Such has been the rise of Marquis Hawkes in recent times that this debut album must mark as one of the most anticipated house sets of 2016. Happily, Social Housing is a superb showcase not only for Hawkes' talents, but also his understanding of house music in its' many myriad forms. The album does include, of course, a sprinkling of jackin' workouts, but these are outnumbered by such thrilling chunks of loved-up positivity as the Tiger & Woods style loop funk of "Fantasy", the Theo Parrish-ish jazz fuzziness of "Summer Memory", and the cheeky, Todd Edwards style cut-up garage of "Something In Yr Head" [sic]. The album's most potent moment, though, is "I'm So Glad", a collaboration with Jocelyn Brown that already ranks among 2016's most potent tunes.
Juan Miguel Bassols first pricked our consciousness way back in 2012, when he delivered a fine debut under the JMII moniker on 100% Silk. He's not released all that much since, making this first appearance on Hivern Discs his highest profile EP to date. There's naturally much to admire amongst the three original productions present, from the stripped-back but melodious acid house shuffle of "Thrills", to the wild lead lines and chugging bottom end of the analogue synth-heavy proto-house snap of "Tightbrass". Christian S provides two tasty reworks of that cut, including a dark and seductive "Angry Dub". A woozy, dreamier John Talabot re-edit of "Thrills" completes an excellent package.
Quite remarkably, Obas Nenor's 2015 debut 12", My Way Home, appeared on Moodyman's Mahogani Music imprint. Since then, he's released hot material on Strictly Rhythm and Sol Power Sound. Here, he pops up on Detroit Swindle's Heist imprint with another strong collection of hazy, low-slung deep house shufflers. He begins with the loose, cheesecake-rich warmth of "The Door", before dipping the tempo a little on the funk-infused groove jam "Glimpse Of Light". There's a pleasingly bluesy feel about the bold and melodious "UV Lights", while "Wakee" offers a nu disco-influenced take on Detroit Beatdown. Mr Tophat's dense, deliciously percussive remix of "The Door" completes an excellent package.
Given their extensive shared musical history and influences, you'd expect this hook-up between former Classic/Music For Freaks types Luke Solomon and Jonny Rock to contain some belting cuts. Predictably, it does. Dancefloor sweatiness is guaranteed from the start, via the undulating, Moroder-inspired bass guitar, spacey electronics, clipped guitars and dense disco percussion of "Luca Frangipan", and its' suitably trippy, more heavily electronic companion Dub. There's a breezier, looser feel to "Groovin' To La", which expertly teases out soulful vocal samples and soaring strings atop a bouncy Italo-disco/deep house/classic disco fusion groove. The accompanying Dub mix is, if anything, even stronger. Sadly, this digital version of the EP doesn't feature DJ Fett Burger & Jayda G's killer remix, so you'll have to buy the 12" to get that.
Robert Hood's second album as Floorplan sees him hone in on disco, gospel and house influences to create a proper big room collection. As the driving, disco-loop heavy "Spin" and the ridiculously catchy "Music" demonstrate, the Detroit producer has stripped Floorplan of its techno influences. However, this does't mean he has simplified his message; accompanying the religious vocals on "The Heavens & The Earth" is a hypnotic organ riff, the slightly less pious "Good Thang" is a riotous siren-heavy jacker in the Reese tradition, and "He Can Save You", with its dense primal rhythm is reminiscent of Green Velvet as his madcap best. Hood may have chosen God, gospel and disco over the minimal nation, but he still knows how to lead his people onto the dancefloor.
French legend Ludovic Llorca is back under the Art Of Tones guise for the always impressive Local Talk. Acid soul funk? You bet! Take a listen to I "Just Can't (Get Over It)" and you'll believe there is such a thing. On the flip, the smooth and soulful groove continues on "Dirty Stories" which has an undeniably French touch about it, with good use wonky synths, emotive strings and SP1200 style vocal cut ups. Deepness in the vein of Pepe Braddock or Chateau Flight.
Earlier this year, Erol Alkan and Richard Norris re-launched their Beyond The Wizard's Sleeve partnership after four years away. Hot on the heels of that single, Delicious Girl comes Creation. Intriguingly, there's no original version present, but rather two remixes from Psychemagik, whose opening Dub re-imagines it as a chunky, bongo-laden slab of fluttering late night house, complete with dreamy, stretched-out organ chords, watery electronics and drifting female vocal samples. The similar sounding Rework includes more of the original song, and therefore the folksy, Kate Bush-on-valium vocals. The package is completed by a fresh remix of "Delicious Girl" by London psychedelic rock combo Teeth Of The Sea, whose eccentric but hugely entertaining revision sounds like Studio after a bad acid trip.
Chicago's Kenya is a housewife who became an esteemed Christian soul singer following a 'cosmic enlightenment' that showed her the way. Having heard "Let Me" (from her My Own Skin album), Joey Negro has signed her up, enlisting Sean McCabe to rework the tune for the right kind of dancefloors. Clocking in around nine minutes, the "vocal mix" a smooth and luxurious ride through vintage jazzy house, dripping in golden-toned Fender Rhodes chords. Elsewhere there's the aquatic sounding '90s retro house of the "Let Me Out Dub" and the Brand New Heavies-esqe organic jazz-funk of the "Classic Soul Mix". Chic.
Ever since their last release, we've been preoccupied with what really does do go on deep within the mind of a dragon. It turns out that beneath all the scales and firey breath they tend to think a lot about holidaying in Ayia Napa circa 2001. Wonder if Saint George knew this. Anyway, "Too Much" is a delicious mix of catchy distant vocals snippets and perky 130bpm beats and warm, undulating bass waves. Remix-wise Mike Millrain brings the '90s house fire - all slammin' New York garage vibes and closer than close synthy goodness. Summer is officially here!
For those of you who can't make it, you can still enjoy these very tracks that will be thrashed on San Francisco institution Dirtybird's US tour this summer. This is the third edition of their Summer BBQ compilation titled Secret Sauce and it features an all-star cast. Starting things off in spectacular fashion with Chicago house legend Marshall Jefferson teaming up with L.A's Doorly on the wicked "Neanderthal', there's the wonky, bassbin rattling deepness of label mainstay Christian Martin (with Ardalan) on "Flight of The Pterodactyl" and rising star Justin Jay's pop-inflected epic "Broke The Law" featuring a bit of help from mates Sascha Robotti, Henry Was and vocals by Josh Taylor.
Having previously plied his trade on a number of New York-affiliated imprints (Wurst, Night People NYC and Nervous offshoot Nurvous amongst them), Eli Escobar makes his debut on Transatlantic label Classic. Opener "Phreeky" features contributions from regular collaborators Vanessa Daou and Nomi Ruiz, and is little less than a killer combination of classic piano-house grooves, party-starting disco samples, relentless cowbells and choice old school vocal samples. It's something of a belter, all told, and one of Classic's strongest releases of recent times. Escobar continues this retro-futurist feel on the Masters At Work-via-Detroit-and-Chicago vibe of "Can't Stop Dancing", where vibraphone solos and whispered female vocals ride an Andres-styles deep house rhythm.
Saucy have dubbed Dosage as being 'one of the most technically gifted blossoming producers the UK has to offer' and they're not wrong. Here we get to find out, starting with the celebratory fizz of the totally funky disco-house jam "Panama Peppers". The latter quickly gets disfigured for life by evil genius Kursa who brings some scary bass fire to the tune. "Reaper" continues the dark vibes with more of a dubby ghetto sound which is turned into a sleazy after-hours classic by Echoes & Knight. Finally Dosage teams up with Ricin for the harder bass and breaks attack of "Ishmael".
More dreamy deep house for inner city rooftops again courtesy of Lee Burridge and Matthew Dekay's always impressive All Day I Dream imprint. At the controls this time is NYC stalwart Lauren Ritter with the Lark EP. The title track has all the hallmarks of an ADID track; mesmerising and crystalline pads, xylophone melodies and emotive strings that distill the best influences of German imprints like Kompakt or Dial into it. So does "Swoon", this is the kind of bittersweet headrush that someone like Michael Mayer would unleash on you mid set. "Murmur" incorporates elements of Romanian style minimal with its big rolling bassline and intricate rhythm arrangements complete with hypnotic elements. Great stuff!
Little did we know that the excellent Freerange label were cooking up a follow-up EP by Clavis, the production duo consisting of Manuel Tur and Adrian Hoffmann, who deal in a very specific brand of techy house. Much like their debut EP for the label, "Alcine" rolls its pseudo tribal drums at a steady pace among dissolving melodies, and "Mangogul's Dream" offers a similar yet even more minimalistic take on the genre. The dub version of the latter is what really gets our juices flowing, though, because we're deeply into that swollen bass and well-rounded beats...not to mention that echoing cascade of percussion that spills so well over the tough groove.
Italian duo Olderic and Musumeci are at the controls on this sixth celebration of Compost's long running Black Label Series. This digital edition of the compilation includes 15 unmixed cuts from the label's archives, including a trio of previously unheard "special edits" from the duo, plus a typically atmospheric DJ mix. As you'd expect, much of the material inhibits the no man's land between deep house and tech-house, with occasional nods towards more disco-leaning fare (see Space Coast's loose and languid re-make of The OhOhOh's "Wu"), and baggy Balearic treasure (DJ Yellow & Flowers & Sea Creatures). Look out for tasty contributions from DJ T (a rock-solid rework of Phreak Plus One) and Andre Lodemann (whose remix of Rafael De Cruz is sublime).
On this intriguing package, Jacques Renault has signed up a quartet of like-minded party-starters to remix tracks from his 2015 debut album, Zentrum. Borrowed Identity kicks things off with a bluesy, Rhodes-heavy deep house rendition of "Faith", before classic U.S house revivalist Nicholas channels the spirits of Bobby Konders and Chez Damier on his deep, dreamy and intoxicating rework of the same track. Massimiliano Pagliara impresses with a bouncy, synth-laden disco-house interpretation of "Redlight Rubber" full of clipped guitars and spine-tingling vocal samples, before Max McFerren steals the show with a heady, rave-influenced breakbeat-house take on the Latin-influenced "Mi Casa Samba".
Auslander is a collective that's arisen from Melbourne's killer party scene. Comprising Fantastic Man, Tom Lally and (the recently relocated to Berlin) Andy Hart, together they pursue an agenda of pure, hard, jackin machine music. "Auslander" is a carouseling slice of Moroder-style argpeggiated electro-disco that rinses the 808s for extra badness. It's the "PM Dub" however, that wins in the badass stakes, being seven minutes of cold, hard body music complete with new wave noise and trippy interruptions. The Jean Michele Jarre-isms come to the fore on the 70s BBC workshop -style "First Contact" version. Essential.
The first Audion album in ten years shows that Matthew Dear's project has lost none of its raw ferocity. This is audible on opening track "Dem", where a droning groove ensnares wooden, clunky percussion and haunted vocals in its whirlpool-like cascade and then on the gated, distorted gnawing rhythms of "Destroyer". On other occasions, Dear sounds more comfortable flirting with classic sounds; "There Was a Button" is perfectly adequate, acid-led trancey techno from the 90s and "Gut Man Commeth" revisits the edgy minimalism of early Hawtin. However, no matter what influences he mines, there is a hyperactively jittery sound aesthetic at play, audible as much on the slow-motion hoover-led grind of "Bob the Builder" as it is on the rickety minimalism of "Napkin".
One seriously moody and emotive progressive house offering courtesy of Berlin's Florian Kruse and featuring the velvety voice of Hendrik Burkhard on "The Ground". The remix by Joris Voorn gets even deeper, darker and tripped out for some real early evening dancefloor drama. Second original track "Going Against The Grain" is one perfectly executed journey track of the darker persuasion (wonky melodies assured) whose bittersweet tendencies will pull at the heartstrings as much as it'll move your feet.
Grecian DJ/producer C Da Afro is beginning to build up an impressive discography. Impressively, Midnight Riot is the 20th label he's released on to date. Soul Grooves is his first EP for the imprint, and contains a quartet of floor-friendly tracks that sit somewhere between remixes, re-edits and original productions. So while "Soul Groove" is based heavily on Matsubara's Paradise Garage fave "S.O.S (Society Of Soul)", C Da Afro has added a swathe of new synthesizer parts to compliment the original's killer jazz-funk guitars. We must presume the same process has been followed on the tactile electrofunk bomb "I've Got This Feeling", and the almost overpowering synthesizer bliss of Balearic boogie closer "You Mae Me Feel So Good".