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Reviewed this week
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With his love of rolling disco basslines, deep house-influenced Rhodes chords, chunky grooves and Balearic influences, Ilija Rudman is one of nu-disco's most consistently on-point productions. Further proof of his talents can be found on this third outing on ISM Records. Both the warm and breezy "Future Times" and faster "Dimensions" are classic Rudman, with the latter sounding like Prince jamming with the Idjut Boys. Crazy P man Chris 'Hot Toddy' Todd delivers a typically smooth, fluid and musically rich remix of "Future Times" in his deep house-meets-nu disco style, while Simon Tappenden dons his Ourra guise to deliver a wonderfully tactile, authentic sounding '80s boogie rework of the same track. It's this version that really steals the show.
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Reflective of the atmosphere that prevails at party organisers All Day I Dream's daytime events, this collection eschews mushy ambience and plodding deep house in favour of a more sophisticated, adventurous selection. Powel's "Hor" is all abstract percussion and soothing melodies, while Lauren Ritter's "Glass Hours" is a sublime deep techno groove, brittle, beautiful and reminiscent of artists like As One. Meanwhile, Bedouin's "Flight of Birds" sees the compilation veer into mystical territories with wonderfully evocative fiddle playing unraveling over a pulsing groove and bongo drums. On Summer Compilation, All Day I Dream show that down-tempo dance music need not be synonymous with birdsong and dull sax solos.
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Following hot on the heels from outings on 1978 Music Co, Logical and La Talacha, Lemon Mint transfers to Hotbox Recordings for his latest trip into hazy, disco-sampling deep house territory. He smartly explores different moods and tempos across the six original tracks, from the paring horns, woozy loops and head-nodding bump of opener "Just Like You", to the beachside bump and glistening guitars of "Maximino", the EP's most up-tempo moment. Highlights are pleasingly plentiful, with the '80s house-goes-Latin bliss of "Esmerelda" standing out. There's also a tasty bonus in the shape of a Funk District remix of "Just Like You", which somehow manages to make the groovy original even sunnier.
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Current darlings of the deep house Wolf Music continue on with what they do best on these three reliable dancefloor fillers courtesy of Bristol's Thrilogy. First up "Heaven" and its uplifting piano roll complete with jazz vocals and a pumping swing fuelled beat does the business quite well. Next we've got "Hold Me In Your Arms" which takes things deeper, with sultry female backing vocals and rolling bassline.. But the uplifting piano roll remains; don't worry! Lastly the K 98 remix of "heaven" injects some serious stomp and tempo into the track that tears through the speakers with its hard house intensity.
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Following celebrated outings on Futureboogie Recordings, Throne of Blood and Hot Creations, Leeds lads PBR Streetgang return to 20:20 Vision. While the powder-coated, bass-heavy bounce of "Whiplash" will probably get the plaudits, "Return To Page One" is probably a more enticing proposition. It contains some of the same traits - sleazy late night samples, ludicrously powerful bass and a '5am over the Adriatic' feel - it also contains delay-laden drum machine rhythms and synthesizer lines heavily influenced by 1980s proto house and Latin freestyle. These latter elements are emphasized further on Tuff City Kids' excellent Electro Remix, which sounds like a vintage Fresh Records release. They also provide a delightfully cheery 'Disco Mix' full of '80s style Latin house piano solos and rolling 4/4 grooves.
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Prolific Serbian producer Tonbe (aka Milos Djordjevic), sticks to his own Disco Fruit label for his latest missive, the "Dance & Romance EP". There are four new jams to groove to - the clavinet-driven space funk of "Clavs Rules", the raw trumpet fuelled title track, the 70-style wah-wah guitar freakout "Four Roses" and the lively filtered boogie of "Once Again".
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Kompakt's annual label sampler returns for a 15th year, gathering together another 24 highlights from the long running Cologne imprint's ever growing back catalogue. As usual, there are numerous styles represented - from the spiraling dancefloor synth-pop of Kolsch and punk-influenced techno of Audion, to the soft focus melodies and hypnotic beats of Gui Boratto, and the intoxicating global electronics of Jurgen Paap - as well as much-played tracks from some of the imprint's most notable talents (see the contributions from Rex The Dog, Superpitcher, Matias Aguayo and John Tejada, whose "Two O One" is a tuneful techno delight).
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If you enjoyed Andras Fox and Oscar S Thorn's brilliant sophomore album, Cafe Romantica, this release should be essential listening. The EP's title track picks up where that set left off, with the duo once again conjuring a perfect balance between soulful synth-pop, lilting Balearica, and the kind of sumptuous deep house on which Larry Heard made his name. On the flip you'll find some fine remixes of album highlight "Looking Back". While Tornado Wallace's deep Balearic house take is rather wonderful, it's Zanzibar Channel's interpretation that stands out. Somehow, they've re-cast the deep and dreamy original as a madcap chunk of lo-fi P-funk.
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Vanilla Ace has been an exciting new producer in both the London and Ibiza club circuits, having released on the infamous Ministry Of Sound, OFF, Suara and Mark Knight's Toolroom label. Ace returns to Knight's imprint this month for the 33rd instalment of the Selector Series, with an extended compilation of his personal favourites, a selection of tunes from the label's catalogue, other producer's sounds and his own floor-ready cuts. There's a grand total of sixteen tracks on here - including a blended continuous mix of all of them - from big names such as Todd Terry, Tough Love and Brett Gould, among others. Vanilla Ace's own tunes are a glorious mix of disco and house, recently supported by big hitters such as Seth Troxler.
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Given the label's longevity and consistently on-point releases - in a variety of styles, it should be noted - it's somewhat surprising that Gilb'r's Versatile Records imprint is not more celebrated. Here, they welcome back Zoot Records founder The Maghreban (AKA Dr Zygote), who goes all Idjut Boys with a trio of heavyweight dub disco workouts. The title track - all booming punk-funk bass, horror-influenced synth flourishes and dense, live-sounding disco percussion - sets the tone, before he pushes things up a notch with the relentless, low slung synthesizer gooks and sweaty house beats of "Frenetique". Finally, he presses the button marked "weird-out" on the lolloping, jazz-flecked dub disco madness of "Kung Fu".
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Aside from a couple of EP's for Shadeleaf Music and Delusions Of Grandeur, respectively, the enigmatic ThatmanMonkz prefers to ride undercover. However, his latest record comes courtesy of Derrick Carter and Luke Solomon's infamous Classic imprint - which is run out of the Defected HQ these days - so it's clear that he's talking business. This four-tracker is all house vibes and no messing around: "In Bed With You" features the charismatic and soulful vocals of Pete Simpson over a deep but driving groove, and "Miss You So Badly" ups both the tempo and the hypnotics. On the B-side, "Kickin's It" is a Detroit house kinda' number, boasting ingenious little sample shots and anthemic melodies, something which can also be said for "Vainglorious Style" - another slice of Detroit-fueled soul.
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This is what happens when two of the leading lights in Norway's underground scene put their heads together. Astute readers may remember Kahuun from his releases on Paper Recordings, but on this split release, his "Superduplex" track has more in common with the nu disco of Prins Thomas and comprises a pulsing, rumbling groove. Norwegian DJ Kohib delivers a darker version of "Superduplex" and Kahuun is quick to repay the favour, dropping a gritty version of Kohib's "Dynamo Rex". By contrast, the original version comprises swirling, trance melodies and acid lines that are more trippy than the Northern Lights on a clear arctic night.
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Wazi Wazi is usually the label on which we hear Nils Penner's productions, but the dude has also released on Freerange before, and he comes through on the label with a handsomely hand-picked compilation of the label's best from recent months. On the beautifully presented thirteen-tracker you'll find a selection of different forms of house, ranging from the deeper territories to more jacking and pumped up house cuts. The highlights include "My Man" by Lovebirds, Detroit Swindle's "Brother Man", and label head Jimpster with "Distant Light". You also get a continuous mix for good measure. Get in there.
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Kolour Recordings, the Undertones sublabel for the deeper moments, makes its way back to the top of our house lists, and after a series of heavy-hitters that included cuts by the likes of Kink and Delano Smith, the imprint goes in for the win with a new artist on the scene, Funkdamentalist. This bad boy has only released a few EP's to date, but his wonky shade of house is already taking its form and place. "Gravy" is a sublime, Balearic fuelled house monster with a slow tempo and a mean lean - a serous tip! The nugget is followed swiftly by "I See" and "Real Woman", two tamer but nonetheless masterful and sublimely executed deep house swingers. Recommended!
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Eric Estornel rose to fame a few years ago, from what seemed like out of nowhere. But unbeknownst to many was churning out sleek electro for a long time before as Mariel Ito. But it was with Maceo Plex that he really found his groove with anthems such as "Your Style" and Sleazy Rider". Fast forward to 2015 he's still at the top of his game as a DJ (check the polls) and as a producer as heard striking out on his own imprint Ellum Audio. It sees him temporarily return to his old ways with a chill electro number that ticks all the boxes; vocoder, soaring analogue strings and warm chunky arpeggiated bassline. If that wasn't enough, he flips the script on us again in the form of right techno banger "Solar Detroit" sounding like something on Oscar Mulero's Pole Group. Nice one!
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It's emotive house time with the Monkey Safari contingent as they return to their own label following on from time spent connecting with imprints such as Sweat It Out! There is a great crossover potential in the Caribou-esque melodics and heart-stirring vocals of the original version of "Walls", justifying the increasing profile of the German duo, and then there are more functional remixes bundled in for those who want things a bit chunkier. Guy Gerber in particular brings a solid, heads-down heat to proceedings with throbbing bass and minimal house drums keeping on a straight and narrow path, while Josh Wink takes pleasure in rinsing a lengthy breakdown before nipping back into a light acid refrain. Moby then steps up to complete the all star cast with a sprinkling of piano and a prominent house beat that works even more bombast into the original version.
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Having appeared on various compilations and provided many remixes for others, Leigh D Oliver now drops "Through Muck & Mud", his first solo EP of the year. Released via his own Sordid label, there are two original cuts here - the deep and thumping diva-house of the title track and the slammin' jazz-house of "Sex, Lies & Bullshit". The former is also given a skippy speed-garage overhaul by Nick Beringer.
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Italy's Francesca Lombardo saw her debut on Crosstown Rebels back a few years ago, and the artiste returns to the mighty imprint with a fresh four-tracker for the body and soul. "Perseidi" is a hypnotic shot of house psychedelia that flutters away amid fuzzy low frequencies and rattling percussion twists, a tune that's backed by a remix from Transmat's Aril Brikha who jacks it up and adds in a fine layer of sci-fi Detroit vibes. "Uttermost" is a little funkier and bouncier thanks to its wavy chords, while "Tulips On Mars" goes deeper into cyber space with its cinematic bassline and spacey pads. Hot stuff, this!
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Sven Vath's annual residency in Ibiza is home to some of the best and most adventurous electronic music on the white island and the annual compilations follow the same path. O starts with the fuzzy, frazzled trance of Roland M Dill's "The Messenger", followed by the rolling, steppy house of Tripmastaz "Grindin" and Dana Ruh's "If You Don't Know A Name", which sounds inspired by the growling bass of Kevin Saunderson's E-Dancer project. The madness doesn't end there and O also boasts trance techno from Dast, Tom Demac's rave sampling house and Steve Parker's tribal techno banger, ""Brian's Lullaby" - making the compilation as wild and unpredictable as Cocoon's own nights.
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The Drive is an interesting proposition. Unearthed by ISM boss Yam Who in London, their original tracks blend boogie, P-funk and synth-pop influences, analogue synths and live instrumentations, and vocals that sit somewhere between Prince and Plantlife. The two original tracks here, "Diamond In The Rough" and "Born Again", are both breezy and attractive, hinting at even greater things to come in future. Wisely, these radio-friendly originals are backed by a couple of solid remixes; a stomping, soulful nu-disco tweak of "Diamond in the Rough" by Yam Who, and a sparkling deep house-goes-nu-disco interpretation of "Born Again" by Autocycle.
Exclusives
VARIOUS - Kompakt: Total 15 (Kompakt)
THRILOGY - WOLFEP029 (Wolf Music Recordings) - exclusive 24-08-2015
KINGS OF TOMORROW feat APRIL - Burn So Deep (Defected)
Exclusives
HOMEPARK - Peak Organic (Ornate Music) - exclusive 07-09-2015
LEMON MINT - Nomads EP (Hotbox Recordings) - exclusive 30-08-2015
GEORGE FITZGERALD - Full Circle (Bonobo feat Boxed In remix) (Double Six)
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