Review: Pure, infectious, filthy, brilliant club energy. Steve Marie takes the a-side by the horns, first with the ravey, jacked up acid cut "JuplVtrax", then the nimble drum work and ducking and diving synths of "Psychedelia", which brings to mind flickering old VHS of illicit field gatherings from the nineties. Astral Body then takes you even deeper down the rabbit hole with the manic 303 and hyperdrive drums of "Galaxy Beat". "Equinox" closes things out with surging solar waves, rippling acid modulations and kaleidoscopic colours that leave you breathless. Reach for the lasers, etc.
Review: Having first appeared on Toolroom way back in 2013, Richard Dinsdale AKA Weiss is one of the label's longest serving artists. He's also one of the most prolific, with this strong outing being his 16th single for Mark Knight's imprint. "Let Me Love You", a bouncy contemporary cover of Kariya's 1988 house classic, has all the makings of a massive hit. The A-side original version combines classic elements - bold piano riffs and synths that subtly doff a cap to Kariya's version - with heavy electro-house bass and bumpin' beats. Over on side B, Dinsdale pumps it up further on a jacking piano-house take that's sweatier than a sauna full of gyrating, leather-clad bikers.
Review: Blue Feather were a truly blue-eyed funk outfit from the Netherlands who had a prolific run in the 80s with two albums and a string of club singles to their name. "Let's Funk Tonight" was surely one of their bigger hits, and it sounds resplendent with a fresh master and the full extended version spread out across the A side here. Offering something new for the modern market, Best call upon Faze Action to flesh out this reissue with a killer dub of the track that treads softly but funks deep, just like a good dub should.
Review: Claremont 56's latest must-have LP comes from an unexpected source: blue-eyed soul, AOR and soft rock loving Greek four-piece Sillyboy's Ghost Relatives. The good news is that "In A Small Place" is every bit as good as the title track, which Paul "Mudd" Murphy's label released earlier in the year. The album's main attractions are undoubtedly the bittersweet lyrics and hazy, lovelorn vocals of main man Sillyboy (real name Charalambos Kourtaras), though the musically evocative backing provided by his band mates is equally as impressive. Highlights include the Boz Scraggs-esque "Muscle Cars", the Steely Dan sing-along that is "High Life" and the gently reggae influenced lilt of "Favourite One". It's all pretty tidy.
The Return (feat Thando, Jace XL, Alien, Whosane) (9:16)
Don't Give Up (feat Mandarin Dreams) (4:51)
Made Us Better (feat Blue Lab beats, Boadi, Lori) (8:35)
Review: After Sampa's magic debut album it makes sense she's been signed by Ninja Tune for a follow up. Once again here the Zambian-born Australian singer-songwriter and rapper is in excellent form, delivering slick, complex verses that she says are "the most me to date". Exploring notions of race and relationships, amongst other things, her voice is couched in gorgeous broken beat, hip hop and r&b production. Highlights are plentiful throughout - "OMG" is a funky afro beat, "Any Day" is neo soul in the mould of Erykah Badu and "Final Form" is a trumpet lead, warrior queen anthem to get your chest pumping. Essential.
Review: Young Marco's admirable Safe Trip label continues to explore the archives of Antwerp-based Van Elsen brothers, offering up more early '90s gems from their wonderful - and previously under-appreciated - ambient techno project Trans-4M. Both tracks here are alternative versions of cuts from the duo's brilliant "Sublunar Oracles" album. On the A-side you'll find a previously unreleased remix of "Arrival" that wraps jaunty, sunrise-ready synth stabs, psychedelic electronics and chiming lead lines around a chunky, floor-friendly groove and thickset bassline. It's superb, as is flipside "Amma (Moon Mix)" - a 1993 12" B-side that adds a little humid, dancing-all-night-under-a-blanket-of-stars vibe to an already impressive ambient techno classic (think boisterous beats, starry ambient motifs, dreamy chords and subtle tribal influences).
Review: Trinidadian Deep is a master of long, winding, enchanting house grooves that are deep but also spiritual and laced with afro percussion. Shelter acquires his latest two efforts and the glorious "Native Culture" opens things in subtly uplifting fashion. Trilling organ chords rise through the mix to give life to the jumbled drums and sustained pads in the background which keep things deep and ensure maximum hypnosis. "Eggun" has a more bubbling sense of rhythm, with vocal coos and surging chords peppering the track and bringing motion. Powerful stuff.
Review: Long before the electro revival sent producers scurrying into the studio to create their own Drexciya-inspired jams, Jeremiah R was ploughing his own intergalactic furrow for labels including Tabernacle, BAKK and Voodoo Gold. As this fine mini-album shows, he remains one of the most consistent electro producers in the business. The genius of "Tales From The Dark Reef" lies in the long-serving producer's ability to craft shimmering, sci-fi focused electronic music that takes the aesthetic appeal of the best electro records - the intergalactic aural textures, sci-fi intent, skittish rhythms and futuristic synthesizer sounds - and applies them to a variety of Detroit and Chicago-influenced grooves and soundscapes.
Review: Early 80s new Wave pop outfit Haircut One Hundred are best known for their big single "Love Plus One" but this album proves they were more than one trick ponies. Infusing their pop, rock and synth sound with Conga, woodwind and Brazilian percussion leads to superbly colourful tracks that brim with sunshine. There's an upbeat and youthful innocence to "Favourite Shirts (Boy Meets Girl)" that is utterly infectious, while busier post punk funk like "Love Plus One" will get you on your toes even after all these years, and "Kingsize (You're My Little Steam Whistle)" gets all sexy with its lead sax and clattering steel drum tumbles.
Review: Let's get one thing straight: Ravanelli Disco Club is exquisitely named. The output has proven just as tasty, too, and with Eben Rees at the buttons of this latest EP, you'll want to tuck in once more. He serves up a brace of breezy disco house tunes: opener "Bongo Boulevard" is a funk licked and perfectly carefree sort of tune you'd drop at sundown to hint at the fun to come, while "Dyfal Donc" gets more upbeat with an eco system of cosmic leads and pads dancing above well swung drums. Freerange man Jimpster provides a remix laden with wet claps and funk riffs, and Tech Support's rugged disco arps will make any floor take flight.
Review: Spain's Fanzine hits double figures by welcoming Nullptr (the alter ego of British artist Eddie Symons) for some heat that has made him a cult favourite over the last decade. The man behind Cambridge electro night Motherchip Connexion and his own [d]-tached label invites you to strap in and surge through the skies with him on a pulsating journey that finds him tease real funk out of his machines. From sombre and stripped back cuts of lonely electro to masterfully melodic affairs via devastatingly emotional groovers, this EP does it all in fantastic fashion.
Review: Curiosities is the second album in the trilogy from in-demand New Zealand multi-instrumentalist and producer Lord Echo. Six years after initial release, this reissue sounds as vital as ever and is extra DJ-friendly given that it is spread across two slabs of wax. It covers plenty of ground from escapist tropical ambient to lovably lazy dubs via vivid disco-funk. Highlights come in the form of "Molten Lava" and its heart wrenching vocals and the gospel grooves of "The Creator Has A Master Plan". Winter might be fast approaching, but so long as you have sounds as warm and sunny as these around, summer will never feel too far away.
Review: Regarded by dub lovers as a seminal collection, this three CD epic has been unavailable for a quarter of a century. It draws together three hugely important dub albums and includes seven previously unreleased tracks from the band's heyday from 1950 to 1975. Promoter, producer and DJ Arthur "Duke" Reid was a master of this form and a hero in Jamaica: his sound ruled the local dance halls and much of it was engineered by Errol Brown. You can hear his skills in all of the tracks here - the subtle keys, the sliding hi hats and the rolling drums all exude a perfectly inviting warmth.
Review: Kalita Records has thus far proved adept at sniffing out obscure, overlooked classics and reissuing them. Their latest "flip" is as rare, little known and hard-to-find as they come: a one-shot 1985 Caribbean boogie cut from Bahamian musicians Stirling March (now a minister and gospel singer) and bassist Rocky Rolle. "Under Cover Lover" is bright, breezy and sun-kissed, with jaunty synthesizer lead lines and hammered-out piano parts dancing above a tasty groove that fully showcases Rolle's boogie bass skills. Stirling March's lead vocal is superb too, with the Bahamian slickly delivering the loved-up lyrics with aplomb. The flipside "Instrumental" version is typical of New York style boogie dubs of the period, with more attention on the drums, bassline and ricocheting vocal snippets.
Review: Butter Sessions latest must-check release comes courtesy of Melbourne-based rising star Furious Frank, whose recent EP on Paper-Cuts was particularly impressive. "Ahora Si" is similarly inspired, with the young Australian producer placing Ivy Barkakati's "Sueno Latino" style whispered vocal over a bold, alluring blend of jangling dream house pianos, rugged acid lines, sunrise-ready chords and loose-limbed analogue beats. He provides his own dream house style interpretation (the brilliant "Frank's Sunrise Mix") before inviting Ivan to give his take on the track. He adds some tribal percussion whilst retaining the cut's inherent dreaminess before Canadian producer D. Tiffany re-imagines "Ahora Si" as a bass-heavy chunk of UKG/breakbeat house fusion.
Two Phase U - "Time Is Like Sand Through Your Fingers" (6:01)
Two Phase U - "Yolocreo" (8:01)
Review: Two Phase U has been busy recently and has a slew of releases out in the next few weeks, but first up is a split with relative newcomer Nemo Vachez for Opia. Every release on this label sells out in quick time, and for good reason: it deals in music that straddles a divide between house and techno, with elements of dub and breakbeat adding further vitality. Vachez's tech-funk opener sounds like classic Two Lone Swordsmen, while "Love From Jupiter" has infectious, fluttering metal snares and rugged bass. The flip features something you might describe as techno disco on "Time Is Like Sand Through Your Fingers", while "Yolocreo" is a blizzard of drums, toms, hits and restless melody that awakens your every sense.
Review: New York hip hop outfit Missin' Linx's debut release is notable for two reasons: firstly, it features two stone cold jams in the deep cut of "MIA" and the woody boom-bap and smooth flow of "Lock'd". But secondly, and more importantly, "MIA" made use of David McCallum's "The Edge" break before Dr Dre did. Dre's use of it on "The Next Episode" might be more famous, but now you know who did it first.
Review: To stay in tune with the heatwave France just went through, Guts brings you two remixes from Poirier + Voilaaa and two unreleased tracks in the Afro-tropical train of it's 'Philantropiques' album. Best served under a scortching sun, to live the full musical experience.
Review: Justin Vernon's voice has always been the people's main attraction to Bon Iver, and the fact his pseudonym even exists is certainly no coincidence. As fragile and heartbroken as it is forthright and experienced, when you're wearing a shredded heart on sleeve and confessing to all your deepest insecurities using a pen name can help immensely. Album number four perhaps proves this more than any of its predecessors. While the three previous chapters have all made his thoughts, feelings, insecurities and fears clear, this one takes honesty to new heights. Combining the frail electronics that have gradually slipped their way into his back catalogue with the acoustics of his earliest, rocket-to-fame efforts, it's a culmination of all that's been in the truest sense. Perhaps even more intimate than the breathtakingly personal "For Emma, Forever Ago", "i,i" is a striking work to say the least.
Review: Joe Corti has had a breakthrough 12 months, with releases landing on Better Listen and his own China White. Bringing more of that sweet, disco tinged house music to the second volume on his label, Corti strikes a heady mood on "Move Your Seat" with a mixture of swirling Philly string samples and looped up elements that should set the dancefloor alight in that most tender of ways. "Think Twice" is on a similar tip, albeit with a choice run of dreamy trumpet coursing through the track. "Just You" has a slightly techier edge, but it's embellished with the kind of keys that will appeal to fans of Glenn Underground. Classy stuff from a rising talent.
Review: If you're new to the Alex Giannascoli's world then make yourself comfortable - chances are, like us, you'll be here for a while. There are so many tangents, threads and stylistic shifts of shape it's possible to dive into his back catalogue and spend years never getting bored. It's now far quicker to understand what we're talking about, though, thanks to his latest album. There are multiple personalities at play here than you'd think could be coherent, but coherent this record is. Opener "Walk Away" sounds like an overview of the whole thing - growing from desperate cry into a grandiose, captivating thing of real beauty via reversed-out backing track and looped lyrics. All very Beta Band. From there we're locked-in, through the shimmering melodies of "Taking" to "Sugar"'s deep, tense atmospheric crescendos and vocoders. Ending on the stunning brass-accented blues rock of "SugarHouse (Live)", it's as complete a record as you could ask for.
Review: Considering their penchant for spinning yarns and the cinematographically-suited nature of much of their work, it's surprising "Days Of The Bagnold Summer" is only Belle & Sebastian's second shot at a movie score. The last was 2001's '"Storytelling", accompanying Todd Solondz's movie of the same name, and they certainly did a good job then. So, high expectations this time round. For those unfamiliar, their latest foray into the film world partners the directorial debut of Simon Bird, best known to many as one of "The Inbetweeners". The flick, an adaptation of Joff Winterhart's 2012 graphic novel, chronicles the life and times of a teenage metalhead and his single mother. The album perfectly accompanies but also contributes to that tale. Highly emotive instrumental tracks and classic B&S songs-proper, this OST is destined to go down well with the band's true believers.
Review: Aphelion is a Greek producer who is part of the Equations Collective, and here he offers up his first ever release. Clearly well schooled in production, the atmospheres of his tracks belie his debutant status as he kicks off with the mutant bass and pounding kicks of "Volatile Radiance". More warped bass characterises the sparse and eerie "Cosmic Vibrations" before Silicon Scally aka Carl Finlow heads off in a more menacing direction on his remix of "What You Want". The original is a more haunting and paranoid affair that has you looking over your shoulder.
Review: Prolific but underrated Motor City producer Detroit's Filthiest makes a comment on the falsehoods of society with his latest EP. But there is nothing fake about his talent: he manipulates his machines in compelling fashion here, pairing perfectly squelchy bass and synthetic synth textures with the most gorgeous and organic piano keys imaginable. "Baby Makin Music" is laden with romantic chords, while "Mothership Has Landed" is more edgy and unsettled. On the flip, "No Strings Attached" is a playful and jazzy electro cut that makes way for the equally excellent "Social Engineering". In these times of electro trendiness, this EP still manages to stand out.
Review: Robin Twelftree has been busy over the past year bringing back his particular take on peak time house with a disco edge. Prolific in the late 90s and early 00s, his 12Tree project went on an extended hiatus but now finds a new outlet with the Hot Piroski label. "In The Sun" is a sassy uptempo workout with funk and flamboyance to match the tougher edges of the track. "Magic Dust" slows things down to a supremely mellow strut, with heavy lashings of soul blissed out over the top of the drums. "Guitar Solaar" stays in the downtempo zone with a subtle cosmic lilt and gorgeous vocals unfurling over loose and lazy breaks.
Review: Francois J Bonnet (a composer and electroacoustic musician) and Stephen O'Malley (the main man of metal band Sunn O)))) come together here for their first collaborative album. It combines O'Malley's doom laden guitar work with Bonnet's compositional skills to make for a dynamic soundscape that has the sort of grand ambient architecture that places you right at the heart of it all. Dark yet inviting, it is noise that nurtures and comforts you despite its rather foreboding overtones. Orderly yet alien, desolate yet filled with human emotions, "Cylene" makes for a compelling listen.
Review: Newworldaquarium has long been a real darling of the techno world with an impeccable back catalogue filled with treasures, and now the Dutchman is treating us to two new tracks that were recorded during the same sessions as his seminal "The Dead Bears" in the early 00s. The 10-minute epic "Mercury" has a majestic synth phrase looped over rubbery kicks that will lead to real transcendental moments, while "Levels Halo" is a zoned out ambient piece with kick drums buried miles below, gently moving you along.
Review: Emotional Response do a great service here to all lovers of braindance craving new fixes since Rephlex shut up shop. Brainwaltzera's debut EP Marzipan was a self-released concern that sold out quickly back in 2016, meeting with emotionally charged responses from those wanting to nab a copy. Now it's more widely available, the gorgeous lilt of bubbling 101 melodies and delicate drum machine patterns can spread their wings and bring some healing vibes to a broader audience of electronica devotees. Coming on with the sensitivity of Wisp and other contemporary braindancers, this is how comforting home listening beats should be done.