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There's naturally been plenty of hype surrounding The Black Madonna's "He Is The Voice I Hear", which originally dropped on a single-sided 12" at the tail end of 2016. It's undoubtedly the fast-rising Chicagoan's best record to date, and feels like an unashamed tribute to Patrick Cowley's fine productions for disco icon Sylvester. While there are mournful notes - check the extended, beat-less piano intro -it doesn't take long to turn into a deliciously muscular, Italo-disco style chugger laden with razor-sharp strings, bubbling acid lines, and the kind of fluid piano solos that were once a hall mark of Frankie Knuckles' remixes. In other words, it's a fine contemporary disco record from one of dance music's most notable DJs of recent times.
Given his impressive track record, hopes are naturally high for Bonobo's sixth album, Migration, which is his first full-length since 2013. Happily, it's a majestic affair, with the producer delivering another sumptuous set of tracks. It was partly inspired by an extended period musing on the nature of personal identity, and the role that nationality plays in that. This concept is translated via thoughtful lyrics, and songs that draw musical influence from the four corners of the globe. It's not a big stylistic leap, of course - his bread and butter remains yearning, emotion-rich downtempo music built around gently jazzy grooves and impeccable live instrumentation - but given that few artists do it better than Bonobo, we'll forgive him for that.
Given the success of Red Rack'em's hard-to-beat "Wonky Bassline Disco Banger", we were initially skeptical of this remix package. Happily, all involved have done a good job in offering a fresh slant on one of the club hits of 2016. KiNK steals the show with a version that strips out much of the original's disco flavour, instead combining Rack'em's wonky electronics with trippy new noises and freakishly druggy elements. The result is a fine chunk of heavyweight weirdo-house. Classic chief Luke Solomon joins forces with the mighty Eats Everything and Lord Leopard on the virtual flipside, serving up a skewed version that veers from loose disco-house warmth to brain-melting electronic wonkiness, and back again.
The latest EP from long-serving German duo Cab Drivers - AKA Berlin veterans Daniel Paul and DJ Zky - is true to the original '90s ethos of tech-house. With its' spacey synth motif, bustling synth bassline, gentle acid lines and bouncy, New Jersey influenced beats, "Correspondance" [sic] is a near perfect fusion of techno and deep house elements. The fine, analogue sounding original is remixed by Audio Werner - himself a regular Daniel Paul collaborator - whose deeper, woozier and hazier interpretation drags the track further towards European techno territory. It's a fine rework, though it arguably lacks some of the original slick, life-affirming positivity.
Jazzy Soup makers Apparel Music begin 2017 in fine fashion, celebrating their sixth birthday with another typically swinging collection of dusty, jazz-fuelled deep house workouts. There's naturally plenty to get the juices flowing, from the hazy trumpets, rubbery double bass and snappy beats of Voyeur's "Swingin' For Theo", to the rich, evocative and luscious, broken beat era jazz-funk of Kerem Akdag's killer closer, "Friend". In between, you'll find the spaced-out, bongo-laden house hypnotism of Kisk's "Just U", and the pitched-up deep house soul of "je Suis Reconnaissant", a collaborative affair co-produced by Ivano Tetelepta and Eugene Latumeten.
Previously spotted on Emotional [Especial] with the fantastic Love Is Enough, Plus Instruments get the remix treatment in a classic '80s style with the Dub Is Enough single. The producers tasked with delivering versions vary wildly, but they make for a strong combination. Jamie Paton's "Cloudy Dub-Out" is masterful, simmering the elements down to a sensual bassline and delicate ripples on top, while Luke Solomon brings his bumpy, off-kilter house style to the table. Khidja has a more dramatic, synth laden approach and Alphonse creates a dusty, funky roller out of that killer bassline groove.
In the sales notes sent to record stores, Smalleville has described this multi-artist affair as "a club night from start to finish". Certainly, the four tracks are pleasingly varied, moving from the 109 BPM bliss of Makybee Diva's untitled dream-house shuffler, to the energetic acid house/deep house fusion of "Monkeys On My Roof" by L'Amour Fou, a collaborative project whose members include the legendary David 'Move D' Moufang. Elsewhere, Arnaldo delivers a near perfect chunk of Detroit techno inspired deep house hypnotism ("Screaming With A Blocked Nose"), and Chicagoan producer Snad combines sweaty, bumpin' grooves and becalmed synthesizer motifs on the excellent "Excerptz".
Hot on the heels of the underrated Memories From Another Planet EP on his D.KO Records imprint, Ralph 'Flabaire' Manauri brings his brand of smooth and groovy deep house to Popcorn. He begins confidently, channeling the atmospheric spirit of Twin Peaks on the swirling, soundscape deep house shuffle of "Laura Palmer". He doffs a cap to the disco-flecked warmth of vintage East Midlands deep house productions on "Shabbat Jam", before fusing gentle acid lines, dreamy textures and bubbly melody lines on the enjoyable "Urquinaona". British techno veteran Aubrey weighs in with a fine remix of "Laura Palmer" that cannily turns the track into a melodious, hypnotic tech-house roller.
Munich minimal prankster Jichael Mackson is back! The producer known to his Mum as Boris Steffen appears for the third time on Vincent Lemieux and Stephen Beaupre's Musique Risque and it's his first return since 2010's fabulous Just In Time EP. The Catch 22 EP starts off with the deep and driving and, dare we call it: progressive house groove of "Troublermxshort" which is reminiscent of older tracks like "Hokus Pokus". There's also "GTI"; equally deep and on the proggy side but using an adrenalised and suspenseful sidechained melody which pumps away gloriously. Finally we've got the deep and immersive ambient house of "Bob In Motion". There's always a mellower and dubby track on Mackson's releases and for many they're favourites; this ethereal stunner does not disappoint.
Efde has only a few releases to his credit, but this outing on Tom Trago's label trumps his previous output. In its original format, the title track combines soaring trance melodies, rolling snare drums and a central riff that gets more and more noisy as the arrangement progresses. It makes for an intoxicating combination and is redolent of "Primary Roots", one of Trago's own, earlier productions. There is an eerie ambient version of the title track, but it's clear from the rest of the release that Efde's real home is out on the dance floor. "Just Did It" is a pulsing, electronic bass-heavy affair, while on "CMP135", he mines a deeper but still driving house sound.
French disco deviant and Robsoul/Ondule mainstay Around 7 is back with more bumpin' and loopy house jams for proper house gangsters on the rather infectious "Discotronic" with its hypnotic bass riff and dusty drums really doing the business. "The Woohh Sound" does exactly what it says on the tin: you could really imagine DJ Sneak or Mark Farina using this one to whip up a frenzy at some Chicago basement party. Finally we have "Kiwi Kawi" which serves up some late night deep house of the smooth and sexy variety.
Melodymathics label boss Melodymann has pulled off something of a coup here, persuading Bulgarian hero KiNK and Belgian techno stalwart Fabrice Lig to join forces. The fine "Charleroi DC" is available in both "House" and "Techno" mix variants; both make great use of sparkling, Detroit style futurist synth motifs, dreamy pads and fizzing drum machine percussion. The expansive package also includes a trio of remixes from other like-minded producers. Detroit Swindle steps up first with a wonderful late night interpretation that boasts tougher drums, dustier grooves and some fine new musical touches, before Melodymann reinvents the track as a rich, jammed-out deep house roller. Finally, techno survivor Ian O'Brien delivers an impeccable trip into mid '90s tech-house territory that's shot through with classic machine soul.
As the title suggests, this expansive package offers up notable remixes of tracks from Soul Clap affiliate Nick Monaco's Half Naked full-length. There's naturally much to get the juices flowing, from the glistening guitars, restless cowbells and Balearic disco attitude of Adam Port's 'Free Wifi Remix' of 'Half Naked', to the low-slung, drum machine driven skewed pop goodness of PillowTalk's rework of Roland Harper hook-up "Rolly Polly". Other quietly impressive contributions come from Horse Meat Disco man Severino (a pleasingly distorted, gently pulsating rework of "Thin Air"), Lee Curtiss (a Balearic-meets-outsider house take on "Instant Gratification") and Insightful, whose wonky, post-dubstep interpretation of "Bathwater" is arguably the standout cut.
Berlin-based Argentine Leo Grunbaum has a reputation for atmospheric, soundtrack style deep house music that draws heavily on Balearica, tech-house and nu-disco for inspiration. Interestingly, this outing on All Day I Dream appears to be his first single for nearly six years. He starts in confident mood, wrapping Aerial East's deliciously atmospheric vocals around twinkling pianos and tactile, tech-tinged grooves on brilliant opener "Bloom". Safa provides a brilliant, Balearic-minded downtempo remix of the same track, full of Flamenco style Spanish guitars and swirling atmospherics, before Victor Magro joins Grunbaum for the rich, jazz-flecked deep house jam "Amarone". The wavering sax lines, metronomic grooves and foreboding chords of "Cruxes Credo" complete a fine package.
It's nearly 12 years since Olivier Gregoire first donned the Kolombo alias, and almost as long since he co-founded the LouLou label with regular studio partner Jerome Denis. This hook-up with Bjorn Maria is his first single for some time, and should be considered a strong start to 2017. "Make It Look Good" is a devilishly simple but thrillingly addictive fusion of cowbell-laden disco drums, chunky synth bass, off-kilter hip-hop style vocals and sparkling synthesizer motifs. There's a similarly sparse-but-funky feel to bonus cut "Goin Crazy", which features a slick vocal from Maria that perfectly compliments the quirky, warehouse-friendly vibe of Gregoire's production.
Second wave Chicagoan, Drewksy, originally dropped the Phase II single in 1994 and finally the digital version is here. Produced by DJ Deeon and mixed by DJ Milton, there are five cuts: "U Can't See Me" is fast and raw, with distorted speedy drums battling fuzzed-out diva vocals and funky loops. "Wigged Out" features woozy organ riffs and classic machine-gun-snares, the Ride mix of "4 U All" is an underground classic -deep and jazzy repetition, Paul Johnson's remix of "Half Of Bat" adds phasered vocals and quirky clarinet samples. Lastly "Shouts Out" is a slowly melted warped-funk skit.
Max Graef and Glenn Astro's The Yard Work Simulator was a big release for Ninja Tune in 2016, gaining praise from all corners of the dance music world and, although it was largely a deep house affair, there was plenty in it for everyone. Launching 2017 with a remix EP seems like a sensible idea, especially when it's got a magnificent dub version of "W313D" by Max and Glenn themselves at the frontline. Byron The Aquarius delivers a magnetic, live reinterpretation of "Magic Johnson", but the real surprise comes from Greg Beato's version of "Money $ex Theme", with the LIES and Apron affiliate jacking the tune into his trademark style. IMYRMiND finishes off by deconstructing "China Nr 04", and turning the original into a wayward house experiment.
It is that time of year again and Hot Since 82's Knee Deep In Sound is back with some treats that are going to be unleashed at the Mexican super-festival this year. Iman Habib aka Habischman is a super talented production phenomenon that brings you "Moan", a driving progressive house style journey much like the following slow burner by James Grow entitled "Te Mar". Piem & Spencer K's "Lowrider" is more typical faire of the label on this bouncy and rolling tech house groover that will rock White Isle punters this year too. Druggy afterhours minimal is covered courtesy of Veerus & Maxie Devine who serve up the rather Mobilee-ish "The Church".
Italian artist Roberto Clementi has released previously on Soma Records, Echocord, Kontra and Hypercolour. This time it is for famed Berlin imprint Pets Recordings where he serves up more deep and lush techno of the dubbier persuasion on "Avesys". On "Voschod" he takes it all the way to Berghain on this factory floor style stomper that wouldn't be out of place on a label like Fachwerk. Finally "Landing A Man" merges the sensibilities of both previous tracks wonderfully on this fierce yet stripped back slow burner with immersive low end dynamics intact.
Hot Montreal duo: the armada music affiliated Lex & Wood return with more sultry yet tough rolling tech house on "DNCE". This time it is for the always reliable Great Stuff recordings. British young gun and rising star in his own right Tommy Vercetti turns in the "Strip back remix" which merges the deep and rolling sensibilties of the original with some proper stateside style deepeness and dopeness for good measure
THE BLACK MADONNA - He Is The Voice I Hear (We Still Believe)
FLABAIRE - Laura Palmer EP (Popcorn)
BONOBO - Migration (Ninja Tune)
LEO GRUNBAUM - Amarone (All Day I Dream)
JICHAEL MACKSON - Catch 22 (Musique Risquee Canada)
EFDE - My Bleep (Voyage Direct)
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Mr Brazil Aka Lono Brazil DJ Chart
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