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.
True To Myself (Karizma Kaytronik Truth dub) (6:57)
Review: New label LDF clearly understands the need to make a big first impression, because this soul-flecked single from Angel-A and producer Rahaan - one of Chicago's true underground heroes - is a very impressive debut. Rahaan's A-side "Original Mix" is rhythmically tough and crunchy - think weighty drum machine kicks and snares - but also warm and woozy, with Angel-A's superb vocal rising above rich electric piano chords and jazzy synthesizer flourishes. Over on side B Karizma takes over, offering up a "Kaytronik Truth Dub" that wraps hypnotic, mangled electric piano notes, analogue bass and tech-tinged flourishes around a wonderfully locked-in but percussively lively rhythm track. It's very different to the original but exceptionally deep and floor-friendly.
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: Atjazz & Jullian Gomes released their "Big Bad Crazy" album nearly a year ago to wide acclaim, and here is one of the LP's standout tracks which receives a rework from Freerange/Delusions Of Grandeur chief Jimpster. He replaces the sensual late night deepness of the original version of "It's My Time" with a slinky, hypnotic and absolutely mesmerising vibe, awash in shimmering melodies, delay drenched snippets of the original vocals and an absolutely addictive bassline. There's a handy instrumental on the flip too. Braintree's finest delivers the goods once again on this hit that's sure to have wide crossover appeal.
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: Originally a white label promo, Mark Knight and Co. are finally letting this one out of the bag. A seriously classy and infectious record from the new UK duo Cashio, "Dancing (With Me)" is a record that's had everyone talking, including some of the worlds top DJs like Annie Mac and Danny Howard to name but a few. A proper, disco-fied funky house anthem (with infectious vocals) that harks back to the glory days of the late '90s popularised by Def Mix, Subliminal and Soulfuric et al - is this a comeback? With the Toolroom crew heading to ADE at the end of the month, we're sure this one will bang the party there, until the later part of 2019 and beyond!
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: 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: Tomoki Tamura and Tuccillo are back together once again as Doublet, with both seasoned electronic champs having fun in the studio jamming out the kind of stripped back, heads down grooves you'd expect to hear them play out. "Tee's 8" is a cheeky A side jam with the kind of acid line that goes down easy and then works you from the inside out. "Three Thousand Men" has a slight dubby thread to it which sits comfortably amongst the sturdy groove of the drums, and then "Tentation" switches gears for a bright and melodic creation that skips around in funky syncopation without even needing to worry about a kick drum.
Paxton Fettel - "I'd Like To Know You Better" (5:50)
Kristy Harper - "Uncle Jungle" (5:27)
Manakinz - "Robopubez (Rust In Peace)" (6:59)
Maxime Alexander - "BSA Freestyle #1" (feat $hakes) (5:01)
Review: London-based Ben Gomori is back with the fourth installment of "Dialogues" on his Monologues imprint. It's another various artists affair featuring four choice cuts that pursue all things deep, emotive and sensual. Copenhagen's Paxton Fettel kicks off proceedings with some boompty and disco-fied vocal business on the loopy "I'd Like To Know You Better", followed by the smoky late night groove by Kristy Harper's "Uncle Jungle" featuring some infectious roaring diva vocals. On the flip, go deeper into the night on the sweltering and hypnotic vibes of Manakinz' "Robopubez (Rust In Peace)" where Sub Club resident Harri collaborate with his bud Max, and finally Maxime Alexander reps South Africa on the sultry mood music of "BSA Freestyle #1" with $hakes on the mic.
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 "?".
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: 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: Back in the early-to-mid 2000s, Warren Harris AKA Hanna was responsible for making and releasing some of the most sumptuous and seductive blends of future jazz, broken beat, soul and deep house around. This 12" from Melodies International offers a neat reminder by serving up two tracks previously featured on a CD-only album from 2004. A-side "I Needed" is the clear standout: a glassy-eyed and loved-up slab of jaunty dancefloor deep house that combines the swing of future garage and the snappiness of jacking Chicago house with the smoothness of soul and the kaleidoscopic synthesizer lines of jazz-funk. Flipside "Intercession, On Behalf" is similarly minded with more of an emphasis on vibrant jazz-funk and the soul motifs and the soul-powered swing of U.S garage.
Hesperia Soul (David Anthony Afrohouse remix) (6:29)
Review: Jovonn's "Hesperia Soul" first landed back in 2018 and instantly became a classic amongst deep house lovers thanks to its enriching violin leads. Now it comes again with various remixes from perfectly picked artists: the first is Kaytronik who dubs things out but doesn't take away from the magic of the violin, then Sean McCabe rebuilds it on more bubbly and rubbery house drums that will work bigger crowds into a lather. Last of all is David Anthony's Afrohouse remix which has chunky drum programming and a darker, more menacing bassline. Those violins still manage to steal the show, though.
Review: Over the last few years, Diego Herrera's releases as Suzanne Kraft have tended towards the ambient and experimental (see his numerous collaborations with Jonny Nash on Melody As Truth for starters), though every so often he'll release an EP that reminds us of his dancefloor roots. The producer's first 12" for Animals Dancing is a perfect example. "Slam" is rhythmically off-kilter and ambidextrous, with skittish, scattergun machine beats providing a distinctive platform for jazzy synthesizer flourishes and ambient chords of spine-tingling warmth and beauty. "Group Time Hate That" sees Herrera wrap restless, all-action bass notes around another leftfield house rhythm, while closing cut "More Desire" is an up-tempo trip into loved-up analogue deep house territory.