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: In 1996, Dreamscape's Ed Marshall donned a new alias, Aplomb, and delivered the first fruits of his new project to New Age House Records. Only one track was ever released on a limited label promo, "Wondering". World Building's Ari Goldman, who previously put out a compilation of Marshall's work as Dreamscape, is a fan and has decided to rescue it from obscurity via this single-sided 12". The track itself is hard to accurately pigeonhole, combining as it does dense, carnival style drums, female scat vocals, warm bass, dreamy deep house chords and synthesizer flourishes reminiscent of early '80s jazz-funk. Either way, it's a sunny and groovy chunk of obscure house positivity that's well worth a place in your collection.
Review: After years of promoting events, Percolate has decided to embark on a new project - Percolate Records. They welcome longtime friend, British producer Austin Ato, to take them on the first steps of their new journey. Ato has appeared on a wide variety of imprints lately, from Me Me Me and Delusions Of Grandeur to Futureboogie and even Defected. "When Love Gets Cold" opens with the sweltering and finely filtered disco loops of the title track, paving the way for bouncy and euphoric house anthem "To Fall In Love" (which is equally as disco-fied!) and emotive Detroit house banger "All I Want". Speaking of the Motor City: he shows he is equally competent at hi-tech soul (with a UK rave influence too) on the breakbeat-driven and evocative "Blessed".
Essential Paradise (feat Slikk Tim - Fred P Reshape) (6:57)
Mystery Of Fantasy (reprise) (2:34)
Mystery Of Fantasy (G Fantasy mix) (8:06)
120 Black Key Experiment (Continuation interlude) (2:48)
Review: Having decided to retire his long-serving Soul People Music label, Fred P has immediately replaced it with Perpetual Sound, an imprint he says will serve up a far more eclectic range of records. To mark the label's debut, the acclaimed deep house and techno producer has decided to reignite his Black Jazz Consortium project after a five-year hiatus. Up first is "Essential Paradise", delicious fusion of jazzy deep house and tech-soul whose spacey pads, bustling beats and Herbie Hancock synths come accompanied by some wild, unchained solos from keys player Slikk Tim. Elsewhere, attention will naturally fall on Mr G's sleazy, heavy and low-slung techno take on "Mystery of Fantasy", which is also available as a tasty, ambient style "Reprise" (all synthesized orchestral sweeps, warm bass and glassy-eyed electronics).
Review: Emmy Award-winning composer Jordan Lieb has previously proved to be a masterful maker of crackly, atmospheric deep house. We shouldn't be that surprised, then, that his latest mini-album for Scissor And Thread - the rather depressingly titled "Nothing Makes Me Feel (Good Anymore)" - is full of the stuff. The undoubted highlight for us is the poignant and melancholic title track, though for club plays you seriously can't beat the sub-heavy, R&B-sampling shuffle of the cut that follows it, "Street Emotion". You'll find more chopped-and-screwed vocal samples on the deep and chunky "Get Something", while "The Right Way" is a near perfect fusion of loved-up deep house musicality and laid back electro grooves. The New Jersey garage influenced "Hustle" and Dream 2 Science-esque "Golden Chains" are also superb.
Review: Having previously impressed on Argot and Home Taping Is Killing Music with her blends of evocative deep house and floor-friendly Chicago rhythms, The Black Madonna tries a different approach on this debut for the recently launched Night Owl Diner label. You could certainly describe both tracks as "Balearic", and there's a real air of wide-eyed positivity about the tumbling melodies, swirling synth-strings and mid-80s pop production of head-nodding deep house cut "Stay". It's pretty darn tasty, all told. Almost as good is "Requiem", which appears to be built around a loop lifted from Cherrelle and Alexander O'Neal's "Saturday Love" (with, of course, additional synths and tuneful electronics).
Review: The Dessert Island Discs series continues with yet more arch remixes from across the disco and boogie spectrum. Bubbles The Pimp kicks off the A side with a tasteful treatment of Gil Scott Heron's "Winter In America," which gets rustled up into a sweet and sassy house number with a cheeky acid b-line underneath. Nelly Wilson whips up a storm on the tightly clipped, peak time-oriented "Trapped & Confused". Pierre Pressure's "Love & Beyond" takes it easy on the B side with plenty of fluttering synth wobbles to offset the choppy funk of the guitar - it's a cosmically enhanced floor burner to get you all astral under the collar.
Review: Pretty much anything Call Super has touched in recent years has turned to gold. This new collaboration with Parris is no different: it is a self-released project with a fictional backstory involving an ageing writer called Mortise Koshimitsu who lived in a small apartment. The music itself is uptempo but deep, with shimmering wooden hits gliding on elastic drums as ambient synth beauty bleeds into the spaces left behind. "Majenta" is a more cavernous and dreamier track that is as good for home listening as it does for tasteful dancing.
Review: Hot on the heels of a re-work of Bobby Caldwell, edit stylist Caserta is back with another golden nugget. This time he turns his attention to the one and only Luther Vandross and serves up two equally essential but very different tunes that pay homage to his unique voice. The King Street Mix is all hip swinging claps and nodding bass riffs that are organic and heartfelt, whereas the Henry Street Mix nods to the '90s heyday of New York. With warm neon organ stabs that will get any floor pumping, both interpretations have Luther's soulful voice front and centre.
Kerri Chandler - "Peace Of Mind" (D'Julz remix) (6:46)
Lafayette - "Better Late Than Never" (Kettama Garage remix) (5:00)
Jiletta Riley - "The Way It Was" (Marquis Hawkes Classic club vocal) (6:57)
Review: There's little better, house-wise at least, than vintage Kerri Chandler productions, though these fresh remixes of tracks by the New York maestro would certainly run them close. German producer Henrik Schwarz steps up first to re-imagine Chandler and Jerome Sydenham's "Powder" as a fluid but hypnotic chunk of building, synthesizer-heavy house in his usual melodic, tech-tinged style, before D'Julz turns in a wonderfully warm, locked-in revision of "Peace of Mind" full of drum machine handclaps, woozy chords and fizzing electronics. Over on side B you'll find a superb Kettama Garage mix of Lafayette's Chandler-produced classic "Better Late Than Never" - think late '90s UK speed garage and you're close - as well as a partoculalry reverential take on Jiletta Riley jam "The Way It Was" by Marquis Hawkes.
Review: The unstoppable Cromby lets rip on Unknown To The Unknown. His first release on DJ Haus's U2TU motherlabel, he's gone in all rave guns blazing. "Cruising" is a thumping Detroit-edge acid meteor shower. Wave after wave of 303s and rising big-blast pads, there's some serious momentum in this track; just mix it in and watch it demolish. "Gigolo" shakes its money maker with a little more uplift as chords climb and chime throughout the mix, constantly reaching higher and higher. A little like Cromby's profile right now.
Review: A big driver behind Mood Hut's success over the last few years has been their willingness to encourage collaboration between their extended crew of producers. Their latest co-produced affair comes from long-serving crewmember C.Z Wang (best known for his People Plus release earlier this year) and Aquarian Foundation's Chad Thiessen AKA Neo Image. "Just Off Wave" is warm, woozy and bass-heavy, with drowsy chords, fizzing electro noises and trippy vocals (courtesy, we think, of guests Seperated At Birth) riding a hybrid analogue house/electro groove. That beat is cut-up, beefed-up and heavily enhanced on flipside "Open Mic Beat", which is a sweaty drum track - with, it should be said, occasional chords - that should appeal to aging B-boys and girls.
Review: Ovine build on the momentum of their first EP with another new house offering that is beautifully deep. It features two tracks each from Dan Piu and Pohl, and they all hack back to dreamy Italo, classic Mr Fingers and the more pensive Chicago greats. "Depresismatica" is a real highlight with its meandering basslines and infinite cosmic horizons. "Mello Phone" offers more pixelated melodies and busy beats and "Space In The Distance" has the sort of freaky edges and dusty analog textures house lovers always fall for. Already, then, this is a label that is setting a high standard.
Review: The latest Hands Off joint features three artists making waves in intriguing corners of the deep house firmament. Desos opens up the A side with the dreamy groove of "Dubs", before Space Age lays down the classic, Mr Fingers-flavoured haze of "Sunday Rain". Desos returns on the flip with another subtle yet punchy cut, keeping the melodies submerged and sublime on "Jaaa" before Common Mode takes things in a distinctly dubby direction with "Beauty Queens".
Review: Eliphino continues to explore his emotionally charged, modern sound with this new mini LP for Secretsundaze. Following the trend laid out by his previous turns on Hypercolour, The Love Below and Meda Fury, he unfurls a richly harmonic sound that places emphasis on melodic progression to tell a particularly personal story, ranging from the emotive "Studio Time" to the crooked break-flecked "Old Lemons". "Second Sunday" flirts with electro and "Breaking Up Is Hard" veers towards jungle, but throughout Eliphino's personality binds the record together in fine style. Thoroughly contemporary and unbounded by genre restrictions, this is the sound of someone making the record they want to make.
Review: These days we're accustomed to producers serving up deep, dreamy and life-affirming fusions of breakbeat, deep house and ambient techno. This wasn't so much the case when Ex-Terrestrial released his debut EP, "Paraworld" in 2016. As this surprise reissue proves, it remains one of the best EPs of its kind. There's much to admire throughout, from title track's bongo-laden, new age deep house warmth, to the seductive ambient bliss of "Dreams of Jupiter", which still reminds us of 2015's Slow Riffs 12" on Mood Hut. Arguably best of all, though, is "Blue Smoke", a brilliant fusion of pitched-down rave breakbeats and comforting, Pete Namlook style ambient chords.
Review: Japanese artist Sunao Gonno's idiosyncratic sound has appeared on labels such as Endless Flight, International Feel and Beats In Space over the years, where he's dabbled in shoegaze, kosmische and psychedelia as heard on 2015's breathtaking "Remember The Life Is Beautiful" or on last year's contemporary jazz outing "In Circles" with Kazuhiko Masumura. An accomplished DJ also, he's no stranger to Berlin's Panorama Bar, where Nick Hoppner (Touch From A Distance) has long held a residency. The two artists collaborate for the first time on "Lost", featuring three sublime sonic journeys: go deep into the exotic on "Bangalore" with its world music influence, or chill to the vivid downbeat tones of "Love Lost" until "Start Trying" returns to the program with its neon-lit aesthetic plus breakbeats reminiscent of the rave era.
Review: Natural Midi has been one of the primary homes to Scott Grooves' tunes, easily the most underrated producer from the Detroit area, and he's back on his own label with four new beauties. Grooves has been churning out exquisite deep house bangers since the 90's, a very specific brand of dance music that incorporates everything from jazz, to disco and funk; his basslines are always warm and soothing, while his percussion is dusty and the synth lines musical. In an age where 'outsider' house rules, his grounded approach is always a breath of fresh air to us. The opener "Finished" is a funky house swinger choc-a-bloc with gorgeous claps and stuttering toms, and "Inspiration Sound" scratches the 4/4 off for a bit of broken trip-hop - a certified winner. On side B, "The Sauce" is moody, spaced-out and offers subtle keys, while "Nitty Gritty" slams out a dicing little percussion with a lo-fi feel. Absolutely terrific.
Review: Detroit producer Scott Grooves returns to his Modified Suede imprint with Bitter Sweet, following on from the jazz-driven Motor City funk of "The Journey". This 12" sees the underappreciated Grooves on typically excellent form; the title track offers a piece of dusty, subtle Detroit house, where fuzzy Rhodes piano are joined by jazzy string melodies and a mechanical groove in a similar manner to Kevin Reynolds' similarly slow burning "Liaisons", while "C Track" offers a sublime piece of rolling house whose urgent yet gentle piano chords are caught in a swell of bottom heavy bass and rattling hi-hats.
Review: Detroit stalwart Scott Grooves has been churning out 12" singles since the early '90s, yet the quality barely seems to drop. This second - and, according to the producer's own sales notes, "likely last" - installment in the Parts Manager series contains five more top notch workouts. As ever, there's plenty of variety across the EP. Contrast, for example, the flowing, ear-catching musicality of classic deep house opener "Gravitas", the body popping drum machine hits and rubbery P-funk bass of "Deneb", and the deep nu-jazz shuffle of "Monowaltz". The pleasing eclecticism continues elsewhere, via the fluid electric piano workout "Bittersweet Live", and the Chez Damier style basement smoothness of hypnotic closer "?".