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Reviewed this week
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It's time to raise a glass of something cold, fizzy and boozy to the long-running G.A.M.M imprint, which celebrates a century of releases with a trio of new disco-era Michael Jackson reworks from regular contributors Moplen and The Reflex. As usual, The Reflex hits the spot, playing around with the original parts to deliver a punchy, floor-friendly extension of Off The Wall cut "Burn This Disco Out" that sounds like some mythical, long lost Tom Moulton remix. Moplen weighs in with two versions of Jacksons' banger "Shake Your Body (Down To The Ground)"; a DJ-friendly effort that begins with easily mixable grooves, and a superior, mostly instrumental 'Remix' that builds up masterfully via a sumptuous, orchestral intro.
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Hampshire-based Groove Motion - AKA DJ/production duo Wayne Altham and Jack Henwood - describe their style as "bangin' soulful music". Certainly, there's plenty of soul to be found throughout this debut release for Midnight Riot. Throughout, they impeccably blur the boundaries between re-edits, remixes and original productions, delivering new takes on classic tracks with plenty of cool musical flourishes. Check, for example, the deliciously evocative piano solos on their breezy house version of The Jones Girls' "Nights Over Egypt" (here renamed "To The Music"), or the sparkling guitars and tactile chords of Sade re-cut "Nothing Can". There's also a cheery, sun-flecked goodness to "So Good To Me", their house-friendly version of Donald Byrd's Paradise Garage classic "Love Has Come Around".
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2015 is fast turning into Henry Wu's year. Having already delivered killer release of baked deep house/instrumental hip-hop fusion for Ho-Tep and Odd Socks, he now pops up on Rhythm Section International with another brilliant EP. While as deep and blazed as previous excursions, there's a sun-bright freshness to the pleasingly varied selections on offer. Contrast, for example, the deep space, boogie-house slickness of "Yellow Brick", the bruk revivalism of "Neezy (Wok)" - think I.G Culture after a few too many bongs) - and the brilliant deep house/jazz-funk fusion of "Dubplate Special". Arguably best of all, though, is the Latin jazz-goes-deep house warmth of "Croydon Depot". Everyone will have a different personal favourite, though; it's that kind of EP.
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Italian upstart Kiu D serves up a three course banquet of high cholesterol edits. For starters we're presented with a heart-attack inducing deep fried platter of greasy synths as Rocker's Revenge's "Walking On Sunshine" gets the full fat treatment. For mains we're served "Disco Brains"; the audio equivalent of a 20oz steak, it has the juiciest, rarest boogie bassline this side of Manhattan. For dessert we're treated to the sweetest of treats as the smooth-yet-unrelenting "Calm Before The Storm" ebbs and flows softly thanks to lavish piano strokes and a peppering of syrupy jazz elements. What a feast. What a debut release.
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Editorial Records have been delivering top selling 'slo-mo disco and deep grooves...from around the globe' since 2009. Here they keep the heat on with a new summer-friendly compilation, Golden Grooves. There are 15 choice cuts here, all of which employ a formula of providing a mellow house frame on which to hang some filtered vintage samples. Highlights include the serpentine bassline of Matt Hughes' cocktail-houser "Rodeo Warrior", the Minnie Ripperton-with-a-backbeat haze of "The Spirit" by The Groovers and the spacey hiNRG disco of "Body Heat".
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15 months on from the release of their superb Body of One full length, Faze Action brothers Robin and Simon Lee have decided to get the album remixed. They start the ball rolling by delivering an '89 style Balearic house dub of "Magic Touch" - all "Good Life" riffs, chopped-up, cowbell-laden percussion and expansive piano solos - before Dicky Trisco weighs in with a more synthesizer-heavy, boogie-inspired re-dub of the same track. Phil Mison reinvents "Echoes of Your Mind" as a drifting Balearic chugger, complete with his own additional guitar, bass and keys, before Emotional emperor Stuart "Chuggy" Leath does his best Dunkelziffer impression via a woozy, fluid and wide-eyed take on "Floating World".
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Despite hailing from Glasgow, The Korvids make the sort of woozy, lilting, yearning Balearica that would have Jose Padilla doing cartwheels. "Beach Coma", their debut single for Nang, is faithfully wide-eyed and huggable, with enough loose instrumental elements (glistening guitars, beach-length chords and multi-tracked vocals) to ensure the right level of refreshed bagginess. Jose Padilla duly emphasizes the acoustic guitars on his sumptuous, enveloping remix, while Audio Luxury provide the obligatory Aeroplane-esque sunshine nu-disco rub. The best rework, though, comes from Ilya Santana, who dips the tempo strips the track back to a sparse but warm, disco-influenced Balearic groove.
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The unstoppable Strut label, usually associated to outstanding reissue anthologies, welcome a surprise package to their catalogue, and boy is this special. Ebo Taylor, one of Ghana's most prolific musicians over the last thirty years, is remixed by none other than Henrik Schwarz, German deep house king and electronic deviant. The track in question is "Ene Nyame Nam A Mensuro", which is transformed by Schwarz into a lively house number complete with Taylor's vocals and plenty of electronic tweaking and processing. The end result is just a straight-up summer jacker. Check!
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Having recently delivered cheery, DJ-friendly edits and reworks for Midnight Riot, Masterworks Music, Argentinian-in-London Fabiolous Barker offers up more glassy-eyed fare on Hotbox Boogie. There's much to admire throughout the five tracks, which - like many edits these days - expertly blend scalpel style rearrangement with compressed, 'straightened out' house grooves. Highlights include the addictive, honky tonk piano solos and disco-funk chunkiness of "Hooked", the thrillingly over-to-the-top "Try Me" (a version of a lesser-known cover of Gino Soccio's "Dancer"), and "You Stepped Into My Mix", a loved-up, house-friendly revision of a disco-era Bee Gees cut later made famous by Melba Moore.
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There are plenty of similarities between Iberian scalpel friends Rayko and Alkalino, from their prolific nature, to the tightened up-but-still groovy nature of their ubiquitous re-edit releases. Here, Spaniard Rayko brings his brand of goodtime grooves to Portuguese Alkalino's Audaz imprint, with fittingly solid results. As usual, there's much to admire, from the string-laden, sun-soaked disco-funk bagginess of "You Like To Dance", to the deliciously dubbed-out electrofunk bounce of standout "B-Boyz". There's much to admire elsewhere, of course, with both the sinewy "Rolling" (think classic dancefloor soul business given a nu-disco makeover) and the almost overwhelmingly Balearic Italo rearrangement "Tornado" impressing.
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Hailing from Lyon relative newcomer Markus Gibb returns on Mexican imprint Disque Discos. Its a match made in heaven as the sound of this EP is totally in keeping with the post Italo-disco sounds being pushed by many artists and labels in that city right now. "Lobotomia" is a totally cool heavy breather of a tune (that gets an awesome art-house make over from Aristidez). Think Daniel Maloso being out-sleazed and you get the picture. "B Side" is deep arpeggiated acid turned into irresistible jack-pop by Barusto. A totally essential release.
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Sometimes, with disco, the twee factor can really go up to 11. Here though, psychedelic beat meister Auxiliary Tha Masterfader gives us the "Dark Side Of Disco". The original is a slice of doom-tingle arpeggiation reminiscent of early Black Strobe and also appears as a longer, more minimal dub. Remix-wise Tronik Youth delivers a charmingly shimmery "Paradise Dub", Dubka goes for the full Chemical Brothers-style acid and Horse Meat Disco legend Severino delivers the best of the lot - a searing, Patrick Cowley-style hiNRG pounder.
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Releases by this Argentinean-born, London-based producer usually tend to be bursting with sizzling disco edits. Here though we have a one-track teaser, presumably a stopgap until his next big release. However "Keep On Dancing", a stonking six-minute funk express, embellished with tight guitar licks, uplifting brass and a truly elasticated bassline, will most definitely keep us moving until the arrival of his next EP.
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Generally renowned for their brave support of the fruitier end of disco in the face of disapproving purists, Fruit Of Life have embraced a new direction for this compilation - dub. It's an intriguing artistic curveball for the label and one that largely works. The fastest track of the four featured here just hits 110 bpm, so it's a relaxing ride throughout. Highlights include Javi Gomez's suspended disco throbber "Bad Times" and Mr Capman' crunchy looper "From the Bottom Up".
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It looks like All Good Funk Alliance's Super HiFi label has struck gold with this cheery, electrofunk influenced summer jam from Rory Hoy and former Freak Power vocalist Ashley Slater. The original, which benefits greatly from Slater's distinctive vocals, is the kind of cheery, Chic-influenced mid-tempo jam that sounds like it would cause commotion on festival dancefloors. The remix package is hefty, too. All Good Funk Alliance lead the way with a rubbery electrofunk-meets-nu disco slammer, while House of Phonk turn it into a French Touch influenced house banger. Best of all, though, is DJ Bone's rework, with re-casts the original as a choppy slab of slap bass-heavy P-funk revivalism.
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Although Cliff Lothar's music has been in demand ever since his first EP on Viewlexx back in 2013, the producer hasn't been outing out tonnes of music. Instead, he's opted to stick close to home and has only released on a handful of labels including Skudge White and the present Riverette out of Spain. The Old Jams Die Hard EP is the first volume of a likely series and its classic Lothar, where the grooves of "Tugeda" are tightly packed and hard-hitting. There's also some funkier moments in "Don't Need Nobody, raw and jacking drum machines oddities on "Going Dutch", and a deeper, meaner kinda vibe on "The Snow Is Falling". Killer.
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"No Promises" was originally a 1990 B-side by The MacKenzie, a long forgotten outfit who would later go on to define the sound of Belgian trance. Back then, their sound was harder to define, and while "No Promises" features some melodious, hypnotic, trance-like elements, these sit alongside choral vocals (similar, in style, to those used on Orbital's "Belfast"), a smattering of Chicago house influences and an undeniably Balearic vibe. Here, the original version is joined by two new interpretations from Lauer; a rougher, more jackin', Chicago-meets-Ghent "remix", and a breezy "cover" that's more Balearic than being carried out of Pacha in a face-chewing daze. As if that wasn't enough to get the juices flowing, there's also a tasty edit of proto-trance-meets-deep-house cut "The Right Side" from Locked Groove and Red D.
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Remix time: one of the many instant party jams from Fort Knox Five's latest long-one Pressurize The Cabin, "Keep It Poppin" gets facelifts from all corners. DJ Dan & Mike Balance add down-low acid-ridden 4/4 fattiness, Wes Smith applies the breaks while Worthy injects a little Dirtybird trippiness. Complete with instrumentals, all bass bases are covered.
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In Flagranti seem incapable of putting out releases that feature more than one track. Of course, when that track is pretty tasty, it's still an enticing proposition. That's certainly the case with "Whenever", which continues their method of blurring the boundaries between re-edits, remixes, and sample-heavy original production. Heavily electronic, a little trippy and seemingly designed for locked-in dancefloor moments, it sits somewhere between groovy proto-house, proto-trance, and the more Balearic end of later Italo-disco. There's also a rather odd spoken word vocal that plays throughout, though it's buried in the mix making it tricky to comprehend. It all adds to the track's inebriated effect.
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1980s Italo disco is a genre that has pretty much been mined to death over the last decade. However Tronik Youth's Nein label continues to manage to release music with Italo leanings that still seem fresh. Here we get two tracks by Italo Brutalo - the growling John Carpenter-esque electro title track, and the synthier more melodic disco-not-disco of "Come To Me Now". Remix-wise, highlights include Tronik Youth's own chugging EBM rework of the former and Drvg Culture's deliciously brutal proto-industrial cacophonous version of the latter.
Exclusives
DJ JUNE - Make My Day (Vintage Music) - exclusive 31-12-2015
PHILLY VANILLI	 - The Soul Groove Experience (WE MEAN DISCO!!) - exclusive 01-01-2016
GROOVE MOTION - To The Music (Midnight Riot) - exclusive 31-12-2015
Exclusives
YVELINES/RUBBERLIPS/JONATHAN RYNO/JUS TADI - Summertime EP (Our Records) - exclusive 31-12-2015
BOOGIE DOWN EDITS - Boogie Down Edits 007 (Boogie Down Edits) - exclusive 31-12-2015
NELUE - Don't Walk, Funk! (Groove Democracy) - exclusive 31-12-2030
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