JD Twitch's Autonomous Africa series is something of a rarity. Each annual EP, which features modern electronic music influenced by African rhythms, sounds and styles, is used to raise money for a different African charity. Proceeds from this third in the series are destined for Tanzania's Mtandika Mission, a charity run by Midland's parents. It seems fitting, then, that he kicks things off with "Safi", a heavyweight slice of future voodoo that expertly blends analogue electronics and bombastic African rhythms. General Ludd go deep, psychedelic and off-kilter with their brilliant "Burning Mack", while Auntie Flo delivers a stripped-back vocal cut with echoes of his recent material on Permanent Vacation. Finally, Twitch steps up to deliver "Maya", which sounds like LFO's "LFO" re-made by African musicians.
Kompakt's Total compilation series - an annual round up of gems from the imprint's tightly packed release schedule - must be one of the longest-running in dance music. Amazingly, this latest installment is the 14th volume in the series. For those who enjoy Kompakt's generally positive approach to electronic music - think tactile techno, ambient pop and skewed, synth-laden house from the likes of Michael Mayer, Thomas Fehlmann, Partial Arts and Gui Boratto - there's much to admire, including a slew of previously unreleased cuts. These include Superpitcher's "Delta", a sublime chunk of hypnotic e-tronica that's almost too melodic for its own good. Arguably even better is Weval's live recording of "Something", which is near perfect in its wide-eyed pop simplicity.
Man of many monikers Gerd returns to the NY Stomp alias he last used in 2012. "I Feel It Comin' On", featuring Matthew Kirkwood, is a sparkling chunk of revivalist US house, with pianos and cut-up soul vocals riding a classic bassline and stomping, basement-friendly beats. There's a couple of more UKG-friendly revisions in the shape of the Bass'N'Dirt Remix and Dub, while Ovis gives the original a thunderous makeover - all raw drum machine beats, powerful sub and cut-up, hands-in-the-air vocals. There's also a solid bonus cut, "Beatattak", in which Gerd laces chopped-up freestyle vocals and dreamy chords over a skipping, US garage style rhythm.
Auckland's deep delving duo Monkey Boots are back with a new version of "Whitworth Strut", this time reworked by disco royalty himself, Greg Wilson. Under Wilson's guidance the track becomes like a whooshy, subaquatic disco swim with tides of touchy feely loops washing all over the listener in blessed-out joy. Elsewhere we get a new track "Hold Back The Night", which is a lean and mean slice of linear electro funk (also successfully dubbed out by Andy Hart) that clocks in at a whopping eight minutes!
Haunted bass peddler Woz has upped his output quota recently, and he continues his ascent with this short and sweet two-tracker. First up is "Cherry Hill" which is low slung, spacey and dark house: all sultry buzzes, hums and the ghostly vocals of Max Marshall. However, if it's creeped-out and dark 2-step you're after, you're best heading straight for the dark alley shuffle of "Trust Meh".
Amazingly, it's been three years since Birmingham-raised duo Cause & Affect made their debut on Beatdown Music. Since then, their profile has rocketed thanks to regular appearances on Rinse FM. Here they pop up on the station's label offshoot with a four tracker that smoothly joins the dots between UK funky, deep house and UKG. Opener "Mistakes", blessed as it is with jaunty bleep melodies, warm sub, heady pads and a choice vocal sample, is particularly impressive. "Dimensions" is faster and breezier, with deliciously wide-eyed breakdowns, while "Bird Flu" laces electronic blips and cut-up vocals over a rolling 4/4 garage rhythm. Finally, "Foorest" is impressively weird and glitchy, sounding like UK bass house beamed down from another planet.
Moscow producer Alexander Lay-Far has enjoyed a productive EP, delivering effortlessly soulful deep house releases for City Fly, Lazy Days and Atjazz's eponymous imprint. Here he pops up on Local Talk with four more reasons to be cheerful. "Side To Side (I Just)" sets the tone, impressively fusing attractive electronics and shuffling, US house-influenced beats with warm chords and soulful vocal samples. Fouk remixes the same track, bringing out the bluesy elements in the vocal while offering a smoother, eyes-wide-shut, piano-laden interpretation. Elsewhere, Lay-Far shows his disco side on the baggy, horn heavy loop-jam "Get On It", while "Feel Like Making Dub" is an expansive, sun-kissed trip into boss-house territory complete with sumptuous keys and a rich bassline.
Huxley's come a long way since his formative releases on labels like Cecille Numbers, Tsuba and Kolour Recordings. In recent times he's delivered the goods to Rinse, Hypercolour and Defected with last year's impressive Chatsworth Sound collaboration with Shenoda. His second EP for Will Saul's Aus Music is a varied affair with something to please everyone with a taste for UK flavoured house. It's a certainty the bassline of "Callin" will make this track a summer smash - festival dancers watch out - while the grittier low end frequencies of "Machina" are more suited to a underground club vibe. Huxley goes deeper into the minimal end of tribalish house music on "Tendered Mess" while "Oil Spill" is a signature of Huxley's trademark bassline style.
Given their pedigree and the mature musicality of their productions, you'd expect this first single from John Talabot and Axel Boman's Talaboman project to be pretty darn good. "Sideral" - dedicated to a genre-straddling Barcelona DJ who passed away back in 2006 - is certainly special, with the original version offering an intoxicating, bright-eyed fusion of dense, African-influenced percussion, bass-heavy bottom end, attractive chords and thrilling, upbeat melodies. It's tinged with sadness - as many of Talbot's best productions tend to be - but comes across as more celebratory than melancholic. Matt Karmil provides the flipside remix, lacing the duo's notable synth melodies over a hissing, hypnotic techno groove.
"Joker" was undeniably one of the strongest cuts from Gui Boratto's recent Abaporu full length, his fourth for long serving Cologne giants Kompakt. It's pleasing, then, to find it getting a deserved single release. The original - a breakdown-heavy chunk of progressive techno blessed with darting synthesizer arpeggios and tumbling pianos - is remixed by Dave DK and Michael Mayer. The former delivers a deeper, more atmospheric version, bristling with sinewy strings, woozy chords and sparse, bongo-laden percussion. It's Mayer's remix that hits home hardest, though. The Kompakt bossman reinvents the track as a chunky slab of wide-eyed rave revivalism, with Boratto's pianos and arpeggios riding a thrilling new bassline and cut-up electronics.
Roughly two years after they first surfaced with Do The Same on Shifting Peaks, UK bass duo Mak & Pasteman add their names to the long list of artists that run their own label. The reception to releases in the ensuing period for Lobster Boy and Naked Naked have proved that this West Yorkshire pair have a willing audience for such a move and it will be interesting to see if Materials is used solely as a platform for their own work or whether they'll use it to nurture new talent too. Naturally they helm the debut release which brandishes an upfront bass-tech-house hybrid on the A Side in "Jam One", whilst "Formation 131" sees M&P doff their hats to the sound of darkside jungle.
Having previously largely focused on re-edits and reworks, Russian producer Bachteen makes the move into original production with a first EP for Alkalino's Audaz imprint. His production style is effortless and fluid, with opener "Raw Draw" lacing classic house riffs and sparkling pianos over pitched-down vocals and a typically tactile groove. "All I Got" is a little chunkier in the groove department, with picturesque melodies and twinkling riffs riding a darting bassline and handclap-heavy percussion. Alkalino remixes the latter track, fusing woozy electronics and warm organ stabs with loose, swinging, disco-influenced beats. It's a looser, slower and altogether groovier take on Bachteen's original.
Many happy returns to Germany's Dirt Crew Recordings imprint, which this year celebrates a decade of deep and tech-house releases. For this celebratory collection, they've decided to take a slightly different approach, eschewing label classics and forgotten gems in favour of new cuts from familiar and lesser-known artists. There's naturally much to admire, from the heavy, Soundstream-do-deep house loopiness of Yosa's "Love Me" and the surging deep house funk of Timothy Blake's "The Town is Quiet", to the woozy, Ame-ish rush of Matt Masters' "6&3 Twos". Tigerskin does his bit for the label's old guard with "Ad Lib Robot", a bouncy, soul-flecked acid jam that's one of the compilation's genuine highlights.
Dangerous Girl finds Italian-in-Berlin Adapter (AKA producer Antonio Russo) in fine form, delivering a pleasingly eclectic EP for Get Physical. The title track, a tribute to '80s electro and synth-funk complete with winding melodies and cheap sci-fi electronics, offers a radio and dancefloor-friendly opening, before "Me & You" scampers off on a Visionquest-does-pop tip. It's similarly undulating, with atmospheric vocals and a bubbling, tech-tinged groove. Finally, vocalist Jesse Monroe lends a hand on "Remember", a rave-inflected stomp through flickering strobelights accompanied by the sickly-sweet smell of human sweat. It's foreboding, intoxicating and atmospheric: just what you want at three in the morning when your feet are telling you to go home.
Here's something of a treat from soul-flecked deep house specialists Pusic Records: a double-length EP featuring a range of sinewy dancefloor treats. There's much to admire across the eight tracks, from the bongo-laden percussion and 'Knights of the Jaguar' style synth strings of KRL's lip-smacking remix of The New Tower Generation's "Hidden Banana Bug", to the rubbery live bass, woozy chords and near Balearic headiness of Anaxander's "LetAss Go Party". Also worth mentioning is Steve J's pumping, piano-sporting "Souljay" and the dreamy, enveloping, Andres-ish shuffle of Pablo Valentino's jazz-flecked "When I Was a Kid". Glenn Astro's wonky, ultra-deep remix of the same track is arguably the EP's standout moment.
The SHAG Edits hits Volume 4 welcoming David Glass, Timmy P and Two's Tones to the Roots For Bloom roster. David brings a big hitter with Tape Deck with its MC sampled vocal, Timmy's is drenched in sunshine for all the day parties this is sure to go off at and Two's Tones takes things on a jazz twist, with clever sampling but always that underlying groove that the Roots For Bloom label is known for. Fans of the previous releases wont be dissapointed.
Downtown Party Network man MIndaugas Lapinskis continues to strike out on his own under the Gardens of God pseudonym, following a successful debut on Ellum Audio earlier in the year. "Gluk" is notably moodier than his generally picturesque collaborative work, with roots in the kind of expansive, shuffing tech-house popularized by the likes of Jamie Jones, Crosstown Rebels and Visionquest. There are still elements of beauty - including a terrific breakdown/build-up combo - amongst the murky rhythms and undulating electronics. "Voices From The Past" is even more melodious, gently building to a rush inducing conclusion via additional jazz hits, swooping chords and darting motifs. Finally, "Fen" seals the deal by fusing sturdy grooves with watery chords and shimmering synth strings.
Following well received releases on Homecooking and Defected, Vernon and DaCosta bring their Raw District project to Crosstown Rebels. "Ragged Star", featuring the woozy spoken word vocals of Ellipsis, is a retro-futurist gem, wrapping an acid house bassline and minor key chords around what sounds like a break from Fast Eddie's '80s house banger "Hip-House". "Turn Away" is deeper and dreamier, whilst retaining the duo's usual flickering, late night feel. Crosstown Rebels have recruited Josh Wink to remix, and he doesn't disappoint. The veteran house producer delivers a pair of pounding reworks based around sweaty, jackin' percussion and mid-2000s style tribal riffs. The intense Bass Mix is probably our pick, but they're both righteous.
After a couple of lean years without a release, Audiojack returned to action earlier this year with a solid 12" on regular home 20:20 Vision. Here, the Leeds-based duo continues that rich vein of form with a similarly sturdy EP on Tsuba. "Traction" itself is a no-nonsense sort of concoction - a woozy, bass-heavy chunk of stripped-back tech-house blessed with Bobby Peru style electronics and carefully placed drum machine handclaps. It's accompanied by a Lauer remix that impressively transforms it into a decidedly Balearic chunk of touchy-feely, wide-eyed deep house. Bonus cut "Hook" sits somewhere between the two, layering filtered classic house riffs over handclap-heavy deep percussion and an undulating bassline.
Mike Millrain knows how to make garage music, and here he delivers a cut focusing on all the hallmarks of the genre with a specific focus on bit-crushed vocals, which become rhythmically complete once the Carl Cox-esque groove section drops. Meanwhile Urban Myths craft Millrain's original into something much techier, providing a deep listen and suitable alternative. Two weapons for the weekend.