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.
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.
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 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.
A day with a new Kerri Chandler EP is always a good day, and especially if it comes out on the impressively on-point Watergate. The Berlin dance institution is famous for its varied DJ mixes but they're started dabbling in full-blown releases, and we couldn't be happier. The NY house legend steps up with two new tracks, backed by two killer remixes. "Mama" is a peak-time, piano house burner featuring Jerome Sydenham, while "Think Of Something" is the proper ripper here, with one hell of a hook and a filthy, pouncing bassline. The remixes comes from the likes of Voyeur, who dishes out a real belter, and La Fleur, who goes for a retro kind of vibe on the synths.
While Redshape certainly has a way with melody, his real skill is drum programming. Even his most metronomic techno productions are blessed with swing, shuffle and a percussive looseness that belies their thunderous heaviness. Further proof of his skill with drums can be found on Bonuz Beatz Volume 1, a quartet of stripped-back but surprisingly lively percussion tools guaranteed to ignite dancefloors. Each of the cuts, from the handclap-laden low-slung bounce of "Itz" and tech-jazz swing of "Finizh", to the cowbell-laden vintage breakbeat-house goodness of "Dogz" and basement techno slammer "Zteel", feels like an invitation to lose it out on the dancefloor. Making drum tracks this addictive is a skill, and Redshape is undoubtedly a master of the groove.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Given that UK producer Dauwd made his name on the Pictures Music label, it's no surprise to see him graduating to Cologne institution Kompakt, after all both labels have shown an emphasis on melody and emotion in their respective discographies. Dauwd's arrival on Kompakt with Kindlinn comes after an initial appearance last year, remixing COMA's "My Orbit" and the three tracks suggest we really should be demanding more music from the producer! Sumptuous, playful and romantic are a few words that immediately spring to mind as lead track "Lydia" unfurls; the little flourishes of synths as the track draws towards it's close are particularly memorable. The title track shows off a tougher side to Dauwd in terms of groove, though the plangent textures remain intact, whilst "Rain Raker" largely forsakes beats in favour of compositional drama.
22 year-old Finnish producer Somepoe has already graduated from the Red Bull Music Academy in New York, has had a string of hot singles and guest mixed on Radio1. He doesn't mess about, and here on the Leave The House EP, neither do his tunes. Bass is the order of the day, but often playful like the sped up RnB munchkin vocals on the loop heavy "Baby HA". Elsewhere the title track shows us his penchant for deep sultry house and "Places" fuses trippy house and '90s swing vibes perfectly, although Nightwave also nails with his roof raisin' jackin' bassline remix.
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.
Wolf Music turn 25 and pull out something approaching a curveball in handing a label debut to Ossie. Known best for his work on Hyperdub, putting Ossie together with Wolf Music isn't an equation most people would make, but if you've caught the Londoner DJ you'll know he's super tight at mixing and plays plenty of classic house. Indeed it's nice to see Ossie back on the solo flex, having recently been focused on the Black Orange Juice project with vocalists Tilz and Paul Black. Perhaps that time spent working with others has given Ossie a new sense of confidence as the four tracks here are some of his best work so far. The title track shows off Ossie's innate knowledge of the skip and bounce that characterises UK garage whilst there's something almost '90s Armand Van Helden about the heavy disco influenced house of highlight "Forever".
Annie Mac faves Hannah Wants and Chris Lorenzo have been tipped for big things this year. Certainly, their particular brand of bass-heavy, basement-friendly tech-house is incredibly appealing, with both tracks here impressing. Lead cut "Girls" takes a no-nonsense approach, layering sparse bleep melodies and wonky vocal samples over a hissing, skipping groove and apocalyptic sub-bass. "Breathe" is similarly booming but slightly deeper, with eyes-wide-shut chords and vocal harmonies bouncing over a sturdy groove. Like its predecessor, "Breathe" also features a gargantuan speed garage bassline, which provides a sweaty counterbalance to the dreamy electronics and tactile melodies above.
Arun Verone's approach is pleasingly straightforward. Put simply, he combines elements of deep house, Chicago acid and UK funky to produce a trademark brand of UK bass-house that's almost irrepressible. As a result, this four-track assault for Q Recordings is well worth a listen. The title track does a great job in layering cut-up vocals and an icy, music box melody over shuffling house beats and a low-slung acid house bassline. The "VIP" version is a little more garage flavoured and adds a little late night darkness, whilst retaining the original's attractive elements. "The Coming (Keep It Coming)" sounds like "Good Life"-era Inner City making UKG, while "Short From Change" rolls forward on a wave of zipping electronics, choice hip-hop samples and a killer sub-heavy bassline.
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.
The Adsum take on the title track relives the classic minimal house approach. For starters it clocks in at over 12 minutes and doesn't have any of the white noise bursts or ping-pong percussive ticks favoured by the mnml brigade. Instead, it meanders in and out of a dubby groove. Augmented by male and female vocals, muffled and obtuse but still captivating, it's the ultimate Villalobos-style groove. By contrast, the version from Minibar staple Cabanne is much more direct. Led by shimmering disco loops, it includes vocal snippets, but the focus remains on the robust, rolling groove. Expect to hear it in Zip's sets all summer.
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.
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.