Bay Area house hero and Dirtybird co-founder Justin Martin is back following up 2013's Ghettos & Gardens with his new full length LP Hello Clouds, a collection of fine moods and grooves that see him collaborate with some of his favourite artists at the moment. He's quoted as saying "I reached out to specific artists who currently inspire me". Highlights include the title track where he collaborates with London pop chanteuse FEMME on this low slung acid groove. More great talents from London appear such as Lena Cullen, lending her fine vocals to the dark futurism of "Odyssey" and Bristolian rising star and fellow Dirtybird alumni Will Clarke appears too, lending his midas touch to "Back To The Jungle" which is bumpy and as bass driven as you could possibly imagine. The Amen break on top is totally killer too.
Random contact through Soundcloud saw Phantasy owner Erol Alkan sign Ghost Culture and now, seven EPs and one album later, this almost accidental hook-up has paid off in spades. "Safe" is a fine modern techno track; a dark, moody bass lashes and flashes like a live power line, while industrial strength acid ploughs its way over Ghost Culture's pumping groove. On the flip side, "Multiply" represents a different side to his sound. It is deeper and more melodic; tranced out chords and melodic hooks of almost crystal fragility play out over a warbling bass and dry percussive ticks. Both tracks consolidate Ghost Culture's reputation as a fine modern day techno artist.
London's Aroop Roy is back, This guy has won acclaim from the who's who of the industry such as Gilles Peterson and Rainer Truby and his music fuses afro (such as on the hands in the air party vibe of "Ifa" that's reminiscent of Fela Kuti vibes), funk (the disco funk soul excursion on "Manuman") and into house like on the spiritual NYC vibe of Um Trago" that's calling to mind classic Joe Claussell and Kerri Chandler. And we're really digging it!
Harry Agius aka Midland is back: does he ever find time to sleep? Following up the Akase side project he's involved in with Robbie Redway and some killer releases on Aus Music, Feel My Bicep and of course his own Graded imprint which this appears on; making it the label's third release already. "Blush" is a slow burning and emotive piece with an epic vintage synth arpeggio and soulful strings backed by the most restrained beat. "Outpost" gets a bit more fierce with a tougher beat and a free running arpeggio that reeks havoc much like Carl Craig's classic remix of "Falling Up". Finally "Holdup" hammers the message home gloriously with its off kilter yet hypnotic beat and sombre yet emotive atmosphere.
The first compilation on Koze's Pampa label is a lovingly curated affair. It starts with the left field house of Herbert's take on Lianne La Havas and Ada's r&b-infused "You & Me", as well as DJ Koze's own hymnal take on Roman Flugel's "9 Years". Other Pampa regulars like Axel Boman are well represented and he provides the ultra-mellow "In The Dust of This Planet". Equally though, Koze also provides a platform for newcomers to the fold. There's the utterly bizarre, glitch-hop of Nasrawi and Funskstorung's contributions, and at the other end of the spectrum, wide-eyed deep house from Mount Kimbie and Jamie xx & Kosi Kos' pumping indie-dance "Come We Go".
LOFT's latest release is an all-star affair, with a quartet of hyped artists taking it in turns to remix tracks from Berlin-based Aussie Isaac Tichauer's recent Street Lessons EP. Belfast boys Bicep step up first, delivering a mix that blends winding synthesizer lines with rolling, early '90s style breakbeat house grooves. Hackman's version of "Street Lessons" is a cheery, UKG-meets-deep house affair full of skipping beats and twinkling pianos, before Dorsia serves up a tasty vocal version of the same track smothered in psychedelic electronics and pretty synth melodies. Finally, Lancelot manages to deliver a drowsy tech-house-meets-boisterous garage interpretation of "Street Lessons" that should go down well with younger crowds.
A taster for Robert Hood's second Floorplan album, this EP puts a spotlight on the radical nature of his musical transformation. On "Music", the visceral rhythms of techno minimalism are gone; in their place is a rolling, tracky groove that boasts a repetitive vocal loop and which has shades of classic Relief /Derrick Carter. "Tell You No Lie" is even more impressive. It sees Hood use a gospel vocal over a stomping, funk guitar-sampling disco house workout. There is an audibly religious dimension to "Tell You No Lie," but Hood's knack for writing a great tune means that it sounds celebratory rather than self-indulgent or preachy.
Peggy Gou has had a busy debut year thanks to her opener on Phonica's white offshoot, and now two EP's out on Rekids in quick succession. Her sound is a subtle, minimalistic blend of house and techno, exactly the sort of tech-minded groovers that have appeared on Radio Slave's label in the past. "Jen High", for instance, takes a dusty being of drums and wraps them around delicate blends of chimes, whereas "When Round, They Go" heads deeper into space with the help of a sublimely cosmic swarm of sonics. The special piece comes from Terekke's remix of the latter, and the LIES man adds his signature touch to an already very deep house tune, making his version that one toke over the line!
Call Super first met the Dekmantel crew last year, one of many high profile DJs to play their summer festival in Amsterdam and it wasn't long before the esteemed Dutch imprint asked him to supply them with an EP. Impressively, Nervous Sex Traffic is one of his strongest 12" singles to date - no mean feat given his track record - with the title track, in particular, delivering thrills in spades. Stretching out over nine mesmerizing minutes, it overlays snappy, analogue-sounding beats and cowbell hits with alien bleep melodies, synthesized horn stabs, rich bass, and pads that recall Pet Shop Boys' "West End Girls". It's a melodious, eyes-closed treat, all told. "Mount Grace" sees a deeper, more metallic affair that draws inspiration from vintage Detroit techno, blissful electro, and the morning-after confusion of ambient house.
Ali "Nebraska" Gibbs last outing on Mister Saturday Night, 2015's Stand Your Ground, saw the producer treating listeners to a quartet of tracks that touched on a multitude of house styles. This follow-up has a similar feel. He begins with the loose-but-bold drums, electric piano solos, disco strings and occasional punchy horns of "Done My Best", before dropping down into slower, deeper, dub-tinged territory via the toasty electric bass, stretched-out chords, mid-tempo grooves and pitched-down horns of "Look What You've Done To Me". He rounds off another fine outing with "S.O.S Dub", a crackling, unfeasibly atmospheric journey through dub house grooves, fluttering chords and creepy electronics.
London young guns Wolf Music are still at it, pursuing their love of new wave deep house sounds and they're still doing good, we must say. They've drafted current scene favourite Frits Wentik with a little help from fellow Dutchman Loes Jongerling for Rarely Pure Never Simple (Club Edits). First up is "Nevertheless" which is Berlin style dusty/hip-hop inspired deepness in the vein of Glenn Astro and Max Graef. The vibe continues on "In Addition (Club Edit)" which adds a bit of emotive and soulful synth work reminiscent of classic Larry Heard into the mix. Finally the title track gets all reduced and dubby on us, galloping away in subterranean and mysterious fashion but those Rhodes keys and sexy vocal loop on top are a worthy addition.
Gerd Janson's Running back taps into some local talent courtesy of Stuttgart DJ / producer Konstantin Sibold. The title track is a classic slice of German techno; it has shades of early Force Inc thanks to its tranced out chords and pace - cruising along just below 130bpm for its ten-minute duration - and the raw energy of Tresor in the shape of its gnarly acid line. The musical elements sound much more pronounced on the beatless version, with the chords assuming a slightly menacing edge. However, this is really all about the original version, a tripped out, hypnotic that digs deep into the German electronic music psyche.
After a string of high-profile releases for Richie Hawtin's Minus, Gavin Lynch aka Matador delivers a new album for Ruckus. It sounds like the Irish producer has matured as a producer. At times, Ructions seethes with an understated menace. This is evident on "Drifting", a drawn out groove with menacing bass pulsing underneath. "Back 2 Bass" follows a similar trajectory, augmented by a repetitive vocal sample and sirens firing off into the ether. There is still a lot of big-room style tracks - just check the ominous "Inceptions" and the heads-down pulses "Klout & Bones" - but this album works best when Lynch explores unexpected directions, like the subtle, sub-aquatic house of "Harcourt Street".
London's Hypercolour crew have now become synonymous with quality house and techno, and although they are originally rooted in the UK strain of the genres, recent years have brought along a whole new heap of styles and talent on their catalogue. First up, we should give credit to Axel Boman and the ridiculously hummable tech-house groove that is "Depression 01", followed supremely by a hard-hitting house banger in the name of "Lynn" by the unstoppable Dense & Pika. Other choice cuts on here include Kevin McPhee's nasty "CC-XXX-YY-NNNNN", Jimmy Edgar's sexier-than-ever "Hush", Lucretio's smooth "Vampire Killer", and...of screw it, it's all pretty damn killer. HOT.
Over the past 12 months, Stefan "Chinaski" Haag has really hit his stride. First, there was a superb EP of rich, melodious, synthesizer-heavy compositions for Live At Robert Johnson, followed by a fine contribution to Uncanny Valley's fifth anniversary releases. Here he returns to the latter label with arguably his strongest collection to date. As usual, he fuses a variety of vintage influences - most obviously Italo-disco, early Chicago house, dreamy instrumental synth-pop and Detroit techno - to deliver hypnotic, life-affirming pieces with bristle with melodious intent. Highlights are plentiful, from the head-in-the-clouds bliss of pulsating opener "Disaster", and the John Carpenter creepiness of "Lifetime", to the Behaviour-era Pet Shop Boys melancholy of "Street" and "Never Look Back".
Despite debuting way back in 2007, Wanderlust marks the full-length debut of Belgian analogue enthusiast Metrobox (AKA producer Berten De Beukelaer). The album format offers him an opportunity to showcase his wide palette of influences, from drowsy, blue-eyed synth-soul (opener "At Night (When I See The Light)", the electro-tinged "Messing About"), revivalist new beat ("Bounce Bounce Baby"), and melodious Italian deep house ("Ten Thousand Thundering Typhoons"), to krautrock ("Wanderlust"), vintage Chicago jack ("F (Want You To)"), and acid-influenced late night darkness (the undulating throb of "Erotic Psychotic Hypnotic Freak"). Given his classically trained history, it's perhaps unsurprising that the album is also immaculately produced.
Ron & Neil is an all-star collaboration between old buddies Jim "Ron Basejam" Baron (Crazy P), and Rack 'N' Ruin boss man Neil Diablo. Pedre Son Aclat marks the project's first appearance, with the three original tracks sitting somewhere between shimmering nu-disco, sparkling powder house, and disco-influenced grooves. The title track sets the tone, layering up colourful synthesizer chords and melodies. While tasty, Man Power's bubbly, Balearic style revision - all analogue synths, cheap drum machine hits and sleazy vocals - is arguably more satisfying. "You Feel It" is a creepy, low-slung deep house/disco hybrid blessed with killer percussive flourishes and a weighty punk funk bassline, while "Tears" is a glassy-eyed fusion of warehouse-friendly electronics and disco-funk hedonism.
Long standing Zagreb label Burek has been blazing a trail of late with records from Aybee and Esa as well as their nautically minded offshoot Barba which has put out some fine electro from Stingray, Marco Bernardi and FBK. The first Burek release of 2016 brings the focus back to a production hero of Croatia in the always excellent Ilija Rudman. Active for well over a decade, Rudman's Burek debut is disco flecked- house music at its slick and effervescent best, with the slinky, low tempo vibe of A-side hogger "Higher Ground" complemented by a pair of collaborations with US house music royalty Boyd Jarvis.
By his previously prolific standards, Marco "Tensnake" Niemerski has been rather quiet of late. In fact, Desire contains the long-serving German producer's first original material of 2016. It's typically melodious and ear-pleasing, of course, with the title track delivering an effortlessly sun-kissed take on Balearic deep house, full of drifting chords, tumbling guitar lines, bubbling bass and hazy vocal samples. "Fantasma" is a little bolder and closer in ethos to his nu-disco era material, albeit with a dark and druggy bottom end to counterpoint the track's gentle acid lines and trance-like synthesizer riffs. Like its' predecessor, it will no doubt get plenty of rotations at open-air parties and festivals this summer.
Having been off-grid for the last six months, Rampa returns to action with a four-track blast of ear-pleasing, deep house goodness. The Keinemusik co-founder begins confidently, layering up eyes-closed pads, blissful electronic melodies and Balearic house grooves on the deliciously tactile "Trust". "Entropie" is a hard-to-describe fusion of dense ethnic percussion, marimbas and honking electronic stabs, while "Defiled" is a pulsating chunk of analogue-influenced, EBM style late night darkness (albeit with the instinctive swing of deep house). Finally, he reaches for the woozy male vocal samples and Isolee style rhythm tracks on "Headsup", which is the most obviously Germanic of the four tracks.