The first compilation on Koze's Pampa label is a lovingly curated affair. It starts with the left field house of Herbert's take on Lianne La Havas and Ada's r&b-infused "You & Me", as well as DJ Koze's own hymnal take on Roman Flugel's "9 Years". Other Pampa regulars like Axel Boman are well represented and he provides the ultra-mellow "In The Dust of This Planet". Equally though, Koze also provides a platform for newcomers to the fold. There's the utterly bizarre, glitch-hop of Nasrawi and Funskstorung's contributions, and at the other end of the spectrum, wide-eyed deep house from Mount Kimbie and Jamie xx & Kosi Kos' pumping indie-dance "Come We Go".
Harry Agius aka Midland is back: does he ever find time to sleep? Following up the Akase side project he's involved in with Robbie Redway and some killer releases on Aus Music, Feel My Bicep and of course his own Graded imprint which this appears on; making it the label's third release already. "Blush" is a slow burning and emotive piece with an epic vintage synth arpeggio and soulful strings backed by the most restrained beat. "Outpost" gets a bit more fierce with a tougher beat and a free running arpeggio that reeks havoc much like Carl Craig's classic remix of "Falling Up". Finally "Holdup" hammers the message home gloriously with its off kilter yet hypnotic beat and sombre yet emotive atmosphere.
A taster for Robert Hood's second Floorplan album, this EP puts a spotlight on the radical nature of his musical transformation. On "Music", the visceral rhythms of techno minimalism are gone; in their place is a rolling, tracky groove that boasts a repetitive vocal loop and which has shades of classic Relief /Derrick Carter. "Tell You No Lie" is even more impressive. It sees Hood use a gospel vocal over a stomping, funk guitar-sampling disco house workout. There is an audibly religious dimension to "Tell You No Lie," but Hood's knack for writing a great tune means that it sounds celebratory rather than self-indulgent or preachy.
London's Aroop Roy is back, This guy has won acclaim from the who's who of the industry such as Gilles Peterson and Rainer Truby and his music fuses afro (such as on the hands in the air party vibe of "Ifa" that's reminiscent of Fela Kuti vibes), funk (the disco funk soul excursion on "Manuman") and into house like on the spiritual NYC vibe of Um Trago" that's calling to mind classic Joe Claussell and Kerri Chandler. And we're really digging it!
LOFT's latest release is an all-star affair, with a quartet of hyped artists taking it in turns to remix tracks from Berlin-based Aussie Isaac Tichauer's recent Street Lessons EP. Belfast boys Bicep step up first, delivering a mix that blends winding synthesizer lines with rolling, early '90s style breakbeat house grooves. Hackman's version of "Street Lessons" is a cheery, UKG-meets-deep house affair full of skipping beats and twinkling pianos, before Dorsia serves up a tasty vocal version of the same track smothered in psychedelic electronics and pretty synth melodies. Finally, Lancelot manages to deliver a drowsy tech-house-meets-boisterous garage interpretation of "Street Lessons" that should go down well with younger crowds.
Bay Area house hero and Dirtybird co-founder Justin Martin is back following up 2013's Ghettos & Gardens with his new full length LP Hello Clouds, a collection of fine moods and grooves that see him collaborate with some of his favourite artists at the moment. He's quoted as saying "I reached out to specific artists who currently inspire me". Highlights include the title track where he collaborates with London pop chanteuse FEMME on this low slung acid groove. More great talents from London appear such as Lena Cullen, lending her fine vocals to the dark futurism of "Odyssey" and Bristolian rising star and fellow Dirtybird alumni Will Clarke appears too, lending his midas touch to "Back To The Jungle" which is bumpy and as bass driven as you could possibly imagine. The Amen break on top is totally killer too.
Random contact through Soundcloud saw Phantasy owner Erol Alkan sign Ghost Culture and now, seven EPs and one album later, this almost accidental hook-up has paid off in spades. "Safe" is a fine modern techno track; a dark, moody bass lashes and flashes like a live power line, while industrial strength acid ploughs its way over Ghost Culture's pumping groove. On the flip side, "Multiply" represents a different side to his sound. It is deeper and more melodic; tranced out chords and melodic hooks of almost crystal fragility play out over a warbling bass and dry percussive ticks. Both tracks consolidate Ghost Culture's reputation as a fine modern day techno artist.
Ali "Nebraska" Gibbs last outing on Mister Saturday Night, 2015's Stand Your Ground, saw the producer treating listeners to a quartet of tracks that touched on a multitude of house styles. This follow-up has a similar feel. He begins with the loose-but-bold drums, electric piano solos, disco strings and occasional punchy horns of "Done My Best", before dropping down into slower, deeper, dub-tinged territory via the toasty electric bass, stretched-out chords, mid-tempo grooves and pitched-down horns of "Look What You've Done To Me". He rounds off another fine outing with "S.O.S Dub", a crackling, unfeasibly atmospheric journey through dub house grooves, fluttering chords and creepy electronics.
Peggy Gou has had a busy debut year thanks to her opener on Phonica's white offshoot, and now two EP's out on Rekids in quick succession. Her sound is a subtle, minimalistic blend of house and techno, exactly the sort of tech-minded groovers that have appeared on Radio Slave's label in the past. "Jen High", for instance, takes a dusty being of drums and wraps them around delicate blends of chimes, whereas "When Round, They Go" heads deeper into space with the help of a sublimely cosmic swarm of sonics. The special piece comes from Terekke's remix of the latter, and the LIES man adds his signature touch to an already very deep house tune, making his version that one toke over the line!
Gerd Janson's Running back taps into some local talent courtesy of Stuttgart DJ / producer Konstantin Sibold. The title track is a classic slice of German techno; it has shades of early Force Inc thanks to its tranced out chords and pace - cruising along just below 130bpm for its ten-minute duration - and the raw energy of Tresor in the shape of its gnarly acid line. The musical elements sound much more pronounced on the beatless version, with the chords assuming a slightly menacing edge. However, this is really all about the original version, a tripped out, hypnotic that digs deep into the German electronic music psyche.
London young guns Wolf Music are still at it, pursuing their love of new wave deep house sounds and they're still doing good, we must say. They've drafted current scene favourite Frits Wentik with a little help from fellow Dutchman Loes Jongerling for Rarely Pure Never Simple (Club Edits). First up is "Nevertheless" which is Berlin style dusty/hip-hop inspired deepness in the vein of Glenn Astro and Max Graef. The vibe continues on "In Addition (Club Edit)" which adds a bit of emotive and soulful synth work reminiscent of classic Larry Heard into the mix. Finally the title track gets all reduced and dubby on us, galloping away in subterranean and mysterious fashion but those Rhodes keys and sexy vocal loop on top are a worthy addition.
It's become something of a cliche to point out Rayko's restless productivity, but it's nevertheless true that the Spanish producer does release rather a lot of material. To be fair to the Madrid man, this four-tracker for Midnight Riot is one of his stronger efforts. He begins with the life-affirming pianos and gospel vocals of "Hallelujah", before providing a sun-kissed re-dub of Fleetwood Mac's Balearic classic "Big Love" (here re-titled "Alone"). "That Sound" delivers an attractive blend of wiggly boogie synths, sharp riffs and fuzzy rock guitars, while "Get Loose" is a mostly instrumental re-recording of the Aleems' breakdance era electrofunk classic of the same name.
Bad boy bass man Phrixus is back with mighty fury on Sounds Of Sumo, and he's open for business as usual, rolling out the punches and the low-frequency weight. This seven-tracker has everything you'd possibly want from a UK bass release, with the majority of the tunes dipping and diving in and out of pseudo grime sways, peaks of house and even a little wobble step in the low-end. Remixes come from Kiri, Croft and Fritz Carlton.
Ron & Neil is an all-star collaboration between old buddies Jim "Ron Basejam" Baron (Crazy P), and Rack 'N' Ruin boss man Neil Diablo. Pedre Son Aclat marks the project's first appearance, with the three original tracks sitting somewhere between shimmering nu-disco, sparkling powder house, and disco-influenced grooves. The title track sets the tone, layering up colourful synthesizer chords and melodies. While tasty, Man Power's bubbly, Balearic style revision - all analogue synths, cheap drum machine hits and sleazy vocals - is arguably more satisfying. "You Feel It" is a creepy, low-slung deep house/disco hybrid blessed with killer percussive flourishes and a weighty punk funk bassline, while "Tears" is a glassy-eyed fusion of warehouse-friendly electronics and disco-funk hedonism.
Damian Lazarus & The Ancient Moons' Message From The Other Side LP was released back in 2015 but is still riding on its resounding success, this time in the form of several tracks receiving some stellar remixes. Obviously there were the ones for the singles "Vermillion" and "Lovers' Eyes (Mohe Pi Ki Najariya)" but now comes Remixes From The Other Side Part I. Lazarus has called in hot Tel Aviv duo Red Axes to makeover the title track and it's as sweet as you can imagine with its combination of punk funk, psych rock and nu-disco. The now legendary Acid Pauli also steps in to remix said track and his rendition is a deep and sexy serving of low slung and bassline driven deep house. Finally Disco Halal main man Mehmet Aslan does over "Lovers Eyes", delving into some sublime and exotic Middle Eastern flavour.
Call Super first met the Dekmantel crew last year, one of many high profile DJs to play their summer festival in Amsterdam and it wasn't long before the esteemed Dutch imprint asked him to supply them with an EP. Impressively, Nervous Sex Traffic is one of his strongest 12" singles to date - no mean feat given his track record - with the title track, in particular, delivering thrills in spades. Stretching out over nine mesmerizing minutes, it overlays snappy, analogue-sounding beats and cowbell hits with alien bleep melodies, synthesized horn stabs, rich bass, and pads that recall Pet Shop Boys' "West End Girls". It's a melodious, eyes-closed treat, all told. "Mount Grace" sees a deeper, more metallic affair that draws inspiration from vintage Detroit techno, blissful electro, and the morning-after confusion of ambient house.
London's Hypercolour crew have now become synonymous with quality house and techno, and although they are originally rooted in the UK strain of the genres, recent years have brought along a whole new heap of styles and talent on their catalogue. First up, we should give credit to Axel Boman and the ridiculously hummable tech-house groove that is "Depression 01", followed supremely by a hard-hitting house banger in the name of "Lynn" by the unstoppable Dense & Pika. Other choice cuts on here include Kevin McPhee's nasty "CC-XXX-YY-NNNNN", Jimmy Edgar's sexier-than-ever "Hush", Lucretio's smooth "Vampire Killer", and...of screw it, it's all pretty damn killer. HOT.
After a string of high-profile releases for Richie Hawtin's Minus, Gavin Lynch aka Matador delivers a new album for Ruckus. It sounds like the Irish producer has matured as a producer. At times, Ructions seethes with an understated menace. This is evident on "Drifting", a drawn out groove with menacing bass pulsing underneath. "Back 2 Bass" follows a similar trajectory, augmented by a repetitive vocal sample and sirens firing off into the ether. There is still a lot of big-room style tracks - just check the ominous "Inceptions" and the heads-down pulses "Klout & Bones" - but this album works best when Lynch explores unexpected directions, like the subtle, sub-aquatic house of "Harcourt Street".
Riva Starr's back everyone: look out! Our favourite Italian tech house prankster appears again on Jamie Jones and Lee Foss' esteemed Hot Creations imprint and it's tech house that's as punchy and as funky as you like it. "Dippina Side" is the kind of rolling main room groove for hedonists that'd make a Gruuv or Saved record pale in comparison. The remix by Neapolitan techno hero Joseph Capriati isn't as ferocious as you'd think, but definitely tougher with some big druggy breakdowns. Finally "Owls & Toucans (feat Haiku 575)" features some sexy and exotic Latin flair with those steel drums but then that adrenalised bump and shuffle comes rushing in complete with wacky synth lead and pitch shifted vocals; all the good stuff!
The Wah Wah 45s label is responsible for rescuing of the work of long forgotten Canadian/Haitian pianist, Henri-Pierre Noel. Both his 1979 debut Piano and its early 80s follow-up One More Step have been rediscovered and repressed by the label, and here we get a selection of cuts from the latter all reworked by the French producer The Reflex. There are four killer reworks here - the pumped up Afro-disco belter, "Funky Spider Dance", the boogie-up clavinet heavy take on "A Fifth Of Beethoven", the ramshackle island grooves of "Back Home...Sweet Home" and toughened up raw funk of "Diskette". Class.