Harry Agius aka Midland is back: does he ever find time to sleep? Following up the Akase side project he's involved in with Robbie Redway and some killer releases on Aus Music, Feel My Bicep and of course his own Graded imprint which this appears on; making it the label's third release already. "Blush" is a slow burning and emotive piece with an epic vintage synth arpeggio and soulful strings backed by the most restrained beat. "Outpost" gets a bit more fierce with a tougher beat and a free running arpeggio that reeks havoc much like Carl Craig's classic remix of "Falling Up". Finally "Holdup" hammers the message home gloriously with its off kilter yet hypnotic beat and sombre yet emotive atmosphere.
London's Aroop Roy is back, This guy has won acclaim from the who's who of the industry such as Gilles Peterson and Rainer Truby and his music fuses afro (such as on the hands in the air party vibe of "Ifa" that's reminiscent of Fela Kuti vibes), funk (the disco funk soul excursion on "Manuman") and into house like on the spiritual NYC vibe of Um Trago" that's calling to mind classic Joe Claussell and Kerri Chandler. And we're really digging it!
A taster for Robert Hood's second Floorplan album, this EP puts a spotlight on the radical nature of his musical transformation. On "Music", the visceral rhythms of techno minimalism are gone; in their place is a rolling, tracky groove that boasts a repetitive vocal loop and which has shades of classic Relief /Derrick Carter. "Tell You No Lie" is even more impressive. It sees Hood use a gospel vocal over a stomping, funk guitar-sampling disco house workout. There is an audibly religious dimension to "Tell You No Lie," but Hood's knack for writing a great tune means that it sounds celebratory rather than self-indulgent or preachy.
LOFT's latest release is an all-star affair, with a quartet of hyped artists taking it in turns to remix tracks from Berlin-based Aussie Isaac Tichauer's recent Street Lessons EP. Belfast boys Bicep step up first, delivering a mix that blends winding synthesizer lines with rolling, early '90s style breakbeat house grooves. Hackman's version of "Street Lessons" is a cheery, UKG-meets-deep house affair full of skipping beats and twinkling pianos, before Dorsia serves up a tasty vocal version of the same track smothered in psychedelic electronics and pretty synth melodies. Finally, Lancelot manages to deliver a drowsy tech-house-meets-boisterous garage interpretation of "Street Lessons" that should go down well with younger crowds.
Bay Area house hero and Dirtybird co-founder Justin Martin is back following up 2013's Ghettos & Gardens with his new full length LP Hello Clouds, a collection of fine moods and grooves that see him collaborate with some of his favourite artists at the moment. He's quoted as saying "I reached out to specific artists who currently inspire me". Highlights include the title track where he collaborates with London pop chanteuse FEMME on this low slung acid groove. More great talents from London appear such as Lena Cullen, lending her fine vocals to the dark futurism of "Odyssey" and Bristolian rising star and fellow Dirtybird alumni Will Clarke appears too, lending his midas touch to "Back To The Jungle" which is bumpy and as bass driven as you could possibly imagine. The Amen break on top is totally killer too.
Peggy Gou has had a busy debut year thanks to her opener on Phonica's white offshoot, and now two EP's out on Rekids in quick succession. Her sound is a subtle, minimalistic blend of house and techno, exactly the sort of tech-minded groovers that have appeared on Radio Slave's label in the past. "Jen High", for instance, takes a dusty being of drums and wraps them around delicate blends of chimes, whereas "When Round, They Go" heads deeper into space with the help of a sublimely cosmic swarm of sonics. The special piece comes from Terekke's remix of the latter, and the LIES man adds his signature touch to an already very deep house tune, making his version that one toke over the line!
London young guns Wolf Music are still at it, pursuing their love of new wave deep house sounds and they're still doing good, we must say. They've drafted current scene favourite Frits Wentik with a little help from fellow Dutchman Loes Jongerling for Rarely Pure Never Simple (Club Edits). First up is "Nevertheless" which is Berlin style dusty/hip-hop inspired deepness in the vein of Glenn Astro and Max Graef. The vibe continues on "In Addition (Club Edit)" which adds a bit of emotive and soulful synth work reminiscent of classic Larry Heard into the mix. Finally the title track gets all reduced and dubby on us, galloping away in subterranean and mysterious fashion but those Rhodes keys and sexy vocal loop on top are a worthy addition.
Ali "Nebraska" Gibbs last outing on Mister Saturday Night, 2015's Stand Your Ground, saw the producer treating listeners to a quartet of tracks that touched on a multitude of house styles. This follow-up has a similar feel. He begins with the loose-but-bold drums, electric piano solos, disco strings and occasional punchy horns of "Done My Best", before dropping down into slower, deeper, dub-tinged territory via the toasty electric bass, stretched-out chords, mid-tempo grooves and pitched-down horns of "Look What You've Done To Me". He rounds off another fine outing with "S.O.S Dub", a crackling, unfeasibly atmospheric journey through dub house grooves, fluttering chords and creepy electronics.
London's Hypercolour crew have now become synonymous with quality house and techno, and although they are originally rooted in the UK strain of the genres, recent years have brought along a whole new heap of styles and talent on their catalogue. First up, we should give credit to Axel Boman and the ridiculously hummable tech-house groove that is "Depression 01", followed supremely by a hard-hitting house banger in the name of "Lynn" by the unstoppable Dense & Pika. Other choice cuts on here include Kevin McPhee's nasty "CC-XXX-YY-NNNNN", Jimmy Edgar's sexier-than-ever "Hush", Lucretio's smooth "Vampire Killer", and...of screw it, it's all pretty damn killer. HOT.
Call Super first met the Dekmantel crew last year, one of many high profile DJs to play their summer festival in Amsterdam and it wasn't long before the esteemed Dutch imprint asked him to supply them with an EP. Impressively, Nervous Sex Traffic is one of his strongest 12" singles to date - no mean feat given his track record - with the title track, in particular, delivering thrills in spades. Stretching out over nine mesmerizing minutes, it overlays snappy, analogue-sounding beats and cowbell hits with alien bleep melodies, synthesized horn stabs, rich bass, and pads that recall Pet Shop Boys' "West End Girls". It's a melodious, eyes-closed treat, all told. "Mount Grace" sees a deeper, more metallic affair that draws inspiration from vintage Detroit techno, blissful electro, and the morning-after confusion of ambient house.
Ron & Neil is an all-star collaboration between old buddies Jim "Ron Basejam" Baron (Crazy P), and Rack 'N' Ruin boss man Neil Diablo. Pedre Son Aclat marks the project's first appearance, with the three original tracks sitting somewhere between shimmering nu-disco, sparkling powder house, and disco-influenced grooves. The title track sets the tone, layering up colourful synthesizer chords and melodies. While tasty, Man Power's bubbly, Balearic style revision - all analogue synths, cheap drum machine hits and sleazy vocals - is arguably more satisfying. "You Feel It" is a creepy, low-slung deep house/disco hybrid blessed with killer percussive flourishes and a weighty punk funk bassline, while "Tears" is a glassy-eyed fusion of warehouse-friendly electronics and disco-funk hedonism.
Damian Lazarus & The Ancient Moons' Message From The Other Side LP was released back in 2015 but is still riding on its resounding success, this time in the form of several tracks receiving some stellar remixes. Obviously there were the ones for the singles "Vermillion" and "Lovers' Eyes (Mohe Pi Ki Najariya)" but now comes Remixes From The Other Side Part I. Lazarus has called in hot Tel Aviv duo Red Axes to makeover the title track and it's as sweet as you can imagine with its combination of punk funk, psych rock and nu-disco. The now legendary Acid Pauli also steps in to remix said track and his rendition is a deep and sexy serving of low slung and bassline driven deep house. Finally Disco Halal main man Mehmet Aslan does over "Lovers Eyes", delving into some sublime and exotic Middle Eastern flavour.
Despite debuting way back in 2007, Wanderlust marks the full-length debut of Belgian analogue enthusiast Metrobox (AKA producer Berten De Beukelaer). The album format offers him an opportunity to showcase his wide palette of influences, from drowsy, blue-eyed synth-soul (opener "At Night (When I See The Light)", the electro-tinged "Messing About"), revivalist new beat ("Bounce Bounce Baby"), and melodious Italian deep house ("Ten Thousand Thundering Typhoons"), to krautrock ("Wanderlust"), vintage Chicago jack ("F (Want You To)"), and acid-influenced late night darkness (the undulating throb of "Erotic Psychotic Hypnotic Freak"). Given his classically trained history, it's perhaps unsurprising that the album is also immaculately produced.
Mad Mats and Tooli's Local Talk imprint is back after a great release last time by Irish legends Fish Go Deep. This time around its the turn of Moscow's Alexander Lay-Far who after releasing two volumes of How I Communicate already this year, now releases the remixes of his dusty hip-hop influenced deep house. On the A side "Lock & Rock" gets a re-rub by the one and only Mr Scruff, whose dusty and low slung dope beat turns the track into a perfect Sunday afternoon accompaniment to a misspent youth in Berlin this summer. The vibes continue with Sound Signature associate Ge-Ology remixing "Like The First Time" doing his urban/high tech soul crossover so well once again: this one's pretty special we must say.
Having been off-grid for the last six months, Rampa returns to action with a four-track blast of ear-pleasing, deep house goodness. The Keinemusik co-founder begins confidently, layering up eyes-closed pads, blissful electronic melodies and Balearic house grooves on the deliciously tactile "Trust". "Entropie" is a hard-to-describe fusion of dense ethnic percussion, marimbas and honking electronic stabs, while "Defiled" is a pulsating chunk of analogue-influenced, EBM style late night darkness (albeit with the instinctive swing of deep house). Finally, he reaches for the woozy male vocal samples and Isolee style rhythm tracks on "Headsup", which is the most obviously Germanic of the four tracks.
When it comes to disco-leaning electro boogie, Lord Funk calls the shots. Each and every release that the man has put out has been both fresh to the ear, and painfully cool thanks, in part, to his ability of bringing together everything that's good about hip-hop, r&b and boogie. "Champagne" is a sunny, hazed-out LA kinda licker featuring DJ LC, and it's one of those tunes that you play with the sun roof firmly DOWN. "Makin' Love" is every bit as summer-friendly, except that here the bass is nastier, more shimmering and ready for dancefloor domination. Highly tipped boogie right here!
By his previously prolific standards, Marco "Tensnake" Niemerski has been rather quiet of late. In fact, Desire contains the long-serving German producer's first original material of 2016. It's typically melodious and ear-pleasing, of course, with the title track delivering an effortlessly sun-kissed take on Balearic deep house, full of drifting chords, tumbling guitar lines, bubbling bass and hazy vocal samples. "Fantasma" is a little bolder and closer in ethos to his nu-disco era material, albeit with a dark and druggy bottom end to counterpoint the track's gentle acid lines and trance-like synthesizer riffs. Like its' predecessor, it will no doubt get plenty of rotations at open-air parties and festivals this summer.
Deep and slinky tech house by Spanish favourite Hector Couto and it finds a fitting home on Ralph Lawson's esteemed Leeds institution that is still going strong. The title track as well as the very funky "Music Please" are the kind of rolling peak time grooves that have seen him have several releases on the likes of Mihalis Safras' Material Series; so no coincidence really! "Raw Fixation" or "House Bounce" dive deeper with their NYC style swing and shuffle and infectious basslines; no wonder he's released on Hot Creations too! There's an undeniable nod to Kerri Chandler on both tracks, which we loved.
Guxi might not be the most prolific artist as of yet, but he is without a doubt on of the rising talents of the nu-school house scene, and by nu-school, we mean electrofied, bass-heavy house banging with a disco twist. The lead track "Saturn" contains one of those basslines that you could listen to for hours on end, all bubbly and full of energy, while "Swimming In Space" is the perfect 80s throwback with a contemporary look and feel. "Twinkling Stars" is the perfect follower, a little deeper and and more club-prone its tone, whereas "Walking On Mars" is all mysticism and starry skies, check the chuggy Richard Rossa remix of "Twinling Stars", a perfect house companion.
Church has been responsible for some fantastic 12" singles of late, delivering killer EPs from rising stars Ishmael, Mall Grab and Wolfey & Project Pablo. Here they change tack, serving up a four-track missive from experienced underground deep house producer DJ Aakmael. He begins with the chunky, bumpin' beats, twinkling melodies and drifting vocal samples of "Beautiphul" [sic], before exploring jazzier, looser pastures on the classic summery deep house flex of "13th Mood". "Bloo Again" blends sweeping strings, Roy Ayers style vibraphone solos and a tactile groove to excellent effect, while closer "Space" smartly works a swinging groove and tasty chords for maximum dancefloor pleasure.