It's three years since Craig Smith and Graeme Clark impressed with One Night In The Borough, a landmark album that epitomized all that was good about the cut-and-paste, disco-sampling deep house scene of the time. This sophomore set offers more of the same, delivering tracks that ride a range of tempos in their trademark deep, loopy, hypnotic and pleasingly baggy style. While there are plenty of surprisingly supple, heavily electronic uptempo cuts on offer (see "Feel", the disco rush of "In Your Arms" and the classic, Frankie Knuckles-ish US house of "Read My Mind"), they're still at their best when operating at a slower tempo, as the deliciously jazzy "Walk Away" and sensual throb of "Through The Night" neatly prove.
Rarely is there a compilation as hotly anticipated as this little baby. Compiled by the master and captain of Dirtybird Records himself Mr Claude VonStroke, this is the culmination of a year's worth of curation on his part. Featuring appearances from Justin Martin, Ghostea, Catz N Dogz, Cause and Affect and Claude himself, it's a huge collection of Dirtybird house including the massive dancefloor hit "Okay" by Shiba San - Claude Von Stroke's personal fave. This has to be this year's first truly essential purchase. Don't think, just bag.
Having met at school, sharing a passion for music and skating, Florian Vietz and Andreas Hopfl met at high school, the Coeo duo's name supposedly comes from a health and safety warning adorning the side of a coffee cup, which read "Contents Hot". It's something shared in this simmering collection of raw house tracks, with "Do It" starting hard and staying hard, and "Will I" features beautifully crafted vocals and an almost percussive arpeggio lead which sits mellifluously on floating pads and raw piano chords. Remixes come courtesy of Steve Huerta and Vorres, who add their resective dubby and gospel-esque approaches to the source material.
It seems surprising that this debut album from Kassem Mosse should appear with little fanfare, but that's apparently how the acclaimed German producer wanted it. Predictably, it's rather good. Rippling with fuzzy analogue warmth, crusty drum machine rhythms, toasty keys and alien electronics, it offers a selection of undulating deep house cuts in his inimitable style. At times - such as on the soulful shuffle of "Untitled A1" and jazzy "Untitled D1" - it sounds a little like vintage Moodymann; at others, Mosse's techno influence is much more apparent (see the wonky throb of "Untitled D1"). Throughout, Workshop 19 is formidably atmospheric.
Bristol-based, Distro comes through absolutely correct with his latest scorcher on Roska's Kicks And Snares imprint. "Thug Girl" is an on-point continuation of the FWD tradition, combining elements of house and grime like there's no tomorrow - so good to see ideas flowing back into the bass pool! "Deep Down", as the title suggests, is a moodier, heads-down track but one that still rocks the floor good and proper.
Having first dropped on fluorescent yellow vinyl back in November, Dirtytwo's baggy, string-laden Razor 'N' Tape debut, "The Remedy", finally makes it to digital download. The original - a tactile US garage-influenced deep house take on Diana Ross's disco classic "Love Hangover" - is joined by a quartet of similarly classic-sounding remixes. DirtyTwo throw in a few more original disco elements on their TwoDirty Remix (which, incidentally, also comes in instrumental form), Caserta drops some piano house riffs and booming garage bass on his rework, while Grey Area go all Balearic on their deliciously saucer-eyed version. Finally, Duu Ben sprints back towards the disco on his chunky, percussive interpretation.
There's no stopping Damian Lazarus's Crosstown Rebels. Having just noisily celebrated their first decade, the label has moved seamlessly into their next ten years. Here, label regular Subb-Ann unleashes a surprisingly soulful slice of deep tech-house. "Say No More", featuring the distinctive vocals of SYF, bubbles along impressively, offering just the right balance between undulating electronic groovery, low-end bounce and glassy-eyed tech-soul. There's a chunkier, bassier interpretation in the form of the "Terrace Dub", while Matthew Jonson's epic interpretation strips the track back to a skeleton, synth-heavy groove. In the process, the Canadian does a superb job in bringing out the track's soulful side.
Burnin Tears is a joint project from Luv Shack regulars Simonlebon and Lee Stevens. Their first single together, 2012's "Got A Reason", was impressively deep, fluid and Balearic. "Permanent Midnite", featuring the heart-aching, emotion-rich vocals of Georges Perin, is, if anything, even deeper. Perin's super-soulful vocal perfectly matches the duo's subtle, melodic, midtempo production - all long, drawn-out chords, tear-jerking melodies and simple, head-nodding beats. There's a sweatier feel to virtual flipside "U Don't Get Me", a bold and bouncy hook-up with fellow Luv Shack regular Jakobin that fixes sweet deep house pads to a chunky US house groove. A solid radio edit of the title track completes a decent package.
The ever-impressive Champion Sound bring a new name into the fold as they present Hold Me, the impressive debut EP from Irish house producer Replete, who brings his own brand of deep, bass heavy house to the label. The title track combines blissful pads and a late '90s atmosphere with bold piano stabs and an emotive vocal, while "Appetite/Life" takes the concept even further with a luminescent synth palette that balances the intricate yet dubby rhythm. "Make Me Want You" takes things deeper still, as a conga-led percussion melts into a reverb-heavy soundscape, while "I Haven't Felt Young In Years" provides a fittingly melancholic mid-tempo closer. Another killer release from the Champion Sound crew.
Livingroom Techno is an interesting concept. As the title suggests, it's Connaisseur Recordings' choice of "techno" records (think tech-house, deep minimal and tech-tinged deep house) that they think are particularly suitable for home listening - not just lounging on the sofa, mind, but also shuffling round your living room like a modern-day house lover. This fourth instalment in the series is as sumptuous, sinewy and sensual as previous instalments, variously delivering breezy sunrise goodness (Chymera), bubbly tech-jazz (Koett), melody rich groovery (Lake People's delicious "Stepwise") and Latin-tinged deep carnival fare (Ian O'Donovan).
Italian duo Hard Ton has an impressive discography, with previous releases on a variety of must-check nu-disco and house labels (Internasjonal, Dissident, Compost Disco, International Deejay Gigolos). Here, they deliver their third EP for regular home Toy Tronics. As you'd perhaps, there's plenty of variety in the cuts on offer, from the dreamy, disco-flecked deep house of "Sing It" and vivid acid-meets-Italo-meets-soft focus soul of "Off The Wall", to the bombastic analogue workout that is "Jack The Sound". Remix-wise, Toy Tronics regular Ricardo Baez turns "Sing It" into a stomping vintage US house jam, while beach-friendly nu-disco types Mirror People deliver a Future Disco style synth-house rub of "Off The Wall".
Continuing L.I.E.S. boss Ron Morelli's approach of releasing music regardless of whether it's brand new or been sat in the archives for some time, Legowelt's "Teen Romance" has been kicking about for some time. Regardless of its vintage, the track highlights everything there is to love about Danny Wolfers; spectral melodies, snapping drum machine rhythms and gurgling analogue basslines all sunk in thick-set tape dust. "Days of Persistence" goes in on a deeper tip with its sweeping pads, and "SH-High School Daze" is a bubbling pit of simmering psychedelic acid.
Many of Dessous's releases feel like the audible equivalent of a deep hug - cozy, warm and loving. This three-tracker from young French producer Olivier Andrade is no different. Packed with hazy, toasty deep house, it oozes classy musicality from every digitally encoded second. The choppy, Rhodes-laden "Madness" is probably our pick, though it's pushed all the way in the "standout" stakes by the EP's other two tracks. There's the woozy, bass-heavy bliss of lead track "Egregius" - all cosmic pads and subtle vocal samples - and calming, enveloping late night vibes of "Bac a Sable", whose horizontal chords and laidback melodies recline over a bumpin' US house groove.
Fabricio Pecanha has an impressive biography, having been named Brazil's top DJ on no less than six occasions and featuring in DJ Magazine's infamous Top 100 DJs poll on more than one occasion. Here, he turns his attention to production with "Gangsta", a rolling, electronic deep house groove that makes excellent use of woozy melodies and a pitched-down hip-hop vocal. There are numerous remixes to choose from, with Michael Morae's intricate, sub-heavy take and the spooky LOOP Remix impressing most. Those after a bit more bounce should check out the gargantuan, analogue bassline-sporting bonus cuts "Bad Boy" and "The Run".
It's a while since we last heard from sometime Crosstown Rebels and Wolf + Lamb regular Deniz Kurtel. In fact, this two-tracker for Art Department's No. 19 label is her first single for two years. The American is in typically introspective mood on "Deepression", a shuffling, quietly melodic stroll through Visionquest-style tactile house pastures. Pushed forward by an addictive bassline and melancholic sweeps, it's one of her finest productions for some time. She joins forces with Art Department on "Forgot Your Name", a similarly deep, swirling and emotion-rich dream-house journey that benefits greatly from the inclusion of Kurtel's own fragile, heartfelt vocals.
Returning home to his Let's Play House imprint, Jacques Renault is in no mood for taking prisoners as his new jam "The Fake Out" pounds out on a bed of dense drum hooks, dissonant stabs and late night heat. Where the original values the impact of chunky breaks, The Organ Grinder remix instead opts for a clean line in beats that gives greater space to eerie synth touches and distant samples deployed with deadly precision. No Regular Play put paid to these raw sensibilities by working a healthy dose of analogue synth warmth into their remix, most notably in the bass region.
Having previously given Justin Drake and Sascha Dive the Tsuba Loves... anthology treatment, it was probably only a matter of time before label boss Kevin Griffiths compiled an instalment featuring his greatest production moments to date. Featuring a mix of both original productions and a handful of Griffiths' best remixes, Tsuba Loves... is an enjoyable jog through the veteran DJ and producer's distinct, tech-tinged deep house sound. Highlights are naturally plentiful, from the Circulation-style tech-house fluidity of Justin Drake hook-up "Midnight Special" and bongo-laden liquid house of "Lucky Three", to the downright spooky late night fare of "Jaguar Shoes".