Shakmat, But Happy (Pauli Psychdelic Breakfast - take 9) (9:25)
Review: German deep house stalwart Martin Gretschmann aka Acid Pauli is back on Ouie, the Berlin-based label he runs with Nico Stojan. This self-deprecatingly titled EP showcases Gretschmann's dancefloor prowess yet again. From the slinky and hypnotic locomotion of "Dancing In The Trunk" which deservedly takes over the entire A side, while B side cut "Goran Utan" goes deep into the afterhours with its shimmering melodies, humming bass and clipped rhythm patterns and rounds off with even more minimal and reduced aesthetics on the disorienting "Shakmat, But Happy" (Pauli Psychdelic Breakfast - Take 9)".
Review: Swiss producer Alci, also known as Shaolin Fantastic, landed with lauded releases on Robsoul before skipping to other labels like Apollonia and Meander. Following last year's excellent "Diversity" double pack, he lands on his own label Seeingsounds with this pitch perfect slice of dreamy minimal house. "Acid Drip" may be a misleading title - it's more of an unending groove draped in gorgeous, shimmering melodic finery. "Hiragana" takes things in a more twitchy direction, while "Apachi" brings another slant on reduced, oddball funk to get the up all night crowd loose and freaky in all the right ways.
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: When Cristi Cons and Vlad Caia launched the Amphia label way back in 2011, they talked about creating "a world with no boundaries" and "an infinite ocean of musical shapes and ideas". It's the sort of wide-ranging, open-ended remit that seems tailor made for Amorf, an "experimental live techno" trio whose fluid and otherworldly tracks are deliciously hard to pigeonhole. For proof, check "Recall", the A-side to their second Amphia outing. Built on loose and languid tech-house drums and a similarly undulating bassline, the cut bobs and weaves through waves of restless piano motifs, deep space chords and out-there electronics. Further evidence of the threesome's hybrid style arrives via "Momentum", where poignant electric piano motifs and melancholic deep house chords envelop a crunchy, minimalist rhythm track.
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: Arapu is very much one of the key Romanian artists of the moment. Of course, like his revered countrymen, that means techno that is elegant, minimal, and delicately detailed. His own take on the style is often littered with curious little motifs and trippy loops that also characterise this new one on heavyweight vinyl for Liniar. "Over" is a brilliant opener with languid Balearic guitar riffs echoing over supple drum work which will hook you in and encourage your mind to wander, whereas "A Gain" is a more direct, driving minimal techno cut with warped synths peeling off an urgent groove. "I" closes out with a funky undercarriage and dub house overtones that will get any basement popping off.
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: 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".
Review: By his usual prolific standards, Romanian producer Barac Nicolae has been rather quiet this year. "The Real You Is Not You", a double-pack of varied dancefloor cuts in his trademark minimal style, is only his second outing of the year. It's rather good, though, with sparse but groovy rhythm tracks providing the backing for all manner of ear-pleasing musical touches and mind-altering electronic effects. Our picks of the bunch are the funky, dreamy and sun-kissed hypnotism of "A Story Behind Everything" and the tipsy wonkiness of the title track, where trippy vocal samples and blissful synth riffs rise above an undulating, off-kilter groove.
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: UK dub techno maestro Steve O'Sullivan is back with another payload of deep immersion heaters under his Bluetrain guise, this time on the Future Primitive label. There's a deadly restraint at work on "Congo Shuffle", where the elements get reduced to needlepoint precision and the low end rhythm section stalks with purpose. "Invisible Guest" takes things in an explicitly dubwise direction, channelling serious Rhythm & Sound vibes for an immaculate head-nodder, before "Paralyzed Dub" slows down further into an end of the line skank for the weary to find solace in - masterful movements in the echo chamber from start to finish.
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: German minimal/tech house veteran Christian Burkhardt makes a worthy addition to East End Dubs' ever reliable Eastenderz stable with this absolute thrasher of an EP. Although a native of Heidelberg, Burkhardt was associated with the "Mannheim Sound" over a decade ago, but has since carved out his own distinct style on tastemaker imprints like Oslo, raum...musik and Cocoon, in addition to his own Christian Burkhardt Sessions. He is in impressive form on ENDZ 030, which features the moody tough rolling main room banger "Vibration" on the A side, followed by the meditative tribal trance of afterhours cut "Foundation" as well as the bleepy minimal funk of closer "Nation" which harks back to his output in the late 00s.
Review: Mainz-based house hooligan Butch teams up with good studio pal Christian Vogt (Yellow Tail/Rebirth) once again for their new thumper - a remix of Andy Gibbs of The Bee Gees' 1980 hit "Desire". Said to have been circulating for more than a year on selected USB sticks, it's finally available for all. The sexy and low slung main remix is sure to burn up any dancefloor, and is backed by a groovy and swing-fuelled dub version, a handy and functional drum tool and a nifty vocal tool too. It's what Gerd Janson & Co. best described themselves as "blue-eyed R&B house.. made to please and evoke those unifying and uplifting dancefloor moments".
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.