Reviewed this week
SMBD aka Simbad is back on GAMM again after a longer break and said to be planning a few EPs with seasonal themes for the label. The first EP as you might expect delivers three tasteful season influenced reworks and remixes which the label claims will 'be your perfect DJ weapons over the Summer months.' If the Afro broken beat groove of Bootsy's "Rather Be With You" (Alphabets Heaven X SMBD remix) won't do it for you, or the super soulful Colonel Abrams tribute "Table 42" (SMBD Tribute) does not grab your attention, guaranteed that the stunning 4/4 rework with Mike Lowrey of Jazzy Jeff's Summer classic "Summertime" has the potential to be a huge tune in the coming months.
It was way back in 1992 when Detroiters Raphael Merriweathers Jr. and Niko Marks first joined forces under the Unit 2 alias. "Sunshine", their cheery, piano-laden debut single, has long been one of Gerd Janson's favourite house tracks. Here, the Running Back boss has roped in Kink and Tiger & Woods to put a fresh spin on the stone cold classic. While Kink's version - all fizzing drum machine rhythms, steady bold and explosive piano solos - is top-notch, we prefer the Tiger & Woods rework. Typically loopy and tactile in the Italian duo's distinctive style, their mix is a lesson in the dancefloor potential of bass heavy, saucer-eyed, piano-laden loop funk. We have no doubts that it will become one of the house hits of the summer.
Back in 1996, Rupert Parkes had yet to establish himself as one of drum and bass's most musically talented producers. It would be fair to say that "T'Raenon", his sole EP for Kirk Degiorgio's Operation Applied Rhythmic Technology (Op-ART) label, remains one of the standout releases of his early period. Here presented in lusciously re-mastered form, the title track remains a deliciously dreamy, melodious and atmospheric trip into deep drum & bass territory with distinctive nods to mid '90s intelligent techno. Those influences are explored further on the flipside "Version" of the title track, as well as the slow-burning IDM delight that is closer "Kenei".
Motor City veteran and longtime friend Amp Fiddler is the latest artist to join forces with Theo Parrish for the latter's ongoing Gentrified Love series of collaborative EPs. Virtual A-side "Trust (SS Translation)", which also features soul vocalist Ideeyah, offers a perfect fusion of the two producers' work; think dusty, organic modern soul underpinned by typically loose and wayward deep house beats. Arguably even better is near 12-minute virtual flipside "My Soul", a drowsy, woozy and stretched out trip through jaunty, broken house rhythms, Fiddler's impeccable keys work, and the kind of starry synthesizer motifs that were once the hallmark of Detroit techno.
Dutch party crew/ label Dekmantel has achieved more in the past decade than most labels, and that they are able to call on such a heavyweight line-up for the third installment of their celebratory series is evidence of this fact. The release starts with the steely drums and mournful, rainy day pianos of Levon Vincent's "UK Spring Vibes" - which is a rare contribution from the US artist outside of his Novel Sound label - and continues with the fist-punching acidic sweeps of Legowelt's "Blue Austral Techno". Shifting the focus back to the other side of the Atlantic, Joey Anderson weighs in with the spooky, swirling synths and understated "Opened Gate", while Danish artist Central rounds off the EP with the jazzy abstractions of "Six Five Two".
It would be fair to say that Morgan Geist's Megaprojects series is an attempt to go "back to basics". Not only are the tracks created using - in his words - "cheap drum machines and vintage synths", but also pay tribute to some of his earliest inspirations. In practice, that means doffing a cap to fluid and ear-pleasing early deep house on the glistening "Manic Cinq", pitched-down Italo-disco and bass-heavy early British techno ("Fuzzy Detail") and tactile, breakbeat-driven late '80s house (the rather wonderful "Buy Freedom"). Arguably best of all, though, is closer "OCGC", whose psychedelic acid lines, tactile synth bass and cheery synth melodies make the track sound like a cross between vintage Metro Area and Orbital's "Halcyon".
More from Bristol-based party-starters Boogie Cafe, whose recent releases have impressively straddled the fine line between tooled-up re-edits and all-original productions. First they've persuaded New York-based Bristolian DJ Nature to remix current Bristol resident Admin. The man formerly known as DJ Milo does a terrific job, too, offering up a trippy chunk of loose, breakeat-driven, deep house disco that boasts serious amounts of energy. Then, Admin remixes Chezz's "Bossa", wrapping spacey synthesizer motifs and a killer synth bassline around a superbly fluid and crispy broken-house groove. It's a seriously soulful interpretation, and arguably the stronger of the two tracks.
Asa Moto duo Oliver Geerts and Gilles Noe impressed with last year's debut EP, the synth-pop delight that was "Stay Awake/Wanowan Efem". This follow-up for DeeWee, co-produced by label founders (and Soul Wax members) David and Stephen Dewaele, is every bit as impressive, even if its four tracks draw on a much wider palette of influences. Opener "System Naturae" wraps sharp, rave type stabs around a jaunty drum machine groove, deep melody flourishes and warped analogue bass, while "Make Me Prada" is an exercise in alien funk/ambient/synth-pop fusion. Then you'll find the bleep-laden analogue house thrust of "Athina", while closer "Syriacid" is a sweaty jog through acid-fired deep house pastures with wayward pop overtones.
Keinemusik co-founder Rampa rarely makes appearances on other labels. In fact, this Innervisions label debut is only his fifth release away from "home territory" since 2008. The title track sets the tone, with the Berlin-based producer peppering a shuffling, soft-focus tech house groove with ear-pleasing chord progressions and undulating electronic melody lines. Afro-inspired builder "Bimma" is a deeper, woozier and atmospheric affair, with African vocal samples and marimba style flourishes helping enhance the track's sticky and humid mood. Closer "Fluke", meanwhile, is a gently woozy and quietly positive late night treat - all rising and falling electronic melodies, crunchy drum fills and locked-in kick-drum hits.
NYC-based Bristol exile Milo Johnson AKA DJ Nature has long enjoyed a good relationship with Futureboogie Recordings, having first provided remix services for the West Country label back in 2013. This, though, is still his first EP for Dave Harvey's imprint. His loose, groovy and jazz-flecked style of deep house naturally comes to the fore on warm and melodious opener "Born Lifted", while the slightly more driving, sample-heavy "My Life" recalls his early '90s work as Nature Boy. "What Isn't" is a dusty deep house producer's take on electro-tinged instrumental hip-hop (reflective of his '80s work as part of Massive Attack's Wild Bunch collective) while "Loving You More" cannily joins the dots between lo-fi deep house, Balearic dreaminess and classic jazz-funk.
Big Miz left the cherished bosom of the Dixon Avenue Basement Jams crew to guest on friend Wheelman's new Stereotone label. Here he returns to DABJ with his second solo single. Title track "The Bomb" is something of a killer, with Miz lacing a bouncy, funk-fuelled drum machine rhythm with wild but jazzy synth lines, warehouse-friendly stabs and bleep style electronics. Elsewhere, "Sponk 900" is a breathless, ghetto-house inspired slammer, while "You Lose" is a raw and wonky fusion of noisy but funky electronics and thrusting machine drums. "Break The Law", a more hypnotic but no less guttural jack-track reminiscent of early 2000s Chicago tech-house, completes a fine package.
Here's something to get the blood pumping: a fresh Ron Trent remix of the title track from legendary Brazilian jazz-funk outfit Azymuth's most recent album, 2016's "Fenix". The original version is, of course, rather tidy - think darting synths and vocoder lines, dexterous slap-bass and rich, life-affirming chords - but Trent still manages to serve up a seriously good alternative version. He appears to have utilized every bit of individual instrumentation found on the master tapes, offering a subtle deep house/jazz-funk fusion cut full of loose-limbed drumming, intertwined solos and chords that pulse with sun-kissed positivity. It's not a particularly revolutionary remix, but when the musicianship is this good, why change it?
Here's something of a surprise: an EP on Running Back jointly produced by veteran German house producer Boris Dlugosch and rising star Cassara. The inter-generational duo has put together a set of tracks that veers closer to Italo-disco and cheery Balearic goodness than the funk-fuelled peak-time house that Dlugosch is often associated with. Our highlight is probably "Nightflight", a pleasingly baggy concoction that wraps alien melodies and vintage synthesizer motifs around a sparse drum machine groove. That said, opener "Traveller", which sounds like a cross between Electra's 1982 classic "Feels Good (Carrots & Beats)" and lightly bouncy house, and sparkling Italo-disco-meets-Daft Punk throb-job "Intervox" are also rather good.
Bordeaux based Noire et Blanche follow up a great first release by fellow countryman Folamour with the debut of Australian producer Loure, who serves up four slices of sexy and jazzed up deep house for the late night. Opening track "In The Evenings" is reminiscent of Ludovic Navarre's works, while "Keep It Real" brings in the smooth four to the floor style assisted by some epic sax playing and glistening synths which calls to mind the classic sounds of San Francisco's Naked Music. Hidden Sphere's great remix of "In The Evenings" injects the track with a nice broken beat style that really compliments the jazz elements in a way that would make even Atjazz stand up and notice!
Dirtybird is having a BBQ and we're all invited. Hirsute selector Will Clarke is the man tending to the grill, liberally spreading around his "secret ingredients" for other DJs to taste. There's plenty of juicy, char-grilled goodness to be found throughout, from the warehouse-friendly hip-house revivalism of DJ Glen's "Move Your Bone" and sub-heavy, Afro-tinged tech-house tribalism of Seamus Norv's "Wuuvulu", to the mind bending electronics, wonky vocals and TB-303 driven madness of Tekla's "Shake" and Sam Swindle's throbbing, bleep-laden closer "Disco Slut". If that's not enough to get you drooling like a dog at dinnertime, Dirtybird has also included a killer DJ mix from Clarke.
Recently, Esa Williams has done a good job in stepping out of the shadow of regular Auntie Flo collaborator Brian D'Souza. Here he furthers his solo career via a fine EP on much-loved Dutch imprint Dekmantel. He begins with the deliciously angular and fuzzy "Blast", a joint production with Notch Beats that wraps Pendo Zawose's exotic, drifting vocals around razy sharp electronic motifs and shuffling, 108 BPM afro-house beats. Kenyan vocalist Abakisimba lends a hand on the warm and fluid East African deep house lusciousness of "Rift Valley", before Williams rounds things off via the house tempo Detroit techno positivity of "Rent-a-Disc".
Jacques Renault's NYC based imprint returns with Montrealer Project Pablo, throwing down some sexy neon-lit grooves on the Risk The Rip EP. The title track's late night groove summons nostalgia via the grit of analogue machines and is reminiscent of early Morgan Geist. "Vibrancy Room" has that lo-fi attitude from a bedroom recording, but nonetheless is a bouncy broken beat groove supported by a detuned melody and summery keys: it works a real treat. Finally "Out To Lunch" is the track you could probably consider the most abstract: a deep and hypnotic jam awash in whirly synths and killer bumpy bassline, reminiscent of his work for Vancouver imprint 1080p.
More cold funk badness from Roots For Bloom's perennial Shag edit series. We let rip with a broken funk salvo as Oli Furness teeters on hip-house with a g-funk roller "Kick It", Jamie Trench continues with a rhythm that wouldn't have gone amiss on a Public Enemy jam on "Woody Dunked". For more of a boompty-boomp Chicago punch it's all about Bress Underground who twist up a big sample with jacking energy while Oli closes the show with a big swooning serenade. Proper.
German hipster imprint Kitjen is up to its sixth release following up greta ones by Suzanne Kraft, Hotel Lauer and Shit Robot. In the label themselves this is is 'the tropical cruise ship experience of the summer' brought to you by Amsterdam duo Beesmunt Soundsystem. Watch an umbrella appear in your glass as you play these four neon-lit retro house cuts! Start sending automated out of office replies by simply scanning the cover with your mobile device! Another great quote from the label 'This record's official dress code is 'cannabis farmer at court hearing".
Dawn is French DJ/producer Chloe's first release in almost five years. Formerly associated with the Kill the DJ collective, she has now set up her own label, Lumiere Noire. "The Dawn" is a taster for her new album and is part poem, part ode to her Djing. Over the course of ten minutes, it moves from a spoken word narrative into a pulsing, minimal groove that builds gradually and eventually to epic proportions.

The massively popular Dixon is charged with the remix, and he does a fine job; sirens build up to crescendo levels, synths swirl dramatically and all the while, the Innervisions boss mainatians a steady, driving groove

DJ NATURE - Ultimate Delusion EP (Futureboogie Recordings)
RAMPA - Hall Of Violence EP (Innervisions Germany)
MORGAN GEIST - Megaprojects Two (Environ US)
MOOD J - Turn Your Love Around (Distant Hawaii)
SMBD - Summer (Gamm) - exclusive 26-05-2017
VARIOUS - BPRDIGI02 (Banoffee Pies)
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