Skimming the purist, fullest fat cream from the nu-funk crop, Scour's behaviour at the forefront of the party-minded movement is nothing short of commendable. Their most extensive compendium to date, vibes range of the Little Walter-sampling "Ain't No Coolin" to the filtered jazz funk chops and slaps of "The Program". Between these two disparate-yet-wholly-consistent flavours you'll find subverted swing (Father Funk & Howla's "Got Swing?"), stark Jackson Five string struts ("Soul Rocka") and classic rap ("Two For The Crates"). Whipped and unashamedly fresh, Scour really are the cream of the crop right now.
Mysterious SoundCloud sensation Dr Packer returns with the follow-up to his popular Surgery Edits EP. His style - taking classic and little known disco, boogie and '80s soul jams and giving them a smooth, dubby deep house makeover - is undeniably attractive, and sympathetic enough to the original material to get the crate-diggers onside. There's plenty to excite among the six tracks showcased here, from the synth-bass laden sweetness of "Gimme Your Loving" and deep, soulful disco-house outing "2 The Bank", to the slap bass-boasting headiness of "Snap Shot" - all delay-laden vocal hits and hazy guitar solos - and wide-eyed disco release of "Running", whose source material should be familiar to all but the most inexperienced disco DJs.
Riding high on the buzz he has generated in the last twelve months, Max Graef delivers this album to Tartelet as a man very much in demand. His style, fuelled on the foundations of sampling funk and soul to a brilliantly modern end, has more space to breathe on this LP, but still the fundamentals remain. "Itzehoe" struts on a lazy jazzed-out sizzle of drums and beautiful Rhodes notes while "Tamboule Fudgefunk" punches its way through woozy synth work and a righteous beat and "Drums Of Death" struts on a perfect disco groove replete with live instrumentation, but there's a wealth of other tempos and styles all shot through with the homespun jazz charm that Graef has made his own of late.
Dirty Dubster's popular Ragga Party Jams series continues, with another quartet of dubwise mash-ups and reggae/hip-hop futures. Larry SKG kicks things off with "Hypocrites", an expertly crafted fusion of a classic soulful reggae riddim and well-chosen hip-hop samples. DJ Maars' "Just Like Music" blends a familiar rap vocal and sunshine reggae jam with vocal cuts from a classic Marvin Gaye slow jam, while DJ Rebel's "Here Comes The Mashupper" layers a skanking riddim with all manner of familiar vocal samples. Best of all, though, is "I Shot Big L", in which Bob Marley takes a trip into scratchy reggae hip-hop territory. It shouldn't work, but it's sympathetically produced and sounds like a sunshine anthem in the making.
Drum & bass's most unique gentleman Calibre plunders his vaults to compile a new collection of unreleased gems through the ages. As you'd expect, the end result is a timeless assault of lush grooves, soulful sonics and sweet skippy riddims. From the soft jazz insistency of "Honey Dew" to the hollowed harrowed bass tones of "Bellamee" via the harder, rave-referencing "Sagan" and the deep bass gurgles and DRS's reggae-style vocals on "Eschaton", the only issue here is the fact Calibre hasn't released them sooner. Unarguably incredible.
New Zealand drum and bass legends State Of Mind return to the dance with their groundbreaking new LP on Blackout Music. Kicking over the fence between old school sounds and brand new ideas, they've taken inspiration from around the world and thrown it into one of the most accomplished D&B albums released in recent memory. Sharing the spotlight with collaborating artists like Black Sun Empire, Nymfo and Codebreaker hasn't hurt them either, helping to push their sounds further into orbit. Each track is fresh but with a nod to the past that grounds it deep in D&B, making it worthy of the hall of fame. It's already a classic. Do not miss this.
Alix Perez on Exit? That's enough to make most D&B aficionados froth at the mouth. Throw in collabs with the equally hot Stray and two of footwork's most demonstrative players and you've got a release so cool it comes with its own beard. "U" is a rifle-like jitter-jam of cuts and chops, all massages together to juke glue. "Sludge", meanwhile, lives up to its name in every way. A funky post-dubstep downbeat strutter, it wonks as hard as it works. The truly unique "Make It Worth", meanwhile, is an eerie stepper that morphs from subtle to stately drama with a Detroit style heaviness and a grime vocal loop. Finally we hit "Gully Halves" which, as the title suggests, is a waspy paranoid bassline on a dark stroppy halfstep. Four incredible future jams from the Shogun superstar... This is next level business.
Ever since JD Twitch rebooted Optimo Music, it's been the irregular transmissions from Glasgow act Golden Teacher that has hit the spot each and every time. The amalgamation of two diverse bands from the city -noise punk outfit Ultimate Thrush and analogue house duo Silk Cut, Golden Teacher first emerged on Optimo Music early last year with a pretty apt description of sounding like "Arthur Russell's Dinosaur L jamming with Bobby O, K Alexi Shelby, Liaisons Dangereuses and Imagination, with some voodoo drummers and Sly & Robbie". Steadily building up a reputation for some riotous live performances, Golden Teacher are a class above because they manage to distill this energy into their recorded output too. Party People features three such examples, with A-side cut "Love" the kind of production that sufferers of LCD Soundsystem withdrawal will embrace and cherish for years to come.
Edit fiends Basic Fingers usually reserve their tastiest material for the occasionally used Gold Finger offshoot. That's arguably the case here, as Deejaykul delivers a sumptuously deep and soulful house interpretation of the much-played "Feeling Good" (think Nina Simone, though this version has a delicious male vocal). The A-side DeejayKul meets Soultechnic Deepa mix is particularly potent, with intricate Latin percussion, smooth pads and sensual vocal riding an effortlessly sunny groove. There's a bit more vintage US garage on the other track, where the Classic Love Deep mix laces soft-focus chords and classic organs over a typically skippy groove. Impeccable stuff, all told.
With their influences ranging from chart-baiting house music to skippy garage and deeper moods, Nu Era stride forth on their debut single for Four40 as representatives of the West Midlands scene. "Give It All" screams crossover appeal with its canny mix of vocals, strings and chords precision placed for maximum ear-worming, while the "Bass Mix" brings a much ruder underground twist on the track. "Came Into My Life" rides a more electro influenced beat but keeps the cheerful melodic elements and chipmunk vocal slices present and correct, leaving it to "Source" to bring a techno edge to proceedings with its nasty synth line and strict 4/4 jack.
Fledgling label Funk Fusion have quickly hit the ground running - pushing their nu-funk agenda with joyous abandon. From the Sesame Street vibes of their promo pic, it's clear from the start that this label is all about having fun and their latest mash-up compilation "Fused Funk Vol 02" delivers it big time. There's 12 tough party tracks packed on here including the electro-hip-house of "Get Your Boogie On", the bleepy jump-up funk of "Hold On, I'm Comin" and the smooth retro closer "Danceflaw".
The Giant Cuts crew have been keeping the boogie side of the disco fire burning with their Disco Boogie Classics series for over a year now, and on this essential release they reach their fifth volume. Once again the source material is a closely guarded secret, but whether it's the cowbell-heavy, Rhodes-led funk of "Dance (Move Ya Body)", the smooth licks and sweltering '80s production of "Jump To The Edit", the party starting vocal on "Feel It" or the deep down disco sleaze of standout track "Limited Search", there's something here for everyone to get their own disco dancefloors bumping.
Yes! Dominic Angas returns with his first Dom & Roland transmission of 2014 and many will be glad to hear it contains the monumental exercise in Amen murder known as "Remember Your Roots". Slammed in the club by the likes of Goldie, Audio, Break, and Klute, there's been the usual online clamour for "Remember Your Roots" since it first appeared on the Metalheadz Rinse show in December. And rightly so, as it kicks like a farmyard full of mules wearing steel toe capped footwear, but amidst the Amen filled onslaught, rumbling bass lines and that staccato riff, it's Dom's implementation of classic samples that rams home where his roots are! Don't sleep on the B-side either as "Freeze" is every bit as potent a dancefloor cut, a classic arrangement of strings and breakbeats that's befitting of spinnage at the iconic Metalheadz residency at Blue Note.
There's something pleasing about the no-nonsense approach of the Killer Funk Disco crew. Their edits cut straight to the chase, chopping, looping and tweaking the key passages - percussive breaks, grooves and choruses, mainly - of their excellent source material. They're in fine form on this fifth volume in the series, which originally dropped on vinyl a few years back. Variously you'll find a perfectly pitched re-cut of a classic dubwise cover of "Staying Alive" ("Sly & Robbie Disco"), horn-totin', hands-in-the-air disco-funk ("Rescue The Edit"), string-laden low-slung disco ("Is That A Firecracker In Your Pocket Harvey...") and a slap-bass sporting disco singalong ("Mmm, Tiger..."). All killer, no filler.
Editorial's policy of giving their split EPs of edits and reworks a distinctive theme has always been a bit of a winner. Here, they return to the world of slo-mo, soul-flecked edits, with a quintet of sumptuous scalpel works for our delectation. 78 Edits impresses with the winding sax, horizontal bump and head-nodding grooves of "Meet Patti", while DJ Moar offers up a slinky, electric bass-driven ride into slow disco-house territory in the shape of the Rhodes-laden "King Bob". Hot Box and P-Sol both deliver heavily compressed, filter-sporting toe-tappers for those warm-up moments where you just want to get locked into the groove, while Jona Saucedo brilliantly combines dubbed-out modern soul vocals with an attractive loop from Fonda Rae's boogie classic "Touch Me".
Vienna-based D&B outfit Fourward aren't about to sit back and let their good name carry itself through the ranks. Releasing on Shogun Audio this high-octane mix of neuro and hard stepping floor fillers takes the group to the next level, pushing their influences from Noisia and Ed Rush & Optical to Icicle and Alix Perez through each finely tuned track. From the dark lyrics of "Countdown" featuring Kyza on vocals to the neurofunk masterpiece that is "Phase Align", this is a bad little EP that blows up first, asks questions later. Get your crash helmets ready.
Surprisingly little information exists online about new Home Taping artist Simba. BY the sounds of "Phase Seq One", though, he's something of a talent. You see, "Phase Seq One" is deep, crackly, woozy and soulful, sounding not unlike the heady productions of Detroit heavyweights Andres and Moodymann - all warm loops, bumpin' beats, classic soul vocal samples and just the right amount of filter tweakery. As debuts go (assuming this is his debut), it's pretty damn hot. The Black Madonna delivers the obligatory remix, stripping back the original and adding a little more drum machine oomph to the beats. The resultant version - blessed with occasional intricate keys and the usual BM Chicago soul - is something of a late night triumph.
Run Tingz Digital tear a hole into the new season with their first release of 2014. Living up to its name, "Road Block" is a party-packed skanker that's set to become a summer anthem , courtesy of the label's very own J.Man. Signed exclusively in 2013, his agenda-setting remixes of undisputed Run Tingz classics has cemented his name as one of the best in the business. This is his debut original project with the label, building on his already impressive profile. Complete with his signature jungle drumming and instantly recognisable horn riffs (taken from The Aggravators' "Rockers Almighty" no less) it's the perfect complement to the impeccable lyrical talent of Parly B. One firing original, three vibing versions; Run Tingz Digital are tearing up the dance with promise. Jump on this now!
Grab those dearest to you and nail down anything of value because Critical's latest release is epic on a grand scale and it's going to blow everything away. We're talking nuclear, apocalyptic style. Forget Noah and his sailing trip. There's a lot of joy in hearing these two producers work together - two similar twisted styles interlocking seemingly effortlessly, creating havok at the touch of a button. It's like magic. Dark, weighty and intense, at times it feels like they're going right over the edge...but they always manage to pull it back for another drop. Soon to be heard in clubs everywhere to the tune of thousands of contorted bodies moving in unison, there's always one release a year you'll kick yourself for sleeping on. Don't let it be this one.
Oli Garch was last heard of covering Bryan Ferry; here he returns with five swingy cuts with a slight hip-hop bent. Things kick off with the Latin lounge-via-the-durrty-south vibes of "Rollin Stone", the instrumental "Oh My Man" goes way back for a Louis Prima-style sound married to trippy hoppy beats, "Get Your Enjoys" loops some vocals from a similar retro tune, whilst the two versions of "Hollywood Swings" explore the housier end of the electro-swing spectrum.