Nicholas Church and Joseph Spencer's Casino Times collaboration makes its way onto Wolf Music for the first time with the four-track Wolf 23 EP. First up is the ravey, French house-influenced broken beat disco throwback "Principles", which leads into the rich sounding, piano sprinkled "AWD". Things become all the more low slung on the moody, rhode-driven "Stirling" featuring the Galchwer Lustwerk-esque vocals of High Hope, which Damiano von Erckert turns into a tribal, deep and dubby late night rhythm. A killer rework indeed.
Last year's Pink Collection, the first in Eskimo's Colour Series of compilations, delivered a sumptuous blend of baggy Balearica, synth-heavy nu-disco, electronic deep house and wide-eyed indie-dance. Here, the long-running Belgian label repeats the formula, serving up 12 new and recent cuts from a wide-range of artists. Highlights come thick and fast, from the touchy-feely goodness of Freeform Five's Roisin Murphy hook-up "Levinthian" and the atmospheric nu-disco-goes-acid of Volta Cab's subdued "Smoke Some Kill", to the guitar-laden Balearic house of Peak Oak and company's "Nova", and Elke Kleijn's sensual, string-laden deep house epic "A Tale of Two Lovers".
It's three years since Craig Smith and Graeme Clark impressed with One Night In The Borough, a landmark album that epitomized all that was good about the cut-and-paste, disco-sampling deep house scene of the time. This sophomore set offers more of the same, delivering tracks that ride a range of tempos in their trademark deep, loopy, hypnotic and pleasingly baggy style. While there are plenty of surprisingly supple, heavily electronic uptempo cuts on offer (see "Feel", the disco rush of "In Your Arms" and the classic, Frankie Knuckles-ish US house of "Read My Mind"), they're still at their best when operating at a slower tempo, as the deliciously jazzy "Walk Away" and sensual throb of "Through The Night" neatly prove.
Rarely is there a compilation as hotly anticipated as this little baby. Compiled by the master and captain of Dirtybird Records himself Mr Claude VonStroke, this is the culmination of a year's worth of curation on his part. Featuring appearances from Justin Martin, Ghostea, Catz N Dogz, Cause and Affect and Claude himself, it's a huge collection of Dirtybird house including the massive dancefloor hit "Okay" by Shiba San - Claude Von Stroke's personal fave. This has to be this year's first truly essential purchase. Don't think, just bag.
It seems surprising that this debut album from Kassem Mosse should appear with little fanfare, but that's apparently how the acclaimed German producer wanted it. Predictably, it's rather good. Rippling with fuzzy analogue warmth, crusty drum machine rhythms, toasty keys and alien electronics, it offers a selection of undulating deep house cuts in his inimitable style. At times - such as on the soulful shuffle of "Untitled A1" and jazzy "Untitled D1" - it sounds a little like vintage Moodymann; at others, Mosse's techno influence is much more apparent (see the wonky throb of "Untitled D1"). Throughout, Workshop 19 is formidably atmospheric.
Listening to Miami 2014 it sounds like this year's WMC will be dominated by interpretations of classic US house. Prok & Fitch's "South Keys (original club mix)" is a storming tribal affair, while the key changes and heavy low end on My Digital Enemy's "Change" is reminiscent of New Jersey garage. Garage of a UK variety is audible on the rolling snares and rubbery bassline of Hot Since 82 's "Hot's Groove", but in the main, this compilation is US-dominated. Piemont's "Microsleep (original mix)" recalls the darkest excesses of Armand Van Helden house, replete with scary sirens, while the Kevin Knapp take on Richy Ahmed's "The Drums" is a clap-heavy Chicago jam.
Sheffield's Matt Relton - AKA Kidnap Kid - has been an integral part of the Black Butter family since 2012, and here he returns with what we expect to be his biggest release to date. "Stronger" is perhaps what you'd expect; think heavy low-end pressure, nagging riffs, woozy electronics and a stylish female vocal, all whipped together in an oh-so-now garage-influenced deep house style. "Like You Used To" is even deeper and more atmospheric, with a bolder, fragile, outsider house style vocal drifting over melancholic chords and a dewy-eyed groove. It's refreshingly tactile and feels like an unassuming anthem in waiting.
Bristol-based, Distro comes through absolutely correct with his latest scorcher on Roska's Kicks And Snares imprint. "Thug Girl" is an on-point continuation of the FWD tradition, combining elements of house and grime like there's no tomorrow - so good to see ideas flowing back into the bass pool! "Deep Down", as the title suggests, is a moodier, heads-down track but one that still rocks the floor good and proper.
The finest moustache bearer since Selleck rocked the TV as Magnum PI returns. That's correct, Sccucci Manucci drop a long awaited second release on the fledgling imprint, enlisting a premier cast of continental friends to lay down some class A discoteria! Securing the talents of Runaway's Jacques Renault is no mean feat for the self styled "purveyors of fine music," and the On The Prowl boss serves up a beefy disco funk edit in the vein of his killer Public Release twelve from last year. In support, a cast of rising UK talent serve note of their budding prowess, with Tenth Circle's Zoo Look indulging in some monstrously expansive beatdown a la The Revenge on the aptly titled "Early Doors". Casino Times provide the "why didn't I think of that" moment with "That's The Truth," a Bashmore style take on the De La Soul & Chaka Khan collab which has been burning up sound systems from London to Petrcane this summer. Young one Picture House ends proceedings with aplomb on "Blaxploitation" a gritty shaker reminiscent of Eddie C in his pomp.
Richard Fearless collaborator James Greenwood makes the kind of skewed, heavily electronic music that has much in common with Daniel Avery's fine debut album from last year. This second EP for Erol Alkan's Phantasy Sound imprint is suitably dark and woozy, with "Guidecca" - all shoegaze vocals, new wave synths and clandestine atmospherics - being particularly good. It's as stylish as you'd expect, but charmingly weary, too. The fuzzier, spookier Dub of the same track is also excellent. Bonus cut "Half Open" is solid, rather than sensational, but at least allows him to build more of a straightforward dancefloor groove via drum machine beats and densely layered synths.
Having met at school, sharing a passion for music and skating, Florian Vietz and Andreas Hopfl met at high school, the Coeo duo's name supposedly comes from a health and safety warning adorning the side of a coffee cup, which read "Contents Hot". It's something shared in this simmering collection of raw house tracks, with "Do It" starting hard and staying hard, and "Will I" features beautifully crafted vocals and an almost percussive arpeggio lead which sits mellifluously on floating pads and raw piano chords. Remixes come courtesy of Steve Huerta and Vorres, who add their resective dubby and gospel-esque approaches to the source material.
The WT Records boss and all round hero of leftfield house circles Willie Burns is building bridges across the pond to DJ Haus' irrevocably irreverent Unknown To The Unknown. It's a chance for Burns to zoom in on his love of old-skool sounds and show them off without a whisper of self doubt. "Woo Right" kicks things off with a piano-led heater steeped in moody '90s attitude, while "The Heaviest Elements" makes for a more aggressive affair with more overt club stylings to impart through tough-edged beats and a distinct lack of any melody. "Fast Times At Long Island City High" shuffles arpeggios and dusty drums through lo-fi delay in a more esoteric approach that is ably followed up by "Adverbs & Adjectives" with its chords that fall somewhere between Detroit techno and early trance in their euphoric veneer.
Any act that derives its name from the Almighty could be setting themselves up for a fall, but not in this instance. The title track is a ponderous, dubby affair, its lumbering beats underpinning pensive melodies, and in a similarly contemplative vein is "Are We" (featuring Egle Sirvydyte). There, the rhythm is faster and pulsing, but the female vocal combined with the trancey synths makes for a spiritual techno groove. Finally, "Apnea" is more subtle, with pitter pattering beats and an infectious bassline insinuating itself into the arrangement. Ys offers conclusive proof that the devil does not have a monopoly on all the best tunes.
Having first dropped on fluorescent yellow vinyl back in November, Dirtytwo's baggy, string-laden Razor 'N' Tape debut, "The Remedy", finally makes it to digital download. The original - a tactile US garage-influenced deep house take on Diana Ross's disco classic "Love Hangover" - is joined by a quartet of similarly classic-sounding remixes. DirtyTwo throw in a few more original disco elements on their TwoDirty Remix (which, incidentally, also comes in instrumental form), Caserta drops some piano house riffs and booming garage bass on his rework, while Grey Area go all Balearic on their deliciously saucer-eyed version. Finally, Duu Ben sprints back towards the disco on his chunky, percussive interpretation.
There's no stopping Damian Lazarus's Crosstown Rebels. Having just noisily celebrated their first decade, the label has moved seamlessly into their next ten years. Here, label regular Subb-Ann unleashes a surprisingly soulful slice of deep tech-house. "Say No More", featuring the distinctive vocals of SYF, bubbles along impressively, offering just the right balance between undulating electronic groovery, low-end bounce and glassy-eyed tech-soul. There's a chunkier, bassier interpretation in the form of the "Terrace Dub", while Matthew Jonson's epic interpretation strips the track back to a skeleton, synth-heavy groove. In the process, the Canadian does a superb job in bringing out the track's soulful side.
Italian duo Hard Ton has an impressive discography, with previous releases on a variety of must-check nu-disco and house labels (Internasjonal, Dissident, Compost Disco, International Deejay Gigolos). Here, they deliver their third EP for regular home Toy Tronics. As you'd perhaps, there's plenty of variety in the cuts on offer, from the dreamy, disco-flecked deep house of "Sing It" and vivid acid-meets-Italo-meets-soft focus soul of "Off The Wall", to the bombastic analogue workout that is "Jack The Sound". Remix-wise, Toy Tronics regular Ricardo Baez turns "Sing It" into a stomping vintage US house jam, while beach-friendly nu-disco types Mirror People deliver a Future Disco style synth-house rub of "Off The Wall".
Is the inclusion of six remixes of the same track excessive? In this instance, it could be argued that Closure is strong enough to stand on its own merits. A deep, dreamy slice of house, its fey vocals and simple but beautiful melodies mean that it will melt hearts. As for the remixes, some of them remain in dreamy mode, with the chiming chords of Balcazar, Sordo and Kosmas Epsilon's version impressing the most. Of the dance floor versions, there is a greater degree of variance; Jeancy's take is a heavy roller and John Kat's take is more stripped back - but neither hold a flame to the clipped but beefy drums of Jonas Woehl's remix.
Sccucci Manucci once again proves its dancefloor chops with its fifth release, the Cinquemila Lire EP, which sees the London based imprint curl its moustache in the direction of deep house. Manchester based duo Toyboy & Robin open proceedings with "No More Sunshine", an insouciant mix of soulful vocals, shuffling garage percussion and burning deep house organ stabs. It's a heady, intoxicating mix, and it's one that's matched on the A-Side by Sahin Meyer's effort; the husband and wife duo turn in the gorgeous "Spread Love", a cut that wrings every last drop of emotion out of a classic, drummy arrangement. Flip over for "Saif" by Illyus, a twinkling late night excursion into melodic, star gazing house, and "Feel Love" by Firas, one half of the Waze & Odyssey, who rounds off another killer Sccucci 12-inch with raw-thentic smacky beats and an addictive loopy vocal and bassline.
Here, Michael Gracioppo's tactile 2013 deep house gem gets the remix treatment, with Tale of Us & Vaal and German producer Recondite providing the proverbial spit and polish. The former - famed for their woozy productions on Visionquest - deliver a typically atmospheric rework, lacing selected snippets of Wayne Tennant's heady vocals over a claustrophobic groove, murky chords and tumbling melodies. Recondite, meanwhile, delivers two reworks. While his Club Remix is tasty - think alien synths, touchy-feely grooves and wide-eyed late night vibes - it's the alternative Blue Train Ride Remix that stands out. It features many of the same elements, but adds some delicate electronic melodies that compliment the sturdy bassline and sparse production.
The ever-impressive Champion Sound bring a new name into the fold as they present Hold Me, the impressive debut EP from Irish house producer Replete, who brings his own brand of deep, bass heavy house to the label. The title track combines blissful pads and a late '90s atmosphere with bold piano stabs and an emotive vocal, while "Appetite/Life" takes the concept even further with a luminescent synth palette that balances the intricate yet dubby rhythm. "Make Me Want You" takes things deeper still, as a conga-led percussion melts into a reverb-heavy soundscape, while "I Haven't Felt Young In Years" provides a fittingly melancholic mid-tempo closer. Another killer release from the Champion Sound crew.