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Reviewed this week
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Nils Penner's first release for Freerange, 2012's Munich/Berlin EP, seemed to re-ignite his career, landing him subsequent appearances on Compost Black Label and Exploited. This return to Freerange as every but as warm and involving as you'd expect, with the title track skipping along on a wave of Innervisions-style bottom end, shuffling drums, heart-aching string chords, bluesy vocal samples and some wonderfully tactile riffs. Even better is Pittsburgh Track Authority's superb remix, which adds a little Detroit swing and classic Chicago deep house bounce to Penner's very European-sounding original (think jaunty piano chords, eyes-wide-shut strings and fizzing Motor City percussion). Bonus cut "State of Mind" - all melancholic pianos, drawn-out breakdowns and tech-house swing - is pretty tasty, too.
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After revealing each exclusive track over the last month, Kry Wolf finally delivers his DNA collection. A way of showing his own roots and party passions while celebrating his peers and labelmates' finest studio creations, the mix is a great reflection of Wolf, his and Shadow Child's label and its talented roster. Highlights include Shadow Child and Friend Within's WOW-referencing "The Moon", Kry Wolf's percussion-pummelled twist on "Piano Weapon", Geoff K's floor-melting bass shaker "Dysturbed Trumpet" and NYTA's dangerously demonic vocal cut "The Call". Also included is Kry Wolf's mix that joins the dots between the many sonic shades. A great concept backed up by an immaculate collection; DNA is where it's at.
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Here's something of a pleasant surprise: a Steve Lawler record on Hot Creations that finds artist and label eschewing their typical sound in favour of something a bit different. The plainly titled "House Record" comes on like a long lost Tyree or Fast Eddie production - all "This Is Acid" stabs, thickset bass and lolloping hip-house rhythms. Flipside "City Nights" continues on a similar theme, with spitting drum machine percussion, jack-tracks style handclaps and an undulating bassline stirring long repressed memories of sketchy warehouse parties sometime around 1988. As a package, this is easily Lawler's - and Hot Creations' - best release for some time.
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If you've not invested in a physical copy of Session Victim's excellent sophomore set, See You When You Get There, you probably should. Alternatively, you could pick and choose between the various digital samplers on offer. There's tons of high quality material on this third EP. Throughout, the German duo expertly tiptoe the fine line between disco and house, variously delivering warm, rolling, Rhodes-heavy deep house (the brilliant "The Most Beautiful Divorce Ever"), loose and organic disco-house ("Under Your Spell"), eyes-closed slow jams (the seductive and becalmed "Eeo's Place") and cut-up Balearic beats (the picturesque "Crystal Maze"). Throughout, the production remains warm, smart and endearingly dusty.
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Given that this is the first album from the great Theo Parrish since 2007, it's unsurprising interest in American Intelligence has rocketed over the course of the year as Sound Signature left a trail of hints. Happily, American Intelligence is a fine album; deep and woozy in parts, undeniably soulful, shot through with jazz influences and full to bursting with killer cuts. By now, everyone should know the brilliant "Footwork" single (arguably one of the records of 2014); soon, clubs will swing to the off-kilter dancefloor jazz of "Make No War", the 21st century broken house of the epic "Fallen Funk" and the decidedly odd - but brilliant - "Helmut Lampshade".
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Given that Creative Swing Alliance's Pablo Valentino owns Faces Records, it's surprising that this is the deep house duo's first single for the label (it's doubly surprising given that the imprint has been active since 2002). Happy, the Weekend EP was worth the wait. Each of the four original tracks delivers the perfect balance between tactile soul, chunky dancefloor grooves, rhythmic swing and heady musicality, as if their aim was to sit somewhere between Moodyman and Motor City Drum Ensemble. Arguably the EP's standout moment though, is Rawinthecity boss Fulbert's remix of "The Way You Need Me" - a dusty, ultra-deep groover capable of sending shivers down the spine of even the most sober of punters.
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It's been a while since A1 Bassline last sullied our souls with his low-end shuffles. But he's back with four killer tracks that showcase his deeper side. "Hidden Agenda" is straight out of the late 90s before garage got so dark it morphed into dubstep; featuring shuddering drums and off-beat bass bubbles, it's a great way to show the deep house fakers how it's really done. "Burnt Out Piano Island" jacks with more of a Chicago vibe, all chop-slappy and sample-soaked, while "Outsider" is a brighter, breezier affair with a synth hook so sharp it could catch a shark. "T Moe P" brings the show to a close on another 4/4 UKG vibe; laced with stretchy subs and jitterbug keys, it will have both the bass and deep house communities in a lather. Welcome back A1.
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Having focused exclusively on digital releases for its first six years, leading Mexican disco/house/Italo fusionist label Electrique has decided to press this 80th EP to vinyl. Happily, it's also available as a digital EP. An all-star concoction featuring various label regulars, it variously touches on bleep-heavy deep house (La Royale and Pato Watson's bleep-heavy "Gravy"), dirty analogue electronics (a trippy and fuzzy offering from Max Jones), rubbery machine funk (Gameboyz), throbbing heads-down fare (Bufi, Eddie Mercury) and Latin-tinged analogue disco (Juan Soto & Rocco Desentis). Best of all, though, is Thomas Jackson's Lee Scratch Perry-sampling "For The Junkies", a prize slice of fuzzy, Prins Thomas-ish organic disco.
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Auckland-based eight-piece Weird Together are an interesting proposition - and not just because it's helmed by Tokyo-based journalist Nick Dwyer and one-time NRK deep house regular Dick 'Magik J' Johnson. Their style, as showcased on this debut EP for the admirable Soundway Records, is fiendishly hard to pin down. In essence, they take inspiration from a myriad of global styles - mainly localised sounds from parts of South America, Africa and the Caribbean - and fuse them with contemporary house rhythms and structures. Throughout, highlights come thick and fast, from the dense percussion, booming bass and African vocals of "Gban Gban Lewa" and picturesque, Soweto-house shuffle of "Karima's Story", to the South American bliss of "Mbira".
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If you're going to put together a set of "past and future acid classics", we can think of few better to handle compilation and mixing duties than Altern 8's Mark Archer and veteran British DJ Jerome Hill, once a renowned face on the "summer of love" free party scene. The collection they've put together - some 34 tracks deep, with a mix from each - pretty much touches all bases. Sure, there are Chicago classics present (think Phuture, Master C&J, Pharley Jackmaster Funk, Mike Dunn and Maurice Joshua), but also rave-era British records (Slipmatt, Hill and Archer) and later remixes and original productions from Mike Ash, Steve Mac and others. The result is an excellent selection of 303 abuse in all its forms, with plenty of lesser known gems and "secret weapons" to entice those with deep collections.
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If the first instalment of Huntleys and Palmers' Chapter series of split EPs was all about showcasing up-coming talent, this second volume has been designed as a tribute to those who've influenced them. It's a neat twist, with typically formidable results. There's much to admire throughout, from the surging machine disco of oklo Gabon's "City Gym" and the undulating alien funk of Comeme man Sano's "Duraco", to the Ket-addled wonkiness of Golden Teacher's trippy "What Time Is It". While Uslo's spacey, piano-laden, percussively loose "Galaxy" is also inspired, it's beaten in the "best track" stakes by Balearic man Wolf Moller's "Rudeltanz", a decidedly cosmic chunk of live dub-disco with tumbling synth melodies and baked, low-slung synths for days.
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It's no surprise that Italian brothers Alessandro and Federico Fognini aka Mind Against have enjoyed such a rapid ascent. The duo's music melds many of electronic music's recent tropes into an accessible blend - audible on this release for Life & Death. The title track is based on a stripped back rhythm and the kind of sonorous bleeps one might have heard on a Sandwell District record. Despite this, "Strange Days" exudes warmth. The same can be said of Recondite's remix, with the German producer adding only a hint of melancholia thanks to some sensuous strings and a more stripped back rhythm. "Polarstern" is another unusual melange, with the pair fusing wounded wasp 303s and the kind of tie-dyed melodies that Border Community specialises in.
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Having originally made his name with the (now dormant) Peanut Butter & Jams blog, Washington-based Jackson Ryland has turned his hand to music production. This debut release for Massimo Previti's popular DaBit label shows much promise. Lead cut "Crystal City" is particularly potent, with glassy-eyed chords and gently throbbing melodies tumbling over sweaty, carnival style percussion. The thumping, cut-up house of "JP's" is also impressive (check the heavy sub bass that enters during the breakdown for proof), while "Up The Shelf" expertly fuses new age electronics with the best of British bass music. Chiwax man Steve Murphy remixes "Crystal City", delivering a tight-but-swinging roller that makes great use of deep chords and colourful piano stabs.
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For their latest missive, German label Toy Tonics has turned to Italian producer Andrea Pedra, previously famous in his native Tuscany as a DJ and promoter of parties in a "dirty old jazz cavern". This EP - his first for Toy Tonics - showcases his love of sleazy but fluid deep house, created using analogue equipment. There's naturally much to admire, from the revivalist Italian house bump, late night vocal snippets and jaunty organs of "You Know What?", to the driving drums, woozy synths and densely layered vocal samples of "Muff 60". Best of all, though, is opener "In My Eyes", an effective fusion of undulating acid lines, fireside chords, trippy vocal samples and boompty-influenced drums.
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Glasgow Underground has been continually committed to keeping the memory of Romanthony alive with some choice reissues of his early material, and so it is here with "Testify" receiving some modern revisions from a host of characters. Jimmy Edgar has a great time editing the track into a looped up, heated banger, while Waifs & Strays let the vocal come through a little more and ask the drum machines to bring the intensity. Illyus & Barrientos deliver a remix that thoroughly modernizes the track with some crisp synth styles, while Ed One & Bodden tap into the contemporary garage house sound for their own version.
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Room Service, a new Brooklyn-based label, introduces itself to the world with a boisterous party-starter by Quell, a Grecian producer now residing in Berlin. The four originals included here are no-nonsense, high-octane jams that vacillate between deep house and garage with touches of techno and disco thrown in for good measure and depth.
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Local Talk offshoot One Offs may have started out as an excuse for Mad Mats and Tooli to gather together "secret weapons" from their producer mates, but to date its provided DJs with some killer material. This first compilation gathers together pretty much the label's entire output to date, and is naturally packed with killers. It's mostly deep house in various forms, though there are plenty of curveballs, from the thumping Chi-town jack of Will Berridge's "I'm The Jack" and the disco soul-meets-deep house of Kuemel's "California My Way", to the nu-disco meets early US garage loveliness of Sasse's "Pino". It also contains arguably the best-named track of 2014, Twinpeaks' "Not That Tech-House DJ Tool Dropped By Paris Hilton You Were Searching For".
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Having sold its initial run of hand-stamped white labels in record time back in September 2014, Stefano Esposito's Paper Scissors Rock EP finally gets a proper release. It's undeniably his biggest release to date, with opener "Carry On" - all bouncy synth bass, cut-up vocal stabs, gorgeous classic house strings and bold pianos - sounding like a long-lost Italian house classic. Esposito himself provides a suitably sleazy, warehouse-friendly Dub, while JC Williams delivers a fluid reimagining that blends deep house with "Knights of the Jaguar" style Detroit electronics. There's also some organ-laden late night dancefloor pump in the shape of "Nothing Else" - pure early '90s revivalism - and a deliciously thumping, glassy-eyed dub of the same track by Cera Alba.
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Metropolis- is it an actual city or a digital fantasy; a construct formed inside a synthetic brain? Either way this is the soundtrack to a city that exists somewhere. A place that comes alive at nightfall and breathes artificial light until dawn. Where millions of human threads interweave, and a machine conciousness drifts by on the periphery, searching for an intimate connection.
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The inaugural release for the label offshoot of Australian radio show Noise In My Head, Tracks For Performance serves up two new tracks from LA-based anomaly Suzanne Kraft. Originally conceived as a contemporary dance score, these proven body movers are some of the producer's toughest work to date. "Dead Ringer" finds a snake charmer harmonising with the racket of a metal works factory while "Ruff Bathers" tries to operate the forklift under heavy sedation.

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