Review: Long-serving Swedish producer Joel Mull, previously best-known for his club-focused techno sets, first started work on Nautical Dawn, his first album under his occasional Damm alias, over a decade ago. Inspired by the natural phenomenon of 'nautical dawn' - that point when the sun is not yet above the horizon, but bathes the sky in vivid colours - he wanted to make music for the break of dawn that combined home-made field recordings with suitably drowsy, opaque electronic motifs, slow-burn ambient chords, tactile aural textures and, when the mood took him, horizontal and hypnotic beats. It may have taken him a while, but the resultant set is little less than inspired: an evocative set of enveloping compositions that tease and tingle the senses.
Review: More from the bulging back catalogue of Park Rangers, an obscure Japanese reggae band who have spent the last decade delivering surprising cover versions of well-known pop, rock and disco songs. On side A there's another chance to wonder at their 1960s rocksteady style re-make of Pharrell Williams' mega-hit happy, in which the Neptunes star's lead vocal is replaces with a cheery Hammond organ solo. It's the kind of cover that can't help but put a smile on your face. The same could be said about their similarly minded flipside cover of Prince classic 'Kiss'. While it's not as instantly recognisable, it has a similar feel thanks to the band's canny fusion of tuneful Hammond organ solos and retro-futurist reggae riddims.
Review: The inimitable Theo Parrish is in a class of one. His brand of music is impossible to categorise as it draws on so many unique sounds in so many unique ways. This new album is another spellbinding affair that takes scuffed up house rhythms and intertwines them with freeform percussive patterns and off-grid synths that get pulled apart then rebuilt before your very ears. It is experimental music with an improvised jazz mindset that can range from complex and dense tapestries like 'Radar Detector' to the more upbeat and playful 'Hennyweed Buckdance' via fucked up drum sketches like 'All Your Boys Are Biters.'
Review: Mash-up maestro, bootleg remix king and talented beat-maker Jim Sharp launched the Soul By The Pound label last year to offer up sneaky re-edits of classic soul and funk jams from the '60s and '70s. Here he finally delivers the imprint's second-single, delivering some Blaxploitation-era goodness that should tickle the fancy of all those who like their funk energetic and enthusiastic. A-side "I Got It Funky" more than lives up to its name, with call-and-response vocals, wah-wah guitars, tasty Hammond licks and rising horns riding a snappy, breakbeat-driven groove. He switches focus a little on flipside "Trippin' Out", adding bouncy hip-hop beats to a dewy-eyed, string-laden slab of Curtis Mayfield style soul.
Review: Much loved UK underground stalwart Truly Madly kicks off his new label with a trip to the outer edges of the dancefloor. It's a various artist affair drawing on some of the most interesting producers round right now. It's the much hyped Gene On Earth who kicks off with a cosmic tech workout for mind, body and soul, and Kepler keeps the uplifting vibes alive with his high speed and slick acid cracker. The flip side is taken care of firstly by Jhobei with his deeper, more spacious 'Grande Sultry' which erupts on fanatical sci-fi synths and Noiro cloys out with a gritty head-wrecker.
Review: A few weeks ago, the sneaky Soul Masters label launched via a must-have "45" featuring two 1960s soul bombs from Welsh sex-machine Mr Jones. For this sequel, the limited-edition imprint has dipped into the back catalogue of premier Motown legends and chosen two killer covers of songs first made famous by other artists on the iconic soul label's roster. On the A-side you'll find their storming version of Stevie Wonder hit 'Uptight (Everything's All Right)', a take that's just as stomping and horn-heavy as the more familiar original, with the added bonus of smoother soul vocals from the ladies. Turn to the flip for their interpretation of Barrett Strong hit 'Money (That's What I Want)', a more fuzzy and sax-laden affair of a song that was famously also covered by the Beatles on With The Beatles.
Dave Lee - "Power Of The Mind" (feat Billy Valentine - JN Redemption mix) (7:34)
Dave Lee - "Power Of The Mind" (feat Billy Valentine - JN Mind Meld dub) (7:03)
AC Soul Symphony - "Manhattan Skyline" (JN Spirit Of 77 mix) (11:08)
Review: ave Lee has collaborated, produced or remixed many vintage soul, jazz-funk and disco artists over the years, though 'Power of the Mind' marks the first time he's worked with Billy Valentine, lead vocalist from legendary soul/jazz-funk duo the Valentine Brothers. The opening 'Redemption Mix' is particularly potent, with Valentine singing his own anti fake news lyrics over a jaunty disco-house groove rich in boogie bass, piano stabs and mazy, life-affirming piano solos. It comes accompanied by a suitably cosmic, synth-laden 'Mind Meld Dub' rework, as well as a fresh string-laden, late '70s style disco track from Lee under his lesser-known AC Soul Symphony pseudonym ('Manhattan Skyline'). It's 11 minutes of pure disco pleasure and almost as essential as 'Power of the Mind'.
Review: The fantastic Parkway label bring a little - well, a lot of - joy into out collectively miserable lockdown-not-lockdown lives with a tenth release that dazzles on every level. The Whole Truth are a modern funk and boogie band with plenty of knowledge of the past as well as a vision of the future that leads them to create camp, analogue sounding gems like this one. The original has a nice heart swelling and gospel tinged vocal next to soaring chords and the club mix then dials back to the languid beats and sci-fi stabs. Last of all is a mix which goes heavy on the chords and amps up the effects to stellar effect.
Review: It's time for a serious slice of dance music history. Roberto Ferrante scored an international hit with 'Come On Closer', a bombastic slice of high energy Italo disco which became a staple on the nascent Chicago house scene before house music itself was defined and produced to a set of standards. Played by hand in lieu of access to a sequencer, there's a loose feel to the groove but the space age synths speak to the waves of electronic dance music that were to come. Now this holy grail of party fuel is given the reissue treatment it deserves, with both the extended mix and dub version given a plush remaster and a loud pressing to alight any dancefloor it has the chance to grace.
Party starters, get this on in the bag immediately, It is pure fire in 7" form, a record bursting with Latin flavours, bristling percussion and jazz-sing beats that will lift anyone off their seat and right into the thick of it. The samples are easy enough to spot but that doesn't stop the a-side doing plenty of damage. Then on the flip, classic soul anthem 'I'm a Believer' gets a big beat and funky bridge extension that will keep people stomping for days. This black version has only been pressed 200 times, so one quick.
Review: Earlier in the year, Chilean minimal maestro Ricardo Villalobos reached an agreement with Rawax for the long-established label to release a series of singles and, more remarkably, a digital-only, hour-long track called 'Matsu'. This brown, marbled vinyl 12" is the first in the sequence of singles to hit stores and contains two typically lengthy workouts. Lead cut 'Aslohop' leads the way, with Villalobos once again delivering entrancing action built around oddly programmed, distinctively swung South American drum hits, curious noises and a hypnotic, undulating bassline. Flipside 'Detrand' is an even more spaced-out and druggy affair, with various barely audible samples subtly rising and falling for 21 minutes atop another deliciously out-there rhythm track.
When Is Deep (Thor & Octal Industries remix) (7:15)
Review: Russian techno mastermind Anton Kubikov has enjoyed an incredibly productive run that has seen him grace Nervmusic, Mayak and his own Pro-tez label. Now one of his finest works, 'When Is Deep', lands on AE Recordings in four new versions from a cast of top-shelf remixers. Idealist is up first, rolling out a smooth and sublime dub house medication to keep dancers locked in and shuffling, while Ben Buitendijk simmers things down to a hypnotic pulse. Dot kicks off the B-side with an immersive, propulsive techno blend before Thor and Octal Industries complete the set with a quintessential dub techno meditation to take your mind to spell-binding new spheres of exploration.
Review: Stockholm label Omena raise a glass to celebrate one year of business with this special RSD 7" from the ubiquitous HNNY. Johan Cederberg was responsible for the label's debut release so it seems quite fitting he's back with more sweet HNNY business to usher in the second year of Omena. Up top, "Cheer Up My Brother" finds HNNY in laid back form, adding some subtle downbeat funk touches to the lazy afternoon groove of "Farther Along", transforming the gospel staple into an essential summer sizzler. It's complemented well by the B-side track "There Is No One Else" which ups both the tempo and temperature into something of a French Touch stunner.
Review: We all taking up right about now and Yosh is the one to do it. Four crucial cuts flexing around the UKG/breaks axis, all heavily entrenched in the turn of the century breakbeat, dark garage melting pot. Classic vocal samples galore and really punchy drums, highlights include the classic "What I Need" and the pure kick drum militancy of on the title track "Take Me Up". Serious vibes for all ages and all floors.
Review: Given that few clubs are open worldwide, it feels wrong to talk about potential 2020 summer anthems. That said, were dancing outside under a blanket of stars be allowed, we have no doubt that Social Lovers' new single would be getting plenty of spins. Warm, synth-heavy and sweet, it's a deliciously good lover's rock style cover of Evelyn "Champagne" King's '80s electrofunk classic "Love Come Down". Over on the flip the fast-rising outfit offers up another killer cover, re-imagining Sha-Lor's 1988 garage-house gem "I'm In Love" as a super-smooth and dreamy slab of proto-house/80s soul fusion rich in Fairlight stabs, spacey synth riffs and warming chords. Don't sleep on this one: it's a genuine gem.
Momma's Groove (Jimpster Hip Replacement mix) (7:36)
Review: The latest must-check missive from deep house reissue specialists Groovin' takes us back to 2007 and one of the most infectious, insatiable cuts in Osunlade's sprawling back catalogue. First featured on his Strictly Rhythm-released album "Elements Beyond", "Momma's Groove" features Osunlade adding his own evocative spoken word vocals to a low-down deep house groover crafted from disco-funk style bass, flanged guitar licks, jazzy sax solos and typically tribal drums. Over on side B there's a chance to Jimpster's "Hip Replacement Mix", which transforms Osunlade's killer cut into a rolling slab of immersive deep house haziness perfectly suited to heads-down peak-time plays.
I Don't Know What It Is, But It Sure Is Funky (Fashion remix) (3:50)
Review: Legendary 70s funk band Ripple are back with two original members making new music again. Curtis "Kazoo" Reynolds & Keith "Doc" Samuels now go by the name of Ripple 2.20 and their first work is a new version of John Edwards' "Exercise My Love." It is a cover, but not as we usually know it - they lay down an incredible new vocal and play the parts with a real sense of sensuousness. On the flip is a new remix of some of Ripple's original material in the form of Fashion's take on "I Don't Know What It Is, But It Sure Is Funky", a raw, dirty, sleazy jam to get you in a sweat.
Review: Japanese heavyweights HHV continue their ongoing trawl through the back catalogue of long-serving hip-hop producer, DJ, record collector and self-styled King of Diggin', Muro. Here they present the second part of the dusty-fingered hero's turn-of-the-millennium Pan Rhythm series of 12" singles, this time presenting it on a tidy seven inch single. 'Hip-Hop Band' is a weighty, floor friendly, horn-heavy re-make of the Stetsasonic song of the same name, with local mic man Boo delivering tweaked versions of the U.S crew's verses in his native Japanese. While jazzy, the bombastic backing track - which can be heard in full on the flipside instrumental version - is forthright and club-ready, making the single a must-have for working hip-hop DJs and those who love the more up-tempo end of the rap spectrum.
Review: Party starters, get this one in the bag immediately. It is pure fire in 7" form, a record bursting with Latin flavours, bristling percussion and jazz-sing beats that will lift anyone off their seat and right into the thick of it. The samples are easy enough to spot but that doesn't stop the a-side doing plenty of damage. Then on the flip, classic soul anthem 'I'm a Believer' gets a big beat and funky bridge extension that will keep people stomping for days. This black version has only been pressed 200 times, so one quick.
Review: The latest drop on the consistently brilliant Kimochi comes from Eho Kates, a new project from Todd Gys and Brendon Moeller. While the names involved may be familiar, the resulting sound is something wholly fresh. Certainly, Moeller's rightly heralded instinct for dubwise processes is no great shock, but there's a playful sense of experimentation powering every element of this release from the scuffed, fractured rhythms of 'Anxiety Sensitivity' to the submerged echo chamber surrealism of 'Emotional Distress Endurance'. Inquisitive processes and otherworldly sound design shape out the whole record, shot through with the alluring mystery that defines Kimochi output overall.
Notturno Italiano (Daniel Maunick & Alex Malheiros vocal) (5:55)
Notturno Italiano (Daniel Maunick & Alex Malheiros instrumental) (5:55)
Notturno Italiano (Ron Trent dub remix) (7:28)
Review: Mario Acquaviva's 1983 jam 'Notturno Italiano' is a hugely sought after Italian boogie gem. Mother Tongue have dug it out the archives and enlisted some key names to offer up reworks and reconstructions, with Azymuth's Alex Malheiros and Daniel Maunick going first. They offer vocal and instrumental versions with life-affirming jazz Rhodes and cool, seductive rhythm sections that take you into the cosmos. Eternal deep house hero Ron Trent then does his escapist and spiritual thing on a lush and star-gazing dub that transcends genre. All three of these are irresistible.
Review: Originally unveiled in 1992, Blue Day represents one of the most exciting periods in the evolution of British shoegaze heroes Slowdive - their formative years. Comprising the first three EPs, or at least a good chunk of each and the entirety of the seminal Morningrise, it's less of a history lesson and more a reminder of just how well the seven-piece's music has stood the test of time.
There are some notable omissions, it's true. So the Slowdive songs here are missing 'Avalyn II'. And there's no 'Catch The Breeze' or cover of Syd Barrett's 'Golden Hair' included from Holding Our Breath. Still, with the ethereal yet jangly rock of 'She Calls', 'Losing Today''s dark, almost choral atmospherics, and the white noise and discordance of 'Albatross', ain't nobody complaining here.
Review: The Dutch label Klakson is a real mark of electro quality. It has been doing its do since before the current hype and will continue long after, no doubt. Sepher takes the reins for this one and fires out of the blocks on serrated synths and chattery 808s. The basslines are so dynamic and restless on 'Artificiality' your mind will get tied in knots trying to keep up, while 'Duplicate' brings clipped Drexcyian funk that doesn't hang around. There is a deeper, more pensive vibe to 'Izadi' that completes a fine EP with a broad array of styles.
Review: Deep house might not be getting the headlines it did a few years ago, but that actually means those who jumped on the hype train have all alighted once again and now only those truly devoted to the form remain. That means we get high quality EPs like this one from Visions Inc. Aleqs Notal takes us on a spiritual trip littered with toms and jazz-chords to kick things off before Meftah gets more experimental with a broken beat, tripped out keys and rubbery bass all sinking you into a state of trance. For those who like it more straight up, Taelue obliges, and as with all Afrikan Sciences tunes, the closer is a masterfully deep concoction.
Review: The second split release from fast-rising Belgian label The Void Project boasts tracks from Traffic co-founder Bodin and sometime Ext and Entity London artist Alec Falconer. The latter begins by offering a nod towards his work with UKG revivalists Phone Traxx on the aptly titled - and really rather good - "Wobble Roller", before peppering a chunky bassline and crunchy house drums with low-register organ stabs and occasional breakbeat blasts on "Bounce". Over on side B Traffic Records co-founder Bodin takes over and offers up two tracks that make the most of the Roland TB-303 (or at least something that sounds like it). "Sluga" is a bona-fide jacker with deep organ riffs, while "Hopez" is a snappier affair powered forward by a seriously squelchy bassline.
Review: Before the pandemic struck, Versatile Records veteran Nicolas Chaix was working on a new improvised I:Cube live show to be taken on the road this summer. Sadly, events put paid to the long-serving producer's plans, so instead he sat down with the same hardware set-up and recorded some improvised workouts. It's those - or at least some of them, a second volume may appear in future - that form the backbone of Cubo Live Sessions. In typical fashion, 14-minute A-side 'Session 1' is formidably psychedelic, with Chaix peppering a jacking hardware groove with echoing, alien-sounding riffs, brooding pads and hallucinatory TB-303 motifs. He gets extra aggressive on fiendishly trippy and growling B-side opener 'Session 2', while 'Session 3' is a creepy, slow motion acid delight.
Review: You can always rely on Razor N Tape to serve up scorched soundtracks heavy on the samples and blended beats. This latest collection carries on from previous Pools releases with more heat-damaged chords, laidback grooves and the sort of jazz-funk instrumentation that has you reaching for the cocktails even on a drizzly afternoon in the North. The MPC beats drip with funk and cool, zoned out pads carry your mind away and the sun kissed vibe is utterly real. If you want to deny the existence of autumn and keep dreaming about lazy afternoons by a pool you don't own, cop this one tout suite.
You're Leaving But I'll Still Love You (Saine remix) (6:05)
Review: Honey Butter is back with another slab of was as sweet and seductive as the name suggests. Cassettes For Kids takes care of this one with more than one eye on a golden period of mid nineties house and tech. The grooves on the opener are quick but deep, the train-track percussion locking you in while lush, heart melting chords are draped over the top. 'Growing Frustration' is a more peak time cut that never lets up and the first mix of 'You're Leaving But I'll Still Love You' is built on big break beats and a fat, tumbling bassline. Saine remixes with a more playful mood to send you home with a big old smile on your face.
Review: It was way back in 1998 when Japan's undisputed King of Diggin', DJ.producer/mix-maker and dedicated record collector Muro, first released 'Han-Tome'. These days, it's regarded as a Japanese hip-hop classic, and listening back to this reissue it's easy to see why: the beats are dope, the producer's jazz and orchestral samples beautifully incorporated into the backing track, and the combination of Japanese rap verses and R&B style sung choruses every bit as good as those you'd expect on big-name American tracks from the same period. As it did first time around, the track comes backed by the superb 'Flutestrumental Mix'. This adds sun-kissed keyboard stabs and flighty flute solos to Muro's formidably head-nodding beats..
Review: REPRESS ALERT: A Vision Of Panorama cooks up another multi-course Balearic banquet. This time he's flexed his generous, soft-centred sonics on Mellophonia. Each cut a breezy, warm synth odyssey, highlights include the groove-heavy strutter "Heartbeat" (thanks to its loose sloppy bassline and confident synth shots) and the piano-tickling finale "Mosaic Xylos" (thanks to its flighty broken drums and arpeggiated insistency). The only thing to be wary of here is the misleading title: There is more than one seaside tune here; they're all primed for the beach... And pretty much any other activity or location you have planned this summer.
Review: For some reason, Alton Miller never seems to quite get the headlines of many of his Chicago peers. Maybe this expressive new album on the Music Institute label will go some way to correct that. It's as lush and musical as house gets, with bumping vocal tunes that are laced with golden chords to percussive workouts like 'Long Time Comin' sure to work floors into a lather. There are even slow jams like the seductive 'Time Is On Your Side' showing off another side to Miller's sound. Whatever he does, there is s sense of spirituality and inescapable emotion that makes every cut here a thing of beauty.
Review: Amsterdam label Music from Memory started their 12" series in order to present music that "was never available in this format but might just feel more at home there". The debut in the series from obscure San Francisco artist Joel Graham set the bar high, and we are happy to report this latest 12" featuring the work of UK artist Michal Turtle is just as good! A precursor to a wider retrospective planned on MFM, Are You Psychic? features two tracks from the early 80s Turtle improvised in his parents living room using various bits of gear and will delight anyone with a taste for discovering obscure electronic music from days gone by. B side track "Astral Decoy" is a particularly delightful production!
Try My Love (On For Size) (Dr Packer extended remix) (8:16)
Review: Simon Marlin returns the source with one of his biggest tracks as The Shapeshifters in years. Loaded with the belting gospel-level charm of the currently unavoidable Teni Tinks (who's also sung and recorded with the likes of Dr Packer, Ghetts and Stormzy) it's an authentic nod to the enduring legacy of late 70s Salsoul or T.K Disco. Soulful, singalong, oozing positivity and tailored strictly for the dancefloor; this has been huge at all Glitterball and Defected parties this summer. Try it on for size...
Robert Glasper - "Enoch's House" (DJ Kemit remix) (7:03)
Guy - "Groove Me" (KZRekchampma club mix - part 1 & 2) (8:55)
Review: There's been little information released about this three-track EP, though we do known that it's the work of "a classic US label going incognito". Whatever the source, what counts is the quality of the music; happily, the EP is impeccable. Leading the charge is Karizma, whose remix of Flacko's "Lonely Town" is a breezy, soft-focus chunk of modern soul/broken house fusion smothered in hazy synthesizer chords and slowly strummed Latin guitar breakdowns. DJ Kemit dances towards peak-time floors with a wonderfully emotion-rich house version of jazz pianist Robert Glasper's "Enoch's House" built around similarly tropical drums, while KZRekchampma's glorious flipside club revision of Guy's "Groove Me" sits somewhere between bass-heavy UK house, soul-powered New Jersey garage and revivalist synth-boogie.