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Reviewed this week
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Kompakt's Total compilation series - an annual round up of gems from the imprint's tightly packed release schedule - must be one of the longest-running in dance music. Amazingly, this latest installment is the 14th volume in the series. For those who enjoy Kompakt's generally positive approach to electronic music - think tactile techno, ambient pop and skewed, synth-laden house from the likes of Michael Mayer, Thomas Fehlmann, Partial Arts and Gui Boratto - there's much to admire, including a slew of previously unreleased cuts. These include Superpitcher's "Delta", a sublime chunk of hypnotic e-tronica that's almost too melodic for its own good. Arguably even better is Weval's live recording of "Something", which is near perfect in its wide-eyed pop simplicity.
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JD Twitch's Autonomous Africa series is something of a rarity. Each annual EP, which features modern electronic music influenced by African rhythms, sounds and styles, is used to raise money for a different African charity. Proceeds from this third in the series are destined for Tanzania's Mtandika Mission, a charity run by Midland's parents. It seems fitting, then, that he kicks things off with "Safi", a heavyweight slice of future voodoo that expertly blends analogue electronics and bombastic African rhythms. General Ludd go deep, psychedelic and off-kilter with their brilliant "Burning Mack", while Auntie Flo delivers a stripped-back vocal cut with echoes of his recent material on Permanent Vacation. Finally, Twitch steps up to deliver "Maya", which sounds like LFO's "LFO" re-made by African musicians.
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Auckland's deep delving duo Monkey Boots are back with a new version of "Whitworth Strut", this time reworked by disco royalty himself, Greg Wilson. Under Wilson's guidance the track becomes like a whooshy, subaquatic disco swim with tides of touchy feely loops washing all over the listener in blessed-out joy. Elsewhere we get a new track "Hold Back The Night", which is a lean and mean slice of linear electro funk (also successfully dubbed out by Andy Hart) that clocks in at a whopping eight minutes!
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Man of many monikers Gerd returns to the NY Stomp alias he last used in 2012. "I Feel It Comin' On", featuring Matthew Kirkwood, is a sparkling chunk of revivalist US house, with pianos and cut-up soul vocals riding a classic bassline and stomping, basement-friendly beats. There's a couple of more UKG-friendly revisions in the shape of the Bass'N'Dirt Remix and Dub, while Ovis gives the original a thunderous makeover - all raw drum machine beats, powerful sub and cut-up, hands-in-the-air vocals. There's also a solid bonus cut, "Beatattak", in which Gerd laces chopped-up freestyle vocals and dreamy chords over a skipping, US garage style rhythm.
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"Joker" was undeniably one of the strongest cuts from Gui Boratto's recent Abaporu full length, his fourth for long serving Cologne giants Kompakt. It's pleasing, then, to find it getting a deserved single release. The original - a breakdown-heavy chunk of progressive techno blessed with darting synthesizer arpeggios and tumbling pianos - is remixed by Dave DK and Michael Mayer. The former delivers a deeper, more atmospheric version, bristling with sinewy strings, woozy chords and sparse, bongo-laden percussion. It's Mayer's remix that hits home hardest, though. The Kompakt bossman reinvents the track as a chunky slab of wide-eyed rave revivalism, with Boratto's pianos and arpeggios riding a thrilling new bassline and cut-up electronics.
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In just four releases Brame has managed to land himself solo releases on Morris Audio, Dirt Crew and Drumpoet Community, which speaks volumes for the quality of his deep house wares. It's the latter that he returns to for round two, finding fresh form with the sublime and soothing tones of "Vinyl Cut" and the edgier thrust of "Absent". The standout track on the EP is the title jam, which takes a more progressive route as swirling melodies weave a mystical message around the heads down drum lines, leaving plenty of room for delectable techy stabs to inject some mechanised soul into the tune in its later stages.
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Huxley's come a long way since his formative releases on labels like Cecille Numbers, Tsuba and Kolour Recordings. In recent times he's delivered the goods to Rinse, Hypercolour and Defected with last year's impressive Chatsworth Sound collaboration with Shenoda. His second EP for Will Saul's Aus Music is a varied affair with something to please everyone with a taste for UK flavoured house. It's a certainty the bassline of "Callin" will make this track a summer smash - festival dancers watch out - while the grittier low end frequencies of "Machina" are more suited to a underground club vibe. Huxley goes deeper into the minimal end of tribalish house music on "Tendered Mess" while "Oil Spill" is a signature of Huxley's trademark bassline style.
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After a couple of lean years without a release, Audiojack returned to action earlier this year with a solid 12" on regular home 20:20 Vision. Here, the Leeds-based duo continues that rich vein of form with a similarly sturdy EP on Tsuba. "Traction" itself is a no-nonsense sort of concoction - a woozy, bass-heavy chunk of stripped-back tech-house blessed with Bobby Peru style electronics and carefully placed drum machine handclaps. It's accompanied by a Lauer remix that impressively transforms it into a decidedly Balearic chunk of touchy-feely, wide-eyed deep house. Bonus cut "Hook" sits somewhere between the two, layering filtered classic house riffs over handclap-heavy deep percussion and an undulating bassline.
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Here's something of a treat from soul-flecked deep house specialists Pusic Records: a double-length EP featuring a range of sinewy dancefloor treats. There's much to admire across the eight tracks, from the bongo-laden percussion and 'Knights of the Jaguar' style synth strings of KRL's lip-smacking remix of The New Tower Generation's "Hidden Banana Bug", to the rubbery live bass, woozy chords and near Balearic headiness of Anaxander's "LetAss Go Party". Also worth mentioning is Steve J's pumping, piano-sporting "Souljay" and the dreamy, enveloping, Andres-ish shuffle of Pablo Valentino's jazz-flecked "When I Was a Kid". Glenn Astro's wonky, ultra-deep remix of the same track is arguably the EP's standout moment.
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Dangerous Girl finds Italian-in-Berlin Adapter (AKA producer Antonio Russo) in fine form, delivering a pleasingly eclectic EP for Get Physical. The title track, a tribute to '80s electro and synth-funk complete with winding melodies and cheap sci-fi electronics, offers a radio and dancefloor-friendly opening, before "Me & You" scampers off on a Visionquest-does-pop tip. It's similarly undulating, with atmospheric vocals and a bubbling, tech-tinged groove. Finally, vocalist Jesse Monroe lends a hand on "Remember", a rave-inflected stomp through flickering strobelights accompanied by the sickly-sweet smell of human sweat. It's foreboding, intoxicating and atmospheric: just what you want at three in the morning when your feet are telling you to go home.
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Having previously largely focused on re-edits and reworks, Russian producer Bachteen makes the move into original production with a first EP for Alkalino's Audaz imprint. His production style is effortless and fluid, with opener "Raw Draw" lacing classic house riffs and sparkling pianos over pitched-down vocals and a typically tactile groove. "All I Got" is a little chunkier in the groove department, with picturesque melodies and twinkling riffs riding a darting bassline and handclap-heavy percussion. Alkalino remixes the latter track, fusing woozy electronics and warm organ stabs with loose, swinging, disco-influenced beats. It's a looser, slower and altogether groovier take on Bachteen's original.
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Amazingly, it's been three years since Birmingham-raised duo Case & Affect made their debut on Beatdown Music. Since then, their profile has rocketed thanks to regular appearances on Rinse FM. Here they pop up on the station's label offshoot with a four tracker that smoothly joins the dots between UK funky, deep house and UKG. Opener "Mistakes", blessed as it is with jaunty bleep melodies, warm sub, heady pads and a choice vocal sample, is particularly impressive. "Dimensions" is faster and breezier, with deliciously wide-eyed breakdowns, while "Bird Flu" laces electronic blips and cut-up vocals over a rolling 4/4 garage rhythm. Finally, "Foorest" is impressively weird and glitchy, sounding like UK bass house beamed down from another planet.
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Given their pedigree and the mature musicality of their productions, you'd expect this first single from John Talabot and Axel Boman's Talaboman project to be pretty darn good. "Sideral" - dedicated to a genre-straddling Barcelona DJ who passed away back in 2006 - is certainly special, with the original version offering an intoxicating, bright-eyed fusion of dense, African-influenced percussion, bass-heavy bottom end, attractive chords and thrilling, upbeat melodies. It's tinged with sadness - as many of Talbot's best productions tend to be - but comes across as more celebratory than melancholic. Matt Karmil provides the flipside remix, lacing the duo's notable synth melodies over a hissing, hypnotic techno groove.
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Roughly two years after they first surfaced with Do The Same on Shifting Peaks, UK bass duo Mak & Pasteman add their names to the long list of artists that run their own label. The reception to releases in the ensuing period for Lobster Boy and Naked Naked have proved that this West Yorkshire pair have a willing audience for such a move and it will be interesting to see if Materials is used solely as a platform for their own work or whether they'll use it to nurture new talent too. Naturally they helm the debut release which brandishes an upfront bass-tech-house hybrid on the A Side in "Jam One", whilst "Formation 131" sees M&P doff their hats to the sound of darkside jungle.
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After impressing with a series of singles on Tronic, Brazilian producer DJ Anna returns to Toolroom Records for the first time in two years. "Secret", featuring the seductive vocals of Beverly Ely, has the feel of a classic, floor-friendly house production, with mid-90s stabs and electronics winding their way round an unfussy, floor-friendly groove. We suspect that it's going to become something of an anthem over coming months. There's a solid quartet of remixes to enjoy, too, with Full Intention turning DJ Anna's version into a festival-friendly piano house bomb. MANIK delivers a tougher, techier interpretation full of hoover bass and twisted electronics, while Raxon gives the track a deeper, more hypnotic flavour. Anna's own chunky Club Dub completes the package.
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Downtown Party Network man MIndaugas Lapinskis continues to strike out on his own under the Gardens of God pseudonym, following a successful debut on Ellum Audio earlier in the year. "Gluk" is notably moodier than his generally picturesque collaborative work, with roots in the kind of expansive, shuffing tech-house popularized by the likes of Jamie Jones, Crosstown Rebels and Visionquest. There are still elements of beauty - including a terrific breakdown/build-up combo - amongst the murky rhythms and undulating electronics. "Voices From The Past" is even more melodious, gently building to a rush inducing conclusion via additional jazz hits, swooping chords and darting motifs. Finally, "Fen" seals the deal by fusing sturdy grooves with watery chords and shimmering synth strings.
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The Future Disco brand has long since stopped releasing anything vaguely disco related; these days, it's all about shimmering deep house and tactile, tech-tinged flavours. All Day Dancing is a concept album of sorts, gathering together a selection of warm, breezy tunes that have rocked open-air parties and beachside festivals the World over this summer. As such, it's a strong collection, showcasing such well-regarded gems as Vimes' "Celestial (Reprise)", Ten Walls' picturesque, string and synth trombone-laden "Walking With Elephants", and Tale of Us' chiming, melancholic remix of Mano Le Tough's "Primative People". Throw in further contributions from Dixon & Guy Gerber, Maya Jane Coles and Booka Shade, and you have a sterling selection.
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Fresh from unleashing an album of the year contender in Young Marco's Biology, ESP Institute welcome Munich trio Tambien back into the fold for a superb second record. The Der Elf single is described by the label as "a beacon of hope in a dark warehouse" andwill be welcome news for anyone that indulged in Drogato, last year's ESP bow from Bartellow and Public Possession pair Marvin & Valentino. Both tracks here suggest Tambien's productions are growing in confidence and range with each release. The concoction of bouncing 909 rhythms, gently bent synths and heavily delayed vocals that make up the title track could easily be mistaken for a production from Mark Seven's Parkway label, and is complemented nicely by the melodically-driven deepness of "Are You In Touch w/ Varan?"
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It's been a long wait since the debut, Step Back, by Graeme Sinden's new project The Crystal System, but the follow-up, "Got Me Moving", is finally here. He's clearly been taking a painstaking approach to production and it shows: the title track being four and a half minutes of exquisitely groomed hypnotic disco-dub. There's loads of remixes too, the best of the bunch including Sonny Fodora's almost electroclashy sleazy funker, the mindblowing warped synth stabs of Odysseus' "dark house mix" and Pilo's haunted-step growler. Mixes with bite.
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The SHAG Edits hits Volume 4 welcoming David Glass, Timmy P and Two's Tones to the Roots For Bloom roster. David brings a big hitter with Tape Deck with its MC sampled vocal, Timmy's is drenched in sunshine for all the day parties this is sure to go off at and Two's Tones takes things on a jazz twist, with clever sampling but always that underlying groove that the Roots For Bloom label is known for. Fans of the previous releases wont be dissapointed.

Exclusives
MIDLAND/GENERAL LUDD/AUNTIE FLO/JD TWITCH - Autonomous Africa Volume 3 (Autonomous Africa)  - exclusive 25-08-2014
OOFT! - Here For You - exclusive 01-09-2014
AYBEE - 22 Meters (Deepblak Recordings) - exclusive 08-09-2014
Exclusives
WOZ - Cherry Hill (Black Butter)
VARIOUS - Pusic Records VA 034 (Pusic) - exclusive 31-12-2030
GARDENS OF GOD - Gluk (Boso)
Art Of Tones DJ Chart
Thatmanmonkz Shadeleaf Music DJ Chart
Marc Romboy DJ Chart
Luke Solomon DJ Chart
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