If 2013 was the year that classic house made a comeback, it could also be viewed as the time when artists like Scuba drew on this source to drive their own creativity. That's not to suggest that Update - a "story so far" compilation from Scuba's back catalogue aimed at newcomers - is all about Kerri Chandler grooves or Larry Heard's drums. Indeed, tracks like "The Hope" and "Never" see the UK producer head in a decidely commerical direction and on "So You Think You're Special" and "Before" he turns his hand to slowburn ambient pop. But there is an underlying element from yesteryear on Update, be that on the soulful vocals of "Adrenalin" or the sweeping keys and dramatic break down of "You Got Me". 2013 belonged to classic house, but Scuba's ability to adapt was never far behind.
Here's a simple concept that works: members of the extended Hivern Discs crew remixing tracks from The xx's 2012 sophomore album, Coexist. Predictably, the results are exceptionally strong. Marc Pional kicks things off with a sublime analogue acid house take on "Fiction", which fuses the original vocals and melodies with classic Mr Fingers style grooves and chords. The Mistakes Are OK remix of "Reunion" is a chiming downtempo delight - woozy and wide-eyed, with just the right amount of percussive shuffle - while Round's remix of "Missing" blends tactitle positivity and delay-laden dreaminess with enveloping grooves to great effect. Most startling of all, though is the New Jackson version of "Swept Away", which adds a little subdued jazz swing to the emotion-rich original.
Dropping single number 3 for his Ultramajic imprint, Jimmy Edgar is bringing some no-nonsense electro heat to the boil across three tracks and then sprinkling all kinds of unusual spices to twist the proceedings up. "Ultraviolet" is the most straight-up affair, strutting on a rigid groove and gnarly synth lines that spit out a clear message that it's time to party. "Qlinda" is more curious with its insistent vocal snippets nagging away against the relatively austere deep house groove, but there's still room for some of the choppy edit trickery that Edgar made his name on. "Mercurio" meanwhile gets on a Dance Mania hype that keeps the mood raw and rough, mixing in a touch of footwork and darting into breakdowns and build ups erratically to keep the dancers on their toes.
Rafael Anton Irisarri is most widely known for his ambient-leaning, 4/4 works under the Sight Below moniker, which saw him release a number of corkers in Ghostly International over the years. This new EP characterises a new sound for the man, most vividly displayed through a noisier, droned-out perspective. We welcome it warmly and await some more of these delightful, electro-organic excursions. Recommended.
Montgomery Clunk aka CLNK heads back to Error Broadcast for a puristic, no frills, artillery of tracks for his new Black Ecstasy LP. Bringing together alien sounds and minimalist jacking, the producer treads through no-nonsense techno and deranged electronic beats. Aside from the wonderful title track, check "CPR" and "Home" for the utter truth. It's all pretty gnarly, though.
Dave 'Egyptrixx' Psutka has been an integral part of the Night Slugs family since the label was launched, providing them with their second EP in the shape of The Only Way Up and their debut album with Bible Eyes. Contributions to Night Slugs from Egyptrixx since then have been intermittent at best but Psutka returns here with an eagerly awaited new album in the form of A/B til Infinity. Keen Night Slugs followers will no doubt have already checked Egyptrixx's recent contribution to the label's ongoing mix series which was described as a "self-defined scrapbook of ideas" for this new album and the dark tone of that mix is certainly present here at times. From the first few listens in the Juno office, the suite of tracks from "Bad Boy (reduced)" to the Rrose does Night Slugs sounds of "Water" had us very impressed!