Detroit straight-hitter Rick Wade is no stranger to some serious house flexing, and the man has always provided us with reliable grooves and vibes of the years mainly through his Harmonie Park label. He's on Popcorn right now, though, with the warm and glowing touch of "Your Strength", a tune that reminds us of the sort of sample-laden, soulful house that Mr G is accustomed to; Flabaire's remix strips the whole thing down and takes it on a jazzy tip. "Warm Up" "Warm Up" is more of a bald-faced Chicago jacker that peeps like Brian Harden would much appreciate, while "Meditation" is slow, incandescent and verging on the hip-hop end of things... Matsa's remix ensures some Balearic waves are added to the equation.
Sizzlingly hot UK label Jalepeno's latest signing is Brighton based producer-slash-intelligent-sound-designer, Asta Hiroki. The Balance EP is Hiroki's debut effort and features four tracks heavily indebted to Teebs, James Blake and Flying Lotus. Two tracks features the silky vocals of Kathrin deBoer (Tru Thoughts) - the sensuously orchestrated acoustic-lead "Her Image In Focus" and the loose and loungey "Hold Tight". Elsewhere we get the 90s-style hazily broken dub-out "Beatrice" and the ethereal loops of the almost vanished "Most & Least". Quality stuff.
Uj Pa Gaz (aka Erlind Hoxha) is an Albanian musician who cut his teeth in bands with names like Germs. This is his new solo project though, and this time round he's on a slow and moody Balearic tip. "KuKu" is a brooding, meandering, slo-mo funk jam with lots of tension building guitar motifs, relentless percussion and an ominous chant. "On Rugs" is longer at almost seven minutes in length, and features delayed guitar chimes, more intense drumming and an overall Belgian new beat vibe. The title also reappears in a brighter electro-house-style remix by Did Virgo.
Makam doesn't let up! The Dutch hero re-appears on homebase Dekmantel where he's surely become a stalwart of the label and their sound. On "Riding High" he gives us a melodic deep house journey full of emotion and equal parts mystery over its glorious five minutes that you'll wish never stopped. Ge serves up something much more atmospheric on the grainy ambience of "Them Sadet", a collage of trippy exotic samples over emotive elements makes this one definitely to remember also.
Canadian label Westwood was formed by Nick Middleton with the sole purpose of keeping the funk alive. He's done a good job so far too, none more so than with new signing SugarBeats. This Oregon duo have been preaching a similar vision for years and it's no wonder that Middleton picked up on them. They recently dropped their debut album, Fly High, on Westwood to great acclaim. Now we get a different take on the LP - a purely instrumental version that allows the music to breathe over the course of these nine tracks of funk, hip-hop, glitch, and future bass.
Much like the Fabric mix series, Late Night Tales has been a staple of the British compilation dynasty, and the label has somehow managed to consistently call upon some of the world's biggest and most interesting talents to demonstrate their skills behind the DJ decks, and to give us a tiny view into their tastes and influences. Iceland's Olafur Arnalds, a lo-fi artist who has steadily released nothing but quality on the Erased Tapes label, is asked to do the honours for the catalogu's 44th instelment, and we are seriously digging what this dude is into. Electronica is a bit of a cop-out term to describe this gear, but there is just so much diversity in here that it's simply impossible to categorise it under one roof. Maybe sci-fi electro soul would be a good term, as it manages to capture the mood and feel of these beautiful songs by the likes of Koreless, Jamie XX via Four Tet, Samaris, Arnois, and Arnalds' own music. Spot on once again, Late Night Tales!
London's Cafe OTO has grown into an almighty powerhouse over the last five years, both as a community hub for like-minded leftfield enthusiasts, and as a label for some of the most provocative and high-grade free jazz being made today. Simon Scott is an electronic composer who has been impressive since his debut on 12k, an extraordinary effort that has seen him seal a spot on the much coveted Touch imprint. But, this live recording of a session at Cafe OTO is as good and evocative as any of his previous works; it's a dark, foreboding strain of ambient that gets rustier and noisier as the segments progress. If you're into the more spectral strain of hollow electro-acoustic music, then Simon Scott with satisfy you like few others.