For his second outing on Dirt Crew, Roar Groove boss The Revenge is in full-on peak-time mode. There's no hypnotic slow house chuggers or mid-tempo loop bumpers, just a quartet of tried-and-tested slammers. The veteran Scottish producer gets straight down to it with the loopy disco-house celebration of "Every Night", where judicious chops are used to incite a rapturous response on dancefloors, before cooling things down a little via the retro-futurist, late '90s New York house bump of "Grit". "Never Learn" is a percussive and stripped back outing that pits vintage, Tenaglia style drums and bass against wonky, alien electronics, while "Krokodile" sounds like a Chicago jack-track after a round of shooters with the Emperor Machine.
With its flowering piano motifs, hazy chord progressions, African-influenced percussion, soulful Jinadu vocals and blissful, midtempo deep house vibe, "The Sun Comes Up" is not only one of Jimpster's most evocative releases in years, but also the undoubted highlight of the Freerange co-founder's recent album, Silent Stars. This deserved single release not only contains the peerless original version, but also a pleasingly wide-eyed, early house-meets-modern-deep house "6AM Mix" by Peggy Gou. Elsewhere, there's another airing for the warm and woozy, similarly Afro-influenced "Silent Stars" and a fluid, broken house revision of "Where You Are" by Steve Urulu. Essential stuff, all told.
Since starting their career with a couple of well-regarded EPs on Toy Tonics in 2013, Black Loops has been label hopping. This return to the German imprint follows four years spent churning out EPs for Gruuv, Neovinyl and, most recently, Pets Recordings. Opener "Le Mirage" is a bustling and bass-heavy affair, with melodic deep house pleasantries wrapping themselves around a chunky, U.S-garage influenced groove. The rhythmic skip and bass-heavy bounce continues on "Red Light", where fuzzy electric piano parts come to the fore, while "Sex (Part 2)" effortlessly joins the dots between the hazy loveliness of Italian dream house and the bustle of classic Kerri Chandler records. 'Sex", which boasts a wonderfully sleazy spoken vocal, completes another ear-pleasing package.
Salon Des Amateurs' Bufiman makes his Dekmantel debut with two left-of-centre, broken beat mind-melters. "Peace Moves" is a lo-fi, almost sludgy dive into a synth swamp where flurries of cosmic synth licks swoon and tease above your heard. "Graffiti Moves" takes an even trippier twist over a similarly low-and-slow drum arrangement but with added sparkling percussion. Throw in two cutlass-sharp versions of and you've got yourself a watertight declaration of peace. Absurdly on-point as always from Dekmantel.
With this EP, Local Talk is giddily introducing the world to their latest signing: Milanese trio Jaxx Madicine. Made up of experienced producers Turbojazz and Parker Madicine with jazz-funk keys-man Veez O, the Italian outfit revels in delivering loose, soulful and life-affirming fare that draws inspiration from the likes of Kaidi Tatham, the Mizell Brothers and dusty, boogie-influenced deep house. As you'd expect, all three tracks are musically expansive. For dancefloor rotation, it's a straight choice between the jazzy, jammed-out keys, squeezable synth bass and shuffling deep house beats of "Surround Seas" and the broken house/jazz-funk fusion of piano-laden opener "Montreux". That said, "Innerlude" - a sparkling chunk of sunrise-friendly analogue warmth reminiscent of Nu Guinea or Mystic Jungle Tribe, is also superb.
Here's something to savour: a first collaborative EP from long-serving French house producer Manoo and Hamburg-based Ivorian (Mr) Raoul K. Given both producers' heritage and track record, it's little surprise to hear impassioned, West African vocals and layered, tribal-influenced percussion amongst the spiraling synth lines and restless, ever-building grooves. Innervisions boss man provides two typically epic, stretched-out reworks - Vocal and Dub interpretations - that both sound like peak-time anthems in the waiting. While the acclaimed DJ/producer wisely includes some notable breakdowns, it's the driving feel of the groove and gradual increase in intensity that really impresses. Arguably best of all, though, is the Trikk Dub Mix, a deeper concoction that boasts looser tribal drum programming, traditional instrumentation and hypnotic tech-house electronics.
Last year, Gentleman's Dub Club member Nick Tyson tickled the fancy of many serious selectors with two fine EPs under the Xoa alias. Both brilliantly blurred the boundaries between Afrobeat, electronica, deep house and a myriad of other classic and contemporary genres, with Tyson skillfully combining choice samples and organic instrumentation. Happily, he's at it again here, delivering another two hard-to-pigeonhole treats. We're particularly enjoying the fluttering flutes, sampled vocals, vintage synths and Tony Allen style beats of "Mass", though the hazy Afro-soul of "Mon Ecole" is almost as impressive. The accompanying remixes are tasty, too, with Glenn Astro's two-part rework of "Mon Ecole" (a spine-tingling beat-less intro followed by a wonderfully jazzy deep house rub) just edging out Ben Hauke's sumptuous remix of "Mass".
Given that Croatia's Dimensions Festival is one of the most consistently on-point electronic music events around, it figures that their new off-shoot label should regularly hit the spot, too. Certainly, the early signs are good. This second sampler single impresses from start to finish. Occasional L.I.E.S artist Marcos Cabral kicks things off with a fine chunk of fluid, underwater deep house ("Prochainement"), before Byron The Aquarius reaches for the talkbox on the sumptuously deep, soulful, jazz-funk influenced house bliss of "Full Moon". Lady Blaktronika gets things going on side B with the groovy, late night Detroit deep house bump of "Can We Still Be Friends". Arguably best of all, though, is the dreamy, jammed-out analogue deep house warmth of DJ Akmael's "Transit".
Throughout his career, Be Svendsen has largely been associated with hypnotic and atmospheric tech-house. For this three-tracker on Earthly Delights, he's decided to do things differently. Opener "Decoy", an exotic mid-tempo chugger full of Persian instrumental flourishes and throbbing post-punk style bass, sounds like the sort of thing you'd hear Andrew Weatherall and Sean Johnston play at A Love From Outer Space. The same could be said about "Nabia", whose lilting swamp guitar licks and undulating electronics are almost psychedelic (despite the presence of drums straight from the tech-house playbook). The real killer, though, is "Hide", a gentle Middle Eastern/Balearic hybrid that attractively bobs and weaves for 15 minutes.
Early 2016, Ashley "Arthur Jr" Stevenson debuted a new alias, The Last Trip To Gandahar, by contributing a track to the In House EP on City Fly (a label he co-founded many years back). This four-track outing is the project's first full outing, and also marks the debut of Washington DC-based label Better Listen. It's a confident and fun-packed affair, with Stevenson delivering tracks that sit somewhere between house-friendly re-edits, and sample-heavy original productions. As you'd probably expect, all four cuts are warm and groovy, making excellent use of elements of soul-soaked disco and jazz-funk tracks. It's all impeccably playable, with the flute-laden "Over Paradise" and righteous "Profound Experience" being our picks.
This second EP of remixes of tracks from Phil Kieran's impressive Blinded By The Sun album is notable for containing a now rare remix from fellow Northern Irishman David Holmes. The producer-turned-soundtrack composer delivers a predictably hazy, atmospheric interpretation of "Loved Too Much" that skillfully balances cinematic traits with the hypnotic techno found on his earliest releases. While undeniably impressive, Matthew Herbert's distinctively wonky, micro-house style rub of "Realities Forgotten" is arguably even better. Throw in a cheery, piano-heavy deep house take on 'Solar Storm" by Mano Le Tough, and you have an essential collection of tasty, club-ready reworks.
Leeds-based likely lads Audiojack have been in great form of late, with singles on Hot Creations and Crosstown Rebels introducing them to a new generation of DJs who may be unfamiliar with their earlier work on 20:20 Vision. "Spirit" is typically electronic, with much use of raw synths and crunchy drum hits, but also pleasingly tuneful thanks to rising and falling melody lines. The track's inherent cheerfulness and chiming synthesizer parts are emphasized further on Fort Romeau's stunning remix, which feels like one long sloppy French kiss under the influence of potent happy pills. To round things off, the Yorkshire duo gets back to basics on "Equilibrium", wrapping Red Zone style riffs and arpeggio melody lines around rolling deep house beats.
Given the quality and volume of the label's output in 2016, it's something of a surprise to find that this is The Magic Movement's first release of 2017. It would be fair to say that it's been worth the wait, though. Amplify marks the debut of London duo Summits and contains a quartet of tasty tunes. Check, for example, the life-affirming chord progressions, woozy melodies, chopped-up vocal samples and rolling broken beats of "High Life" and the sunset-friendly warm of Afro-influenced deep house shuffler Omoba, which also makes great use of some fluttering flute solos amidst its synthesizer-driven positivity. "Indigo", where chanted African vocals and melancholic chords ride a beatdown style groove, is quietly impressive, as is tactile deep house opener "Amplify
With its festival, International Series, DJ Directory and Soundsystem: Dimensions has become a leading name in the underground. In only a mere six years of existence thus far, that's quite impressive we must say! Now, they extend their influence with the start of a new label: Dimensions Recordings. It launches with a 12 track compilation across three separate discs. As the label best describe themselves "An Introduction Part 1 calls upon artists from different corners of the globe who share the similarity of undeniable soul and expression in their music." From the Swahili sung harmonies on Mim Suleiman's lo-slung boogie down groove "Pole Pole", to the afro influences of Swiss collective Alma Negra's "Onga" whose spiritual life music reaches near tribal moments. Then, there's Istanbul's Kerem Akdag with "Getdownsoclose" a soulful jazzy and downright dusty deep house groove. Maryland's James Tillman's soulful vocals on "Wander" rounds off Part 1 with a dose of the soul.
Serge Devant has enjoyed many highs in his 13-year production career, which has seen him evolve from a maker of EDM and progressive trance to a genuine underground house hero. "Thinking of You", his first single for Crosstown Rebels, is a delicate, dreamy and melodious treat, with fragile female vocals and positive chord progressions riding a rolling, tech-house influenced groove. Devant beefs it up himself on the accompanying "Floor Cut", before handing the parts over to Reboot and Art Department for remixing. The latter duo delivers two formidably floor-friendly excursions: the rambunctious late night techno hustle of the "Modular Perspective" remix - the package's highlight in our opinion - and a trippy, undulating, percussion-rich interpretation that gives the track a looser feel (the "Jaded Perspective" mix).
Having recently tickled the fancy of Cajmere AKA Green Velvet - resulting in two solid EPs on his Relief imprint - Samuel Walker and Gavin Royce pitch up on Dirtybird with rapper and producer Dances With White Girls in tow. "Take Me To Your Leader" is deliciously difficult to pin down, sitting somewhere between hip-house, British bass music (check the powerful sub underpinning the loose and scruffy beats), eccentric deep house and twisted electrofunk. It contains a few stylistic ticks typical of Dirtybird releases - wonky electronics and so forth- but is far quirkier and less "in your face" than many of the imprint's titanium-clad bangers. Most importantly of all, it's really rather good.
On The Corner Records present their seventh release, "Nyako" by cult Kenyan musician Makadem. Recorded with producer Behr at a Santuri Safari session at Sondeka Festival in Kenya, the infectious tune features melodic acoustic instrumentation, traditional vocal chants and electronica. To further widen the worldview Indian producer 'Daisho' delivers a sped-up 4/4 version, whilst London duo Modified Man turn in a tougher, clicks 'n' keys rework. Lastly Africaine808 (Berlin's Dirk Leyers and DJ Nomad) provides a stunning remix that thankfully veers on the artier side of Balearica - with fizzy pads, disco effects and driving, yet chilled, rhythms.
RAD-AN1 was initially released as a limited-edition 12" way back in 2013, during Athony Naples rapid rise to prominence. This is the first time it's been made available digitally. The EP remains one of Naples' strongest collections of uncompromising, club-ready cuts. Check, for example, the mutant motifs, restless piano riffs and fuzzy, no-nonsense drums of "Still" and the bumping brilliance of "Faceless", where frenzied, Soundstream style cut-up samples - truncated piano riffs, impassioned vocal snippets and drowsy chords - wrap themselves around the kind of groove that would excite DJ Sneak or Derrick Carter. Arguably best of all, though, is the breezy sunrise deep house of "I Don't See Them", which is as poignant as it is rough-round-the-edges.
Spencer Parker's label deserves serious kudos for releasing this record. Expression is the work of Gordo, currently a regular fixture in Stockholm's DJ circuit, but who supposedly traces his roots back to LA's early 90s rave scene. It's no coincidence then that "To The Sky" resounds to pacey breaks and rave sirens, while "Breathe", with its slow tempo and dreamy pads, is redolent of mellow UK techno from the same period. On "Free Expression", Gordo drops the moody bass of vintage bleep techno, combined with furious percussion, while he brings this hugely impressive debut release to a close with "Para Ti", where break beats meet jacking Chicago house.
Having contributed a track to the split EP that announced Voyage Recordings, founder Andy Hart has since largely focussed on building the label through some canny A&Ring that's seen singles from the likes of Harvey Sutherland, M5K and Urulu. There was the introduction of Hart's Auslander project with Tom Lalley and Fantastic Man in the label's 2015 output too, but the recently-settled Berlin resident hasn't offered up any solo output in some time! Which makes the clutch of brushed deep house burners that feature on this Mistress of your Mind EP most welcome indeed Andy. There are hints that Hart's new surrounds and regular gigs in Berlin are starting to bleed through into his productions - see the heat-treated "Sorayama's Mistress" and full throttle percussive onslaught of "Vienen." It's a development we wholeheartedly approve of!