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: The man himself would probably say "it's Ed - Jus Ed that is!". To directly quote the Underground Quality chief himself, the man says he is back as Bridgeport Connecticut's all time champion of house and techno, undefeated since 2001 - and still! The guy sure ain't modest, but we couldn't have said it better. From the smooth and meditative vibe of "Favignana Sunset", to the fierce acid banger "I AM" as well as the brooding and doom-laden dancefloor drama of closer "Impulsive Curves", this is unlike anything we have ever heard from the UQ boss before.
Review: New label Nuances de Nuit kick off in fine style with a various artists 12" that draws on some emergent names to lay out a vision of cross-style dance music that favours the deeper end of the pool. Things get going with an organ-rich house bumper from DJ Steaw that pumps in all the right places, before Armless Kid switches things up with an untitled slice of dynamic, richly layered electro. T. Jacques thumps out a crafty, swinging cut with techy inclinations and oodles of groove, and E. Wan takes things in a more linear, deep techno direction laden with gorgeous synth work and plenty of artful effects processing.
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 "?".
Pieces To Share (Kyle Hall & Steve Lehane mix) (3:14)
Nothing To Fear (4:00)
Review: Some ultra-limited business here from Kyle Hall, which remarkably marks his first release of 2019. The Detroiter is in fine form from the off, first peppering a hip-hop tempo "beatdown" groove with 8-bit sounds, jazz-funk synth doodles and rich Fender Rhodes motifs on "Rising" before breaking up the beats and channeling Kaidi Tatham/Dego on the warm and luscious "Full Play". Turn to the flip for the similarly inclined, loose and languid, analogue-heavy melodiousness of "Pieces To Share" and the delay-laden sunrise shimmer of "Nothing To Fear", a glistening and smile-inducing number that's almost overwhelmingly positive.
Review: Rory "Hammer" Hamilton has released on numerous labels since making his debut in 2015 - Optimo Music and Sulta Selects Secret Service included - but it seems like he reserves his best work for the imprint he's most associated with, Feel My Bicep. His latest EP for the Northern Irish outlet is certainly strong, with A-side "Parabola" offering an attractive, ear catching mixture of undulating neo-trance riffs, sustained sub-bass notes, relaxed machine beats and suitably psychedelic electronic effects. The same balance of rush-inducing melodic bliss, tactile synth bass and crispy drums comes to the fore on B-side opener "Panoptic", while closing cut "Entropy" is a slightly more psychedelic but no less melodic jaunt through big synth riffs, emotive chords and bustling drums.
Review: They may not have released many records, but samba/soul/jazz fusionists the Han Litz group have been mainstays of the Dutch scene for a decade. Here they return with a wonderfully breezy, samba-soaked collection of cuts that's remarkably their first ever outing on wax. The A-side begins with two warm, afternoon fresh tracks that sound like authentic Brazilian samba jams from the 1970s, before Litz and company indulge in a little flute-heavy jazz ("Preludia") and Afro-tinged broken beat/jazz fusion ("Yemaya Olodo"). Also impressive is closing cut "Epiphany", which has been transformed by Yoruba Soul man Osunlade into a sumptuous shuffle through deep house/samba fusion complete with Flamenco style Spanish guitar solos.
Review: Hodini is back on the ever reliable Wolf Music for his second EP. The Cologne-based DJ also moonlights as one of Germany's leading underground hip hop producers under the alias HulkHodn, therefore he brings elements from this background into this unique five tracker. In "WOLFEP 053", he dusts off long forgotten cuts, all sampled with that MPC chopped graininess and blending lo-fi vocal sound bites with deft jazz loops to give a distinct, textured edge to his work. From the dusty late night deepness of "Velved Groove", to the slo-mo Moodymann vibes of "Special Shout Out" and the lo-slung, jazzy kinda somethin' that is "Where's The Wine", Hodini delivers smokey deep house music with an undeniably urban flavour.
Review: J Room steps up with a contribution to the minimal tech house conversation that sees emergent artist Jale making a strong statement with three powerful original tracks and a remix from Cosmjn. Jale's style leans on Detroit string synths for a sense of melancholic grandeur, and densely packed rhythm sections that bump as much as they punch. "Orbital Dream" takes things in a dreamy after hours direction, and "Eclipse" works up some rugged synth trysts that snap around a subtly broken beat. Cosmjn's remix of "Orbital Dream" is not to be slept on either as it subtly adjusts the accent of the groove to make an immersive tech house roller par excellence.
Catch Me If You Can (Jorge Savoretti Ethereal dub) (7:08)
Review: Michael James' "Winds Of Change" EP was a big look for Constant Black, and now the eminent minimal house label draws on a hit list of sharp shooters to deliver some deadly remixes. Huerta is up first with an angular but rolling dub twist on "Catch Me If You Can", before Nick Beringer pings things in a wonderfully hazy direction with his "7am Dub" of "Stormy Skies". Pascal Benjamin gets into a tight, focused funk on his version of "Reservoir", and then Jorge Savoretti flies in an "Ethereal Dub" of "Catch Me If You Can".
Praying For You (Louie Vega NYC Fender Rhodes Solo) (4:55)
Praying For You (Louie Vega Vonita dub) (5:43)
Praying For You (KDA remix) (6:10)
Praying For You (album version) (6:11)
Praying For You (Louie Vega Expansions NYC dub) (5:41)
Smile (David Morales remix) (7:01)
Review: Earlier this year, DJ Spen and Teddy Douglas's long-serving gospel-house group Jasper Street Co returned to action with their first album in 16 years. It's from that album that "Praying For You" is taken, though the selling point here is not the LP mix but rather a suite of reworks from Louie Vega. Our picks of the bunch are his jazzy and breezy "Main Mix", the brilliantly bass-heavy "Vonita Dub" (think righteous call-and-response gospel vocals and a killer groove) and the sleazy "KDA Remix". The latter is a basement-bothering stomper rich in fuzzy organ stabs and spacey electronics. The smooth, slick and pleasingly colourful David Morales remix is also rather good (it reminded us a little of vintage Frankie Knuckles rubs, which is no bad thing).
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: Alex "Kiwi" Warren has barely put a foot wrong in recent times, with a superb DJ Rocca collaboration and some fine EPs on Disco Halal, Cin Cin and Paradise Palms. Here he adds another record label to the CV via a second outing on Needwant. In its original form, "Kiya" is a baggy, sunrise-ready house cut drive forwards by low-slung bass, chiming melodies, layered percussion, twinkling pianos and choice snatches of vocal apparently borrowed from an old African record. The "Rave Mix" is a more driving excursion smothered in intergalactic motifs and trance-like synth sounds, while the Brian Ring revision is looser, sparser and altogether more glassy-eyed. Warren rounds things off via the "Dreamscape Mix", a stunning ambient interpretation for those who like their sounds swirling and beat free.