Review: Heavy rotation: Belgium badman Zygos returns to Foundation Audio with a full range of sounds. Three tracks, three vibes: opener "Rotation" is just as much of a techno jam as it is a dubstep track, all rolling motion and layers of percussion, "Sick As A Dog" brings the graveyard ghetto vibes, all spooky pads, groaning bass and rattlesnake snare rolls while "Tumble Dub" closes business on much more of a traditional halftime swagger vibe but with a mechanical hook that lives up to its name. Loopy business. Zygos always smashes it.
Review: If you're a minimal fan and don't know Yama Music, you've been sleeping. Their first three EPs flew off the shelves and into crates of heady DJs across Europe. Once again the eponymous Yama Music is or are behind the beats and it's forward thinking, no nonsense dancing music of the highest order. "Acisaronno" is proper tech house with delicate hi hats and steel plated drums making for a frictionless groove, while "Chinchilla Shuffle" is the sort of slightly wonky and oddball track that Craig Richard drops on the regular. Freaky, spaced out and atmospheric, tech house doesn't get much better.
Review: Must Make made a fine start with their first EP back in May, and now they follow it up in quick time with a second volume of "Late Night Soundtrack". Once again, Workforce is the man in control and in case you missed it, that is the new alias of SpectraSoul's Jack Stevens, who is also behind the label. "Two Words" is smooth liquid with a distinctive nocturnal feel, soft focus piano chords and heartfelt vocal murmurs layering in the soul. SP:MC spits on the much more ragged and angsty stepper "Overnight Express" and "So Good" sits somewhere in between: the drums are frantic, the textures soar, but the vocal is sweet. "Common Interests" is minimal roller with focus on warped low ends and rattling jungle percussion. Hot stuff.
Review: Studio One have put out plenty of big tunes and this is the latest to get a big reissue on a super loud-cut 12" single for extra devastating impact. It's a well-known classic every self-respecting reggae fan should know and blows up any party, especially when tweaked like these two versions. They were originally produced by Studio One bossman Coxsone Dodd and have been covered by The Clash as well as sampled by The Fugees and hip hop MC KRS One. The snaking lead synth, the rumbling drums and classic ska trumpet are all straight up irresistible.
The Sixteen Steps - "Tales From The Old Country" (5:47)
Neud Photo - "Plagued By Consciousness" (6:08)
Review: As was the case with its predecessors, the third volume in VEYL's ongoing "Previously Undisclosed Rituals" series is packed to the rafters with angry, lo-fi club cuts, paranoid pagan techno and wild, mind-altering dancefloor throb-jobs. It's all of a high standard, of course, but we're particularly enjoying the drowsy late night hypnotism of Terrence Fixmer's "Always Through", the pitch-black electronic body music of The Sixteen Steps' "Tales From The Old Country", the foreboding late night creepiness of Neud Photo's decidedly trippy "Plagued By Consciousness" and the rip-snorting techno stomp of VTSS's nails-hard opener "Toxic Bleach". In a word: intense.
Review: If you're in the mood for some cosmic grooves, wayward disco and pagan psychedelia, Multi-Culti's Cult Edits series is always worth checking. The imprint's latest offering is packed to the rafters with mind-altering goodness. Inigo Voltier sets the tone with "Ti Amo", a Fairlight-powered bounce through post-Italo oddball electro territory with added mix-80s power-pop guitars, before Angelina Amor reworks a sludgy slab of European industrial/new wave fusion. Youkounkoun's throbbing "Cosmic Yoyo" sounds like post-apocalyptic Italo-disco after a fist full of downers, while Asa Moto's "When The Funk Is On" is a funky but undeniably weird electro-industrial cut rich in delay-laden vocal snippets and metallic percussion hits.
Review: Paris based producer Von D is having a busy and year having already worked with Moresounds and Rider Shafique in 2019. This time out he links with Jamaican vocalist Blackout Ja who himself has contributed to this label before now. This latest excursion is a big dancehall stepper that manages to unite authentic old school reggae with contemporary digital vibes. It features huge oversized hits and watery chords, droplets of synth and tinkling keys that all coalesce round a meandering bassline. A surefire hit that will resonant with fans all over the world.
Review: Priku's new diffusion series Atipic Lab has brought us some killer material of late, by some right heroes of the Rominimal scene such as Arapu, Vlad Arapasu and Cosmijn. The latest edition comes from the ever reliable Vincentiulian, who first appeared on the label back in 2016 with the brilliant Atipic 002 - which we consider a modern classic. Expectations are high, then, for ATIPICLAB 006 and he certainly didn't let us down. From the obtuse yet mesmerising bounce of A side cut "Agera", to the more straight ahead B side cuts such as "I Don't Wonder" which shows off Vincent's knack for crafty and infectious rhythm programming, and the funky afterhours groove of "Ultrak" with its smooth rolling bass.
Felix Da Housecat - "Temptation" (Color mix) (5:54)
China White - "Theme From The Underground" (5:53)
The Operator - "The Mind Strike" (7:18)
Steve Poindexter - "Body Jam" (14:19)
Mike Dearborn - "Deviant Behaviour" (instrumental mix) (5:39)
DJ Skull - "Don't Stop The Beat" (6:04)
Review: In case you didn't know, leading Dutch crew Dekmantel have taken it upon themselves to shine a light on the vital work of the Djax Up label. It was one that joined the dots between US and European scenes back in the nineties and this second volume features eight cult 90s cuts from some foundational names. Highlights are plentiful throughout, but our picks have got to be Glenn Underground's "Real Space"; a jacking Chicago jam with cosmic bass that still bangs and DJ Skull's hi-tek soul on "Don't Stop The Beat" that well and truly defies its age amongst a release that is full of golden oldies.
Review: For the past six years Jazzy Couscous has been exploring nooks and crannies of Japanese music culture in search of overlooked gems across all kinds of styles. After the success of the first installment of "Kumo No Muko", label boss Alixkun returns with another expansive collection of ambient, new age and smooth jazz reflections from a range of artists. The mood is consistently pretty, not to mention delicately executed, whether veering towards the sweet string refrain of Ayuo Takahashi's "Mizu Iro No Kagami" or the bittersweet prog guitar licks of Toru Hatano's "Kanki". There are bleepy synth trips like Akira's "Essence Of Beauty" and beat-embellished grooves to sink into - miss this rare and beautiful record at your peril.
Review: Having previously appeared on Nyame and Something Happening, Somewhere, Amsterdam-based producer Vand now brings his delicate, dubby take on techno to Alpengluhen. Nodding to the atmospheric moods of Claro Intelecto and the like, he draws you in with the icy refrains of "Altarf-unn" before upping the emotion with the heart-wrenching pads of "Concord". "Kodama" has a more pronounced impact which is tempered by liberal delay and reverb, and "Paraztul" keeps things spacious and fractured for a more electronica-tinged trip outside the 4/4 slipstream.
Review: Ever-dependable hero of deep house since the good old days, Glenn Underground is back with fresh goodies for his Strictly Jazz Unit imprint, and if you liked what he's done before then there's no doubt you'll like this as well. "Shiloh (A King's Return)" is a steady roller, defined by the synth-sax freestyling over the top of a crisp beat and bluesy chord workout. "We, The Party (Let's Get Down)" is a more soaring affair, with some neat kinks in the drums and a sumptuous spread of Rhodes action all delivered in that quintessentially Blue Note GU flavour.
Review: Fire in the hole! Following his Metalheadz EP earlier this year, Newcastle's Tyrone steps over to good mates Ulterior Motive at Guidance for a full four-track slab of D&B excellence. The title track is an absolute beast that slices through the air and space with incredible weight and width while elsewhere "Beg Of U" takes us on a tour of Tyrone's deeper space-aged side, "Lost Witness" rolls out with rattling menace and muscle and "Velvet" closes the deal on a deep introspective one with the label heads. Prepare to be severed.
Review: Luca Murgia is Two Thou - an alias which has seen him land intriguing releases on Burek, Fields & Forests and his own Gifted Culture label. Now he's been snapped up by Uzuri with some star-gazing cuts that straddle broken beat, deep house and something more altogether cosmic. "Clavinet Discourse" is the consummate lead track, a true showstopper with astral synth flex and a sharp, snappy beat. "Talking Song" has a more pronounced deep house bump and leads that wouldn't sound out of place on Strictly Jaz Unit - the dub version does away with the leads if you want something subtler. "Thousands Of Chimes Together" completes the set with a spiritual throwdown to invigorate any open-minded dancefloor.