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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Italian editor DJ Rubens serves up the third in his My Edit Sound series and goes straight for the disco jugular with a stunning reversion of Marc Evans "The Way You Love Me". His mission statement made clear from the off, he then proceeds to establish his skills by way of an extended version of Carl Graves' "Heart Be Still", a lush percussive development on Loleatta Holloway's "Hit & Run", a pounding electro twist on Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" and a funk-tickled take on TZ's "Hots For You". With 12 cuts in total, this is Rubens' most extensive and far-reaching collection to date.
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.
Solomun has made a virtue out of releasing melodic house music and his latest record is no exception. That said, "Medea" marks a shift of sorts; over a pulsing, tunnelling groove and rolling drums, he introduces dramatic melodic sweeps, the kind that you'd hear on old techno-trance record on Harthouse or Music Man. The title track sees him revert to type, with sensuous pads and acid-tinged melodic hooks dropped over heavy claps. To add to the sense of drama, he delivers an operatic vocal sample as the break down nears. There's also a "strings only" beatless version for those who want to appreciate Solomun's sense of melody away from the dance floor.
Kornel Kovacs, Axel Boman and Petter Nordkvist Studio Barnhaus label can usually be relied upon to deliver the sort of curiously left-of-centre deep house that offers more than mere straight-up dancefloor thrills. That's certainly the case on the latest piece of eccentricity from label regular Baba Stiltz. While "Transit" itself is the epitome of eccentric - think vintage acid house fused with early '80s New York electro and dreamy electronica - it's the jazzy "Principles", all lolloping rhythms and fiercely cut-up rhythms that really impresses. Even odder is "Principles Oh So Fresh", which dispenses with the beats and concentrates on the original's chiming music box melodies.
Arguably, the key to a successful "split EP", featuring tracks from a range of artists, is delivering a range of floor-friendly cuts that DJs can reach for at different points in the night. What's on offer here more than passes this test. There's some stabbing, stomping old skool revivalism from NDV ("Chestivations"), a glittering slice of warm-up futurism from Appian (the superb "G381"), and a sweet, undulating, late night foray into melody-heavy space-house from Cyclonix ("Rising Tide"). Best of all, though, is Nubian Mindz' "Lock Out", a formidably sweaty romp through heavily percussive peaktime pastures that's worth the admittance price alone. As ever with Nubian Mindz, the drums are layered brilliantly, with just the right amount of murky atmospherics to impress the heads-down late night crew.