Daniel Leseman and Hans 'Junktion' Peeman first joined forces under the Fouk moniker late last year, delivering an impressive debut EP, First Things First, that skillfully combined the former's jazz-tinged rhythms with the latter's smooth deep house nous. There are plenty more reasons to be cheerful on this debut for Detroit Swindle's Heist Recordings imprint, not least the driving bass, jaunty jazz samples and warm chords of "Kill Frenzy". There's even more soul present on the loose house beats, glassy-eyed vocal samples and rich textures of "Leftys Bar", while "Ken Sent Me Release" is as woozy, wavy and dreamy as you'd expect. Soothing stuff, all told.
Trevor Jackson has long been obsessed with blurring the boundaries between art and music, so his decision to release the 12 tracks that make up Format - his first album in 14 years - across 12 different physical formats (including 8-track, VHS and reel-to-reel tape) could be viewed as a grand artistic gesture masquerading as a commentary on the disposability of recorded music. Either way, it's nice to see that The Vinyl Factory has finally made the tracks available on a single CD and digital release. Musically, Format explores Jackson's usual obsessions - industrial, new wave, EBM, electro, post-punk disco and techno, in particular - with great gusto. As a result, it's a moodier set than his more playful early work (particularly Playgroup), but ultimately more fulfilling.
The 20th anniversary of iconic New York house label Henry Street Music has previously been celebrated via a series of 2014 reissues of classic material from Clone. Now, BBE has taken the baton, putting together a superb retrospective that stretches across five CDs and, in this case, three heavyweight slabs of wax. Wisely, BBE has chosen to pack it with both must-have classics - Bucketheads' "The Bomb", Armand Van Helden presents Old Skool Junkies' "The Funk Phenomenon", and DJ Sneak/The Polyester's string-laden disco-house bomb "Show Me The Way" - and lesser-known gems. It's these that really set the pulse racing, with Timmy Regisford's hard-to-find - and utterly brilliant - remix of DJ Duke and Roland Clark's "D2-D2 (I Get Deep)" standing out.
After previous, if infrequent, transmissions for Electric Minds and Non Plus, Commix producer George Levings returns with some new Endian material for the always impressive Secretsundaze Music. The more attentive out there may well have heard at least one of these tracks in the club or in a mix of late, with Joy Orbison ending his Essential Mix last year on the opening track "Finish Me". Well done to Secretsundaze for facilitating a wider release for them then with "Finish Me" the sort of fiery, low end heavy club track you feel will be heard on dancefloors for some time to come. Don't ignore the B side tracks though as they are equally potent tools for the dancefloor.
Portugese edit hitman Alkalino drops two new cuts on his home label Audaz, and it seems he's in the mood for some deep and mystical house servings this time around. "Dancing With Somebody" is a true groover, a chunky dance arrangement surrounded by loopy R&B vocals, while "Dance To The House" is distinctly old-school in flavour, a mid-90's joint that has been reworked and twisted into a more contemporary disguise.
This is a typical Steve Bug release and this is what makes it so impressive. Like much of his back catalogue, it effortlessly flits in mood from celebratory to deep before ending up in tripped out mode. The title track sees the Poker Flat boss in typically jaunty mode, with summery keys unfolding over an upbeat tech groove. "Thick As Mud" is much darker and rides a searing bass and tougher drums. Rounding off the release is "Pants on Fire", where Bug draws on his minimal background to deliver a pulsing, acid-soaked affair that is custom-made for after hour usage.
JD Twitch has previously said how much he loves Severed Heads, so it's little surprise to see his Optimo Trax label reissuing a trio of kikller dubs from the Australian combo's late 1980s "dancefloor-friendly" period. The well-known "Greater Reward" is offered up in two versions; the original 12" dub - think classic undulating acid house bass, fizzing electronics, big builds and an even bigger piano line - and Twitch's own "Piano Power" edit, which emphasizes the famous keys even more than normal. The scattergun dub of "All Saints Day" takes a similar sonic approach - with a little more of a Cabaret Voltaire circa "Easy Life" feel - while "Big Car (Crash Dub") is a flurry of synth bass, discordant hits and Fairlight stabs.
Defected have ambitious plans for their upcoming Ibiza season. In fact they've so much hot new music that they need three mix CDs to feature them all. This year the club brand relocate to Amnesia's famous terrace and Simon Dunmore has been recruited to present us with its soundtrack. Expertly mixed, the mixes here are presented digitally and include all the individual tracks too. There's a whopping 42 slices of forward thinking future house here including highlights from Guti, Reboot, Session Victim, Chez Damier, Louie Vega and Damian Lazarus to name but a few. Roll on summer!
Landis Lapace lands most vertically on This Ain't Bristol with two minimal cuts in UK flavour, dressed with plenty of salt and vinegar and a little bit of BASS. "Surrender" is a bleepy and teched-out floor mutant for the peak time hours, while "Zesty Nachos" is a little more ravey, peppered with deranged piano keys and even the odd break here and there! There's also a 'hard mix' of the latter, which features a tad more drum swing in the mix.
While they've been part of the Dirt Crew family since contributing to the Deep Love 3 compilation in 2013, Love More marks Rotterdam duo 25 Place's first 'proper' release for the long-established German label. They've gone all out to make it special, too, delivering five tracks of impeccable deep house. There's the string-laden late night hedonism of "Love More", the ultra-deep pulse of the enveloping "Strange Days" - complete with yearning, bluesy vocal samples - and some more rush-inducing fare in the shape of "Sometimes" and the piano-laden "These Moments". Oh, and a dash of ambient house-inspired goodness that's as fluid and picturesque as the Pacific Ocean (the wonderful "Ecstatic States").
Germany's kings of the compilation, ChinChin, recently dropped ChinChin Present 2015, a widescreen view of their current roster highlights. Now they've followed it up with a more specific collection, The Art Of Electro Swing Volume 4. It shares some tracks with the former but still forms its own cohesive shape with 17 delicious variants this iconic sound. Highlights include Pep's Show Boys thumping electro-swing rework of Louis Armstrong's "Cuban Pete", the spooky electro-pop refrains of "Alibi Afternoon" and Sound Nomaden's epically catchy housed-up rejig of "Goin' Wild".
An Argentinian born, London dwelling, veteran DJ with about three decades experience of rocking dancefloors, Fabiolous Barker is a seasoned pro. Here he delivers more of his hard-hitting disco house reworks for Midnight Riot. There's a maturity to these tunes - with highlights including the deep and synthy sauce-house grinder "The Paradise", the campy '70s disco-rocker "Tattoo" and the cool Miami freestyle electro restyling of Bryan Ferry's "Limbo". Sophisticated boogie!
David Angelico Nicholas Gooden, or simply known as Dave Angel, is a British house and techno legend, that's just a fact. The man has been going string since 1990 and has appeared on everything from the mythical RCA, to London's very own R&S and his own Rotation imprint, of course. In 2015 he joins forces with John Digweed, another British dance music legend, and released an EP for the man's Bedrock institution. "Progress", as the name impartially suggests, is a classic progressive house monster for the big room, where hypnotic waves of sound are carried forwards by militant drums and percussion. "Stand Strong" carries more swing and its melodies are hidden deeper among the kick-snares, a rather memorable collection of sounds once they're freed from the depths of the mix.
The historic Classic imprint sticks close to its big guns and has Luke Solomon's "Stop The Riot" bomb remixed and anted-up by, well, two special names in the game. The vocal stems come from Sam Lynham but it's Shit Robot who turns in a growling, electro-leaning remix in his signature style, and PBR Streetgang who go for something a little more funky and considerably more...disco!
The unstoppable and utterly inimitable Catz N Dogz are back on their own Pets Recordings! "Killing With Kindnes" features the vocal talents of Phat Kat above the duo's sleek and minimal tech-house swing, while "Keep On" invites the legendary Green Velvet to spit some utter truth amid hypnotic melodies and a dusty groove. There's also "I Can Do Anything", an R&B flavoured funky house bomb and a club mix of "Killing With Kindness". Woof!
Boot & Tax have been members of the Optimo Music family since 2013, releasing a pair of well-regarded 12" singles on the offshoot Optimo Trax imprint. While those were formidably dancefloor focused, this eponymous debut set offers them a chance to flex their artistic muscles in a range of styles. For the most part, it's a surprisingly humid set, with the Italian duo variously doffing their cap to indie-dance, post-punk, dub and new beat, with occasional bluegrass and psychedelic flourishes. It's a formula that guarantees mixed results, at least aesthetically. For all the genre shifts, the quality threshold rarely drops from "excellent" throughout.
London based US Producer Lance De Sardi joins the Hudd Traxx fray for the last title before the label hits 50 releases and commence the 10th Anniversary celebrations. Although there's only three cuts on West Country, De Sardi more than shows his diversity as a producer and it's a fine addition to a discography that dates back to the '90s. "Pariah" kicks the EP off in fine style with smooth beats, an infectious vocal and lush pads ensure that this will be a big one for the heads. Flip for the B Side and find a tough acidy number in "Youth", and a groovy track in "Race the Clock" which is made for the dance floor. 2015 is already proving to be a big year for Hudd Traxx following releases from Iron Curtis & Nachtbraker, and Lance De Sardi keeps the flag flying high with this solid EP.
Since delivering a quartet of sensual, slo-mo house EPs way back in 2011, Mexican producer Joseph Terruel has been surprisingly quiet. In the last four years he's released just one solo single, last year's well-received Tool For Love EP on Hotbox Boogie. Slave To The Rhythm, then, is a welcome return, and sees him further developing the dreamy, tactile, slo-mo and mid-tempo deep house sound we've come to love. The impressive "Dropping Down" (which also gets the remix treatment from Softmore) is the audio equivalent of a tantric sponge bath, and arguably the EP's strongest moment. That said, the darker, slightly uncomfortable "A Day Like Today" is tasty, too, while the title track is as breezy and lovely as you'd expect.
Crosstown Rebels boss Damian Lazarus seems to be mellowing with age - or at least getting more artistically adventurous. This follow-up to his 2009 debut, Smoke The Monster Out, was co-produced by Simian Mobile Disco's James Ford in LA. London and Mexico, with the assistance of an impressive cast of musicians from around the world. While rooted in the kind of tactile house and techno most associated with the evergreen hipster, Message From The Other Side is impressively psychedelic, otherworldly and stargazing in outlook. The album's woozy, horizontal appeal is therefore enhanced by Lazarus and Ford's use of Indian instrumentation, African percussion and impeccable keys-work from American jazz pianist Eric Lewis.
Until the release of the first two volumes in the El Rudo Del House series earlier this year, Matias Aguayo hadn't put out any of his own material on Comeme since 2009. This third instalment in the series is as essential as its' predecessors, offering a quartet of quirky, South American influenced house and techno jams. There's naturally much to admire, from the low-slung bass, metronomic rhythms and pitched-down vocal samples of "El Grubb", and thumping, Cumbia-influenced madness of "Ven Aqui Que Te Destapo", to the tribal drums and sludgy, mind-altering bottom-end of "El Volcanio". Best of all, though, is "Chup Chup", a sweaty, basement-bothering, choppy house workout destined to raise the tempo in more than a few clubs this summer.