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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.
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With their influences ranging from chart-baiting house music to skippy garage and deeper moods, Nu Era stride forth on their debut single for Four40 as representatives of the West Midlands scene. "Give It All" screams crossover appeal with its canny mix of vocals, strings and chords precision placed for maximum ear-worming, while the "Bass Mix" brings a much ruder underground twist on the track. "Came Into My Life" rides a more electro influenced beat but keeps the cheerful melodic elements and chipmunk vocal slices present and correct, leaving it to "Source" to bring a techno edge to proceedings with its nasty synth line and strict 4/4 jack.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Helge Tommervag aka Mind Over Midi has been making music for many years. The Norwegian native was famous for his raucous and uncompromising approach to techno in the '90s, but he's slowly moved towards less constrictive terrain. The always-wonderful Diametric label presents an ample collection of his new sound - one that's inherently deep and aqueous, where the synths feel loose and percussion is scarce if at all existent. There's a sense of transportation throughout the whole LP, where Tommervag's wailing atmospherics and pensive arrangement are worthy of a proper listen. No laptop speakers or ear-buds. Sit back, blast it loud and be off on your way to the cosmos. Recommended to fans of everything from Klaus Schulze to Aphex Twin.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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From Finger Lickin' to "Lick The Spoon", Jem Stone's contributions to the party movement never cease to inspire. Here he takes Foxy Cheex's sexy sermon and lays her naked over a slow, steady horn-heaved stomp. With shades of swing and neat burlesque twists, it refreshes the retro-revival in a sweet three minute sonic kiss. Not feeling Foxy Cheex vocal? Start licking the instrumental instead.
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Funky House Anthems - the name says it all. Azulia have curated an essential package of straight up funky house gems from one of the most fertile eras in dance music. Spanning the sweetest of spectrums, if your collection doesn't boast the likes of Paul Johnson's jack-slapping "Get Get Down", Bob Sinclar's pre-pop disco house classic "I Feel For You", Mousse T's instant sing-along smash "Horny" or the 2011 rework of Jean Jacques Smoothie's "2 People" now is most certainly the time to fill the gaps. Complete with three mixes, Azuli have built something of a funky house castle right here.
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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!
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There's a real acid house feeling to this release. It begins on the title track, where the anonymous producer lays down layer upon layer of nagging 303s and brassy samples over sassy breakbeats. Meanwhile, "Parenthesis" recalls early UK experiments with acid tracks, as emissions from the Roland are dropped over jazz-infused rhythms and samples from a philosophical debate about human labour keep cropping up in the arrangement. If that isn't post-modern enough then the remixes will satisfy even the most demanding Situationist. The Hardways Bros take on "Kiloton" resonates to a menacing bass and steely drums, while Raudive's excellent version of "Parenthesis" sees Oliver Ho fuse a fuzzy EBM bass with a slamming industrial rhythm.
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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.
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Jimpster's Freerange label has always been good at spotting and developing new talent. Here, they give a debut to little-known producer Hyenah. He impresses with "The Wish (Dub)", an undulating chunk of atmospheric late night deep house in the label's trademark style - think ricocheting percussive hits, rolling chords, rising chords and fluid electronics. It's the sort of hypnotic, ethno-tinged fare you'd expect to hear on Innervisions, which is praise in itself. There's more Joe Claussell style African drum hits on the deeper but no less intoxicating "King Kobra", while Manoo impresses with a pair of uptempo, techno-tempo remixes. It's the 10-minute "Manoo Likes Apfelschorle Remix" that stands out, though the surging future voodoo of his "Darkside Remix" is also pretty formidable. Impressive stuff all round.
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Danny Wolfers' restless productivity knows no bounds. Not content with dropping stone cold 12" singles at a furious rate, he's delivered yet another Legowelt album to Creme Organization. Pleasingly, Crystal Cult 2080 (so called because he used a homemade crystal compressor and dusty second hand Roland JV2080- synthesizer throughout the recording process) is up to his usual high standards. There are few surprises - we should all know what we're getting by now - but plenty of reasons to be cheerful, from the fuzzy new age electronica of "The Future of Myself" and muddy Detroit futurism of "Fundamental Superstition", to the tropical pagan mysticism of "Ancient Rites Demoni Mundi" and warped acid of the feverish title track.
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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.
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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".
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The long-running German act return with three dancefloor-primed tracks. The title track is a pulsing techno affair, led by robust drums and a mysterious bassline. However, these elements merely provide a backing for an inspired vocal performance from Cath Coffey, formerly of the Stereo MCs. No longer singing about utopian rap scenarios, Coffey's tripped out tones include observations about 'being better in bed when you're out of your head'. "Headlock" is more streamlined and functional, with frequency shifting tones taking centre stage. "Tourette" meanwhile, has a live feeling, dubbed out drums tethered to a funk bassline and trippy 303 lines.
Exclusives
MAN POWER - Kiloton (Correspondant)
SIMBA - Phase Seq One (Home Taping Is Killing Music) - exclusive  21-04-2014
GRAEF, Max - Rivers Of The Red Planet (Tartelet Germany) - exclusive 21-04-2014
Exclusives
CHANDLER, Kerri - The Watergate Files (Watergate)
DORSIA - Ghana (LOFT)
APPIAN/NDV/CYCLONIX/NUBIAN MINDZ - Ganondorf EP (End Of Level Boss) - exclusive 28-04-2014
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