Released last November, Illumination was just the debut EP we could have hoped for from veteran DJ Erol Alkan; straddling the line between touchy-feely piano house, pounding acid and oddball breakbeat, it was as honest encapsulation of the man's idiosyncratic approach as you could expect. It's something that follows on to this collection of remixers, which gives a diverse selection of producers a crack at creating something new from Alkan's orginals. Rush Hour's Tom Trago turns in the most conventional remix, and deeper version of the '90s-influenced "A Hold On Love", while The Emperor Machine adds some expectedly trippy dub effects to "Bang!". U's version of "Check Out Your Mind" is even more twisted than the chopped up original, but for us it's L.I.E.S. and Nation affiliate Beau Wanzer's take on "Bang!" that stands out, removing all the sharp edges and turning it into an effective techno bludgeoning tool that will shake sweaty basements apart.
With just one other record consigned to the project it's not often we witness label boss Jimpster turning his hand to his discofied alias on Delusions Of Grandeur. Any keen followers of the label will be more than satisfied with the vibe on offer, as a slower kind of house groove takes hold for three tracks infused with spiritual sampling, starting with the wistful, soulful tones of "Painted Lady". "Lumpsucker" has a stronger electronic vein running through its core, matching Chicago drums and snaking arpeggios with washes of chords to keep the mood mellow, before "Camberwell Beauty" scrubs out the edges and drifts deep down into a sumptuous pillow of laconic house.
Having previously signaled his intent with a couple of tracks on split EPs, Rome-based producer Whitesquare presents his debut solo EP for Toytronics. His style sits somewhere between vintage analogue house and the deep modern tech-house of fellow Italians Tale of Us, with added deep house dreaminess liberally spooned into the mix. It's a sound that's never less than enveloping, and highlights are pleasingly plentiful. Choose between the yearning, late night haziness of "Lost", the tactile riffs and tweaked acid bass of "Klum", the stripped-back late night bass pleasure of "Rise", and the booming, garage-influenced strut of "Stand". If that's not enough, the NT89 remix of "Lost" is also a bit of a peach.
Riding high on the buzz he has generated in the last twelve months, Max Graef delivers this album to Tartelet as a man very much in demand. His style, fuelled on the foundations of sampling funk and soul to a brilliantly modern end, has more space to breathe on this LP, but still the fundamentals remain. "Itzehoe" struts on a lazy jazzed-out sizzle of drums and beautiful Rhodes notes while "Tamboule Fudgefunk" punches its way through woozy synth work and a righteous beat and "Drums Of Death" struts on a perfect disco groove replete with live instrumentation, but there's a wealth of other tempos and styles all shot through with the homespun jazz charm that Graef has made his own of late.
Edit fiends Basic Fingers usually reserve their tastiest material for the occasionally used Gold Finger offshoot. That's arguably the case here, as Deejaykul delivers a sumptuously deep and soulful house interpretation of the much-played "Feeling Good" (think Nina Simone, though this version has a delicious male vocal). The A-side DeejayKul meets Soultechnic Deepa mix is particularly potent, with intricate Latin percussion, smooth pads and sensual vocal riding an effortlessly sunny groove. There's a bit more vintage US garage on the other track, where the Classic Love Deep mix laces soft-focus chords and classic organs over a typically skippy groove. Impeccable stuff, all told.
With just the one cheekily titled release to his name, Matt Karmil may not be a name familiar to all, but the rising UK producer is one that you are likely to spot with increasing regularity as 2014 rolls on. Late next month, Karmil will grace the Popnoname label with a debut album and here he becomes the first UK correspondent on Tim Sweeney's ever prosperous Beats In Space label. Spend some time with the two tracks on So You Say and you'll wonder why you hadn't heard the name Matt Karmil before, as both are richly detailed house jams with the capacity to scoop up dancefloors and take them somewhere else entirely.
Daley Padley's music draws on classic house and garage and re-presents these sounds for a contemporary audience. Irrespective of whether or not he is plundering old records, there is no doubt that he does it remarkably well. "Like You" is a typical Padley track, its dark riffs reminiscent of Nu Groove back catalogue and the rumbling bass inspired by early '90s UK progressive labels like Guerilla. The remixes follow a different direction: Audiojack turns the track into a stripped back affair with ricocheting percussion, sweaty vocals and wobbling bass prevailing and Exacta's version is a heavier, tribal affair. Best of all though is the Franck Roger version, its deranged horn riffs unfolding over broken beats.
It's no understatement to say that French techno godhead Garnier is enjoying a renaissance and this release for Modeselektor's label is the latest step in that process. "M.I.L.F." sees him investigate his love of primal Chicago house, albeit with a twist. Synths sweep and ride their way through the jacking arrangement, before the track progresses into lithe back beats and grungy bass licks. "D.S.K." is also stripped back, but this time the mood is reminiscent of Suburban Knight as a dark bass pulses to the foreground. No Garnier release would be complete without his sensuous touch, and the bassy "H.E." features a vocal about being "licked from head to toe". Plus ca change.
If you're looking for a bit of variety and a high quality threshold, this EP from the ever-reliable Legendary 1979 Orchestra should be right up your alley. Contrast, for example, the liquid, Afro-tinged deep house smoothness of "Gets Deep", with the slap bass-propelled deep disco of "Amsterdam Zest", or the rubbery Balearic-meets-electrofunk-meets-deep house groove of "Love is Everywhere". Best of all, though, is the Juno exclusive track "Big Man Dub", a delay-laden, organ-sporting chunk of bounciness that boasts a terrific vocal breakdown, subtle synth-strings and some decidedly bold synth riffs. Like the rest of the EP, it's perfectly pitched.
Outboxx's eponymous debut album on Idle Hands, a luscious exploration of tactile deep house shot through with quiet, soulful warmth, was arguably the most overlooked full length of 2013. Here the Bristol duo change tack slightly, offering a bolder but no less deliciously glassy-eyed trio of tracks on Local Talk. "Planet Love" is warm, undulating and attractive, with choice vocal samples peppering a pleasingly sweet deep US house groove. "On My Own (Independence Mix)" goes further towards US garage territory, placing fluid chords atop a bustling, skipping, bass heavy groove. Finally, "Denim Dreams" impresses with its melodic intricacy, tactile keys, liquid synths and attractive top-range percussive touches. Deep house bliss, basically.
Creating stripped-back analogue acid house tracks with soul is notoriously difficult. Congratulations then, to Spain's Nacho Marco, who has successfully nailed the "acid soul" sound with "Open", a kind of basement-friendly take on Deetron blessed with a superb vocal from Aqeel and just the right amount of dark 303 tweakery. Nacho Marco himself provides a couple of notable reworks, with the raw and occasionally brutal Acidub standing out. Elsewhere, there's a brilliantly saucer-eyed, piano-sporting remix from Kiani & His Legion, and a stonking, rave-friendly Basement Tool from the same producer. The latter, all Belgian rave stabs and Chicago jack builds, is arguably the highlight of an excellent EP.
Cayam is a newcomer, not just to Hypercolour, but also to the world of electronic music at large. Considering this is his debut, No Stress is fairly impressive. Version 1 of the title track is particularly potent, offering a mix of robotic rhythms, mechanical synths and a simple, looped spoken vocal, with just enough cute melodic touches to keep the whole thing rolling forwards. Version 2 is deeper and more hypnotic. It makes great use of a chiming melody and some shuffling, tech-tinged beats, which help give the whole thing an eyes-wide-shut feel. Bonus cut "Doom Gloom" continues in a similar vein, offering an enveloping trip into deep, tech-tinged late night house territory. On this evidence, Cayam could be a name to watch.
Way back in 2005 Prins Thomas called upon Todd Terje to launch his own Full Pupp label, an offshoot of Steve Kotey's Bear Entertainment. Over the years, Full Pupp has acted as a platform for Nordic talent, releasing music from diskJokke, Blackbelt Andersen, Marius Vareid and of course Prins Thomas, whilst expanding to include the more internationally focused Internasjonal and Internasjonal Spesial sister labels. This sampler is the final instalment in Full Pupp's four pronged celebration for reaching ten years of scandolearic goodness - a CD version is also due for the compact disco heads - and commences in delightfully cheeky fashion with Magnus International's remix of "Vos-Sako-Rv" by Lindstrom, just wait for those vocals! Jarle Brathen and Marius Vareid invoke the spirit of sunset Ibiza with their contribution as Ytre Rymden Dansskola, whilst Magnus International ensures he owns this EP with the killer breakbeat Balearic monster "Compilation".
Jaymo & Andy George's Moda Black present Futurists, a double vinyl collection of forward thinking, underground artists including Sidney Charles, REbEL & Twon, Dudley Strangeways, Fauvrelle, Elias Tzikas, Roberto Palmero, Javi Bora & Le Vinyl and Lrusse & Bleecker. Fuelled by Jay and Andy's unquenchable thirst for new music, Futurists is, in their words, "a chance to shine the spotlight on some really creative new school producers who are making music for all the right reasons - they're doing things their own way and they're doing it with passion and soul". Sidney Charles sets the tone with the bass heavy groove of "Vibe", whilst this release also sees the newly formed duo REbEL & Twon shine with "Itchy Fingaz". Long term Moda affiliate Dudley Strangeways has previously impressed with releases on Klasse, Holic Trax and Albion Records and does so once more with the robust UK House stylings of "Call Girl". Be sure to check "Hats And Nuts" from Lrusse & Bleecker, the recently formed alias of Behling & Simpson which caps off this fine collection!
Alicante continues his relationship with Cocoon on this peak-time release. Tough and percussive without lapsing into mindless territory, the title track resonates to the sound of tough percussion and a dense acid line that gradually insinuates itself to the fore. "Xyxy" is harder, a slamming affair that resounds to tough claps and firing percussive licks, but which also makes room for warm chords and intricate bells. In a sign that Cocoon has shifted towards more purist sounds, Berghain resident Rodhad has been recruited to rework "Wax Weapon", which he turns into a cavernous big room affair, mapped out by heavy thunder claps. Vath's label has also tapped Ryan Elliot to add some extra percussive muscle to "Xyxy".
For his first release of the year, moody bass beau Woz is sticking with Black Butter - the killer bottom end-loving label who has helped make him who he is today. He's been away a while, but he's back with a bang on "Breathe": a thumping sleazy houser full of urgent twitchy hi-hats, sultry vocals and a particularly nasty bassline, and that's before the creepy sound effects filter in along with an eerie piano coda. However, if you fancy your bass on the deeper side, "Cold", with its slinky linear groove and dubby pads, is the one for you.
Surprisingly little information exists online about new Home Taping artist Simba. BY the sounds of "Phase Seq One", though, he's something of a talent. You see, "Phase Seq One" is deep, crackly, woozy and soulful, sounding not unlike the heady productions of Detroit heavyweights Andres and Moodymann - all warm loops, bumpin' beats, classic soul vocal samples and just the right amount of filter tweakery. As debuts go (assuming this is his debut), it's pretty damn hot. The Black Madonna delivers the obligatory remix, stripping back the original and adding a little more drum machine oomph to the beats. The resultant version - blessed with occasional intricate keys and the usual BM Chicago soul - is something of a late night triumph.
Bas Mooy has deservedly gained a reputation for no nonsense, hard-hitting club techno. The Dutch producer's recent remix of Paul Birken was the highlight of that release and now King of Echo Echo sees him further flex his creative muscles. The title track opts for a dubbier, more percussive sound than the Birken remix, but there is a connection thanks to the introduction of a frazzled acid line midway through. The remixes are also of a high quality; Justin Berkovi's version is all screeching horns and detuned riffs - before a dreamy synth appears - while Ascion & D Carbone's take sees jackhammer drums combined with waves of white noise. Finally, Gabeen & Dr Hoffmann turn "King" into a stripped back, percussive workout.
Rush Hour's latest reissue focus is Vincent Floyd, a producer with a small clutch of 12" releases in the mid '90s for Dance Mania, Relief and Gherkin Records offshoot Resound Records. Although more from the producer is promised in the year to come, the first record is Your Eyes, a reissue the producer's debut for Dance Mania. Released back in 1990, the five-track 12" brandished a title track that was pretty much a perfect example of vocal deep house from the era, and this reissued edition from Rush Hour pares the record down to just three tracks, with the Chan-featuring title cut complemented by an instrumental and "I'm So Deep," described by the label as a "sinister haunting instrumental jackin track".
For their second outing, LOFT Records have turned to London-based rising stars Dorsia. The duo is on fine form on "Ghana", an attractive chunk of bass-heavy, tech-tinged deep house that benefits greatly from a superb cut-up vocal, subtle melodies and just the right amount of winding analogue electronics. The remix package is impressive, too, with Jay Shepheard's foreboding, gently sweaty take - all acid bass, rising chords and US garage era organ stabs - just edging out Roberto Rodriguez's deep, woozy, enveloping version as our personal favourite. That said, HNNY's loose, analogue-heavy deep house revision is pretty tasty, too.