The honour of curating the 44th instalment of Katakana's Edits series has fallen on Disco Funk Spinner, a much respected re-edit guy whose work has appeared on the likes of Midnight Riot, Disco Fruit and Sound Exhibitions. Here though he only manages to provide two jams, but it's quality, not quantity, right? First up we get "Night Strangers" which takes loops from Candi Staton's Bee Gees cover (Nights On Broadway) and adds an accelerated disco house tempo and subtle but funky embellishments. On the digital flip is "On Fire", a clever rework of Peggy Lee's indestructible classic, Fever. Hot stuff!
Ben Sun made his debut back in 2013, delivering a chunk of life-affirming deep house for Quintessentials' Thanks You Freaks compilation. Three years on, Delusions of Grandeur has handed him the opportunity to showcase his talents over a three-track E.P. His style, which blends elements of electronic disco, deep house and glassy-eyed Balearica, is perfectly suited to the Freerange offshoot. Particularly enjoyable is "Star Ritual", where trippy, delay-laden boogie vocal samples ride a reverb-heavy, African-influenced drum rhythm and undulating, analogue bassline. Elsewhere, shirts may be removed for the bleep-heavy nu-disco/deep house fusion of "Full Moon", while the overwhelmingly tactile "Glass Waves" is little less than a piano-heavy chunk of early Italian deep house revivalism.
Joey Negro has ordained Scandi producer Opolopo to work his magic on this, the latest Z Records comp. This he does and then some, literally zig zagging his way through Z Records' back catalogue like a louche disco serpent. He eventually whittled things down to 35 tracks, all of which are contained here both as full tracks and within his DJ mix. Exclusives include new Opolopo reworks of "Staying Power" and his own "Sustain". Other highlights include the speedy smooth funk of "Midnight Sun" by Doug Willis and the sensual grooves of "Face The Face" by The Sunburst Band.
As Tuff City Kids, Lauer and Gerd Janson are masters at delivering raw-as-sandpaper jackin' house-pop (just the way we like it). Here though with the help of Norwegian popette Annie they indulge their hidden campy side on the monumentally fun "Labyrinth". With a classic mid-80s arpeggiated energy, the track perfectly straddles the fine line between Italo Disco and early Jamie Principle (think Bad Boy) with a hint of the Smalltown Boys. Their own TCK rework steers things more towards the Ron Hardy side of town, and there's also some tasty reworks by Morgan Geist and DJ Oyster too.
Here JD Twitch, head honcho Glasgow institution Optimo, proudly presents a rarity from the unique artist Dennis Bovell. Described as being a 'musical polymath, top flight producer, dub legend and one of the finest artists the UK has ever produced', Bovell released an album in 1981 called Brain Damage which was an absolutely bonkers fusion of Afrobeat, funk, dub, jazz, blues and more. Everybody bought Duran Duran's record instead of course, but justice prevails here as both "Heaven" and "Smouche" are rescued and re-released from the LP. Also featured is the awesome Garland Jeffreys experiment "Escape Goat Dub". Absolutely essential.
Das Komplex is a Polish producer who had been anonymously producing tunes in his remote hometown for nearly a decade before being recently discovered. Ever since his big break he's kept the jams a' comin' - here he serves up some "Pudding" and who are we to refuse? There are five courses, sorry, tunes to enjoy here - the laid back and sunny disco-funk of the title track, the dubbed out haze of "Saw", the deep, slo-mo beats of "Piano", the breathy nature-referencing grooves of "Concrete Jungle" and lastly, the fluffy analogue swirls of the dreamy "One Moment". Textbook chill.
Martin "Frico" Welzer is one of the nu-disco scene's longest serving editors, having put out his first rare groove reworks on Replay Records back in 2003. His re-edits are usually relatively faithful to the source material, offering astute rearrangements - sometimes with a touch of delay, or the odd filter sweep - that steer clear of cheap thrills. That's certainly the case on his latest pair of tasty tweaks. "Work That Body" is a killer, nine-minute chunk of jazz-funk influenced disco-funk, with well-judged instrumental sections and extended drum breaks eventually giving way to sweaty vocal sections. On "Jump For Joy" he presses the button marked "carefree disco fun", expertly cutting up a vintage Jackson Five cut for maximum dancefloor pleasure.
It would be fair to say that Sure Thing's revivalist '80s electrofunk gem "Holding You Tight" has become something of an anthem since it was first released back in 2012, something no doubt assisted by a Defected reissue two years ago. This time round, there's another chance to savour the Extended DJ Mix - arguably still the strongest version of DJ Die, Christophe and Joker's slick original - plus three previously unheard rubs from Aussie disco deviant Dr Packer. His two main mixes (one full vocal, the other instrumental) retain the synthesizer-heavy feel of the original, whilst adding some rich new chords and a chunkier, snare-heavy rhythm track. For those DJs who like to get creative, Packer has also provided an extended, delay-laden accapella.
Here we have a meeting of minds from down under, with Aussie producers Sugar Ray Johnson joining forces with D-Funk for what they explain is a more disco orientated release that what we might normally be used to hearing from them. SRJ and D-Funk are big fans of Grits N Gravy, so that's where they've decided to stay, delivering two subtle vintage edits for our listening pleasure. "Gove Me Your Love" delicately tweaks and phases a shuffly old Curtis Mayfield number, whilst "Hold Me Back" adds some extra housey thump to some prime old crackly soul/funk loops. Ace!
Ten months on from the release of the first Rotten Citizens collection, Rotten City Files delivers the follow-up. This time round, they've chosen to mix things up, accompanying their usual chugging, mid-tempo fare with a smattering of up-beat floor-fillers. In the former category, you'll find a pair of baggy, indie-tinged Balearic shufflers from DYOR and Sutja Gutierrez, and a mid-tempo acid chugger from Iron Blu and Rock Sterling. If you're looking for a little more energy, head for the eyeliner-clad, Nein-ish disco-chug of "Vengeance" by Curses, the throbbing weirdness of Dos Attack's "Masa Madre", or the blissful, floor-friendly positivity of Elvis LA.
In recent times, Rack & Ruin has proved itself to be one of the more consistent re-edit series around, consistently delivering killer reworks that often dig deep for inspiration. Predictably, there's plenty to get the juices flowing on this 12th volume in the series. Italian "man of mystery" The Rejected kicks things off with two fine re-edits; the celebratory thrills "Gambling In The '70s", where spiraling, Latin horn lines and AOR disco vocals ride a chunky, disco-rock groove, and "Lucky Lucio", a thrillingly low-slung rework of a lesser-known stoner disco cut. Japan's Que Sakamoto rounds the EP off, with the bouncy and breezy disco-funk of "Mr Moonlight", and the percussively dense, acid-fried funk-rock of "Salut Des Frangines".
Madrid-based PlayPal Music has steadfastly refused to stick to one style since launching back in 2012, mixing up chugging, psychedelic disco with trippy techno and kinky, off kilter house music. Here they're in pitched-down, dark-wave inspired disco mode, courtesy of Nein Records outfit Permanent Wave. Lead cut "I See Horses" is deliciously weird, wild and alien, its' stylized female vocals crowded out by popping electronics and a chugging synth bassline. "La Maison Des Horreurs", meanwhile, sees them underpin a clandestine minimal wave cut with a rolling, dub house rhythm. Thomass Jackson [sic] successfully turns "I See Horses" into a slick-but-dark synth-pop shuffler, while Inigo Vontier drags "La Maison Des Horreurs" further towards pitch-black, Italo-disco territory.
Thanks to two previous EPs for Public Possession, we should all now know what to expect from ambient/electronica fusionist Obalski. "Wind-S" is somewhat typical of his work, with sweet, attractive synthesizer lines and spacey electronics fluttering around a gentle, spaced-out rhythm pattern. Beautiful and brilliant as it is, the track is not at all dancefloor focused. Those that want to dance - or shuffle, at least - are well catered for, though. Berlin-based house type Nick Hoppner does a brilliant job turning the track into a sweaty, humid, tropical techno treat on the flip, while the Mascaras Gentle Breeze Dub re-casts "Wind-S" as a throbbing, dub disco-influenced Balearic chugger.
Roots For Bloom's consistently on-point SHAG Edits jams continue with typically steamy results. Ethyene takes the lead with a big swooning string sample and shuffling Buckethead style beats, LK brings up the rear slowly and smoulderingly with a delicious slo-mo cosmic chugger, Georgi Barrel's "Up The Hill" is another big sample groove with more than a whiff of Sneak's "Can't Hide From Your Bud" to it. Finally David Moran closes the show with the sexiest jam of the set; the boogie breaks badness of "Weak". Strong
Amsterdam's Aux Tha Masterfader last appeared on Nein in the summer of 2015, serving up the throbbing, Italo-disco psychedelia of "Dark Side Of Disco". Fresh from a well-regarded and similarly inclined EP for Bordello A Parigi, he returns to Nein with something a little different. While "Chicalo Italo" still mines the synthesizer-heavy world of Italian disco for inspiration (check the vocoder vocals and shiny synth melodies), its' bass, beats and construction also doff a cap to early Chicago house (which, after all, was often inspired by Italo records). There's a pitched-down, druggier, dark Italo flavoured rework in the shape of the fine Pin Up Club Remix, while Somerville & Watson do their best to channel the spirit of Patrick Cowley and Bobby Orlando on their throbbing, arpeggio-heavy rework.
Favourite France drop some absolute truth with this killer reissue of Beckie Bell's 1980 classic "Music Madness", from the album 'In Need Of...'. This is he funkiest disco you can possibly ask for, a chirpy, upbeat tune that calls for the good times. It's the sort of track that can be slapped on in just about any set, anywhere, and Bell's vocals are as infectious as the tight groove that pushes the track forwards. There are a couple of remixes, though, which bring out the best of the original and make it even more playable than before. The first one is a more beat-heavy reinterpretation from Voilaaa, while Tom Noble injects the perfect level of houseness into the equation thanks to a slamming 4/4 and some extra percussion. Perfect, and very much recommended if you've somehow slept on the original.
Plevna (an alias of Horatiu Serbanescu, long-time contriver at Future Nuggets and co-founder of Steaua de Mare) presents its first full EP.After incubating for almost 2 years while extracting and forging gems in the south-east space-time anomalies, the untraceable sound of Plevna has reached the optimum balance between eighties delicate nostalgia and contemporary local oriental melody. Bouncing on the delightfully twisted 9/8 groove, this is a unique contact with a multiverse under meticulous construction, an excursion abundant in haunting tunes and unfamiliar melancholy.
Say what you like about Athens of The North, but there's no denying that label head honcho Euan Fryer has got some serious crate-digging skills. Here, he's unearthed, licensed and reissued another little-known gem, the Chris Spraggins' produced "Madness" by Strange. It was originally released on the short-lived Cleveland Unlimited Records label back in 1978, and sits somewhere between blue-eyed soul, early boogie (check the spacey synthesizer sounds dotted throughout), and rock-tinged disco-funk. It also contains some killer piano solos, which only enhance the track's energy. "You're So In Love", in contrast, is a soft-focus, slow-dance affair, with a female vocal and fluttering flutes evoking images of tear-eyed embraces on the dancefloor.
Gentle Young Casanova marks experienced German producer Linntronix's first appearance on Munich's Love Harder. It's a typically warm and evocative affair, with darting keys, hazy vocal snippets and sinewy disco strings riding a synth bass-propelled deep house groove. The accompanying remix package is undeniably solid, too. Label regular Guardate dips the tempo and delivers a looser, warmer deep house take - think glassy-eyed grooves and woozy riffs - while Tel Aviv's Disco Funk Spinner successfully draws out the original's disco and boogie influences whilst adding his own tasty drumbeats. Best of all, though, is the revision from DJ Friction, which effortlessly fuses the loose, rhythmic swing of disco, and the life-affirming haziness of jazz-flecked deep house.