Reviewed this week
Three years on from his first Talamanca System collaboration with Tuff City Kids duo Gerd Janson and Phillip Lauer, Mark Barrott gets the gang back together for an album of typically loved-up excursions. International Feel's eccentric press release describes it as "a sunburned imagination of a day and night spent on Ibiza during a moment in time that probably never was". Given the album's repeated nods to baggy, piano-laden Italian house, the saucer-eyed, sunrise-friendly brilliance of 808 State's "Pacific State", sun-kissed post Italo-disco chuggers, percussion-laden tropical workouts and head-in-the-clouds ambience, it's actually rather an apt description. It's shamelessly Balearic from start to finish, but pulls it off with an authenticity that others could only dream of.
Mixmag recently named Razor-N-Tape as one of the most influential disco labels of the last decade. Certainly, there are few edit imprints whose releases are quite as consistently good. Predictably, this four-tracker from Leipzig's Martin Hayes is another doozy. Check, for example, the righteous slap bass, punchy horn lines, eyes-closed guitar solos and layered drum hits of boogie-era disco roller "Get on Down" and the densely percussive disco-funk brilliance of "Tight Spot", where fittingly razor-sharp guitar riffs and woozy synthesizer lines help push the action forwards. Also worth a listen is EP closer "Ol' Funky Music", a pleasingly laidback and groovy affair with plenty of neat instrumental flourishes to accompany the hip-hop style breakbeats.
Earthboogie - aka London soundsystem owners Izaak Gray and Nicola Robinson - make their wax debut with three raw, groove laden disco blends. Digging deep into both afrofunk and Italo roots, there's a universal musical language that grabs you physically across all three cuts. "Mr Mystery" sits between Booker T & The Mgs and Daniele Baldelli while "Route Ten To Interzone" is an energetic township jam with added synth sheen. Finally we're seduced by the Balearic weaves, ripples, twangs and horns of "The EB Theme". A rainbow of vibes from start to finish, this one's hard to put down.
More from Bristol-based party-starters Boogie Cafe, whose recent releases have impressively straddled the fine line between tooled-up re-edits and all-original productions. First they've persuaded New York-based Bristolian DJ Nature to remix current Bristol resident Admin. The man formerly known as DJ Milo does a terrific job, too, offering up a trippy chunk of loose, breakeat-driven, deep house disco that boasts serious amounts of energy. Then, Admin remixes Chezz's "Bossa", wrapping spacey synthesizer motifs and a killer synth bassline around a superbly fluid and crispy broken-house groove. It's a seriously soulful interpretation, and arguably the stronger of the two tracks.
Here's something of a surprise: an EP on Running Back jointly produced by veteran German house producer Boris Dlugosch and rising star Cassara. The inter-generational duo has put together a set of tracks that veers closer to Italo-disco and cheery Balearic goodness than the funk-fuelled peak-time house that Dlugosch is often associated with. Our highlight is probably "Nightflight", a pleasingly baggy concoction that wraps alien melodies and vintage synthesizer motifs around a sparse drum machine groove. That said, opener "Traveller", which sounds like a cross between Electra's 1982 classic "Feels Good (Carrots & Beats)" and lightly bouncy house, and sparkling Italo-disco-meets-Daft Punk throb-job "Intervox" are also rather good.
'Big' Daddy Kane is veteran of the Midnight Riot label and Timmy Vegas is from the soulful house scene (Z Records etc). Together the disco fever is scorching hot. Throwing vocals powerhouse Jacqui George into the mix and the results are off the hook. "Feeling Me" is an infectious homage to the American soul and funk world of the early 80s, totally classy. Yam Who? also appears, remixing the track into the 21st century by adding some tougher house undercarriage to the chassis. Alan Dixon stretches the tune to over seven minutes, concentrating on the top line melodies and a rolling bassline.
Asa Moto duo Oliver Geerts and Gilles Noe impressed with last year's debut EP, the synth-pop delight that was "Stay Awake/Wanowan Efem". This follow-up for DeeWee, co-produced by label founders (and Soul Wax members) David and Stephen Dewaele, is every bit as impressive, even if its four tracks draw on a much wider palette of influences. Opener "System Naturae" wraps sharp, rave type stabs around a jaunty drum machine groove, deep melody flourishes and warped analogue bass, while "Make Me Prada" is an exercise in alien funk/ambient/synth-pop fusion. Then you'll find the bleep-laden analogue house thrust of "Athina", while closer "Syriacid" is a sweaty jog through acid-fired deep house pastures with wayward pop overtones.
The 14th release on the fast-rising Play Pal imprint comes from Skelesys, whose previous outings have been on the techier side of house. This time round, the Beunos Aries born, Berlin-based producer has decided to flip the script. Opener "Nebula" is a pitched-down chugger laden with heavy analogue bass and warped electronics, while "This is Our Favourite Day" wraps stylish, post punk style guitar solos around a Nein style psychedelic nu-disco groove. There are more eyes-closed guitar solos to be found on "The Path", a dark and foreboding number full of incessant drum machine handclaps, wonky electronics and twisted bass. Of the three accompanying remixes, it's Peza's sparkling, Italo-disco influenced re-make of "Nebula" that stands out.
Here's something to get the blood pumping: a fresh Ron Trent remix of the title track from legendary Brazilian jazz-funk outfit Azymuth's most recent album, 2016's "Fenix". The original version is, of course, rather tidy - think darting synths and vocoder lines, dexterous slap-bass and rich, life-affirming chords - but Trent still manages to serve up a seriously good alternative version. He appears to have utilized every bit of individual instrumentation found on the master tapes, offering a subtle deep house/jazz-funk fusion cut full of loose-limbed drumming, intertwined solos and chords that pulse with sun-kissed positivity. It's not a particularly revolutionary remix, but when the musicianship is this good, why change it?
Daniele Baldelli dons his ritual robes and throws open the doors to his Cosmic Temple for a fifth time. We first find him kneeling at the alter of Alexander Robotnik style Italo-disco deepness on talkbox-sporting opener "Kata Sandi", where tipsy but dreamy chord progressions wrap themselves around a bubbly synthesizer arpeggio line. He invites us to take a trip to space via the intergalactic chords, cascading synthesizer melodies and pulsating analogue bass of "Esaendro", before calling time on another session of prayer with the low-slung disco-punk looseness of the rather brilliant "Dioxide". He's showcased his love of this kind of Clavinet-heavy disco-funk before, but rarely have the results been as thrilling and on-point as this.
Multi talented UK Jazz Pianist Greg Foat has teamed up with Mercury Award nominated multi instrumentalist Warren Hampshire to collaborate on a new LP drawing on their diverse musical influences. Classic British library music, 60s Italian soundtracks and lost Americana combined with touches of modern classical, minimalism, jazz and folk. Featuring many members of Greg and Warren's previous bands and one of the U.Ks finest Jazz drummers in Clark Tracy. The LP also features an Edinburgh orchestra and soloists who were hand picked and scored Foat and Hampshire themselves.
Afro-cosmic pioneer Daniele Baldelli continues to impress with his Cosmic Temple series, which has now reached Chapter 6. As usual, the Italian legend touches on many of his now familiar inspirations across the course of an EP that impresses from start to finish. Check, for example, the dancing jazz-funk horns, pulsating electrofunk bass and crunchy drum machine hits of cheery cosmic disco opener "Taxon", or the cosmic-rock brilliance of "Kevlar", where Red Hot Chili Peppers style guitar riffs cluster around a tribal-influenced drum machine groove smothered in intergalactic electronics. In a nod to his famous passion for playing records at the wrong speed, Baldelli finishes with the alien synths and mind-altering rhythmic chug of "33v45".
The last person that most of us want to encounter in the depths of the dark night is the Bogeyman. However, you'll make and exception for Teo 'Boogymann' Moritz, the French disco house supremo who's been rocking dancefloors for nearly two decades. Here he presents a new album's-worth of re-edit gems, with highlights including the slow, clavinet-led grind of "Take A Chance To Dance", the accelerated throbbing boogie of "Coming On" and spacey synthesizer freak-out jam "If You".
Despite his classical training, composer-turned-producer Al Sunny is more interested in classic soul, West Coast rock and the sun-kissed fusion work of 1970s Brazilian artists. Time To Decide is his debut album, and it's really rather good. Sunny is a talented songwriter, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist capable of creating perfectly produced songs that bristle with warm, sun-kissed nostalgia. Highlights include the Steely Dan-esque vibes of "Beautiful Lady", the dancefloor-friendly jazz-funk headiness of "Don't Let Nobody Know" and "Open Up Your Eyes", and the brilliant "Since I've Been Loving You", which sounds like a tooled-up take on Beatles circa "Got To Get You Into My Life". Sunny's cover of Ned Doheny's "Give it Up For Love" is also something of a treat.
LA synthpop producer Turbotito (aka Filip Nikolic)'s fey indie take on the genre has seen him recently collaborate with Stereolab's Laetitia Sadier. Here he's back with a new three track EP. The title track features urgent chugging rhythms laced with sugary synth chords and sing-along vocals and "Different" (which features Baby Alpaca) evokes memories of 1980s 'sophisti-pop' acts like Black. "Don't Talk" meanwhile, is moody, slow Eurodisco like that made by David August. The title track is also turned into cool electro-disco by Mondowski and cool deep house by Max Pask. There's even a Turbotito remix of a dreamy Baby Alpaca track too!
Brazilian-born, UK-affiliated DJ Marky is and always has been a DJ's DJ. The man has been at the forefront of the d&b scene since the late 90s, not primarily on the production side but as one of the very few whose able to deliver an 8 hour set of immaculate transitions, sublime dubplates, and multi-faceted tunes. As such, he's been called up on the mighty BBE to deliver the second chapter of his Influences collection, a series of compilations made up of the finest, break-driven dance music on the planet. While many classics feature in here, such as Origin Unknown's "Truly One", Influx Datum's "Meant Love", or even the likes of Roni Size, this is NOT simply a d&b mix. On the contrary, you'll find peeps like Juan Atkins under his Galaxy 2 Galaxy moniker, soul master William Devaughn, and even house tunes by Cultural Vibe. What an absolute beast - yes, MARKY!
Currently celebrating their second birthday, Madrid's Rotten City Files are marking the occasion by presenting this collection of back catalogue remixes. It's a tasty set it must be said, with seven tracks specially reworked for 2017. Highlights include Wolfstream's brooding electroclashy remix of Iron Blu's "Sweet Redemption", Days Of Being Wild's raw, Bobby O-style version of Curses' "Vengence" and the menacing arpeggiated techno-disco of Holographic Planes' reboot of "Masa Madre" by Dos Attack. Top-notch electro, good to hear this sound coming back strong.
Two years on from his last outing, Sascha Ciminiera returns to Phonk D's Footjob label with another chunk of fluttering, synth-heavy positivity. Built around a languid and fluid mid-tempo groove, "Lights" is rich in positive melodies, Balearic chord progressions and tumbling synthesizer motifs. It's a cliche to refer to records being "sun-kissed", but this is genuinely an exercise in summery beauty. The headline remixes come from Gerd Janson and Philip Lauer under their Tuff City Kids alias. They predictably push the track's more Balearic elements to the fore on the electro-driven remix, before delivering a superb, cowbell-laden drum Dub for those who like to play around with percussion. A tidy package is completed by Phonk D's rolling house interpretation,
For about a decade now, Cabaret Nocturne (aka Raphael de Sauvage) has been leading an Electroclash revival with a string of moody electro-house releases and a well-regarded radio show. The New Beat/EBM influence is unsurprising here when you learn that Monsieur Sauvage hails from Belgium. There are two original tracks featured: the slow, raunchy throbbing dark room soundtrack of "Western Ghost" and the melancholy new wave instrumental "Lost Town". The former is remixed into a tragic New Romantic epic by Kieran Holden and the latter into a punchy electro rocker by Damon Jee. Get your black leather on!
We never had the pleasure of receiving one of those fancy pants Montessori educations when we were young, but this Mexican producer of the same name is intent on giving us an education in doomy dance music and that's good enough for us. Much in keeping with the sweaty pulsating grooves of fellow Mexican producers like Daniel Moloso, opener "ilum" throbs along with a captivating sense of menace, evil under the sun vibes. Meanwhile "Perpetua" sounds like a rave in a dominatrix's boudoir. The title track also reworked into searing acid house by Steve Cook and pumping 90s EBM by Perdido Key.
CASSARA/BORIS DLUGOSCH - Traveller EP (Running Back Germany)
SKELESYS - Nebula (Play Pal Music) - exclusive 22-05-207
TALAMANCA SYSTEM - Talamanca System (International Feel Recordings)
AL SUNNY - Time To Decide (Favorite France)
AMTRAC - Some Of Them (Openers)
PHIL DE BURN - Echo Chamber (Thunder Jam)
Seamus Haji DJ Chart
Marilin Records DJ Chart
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