Review: Omar S is clearly having fun this year - the subtle euphoria of "Here's Your Trance Now Dance" was followed by a new studio album, released recently with about six days notice - and now he's popped up with a new 12" featuring Colonel Abrams on FXHE. The legendary urban crooner turns in a typically soulful vocal turn on "Who Wrote The Rules Of Love", which comes in three versions: two R&B mixes (short and long) and a remix from Shadow Ray. It's the Shadow Ray tweak that will turn on the house heads, with a beefy acid line and chopped up vocals forming the backbone of the arrangement. Those who get in quick can grab the lovely coloured vinyl version!
Security Cameras & Perimeter Walls As High As 18 Feet Topped With Barbed Wire (9:29)
Bin Laden's Corpse (11:28)
Regis - "See You Again Always" (feat Vatican Shadow) (5:29)
USS Carl Vinson Night Tide Funeral (10:31)
Supplying The Compound With Food & Medicine (4:06)
He Ambled Down The Dirt Road For Visits To A Market (5:05)
Peace Be Unto You (8:52)
Review: Dominick Fernow has always been open to reissuing some of his harder-to-find, limited edition releases, so it's little surprise that he's bowed to pressure from fans and finally offered up a vinyl edition of his previously cassette-only 2011 release "Washington Buries Al Qaeda Leader At Sea". Like much of his politically charged work in that period, the album's eight, mostly lengthy tracks tiptoe the fine line between anger and melancholy, wrapping bittersweet chords and resigned melodic motifs around a variety of bustling drum machine rhythms, ricocheting percussion hits and throbbing analogue basslines. It's all very strong, though we're particularly enjoying Regis collaboration "See You Again Always" and the dubbed-out, pitched down ambient warmth of "He Ambled Down The Dirt Road For Visits To A Market".
Review: Having graced the Mule imprint with the Vision Dance album in CD only format earlier this year, it was only a matter of time before Underground Quality's pappa bear Jus-Ed persuaded the label to let him release it on vinyl. Released on clear blue vinyl via his own UQ label, the accomplished nature of Vision Dance is not really compromised by the fact two tracks have been shorn. The raw DIY feel of "I'm Coming" is replaced with sumptuous, rich, fully formed grooves like "A Little Deeper", "Ice 592", and, most impressively, "Acid Techno", suggesting the Connecticut based producer has been spending a lot of time locked away with his drum machines. Vision Dance is also clearly influenced by Ed's travels through Europe - track titles like "Project 1 London" and "Stuck In A Train To Berlin" reveal that he has broken modern DJ protocol by spending the down time between gigs being productive instead of lurking on Twitter.
Review: Yadava made a sterling debut appearance last year with the fully realised "It Rains Here" album on Church, and now he's following up that strong start with this equally excellent four tracker for Ad Hoc. The Manchester-based artist leads in with the natural bump and flex of "Grapefruits" and his jazzy chops are plain to hear throughout. "Heart Strings" lets spiritual strings and plenty of reverb shape out a misty mood that it's impossible to resist, while "Camomile Samba" brings a more uptempo feel to his honey-coated production. "Go Slow" finishes the record off on a supremely mellow beat down for those oh-so-sweet chill moments after the party.
Zinja Hlungwani - "Ntombi Ya Mugaza" (Burnt Friedman remix)
Review: Honest Jon's continued endeavours to choose the interesting remix artists to tackle the high BPM joys of their Shangaan Electro compilation sees them turn to that venerable Detroit magician and erstwhile Wu Tang Clan member Theo Parrish. The Sound Signature boss comes through with a masterful thirteen minute plus rewiring of Mancingelani's "Vana Vasesi" which retains the thunderous tempo and brilliantly chaotic rhythms yet instils the track with a woozy, intoxicating swing via the twisting synth waves. Complementing this, iconic German producer Burnt Friedman turns in a remix of "Ntombi Ya Mugaza" by Zinja Hlungwani which is far less frenetic but no less enjoyable, flipping the track in a dub wise style with off kilter drum programming, spine tingling keys and staggered vocal affectations.
Review: Such is the prolific nature of FXHE at the moment, which ever pressing plant Omar S uses must be pretty happy with their contract. Following swiftly from Omar S's ode to the Axel F sound comes the debut missive from Aaron "Fit" Siegel. Named so thanks to his work at the helm of Fit Distribution, Siegel is a key figure in ensuring the ongoing healthy output of Detroit's house and techno militia and "Tonite" proves to be an auspicious debut. Featuring the vocal talents of L'Renne, the track is one of those eminently soulful house tracks with a sparse approach to production, all the elements sounding so crisp and distinct in the mix but judged perfectly. Such a track and the tougher B Side Detroit Mix just demonstrate how on top of their game FXHE are right now - big tip!
Review: [Standard album edition sans 10"] It's rare that electronic music artists push themselves to the same degree as Danny Wolfers. The Dutch artist is one of the most prolific contemporary artists, working under an often bewildering array of guises, but this latest release sees him go deeper than before. In part, this is due to Wolfers taking more time on the production process because he wanted to make his tracks as DJ-friendly as possible, but it is also due to the fact that he has matured as a producer. The Paranormal Soul is his most refined work to date, and there is an absence of the raw edges that characterised classic Legowelt releases like Klaus Kinski or Tower of the Gypsies. Yet despite this, Wolfers' music has not lost any of the touches and flourishes that make him so distinctive. "Renegade of a New Age" and "Elements of Houz Music" have those melodic, part-mysterious, part-cheesy synth lines that Wolfers pretty much owns, and "Voice of Triumph" and "I Only Move for You" see him revert to classic acid, with visceral jacking offset by warm, 303-soaked basslines. But the most significant measure of Wolfers's development lies in the fact that he has created his own interpretation of the early 90s techno sound that originally inspired him. "Rave Till Dawn" starts with "Red 2"-style chord stabs, but instead of bombast the track gets progressively more subtle thanks to fragile break beats and mellow pads. "Sketches From Another Century", with its dreamy sweeps and building chords sounds like classic Carl Craig, but just when the listener thought Wolfer was intent on making Detroit techno tribute track, those unmistakable melody lines and warbling bass kick in, the very manifestation of the Dutchman's musical soul.
Review: Ilian Tape fam: Stenny returns with some long-awaited fractured schematics. Last spotted on the previous V/A EPs, this is his first solo EP for over 18 months and he's making up for lost time... Opener "Stress Test" hits like a cross between Youngstar and Tim Wright circa 2001 while "ElasTCT" takes a much bumpier technoid approach in a way you could imagine Craig Richards playing at 5am. "Adequate Force" racks up the electro shock therapy with a blistering breakbeat whipslap which DJ Stingray would happily play, before closer "Fail Better (Bent Mix)" takes things back to the jungle foundations. All molten breaks and glacial pads. Keep it rolling.
Review: Utilising the skills he learned mixing tracks for the likes of Pole and Pantha Du Prince, Kassian Troyer delivers his new EP, Stills, on Dial. The record opens with the sumptuous title track, featuring beautifully shuffling hi-hats and a subtle yet mesmerising synth progression. "The Afternoon Grid" offers more of the same, gently building a dazzling listening experience that delivers sheer aural serenity. "Breezy" takes things a bit deeper, and slightly darker, moving the rhythm with a swelling bass line accompanied by the distinct shuffle of stripped down garage aesthetics. "Hunter" slows everything down, closing out the record as blissfully as it began; Troyer using the tempo to open up masses of space and filling it with delicate, sparkling house.
Review: Venetian imprint Yay present the third installment of their sublabel 3N0 by Aljaz Gnezda aka Eliaz. The Slovenian producer's second EP features three minimal cuts from the wonkier end of the spectrum. Eliaz is said to have made the low slung acid bounce of "Lizergid" on the A side in 2013, before he switched to a mainly hardware setup. The other tracks on the flip are brand new: the tripped-out breakbeat action of "Erbiton" and the entrancing afterhours raviness of "Mental Spaceship". The man is slowly but surely becoming one of the prominent characters of his local scene.
Cody Currie - "As Of Yet" (feat Joel Holmes) (5:09)
Grant Nelson - "In The Dark" (5:59)
Pontchartrain - "Don't Change It Up" (5:43)
Goddard - "Almasti" (6:11)
Review: With such a star-studded line-up of old and new talent involved, it's little surprise to find that De La Groove's fourth vinyl release is seriously good. It's that good, in fact, that there's no space to go into each and every highlight. Instead, we'll point you in the direction of some of our personal favourites. Check first the breezy and soulful US garage revivalism of Art of Tones' impeccable "So Sweet", before turning your attention to the dreamy, vibraphone-laden deep house sexiness of Cody Currie's "As of Yet (featuring Joel Holmes)". Grant Nelson's "In The Dark" is a fine slab of late '90s style UK garage, while Goddard's "Almasti" sounds like a nu-disco era riff on Pepe Bradock deep house classic "Deep Burnt".
Review: SEX (remixes) makes for another triumphant 12" from the uber prolific FXHE stable and further smears the edges of expectation when it comes to the singular Omar S. Once again utilising the silky vocal delivery of singer L Renee, the four tracks here take divergent stylistic routes but each is magnificent. Keen listeners of Benji B's Radio 1 show will have heard the Conant Garden Posse version on a recent Big Strick guest mix, a devilishly dirty riposte to the Ghetto House aesthetic which has L Renee's vocals gliding over a snapping, raw house beat. Alongside this are two variants done in collaboration between Omar S and Aaron Fit Siegel which sound like they've been particularly inspired by soundtrack to Drive. Check the final Mack & Bewick remix for some detuned analogue nightmare set to a rippling electro beat.
Review: Coming from the somewhat shadowy and increasingly collectible Detroit crew Fit, this curious slab of wax delivers two starkly unique variations of raw analogue house. Marcus Mixx is on untouchable form with the twisted thump of "Salut The Moize With A Laugh". The titular laugh messes around with delirious pulses of synth and drunken hats for one of the weirdest jack tracks you're likely to hear this year. Fit takes over for the flip side for a thoroughly stripped down track that capitalises on an endlessly looping note, while the scuffed beat cycles around it in a wonderfully scatty fashion.
Review: "It's like painting with button and sliders... Melting and dripping, seeping yourself liquid into the machinery." So said Darren Cunningham when discussing the creation of R.I.P, his long awaited follow up to Splazsh. It's a compelling image that works in practice too. R.I.P creates microcosmic sound worlds within each track: "Holy Water" for instance tumbles in on itself in a melange of shimmering sinewave droplets, while the pitchshifted waves of "Tree Of Knowledge" seem to inhale and exhale like a living being, crumpling inwards on itself to repeat the same motion ad infinitum. And although it uses much the same, occasionally abrasive sonic building blocks as Cunningham's been developing for many years, the pastoral tones of "Uriel's Black Harp" and the Alva Noto styles of "Jardin" make R.I.P a surprisingly graceful album. It may not be techno as many will know it, but Cunningham has never made techno in the traditional sense anyway - and it's clear on listening to R.I.P that he's only just beginning to realise the musical forms that have been swarming inside his brain for years.
Review: From the first beat, you'd assume this early techno sounding cut was presumably from Detroit, and could have been by Derrick May himself - but you know it isn't. Turns out it is from the early Eevolute catalogue, a Dutch label created by Steffen Robbers and Wladimir M in 1991 that receives a reissue here on Kirk Degiorgio's ART imprint. Indeed, Eevolute developed a strong affinity with the Motor City, so much so that connections were built between them and Carl Craig's Planet E - and reciprocal releases appeared on both labels. Erwin van Moll aka Max404 released the Recycler EP in 1992 and it's a much sought after classic, demanding high prices on the second hand market. From the aforementioned Transmat vibe on hi-tech funk cuts like "May The Force Be With Us!" or "Fractal View" through to epically forest excursions in techno-soul as heard on "Mamoulian" or sublime downbeat IDM experiments like "Quiddity" which could have equally been at home on a label like Peacefrog at the time - this is absolutely timeless stuff!
Review: Having swiftly carved a niche for himself amongst the likes of Perc, Ben Gibson returns to Sect to deliver more of his brooding and engaging techno. There's a great emphasis on sound design and atmospherics in the two tracks on Quien Es?, as ominous clangs and tense tones hang heavy over rugged drum workouts. "Ceased To Gasp" is the more industrial of the two, but still allows for a melodic slant in the cavernous echoes that define the track. "Remain" adopt a swirling, psychedelic approach to sonic decoration that draws you in just as it continues flooring you, like all good techno should. Highly recommended.
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).
Review: Before Omar-S became a global cult hero amongst the underground house and techno community, there was Oasis - a collaborative project with fellow Detroit producer Shadow Ray that spawned two full-length albums of deep, stripped-back Motor City grooves. This timely reissue offers an expanded version of their 2004 debut set, Oasis Collaborating. Given that it was Alex "Omar" Smith's first attempt at an album it's pretty impressive, offering a hypnotic, otherworldly mix of cuts that icily flits between stone-cold drum tracks, droning ambience, mildly aloof club workouts and glistening, space age techno. This edition also includes three previously unreleased cuts, including two 2011 remakes that bring the originals bang up to date.
Old Apparatus - "Old Apparatus Meets Shangaan Electro" (4:00)
Review: Honest Jon's present the last twelve inch instalment of their impossibly varied Shangaan Shake remix project with the perma excellent MMM and Old Apparatus at the helm. Fiedel and Wiegand's take on the Tshetsha Boys is notable for two things: firstly it continues the duo's recent fascination with rhythms of a decidedly UK Funky nature (as executed with devastating effect on their recent Dex/Rio 12") and it further strengthens the impression Honest Jon's have given the commissioned artists a blank canvas to retain or toss as many elements of the source material as they deem fit. Thus recognisable snippets of the vocals remain alongside a brilliantly twisted treatment of the tinny melodics wrapped infinitely around butt slapping drum textures. Completely different in tone and execution, the elusive Old Apparatus invoke the spirit of Scratch Perry at his most intoxicatingly brilliant with a rusted, half stepping arrangement caked in all manner of feedback which serves to demonstrate how far reaching the project has been over the course of the 12" releases.