A decade has passed since Tom Bioly and Benjamin Frohlich launched their Permanent Vacation label with a compilation of the same name. This fourth instalment sticks to the same formula as its' predecessors, serving up evocative, emotion-rich music that's tickled the fancy of Bioly and Frohlich over the last two years. Predictably, there's much to enjoy throughout, from the hammock-fresh laziness of Carrot Green's dreamy "Vodou", and the instrumental, Balearic synth-pop of Fantastic Man's "Seaside Special", to the tribal drums, jazz bass and ghostly chords of Benedikt Frey's "Lucid Dream". They predictably finish with a flourish, following Mapache's hallucinatory deep house shuffler "Let Me Sleep", with the dubby Balearic beauty of Suzanne Kraft's blissful "Tiles".
We all need our own personal headspace from time to time, however the Yam Who? duo behind Midnight Riot have gone one step further and given Balearic Headspace. Volume 'Uno' contains 18 slinky white isle gems to groove to. Highlights include the slow Euro-beat grind of opener "Bestinspace" by Emmanuelle Kant, Massimo Vanoni's "For Your Love (Cosmic Inspiration mix)" features uber cool raw electronic arpeggiation, swirly Moon Safari acoustic vibes on "Come Outside (Sweet Love)" by Laurels & Hardlies and the stompin' beats and slappin' bass of "Love Echo" by Camino.
After a few quiet years, Tensnake returned to form in 2015, and has so far enjoyed a productive 2016. Freudchen is his second EP of the year, and offers a back-to-basics collection of dancefloor-ready club tracks. The title track, where vocal flourishes, synth stabs and life-affirming disco samples ride a hard-edged, undulating Italo-disco style arpeggio, is undoubtedly the highlight, though there are still reasons to be cheerful elsewhere. With its' occasional African vocal samples, jaunty riffs and carnival-friendly whistles, "Tazaar" sounds like the German producer's take on the late '80s Inner City sound, while "No Fool" layers a relentless, thumping, kick-drum driven beat with distinctly Balearic flourishes.
It's a house-grime marriage on Bristol's Black Acrel label, from newfound dup Wallwork and Nico Lindsay, the latter of the two bringing the vocal street swagger to the beats. The title track "Facts" is a big, bad, heavy slab of percussion and bass powered by Lindsay's curbside lyricism, and it's one of those tunes that's bound to get shit tarted in the dance. This is followed by the more kinetic flow of "Fyah", where Lindsay's vocals are more minimal than its predecessor, and its rough and rugged instrumental for maximum DJ damage. Another banging addition to the Black Acrew crew - yes!
!K7 Records launches a new compilation series entitled Kollections: Club which inaugurates the project. The tracklist features artists of the partner labels under the !K7 umbrella such as Turbo, AUS Music, Mobilee, Mister Saturday Night and Hypercolour. Each edition explores a different musical theme but this first installment, naturally, is all about the club! Highlights here include Midland's recent hit "Blush", Maya Jane Coles' funky afterhours tech house jam "Not Listening" (from a few years ago), KiNK's roaring remix of Kerrier District's (Luke Vibert) "Techno Disco" and Lauer's recent feelgood number "Killian" showing off his knack for classic retro vibes like no other.
In recent times, Studio Barnhus co-founder Kornel Kovacs has delivered a string of eccentric, hard-to-pin-down 12" singles that drag house music in weird and wonderful new directions. He's at it again on Bells, the Swede's long-awaited debut album. While largely deep, melodious and quirkily lo-fi - the distinct sound of tape hiss is never far away - Kovacs nevertheless veers off in many different directions over the album's ten-track direction. So while the pitched-down UK funky rhythms and 8-bit synth melodies of "Josey's Tune" impress, dancefloors may prefer the rambunctious, redlined Latin-house thump of "Gex", the sparkling rave revivalism of "Dance...When The Record Spins", or the rubbery bounce and pulverizing analogue bass of "Pop".
Futureboogie's annual Summer Riot EP rarely disappoints. This year's instalment of the multi-artist extravaganza - the fifth in totak - is every bit as essential as its' predecessors. Long time friend of the family Bonar Bradberry steps up first with "Analogue Express", where bubbly synthesizer lead lines rub shoulders with Chicken Lips style bass and rich, life-affirming piano chords. Experienced Italian DJ Rocca fuses brain-melting acid lines, dark electronics and African influences on the wonky "Voodoo", before former Fila Brazillia man Steve Cobby drops a lolloping chunk of audible sunshine in the shape of "Lefthanded Books". Arguably best of all, though, is Field Theory's "Rituals", a swirling fusion of dreamy deep house, mind-altering acid, and warehouse-friendly rhythms.
Aus Music are proud to present another wonderful deep excursion by the artist formerly (well...still, actually) known as Marcus Intalex. This legendary Mancunian producer always had a distinct knack for all things soulful and emotive, even when he was experimenting in breakbeat science. It is no wonder he fits into four to the floor grooves like a glove, as shown on great releases for Klockworks, The Nothing Special and 3024. "Casino" gets the EP of to a fine start with uplifting piano chords lifting you higher and higher over a subtle backing arrangement while the dub version injects more adrenaline into it, complete with a stomping beat and haunting dub chord resonations: well steely! Finally "Contact" is definitely more in line with the label's sound on this fluid and sombre tech house groove that's smooth as silk!
There are no holidays to be had at Punks HQ this year, what with the release of their BBQ Beats comp and a new single from Left/Right +Jacq. Following on from the huge Can't Stop, this new jam, "Lies" will only keep the hype coming. The original is pure cinematic gothic vibes with brooding bass hums and morbid vocals. The remixes are livelier affairs however - Billy Kenny drops the BPMs a tad for his riotously sleazy tech-bass monster of mix. A tough act to follow, but Aloka brings it with a remix full of stark drum and bass-meets-breaks mayhem.
As sure as night follows day, every year Kompakt releases an installment of the Total series. Now at its sixteenth volume, the compilation still manages to bring together the best bits from the Cologne label's catalogue. From the dreamy textures and spiky off rhythms of Kaytlin Aurelia Smith's take on The Field's "Reflecting Lights" to the woozy vocals and pitter pattering break beats on Weval's "I Donat Need It" to the stripped back but evocative house of Patrice Baumel's take on Blond:ish's "Endless Games" and the throbbing techno reshape of Coma's "Lora", the full range of the Kompakt emotional spectrum is audible here.
Much praise was heaped on the 2015 debut EP from Black Spuma, a "retro Balearic" collaboration between prolific Frankfurt producer Phil Lauer and Slow Motion man Fabrizio Mammarella. Unsurprisingly, Onda is similarly inclined; check, for example, the synthesized marimba melodies, dreamy pads and Sueno Latino-era Italian deep house groove of "Metallo Nero", or the gentle Adriatic breeze that is "Hundred Fingers Man". The superb title track sees them upping the tempo and intensity a little whilst retaining their core values (melody, groove, and eyes-closed vibes), while closer "Gabula" sees them change tack, lacing rubbery TB-303 acid lines over a swinging breakbeat and whizzing electronic effects.
Given their well discussed love of vintage U.S house and garage, it's little surprise to see Bicep taking on the potentially tricky task of remixing Blaze's 1996 New Jersey classic, "Lovelee Dae". Wisely, the Belfast boys have retained many of the original's sumptuous elements -sweeping strings, rich chords and summery vocal included - and expertly fused them with carnival-friendly drums and a deliciously tactile, Italian house style bassline. The fine vocal mix is accompanied by a similarly impressive Dub, where the duo makes merry with floating, delay-heavy vocal snippets, filters, and their own dense, party-rocking rhythm.
The brilliantly named Take The Cookies is the recording alias of musician, vocalist and producer Tania Haroshka. "Could I Drown On Your Desire" marks her first appearance on Golden Soul Records, and sees her effortlessly combining elements from disco and electrofunk with deep, drowsy, rich and soulful house flavours. Her hazy, laidback original is accompanied by a wealth of remixes. These include a breezy, beach-friendly deep disco-house rework from Phunktastike, a wonderfully rich and evocative nu-disco interpretation from David Manso, and a rubbery, analogue rich "Epic Cosmic Remix" from storied Spanish producer James Rod. It's this version - think nu-disco on acid, with some Italo-disco elements thrown in - that hits home hardest.
Former Hercules & Love Affair frontwoman Kim Ann Foxman is back with "It's You That Drives Me Wild" an infectious, pop-inflected, '90s style progressive house epic that ticks all the right boxes. Her vocals are great and as catchy as always. There's a handy extended mix for serious DJ use and a killer remix by none other than Maya Jane Coles, working her dreamy deep house magic fabulously as always. Other featured original tracks are "Give It All You Got", which carries on with said progressive house tendencies with rich melodies, soothing pads and a bouncy groove while "Magic Window" brings the power of the breaks beneath some sick acid, reminiscent of Frontside or Uberzone. It all starts to sound a bit reminiscent of Sasha & Digweed's Northern Exposure series, which is fine for our nostalgia!
Swiss producer Pascal Viscardi is said to take his cues from the '90s NYC scene and the legendary squelch of Chicago's acid house heyday. On the How To Cover Up A Clear Blue Sky EP he delivers some selections just as deep as their titles may suggest such as on "Where Pathways Meet" with its smooth Rhodes keys and bouncing Juno 106 bass, it's just so emotive! On "Oshakusan" (OK so we don't exactly know what this means) he goes for that classic Frankie Knuckles style groove: oh so sensual! Then finally on "And I Showed The Clouds (How To Cover Up A Clear Blue Sky)" it's his masterpiece on here; this beatless ambient house journey is just oozing deeply with soul.
Bristol house type Ishmael got his debut on Wolf Music some three years ago, sharing space with Bicep, Medlar and Casino Times on one of the label's trademark split 12"s and not looking out of place one iota. He's since gone on to contribute several further 12"s to the Wolf cause as well as align with the similarly-minded Church with whom his debut LP, Sometime In Space, was released earlier this year. This new 12" for Wolf picks up where that LP left off as Ishmael runs through deep burnt gospel house ("Mercy, Mercy, Me"), heat-treated vibers ("Doldrums") and buff MCDE-style piano tinklers ("Matilde"). The mighty Soulphiction pops up to lend his own brand of shuffling percussive house class on a closing remix of "Doldrums."
Maya Danon has been a familiar face on Tel Aviv's alternative electronic scene for the last decade. Even so, this EP for Robbie Headman's Relish label is still her first. There's much to admire throughout, starting with the restless analogue synths, thudding drums and alien electronics of title track "Mad Hatter". Similarly impressive is the fuzzy "Nina", where fizzing electronic stabs and woozy melody lines ride a killer bassline, while the sparser "Waiting For Simon" is undoubtedly the EP's most out-there and experimental moment. Autarkic and Marc Pional remix "Mad Hatter", with the latter's skewed, spaced-out analogue deep house interpretation particularly impressing.
Argentinean tech house hero Adrian Hour is fasting taking the international scene by storm with appearances for the likes of Yoshitoshi, Knee Deep In Sound and now Toolroom with "Like This" which is a bangin' and funky warehouse jam with catchy horns and one warehouse sized shuffle to boot. Second offering "What They Hear" is like "La La Land" for 2016, with its drug fuelled monologue and dark tunnelling groove drawing you into the void for one wild night indeed!
Originally released back in 2012 "Buya" remains one of the most successful crossover house tracks. This is due to Black Coffee's inspired fusion of Toshi's haunting vocals with an emotive atmospheric house groove that shimmers and swaggers with majestic poise. Now Get Physical has commissioned remixes of this sultry gem. Loco Dice's 'Kliptown Love' radio edit adds a techy bassline and some quirky percussion while the German DJ's 'remix' is a tighter affair one that is laced with bubbly acid. Da Capo takes the track into mellow house mode while label owners M.A.N.D.Y close the release with a chant-heavy track whose bass references early 90s progressive house.
Munich's Benjamin Frohlich is back on his own beloved Permanent Vacation imprint which he founded back in 2006 with Tom Bioly. On the Rude Movements EP he gives us four servings of wonderfully deep nu disco. On the A side is the soaring and cosmic sci fi odyssey of "Holloway" with its glorious arpeggio. Also "Spitting Image" gets that classic early 80's Chicago proto house sound happening with a pure booming 808 workout that makes a wicked DJ tool. On the flip "Amos" is a sick and gnarly acid house grinder which is perfect to up the ante at 3 AM and get the kids dancing.