Reviewed this week
Here's something to cheer: the first EP from Dimitri From Paris and DJ Rocca's collaborative Erodiscotique project following the release of last year's superb debut album on BBQ Japan. As usual, their inspirations and musical reference points tend towards the vintage. Opener "One For Frankie", for example, smothers a vintage Chicago house groove with the kind of dreamy, positive and melodious musical flourishes that were a hall mark of Frankie Knuckles best productions, while "Zanzibar" pays tribute to the bustling, percussive, synth-heavy pressure of early '80s NYC and NJ "proto-house" productions. "Don't You Feel The Same", on the other hand, wraps sweet Balearic synth lines around a chunky, "French Touch" style disco-house groove.
Italian duo Alessandro Parlatore and Marcello Giordani aka Marvin & Guy appear next for the Life and Death powerhouse for a stellar new EP. These four tracks 'explore parallel worlds through expert synthesizer sequencing and cavernous vocal features.' Esoteric melodies mixed with Athena's stream of consciousness recital guarantees dance floor energy on "Superior Conjunction". "Arpadia" with its hypnotic theme compliments the title track's restrained drama, while the Fantastic Twins' spoken word performance elevates "The Train of Fantastic" to an altered state of being. Fresh off some killer releases this year for Correspondant, Disco Halal and Permanent Vacation, these guys are bringing some top tunes and are truly on fire at the moment.
Kraak & Smaak singles are rarely anything less than party-starting treats, and this latest outing is no different. It helps, of course, that Eli Escobar - a producer known for delivering colourful, disco-and-boogie flavoured house hits - is on remix duty. His version of "U R Freak" is arguably a little dreamier and more musically intricate than his singles on Classic, but still packs a punch thanks to bustling organ stabs, bongo-laden beats and some on-point synth bass. The rest of the EP is taken up by Mood's modern boogie-meets-deep house remixes of "Prescription". Eric Biddiness makes his presence felt on the vocal version, rapping and singing over a squidgy, synth-laden backing track that perfectly tiptoes the fine line between club-ready fare and radio-friendly cheeriness.
Six years have passed since Maceo gave the world his debut album Life Index. In that time he's solidified his status as one of techno's most untouchable soul men who's unapologetically ungoverned by tempos or boxes or any type of formula. He's also become a father, which is what this (and last year's "Journey To Solar") are all about. Rich in sentiment, hope and fear, each cut reveals a deeper layer of Maceo: the star-gazing optimism of "Kepler's Journey", the Bristolesque industrial dub soul of "Indigo", the careful countering of vulnerable emotion and roboticism on "Was Away My Tears", the list goes on. This is Maceo at his most heartfelt and arresting.
Last year, Mat Chiavaroli popped up on Quintessentials with his first EP since 2012, a collection of tasty deep house cuts titled Swan. It turns out that the well-received EP was merely a taster for No Stranger To Madness, a debut album almost six years in the making. While there occasional downtempo moments - see the Balearic ambience of opener "Introduzione", gentle beatdown grooves of "Storia Losca" and smoky R&B shuffle of P-Lok hook-up "Latexxxnite Enemy" - for the most part the material is groovy and club-ready, with Chiavaroli drawing on all manner of classic U.S deep house tropes. Highlights include the sun-kissed jazziness of "Whoja Vu" and the Chez Damier style goodness of "Jeep Ridaz".
Recently, Gerd Janson has been using Running Back not only to release new material, but also reissue some of his favourite old house and disco cuts. He's at it again, here, re-releasing Alex M's It Works, a relatively obscure Mateo & Matos production that initially appeared on Final Cut back in 1992 and has since become something of a sought-after item. The title track remains a near perfect fusion of Larry Heard style deep house dreaminess and the rhythmic swing of New Jersey garage. You'll find a similar blend of dreaminess and low-end hustle on the two versions of "Without Thought", while "Lakeside Slang (First Mix)" peppers a tidy groove with impeccable electric piano solos and hazy vocal samples. Arguably even better is the jazzier, Jovonn style "Lakeside Slang (The Mix)".
Burnski's debut album DNA dropped on Constant Sound last year, and now the label have called upon a strong cast of characters to do the remix duty on some of the LP's key tracks. Parisian trio Mandar bring a heart-melting tone to "Another Source" without losing their insistent shuffle, while Diego Krause strips things down with a functional broth of minimal minded business. The original mix of "Another Source" gets a fresh outing, and very fine it sounds too. That leaves it to Laura Jones to twist out a hypnotic electro version of "I Like You".
There's something rather special about this surprise new single from Kitsune regulars Parcels. For starters, it's the result of a yearlong collaboration with Daft Punk, who produced "Overnight". Musically, you can hear the duo's influence throughout, with the clipped, Nile Rodgers style disco guitar riffs recalling their colossal 2013 summer smash, "Get Lucky". There's a little more of a languid, Balearic-inspired feel to this track, with hazier and baggier vocals working in collaboration with luscious synthesizer parts. While it may not be as sizeable as "Get Lucky", "Overnight" is a brilliant piece of summery disco-pop. Expect to hear it a lot in coming months.
On the other side of the great, giant pond, the cause of bass music has never pushed more so than by LA's AC Slater and his Night Bass label. Sometimes its output can be raucous and underground, but sometimes the label can be commercial too. Either way the output is always totally lit. "Come Back" is strictly in the latter camp, a hook up with Shift K3Y, it has resulted in a super infectious and uplifting banger, with rolling bass, skippy beats and more build ups and break downs than you can shake a stick at!
Irishman Peter Power has become quite a well known figure in Berlin since moving there several years ago and has been one of the figures behind some of the city's now legendary haunts like Kleine Reise (RIP) and the successful Loftus Hall/Bertrams: which has had a great run thus far too. Now the man behind the Ufordia imprint returns with his second outing on Thomas Von Party's Multi Culti, which itself has also made the move to the German capital. Power delves deep into the exotic here, borrowing heavily from African music and getting very atmospheric and esoteric in the process. The life affirming raindance of "Adama Waro" (original mix) is certainly geared for some moments of truth on the dancefloor. Equally spiritual is the traditional percussion based journey of "Mori Baka" (original mix). There's some great remixes by label manager Dreems and Bucharest duo Khidja: the latter's contributions which shine the most, particularly on their balearica infused/Second Summer of Love sounding remix of "Dansakoni".
Snatch! is Riva Starr's first label project and the aim behind it is to push new talents and well established forward thinking producers. Expect slamming fresh house cuts from some of the most exciting talent in the scene. For its 89th edition, he presents a collaboration with Spanish tech house hero and Chicago deep house legend Gene Farris on the druggy and rolling mani room tech house of "Play" which absolutely reeks of White Isle hedonism this Summer. Second offering "A Jem Be" is much more deep and rhythmic with its sexy latin influence that is perfect to the set the mood early on the terrace on a Sunday afternoon before launching into the harder stuff.
Wake Up marks a belated return to action from Liam Wachs, previously famous for helming the Desert Sound Colony project on Scissor & Thread. Now operating as DSC, this four-tracker is Wachs's debut solo release under the freshly minted alias. He serves up two top-notch original tracks: the loose-but-punchy deep house cut "Wake Up", where trippy, textured guitar and flute sounds combine with dreamy pads and a jaunty analogue synth bassline, and the Balearic techno throb of "Coming Round", which includes a stylish vocal from Wachs and some seriously rugged electronics. The accompanying remix package is headed up hotly tipped newcomer Elliot Anderson's sleazy Italo-disco style makeover of "Wake Up" (arguably the EP's standout moment), though Rex The Dog's rolling-but-wild house remake of "Coming Round" is also pretty strong.
A hipster hero hailing from Vancouver, it was perhaps unsurprising that he and a label like Kitsune would eventually collide. And you know what? It is has resulted in a meeting of minds. Displaying more of a 90s retro vibe than the elctroclashy 80s vibes of yore, this debut album, Hold On Let Go, is bright, positive and refreshingly quirky record in a vintage 90s kinda way. Highlights of the 13 tracks here include the warm and gloopy neo-soul of "Oh No" that shows Jesse Ware how its done, the fizzy abstract 'H(ouse)n' B' of "Mar Vista and the haunted 3am synth soul of "Hollywood'.
This year marks 10 years since Bastian Volker first donned the Baaz alias. He remains one of deep house's most reliable producers, as this outing on longtime home Office Recordings deftly proves. He begins with the ocean-deep chords, softly spoken electronics and hypnotic groove of "Ween Been", before wrapping heart-aching pianos and drowsy chords around a barely audible drum track on the near-ambient bliss of "Absent". On the flipside you'll find the tech-tinged shuffle of "The Friend", where bolder kicks and snares rise above his liquid dreamscape, and the brilliant ambient electronica of sublime closer "Two (For You)". This is music for sunsets, sunrises and particularly sleepy afternoons.
DJ Aakmael is Greg Stewart of Richmond, Virginia. Producing since 2004, some say he creates some of the deepest and rawest house tracks of today's deep house scene! There's some real proper emotive gear for the late night on the smooth and sexy groove of "Mood Capacity" while "Pass It" rounds up in style on this soulful Motor City style affair; think Three Chairs! Speaking of which, "Deep Side" will appeal to fans of Big Strick/7 Days Entertainment's style of inner city blues plus there's equally dreamy and summery vibes on the lush "Kosmic Bounce"with its ecstatic xylophone vibes keeping up with some dusty beats on this lo-slung groove to make you move. Tip!
Pop soul hero Mike City first rose to prominence back in 2000 by being the man responsible for penning and producing Carl Thomas' #1 hit I Wish. From there he's gone on to create hits for Brandy, Rihanna, Angie Stone and Jamie Foxx and Sunshine Anderson. Here though he steps out into the limelight himself with a solo album, The Feel Good Agenda Vol 1, on Barely Breaking Even. As expected quality is the unifying theme here over the course of 12 star-studded tracks, with highlights including the choppy, cut-up future boogie of "Rock Wit U" (feat Dwele), the warm and soothing "When I Luv" (feat Faith Evans) and the deep electro-boogie of "Been Too Afraid" (feat Teedra Moses).
Italian multi-instrumentalist and Tenax Club resident Giorgia Angiuli appears next for Berlin institution Stil Vor Talent. Well known for her versatile sets, where she combines keyboards, drum pads and theremin sounds with sax and even toy flute and trumpets. Her knack for versatility in her live sets is all on show in spectacular fashion throughout the two tracks she contributes. First up "Hidden Garden" is a dark exercise in dancefloor drama; an epic journey which is definitely in line with the label's modus operandi. Next up is the life affirming and evocative "Axial Tilt" which is awash in stunning analogue arpeggios and heart wrenching strings like the classic Kompakt sound. Dutch youngster Marc Holstege is up next. This young DJ from Amsterdam is well on his way up the techno ladder, and there's no stopping him anytime soon. "Maaari" is a brooding and atmospheric slow burner that builds in suspense and tension creatively throughout its duration while "Alpas" introduces more surefire dancefloor dynamic on the slinky and hypnotic progressive house number.
Upon its arrival about 15 years ago, DJ T's mighty Get Physical label helped put electro-house on the map, big-style. Now all these years later the label is stronger than ever, and that's all down to the talent. Here we have a long player, Circles, by Jazzuelle and it only just compounds this fact. Boasting 14 tracks, this South African producer impresses on this LP highlights with highlights like the shimmering, otherworldly chimes of "The Darkside Paradox", the dreamy electro-funk of "Music Of the Spheres" and the cinematic bombast of "RX J1532". A deeply satisfying record.
For their next release, Berlin institution Watergate welcomes back two of Hamburg's finest: Adana Twins. Last seen on the label's last compilation, the duo returns with a bunch of stunners which the label itself best describe as 'low slung, infectious cuts blurring the lines between house and techno' and truly showcase the signature sounds of these two Harbour City heroes. The original version of "Flower Of Cane" sees the duo follow their darkest route into the abyss yet on this druggy and heaving main room groove that follows in the tradition of classic Reude Hagelstein or even local legends like Stephan Bodzin. "Ortus" is an adrenalised exercise in mood lighting which is perfect to make a transition with its elevating EBM style bassline. The third offering "Relentless" (feat Jeppe Kjellberg of Danish electro-poppers Whomadewho) offers yet more quality, but if you ask us: it's all about Andre Lodemann's vocal mix, which is so incredibly dreamy and evocative as always.
"Changing Face" was the first single from Fritz Kalkbrenner's well received 2016 album Grand Depart and it now gets a bunch of stellar remixes by some of the scene's current heavyweights. Maya Jane Cole's soulful, sexy and emotive rendition is the kind of groove that will burn up dancefloors from London to Berlin and beyond this Summer, while Swiss hi-tech soul merchant Deetron hands in a wicked rendition as you'd expect. With its epic and life affirming chord progressions over some subtle latin and bossa influences: the guy can really do no wrong on the remix front. An honourable mention to the Harbour City's favourite sons Adana Twins, whose remix of the track takes you down the darkside and further into the abyss with its furious and tunnelling groove that would make their homeboys Stephan Bodzin and Andre Winter stand up and notice! The tremendous original appears here too for your convenience as well as a friendly radio edit.
JESSE BRU - Giving Me The Feels EP (Slivers)
DJ AAKMAEL - Tales From The Deep Side (Axe On Wax)
PAT LOK - Hold On Let Go (Kitsune France)
CARLOH - Selva Magica (Desolat)
MACEO PLEX - Solar (Lone Romantic)
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