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Reviewed this week
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Amsterdam's Detroit Swindle duo head back to the Heist imprint after an impressive string of releases on labels such as Tsuba Records and Dirt Crew Recordings, and classy, tech-ready house is the order. "Allright (We'll Be)" is a disco-fuelled house gem with one of those vocal samples that'll log itself in your brain, while "Pursuit" is stranger, more wonky and a right burner when it comes to its percussion. "Heads Down", as the name suggests, is nuttin' but a club bomb and one hell of a DJ tool!
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The enigmatic Thatmanmonkz parachutes back onto Delusions Of Grandeur - one of the most consistent deep house driven labels out there - with three retro joints. "In The Trees" is pure Chicago magic and features the vocal talent of Khalil Anthony in the mix, while "Make It Now" is a jazzy house piece a-la Moody. Last but by no means the least, "Sad N Blue" goes for chunky beats, gorgeous piano keys and a stunning backdrop of seductive R&B vocals. This is for HOUSE music lovers and it's massive.
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Ninja Tune's relentless release schedule continues apace here with the much anticipated debut album from Romare. Under the name, London producer Archie Fairhurst first made waves with a couple of excellent 12" releases for the Black Acre label which revealed a quite distinct approach to production. Inspired by the collages of noted US artist Romare Bearden, Fairhurst's fascination with African-American culture is explored through his productions which deftly weaved in untold amounts of samples in an illuminating fashion. How Romare applies this approach to the album format is one of the most compelling thoughts you will have when listening to Projections. The resultant 11 tracks suggest Fairhurst has achieved it with aplomb.
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It promises to be yet another interesting year for Dial Records with an upcoming compilation and the tantalising prospect of a debut album from White Material man DJ Richard on the horizon. Before that, it's Herr Flugel that kicks proceedings off with a new three track release that sounds and feels every bit as vibrant as this stellar 2014 LP Happiness Is Happening. Sliced Africa opens with "Black Towers" a racketing slab of epic deepness that appears suited to the early morning moments, whilst the title track has our Roman veering off into more tropical territory. Some superb drum programming on this one. To close "Spiritual Enhancer" adopts a more contemplative poise, easing down the tempo and providing the warm up DJs with a digital B-side gem to cherish.
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Germany's A Friend In Need have begun to develop a strong reputation for championing their own unique blend of deep house-not-deep-house. Here we get a new label comp featuring four different takes from four different artists: stop-start loopy funk (78 Edits' "Keep It Up"), deep and spacey jack-fests (Lootbeg & M Ono's "About You"), 303 fizz-outs (Gregory Dub's "Acid Spacejam") and the slow, raw and romantic depth charges of "Acaya" by Zacharias. Boom!
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California's foremost John Candy lookalike Vin Sol has enjoyed a productive couple of years, delivering well-received solo and collaborative releases (mostly alongside regular sparring partner Matrixxman) for Unknown To The Unknown and his own So Wavey imprint. Here he pops up on Clone's Jack For Daze offshoot with four blasts of dancefloor-centric machine music. "Off The Chain" expertly blends the energy of original Chicago jack with metallic electronics and a touch of deep house warmth, while the sweatier "Sox" makes merry with restless percussive builds and a nagging electro hook. "House Freaks" sounds like a long lost Jungle Wonz classic, while "Trac" offers some stripped-back drum machine abuse for charged-up late night 'floors.
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After recently notching up three years in the business, HFN Music offshoot Hafendisko is in celebratory mood. So much so they've put together this first split EP - trailed as a "mini compilation" - featuring a trio of new cuts and another chance to savour Ewan Pearson's epic, Italo-influenced electro-disco reinterpretation of Kaspar Bjorke's "Apart". Of the new material it's Snacks' deep and rolling, warm and soul-flecked house jam "Easy" that stands out. That said, there's something deliciously sweet about the lolloping synth bass, cut-up vocals and drowsy chords of Unkwon's "Everything", while Deo & Z-Man's "Penelope" is a breezy, bongo-laden delight.
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Mark Barrott's International Feel label seems to be going from strength to strength. Certainly, this debut single from previously unknown combo Private Agenda - a trio known only as Martin, Sean and Nick - is amongst the label's strongest releases to date. "Deja vu", in particular, is superb, with snaking synth lines and an early George Michael style vocal reclining over dreamy chords, electrofunk synths and a breezy, mid '80s Balearic pop groove. Virtual flipside "Freefalling" is similarly impressive, with twittering bird noises, enveloping pads and slack-jawed vocals rubbing shoulders with sun-kissed melodies and shuffling electronic percussion. In truth, both tracks sound like the sort of thing Alfredo would have championed back in 1986 - high praise for those who sway, eyes closed and smiling, to the Balearic beat.
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Earlier this year, Rush Hour announced the focus of their archival attentions would fall on Vincent Floyd, a producer with a small clutch of releases in the mid-90s for Dance Mania, Relief and Gherkin Records offshoot Resound Records. Having reissued Floyd's 1990 Dance Mania release Your Eyes back in February, Amsterdam outpost Rush Hour return to the Chicago artist's canon of work with Moonlight Fantasy, a six track missive filled with unreleased material. Sourced from Floyd's personal DAT tapes, Moonlight Fantasy focuses on his earliest productions and a time when his sumptuous sound was very much in the classic deep house mould of Larry Heard. House music historians will find this a most compelling document!
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Despite impressing with releases on Missive in the mid 2000s, Philippe Juven had been all but forgotten until Jennifer Cardini resurrected his career with an EP on her Correspondant label in 2012. Here he returns - for the first time since - with "Disturbed", a cheery, cosmically inclined chunk of jaunty, late night nu-disco. While tasty - and accompanied by a typically grandiose and even cheerier rework from Full Pupp man Jarle Bruthen - it's the EP's more intense moments that really excite. "Wolf Pack" is the standout, moving as it does from wide-eyed nu-disco chugginess to psychedelic acid, over the course of nine action-packed minutes.
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Ready for a strange soul sensation? Say hello to Henry Wu. After a smattering of outings on 22a and XVI, the Londoner jumps aboard Ho Tep with his first extensive extended document. "Don't Want The Regular" is a hazy twist on slo-mo broken beat, all dreamy and just the right amount of abstract. "Expensive Ghetto" takes the abstract even further with a jazz trumpet that wanders so free it's nearly off the page. "Black Rigsby" is more floor-focused as it looks towards the likes of Detroit with strange filtered synth wriggles and spacy overtones, "Just Negotiate" sits somewhere between Andrew Ashong and Amp Fiddler with its yearning lyrics and hugely enveloping synths and finally "Joint September" closes the show on a reflective jazzy note. Dreamy.
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Back in the mid 2000s, Jake 'Rex The Dog' Williams was touted for future greatness on the back of a string of singles that joined the dots between Kraftwerk, synth-pop, '80s electro and melodious nu-disco. Somewhere along the way, he lost his mojo, and the releases began to dry up. Happily, Sicko - his first single for two years - sees him back at his imaginative, mesmerising best. The title track bobs and weaves brilliantly, lacing trippy, stuttering electronics and yearning chords on top of a sparse, beatbox electro-influenced Balearic house groove. "Korgasmatron" is arguably even better, with Williams brilliantly fusing dirty, bubbling bottom-end electronics and warped acid lines with a killer, rave style vocal hook.
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Former Padded Cell and Bronx Dogs man Richard Sen has made some great records in his time, and "Songs of Pressure" is up there with the best of them. Joining the dots between murky dub disco, horror soundtracks and EBM, it layers spooky, delay-laden synthesizer motifs and wonky vocal samples atop a heavy dub rhythm and punchy machine drums. Pals Andrew Weatherall and Timothy J Fairplay deliver a bongo-laden, dubbed-out revision (part wayward exotica, part humid Balearic dub), while Acca strips the track down to its' nare bones for a ket-addled dub.
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Having handled the first two releases on the (so far) impressive Yummy label himself, HNNY has decided to look further afield for inspiration on number three. Pleasingly, the vibe - melodious, organic deep house with a Balearic bent - remains the same, with David Gunter's "Lemonad" providing an attractive fusion of ascending music box melodies and loose, low-slung, organic percussion. There's a similarly cheery, easy listening-goes-deep house feel about Shakarchi & Straneus' "Hissmusik", whose breezy dub house groove is accompanied by pin-sharp melodies, twittering flutes and catchy vocals samples. HNNY provides an even catchier re-edit of the 2012 original, focusing on the singalong vocal and head-nodding groove.
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Somewhat surprisingly, it's been three years since Spanish deep house veteran Pablo Bolivar popped up on Maurice Aymard's Galaktika imprint. "Drop It" is a fine return to the label, with the title-track delivering a woozy, spacey chunk of deep house blessed with delightfully loose drums, undulating chords and intergalactic melodies. Bonus cut "Question of Time" continues on a similar theme, with Bolivar peppering a military groove with wild synthesizers, bold chords and an almost jazz-like, freestyle feel. John Tejada takes care of the remixes, offering a smooth, deep and rolling main rework, plus a jaunty, piano laden alternative.
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One can safely say that Berlin-based Mark Henning is something of a nomad when it comes to his catalogue. He's released consistently high quality output on everything from Soma to Hypercolour and now even Steve Bug's Poker Flat Recordings. The title track "Pusher" is a no nonsense tech burner boasting a mean-as-hell bassline, and even "Swingers" is no push-over with regards to its potent low-ends. There's more peak-time bombardments on "Triple 13", but also a change of mood on "Satin", a deeper and more chimerical excursion across wondrous chords and steady percussion
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Rather like a ladyboy, Aussie producer Jad Lee, packs a little extra than expected. Often seen as a nu-disco re-edit guy, Lee actually has been making big international waves with increasingly deep and quirky house productions too. "The Swazi Techno Funk Truck" is as long as its name - seven minutes of lean and shimmering mechanical acid-funk. "Be My Friend" is a jazzy voodoo throbber, while the title track, "Namibian Gold" appears as both a deep and percussive Afro-house "Gold" Version" and a woozy 303-led "Acid Version".
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Channeling the spirit of electro swing into a lively party concoction, The Gentlemen Callers of LA come from the sterling lineage of Los Angeles production team Atom Smith and Buck Down. On this particularly fiery cut the pair turn to a track made famous through Moby's canny sampling, and whip up a sure fire hit in the process. In terms of remixes, the Skeleton Bay remix gets into a straight up electro house shaker without losing the key vocal elements, while Sound Nomaden remix works in a slight reggae skank. The Dutty Moonshine remix meanwhile is the trippiest version of the bunch without losing that all important hooky groove.
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If you thought UTTU offshoot Hot Haus were in pretty unrelenting form last year, get ready for more of the same this year if the brief-but to the point sales notes for this Steve Murphy release are any indication. To quote DJ Haus in all caps "THE FIRST OF MANY HOT HAUS RECS IN EFFEKT RELEASES TO COME THIS YEAR!" Murphy is of course a key cog in the circle of Italian hardware enthusiasts that includes Restoration, and The Analogue Cops with last year's Relax EP for Lobster Theremin something of a breakthrough. If you liked that release you will love the Climax EP, with the surging intensity of "Something Around The Sun" standing out.
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Having recently re-entered the ring with the middle-weight comeback album Junto, this veteran South London duo have decided to deliver this cheeky heavyweight belter for all those fans wanting something with a bit more club muscle. They won't be disappointed as "Angel Is Coming" is a monster - beginning all Mr Fingers deep before expanding into properly cosmic techno-tinged delirium. These vibes are worked even further in their original dub, while "Blue Flute" is more their typical exotic carnival fare and "Jus Be Free..." wraps things up with some tasty deep acid joy.
Exclusives
OLIN & SAVILE - Thanks, Karl (Argot US) - exclusive 10-03-2015
JAD & THE LADYBOY - Namibian Gold (Toy Tonics) - exclusive 	16-03-2015
GUNTHER, David/SHAKARCHI & STRANEUS - Lemonad / Hissmusik (Yummy) - exclusive 09-03-2015
Exclusives
FLUGEL, Roman - Sliced Africa (Dial)
RICHARD SEN - Songs Of Pressure (Emotional Especial) - exclusive 16-03-2015
DENNEY - Pimp Out (Hot Creations)
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