During the 1990s, Chez Damier and Ron Trent's Prescription Records did more than any other label to define the sound of Chicago deep house. The label's reputation is such that it's still talked about in hushed tones, with lesser-known back catalogue nuggets remaining in-demand items with DJs and record collectors. This superb, double-disc compilation from Rush Hour tells the story of the label, gathering together both much-played underground anthems (Trent and Damier's "Morning Factory" and "The Choice", the proto-boompty-via-St Germain jazz-house of Angora's "Enchantment", and so on) and sought-after selections. Thrillingly, the collection also boasts a trio of previously unreleased Ron Trent cuts, all of which are superb.
Fresh from the runaway success of his Yussef Kamaal project with Yussef Dayes, Henry Wu returns to Eglo Records for the first time since 2015. While it's jazzy broken beat opener "Deep In The Mudd" - co-produced by Hardhouse Banton - that's naturally getting most attention, there's plenty to get excited about elsewhere on the EP. Check, for example, the hissing jazz of "Boards & Skins", Kaidi Tatham's deep, sparkling and effortlessly soulful re-make of "Just Negotiate", and the ultra-deep, Rhodes-laden bliss of "Reflections", a beat-less treat. Also worth checking is the EP's other Hardhouse Banton hook-up, "Century", which charges off on a high-tempo, mutant P-funk tip.
The simply titles Art of Tones collection gathers together some of Ludovic Llorca's numerous contributions to the ever-expanding catalogue of Fred Everything and Mike Fresco's Lazy Days Recordings label. It boasts a range of original productions - the old school house bounce of "The Right Moment", the Italian dream house revivalism of "Elephants", the tech-tinged deep house soul of "Unstopped", and so on - plus a cluster of remixes by likeminded producers (a fine rework by The Revenge of "Unstopped", and a sparkling, Balearic deep house rub of "Elephants" by Fred Everything), and even a forgotten remix by Llorca himself (his bumping, string-drenched dub of Tortured Soul's "You Found A Way"). Predictably, it's an accomplished and entertaining selection, full of melodious, club-ready treats.
Hot on the heels of his debut EP for Clone Royal Oak - the jaunty, swinging deep house shuffler that is "Valentine's Groove" - KiNK returns to the Dutch imprint. It sees label mainstays Serge and Alden Tyrell join forces to deliver a scorching rework of the previously unheard "Beats". As you might expect from the basement-loving duo, it packs a serious punch, thanks in no small part to their surging drum machine rhythms and expert use of build-and-release arrangement. The experienced pair are masters of creating and retaining energy, and their percussion sounds are always as jacking as they come. In other words, it's another club slammer.
Permanent Vacation boss Benjaimin Frohlich is back. The man in Munich now presents the remixes of his fab 2016 release Rude Movements and gets an all-star cast to lend their deft hand at a remix. First up is the imitable Lauer; king of all things neon-lit and retro who delivers the goods (as always) with his rendition of "Amos", while fellow Frankfurter Shan stays true to the classic house aesthetic on his deep late night groove: "Holloway" is injected with spooky analogue synth leads, chunky analogue arpeggios and rusty rhythms with the good ol' clap on the kick for good measure. On the flip, it's all about the sludgy and tape saturated "Spitting Image" reinterpreted Jack Pattern (actually a Swiss trio, would you believe) where their slow motion EBM mutation calls to mind the work of Slugbug or L/F/D/M. Wicked!
On his recent releases under the Nu alias, Rolf Fabian Laumer has giddily fused the smooth, clicking rhythms of minimalist tech-house with a range of global influences. The results have, by and large, been superb, sitting somewhere between sun-kissed warmth and haunting iciness. He's at it again on "Man O To", layering a drifting, chant-like vocal over a backing track that somehow joins the dots between cumbia, dub and tech-house. French maestro Pepe Bradock handles remix duties, first wrapping the vocal around a typically dusty, off-kilter house rhythm, before laying down a slightly tougher, stripped back Dub that's the EP's standout moment.
Cologne's Hodini has appeared previously on local imprint AVA, as well as Berlin's Money $ex and Toytonics. On his new one for London's Wolf Music (his second for the label since his remix for Mr. Fries last year), he goes for a raw and jackin' house vibe that's dust covered and hypnotic and sits somewhere between the raw sampledelic cyclicality of Motor City Drum Ensemble's Raw Cuts Series and classic DJ Sneak style disco-cut ups. He starts with the funky "Down Up" and the lo-slung "Grigio" respectively. Then it's a much more chill affair, with the blunted hip-hop flavour of "Represent Right Here" which calls to mind his work on the aforementioned label of Max Graef & Glenn Astro. Finally "Parashutes" features a bit of help from Hade on this smooth and soulful nu-disco jam that's aimed squarely at summertime open air dancefloors.
Hamburg house heroes Diynamic are back with Four To The Floor 08 where they serve up some tough main room tech house to get your people moving! First up is the Afro futurist journey that is "Zulu" by Brigado Crew & Crisstiano which will appeal to fans of Innervisions or Yoruba Soul. The harbour city's favourite sons Adana Twins serve up the dark journey track "Uncompromising" which will transfix crowds with its sense of dancefloor drama. Rafael Cerato & Artbat's soulful tech house journey "Uplift" had us reminiscing about the Dennis Ferrer sound of old while finally Definition's "Pretend To Fly" is certainly geared for those hands in the air moments; expect a reaction from the crowd when this one drops. Either when that roaring vintage synth arpeggio comes creeping in or the heartfelt vocals alike.
Well Cut Records return with another deluxe release with Dubble D presenting under his "Moodymanc" monniker. He opens with "Comfort Me", a deep and gritty sounding soulful jam, followed by a 're-touch' of "War and Peace", a deep and dirty disco dance floor monster which has done serious damage in the past. Luke Solomun continues with his "Love and Death re-make", toughening up the drums and adding some analogue twists to take the energy levels up to the point of frenzy! The record closes with "Hashtag", a no nonsense, tough Chicago inspired groove which plays backdrop to a conversation between Snoop Dog and G Unit about the music game today which we thought said a lot about the state of play in House music today! A "beatapella" is an addition to the digital version of the release for those DJs who want to get more creative with the message!
Will Saul's tech house power house Aus Music is back with Marquis Hawkes' Sweet Temptation EP that follows up last year's much awaited debut LP entitled Social Housing. The British producer now based in Berlin starts off with the classic house aesthetic of "Eivissa" taking you back to New York circa 92 with its hands in the air piano, pitch bent synth solos and dusty analogue drums: it's all quite euphoric really. Likewise, the title track does some percolator jack business much like The Windy City's favourite son Green Velvet and is completed by some soaring diva vocals atop. Finally, the bumpy vintage acid jack of "Zapper Buesky" calls to mind the sounds of proper yesteryear anthems by Round One or Ten City.
To build on the critical and commercial success of his superb sophomore set, Brian D'Souza AKA Auntie Flo has decided to release a collection of reworked versions. It boasts reworks from friends and collaborators - see Mehmet Aslan's low-slung, trippy, Persian-tinged take on "Cape Malay Prayer", Dixon's Innervisions style "Beat Edit" of The Revenge's remix of "Waiting For A (Woman)", and Africaine 808's standout rework of "Dance Ritual II" - alongside revisions from well thought-of producers from across the scene. In this category you'll find a chugging, analogue-rich Mark E version of "Madla In Space", a glacial, eyes-wide-shut re-make of "Dreamer" by Throwing Shade, and a suitably elastic, warehouse-friendly house remix of "So In Love" by man of the hour Kornel Kovacs.
Without attracting much hype, Das Komplex was responsible for some of the most enjoyable, dub-fuelled disco and Balearic releases of 2016. He's started 2017 in pretty confident fashion, too, delivering more fine fare via Father & Son Records & Tapes, People Must Jam and, now, Love On The Rocks. Interesting, this outing is a little bolder, woozier and weirder than some outings, though his love of reverb and delay remains a constant. "Szlugi" is an eccentric fusion of clattering drum machine percussion, trippy synthesizer motifs and lo-fi electronics, while "Polenz" effortlessly joins the dots between cosmic disco, jazz-funk and sample-heavy deep house. Best of all, though, is epic flipside "Flauta", a musically rich, Clavinet-heavy dub disco affair that rises and falls for 13 spellbinding minutes.
San Francisco deep house don Miguel Migs is still at it; but he never stopped really. The man synonymous with popularising a distinct sound at the turn of the millennium as a regular staple on the now legendary Naked Music imprint (alongside such other acts as Aquanote, Blue Six and Lisa Shaw), Migs also presented other variations on the deeper shades of music under such aliases as Petalpusher. Running his own Salted Music imprint since 2004, he's presented works by Julius Papp, Soul Drifter and Lisa Shaw, not to mention his own productions. It's business as usual on "Broken Barriers", a deep disco-tinged and soulful affair for lovers on the dancefloor. Another sultry groove comes in the form of the sexy and slinky tech house energiser "Backdrop" (Classic Club Rub) with its hypnotic chords, tough enough rhythms and razor sharp bassline geared for some late night sweat.
While he may have moved on musically in recent years, Tom Trago still can't escape his 2010 anthem "Use Me Again". To be fair, it is a stone cold killer - a stomping, peak-time friendly disco-house masterpiece that makes great use of elements borrowed from a particularly potent, singalong disco classic. Should you not have it in your collection - and, let's face it, you should - then this timely digital reissue is just the ticket. As it was all those years ago, the track comes accompanied by 2009's "Lost In The Streets Of NYC", a thrilling chunk of cut-up deep house heaviness complete with melancholic piano flourishes, rubbery electrofunk bass, fuzzy chords and driving beats.
Matt Benyayer and Tom Edwards are the London based production duo Dark Sky. Having met at secondary school, Dark Sky formed out of a mutual love for the ever evolving London electronic music scene; a love that the duo have always explored through not only their DJ sets but also their productions. The new single "Kilter" is a dark journey track engineered for maximum dancefloor drama. Yes it has the mandatory wonky synth lead happening, but it's a wicked one, bearing the true grit of analogue and backed by some rusty rhythm patterns that work a treat. Second offering "Acacia" is more deep and gentle to an extent, with its sublime pads and hypnotic bleep melody backed by some sultry vocal samples and dusty barely there rhythms.
Toronto's Jesse Futerman is up next for Stockholm imprint Omena and follows up great releases by De Fantastike To and Ishi Vu. "You Are Never Alone" is a lovely and blissed out disco/soul jam edit that's covered in just the right amount of dust and sitting in a nice smoky haze too. It's a summery yet bittersweet deep house jam on "Blinding Lights" though, and it is wonderfully evocative. Finally, "You Are Never Alone" gets a seriously lo-slung makeover courtesy of Guraimu which is just as good as the original and will appeal to fans of the Max Graef and Glenn Astro sound out of Berlin.
One of the Stanton Warriors' most iconic and romantic tunes to date: 12 years old and "Still Here" remains one of bass music's finest torch songs. Right now, though, that torch is been amplified into an entire volcano of freshness courtesy of an array of talent artists: Fred V & Grafix add some seriously euphoric D&B theatre, Vanilla Ace updates the original's lingering keys and rolling groove with a thumping house arrangement, Rektchordz get lively on a naughty tech house tip while Mafia Kiss subverts the groove on a deeper twist with various subtle references to the original along the way. Finally the Stantons themselves lay down the previously dubplate-only Shambhala festival version. Can you feel it?
The Dikso crew is rather enthusiastic about its latest signing, Italian Carmine Giuliano. In the sales notes accompanying this debut EP, they describe the Campania-based deep house producer as a "seriously talented guy". That praise is more than justified, with "Future" offering a near perfect balance of life-affirming chord progressions, filtered vocal samples and bustling, club-ready beats. "Never Again" sees the Italian producer tweak the same basic blueprint with similarly impressive results, as fluid piano lines, dreamy chords and cut-up vocal samples envelop a slightly jazzier deep house groove. Dikso label boss Daniel Solar provides the obligatory remix, delivering a wonderfully synth-heavy interpretation of "Future" that bristles with Balearic disco intent.
Chord Memory Band is a fresh collaboration between two stalwarts of the Aussie scene: Beats of No Nation co-founder Dom Bird (previously part of disco fusionists Mitzi), and Vulture Street Tape Gang member Michael Medlycott. Third Eye is their debut EP, and comes stacked to the rafters with Balearic-minded melodies, glistening synthesizer motifs, and the steady pulse of analogue deep house. Choose between the gentle, rush-inducing boogie-house positivity of "Third Eye", the toaster-warm shuffle of "Marco", the spacey synths and super-smooth grooves of "Donostia", and the impeccable jazz-funk/deep house fusion of "Akashic Record". All four tracks are immaculately produced, with plenty of subtle musical touches and life-affirming flourishes.
Newcastle in New South Wales is perhaps not the Australian paradise most would assume. In actuality, it's a mining town north of Sydney that's far from the most picturesque of places. This general grimness may explain why Mall Grab, the town's most famous musical export, is so fond of deep house daydreaming. He's at it again on this latest Hot Haus excursion, inviting us round for a Pool Party. Title track "Pool Party Music" is clearly where it's at, with the Aussie adventurer clustering manipulated synthesizer horn stabs around a pounding, no-holds-barred rhythm track. Elsewhere, he combines chopped and screwed hip-hop vocal samples, sweet loops and bumping beats on "BFODAAS", before placing a bustling rhythm track with twinkling melodies on closer "Catching Feelings".