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SWITCH GENRE
 
Reviewed this week
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Chesus seems to be in a happy place right now. Certainly, there's a confident and outgoing feel about his second outing for 4Lux under the Earl Jeffers alias. All four tracks feel like the product of enjoyable studio sessions, and almost bristle with celebratory release. "Jump", which recalls the disco-inspired bump of early '90s New York house whilst adding sturdier bottom end, leads the way. Following close behind is "Elevation", a carnival-friendly fusion of pounding percussion, snaking synths and booming bass. "Intergalactic Jam" is a warm and rich exercise in stargazing deep house, while the curious "Bootsy's Nightmare" is hard to pin down. Listen carefully, and you can hear influences from UK funky, UKG, kuduro and ultra-deep house.
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Taken from their summer album Broken Toys, modern day Northern soulsters Smoove & Turrell unleash this instantly hooky number. Galvanised with a life-affirming chorus and chord changes that sound so natural, you'll be singing along by the end of the first listen, it's one of the album's strongest tracks. And it comes with some very strong remixes, too! Ashley Beedle adds his trademark strut and disco bubbles, Opolopo gets his jazzy jack on while The Porters take S&T to the very edge of the cosmos on a ship made of twinkling arpeggios. Beautiful.
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As sure as night follows day, there will be at least one Kyodai release a year on Local Talk. Konbanwa is the Berlin-based Garayalde Oses brothers' third EP for the Swedish house imprint in as many years. The title track is particularly potent. Impressively, it chugs along in a foreboding manner - think tough, late night deep house with growling electronics - before breaking down into a piano-laden middle section that will have the hairs on the back of your neck standing on end. It's then a piano-laden darkroom sprint to the finish. "So Special", meanwhile, brilliantly laces vocal samples from an NYC Peech Boys' Larry Levan-produced '80s disco classic over a chunky, rolling, classic-sounding US house groove.
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While he's more than happy to reflect and look back via his Trust Me I Was There mix series and the recent Rinse 20 re-releases, Zinc is in his element when he's bringing the roots kicking and screaming into the future... Which he's done consummately right here with this six track UKG/bass house adventure. "If You" is a bubbling old school rave feeling wrapped up in contemporary house styles, Marky co-lab "Double" is a dark strutter, all snares and menace, "Boppa" flips the electro switch with one simple waspy bassline, "Emanate" does that hooky up-and-down bass refrain Zinc has always been a sucker for while "After Time" is an organ-heavy twist on the current deep house flavours. Finally we hit "Runouts". A breakbeat-surcharged homage to the hardcore era in which Zinc cut his teeth, it's instant shock-out material. Bring on Structures part two!
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Given the sheer amount of product Marco Dionigi releases, you'd be forgiven for accidentally missing out on his best work. Wake Up - another full-length excursion on his Quantistic Division imprint - should not be ignored, though; arguably, it's one of his strongest albums to date. There are few genuine surprises - the 13 tracks mine his usual influences, from cosmic disco, cosmic rock and nu-disco, to Italo, dub, Balearica and classic house - but the quality of the material on offer is impressively high. There's plenty of playable, dancefloor-friendly highlights, from the kosmiche chug of "Sweet Smell of Success" and slap bass-enhanced Balearic funk of "Kung Bo", to the stomping, Italo-influenced disco pump of "Who Touched Me (Original Mix)".
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It's safe to say Midland is now one of Aus Music's marquee artists. This Duster EP provides the Englishman with his seventh release on Will Saul's label since 2010 with that killer split 12" with Ramadanman (now Pearson Sound). The title track features a Caribou-like bassline and synths which swell and vary in size over a skipping house beat. "Replex" is rougher and frenetically percussive while still remaining melodic, while "Pitch Drift" is the deepest production on the record that some how, in amongst the trippiness of it all, stays tropical.
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Mark Knight's label brings together some of the sounds that were showcased over the course of the ADE. Basement Jaxx kick start the compilation with the stomping disco house of "Never Say Never", while Harry Romero shows that he's not just a US house head. Working with Doorly, he drops "The Truth", a tough techno track, led by heavy claps. The techno influence lingers on Maceo Plex's "Conjure Superstar", which features an unusual combination of rave sirens and sublime, 808 State-style synths. As is the case in the wider electronic world, this reinvention of the past is in abundance on Amsterdam 2014 and apart from Plex's track, the most impressive contribution is Dosem's "Chase the Link", which sounds like a particularly dark version of vintage Lil Louis.
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Predictably, there's much to admire about this all-star EP from Craig Smith and Peter Oakden's Edinburgh-based Fifty Fathoms Deep imprint - not least the duo's collaborative contribution, the spacey, midtempo dreaminess of "Keep Moving". The label has consistently impressed with its atmospheric but open-minded approach to deep house since launching last year, and that ethos is prevalent throughout. Contrast, for example, the bluesy loveliness of Smith's "Nothing Stays The Same" - built around a delicious jazz break - and the Africanism-meets-early Pepe Bradock vibe of Ugly Drums 'More or Less'. Or, for that matter, the dense jazz-house of Phil Asher's "Move Yourself" and the cinematic, disco-flecked deepness of 6th Borough Project. Recommended.
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China's house scene is still in its infancy, but it's good to see new label Guangzhou Underground promising to represent it worldwide. This debut release, though, comes from experienced European producer Alex Agore. Aside from the deliciously melodious closer, "Mistakes" - a trip into '80s instrumental slow jam territory - Agore goes straight for the jugular, delivering a series of bumpin' cuts that take much influence from vintage US house. "Do It" is positive and smile inducing, with heavy organs and sampled horns combining well with driving beats. There's more of a DJ Duke-meets-UKG feel about the booming "Tygah Style", while "I Miss Your Luv" sounds like a classic Night Grooves release dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century.
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London bassheads Toyboy & Robin rose to prominence last year with "Jaded", a bumpin' fusion of contemporary tech-house electronics, a dash of UK funky and lashings of vintage UK and US garage influences. They're at it again on this much-anticipated follow-up for Cool Kid Music. "Feel It (Dub)" ticks all the right boxes, with throbbing sub and pleasingly energetic beats underpinning a grandiose fusion of classic vocal samples, jaunty stabs and old skool garage melodies. As for "Don't Just Say", it sounds like an anthem in the making - think bold rave pianos, hustling beats, cut-up female vocals and sweeping chords.
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It's taken Baba Stiltz a while to settle on a sound of his own. While his early material - released as far back as 2011 - stuck rigidly to skwee and hip-hop influenced downtempo grooves, latter projects for Studio Barnhus have seen him head in a much more immersive deep house direction. This imaginative and eccentric debut album, presented as a doublepack with full artwork, stitches together these disparate strands. The results are impressive, with vibrant, Balearic-influenced deep house cuts nestling side by side with robust acid jams, scratchy downtempo grooves, grandiose synthesizer soundscapes and skewed instrumental pop. It's an assured and curiously off-kilter debut, which should appeal to those who enjoy more leftfield strains of deep house.
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Proud Yorkshire label Hudd Traxx have been putting out a reliable stream of quality deep house since 2005, with artists like DJ Sneak, Rick Wade, Iron Curtis, Jay Bliss and Agnes just some of the many names to appear on the label. This 46th release features three debutants, while the fourth name, J.T. Donaldson, spearheads the release with a wishy-washy, bassline driven deep house vocal cut "Got Myself Together". Hudd Traxx provides Dusseldorf producer Maximiljan with his first physical release with the track "Son Of A" which merges the linear 909 house style of Norm Talley with smooth chords and cheeky vocals similar to the now defunct Swiss house duo Azuni. But most interesting for the label on this release, it's the two new names in Professional Gigolo and Tuneon that prove Hudd Traxx still know where to look when it comes to unearthing new and vibrant talent.
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Numbers aren't giving much away about the identity of Deejay Deer - unless, of course, he is genuinely a forest-dwelling animal with a sideline in synth-laden late night house, as their amusing press release claims - but in many ways it doesn't really matter. Both tracks here are superb, with "Natural" offering a fizzing, melodious take on deep house with clear Floating Points, Tiger & Woods and Joy Orbison influences. There's also a touch of Caribou about virtual flipside "Unantural", whose fluid waves of synthesizer and exotic, almost psychedelic chords seductively crash over a wide-eyed, loose-limbed jazz groove. It's impressively produced, suggesting this is the work of a seasoned pro rather than a little-known newcomer.
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Italian producer Lehar caused something of a stir online recently, after giving away his remix of Kollektiv Turmstrasse classic "Tristesse". Here he makes his debut on German deep house label Connaisseur. The Venice-based DJ/producer kicks things off with "XY", a shuffling, foreboding trip into woozy, delay-laden tech-house territory complete with subtle builds and horror-influenced chords. "Sargas" is equally as spooky, with ghostly textures and fear-ridden electronics riding an undulating late night groove. Longtime pal Mario Basanov provides the obligatory remix, turning "Sargas" into an inspired chunk of gently uplifting, melody-rich European deep house. It's almost the polar opposite of Lehar's original - in tone and texture - making for a striking revision.
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Having previously collaborated under their given names, Massimo Di Lena and Rio Padice launched their MFO project earlier in the year with a single-track salvo on their own Early Sounds Recordings. Here, they deliver the first MFO 12" for Dekmantel, and it's something of a peach. All three tracks effortlessly join the dots between Detroit techno, machine soul and deep house. This manifests itself in the fizzing alien funk of opener "Anti-Social Pain", the melancholic pianos and rolling machine drums of "Slow Run In Our Dreams" and, most impressively, the robust, techno-tempo percussive assault of "Crisis Zone".
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At once foreign and familiar, Desert Sound Colony brilliantly scores a nostalgic journey through the proverbial looking glass. The plaintiff vibe of "The Way I Began" envelopes the listener in warm guitar licks and hushed vocals, transporting them to a time when innocence and insecurity gave way to transcendence. The road takes a turn with "Fire Egg", a classic stomper that drives introspection with looping guitar melody and bouncy bass. And before we return to size, "Iris" carries us further inward with scattered claps and a skipping kick, before releasing us into a deep and chugging, eyes-wide-shut, euphoric roller.
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In a bid to celebrate 16 years in business, Mallorca-based Garito Cade Bar has joined forces with the like-minded souls from Sweden's Local Talk imprint. The result is a collection compiled and mixed by resident DJ Nacho Velasco, featuring both well-known and previously unheard gems from Mad Mats and Tooli's well-loved label. While many people will have some of the better known material here - think Fred Everything's excellent "Brothers & Sisters (PM Atlantic)", HNNY's "Fr The Very Forst Time" and Kyodai's "Something Special" - it's the previously unheard selections that make it Music Joined Us worth investigating. Of these new cuts, it's Tommy Rawson's lusciously loose "7 Days" and Jesse Futerman's smouldering "Life Is A Gamble" - smoky soul re-made as Latin-tinged deep house - that stand out.
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Some cheeky fun here with two new perky numbers from Munich's Audaz. First up Adrian Giodano delivers "It's On You", a foray into Italo-disco's chirpy day-glo later period - think Fun Fun on strong happy pills. Label boss Alkalino also steps in with "Set Dem Free", a silly slice of pumping feelgood house that is guaranteed to get everyone in the club smiling no matter how hard they may try to resist.
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Is Seth Troxler a romantic at heart? It's hard to say, but he does go off on an unexpected rant about 'this thing called love' for his contribution to Love Song. The fact that his vocals are surrounded by a Deetron's cool, trance synths and throbbing, bassy groove, make his utterances sound all the more convincing. Steve Bug has been put in charge of the remixes and does a fine job. Working under his Traffic Signs guise - a project that Bug started some time ago for his Chicago-style experiments - both versions see the German DJ/producer push the track into the kind of grinding, jacking sound that exudes pure carnal appeal.
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Following two high-class collaborative EPs alongside pal Sascha Sibler for Permanent Vacation and Innervisions, Daniel Bortz turns his attention to remixing eccentric German duo Rey & Kjavik. His version of the largely forgotten 2012 cut "Face It" is something of a soft focus delight, with the duo's impassioned vocals riding a sweet and melodious wave of vintage synthesizer melodies, enveloping pads and eyes-wide-shut electronics. It's an atmospheric concoction, an effect helped by Bortz's beats, which fizz and pop (think classic electro, or leftfield synth pop) whilst retaining the unmistakeable pulse of German deep house.
Exclusives
JACKSON, Thomas/MIJO/EDDIE MERCURY/THEUS MAJO/INIGO VONTIER/JERANNIMO - All Star Mexico (Correspondant Germany) - exclusive 20-10-2014
ELIZA, David feat JAEL - Motion EP (Ultra Bass) - exclusive 17-11-2014
BENDIKS, Charlotte - Aurora EP (incl. exclusive free track) (Love OD Communications Norway) - exclusive 31-12-2030
Exclusives
SOLOMON, Luke - Louder Than Words Vol 2 (Toy Tonics)
GORBACHEV, Philipp - Silver Album DJ Edits (Comeme)
BABA STILTZ - Total (Studio Barnhus Sweden)
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