Bicep - the Belfast-born, London-based duo of Matt McBriar and Andy Ferguson - have recently dropped their debut album, a record that truly encapsulates their history and the distillation of their passion for music and club culture since their first release in 2010, via Ninja Tune. Perhaps inspired by Ninja's eclectic output the Bicep boys dig deeper into IDM, italo, techno, electro, jungle & everything in between. You can download ‘Aura’; a complex and propulsive club track that channels their love for all things synth related for free for a limited time only so be quick!
Story has it that a bunch of Amsterdam's current scene heroes had studios in the basement of a hotel opposite the former iconic Trouw nightclub (RIP). One morning, local enfant terrible San Proper happened to cross paths with Nachtbraker (early on a Tuesday morning) and that's how this collaboration of sorts came about. More specifically, San Proper "casually grabbed a microphone.. Nachtbraker pressed record, Dr. Proper got his inner Mick Jagger on, and behold: Misses, madame, mademoiselle was born". Hear the cowboy of minimal house croon over Nachtbraker's funky disco loops on "M.m.m" (feat San Proper's Elegy), while Hamburg's finest Session Victim remix the track next: giving it more dancefloor dynamic. Second original offering "Hamdi" is a hammering disco house joint that will really rock the house, while the remix up next by Bli takes it down a couple of notches, plus a slight Afro touch into something deeper to mood light the early evening.
KiNK's taster for his up and coming album on Running Back is here. We don't know if the title is inspired by the Scottish town that techno larrikins Clouds are from, or the sleepy mining town in Western Australia: it's anyone's guess! The Bulgarian hardware maverick brings us some funked up disco loops, reminiscent of DJ Sneak's Sneaky Trax imprint back in the day. "Perth" is a prime example of his unstoppable knack for good times. Taken from the new Playground LP, the three versions here are dripping with grease. Split between the original, a chord mix (which is brooding and epic) and a funky beat version full of sultry latin percussion: it's all you ever wanted from a single. Perfect house music for techno DJs and techno music for disco DJs.
Prins Thomas's pleasingly varied production career takes another twist here. Having variously helped to define the Scandolearic disco sound, paid tribute to wonky krautrock workouts and recorded some of the best ambient music of the last few years, the Oslo producer has decided to take a different path on "Edmond". An epic split into two parts, "Edmond" combines dense, Sotofett/Bjorj Torske style hand percussion work, electrofunk influenced synths and the producer's usual picturesque melodies to predictably brilliant effect. There's more percussive fun to be had on the wonky, bass-heavy and trippy flipside "Montague Grant", which smothers layered tribal percussion in trippy acid lines, delay-laden synth doodles and deep space chord sequences.
For his last appearance on Running Back, Fort Romeau unashamedly paid tribute to the legendary Fairlight CMI sampling computer. On this follow-up, he turns his attention to another legendary piece of kit from the early 1980s: the more affordable E-Mu series of sampling keyboards/digital workstations. Naturally, the assembled "Emulators" are rich in vibrant and colourful synthesizer motifs, crunchy drum machine hits, elastic basslines and nods towards the kind of club-ready instrumental synth-pop jams that many would consider "Balearic". Highlights-wise, we're particularly enjoying the full-throttle hustle of "Emu" (think Chicken Lips meets early Italian dream house), the glistening ambient rush of "Emu III" and the undulating, acid-flecked cheeriness of digital-only bonus cut "Emu IV". That said, the thrillingly percussive "Bonus Birdy Beats" version of "Emu III" is pretty smart, too.
Originally started in Mexico, Fran Deeper now runs the Spa In Disco imprint out of Mallorca in Spain. Over the last few years has brought us some killer jams by the likes of Rayko, Super Agente 86, Jose Hdez and David Manso to name but a few. It is now over to Italian guy in Bristol Kiu D with the Small Steps EP. Beginning with the deeply percussive nu-disco joint that is the title track, "Smoke" gets all sexy and housey on us in a very late night fashion. "Wiper & True" gets some Kaidi Tatham style nu-jazz soul vibes into the mix: that Herbie Hancock style synth bass really doing the business. Finally, there's a remix by the formerly Dubai based Brit Andy Buchan with an irresistible nu-disco makeover of "Small Steps".
Given that this is Ben Worrall's fourth Crackazat 12" for Local Talk in less than three years, it would be fair to say the project now has a regular home. As with many of his recent tracks, "Proton Blue" looks to classic US garage for inspiration, peppering a bouncy groove with rich organ stabs and jazzy synthesizer melodies. It's accompanied by the alternative "Deep Orbit" version, a more hypnotic and slightly more spacey interpretation that gives greater prominence to the producer's jazzy synthesizer riffs. "Called My Name", meanwhile, is a soulful, jazzy and fluid affair blessed with a hazy vocal and some luscious jazz guitar. The cut's loose and languid jazz-funk influences are explored further on the arguably superior "Meet the Band" remix.
The choice of Tony Humphries to mix Running Back's first label compilation is a significant one. Getting his big break in the early '80s as an understudy for the legendary Shep Pettibone's Kiss FM show, Humphries went on to become one of the defining DJs of house music's formative years, with residencies at New Jersey's Club Zanzibar and London's Ministry of Sound. His previous mixes illustrate his continuing ability to bridge dance music's past and present and his new one for Gerd Janson's imprint will mark its fifteenth anniversary. It is a timely reminder of what has made the Frankfurt powerhouse remain on many favourite label lists for over a decade. It's a mix of golden oldies and recent classics alike: from Todd Terje's smash hit from several years ago "Ragysh" and the anthemic "The Voice From Planet Love" by Precious System, through to more recent bombs. Two by Running back alumnus Shan ("Bassline Party"/"Work It") and the legendary Mr G's Motor City ode "Ben & Gerd" (Killin It M Day).
Nuremberg's Markus Homm has released on a who's who of respected labels over the years such as Highgrade, 8 bit, Saved and Bondage but now makes his debut on Hamburg institution Poker Flat. Starting off with the rolling, driving and absolutely energetic title track: this one is perfect for the peak time. The energy level remains the same for the slinky and hypnotic "Dance With Me" featuring some smooth vocals that add to its overall euphoric qualities. Finally "Feel It" is a change of vibe altogether: this one is rather moody and more suited to the early evening or afterhours alike. With its dub techno influence all over the bassline, haunting chords and delay drenched textures: this is perfect mood lighting if we've ever heard it!
Hot Digits enjoyed Kellini's last EP so much that they asked him to come back and this time he's brought fellow Norwegian Saskin S: who follows his The Game EP from last year. The two bring some serious heat with this bunch of energetic nu-disco cuts. Starting off with the neon-lit boogie of "Break A Leg" followed by the low slung groove of "In Doubt" which really takes things deep. It comes alongside remixes from rising Irish producer Stephen Richards, whose rendition of "In Doubt" gets some groovy summertime vibes happening (to get any decent Disco Stu in the mood) while Chewy Rubs' From The Deep dub of "Resaca" takes things down a darker and headier route: which would be perfect for late night mood lighting on the dancefloor.
Hraach is an Armenian born producer currently living in Spain. He began producing in 2011 and it is apparent that he has found his true calling. Having released under labels such as Sol Selectas, Akumandra (Andante), The Purr-Soleid and now Germany's Underyourskin: who present his fabulous Hidden Dimension EP. Starting out with the deep and mesmerising title track, which also gets remixed by Montreal's Kora (Kindisch/Earthly Delights) who takes it deeper into slinky tech house territory. Second original track "Nemesis" delves into the exotic with its lovely harpsichord melody but balanced by that razor sharp bassline. The remix up next by Tara Brooks from Los Angeles is even spacier and would be perfect to play at sunrise.
Another gold asset from the ever-developing Moonrise Hill collective, Saint Paul emerges from the shadows with his first full EP for the label. Every track is a stone cold soulful house gem. Jacking, rough around the edges but soaked in serious sentiment and human realness, every cut touches the heart. Highlights include the O'Neal style vocal touches on "Heat Is A Melody", the Balearic waves and sandy-toed surges of "Frenetic Dance Under The Moonlight" and the stripped back sample fire of "Boogie Or Not Boogie".
Long-running rework imprint GAMM has pulled off something of a coup here, persuading the legendary DJ Spinna to offer up two of his most cherished, off-the-books remixes. He's in full-on house mode, serving up interpretations that layer soulful vocals over tactile grooves. He begins with "Don't You Blow", where mazy, high register synth solos wrap themselves around skipping beats and a killer analogue bassline. It's this mind-altering combination, as much as the quality of the all-female vocals, that make the cut such a hit. There's a slightly more "classic soulful house" feel to Spinna's version of "So You Say", with impeccable vocals and snaking sax parts riding a rich, warm and evocative groove built around bouncy drum machine beats and disco style bass guitar.
Eli Escobar is turning into a one-man anthem machine. Since joining the Classic Music ranks a couple of years back, the New York producer has been responsible for a string of insatiable dancefloor hits. Predictably, "Handz Up" is another belter: a jaunty, piano-laden roller that smartly builds in intensity throughout. Escobar achieves this primarily through the layering and manipulation of impassioned gospel style vocal samples, bold piano riffs and occasional Church organ, though the stomping, handclap-heavy beat also plays a significant part. Chicagoan scalpel fiend Cratebug - better known for his killer re-edits - provides the obligatory remix, re-imagining the track as a sleazy chunk of head-cracking, mind-altering acid house/gospel house fusion. It's a filthy remix, all told, and offers a druggy alternative to Escobar's cheery original version.
Following an extended hiatus, Daco returns to Paper Recordings with an EP stuffed full of high-grade dancefloor moments. Opener "The Uprise" is particularly potent, featuring as it does a killer combination of "I Feel Love" style arpeggio bass, Kraftwerkian computer vocals, driving beats, spacey chords and some superbly manipulated spoken word samples ("the money, the drugs, the oil, the guns, the war, the uprising!"). It's followed by a proto-house and Italo-disco influenced alternative version that is arguably even closer in tone to vintage Giorgio Moroder, while bonus cut "Faith" is a deep, woozy and dreamy chunk of Balearic house laden with melancholic strings and a superb vocal by Mikey Raphael.
Following up the Cold Heart EP by label bosses Dusky, 17 Steps present a new one by Kiwi: the London producer's debut on the label. Having recently released on labels such as Futureboogie, Correspondant and Optimo Music, his distinctive sound is a mix of Italo, techno and electro. The uplifting epic "Marmora's Theme" is powered by a razor sharp arpeggio and balanced out by those hands in the air style piano loops. We were about to draw comparisons to scene heroes Tuff City Kids, but whaddya know: they're up next on the remix! They work their magic as always with a retro flavoured piece of dancefloor drama: they found it fitting to throw in a gnarly Reese bassline too. Epic!
Having built his reputation via a string of dusty deep house EPs for Ondule Recordings, Hatelate is ready to unfurl his debut album. Predictably, it's something of a slow-burn delight, with the talented French producer supplementing his usual deep, dreamy, jazz-flecked and sample-heavy deep house workouts with a few pleasant surprises. These include the driving, funk-fuelled peak-time stomp of gritty bumper "Feeling Groove", the smoky slow jam "Introduction D'Acid Jazz", the superior, loopy disco-house thump of "Wanna Dance With Me" and the hybrid instrumental hip-hop/slow house head-nod of "Under Da Soul (Sunset Mix)". Of the numerous high-grade deep house workouts present, it's the epic, Chez Damier style "Chicago" that stands out.
Moonrise Hill Material has an interesting mission statement. The French label says that it is dedicated to "poetic house music", a deliciously open-ended concept that's open to all sorts of interpretations. In the case of this EP - a multi-artist affair featuring label regulars and newcomers - that largely means chunky club tracks that doff a cap to classic disco and boogie. There are deviations from the blueprint, of course - see the dub-flecked tropical house slinkiness of Tochigi Canopy's "Gulf Ressac", or the Andres-ish loop jazziness of LB aka Labat's "Your Ass Gotta Go" - but it's likely most DJs will reach for the celebratory positivity of Etheyne and Folamour's party-starting A-side cuts.
Philou Louzolo has previously delivered a string of killer Afro-futurist releases, skillfully combining traditional polyrhythmic drum patterns and sampled instrumentation with the throbbing, club-ready electronics of analogue house. He's at it again on "Lumumba's Revenge", the opening track from this tribute to the mountainous region of Africa that straddles Senegal and Mali. Wiggly acid lines add psychedelic energy to an attractive, mind-altering Afro-house jam built around hot-stepping beats and lilting synthesizer solos. Elsewhere, he opts for a more traditional Malian feel on "Tartitt's Ansari (Philou Louzolo Edit)" - all ear-pleasing guitar motifs, layered handclaps and indigenous vocals - before reaching for the analogue electronics on trippy 4/4 stomper "Tartitt's Dibaba (Tribute Mix)". A more traditional version of the same cut (the "Beat Mix") is also included.
Compost Records launched a remix contest for Brexit Jazz's "Brexit Jazz": one of the spontaneously jammed gems created by Beanfield, Roberto Di Gioia (Marsmobil) and Compost head Michael Reinboth the day after the Brexit plebiscite. The Brexit will be a long story, that's why the remix contest was launched. Of the 80 submissions, here are the winners and they sure made a great effort. Konvex & The Shadow + Melokolektiv's remix goes for that progressive deep house sound that wouldn't have sounded out of place on Compost Black several years ago. Letryp or CRS + BRG's remixes, respectively, are soulful nu-jazz renditions calling to mind the work of the Mantis Recordings label.
Quartet Series is back with the Bodybuilder Series after Scott Franka inaugurated the series in Spring. Here label boss Nachtbraker sourced some serious production talent from Eindhoven, The Netherlands. It's the Portamento Boys' first ever release, characterized by catchy melodies, quirky vibes and warm analogue grooves. First offering "Been There Come Back" is a neon-lit/ nu-disco journey to the stars that will appeal to fans of Smalltown Supersound. "Portamento 101" is described best by the label themselves. It "feels like you're playing the 1986 version of Outrun on your Sega." Finally, the slow burning groove of fittingly titled "Final Dinner" gets deep with spangling arpeggios, dusty classic drumcomputer beats and an unabashed nod in general to '80s Italo.