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Reviewed this week
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Kompakt's Total compilation series - an annual round up of gems from the imprint's tightly packed release schedule - must be one of the longest-running in dance music. Amazingly, this latest installment is the 14th volume in the series. For those who enjoy Kompakt's generally positive approach to electronic music - think tactile techno, ambient pop and skewed, synth-laden house from the likes of Michael Mayer, Thomas Fehlmann, Partial Arts and Gui Boratto - there's much to admire, including a slew of previously unreleased cuts. These include Superpitcher's "Delta", a sublime chunk of hypnotic e-tronica that's almost too melodic for its own good. Arguably even better is Weval's live recording of "Something", which is near perfect in its wide-eyed pop simplicity.
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JD Twitch's Autonomous Africa series is something of a rarity. Each annual EP, which features modern electronic music influenced by African rhythms, sounds and styles, is used to raise money for a different African charity. Proceeds from this third in the series are destined for Tanzania's Mtandika Mission, a charity run by Midland's parents. It seems fitting, then, that he kicks things off with "Safi", a heavyweight slice of future voodoo that expertly blends analogue electronics and bombastic African rhythms. General Ludd go deep, psychedelic and off-kilter with their brilliant "Burning Mack", while Auntie Flo delivers a stripped-back vocal cut with echoes of his recent material on Permanent Vacation. Finally, Twitch steps up to deliver "Maya", which sounds like LFO's "LFO" re-made by African musicians.
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Auckland's deep delving duo Monkey Boots are back with a new version of "Whitworth Strut", this time reworked by disco royalty himself, Greg Wilson. Under Wilson's guidance the track becomes like a whooshy, subaquatic disco swim with tides of touchy feely loops washing all over the listener in blessed-out joy. Elsewhere we get a new track "Hold Back The Night", which is a lean and mean slice of linear electro funk (also successfully dubbed out by Andy Hart) that clocks in at a whopping eight minutes!
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Man of many monikers Gerd returns to the NY Stomp alias he last used in 2012. "I Feel It Comin' On", featuring Matthew Kirkwood, is a sparkling chunk of revivalist US house, with pianos and cut-up soul vocals riding a classic bassline and stomping, basement-friendly beats. There's a couple of more UKG-friendly revisions in the shape of the Bass'N'Dirt Remix and Dub, while Ovis gives the original a thunderous makeover - all raw drum machine beats, powerful sub and cut-up, hands-in-the-air vocals. There's also a solid bonus cut, "Beatattak", in which Gerd laces chopped-up freestyle vocals and dreamy chords over a skipping, US garage style rhythm.
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Defkline is one of the alternate monikers used by breakstep pioneer Deekline (of I Don't Smoke fame). This Londoner never rests - running no less than six labels including Hot Cakes. Here on "Push Dat" he's having a bit of throwaway fun taking the riff from '90s superhit Push The Feeling On by Nightcrawlers and mixing it in both 2-step and housey styles. Sure to conjure up smiles in clubs everywhere.
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"Joker" was undeniably one of the strongest cuts from Gui Boratto's recent Abaporu full length, his fourth for long serving Cologne giants Kompakt. It's pleasing, then, to find it getting a deserved single release. The original - a breakdown-heavy chunk of progressive techno blessed with darting synthesizer arpeggios and tumbling pianos - is remixed by Dave DK and Michael Mayer. The former delivers a deeper, more atmospheric version, bristling with sinewy strings, woozy chords and sparse, bongo-laden percussion. It's Mayer's remix that hits home hardest, though. The Kompakt bossman reinvents the track as a chunky slab of wide-eyed rave revivalism, with Boratto's pianos and arpeggios riding a thrilling new bassline and cut-up electronics.
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Haunted bass peddler Woz has upped his output quota recently, and he continues his ascent with this short and sweet two-tracker. First up is "Cherry Hill" which is low slung, spacey and dark house: all sultry buzzes, hums and the ghostly vocals of Max Marshall. However, if it's creeped-out and dark 2-step you're after, you're best heading straight for the dark alley shuffle of "Trust Meh".
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Huxley's come a long way since his formative releases on labels like Cecille Numbers, Tsuba and Kolour Recordings. In recent times he's delivered the goods to Rinse, Hypercolour and Defected with last year's impressive Chatsworth Sound collaboration with Shenoda. His second EP for Will Saul's Aus Music is a varied affair with something to please everyone with a taste for UK flavoured house. It's a certainty the bassline of "Callin" will make this track a summer smash - festival dancers watch out - while the grittier low end frequencies of "Machina" are more suited to a underground club vibe. Huxley goes deeper into the minimal end of tribalish house music on "Tendered Mess" while "Oil Spill" is a signature of Huxley's trademark bassline style.
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In just four releases Brame has managed to land himself solo releases on Morris Audio, Dirt Crew and Drumpoet Community, which speaks volumes for the quality of his deep house wares. It's the latter that he returns to for round two, finding fresh form with the sublime and soothing tones of "Vinyl Cut" and the edgier thrust of "Absent". The standout track on the EP is the title jam, which takes a more progressive route as swirling melodies weave a mystical message around the heads down drum lines, leaving plenty of room for delectable techy stabs to inject some mechanised soul into the tune in its later stages.
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For his latest release UKF super producer Roska shows the likes of Robin Thicke how write a good song about confused signals. "Crossed Wires" sees the Kicks & Snares man pursue a noticeably more luxuriant blend of deep and precise pop-house than ever before, with smooth, emotional pads and silky vocals courtesy of Himal. Elsewhere "Master Of Persuasion" explores laser-heavy soulful garage pop, "Superlemonhaze" goes back to dubstep and EP highlight "Right Here" takes in some seriously creepy percussive underground vibes. Gonna be mega.
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Amazingly, it's been three years since Birmingham-raised duo Case & Affect made their debut on Beatdown Music. Since then, their profile has rocketed thanks to regular appearances on Rinse FM. Here they pop up on the station's label offshoot with a four tracker that smoothly joins the dots between UK funky, deep house and UKG. Opener "Mistakes", blessed as it is with jaunty bleep melodies, warm sub, heady pads and a choice vocal sample, is particularly impressive. "Dimensions" is faster and breezier, with deliciously wide-eyed breakdowns, while "Bird Flu" laces electronic blips and cut-up vocals over a rolling 4/4 garage rhythm. Finally, "Foorest" is impressively weird and glitchy, sounding like UK bass house beamed down from another planet.
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This Avocado release by French producer Alexkid may well be the best thing he's released yet, which is quite the praise seeing as Alexis Mauri has been putting out records since 1997. Avacado also provides him with a debut on Josh Wink's Ovum, and what a debut it is. "The Dope" is deep, squiggly and atmospheric with pulses of bass tones bleeping in and out of sync like a modular system gone mad, while the future Chicago house of "For Josh" will indeed be a hit, if it isn't one already, for Wink's DJ sets, whether it be in Ibiza or the basement venues of NYC.
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Given their pedigree and the mature musicality of their productions, you'd expect this first single from John Talabot and Axel Boman's Talaboman project to be pretty darn good. "Sideral" - dedicated to a genre-straddling Barcelona DJ who passed away back in 2006 - is certainly special, with the original version offering an intoxicating, bright-eyed fusion of dense, African-influenced percussion, bass-heavy bottom end, attractive chords and thrilling, upbeat melodies. It's tinged with sadness - as many of Talbot's best productions tend to be - but comes across as more celebratory than melancholic. Matt Karmil provides the flipside remix, lacing the duo's notable synth melodies over a hissing, hypnotic techno groove.
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Having spent the last few years delivering atmospheric blends of tech-house and minimal for Steve Bug's Poker Flat imprint, Dusseldorf's Alex Niggeman transfers to Sasha's Last Night on Earth imprint. It's perhaps unsurprising that the prog house veteran has snapped up these two tracks, because they ripple with the eyes-wide-shut feel of prog. Think atmospheric chords, long builds, twinkling melodies and intoxicating atmospherics. Of the two tracks, "Earth Symphony" - a classic prog house title -is probably our pick; it's certainly symphonic in its use of builds and drops. "Tarkus" is a little livelier, with vibrant synths and heady chords dancing around a hypnotic, late night groove.
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Here's something of a treat from soul-flecked deep house specialists Pusic Records: a double-length EP featuring a range of sinewy dancefloor treats. There's much to admire across the eight tracks, from the bongo-laden percussion and 'Knights of the Jaguar' style synth strings of KRL's lip-smacking remix of The New Tower Generation's "Hidden Banana Bug", to the rubbery live bass, woozy chords and near Balearic headiness of Anaxander's "LetAss Go Party". Also worth mentioning is Steve J's pumping, piano-sporting "Souljay" and the dreamy, enveloping, Andres-ish shuffle of Pablo Valentino's jazz-flecked "When I Was a Kid". Glenn Astro's wonky, ultra-deep remix of the same track is arguably the EP's standout moment.
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It's been business as usual this year for Running Back as Gerd Janson's label has quietly gone about issuing some sleeper hits from the likes of Telephones, Redshape, Genius Of Time, Todd Osborn and Mutsumi. The label's latest port of call is to introduce Thomalla, a Berlin-based producer whose sound on the Mood Swings Skewed Things EP seems a perfect fit for the Running Back cause. Described artfully by Janson as a collection of tracks "built for a universe in which James Holden is the caretaker," Thomalla's production palette encompasses many styles. Lead cut "Tidal" teases out squeaky analogue tones over a marauding groove, whilst "Ginobili" is an excellent deep house tool. On the flip "Polymath" sounds like a gaseous dub cover of "Papua New Guinea" whilst closing track Nachkik" is exactly the sort of kraut-addled techno you could imagine Holden playing.
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After a couple of lean years without a release, Audiojack returned to action earlier this year with a solid 12" on regular home 20:20 Vision. Here, the Leeds-based duo continues that rich vein of form with a similarly sturdy EP on Tsuba. "Traction" itself is a no-nonsense sort of concoction - a woozy, bass-heavy chunk of stripped-back tech-house blessed with Bobby Peru style electronics and carefully placed drum machine handclaps. It's accompanied by a Lauer remix that impressively transforms it into a decidedly Balearic chunk of touchy-feely, wide-eyed deep house. Bonus cut "Hook" sits somewhere between the two, layering filtered classic house riffs over handclap-heavy deep percussion and an undulating bassline.
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Roughly two years after they first surfaced with Do The Same on Shifting Peaks, UK bass duo Mak & Pasteman add their names to the long list of artists that run their own label. The reception to releases in the ensuing period for Lobster Boy and Naked Naked have proved that this West Yorkshire pair have a willing audience for such a move and it will be interesting to see if Materials is used solely as a platform for their own work or whether they'll use it to nurture new talent too. Naturally they helm the debut release which brandishes an upfront bass-tech-house hybrid on the A Side in "Jam One", whilst "Formation 131" sees M&P doff their hats to the sound of darkside jungle.
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Dangerous Girl finds Italian-in-Berlin Adapter (AKA producer Antonio Russo) in fine form, delivering a pleasingly eclectic EP for Get Physical. The title track, a tribute to '80s electro and synth-funk complete with winding melodies and cheap sci-fi electronics, offers a radio and dancefloor-friendly opening, before "Me & You" scampers off on a Visionquest-does-pop tip. It's similarly undulating, with atmospheric vocals and a bubbling, tech-tinged groove. Finally, vocalist Jesse Monroe lends a hand on "Remember", a rave-inflected stomp through flickering strobelights accompanied by the sickly-sweet smell of human sweat. It's foreboding, intoxicating and atmospheric: just what you want at three in the morning when your feet are telling you to go home.
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Thirteen may be unlucky for some, but there is no such bad fortune on the latest edition of the Full Body Workout mix. This time, the German label has entrusted the controls to remixer Julian Ganzer - who counts Booka Shade's "Darko" among his reworks - and Javier Logares, who has put out releases for Get Physical and Bar 25. Between them, they steer the mix through reflective, evocative sounds (Doomwork's "DNA"), into tripped out, stripped back house and techno from Mikael Stavosstrand & Cesare vs Disorder and Fabio Giannelli and into the kind of dramatic house that the label is known for, articulated here by the orchestral flourishes of K.E.E.N.E. & Robosonic's "Waters".
Exclusives
AYBEE - 22 Meters (Deepblak Recordings) - exclusive 08-09-2014
OOFT! - Here For You - exclusive 01-09-2014
NIGGEMANN, Alex - Earth Symphony (Last Night On Earth)
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VARIOUS - Pusic Records VA 034 (Pusic) - exclusive 31-12-2030
MOODYMANC/LENNY MIDDLES - Well Cut Records 001 (Well Cut) - exclusive 12-08-2014
SINDEN presents THE CRYSTAL SYSTEM feat SYF - Got Me Moving (Sweat It Out!)
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