Review: As soon as the sun pops out, we tend to reach for exuberant, celebratory fare. Helpfully, there's plenty of that kind of sweaty, arms-aloft fare to be found on Dan Snaith's latest outing as Daphni. While his releases under the alias were once percussive and Afro-centric, this one comes with a big dollop of funk-fuelled goodness and more dancefloor weight than you can shake a stick at. Check, for example, the pots-and-pans percussion, soaring strings and low-slung bass of disco-sampling smasher "Romeo", the saucer-eyed rush of "Just", where another loved-up disco cut is smothered in loose-limbed carnival drumming, and the jazz-house-goes-breakbeat heaviness of "If". Best of all, though, is "Sizzling (Featuring Paradise)", a colossal chunk of pitched-up carnival disco-house full of ear-catching vocal refrains, rubbery bass and tropical horn blasts.
Review: Some five years after re-launching his Crayon label via a fine EP of vintage "Tracks From The Vault", original 1990s tech-house producer Mark Ambrose serves up more gems from his bulging archives. The quality threshold remains dizzyingly high throughout. Check first the moody, back room dub of "Nightshift (Deeper Mix)", where gentle, alien synth lines and deep space chords tumble down over a heavy analogue bassline and locked-in beats, before turning your attention to "Space Animals", a deliciously dubbed-out affair rich in sub bass and drifting, deep space chords. If that's not enough, flip over and trance out to B side "Seduction" and finally, the slamming techno beats, looped electronics and mind-mangling TB-303 motifs of closer "Dusty Acid".
Review: UK tech house hero Burnski has been serving up some serious heat of late under the Instinct alias, channelling that old school UK vibe of drum & bass, speed garage and 2-step. His exploration into these styles bring about this sixth instalment of his eponymous series with 3 cuts set to cause havoc on dancefloors this year. A side cut "Overthrow" rides on a slick tech house groove before moving into a swing-fuelled rhythm and razor-sharp sub-bass and it's business as usual. On the flip, shadowy stepper "Phased" fuses Artful Dodger's classic swagger with the dark sci-fi aesthetic of Ed Rush & Optical. Finally, put your lighters up for the furious junglist roller that is "Free Life".
Review: The sixth volume in Toy Tonics occasional "Tonic Edits" series comes courtesy of label regulars COEO, a Munich-based duo who previously proved their edit credentials via a tasty 12" on Razor-N-Tape. This collection is arguably even better than its predecessor and sees them take their rusty scalpels to a quartet of Japanese disco-pop tracks from the 1980s. There's much to admire, from the sleazy electrofunk grooves, bold pianos and sparkling pianos of "Matchbox" (A2) and the slap-bass propelled boogie goodness of the Teena Marie-esque "Uber Man" (B1), to the freestyle influenced synth-pop bounce of cheery closing cut "Tibetan Dance". Arguably best of all, though, is lead cut "Japanese Woman", a bi-lingual disco song rich in rubbery bass, Chic style guitars and sparkling synthesizer flourishes.
Review: Prolific Dutch producer Boris Bunnik wears several hats: Conforce, Silent Harbour and Vernon Felicity, but some of his most exciting music is produced under the Versalife alias where he delves deep into the electro sound. He makes his debut here for Leeds institution 20/20 Vision with "Machine Life", taking the classic electro sound further but with a modern twist. We're going deep underwater on the moody title track, before coming up for air via the soulful android funk of "MO5". On the flip, the eerie dystopian themes continue on the sombre "Monospace" and the seething reductionist electro-bass of "Axion".
Review: While their obscure disco and Balearic re-edits tend towards the warm and groovy, Psychemagik's original productions have been getting increasingly tough and druggy in tone. "Rattlesnake", a hypnotic chunk of club-ready psychedelic disco rich in wonky electronics, trippy riffs, mind-altering bass and locked-in drums, may well be their most intoxicating and hallucinatory track to date. The duo's out-there original mix is made even weirder - and arguably more alluring - by Magda on her "Blotter Traxion Remix", which sounds like a tripping hippie trying to simultaneously mix electro, tech-house and techno. Vyvyan provides the other rework, wrapping doom-laden electronics and fizzing acid lines around crispy disco drums.
Review: George and Glen Miller are undoubtedly best known for their West End Records released 1982 boogie-soul classic "Touch Your Life". They released plenty of other records that flitted between soca, reggae, disco, and - in the latter stages of their career - electrofunk. "Easing", which appeared at some point at the turn of the '80s on London label Third World, remains one of their most potent releases - and, in its original form at least, formidably hard to find. This Soundway reissue wisely replicates the track list of the original release, beginning with the title track - a deliciously percussive, musically intricate chunk of peak-time disco smothered in sharp, Afro-funk style horns and George and Glen Miller's lilting reggae-soul style vocals. The flipside "Version" strips out the vocals, allowing listeners to hear in greater detail the pair's impeccable arrangements and instrumentations (particularly the fine orchestration and rich groove).
Review: From Copenhagen with love. After two years of planning, tweaking and fine-tuning, Danish groove monkeys Kasper Marott and Alfredo92 are proud to present their new label Axces. Repping their local crew, the label represents a community of artists including this single's co-producers Carl Emil and Lauge. "Os To" (which translates to 'the two of us') is as cute as it sounds. Dreamy, cosy, unhurried. "Fest Pa Taget" (party on the roof) raises the psychedelic factor a little as unearthly bubbles and chimes spin 360 around a jaunty rolling percussive beat. The start of something exciting and fresh; everyone has access to Axces.
Review: The consistently great Olympos series reaches its fifth installment with none other than Aphrodite on the credits. The goddess of love is a marquee booking in this celestial scene, so expectations for the beats she yields are high. "Aligenis" makes for a strong opening statement as lysergic layers of effects processing and sound design writhe around a snaking techno backbone. "Enalia" nudges down into a more subterranean sound without losing that attention to detail, before "Morpho" swerves towards electro-flavoured beats without breaking the shroud of mystery and studio proficiency at work elsewhere on the EP. "Pitho" possibly saves the best til last - a simmering, subliminal ride through atmospheric percussion for the Dozzy-devotee crowd to get lost in.
Review: In recent years, Detroit Swindle's outings away from their own Heist Recordings imprint have been few and far between, so it's nice to see them popping up on Will Saul's Aus Music imprint. He's done a good job A&R-wise, with all three tracks hitting the expected highs. The Dutch duo are in fine form with "Wado Baya", a rubbery chunk of hot-stepping Afro-house where bleeping electronic melodies and glassy-eyed chords rise above a snappy-but-bouncy groove. "Rhythm Girl Swing" sounds like a slipped and slightly skewed take on hypnotic mid-90s house - all trippy riffs and slowly rising filtered motifs - while "Vibrations" sees them join the dots between warm and woozy early '90s deep house and organ-rich New Jersey flavours.
Stanislav Tolkachev - "While You Are Drawing A Butterfly" (2:10)
Hoavi - "Aya Horizon" (3:57)
Review: Crimean label Krym Mryk returns with its sophomore release: a Various Artists collection putting the spotlight on several top musicians from Russia and Ukraine as well as a few newcomers to the scene. Highlights come fast and thick throughout; we're particularly loving the grinding cyclicality of Rim Menko's "Illusion", beatless yet hypnotic arpeggio workouts ("Amb Day Out" and "November Bad") by Pavel Milyakov (Buttechno), man of the hour Stanislav Tolkachev with slow-mo entrancer "While You Are Drawing A Butterfly" and Hoavi's "Aya Horizon", which closes the LP with its sublime ambience.
Ronan Girre - "Je N'Sais Pas Avec Qui" (feat Arielle Dombasle)
Reserve - "Une Fille En Transe"
Review: Five years ago, French record collector Vidal Benjamin wowed us with "Disco Sympathie", a killer compilation of obscure Gallic disco and boogie gems. For this similarly dusty-fingered follow-up, he's set his gaze on French new wave and synth-pop. It's an entertaining and eye-opening listen that moves from the samba-chanson of Cecilia and the fizzing electro-funk of Electropic, to the sweet and cheery synth-pop of "Reserve". Highlights in between include the bustling synth-pop sleaziness of Sonia's "J'Sais Plus Ou J'En Suis", the throbbing new wave quirkiness of Milpatte's "Je Vais Danser" and the low-slung post-punk pop of I:Cube's fresh re-edit of Yogo's "Reve De Star".
Review: Having previously appeared alongside Tommi Vicari Jr on a 12" last year, Opto Mystics strike out on their own with this 12" for Italian powerhouse Vibraphone. New Horizon very much represents the new school approach with the long serving Italian house label, keeping that deep, melodic quality but embracing new rhythms, tones and approaches. "New Horizon" almost has an Akufen quality to it, while "Bucky Triangle" could easily transmit from the Motor City house scene. "M.I.Y.E." is a swirling blur of gorgeous synths, and "Suddent" finishes the EP off on a surprisingly experimental tip.
Review: Berlin deep house heroes Cinthie and Stevn Aint Leavn are back on their ever reliable Beste Modus imprint for its ninth edition and they aren't messing around on this one. Quality classic house vibes all the way - a timeless Windy City vibe dominates the A side courtesy of Cinthie, who serves up the sultry and swing-fuelled late night groover "Everything I Say" before taking it back to '94 with the dusty and soulful "Good For You & Me". On the flip, Stevn Aint Leavn is in fine form, too, particularly on the moody and bass-driven back room dub "Quins".
I Want Magic (Dimitri From Paris vs Cotonete 12" version) (7:15)
I Want Magic (Dimitri From Paris vs Cotonete 12" dubstrumental) (7:14)
Review: "I Want Magic" is a welcome return to action from Jalapeno's premier soul sister, Izo FitzRoy, an artist whose 2017 debut album "Skyline" brilliantly joined the dots between classic soul, rhythm and blues and gospel. This time round she has her eyes firmly focused on the dancefloor, as producer Dimitri From Paris and backing band Cotonete (whose recent LP 'Super-vilains' is well worth a listen) join forces to cast a serious disco spell. "I Want Magic" is a revivalist disco jam per excellence; a tweak on the classic Chic sound with Cotonete adding a few sneaky solos and quality jazz-funk touches here and there. Of the two versions, it's the vocal mix (side A) that hits home hardest, thanks in no small part to a stunning lead vocal from FitzRoy that celebrates the giddy goodness of dancing like you're ten years old. Expect to hear it a lot at festivals throughout the summer.
Etta James & Sugar Pie Desanto - "In The Basement" (Soul Flip edit) (3:20)
John Gary Williams - "My Sweet Lord" (Soul Flip edit) (3:59)
Review: On their latest limited edition salvo, the hardworking Soul Flip crew (AKA experienced DJs and producers Aldo Vanucci and Del Gazeebo) gets to work on two more stomping dancefloor cuts from the golden age of soul. First up on side A is a gently tooled-up and tightened up take on Etta James and Sugar Pie DeSanto's 1966 floor-heater "In The Basement", a hybrid soul-jazz/rhythm and blues jam rich in rubbery double bass, bustling drums, restless handclaps and brilliant lead vocals from the two legendary soul singers. On the flip they tackle Memphis musician John Gary Williams' 1972 cover of George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord", which brilliantly re-imagines the former Beatles' spiritual song as a sweaty gospel-soul stomper.
Steve Monite - "Only You" (Frankie Francis Disco Jam edit) (7:55)
Tabu Ley Rochereau - "Hafi Deo" (Nick The Record & Dan Tyler re-edit dub) (10:15)
Review: Edits in the hole! Two Afrofunk gems enjoy floor-primed refocuses: Steve Monite's Doing It In Lagos-featured "Only You" gets a little juice from Sofrito's Frankie Francis who really brings the bass out in proceedings. Meanwhile on the B Nick The Record and Idjut Boy Dan Tyler tweak the energy and sheen of Tabu Ley Rochereau's "Hafi Disco" as the drums are given a little more momentum and the chorus and horns are really brought to the centre of the action. Stunning.
Review: West Midlands techno legend Surgeon is said to have produced the material on the Raw Trax series at Amsterdam Dance Event last year, with only a PIN Electronics Portabella synth and a TR-909 drum machine. Road tested extensively during his live show over the last several months, this series is "a return to the pure essence of techno" - and that statement rings true throughout this 12". In this second volume you'll hear familiar sounds from Anthony Child that throws back to the seminal days of his eponymous EP, Pet 2000 or the Basictonalvocabulary LP: all conceived during his legendary House Of God residency back in the early 90s. From the fierce and strobed-out adrenaline of "Raw Trax 10" and "Raw Trax 5", to the brutalist overdriven thud of "Raw Trax 7" with its grinding acid bassline, and the hypnotic minimalism of closer "Raw Trax 6", this 12" is packed with proper purified Techno bangers by one of the genre's very best.
Review: Politics Of Dancing celebrate five years of pristine deep and minimal house with this first installment in a series of various artist releases. Djebali and Stephan Bazbaz are in the mood for squelchy chords and undulating basslines on "J'Adore", while Boris Werner keeps things sleek and funky on the craftily executed "Omar Coming". Politics Of Dancing themselves kick off the B side with the gorgeous "Peace", and Rowlanz locks into a sharp and sassy minimal workout with lashings of jazzy goodness bedded into the groove. It's a package delivered with the high standards of dancefloor functionality and musical personality we've come to expect from the always-on-point Parisian label.
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: The hitherto unknown BEFORETHEBEATSBREAK crew step up with a low key drop on Blah Records, a label that has previously hosted the talents of Ronaldo and Crazy Bank. The mood is resolutely fixed on pumping garage house with oodles of swing, from the deeper shuffle of "Closer" to the heavy bump of "I Don't Want U". "Freak Me Out" is a wonderfully frantic workout with all manner of samples and skittish key flex pinging around an uptempo groove, before "Talkin' About" pushes the swing even harder to conjure up a jazzy feeling smattered with sax licks and squelching synth stabs.
Review: Out 2 are the product of a New York-based partnership between Jeremy Campbell and R. Zanzibar, who are just the kind of cult operators that Emotional Response so dearly love. With one foot in classic Talking Heads inspired funk variations and the other in the catch-all stylistic melee of the modern age, this is highly developed party music for well-read rug cutters to bust out shapes to. Just check the gorgeous synth violin styles on "Fire" or the heavy dub beatdown of "Rubber Hour" - these cats know what they're doing. All new-no-minimal-wave lovers take note!
Review: Manni Dee might be best known for his upfront techno tackle on Perc Trax and the like, but he's also been quietly building up a separate identity as Nuances, and it's a world away from his dancefloor output. Following on from some choice album appearances on Bastakiya Tapes, it's up to Tabernacle to give the project its first outing on wax. While Tabernacle can have some range in their sound, this finds the label plunging wholeheartedly into ambient climes. Heavily processed textures and delicate chimes all feed into a truly evocative atmosphere loaded with significance. Ignore the familiar name behind the music - this is an album deserving attention all on its own.
Review: Hailing from France but now based in Tokyo, Jazzy Couscous is a label that explores all kinds of sounds pivoting around the axis of jazz and deep house, but keeping things wide open for variety and experimentation. Following releases from Brawther, Klodio and more besides, it's time for a hefty various artists release that shows off a whole heap of talent. Matthieu Faubourg keeps thing pumping and Detroit-flavoured on "A Long Way", while Drezb smooths things out to a Chez Damier-influenced deep house groove. Pascal Viscardi gets things properly jacking on the deep-diving "Digital Illusion", and then the record closes out with the blissful ambient excursion of Midori featuring Victor Santoni's "Distance".
Review: Joe Morris is back in action on Jacaranda Skies 8.02, exploring more of that balmy sound that Pleasure Unit love so dearly when having a good time down by the marina. This is how yacht rock would sound if it had got with the party program, not least on the illustrious "Jacaranda Skies". "The Lost Garden" is a more mysterious affair that trades in immersive atmospherics with a distinctly soundtracky feel. "Mangrove Dawn" is a sleepy affair that wraps around you like a perfectly timed silken scarf, and then "Skies Reprise" lets Morris sail back into those bountiful waters that gave us the lead track.
Review: The Not An Animal crew follows up excellent releases from Man Power, James Hadfield and Ian Blevins last year with this 12" of soaring 80s-inflected dancefloor boogie In:State & Giuli. It's actually a dreamy remix of "Vizitoz" from Lauer that opens up the 12" before the pulsing, wavey throb of the original kicks in. "Plus One" on the B side chops up the beat a little, but the same fulsome synth lines shape out the track. That leaves it to Lizards to wrap the record up with their own version of "Vizitoz", bringing a motorik thrum to the track that should nudge it into the bags of all manner of DJs from the cosmic warm-up crew to the EBM-favouring techno peak timers.
Review: The high grade, leftfield approach to house music Lyssna have set out as their MO continues in fine style on this new Colours series, starting with the Yellow EP and a strong cast of characters from the outer reaches. Riciar Ghir opens up proceedings with the tumbling deep house of "Cargo", making the keys dance with distinction and injection a subby rumble where it counts. Minimal Afrika follow that up with a percussive tryst entitled "Drakma Queen" that blossoms into a sumptuous ambient excursion. Robotalco takes a very different approach with some classically pumping sample-powered house music to shake feel-good fists to, and then Klubbhuset finishes up with an impassioned romp through peak time disco licks for the peak of the night.
Review: Modal Analysis continues its unrelenting march towards the darkest territory in the electro landscape with this deadly 12" from Morah, which wastes no time in laying waste to the good vibes with the sinister stomp of "Voltage#1". The second track pumps up the rhythm section and lays down a sidewinder of a synth line that smacks of understated rave perfection, and it's that same synth that courses through the marginally more hypnotic "Voltage#3". Vapauteen offers up a remix of "Voltage#3" that slows the original right down and works a kind of mechanical tropicalia into the bones of the original.
Review: BAH040 is the first time out for Caissard DJ, not that you'd know on the basis of this plush, accomplished romp through 80s island boogie that chimes perfectly with the Bahnsteig 23 vibe. "Bright Dance" is a noirish smorgasbord of crystalline melodies and good, honest synth-pop thrust, while "Market Anthem" switches things up with a new wave twist. "La x5" is a wonderful curio, all stuttering, borderline baroque tones and Eastern string histrionics. The "Melange Dub" of "Arrakis" is a wild soul trying to be tamed by the machines, and then "Demo-cracy" dips into an almost minimal wave pulse before "The God Emperor" finishes the eclectic ride with ethnic chimes and percussion filtered through a grainy medium.
Slipping Into Darkness (Vincent Floyd remix) (7:12)
As You Are (7:17)
As You Are (Nick Anthony Simoncino remix) (7:00)
Review: Vibraphone Records continues to deepen its contemporary repertoire by inviting Andrew Soul into the fold with a vocal contribution from house music legend Robert Owens. "Slipping Into Darkness" is a beautifully rendered deep house gem with expressive piano work, rubbery bass synth tones, but in some ways the minimalism of Vincent Floyd's remix gives Owens' vocals a chance to take centre stage. "As You Are" is a crooked, broken beat exploration on the fringes of deep house, and Owens' voice sounds resplendent in the more experimental surroundings before Nick Anthony Simoncino comes on board with a 90s flavoured, darkside remix of the highest order.
Review: Hailing from the dark and mysterious world of Bunker Records, Shemale makes a welcome return after many years of silence with this fantastic release on Tabernacle. "Star Chamber Summoning" sets a powerful tone - this is ambient music that demands attention through its sheer force of presence. "Way To Hyperborea" actually taps up some kind of beat structure, but it still behaves like a wayward backroom track with its undulating bassline and gravelly, brutally submerged beat. "Shores Of The Western Sea" is all analogue soundtrack bombast of the finest B-movie kind, and "Wisdom Of The Stars" strikes a more nightmarish note in its use of discordant synth drones.
Review: Is It Balearic? welcome Ilija Rudman back to the fold for the first time since the excellent True Colours album back in 2015, and the Croatian disco house mainstay sounds like he's on searing form. "Motions" is a luscious deep house jam with a throbbing low end, but made all the more powerful by the sultry vocal turn from Andre Espeut. Italo house veteran Don Carlos is a smart shout for two remixes, kicking off with the uplifting yet understated groove of the vocal version before spreading over the B side with the beatless but driving pulse of the ambient mix.
Review: Laroze is flying the flag for US inspired house music in France, wearing influences from Nu Groove to Mahogani Music on his sleeve and delivering that classic strain of deep house that never dulls with time. "Bring It Down" is a soul-stirring boost of energy fuelled on the hedonism of optimism of vintage 90s house, from the chords to the vocal hook. "Port De La Lune" does a damn fine job of looping up some feel-good disco licks, and "You Better Give Up" shows a different side to Laroze that feels as indebted to R&B and downtempo as house music. Kosme comes on board to do a remix of the track that reframes it as a rolling breakbeat number.
Review: With Hamid's HPLS label reigniting with the fresh, untethered sounds of DCHA-DCHA, we arrive at the second instalment of Opus Incertum already expecting some wild sounds. Fortunately label and artist don't disappoint, and we dive straight in with the unhinged aqua-industro-funk of "Morning Mimosa." That's swiftly followed up by "AGLS," which keeps the vibe liquid while welcoming a richer variety of marine life into the studio. "GalerianPlatz" makes the leap towards electro, with the surrealism tap still pouring wonderfully unexpected colours, tones and textures into the mix. At every turn this record, like its part one counterpart, surprises and delights with its original approaches.
Review: The first release on One Instrument saw artists like Korridor, Serena Butler and Yair Elazar Glotman demonstrating new experimental sides to their studio practice. The second release comes from Italian master Neel, who presents two distinct demonstrations of his unique touch and deep gear knowledge. The A side is a lingering ambient piece captured from the tail end of a session using the E340 Cloud Generator oscillator, while the B side focuses on the Roland SH-01A, itself an update of the iconic SH-101. The results of these two intriguing, limitation oriented excursions are as compelling as you would expect.
Review: Dana Ruh is best known as a figurehead for the mighty Brouqade, but she's equally found on many other labels in the mean time. On this occasion she's brought her distinctive, heavy grooving style to Autoreply for an examination of the artistic process in the shape of one jam, three ways. "Round 2 Reel 1" is the funkiest of the lot, using some killer swing and vibing chords to make for an upbeat, infectious yet still nicely kinked sound. "Round 2 Reel 2" takes things into a more intricate, techy headspace where snaking rhythms interlock with pockets of synth abstraction. "Round 2 Reel 3" continues that theme into a rich, exotic forest of mechanical tones for the adventurous techno trippers to zone out on.
Review: It's the fourth go round for Monsieur Blue, who steps back up to the plate with another three surefire jams from the slinkier side of the minimal house spectrum. "Track 1" is an exquisite trip through blue-hued keys and shuffling drums, striking a fine balance between the lounge and the dancefloor. "Track 2" takes a moodier approach, eking out mysterious chords and injecting a little juice into the low end to suit a more rugged situation, and then "Track 3" jettisons the ballast and pings off into a dubbed out sphere of house music perfectly crafted for the times you want to get lost at sea.