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Reviewed this week
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Everyone loves a good story behind a record and few come with a more interesting narrative than this debut (and perhaps only) Talamanca System 12". The story goes that Gerd Janson and Phil Lauer were enjoying the Ibizan hospitality of International Feel boss Mark Barrot last summer, to the extent they were both gifted his unused Studio Electronics 'Boomstar 303' synth. Eager to repay such a lavish favour, Janson offered to remix a track Barrot was working on, an offer which eventually resulted in this 12". Four versions of "Balanzat" feature here, with an original, acid reflux, Tuff City Kids refix and ambient reprise to choose from. If this is the only Talamanca System record we will see it's a shame as it's a mighty fine addition to the International Feel discography.
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Bambounou again proves he is a reliable source for straight up dancefloor music devoid of pretence and full of quality. The producer's French house side shines through on this fourth release for 50Weapons, but he still holds on to the ghetto vibe he's shown on his ClekClekBoom releases, while keeping it deep. "Feel Like This" features a skipping house beat with a repetitive vocal and evolving background textures, while "Onto This" is a fuller alternative thanks to upfront chords and extra percussion.
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Matt Swift's Shabby Doll imprint has enjoyed a strong 2014, delivering quality singles from the likes of Nail, South West Seven, Ste Roberts and James Welsh. Here, Swift turns to fast-rising, LA-based Londoner Urula, AKA producer Taylor Freels. Opener "Banshee Boardwalk" builds a killer deep house cut around a classic rock break, with hazy chords and picturesque melodies slowly stretching out over the crunchy, live-sounding groove. There's a classic piano house feel about the hustling "Heaven Unlimited", while Daj hook-up "BeforeHandMan" is a classic chunk of Detroit-influenced tech-soul at a deep house tempo. Finally, James Welsh remixes the latter track, turning it into an alien chunk of foreboding deep house soul.
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It's been a while since we last heard from Luv Shack family member LeSale, with his most recent single dropping at the tail end of last year. "In Command" sees him in fine form, with the title track delivering a confident and attractive blend of Metro Area style deep disco electronics, expansive pianos and warm soulful house vocals (the latter courtesy of Unterton man Mavin). There's an excellent accompanying dub and a superb remix from Jacques Renault, who toughens up the groove while giving the track a deliciously wide-eyed feel. Elsewhere, there's more bouncy synth bass and expansive keys on the Jammers-sampling "Disco Leviathan", while "Panorama Bra" (we chuckled, at least) has all the warmth and melodious intent of a 1990 Pet Shop Boys B-side.
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Here's something different from Local Talk: an EP from Cologne-based twosome Hade & Gutta that fuses the imprint's usual classic US house influences with the unmistakable boom of UK bass music. Opener "Nothing Wrong" is the real killer, a rambunctious fusion of speaker-rattling sub, punchy US garage vocal samples and relentless stabs. "In Me" is noticeably deeper, with classic strings and bubbling electronics riding a shuffling but potent groove. Finally, Hade goes solo on "Baphome", an ultra-deep excursion blessed with shimmering chords, sparse-but-heavy rhythms and some choice hip-hop vocal samples. It's the EP's most laidback moment, but it still packs some serious punch.
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UTTU boss man DJ Haus has enjoyed a productive year, dashing between the forthright ghetto-house vibes of his Thug Houz Anthems series and the kaleidoscopic rave revivalism and garage-flecked rush of his Space Jamz Vol. 1 12". Here, the hard-working, London-based producer delivers more retro-futurist thrills, with a two-track blast of floor-friendly fun. Predictably, there's something suitably anthem-like about "Comin' On", a rush-inducing blast of late night acid-funk replete with spine-tingling vocal samples and nagging 303 tweakery. "When You Look At" has a similarly robust feel, with an addictive bassline and boompty-era beats underpinning more sharp vocal samples and a deliciously simple bleep melody.
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The sweet soul sound of the Wolf Music stable continues to course its way through producers new and old, and this time vocalist Ishmael is getting a whole release to himself after a few spots on the various artist EPs the label is prone to. There's a decent spread of moods here, with "Dejong" starting things off smooth and steady with its gentle Rhodes chords, before "Takoma" brings a more feisty kind of synth stab to bear on this late night heater. "Ashbury Roll" gets into a jazzy headspace with its choice keys and shuffling drums, and then Medlar steps up for a remix of "Takoma" that rains an embarrassment of boogie riches down upon the track.
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Bear Fresh has been unstoppable in 2014, delivering a strong run of releases covering the groovier echelons of funky through to the deeper strains of bass music. Howson's Groove debuted on the Chasing Unicorns label earlier this year and this second release, a garage-laced, bass-heavy EP of moody, stepping house tracks comes fitted with a darker Dosage remix of the spritely title-track. The EP's final track, "One", straddles the divide between both attitudes with grimy melodies offset by summery vocals.
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Having previously impressed with the robust On Acid on Absurd/Acid Test, and more thoughtful Hinterland on Ghostly International, Recondite transfers to Innervisions for this third full-length excursion. The German producer seems to be in a particularly introspective mood on Iffy, delivering tracks that variously explore deep, spacious techno (see "Baro"), evocative deep house and bittersweet electronica. For all the sparse rhythms and clandestine atmospherics, there's plenty of picturesque moments, from the unfurling beauty of "Konter" and glacial downtempo shuffle of "Steady", to the tear-jerking shimmer of "Jim Jams" and gorgeous "Levo". As a result, it's probably his strongest set to date.
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Famed across the country throughout the '90s as one of the first promoters to import big US house DJs, Hard Times' relaunch has been a refreshing reminder of house music's heritage and longstanding influence beyond the current cookie-cutter deep house bubbles. For its second release it takes us back to 1996 with eight different remixes of Karen Pollard's criminally overlooked classic. Each version slaps, but highlights include the grunting bass rumbles of Mineo's mix, the tunnelling sub drone of Mat Playford's mix and the rising refrain of the bass hook on Spen and Soulfuledge's mix.
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Culled from his forthcoming new long player on the ever-reliable Compost, "You Are The Sun" is the brand new single from award-winning cult house DJ/producer Ed Lee. It features the leather-lunged vocals of veteran session singer Alison David, and, with its raw, crackly production and deep soulfulness, evokes classic Larry Levan-era disco. It gets extra hiss courtesy of remixer Moonstarr and gets turned into quirky go-go jazz by Akshin Alizadeh. Bonus cut "Follicle" is a forlorn bluesy lullaby.
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Those who like their deep house warm, organic and blessed with heaps of live instrumentation should already be familiar with Bruno Hovart's Patchworks project; he has, after all, been delivering delicious musical titbits since 2002. This latest EP is predictably luscious. Opener "Time", featuring regular collaborator Mr Day on vocals, is particularly tasty, with organic beats and walking bass wrapped up in clipped guitars and soulful chords. "Let's Spend Some Time" is effectively a dub of the title track, and is in many ways a superior version; it has a denser, more percussive feel, plus some fantastic electric piano solo action. Also worth checking is "Keep On Pushing", a superb blend of thickset synth bass and hazy deep house warmth.
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The productive Milos Djordevic once again dons the Tonbe alias for his seventh EP of 2014. Like many of his singles, the Forgotten EP sees the Serb join the dots between disco, house, soul and boogie with the assistance of some killer samples and more than one eye on the dancefloor. The real killer here is "Without Action", a swinging, bumpin' house jam that makes great use of a driving but rubbery boogie bassline and crunchy funk guitars. There's more of a classic disco feel to the sweltering grooves, compressed bass, deep house chords and clipped guitars of "After Vision", while "Expectation" layers deliciously tactile P-funk synths over a dreamy, evocative deep house groove.
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Yes Clone! The Jack For Daze series has been on sublime form of late, and their latest issue puts the focus squarely on the mid '90s output of Roy Davis Jnr. Anyone with some knowledge of Chicago's house history will know how appropriate Roy's work from this era is for the Jack For Daze label and those who don't should appreciate the chance to assess the work of such a house music pioneer! Roy's Chicago Basement Traxx features three productions hand-picked by Clone from the four-track 12" of the same name Davis Jr. originally issued in 1995 for the now defunct Kumba Records, and apparently one of Clone icon Serge's most cherished records. There's an intensity to these three tracks that will grip you instantly with the relentless rhythmic jerk of "Jack Da Rhythms" a particular highlight.
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The Ultra Bass label provides us with some ultra bassline house here, replete with drunken vocals, emotional synths and grooves you can dance all night to. J Jean and Lace last turned up on the Kiko label together with two techier productions, while here the two embrace liquid flow over spliced rhythms. "Old Times" is deep and upbeat with a break down that's almost anthemic, while "I Don't Mind" is a sleek new age house track with sprinklings of UK garage.
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Having recently impressed with the superb "Flash" on Craig Bratley's admirable Magic Feet label, Rich Lane returns to his Cotton Bud imprint with "New Best Friend", a bubbling chunk of new beat-inspired nu-disco. The original version laces a wonky, pitched-down spoken word vocal over sharp synths, bubbly electronics and a bassline that's reminiscent of some of Chicken Lips' classic productions on Kingsize. It's a kind of hymn to the joys of dancing with strangers, which is no bad thing. There's an alternative Instrumental included, too, which sounds even more like Chicken Lips jamming with the Confettis in Ghent, circa 1989.
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Bradley Zero is keen to use his Rhythm Section International imprint to showcase new talent from around the world. This being a stated aim, it's little surprise to see him handing a debut to previously unknown Melbourne-based producer Prequel. Polite Strangers is a particularly impressive debut. Not only is it shot through with a natural sense of warmth and effortless soulfulness, but also boasts some thrilling musicality - think rich live keys, toasty electric bass and a whisper of jazz guitar. All four tracks are delicious, from the off-kilter deep house/jazz-funk swing of "Searching", and Detroit deepness of "Fidelio", to the poignant, dreamy and piano-laden "Michelle". Superb stuff, all told.
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For those who lack the time and willpower to keep track of Local Talk's frenetic release schedule, the popular deep house label's Talking House series is something of a lifesaver. Like its' predecessors, this fourth installment was compiled by label bosses Mad Mats and Tooli, and gathers together 13 more highlights from their rapidly-expanding catalogue. Naturally, highlights come thick and fast, from the hip-hop meets classic deep house flex of Zoe Zoe's "Bust Them Wifes" and the classic Balearic house revivalism of Luke Solomon's "Lost Channels (Live Piano Version)", to the hustling percussion hits and constantly-rising electronics of Kyodai's "Konbanwa" and the delicious jazz-house bounce of Moodymanc's "Morning".
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Given that this is Audaz's 50th release (good going, given that the imprint was only launched in 2011), it seems fitting that it comes from label boss Lino Rodriguez, AKA Alkalino. The Munich-based producer has predictably gone in hard, delivering a quartet of original tracks aimed squarely at late night dancefloors. Opener "Side It Up" seemingly surges from the speakers, with flittering tech-house elements and murky vocal samples riding a wonky, bass-heavy groove. "Drumberg" sees him charge off into tech-acid territory with impressive results, while "Sparkling" sounds like vintage Orbital fused with 21st century German tech-house. Finally, he reaches for the mutant bass, horror textures and acid lines on closer "Minga", arguably the EP's standout moment.
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The latest UTTU drop sees the first tangible material from RuF Dug and Samrai, two long term fixtures on the Manchester clubbing scene and close friends. Of the two RuF Dug will probably be the more familiar to those outside of MCR, thanks to his Ruf Kutz label and prospering production output for Sud, Porn Wax, Banoffee Pies and more though Swing Ting man Samrai has been cutting his teeth of late with drops on Niche N Bump and Keysound. It's fairly hard to drop genre bombs on their two tracks here with both "1st Observation" and "2nd Observation" throwing various stylistic elements into the mixer and evening them out over some nicely left leaning house rhythms. Mood Hut's Hashman Deejay and rising Aussie production unit Zanzibar Chanel are great picks for remix purposes, adding further sonic personality to a record that stands apart from a lot of current "deep house".
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ROY DAVIS JR- Roy's Chicago Basement Traxx (Clone Jack For Daze Holland)
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