 105BPM pace giving space for each percussive element to ricochet around your purdy little pranged-out soul.