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Reviewed this week
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Riding high on the buzz he has generated in the last twelve months, Max Graef delivers this album to Tartelet as a man very much in demand. His style, fuelled on the foundations of sampling funk and soul to a brilliantly modern end, has more space to breathe on this LP, but still the fundamentals remain. "Itzehoe" struts on a lazy jazzed-out sizzle of drums and beautiful Rhodes notes while "Tamboule Fudgefunk" punches its way through woozy synth work and a righteous beat and "Drums Of Death" struts on a perfect disco groove replete with live instrumentation, but there's a wealth of other tempos and styles all shot through with the homespun jazz charm that Graef has made his own of late.
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With just one other record consigned to the project it's not often we witness label boss Jimpster turning his hand to his discofied alias on Delusions Of Grandeur. Any keen followers of the label will be more than satisfied with the vibe on offer, as a slower kind of house groove takes hold for three tracks infused with spiritual sampling, starting with the wistful, soulful tones of "Painted Lady". "Lumpsucker" has a stronger electronic vein running through its core, matching Chicago drums and snaking arpeggios with washes of chords to keep the mood mellow, before "Camberwell Beauty" scrubs out the edges and drifts deep down into a sumptuous pillow of laconic house.
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Released last November, Illumination was just the debut EP we could have hoped for from veteran DJ Erol Alkan; straddling the line between touchy-feely piano house, pounding acid and oddball breakbeat, it was as honest encapsulation of the man's idiosyncratic approach as you could expect. It's something that follows on to this collection of remixers, which gives a diverse selection of producers a crack at creating something new from Alkan's orginals. Rush Hour's Tom Trago turns in the most conventional remix, and deeper version of the '90s-influenced "A Hold On Love", while The Emperor Machine adds some expectedly trippy dub effects to "Bang!". U's version of "Check Out Your Mind" is even more twisted than the chopped up original, but for us it's L.I.E.S. and Nation affiliate Beau Wanzer's take on "Bang!" that stands out, removing all the sharp edges and turning it into an effective techno bludgeoning tool that will shake sweaty basements apart.
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Edit fiends Basic Fingers usually reserve their tastiest material for the occasionally used Gold Finger offshoot. That's arguably the case here, as Deejaykul delivers a sumptuously deep and soulful house interpretation of the much-played "Feeling Good" (think Nina Simone, though this version has a delicious male vocal). The A-side DeejayKul meets Soultechnic Deepa mix is particularly potent, with intricate Latin percussion, smooth pads and sensual vocal riding an effortlessly sunny groove. There's a bit more vintage US garage on the other track, where the Classic Love Deep mix laces soft-focus chords and classic organs over a typically skippy groove. Impeccable stuff, all told.
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Having previously signaled his intent with a couple of tracks on split EPs, Rome-based producer Whitesquare presents his debut solo EP for Toytronics. His style sits somewhere between vintage analogue house and the deep modern tech-house of fellow Italians Tale of Us, with added deep house dreaminess liberally spooned into the mix. It's a sound that's never less than enveloping, and highlights are pleasingly plentiful. Choose between the yearning, late night haziness of "Lost", the tactile riffs and tweaked acid bass of "Klum", the stripped-back late night bass pleasure of "Rise", and the booming, garage-influenced strut of "Stand". If that's not enough, the NT89 remix of "Lost" is also a bit of a peach.
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With their influences ranging from chart-baiting house music to skippy garage and deeper moods, Nu Era stride forth on their debut single for Four40 as representatives of the West Midlands scene. "Give It All" screams crossover appeal with its canny mix of vocals, strings and chords precision placed for maximum ear-worming, while the "Bass Mix" brings a much ruder underground twist on the track. "Came Into My Life" rides a more electro influenced beat but keeps the cheerful melodic elements and chipmunk vocal slices present and correct, leaving it to "Source" to bring a techno edge to proceedings with its nasty synth line and strict 4/4 jack.
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With just the one cheekily titled release to his name, Matt Karmil may not be a name familiar to all, but the rising UK producer is one that you are likely to spot with increasing regularity as 2014 rolls on. Late next month, Karmil will grace the Popnoname label with a debut album and here he becomes the first UK correspondent on Tim Sweeney's ever prosperous Beats In Space label. Spend some time with the two tracks on So You Say and you'll wonder why you hadn't heard the name Matt Karmil before, as both are richly detailed house jams with the capacity to scoop up dancefloors and take them somewhere else entirely.
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Studio Barnhaus' co-owner Kornel Kovacs is in great form on "Szikra", which - somewhat surprisingly - is his debut solo single for the label. Kovacs' combination of bustling, US garage-influenced beats, dreamy pads, picturesque music box melodies and choice hip-hop vocal samples is nothing less than inspired. As a result, "Szikra" sounds like an unlikely fusion of Confused House style tropical depth and vintage NYC groovery. The stripped back, dub style Bonusz Beat is pretty tasty, too, while experienced techno producer Abdulla Rashim turns the track into an epic 12-minute dub techno exploration. Excellent stuff, all told.
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If you're looking for a bit of variety and a high quality threshold, this EP from the ever-reliable Legendary 1979 Orchestra should be right up your alley. Contrast, for example, the liquid, Afro-tinged deep house smoothness of "Gets Deep", with the slap bass-propelled deep disco of "Amsterdam Zest", or the rubbery Balearic-meets-electrofunk-meets-deep house groove of "Love is Everywhere". Best of all, though, is the Juno exclusive track "Big Man Dub", a delay-laden, organ-sporting chunk of bounciness that boasts a terrific vocal breakdown, subtle synth-strings and some decidedly bold synth riffs. Like the rest of the EP, it's perfectly pitched.
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Jaymo & Andy George's Moda Black present Futurists, a double vinyl collection of forward thinking, underground artists including Sidney Charles, REbEL & Twon, Dudley Strangeways, Fauvrelle, Elias Tzikas, Roberto Palmero, Javi Bora & Le Vinyl and Lrusse & Bleecker. Fuelled by Jay and Andy's unquenchable thirst for new music, Futurists is, in their words, "a chance to shine the spotlight on some really creative new school producers who are making music for all the right reasons - they're doing things their own way and they're doing it with passion and soul". Sidney Charles sets the tone with the bass heavy groove of "Vibe", whilst this release also sees the newly formed duo REbEL & Twon shine with "Itchy Fingaz". Long term Moda affiliate Dudley Strangeways has previously impressed with releases on Klasse, Holic Trax and Albion Records and does so once more with the robust UK House stylings of "Call Girl". Be sure to check "Hats And Nuts" from Lrusse & Bleecker, the recently formed alias of Behling & Simpson which caps off this fine collection!
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Creating stripped-back analogue acid house tracks with soul is notoriously difficult. Congratulations then, to Spain's Nacho Marco, who has successfully nailed the "acid soul" sound with "Open", a kind of basement-friendly take on Deetron blessed with a superb vocal from Aqeel and just the right amount of dark 303 tweakery. Nacho Marco himself provides a couple of notable reworks, with the raw and occasionally brutal Acidub standing out. Elsewhere, there's a brilliantly saucer-eyed, piano-sporting remix from Kiani & His Legion, and a stonking, rave-friendly Basement Tool from the same producer. The latter, all Belgian rave stabs and Chicago jack builds, is arguably the highlight of an excellent EP.
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For their second outing, LOFT Records have turned to London-based rising stars Dorsia. The duo is on fine form on "Ghana", an attractive chunk of bass-heavy, tech-tinged deep house that benefits greatly from a superb cut-up vocal, subtle melodies and just the right amount of winding analogue electronics. The remix package is impressive, too, with Jay Shepheard's foreboding, gently sweaty take - all acid bass, rising chords and US garage era organ stabs - just edging out Roberto Rodriguez's deep, woozy, enveloping version as our personal favourite. That said, HNNY's loose, analogue-heavy deep house revision is pretty tasty, too.
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Surprisingly little information exists online about new Home Taping artist Simba. BY the sounds of "Phase Seq One", though, he's something of a talent. You see, "Phase Seq One" is deep, crackly, woozy and soulful, sounding not unlike the heady productions of Detroit heavyweights Andres and Moodymann - all warm loops, bumpin' beats, classic soul vocal samples and just the right amount of filter tweakery. As debuts go (assuming this is his debut), it's pretty damn hot. The Black Madonna delivers the obligatory remix, stripping back the original and adding a little more drum machine oomph to the beats. The resultant version - blessed with occasional intricate keys and the usual BM Chicago soul - is something of a late night triumph.
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Outboxx's eponymous debut album on Idle Hands, a luscious exploration of tactile deep house shot through with quiet, soulful warmth, was arguably the most overlooked full length of 2013. Here the Bristol duo change tack slightly, offering a bolder but no less deliciously glassy-eyed trio of tracks on Local Talk. "Planet Love" is warm, undulating and attractive, with choice vocal samples peppering a pleasingly sweet deep US house groove. "On My Own (Independence Mix)" goes further towards US garage territory, placing fluid chords atop a bustling, skipping, bass heavy groove. Finally, "Denim Dreams" impresses with its melodic intricacy, tactile keys, liquid synths and attractive top-range percussive touches. Deep house bliss, basically.
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Cayam is a newcomer, not just to Hypercolour, but also to the world of electronic music at large. Considering this is his debut, No Stress is fairly impressive. Version 1 of the title track is particularly potent, offering a mix of robotic rhythms, mechanical synths and a simple, looped spoken vocal, with just enough cute melodic touches to keep the whole thing rolling forwards. Version 2 is deeper and more hypnotic. It makes great use of a chiming melody and some shuffling, tech-tinged beats, which help give the whole thing an eyes-wide-shut feel. Bonus cut "Doom Gloom" continues in a similar vein, offering an enveloping trip into deep, tech-tinged late night house territory. On this evidence, Cayam could be a name to watch.
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For his first release of the year, moody bass beau Woz is sticking with Black Butter - the killer bottom end-loving label who has helped make him who he is today. He's been away a while, but he's back with a bang on "Breathe": a thumping sleazy houser full of urgent twitchy hi-hats, sultry vocals and a particularly nasty bassline, and that's before the creepy sound effects filter in along with an eerie piano coda. However, if you fancy your bass on the deeper side, "Cold", with its slinky linear groove and dubby pads, is the one for you.
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Way back in 2005 Prins Thomas called upon Todd Terje to launch his own Full Pupp label, an offshoot of Steve Kotey's Bear Entertainment. Over the years, Full Pupp has acted as a platform for Nordic talent, releasing music from diskJokke, Blackbelt Andersen, Marius Vareid and of course Prins Thomas, whilst expanding to include the more internationally focused Internasjonal and Internasjonal Spesial sister labels. This sampler is the final instalment in Full Pupp's four pronged celebration for reaching ten years of scandolearic goodness - a CD version is also due for the compact disco heads - and commences in delightfully cheeky fashion with Magnus International's remix of "Vos-Sako-Rv" by Lindstrom, just wait for those vocals! Jarle Brathen and Marius Vareid invoke the spirit of sunset Ibiza with their contribution as Ytre Rymden Dansskola, whilst Magnus International ensures he owns this EP with the killer breakbeat Balearic monster "Compilation".
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Helge Tommervag aka Mind Over Midi has been making music for many years. The Norwegian native was famous for his raucous and uncompromising approach to techno in the '90s, but he's slowly moved towards less constrictive terrain. The always-wonderful Diametric label presents an ample collection of his new sound - one that's inherently deep and aqueous, where the synths feel loose and percussion is scarce if at all existent. There's a sense of transportation throughout the whole LP, where Tommervag's wailing atmospherics and pensive arrangement are worthy of a proper listen. No laptop speakers or ear-buds. Sit back, blast it loud and be off on your way to the cosmos. Recommended to fans of everything from Klaus Schulze to Aphex Twin.
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Rush Hour's latest reissue focus is Vincent Floyd, a producer with a small clutch of 12" releases in the mid '90s for Dance Mania, Relief and Gherkin Records offshoot Resound Records. Although more from the producer is promised in the year to come, the first record is Your Eyes, a reissue the producer's debut for Dance Mania. Released back in 1990, the five-track 12" brandished a title track that was pretty much a perfect example of vocal deep house from the era, and this reissued edition from Rush Hour pares the record down to just three tracks, with the Chan-featuring title cut complemented by an instrumental and "I'm So Deep," described by the label as a "sinister haunting instrumental jackin track".
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Danny Wolfers' restless productivity knows no bounds. Not content with dropping stone cold 12" singles at a furious rate, he's delivered yet another Legowelt album to Creme Organization. Pleasingly, Crystal Cult 2080 (so called because he used a homemade crystal compressor and dusty second hand Roland JV2080- synthesizer throughout the recording process) is up to his usual high standards. There are few surprises - we should all know what we're getting by now - but plenty of reasons to be cheerful, from the fuzzy new age electronica of "The Future of Myself" and muddy Detroit futurism of "Fundamental Superstition", to the tropical pagan mysticism of "Ancient Rites Demoni Mundi" and warped acid of the feverish title track.
Exclusives
SIMBA - Phase Seq One (Home Taping Is Killing Music) - exclusive  21-04-2014
DORSIA - Ghana (LOFT)
GRAEF, Max - Rivers Of The Red Planet (Tartelet Germany) - exclusive 21-04-2014
Exclusives
APPIAN/NDV/CYCLONIX/NUBIAN MINDZ - Ganondorf EP (End Of Level Boss) - exclusive 28-04-2014
LEGOWELT - Crystal Cult 2080 (Creme Organization Holland)
NU ERA - Give It All (Four40) - exclusive 21-04-2014
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