Robert Hood's second album as Floorplan sees him hone in on disco, gospel and house influences to create a proper big room collection. As the driving, disco-loop heavy "Spin" and the ridiculously catchy "Music" demonstrate, the Detroit producer has stripped Floorplan of its techno influences. However, this does't mean he has simplified his message; accompanying the religious vocals on "The Heavens & The Earth" is a hypnotic organ riff, the slightly less pious "Good Thang" is a riotous siren-heavy jacker in the Reese tradition, and "He Can Save You", with its dense primal rhythm is reminiscent of Green Velvet as his madcap best. Hood may have chosen God, gospel and disco over the minimal nation, but he still knows how to lead his people onto the dancefloor.
Juan Miguel Bassols first pricked our consciousness way back in 2012, when he delivered a fine debut under the JMII moniker on 100% Silk. He's not released all that much since, making this first appearance on Hivern Discs his highest profile EP to date. There's naturally much to admire amongst the three original productions present, from the stripped-back but melodious acid house shuffle of "Thrills", to the wild lead lines and chugging bottom end of the analogue synth-heavy proto-house snap of "Tightbrass". Christian S provides two tasty reworks of that cut, including a dark and seductive "Angry Dub". A woozy, dreamier John Talabot re-edit of "Thrills" completes an excellent package.
Having previously plied his trade on a number of New York-affiliated imprints (Wurst, Night People NYC and Nervous offshoot Nurvous amongst them), Eli Escobar makes his debut on Transatlantic label Classic. Opener "Phreeky" features contributions from regular collaborators Vanessa Daou and Nomi Ruiz, and is little less than a killer combination of classic piano-house grooves, party-starting disco samples, relentless cowbells and choice old school vocal samples. It's something of a belter, all told, and one of Classic's strongest releases of recent times. Escobar continues this retro-futurist feel on the Masters At Work-via-Detroit-and-Chicago vibe of "Can't Stop Dancing", where vibraphone solos and whispered female vocals ride an Andres-styles deep house rhythm.
French legend Ludovic Llorca is back under the Art Of Tones guise for the always impressive Local Talk. Acid soul funk? You bet! Take a listen to I "Just Can't (Get Over It)" and you'll believe there is such a thing. On the flip, the smooth and soulful groove continues on "Dirty Stories" which has an undeniably French touch about it, with good use wonky synths, emotive strings and SP1200 style vocal cut ups. Deepness in the vein of Pepe Braddock or Chateau Flight.
Hardworking Italian duo Riccardo Paffetti and Gabriele Michelli have enjoyed a relatively low-key career to date, despite the obvious quality of their chunky, bass-heavy deep house releases. This latest EP for Toy Tronics - their first for a year - is once again packed full of tried-and-tested dancefloor fare. They begin with the hazy, jazz-flecked bump of "Cassette 2", where sparkly keys and delay-laden vocal samples ride a deep and chunky groove, before ramping up the pressure with the robust analogue beats and bleep-era sub-bass of "Cassette 7". COEO adds even more swing to "Cassette 2" on a toe-tapping, hip-wiggling revision, while Carlo turns "Cassette 7" into a low-slung, Derrick Carter style boompty thumper.
Ever since their last release, we've been preoccupied with what really does do go on deep within the mind of a dragon. It turns out that beneath all the scales and firey breath they tend to think a lot about holidaying in Ayia Napa circa 2001. Wonder if Saint George knew this. Anyway, "Too Much" is a delicious mix of catchy distant vocals snippets and perky 130bpm beats and warm, undulating bass waves. Remix-wise Mike Millrain brings the '90s house fire - all slammin' New York garage vibes and closer than close synthy goodness. Summer is officially here!
More dreamy deep house for inner city rooftops again courtesy of Lee Burridge and Matthew Dekay's always impressive All Day I Dream imprint. At the controls this time is NYC stalwart Lauren Ritter with the Lark EP. The title track has all the hallmarks of an ADID track; mesmerising and crystalline pads, xylophone melodies and emotive strings that distill the best influences of German imprints like Kompakt or Dial into it. So does "Swoon", this is the kind of bittersweet headrush that someone like Michael Mayer would unleash on you mid set. "Murmur" incorporates elements of Romanian style minimal with its big rolling bassline and intricate rhythm arrangements complete with hypnotic elements. Great stuff!
Italian electro-pop freaks Crookers are back! They make deep house these days and don't do too badly at it. "Beautiful" features a bossa-jazz flavour over its woozy esoteric beats. "Dub Side 3" is more direct like the name would suggest on this dark and low slung journey track that will appeal to Crosstown Rebels fans. Elsewhere there's a couple more remixes of "Beautiful" which are equally impressive but for our money it's all about Kry Wolf's druggy, party-starting tech house makeover which will get the adrenalin levels peaking with its tough beat, funky bassline and trippy elements all working in harmony.
Master magician Lorenz Brunner is back as Recondite on Innervisions serving up three perfectly executed dark journey tracks for maximum dancefloor drama. Starting out with the brooding mystery groove of "Osa" whose sombre yet razor sharp melodics guide you down the abyss, he's then on to "Andever" which is a bit more uplifting with some bass driven deepness and haunting bell melodies reminiscent somewhat of the classic sound of German imprint Dial. Finally "Nick" hammers the message home in esoteric and transcendental fashion with its epic and wandering arpeggio backed by trancey atmosphere engineered for total dancefloor bliss.
To mark the twentieth anniversary of the foundation of his label, James Ruskin has put together this massive compilation. It includes long-term friends and associates of the label - like Oliver Ho, Regis and Luke Slater - as well as newer additions to the roster, including Lakker and Rommek. Apart from uniting artists from different generations, the compilation also showcases the label's various hues; from the broken beats and intricate rhythms of Ruskin and Regis' O/V/R project and the hypnotic soundscapes of Lakker's "Orange" to the trace stabs and 10 tonne kicks of Regis' "Party Spoiler Too" and the chaotic industrial rhythms on Truss' "Wanastow", this compilation offers to newcomers an invaluable introduction to Blueprint, or to long-standing fans an indispensable reminder of why the label is unique.
Defected's ongoing House Masters series should be essential listening for anyone keen to discover more about the recording careers of some of the scene's most iconic producers. Certainly, this latest installment, chronicling NYC legend Todd Terry's finest moments, contains far more hits than misses. At 35 tracks deep, it's a bit of a beast, but features not only all of his best-known productions ("Weekend", "Can You Party", "I'll House You", "Bango (To The Batmobile)", his remix of Everything But The Girl's "Missing"), but also a swathe of lesser-known remixes (A slammin' version of Bizarre Inc's "I'm Gonna Get You"), Dubs (a brilliantly stripped-back version of Hardrive's "Voices Inside My House") and original productions (the hip-house era madness of Black Riot's "Warlock").
This year marks two decades since Jamie 'Jimpster' Odell founded Freerange Records. To celebrate 20 years in the game, Odell has put together a five-disc vinyl boxset of previously unheard material, which is also being released on a number of digital EPs. There's much to admire on this first volume, from the hazy deep house chug of KiNK's "Roads", and the glitchy, broken-house thrills of Odell's Jimpster remix of Tim Toh & Ranavalona's "All I See", to the loose, jazzy deepness of The New Tower Generation's "Eyes Can See". Best of all, though, is "We Play Pads", a wonderfully deep, melodious, hazy and evocative chunk of boogie-influenced deep house from Luv Jam & Jimpster.
On this intriguing package, Jacques Renault has signed up a quartet of like-minded party-starters to remix tracks from his 2015 debut album, Zentrum. Borrowed Identity kicks things off with a bluesy, Rhodes-heavy deep house rendition of "Faith", before classic U.S house revivalist Nicholas channels the spirits of Bobby Konders and Chez Damier on his deep, dreamy and intoxicating rework of the same track. Massimiliano Pagliara impresses with a bouncy, synth-laden disco-house interpretation of "Redlight Rubber" full of clipped guitars and spine-tingling vocal samples, before Max McFerren steals the show with a heady, rave-influenced breakbeat-house take on the Latin-influenced "Mi Casa Samba".
An Australian based in London, producer Frankee More gives the occasional instalment of frothy party fun. There's no fear of groundbreaking sounds here or deep navel gazing, it's all about cheeky giggles on the dancefloor. Here we have another two such sizzlers to enjoy. First up, "This Feeling" fuses a laid-back electro-funk bassline with an impassioned soul vocal and a sax solo. On the digital flipside lurks "Dance Now", basically an update of C&C Music Factory's Everybody Dance Now that, if played at the right time, will blow the roof off any self-respecting house party. Job done.
Grecian DJ/producer C Da Afro is beginning to build up an impressive discography. Impressively, Midnight Riot is the 20th label he's released on to date. Soul Grooves is his first EP for the imprint, and contains a quartet of floor-friendly tracks that sit somewhere between remixes, re-edits and original productions. So while "Soul Groove" is based heavily on Matsubara's Paradise Garage fave "S.O.S (Society Of Soul)", C Da Afro has added a swathe of new synthesizer parts to compliment the original's killer jazz-funk guitars. We must presume the same process has been followed on the tactile electrofunk bomb "I've Got This Feeling", and the almost overpowering synthesizer bliss of Balearic boogie closer "You Mae Me Feel So Good".
Of all the artists on its roster, Martin Landsky has had the longest relationship with Poker Flat. Listening to this three-tracker, it's no surprise why the label continues to release his music. "Echo in my Head" stays true to Landsky's reinvention of classic house; led by one of his trademark grinding basslines, it provides a backdrop for powerful filters and tripped out vocal samples. "Weird Night" is more contemporary sounding as a lone bleep is looped over a chattering minimal rhythm. However, Landsky can't help delving back into house music's past and revisits the eerie Nu Groove sound on the moody, rolling "That Organ".
Chicago's Kenya is a housewife who became an esteemed Christian soul singer following a 'cosmic enlightenment' that showed her the way. Having heard "Let Me" (from her My Own Skin album), Joey Negro has signed her up, enlisting Sean McCabe to rework the tune for the right kind of dancefloors. Clocking in around nine minutes, the "vocal mix" a smooth and luxurious ride through vintage jazzy house, dripping in golden-toned Fender Rhodes chords. Elsewhere there's the aquatic sounding '90s retro house of the "Let Me Out Dub" and the Brand New Heavies-esqe organic jazz-funk of the "Classic Soul Mix". Chic.
The latest release on Tronik Youth's label features a return visit from Heretic. Real name Timothy Clerkin, he makes an impressive sound on the title track. Jittery Chicago drums underscore an androgynous vocal sample, noisy acid and atmospheric synth sweeps. It's redolent of classic Mood Music and Ewan Pearson before the electro house boom got out of hand. The remix from Low Manuel is more considered and reflective, with the Italian DJ toning down the acid and fusing it with a hypnotic pulse. Thomaas Bank's version returns to the original track's noisy approach, with the synths stripped away and just the bare, bruising rhythm remaining.
It's amusing to see some outlets calling the latest release by Thomas Brown and Aaron Turner aka Perfume Advert 'garage house'. The reality is that the northern English duo takes influence from the hazy deep house sound carved out by DiY during the 90s. Sure, there are vocal samples on "Mirror Shield", but like the Nottingham collective's releases and DJing, Perfume Advert bury them deep inside cavernous chords. "Single White Junker" follows a similar path, with a powerful bass supporting the dissected samples. Perfume Advert then turn their attention to German influences, with "Destiny Bond" sounding like Terry Lee Brown Jnr at his dubby best and "Gown" veering down a clicks'n'cuts route.
Having flirted a little with Pets Recordings, Adam Port returns to the loving arms of Keine Musik. In its' original form, "Sonnenfinsternis" is a curious but hugely attractive concoction, with trippy siren sounds, dub effects, spiraling chords and snappy snare fills wrapping their way around a metronomic, Kraftwerk-inspired groove. Regular collaborator Jennifer Touch adds her sweet, hazy vocals to the dreamy tech-house shuffler "Working For It", before Port offers up an extra special treat: a brand new re-edit of his previously overlooked hook-up with jangly guitar band Here Is Why, "Tonight". This new version sounds like a Balearic disco/AOR soft rock classic in the making.