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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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)".
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.
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.
Here's a deliciously simple idea from Matias Aguayo's Comeme label: DJ friendly re-edits of tracks from Russian producer Philipp Gorbachev's decidedly off-kilter Silver Album. Aguayo shows the way, turning the loose and eccentric "Distance" into a heads-down chunk of no-wave house complete with military drum rolls and a whisper of acid freakery. Elsewhere, look out for an inspired EBM style reinterpretation of "Arrest Me" from Optimo man JD Twitch - arguably our pick of the bunch - and a brilliant, slo-mo blend of "New Sound" and "Silver Symphony" from Ana Helder. Oh, and a no-nonsense reinterpretation of "What Do You Need" from fast-rising, former Hot Creations man Danny Daze.
York-based Alfa Flite is slowly building a reputation as a purveyor of fine, soul-flecked edits that tiptoe the fine line between deep house and disco. Here, the mystery combo drops a new edit - a sensual, head-nodding and toe-tapping reinterpretation of what appears to be a classic Sade cut. With rubbery bass, unfussy beats, gentle guitars and emotion-rich vocals, there's plenty to enjoy. With a decent amount of compression on the beats and bassline, as well as a surprisingly distant feel about the vocal, it feels primed and ready for dancefloors that like their grooves toe tapping, head nodding and groovy.
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.
Ultra Bass is a label that has been gaining steady ground with its UKF-flecked bass-house bangers. Here David Eliza adopts the well-rounded soulful tones of vocalist Jael for the synth washed break-step jam "Amazin'" and the deeper, housier "The Ride". Standout remixes here include Rare Candy's sumptuous poolside rerub of the latter and Tommy Mc's deliciously dirty basement garage rework of the former.
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.
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.
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.
This is a significant moment in the development of Michael "Huxley" Dodson. Following six years building his reputation via a constant trickle of singles, the London-based producer has finally delivered a debut album. It's a little more expansive and varied than many of his singles, and variously touches on many of his regular inspirations - UK garage, deep house and bumping techno, in particular - as well as some he's not previously explored (see the pitched-down rave breaks of "Give 2 U" and the "Circles"-ish liquid D&B of "MXR"). The result is a polished, floor-friendly set that impressively straddles the line between club tracks and home listening fodder.
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.
It has been four long years since South African producer Culoe De Song last graced Dixon's Innervisions imprint. Happily, this belated return - a year after dropping his impressive Exodus album on Soulistic - sees him at the top of his form. "Y.O.U.D" is, in many ways, what you'd expect - a dense but picturesque blend of thick tribal percussion, fluttering electronics, sampled yelps and eyes-wide-shut melodies. He opts for altogether deeper vibe of "Geyser", layering dreamy chords and hazy melodies atop a hypnotic, shuffling groove blessed with delicious atmosphere. Strong stuff, all told; it's a pity it's been so long between drinks.
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.