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Reviewed this week
We've been fans of Brummies Secret Life Music since 2015's Moogie Wonderland EP by Napoleon: the comeback of sorts by one half of legendary UK duo Bent. Curated over by Pete Gooding and Phil Dockerty, these guys seriously know what they're doing and to prove that they've decided to up their game with this new remix album by Steve Miller aka Afterlife; a legendary downtempo producer and owner of Subatomic UK with additional releases on Hed Kandi and Defected over the years. Many of these tracks throughout his career get some brilliant makeovers here; some of our favourites were by nu-disco hero Max Essa with his neon-lit boogie down rendition of "Makes Me Feel", good mate and chill-out king Chris Coco's lush ambient take on "Blue Bar" (getting some proper Craig Armstrong moments happening) and of course Simon Mills (aka Napoleon!) with the sexy late night deepness of "Falling".
Nocturnal Activity was released by Mark Rae on Manchester's Grand Central Records, an independent record label back in 2002. It is a remix album, composed of alternative mixes of the tracks from the Sleepwalking LP, plus one new track, a cover version of the Parliament track "Flashlight". It contains some of the labels most sought after tracks. For the dancefloor, The Nextmen remix of "It Aint Nothin Like" is considered a classic. Atjazz turns in a magical remix with Kate Rogers on "Not Just Anybody". Groove Armada went on a weekend break to a country house to flip the Pharcyde's Booty Brown on "Let It Go". However the best is left to last with the fully acoustic version of "Get A Life" with soul legend Bobby Womack.
Brownswood Bubblers provides a platform for unsung heroes and emerging talent from the Worldwide underground. The series distills the stream of exciting new artists that have become semi-permanent fixtures in Gilles' playlists and DJ sets of late to create a suite of perfect bumps.The compilation is now in its twelfth release and there's some real gems on this edition: just some of the highlights are: the soothing inner city blues of Selbeyone's "Are You In Peace?", Kathy Hoskins and the legendary Paul Randolph's magical soul excursion "Could You Be Me?" (channeling the vibe of Roy Ayers' Ramp project) or The Pendletons with the wonderful "Gotta Get Out" which will give you your funky acid nu-jazz fix, for sure.
Talamanca System are the unlikely trio of Gerd Janson, Phillip Lauer of Tuff City Kids and International Feel boss Mark Barrott. Their sole release in late 2014 became one of the best selling on the Iabel's imprint. My Past Is Your Future brings them back together for a trio of magical productions that harness the power of their production skills and winks at a forthcoming album coming on the imprint this summer. Its' deep balearica cum ambient house on the wonderfully ethereal "My Past Is Your Future" and in proper ambient style there's a truly wonderful "Beatless Stars In Space" mix which is perfect for drifting. Finally the "Chukka Chukka Dance Mix" has Tuff City Kids written all over this this neon-lit retro house mix which is just totally off the hook in its own right!
Since Optimo Music founder JD Twitch is a walking encyclopedia of weird and wonderful music from around the globe, it's unsurprising that the label's occasional compilations are little less than essential. Miracle Steps: Music From The Fourth World - named in honour of John Hassell's description of ambient music - is another must-have from the Glaswegian stable. Featuring music made over the last three decades, it draws together trippy new age, droning experimentalism, electro-acoustic soundscapes, meandering synthesizer workouts, tropical-tinged bliss, and even the odd bit of spiritual jazz (Larry Chernicoff's wild "Woodstock"). In other words, it's the kind of ambient compilation you'd expect from someone who takes a widescreen approach to music, and who laughs in the face of genre pigeonholing.
To date, Stump Valley has impressed with a string of EPs for the likes of Uzuri and Off Minor, most of which feature the kind of hazy, head-in-the-clouds house goodness that offers a 21st century revision of the late '80s dream house movement. There's plenty to get excited about on the Italian combo's Dopeness Galore debut, too, from the acid bass, languid bongos and dreamy chords of opener "Monkey Flute" and Mystic Jungle Tribe style analogue Balearica of "Tales Of Heike", to the saucer-eyed shuffle of "Pagoda Forest" and the Larry Heard-on-anti-depressants bliss of "Black Sun (Above Japan)". The Mtrpls Shibuya mix of "Tokio Robot Rise", a distorted and dubbed out chunk of experimental hip-hop, is also superb.
Jamie Tiller and Tako's Music From Memory now present Gaussian Curve's second album entitled The Distance. Comprised of Amsterdam's 'Young' Marco Sterk on machines, Melody As Truth boss Johnny Nash on guitar and Italian ambient hero Gigi Masin on synths. The trio follow up 2014's wonderful Clouds LP with more dreamy and ethereal balearica ("Suspended Motion") by way of vague kosmic rock flourishes ("T.O.R.") and bluesy tones like on the lush "Last Breath". Much like its predecessor, the album had been recorded in a mere few days in Sterk's studio near the city's infamous Red Light District and this opus could potentially be held in such high regard by critics too. It's a superb effort from start to finish and highly recommended.
German producer and live act Christian Loffler released his Mare LP in late 2016. Recorded in a log cabin overlooking the Baltic sea, the album was undoubtedly defined by its sense of place and all in all was a rather splendid effort. We now get treated to a couple of remixes from his last opus. First up Irish electronica magician Max Cooper works his charms as always with a breathtaking remix of "Vind" featuring some ethereal elements contrasted by incredible sound design as always. Then we get treated to some dreamy pop-tronica by Frenchman Superpoze on "Haul" (featuring Mona) which is absolutely bittersweet and evocative: we fell in love with it at first listen, as will you!
Russian producer, DJ and live musician Kito Jempere is back with his second album for Italian label Hell Yeah. Sea Monster LP is a fantastic fusion of live instrumentation and electronic production. Jempere has played in rock to acid jazz to electronic bands and often calls upon a rotating cast of other members who are all equally talented. In addition, he has put out a number of albums and singles on labels like Freerange and Room With A View among others. This is an album with elements of jazz, house, disco, balearic and many more sounds all smoothly blended into one coherent and captivating album full of soul and musical skill. We enjoyed the hazy lo-slung psychedia of "Ampa" (No Drums), the off kilter deep house of "To Talk" and the deep and tripped out nu-disco jam "Puzzled".
Russia's Victor Kiktenko travels under the Module One banner, and we think that is an absolutely fitting name for the sort of cold but effective electronic music that he produces. When he's not busy churning out dub-filtered techno, we hear him delving into the more impressionistic and open-minded world of ambient and drone, which is where we find him with this latest album, Hometown. Out on Berlin's Fauxpas Musik, the LP exclusively showcases the artist's deeper thoughts, and we have to say that it doesn't really get more pensive and meditative than this. From "Flight" through to "Dixi" and onto the likes of "Radiance" there are continuous peaks and troths, where Module One unleashes subtle beats and soulful compositions at free will, making this much, much more than the typically solitary listening experiences that come with drone albums. TIP!
Previously found lurking around W.T. Records and Crimes Of The Future, Tapan comes to Malka Tuti with an exotic, lurching beast of a track to send shivers down your spine should you encounter it on a proper system. "Tarantella" is a mind-bending workout whichever angle you approach from, all psyched-out synth lines and brooding rhythms, and then "Poison High" rears up on the flip with its even more transcendental tones. Black Merlin is a wise choice to tackle the title track for a remix, making an equally tense and tribalistic workout that puts the wayward spirit back into the machine.
One half of French electro pop duo Languages, Franz Matthews has struck out on his own here for some funky and uplifting nu-disco shenanigans for London label Days Of Being Wild: the home of slightly deranged electronic music. Their words, not ours! Named after the infamous Berlin train station that's slap bang in the middle of one of Berlin's most prominent clubbing districts, "Ostkreuz" with its hi-NRG undertones slightly reminiscent of Boytronic's "Brilliant". As does "Guns Of Rixdorf" with its enhanced disco vibes channeling greats like Giorgio Moroder or Gino Soccio. The Claydermans Marzahn remix is equally impressive and goes for a stripped back and slow down techno vibe.
The latest offering on Owen Jay's Batti Batti label features a cast of characters doing different but equally excellent things within the realm of deep house. Acasual is up first, presenting a reflective tour through lingering chords and swirling pads perfect for rainy spring days, while Tominori Hosoya goes one further with the soul-stirring ambience of "Thinking Of The Days". Kiddmisha & Apoena then set light with the restrained but utterly on-point depth charge "Dancin", and then Jonno & Tommo round the record out with the sultry "Mystic Feelings", making this a complete package of high grade house music from the heart
Top Labels
Wax N Soul Germany
Eighteenth Street Lounge Music US
Music For Dreams US
K7 Germany
New State