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Reviewed this week
Back in March, Ondule label boss Joss Moog and Sebastien "Around7" Guertau unveiled their 4th Sign project, launching with a fine collection of soul-flecked deepness. This speedy follow-up is every bit as alluring, with the French duo effortlessly floating between a variety of dancefloor moods and tempos. Contrast, for example, the smoky, mid-tempo jazz-house of "The Movement", the string-drenched, sumptuously soulful bump of "Deep Dip", and the near horizontal, slow house head-nod of closer "Lunatique". For those keen on more energetic dancefloor flavours, they've also included a pair of charged-up disco house smashers ("The Right Color", and "Hot Saussice").
Tsuba's ten year anniversary - that's right, it has been that long already - has been marked with hit after hit from a wide selection of artists from across the house kingdom. In fact, for this 2nd instalment of the festivities, we have White Material frontman Galcher Lustwerk remixed by the inimitable Jimpster, with the latter putting a more starry-eyed mechanic onto the original; For Romeau complete the A-side with a vintage-sounding remix of "Pinball" by Williams. On the flip, Roy Comanchero drops the Chicago bass over a minimal sort of percussion groove on "Hypba". Kevin Griffiths adds a little acid to the jingly 707 beat of "Satori", and completes a stellar EP from the magnetic Tsuba.
On German producer and Aleph label founder Aera's latest release, the coalescing of influences from the past forty years of electronic music is audible. From the early electronic-style noises that warble over the bubbly acid pulse on the title track to the deeper than deep house of "Krystal Close" and the Mathew Jonson-sounding micro-trance melodies of "Keeping the Book", Running Hot is nothing if not adventurous and diverse. Innervisions also deserves praise for its choice of remixer; Steve Rachmad is not the most immediate name one would associate with the German label, but he does a fine job here, turning "Keeping the Book" into a deep, pulsing techno track, accentuating the original version's beautiful spacey-ness.
For their latest stroll into melodious deep house pastures, Parisian imprint Beat X Changers has recruited two up-and-coming talents: fellow City of Love resident Milan Tell Daudin, and one-time Euro-dance vocalist Clara Moroni, AKA Name. Daudin is first into bat, serving up to wonderfully loose, warm, rich and evocative deep house numbers, full of tactile pads, hazy melodies and shuffling beats. Arguably the stronger of the two cuts, "In The Sky", is given a deep and jazzy broken beat revision by Pulkone Reversherb. As for Moroni, she dishes up an ultra-deep chunk of Motor City house ("Back Together Again"), before reaching for the funk samples and disco basslines on the hustlin' "Untitled". Neu Grafik's IG Culture style rework of "Back Together Again" completes a fine package.
The words 'Chicago' and 'house' come to mind with this new Trax series by Audaz boss Alkalino. There's little trace of his disco influence here as he presents four tracks that could have been made in the windy city in about 1987. "Pull Me Through" begins the EP with some deep, touchy feely, soulful house goodness before the pounding snares and atonal electronics of sweaty basement anthem "Much love" arrive. Next we take a detour with the ABBA-sampling hiNRG jam "Rollercoaster 3000" before "Treat Me Right" wraps things up with some darkly sensual punky funk.
The 23rd release on Daniel Solar's Dikso imprint comes from rising talent Freiboitar. The Cologne-based producer has previously contented himself with making straight-up house, but here showcases his skills with a bunch of disco samples, a set of filters, and some groovy house rhythms. There's plenty to enjoy throughout, from the loved-up positivity of "Harlem Streets", where filtered vocal hooks and horn lines cluster around a sun-kissed disco groove, to the heavyweight, low slung hustle of peak-time scorcher "Dear Mom". Eyes-closed, filter-disco shuffler "Call The Cops" also gets remixed by Chris Caspar and Jean Philips, who cannily emphasize the track's in-built positivity.
Hyenah's previous EPs for Freerange, both released back in 2014, portrayed him as the natural heir to both Joe Clausell and Osunlade. "The Idea", featuring fellow deep, Afro-influenced house explorer Lazarusman, only emphasizes this first impression, with a spiritual, spoken word vocal riding a slowly evolving, Innervisions-style deep and techy groove. Frankey & Sandrino push the latter elements to the foreground on their intoxicating, late night interpretation - all spine-tingling breakdowns, swirling electronics and tech-tinged rhythms - before Hyenah delivers the impeccable solo cut "Rise", whose African percussion hits and synthesized marimba melodies perfectly compliment his rolling, soft-touch beats.
Arguably best known as one half of FCL (alongside San Soda), Red D has been promoting, producing, DJing and running record labels (most notably We Play House) for well over two decades. Chez marks the Belgian's first appearance on Freerange. The title track is little less than a heartfelt tribute to U.S deep house legend Chez Damier, with tactile synth stabs and sunrise melody lines riding a tasty groove. In contrast, "Into Darkness" starts off melodious and Balearic in feel, before smoothly morphing into a Chicago-influenced, late night throbber. Uncanny Valley regular Jakob Korn delivers remixes of both tracks; his pulsating, ultra-deep take on "Chez", in particular, is superb.
David 'Trus'Me' Wolstencroft's fourth album marks a sea-change in direction for a UK producer best known for soulful house and techno. This shift is audible from opening track "1979", where a caller to a late night radio show describes seeing aliens at an unnamed facility. The outer space-fixation continues on the eerie soundscapes of "The Unexplained", before he eventually hits the dance floor on "Dark Flow". Here too though the mood favours the otherworldly as ghostly vocals and resonating piano keys unfold over muted kicks. "Ring Round Heart" ventures back towards the hypnotic house sound that Trus'Me is known for, but it's a relatively short divergence and both 'Red Sun' and 'Our Future' see the UK producer push techno into the most far-flung end of our galaxy.
Turbojazz man Tommy Garofolo is well known to Local Talk co-founder Mad Mats, having previously released an EP of Latin jazz reworks for the Swedish veteran's G.A.M.M imprint. This time round, he's showcasing his original production talents, delivering a couple of loose, jazzy and sumptuous deep house gems. He begins with Motor City soul shuffler "Unbreakable", where the slick vocals of guest David Blank spar with heady synth lines and fluid Rhodes chords over an MPC style house groove, before doffing a cap to the liquid jazz-funk of Herbie Hancock on the sparkling deep house shuffler "Unicorn Rising". Finally, EVM128 serves up a jazzy and sensual broken beat/nu-jazz rework of "Please U".
Wolf Music doesn't release many albums, but when they do, the resulting set is invariably superb. Familiar Circles, Casino Times' long awaited first full length, is certainly quietly confident, with the British house duo delivering a range of hazy, evocative cuts shot through with a hazy sense of loved-up positivity. While breezy, Balearic deep house is their go-to sound - and there's much of that evident throughout - the album also includes nods to "Belfast"-era Orbital (the shuffling electro/deep house hybrid "Oddity"), early Funkineven (the jumpy, modern boogie bliss of "What (Miracle Beat)"), drowsy ambience ("Transit"), and early '90s style intelligent techno (the psychedelic electronics, ambient house melodies and fleeting acid lines of closer "Foundations (End)").
The Netherlands' Dopeness Galore can always be relied upon to deliver singles that blur the boundaries between evocative electrofunk, deep house, disco, and saucer-eyed Balearic electronica. That's exactly what's delivered on this solo debut from Midnight Runners man Munir Septiandry. Bristling with rich and colourful synthesizers, undulating basslines, and tactile drum machine beats, Ritmo Echo is a superb collection of sticky, summery grooves. Highlights are frequent and numerous; check the Andras & Oscar-meets-Moon B loveliness of "Good Morning Lunar", the bold, analogue synth-disco of "Under The Sea" and the sensual, piano-laden, sun-down feel of standout "Kaze No Dansu". If that's not enough to get the juices flowing, the title track is a fluttering, slo-mo synthesizer gem.
Kauf is one of the few out in the LA county making good old house music with a nice tech-step. Munich's Permanent Vacation has clocked onto this, and have decided to feature the young gun-slinger on their catalogue. For the time being, Kauf appears only as the originator if "Through The Yard", a tune that is remixed here twice by the great Fort Romeau: the first version is a classic, big-room house anthem with plenty of late-night vocals that make it perfect for radio playback, while the instrumental version is clearly the winner at 2AM on a sweaty Ibizian dance floor.
The return of Richy Ahmed to Hot Creations - for the first time since 2014, we should add - is enough to make even the most miserable powder house enthusiast go weak at the knees. "So Good" ticks all the right boxes, with Ahmed subtly working the filter effects throughout seven minutes of heavily compressed disco-house grooves, eyes-closed string samples, and dreamy vocal cuts. He flips the script slightly on accompanying workout "Ruff & Raw", utilizing cut-up hip-hop vocal samples, funky guitar licks and bolder percussion (snappy snares, tough kicks and fizzing ride cymbals) to keep energy high out on the dancefloor.
A master at work with or without partner Kenny Gonzales, Louie Vega is back with "A New Day", his latest solo effort. Of course he always gets a strong vocalist involved and this single is no different, with the mighty Caron 'Soul II Soul' Wheeler drafted in to hit those notes. The original is a smooth slice of warm and soulful house and there are more remixes than you could ever wish for too. Highlights include Jazzie B's stunningly evocative and hauntingly tribal rework, Ron Trent's sparse and percussive remix and Shelter's positive Latin house rejig. A classy release indeed!
The Soul Designer is back everyone! Belgian techno legend Fabrice Lig is still at it and boy are we impressed, as always. He never went away really; he just kept doing his thing: Motor City inspired techno-soul of the highest calibre, as displayed on his fabulous last single "No Judgement" (featuring Ann Saunderson) on Planet E. This time he teams up with Midwest legend Titonton Duvante for the Sensual EP. "Even Deeper" is the kind of track that you could imagine Derrick May or Laurent Garnier dropping mid set for one seriously ecstatic moment, with its funky SH 101 bassline (a Lig trademark) and some emotional chords/ keys. "In The Hood" gets a bit more tough and energetic for us with its darkly executed futuristic blues of the funkiest kind.
Los Angeles transplant from NYC DJ Sabo serves up a great long player courtesy of his own respected Sol Selectas imprint entitled Vibe Quest. Leap deep into the exotic across the album's dozen or so tracks. As he describes himself, the album is "a sonic landscape that crosses several musical borders with mixtures of tropical poly-rhythms, warm bass frequencies, rich percussion." Sounds good already right? Our favourites were the dark and woozy Afro house of "Coconut Mantras", the sexy dancefloor drama of tech house slow burner "Sure & Pure", "Fantastico" which is definitely the most high octane offering and we must certainly mention the two bass heavy explorations of latin exotica performed alongside Nadastrom & Melo such as "Hang On" and "Timbiqui Hasta DC".
We always thought of Unknown To The Unknown as a multi-faceted and exploratory label when it came to sussing out new talent, but we didn't see this one coming. Mak & Pasteman, recently of Lobster Boy, are a duo who are more often than not categorised under the dreaded 'bass' banner, but what they have here are actually a couple of stone-cold house cuts with a Dance Mania kinda flavour. "Percwerc" is a gritty, jittery 4/4 bomb with vintage drop that'll have your jaw wrapped around your head in no time, while "T2000" is just as raw and filthy except that the mood is funkier, deeper and little more musical. Both heavy, both recommended.
A resident of Silicon Valley, this son of a discerning funk and soul collector now sees his tasteful beats reach a wider audience, release his latest jam The storytelling EP on Parisian label Robsoul. There's more than a nod to the vintage sound of French touch house in the slammin' disco loops of opener "Another Day". Elsewhere things gets deeper on the low slung and jacking "Deep Inside Of You", the retro loops return on the more proggy/tribal title track and the mellow twang-bass joint "Delight" wraps things up nicely.
Gate is Nathan 'Bwana' Micay's third release on Will Saul's Aus, and sees the Canadian-in-Berlin drop more complex, futuristic house music. Opening track "Homeboy", with its granular percussion and one-note filtered stab, is redolent of big room minimal, while at the other end of the spectrum, there's "50% Maximum Power". Here, the beats are heavy, the claps crisp and the synths full of the bright-eyed optimism of early 90s techno-trance. Add in some well-placed screeches and the track has a real old school feeling. Finally, just to show that he is effortlessly chameleon-like when it comes to productions, Bwana drops the big diva wailing-house of "Muscle Powers Final Hour".
Exclusives
ALKALINO - Trax Vol 1 (Audaz) - exclusive 11-07-2016
MO'REESE - Journey Into Space (D3 Elements) - exclusive 06-06-2016
4TH SIGN - Eloge De La Lenteur Part 2 (Ondule Recordings) - exclusive 20-05-2016
Exclusives
CHRISTOPHER RAU - Yamato (Smallville Germany)
& MY MOTHER SAY/IVAN C - A-Side (Deep & Dub Corp) - exclusive 06-06-2016
TURBOJAZZ - Unbreakable (Local Talk)
Fabrice Lig DJ Chart
Tim Tonal DJ Chart
Jakobin & Domino DJ Chart
Alkalino DJ Chart
Top Labels
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