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Reviewed this week
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Man of many monikers Gerd returns to the NY Stomp alias he last used in 2012. "I Feel It Comin' On", featuring Matthew Kirkwood, is a sparkling chunk of revivalist US house, with pianos and cut-up soul vocals riding a classic bassline and stomping, basement-friendly beats. There's a couple of more UKG-friendly revisions in the shape of the Bass'N'Dirt Remix and Dub, while Ovis gives the original a thunderous makeover - all raw drum machine beats, powerful sub and cut-up, hands-in-the-air vocals. There's also a solid bonus cut, "Beatattak", in which Gerd laces chopped-up freestyle vocals and dreamy chords over a skipping, US garage style rhythm.
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Moscow producer Alexander Lay-Far has enjoyed a productive EP, delivering effortlessly soulful deep house releases for City Fly, Lazy Days and Atjazz's eponymous imprint. Here he pops up on Local Talk with four more reasons to be cheerful. "Side To Side (I Just)" sets the tone, impressively fusing attractive electronics and shuffling, US house-influenced beats with warm chords and soulful vocal samples. Fouk remixes the same track, bringing out the bluesy elements in the vocal while offering a smoother, eyes-wide-shut, piano-laden interpretation. Elsewhere, Lay-Far shows his disco side on the baggy, horn heavy loop-jam "Get On It", while "Feel Like Making Dub" is an expansive, sun-kissed trip into boss-house territory complete with sumptuous keys and a rich bassline.
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Haunted bass peddler Woz has upped his output quota recently, and he continues his ascent with this short and sweet two-tracker. First up is "Cherry Hill" which is low slung, spacey and dark house: all sultry buzzes, hums and the ghostly vocals of Max Marshall. However, if it's creeped-out and dark 2-step you're after, you're best heading straight for the dark alley shuffle of "Trust Meh".
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Amazingly, it's been three years since Birmingham-raised duo Cause & Affect made their debut on Beatdown Music. Since then, their profile has rocketed thanks to regular appearances on Rinse FM. Here they pop up on the station's label offshoot with a four tracker that smoothly joins the dots between UK funky, deep house and UKG. Opener "Mistakes", blessed as it is with jaunty bleep melodies, warm sub, heady pads and a choice vocal sample, is particularly impressive. "Dimensions" is faster and breezier, with deliciously wide-eyed breakdowns, while "Bird Flu" laces electronic blips and cut-up vocals over a rolling 4/4 garage rhythm. Finally, "Foorest" is impressively weird and glitchy, sounding like UK bass house beamed down from another planet.
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Many happy returns to Germany's Dirt Crew Recordings imprint, which this year celebrates a decade of deep and tech-house releases. For this celebratory collection, they've decided to take a slightly different approach, eschewing label classics and forgotten gems in favour of new cuts from familiar and lesser-known artists. There's naturally much to admire, from the heavy, Soundstream-do-deep house loopiness of Yosa's "Love Me" and the surging deep house funk of Timothy Blake's "The Town is Quiet", to the woozy, Ame-ish rush of Matt Masters' "6&3 Twos". Tigerskin does his bit for the label's old guard with "Ad Lib Robot", a bouncy, soul-flecked acid jam that's one of the compilation's genuine highlights.
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Given their pedigree and the mature musicality of their productions, you'd expect this first single from John Talabot and Axel Boman's Talaboman project to be pretty darn good. "Sideral" - dedicated to a genre-straddling Barcelona DJ who passed away back in 2006 - is certainly special, with the original version offering an intoxicating, bright-eyed fusion of dense, African-influenced percussion, bass-heavy bottom end, attractive chords and thrilling, upbeat melodies. It's tinged with sadness - as many of Talbot's best productions tend to be - but comes across as more celebratory than melancholic. Matt Karmil provides the flipside remix, lacing the duo's notable synth melodies over a hissing, hypnotic techno groove.
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Roughly two years after they first surfaced with Do The Same on Shifting Peaks, UK bass duo Mak & Pasteman add their names to the long list of artists that run their own label. The reception to releases in the ensuing period for Lobster Boy and Naked Naked have proved that this West Yorkshire pair have a willing audience for such a move and it will be interesting to see if Materials is used solely as a platform for their own work or whether they'll use it to nurture new talent too. Naturally they helm the debut release which brandishes an upfront bass-tech-house hybrid on the A Side in "Jam One", whilst "Formation 131" sees M&P doff their hats to the sound of darkside jungle.
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Here's something of a treat from soul-flecked deep house specialists Pusic Records: a double-length EP featuring a range of sinewy dancefloor treats. There's much to admire across the eight tracks, from the bongo-laden percussion and 'Knights of the Jaguar' style synth strings of KRL's lip-smacking remix of The New Tower Generation's "Hidden Banana Bug", to the rubbery live bass, woozy chords and near Balearic headiness of Anaxander's "LetAss Go Party". Also worth mentioning is Steve J's pumping, piano-sporting "Souljay" and the dreamy, enveloping, Andres-ish shuffle of Pablo Valentino's jazz-flecked "When I Was a Kid". Glenn Astro's wonky, ultra-deep remix of the same track is arguably the EP's standout moment.
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It's been business as usual this year for Running Back as Gerd Janson's label has quietly gone about issuing some sleeper hits from the likes of Telephones, Redshape, Genius Of Time, Todd Osborn and Mutsumi. The label's latest port of call is to introduce Thomalla, a Berlin-based producer whose sound on the Mood Swings Skewed Things EP seems a perfect fit for the Running Back cause. Described artfully by Janson as a collection of tracks "built for a universe in which James Holden is the caretaker," Thomalla's production palette encompasses many styles. Lead cut "Tidal" teases out squeaky analogue tones over a marauding groove, whilst "Ginobili" is an excellent deep house tool. On the flip "Polymath" sounds like a gaseous dub cover of "Papua New Guinea" whilst closing track Nachkik" is exactly the sort of kraut-addled techno you could imagine Holden playing.
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Dangerous Girl finds Italian-in-Berlin Adapter (AKA producer Antonio Russo) in fine form, delivering a pleasingly eclectic EP for Get Physical. The title track, a tribute to '80s electro and synth-funk complete with winding melodies and cheap sci-fi electronics, offers a radio and dancefloor-friendly opening, before "Me & You" scampers off on a Visionquest-does-pop tip. It's similarly undulating, with atmospheric vocals and a bubbling, tech-tinged groove. Finally, vocalist Jesse Monroe lends a hand on "Remember", a rave-inflected stomp through flickering strobelights accompanied by the sickly-sweet smell of human sweat. It's foreboding, intoxicating and atmospheric: just what you want at three in the morning when your feet are telling you to go home.
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According to Sabo, the latest release on Sol Selectas was inspired by a shared love of '90s rave, but La Cougresa isn't an exercise in copying past glories. Instead, the duo drops the tempo and, on the title track, put together an inspired break beat house affair. It eventually leads into a dreamy reverie, pushed along by a dark, pulsing bass. Is this a representation of the 'vision quests' that also inspired the release? Certainly, they seem possessed by a supernatural force on "Zoologico", where layers of droning sound and shimmering synths push in over a rumbling rhythm. "Destination" meanwhile takes its cue more directly from early '90s hedonism, with drugged out acid and ponderous vocals unravelling over heavy, dubby drums.
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Downtown Party Network man MIndaugas Lapinskis continues to strike out on his own under the Gardens of God pseudonym, following a successful debut on Ellum Audio earlier in the year. "Gluk" is notably moodier than his generally picturesque collaborative work, with roots in the kind of expansive, shuffing tech-house popularized by the likes of Jamie Jones, Crosstown Rebels and Visionquest. There are still elements of beauty - including a terrific breakdown/build-up combo - amongst the murky rhythms and undulating electronics. "Voices From The Past" is even more melodious, gently building to a rush inducing conclusion via additional jazz hits, swooping chords and darting motifs. Finally, "Fen" seals the deal by fusing sturdy grooves with watery chords and shimmering synth strings.
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Mike Millrain knows how to make garage music, and here he delivers a cut focusing on all the hallmarks of the genre with a specific focus on bit-crushed vocals, which become rhythmically complete once the Carl Cox-esque groove section drops. Meanwhile Urban Myths craft Millrain's original into something much techier, providing a deep listen and suitable alternative. Two weapons for the weekend.
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Following well received releases on Homecooking and Defected, Vernon and DaCosta bring their Raw District project to Crosstown Rebels. "Ragged Star", featuring the woozy spoken word vocals of Ellipsis, is a retro-futurist gem, wrapping an acid house bassline and minor key chords around what sounds like a break from Fast Eddie's '80s house banger "Hip-House". "Turn Away" is deeper and dreamier, whilst retaining the duo's usual flickering, late night feel. Crosstown Rebels have recruited Josh Wink to remix, and he doesn't disappoint. The veteran house producer delivers a pair of pounding reworks based around sweaty, jackin' percussion and mid-2000s style tribal riffs. The intense Bass Mix is probably our pick, but they're both righteous.
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Label owner Marco Dionigi takes to the helm once again for Start. The Italian DJ/producer's sound is an interesting mixture of minimal tech-house, atmospheric techno and in places the emotive melodies of Italo. The title track is available here in two versions; while its original format is a neat, jacking affair with a repetitive vocal hook, it's really the 'Age' mix that impresses. The vocal remains at the heart of the arrangement, but it's surrounded by shimmering synths and undercut by a grinding rhythm. "Arranco" sees Dionigi deliver an understated, stepping rhythm that provides the basis for half-heard effects and melodic whooshes, while best of all "HBM 88" is a gloriously melodic groove that recalls Italo at its most blissed out.
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Thirteen may be unlucky for some, but there is no such bad fortune on the latest edition of the Full Body Workout mix. This time, the German label has entrusted the controls to remixer Julian Ganzer - who counts Booka Shade's "Darko" among his reworks - and Javier Logares, who has put out releases for Get Physical and Bar 25. Between them, they steer the mix through reflective, evocative sounds (Doomwork's "DNA"), into tripped out, stripped back house and techno from Mikael Stavosstrand & Cesare vs Disorder and Fabio Giannelli and into the kind of dramatic house that the label is known for, articulated here by the orchestral flourishes of K.E.E.N.E. & Robosonic's "Waters".
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Unfettered positivity, "Happiness Juice" is guaranteed to quench any feel good thirst you and your dancefloor have for a long, long time to come. Featuring catchy vocals over a perfectly complementary riff, this sensational track goes way beyond living up to its name. The remixes have been well curated, too. Miguel Campbell goes for sultry classic west coast simplicity while the Satin Jackets switch the focus to the epic piano riff. Pure soul satiation.
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Tsuba's occasional Night Trax series continues, this time delivering cuts from label regular Milton Jackson and newcomers Zoo Look (previously seen on Join The Dots and Morris Audio). Glaswegian veteran Jackson goes deep and fluid on "Requisite Vocal Science", layering simple but pretty melodies over woozy chords, shuffling beats and tech-house touches. Zoo Look's "I Can't Deny" is an altogether breezier affair, with a dancing bassline and skipping, garage-influenced beats underpinning hazy chord progressions, distant vocal samples and watery electronics. It's the kind of track that will slip into lots of different sets, from deep house and UK bass, to tech-house and late night sleaze.
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Lower East co-founder Brinx flips the switch with "Pipe Dreams". Known more for his sumptuous deep house production model, for this EP's title track he's returned to a sound conjuring memories of mid '90s trip-hop and the seminal, agenda-setting sounds of Moving Shadow. All half tempo breaks, it's a great set opener or neat switch up for those moments when you need to calm the crowd. Elsewhere we find him back on his 4/4 flex with "Jouse" and "Losing Myself". Both primed with lavish piano slaps, the former goes for a more sedate garage groove while the latter is more of a pumping, unrelenting affair. Throw in a beautiful remix from Inxec and you've got yourself a perfect package.
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A seventh release on Proibito arrives and it finds label boss Anthony Naples switching things up as the full artist approach is cast aside in favour of some posse gathering tactics. Label regulars Hank Jackson and Huerco S both feature (the latter under his newly helmed Independence Ave. Orchestra pseudonym) and they are joined by Proibito debutants Alex Falk and Jackson Lee - both of whom have priors for Proper Trax and Mystical Disco respectively. "Mitsuda" by Falk is a strange, ghostly slab of techno characterised by odd phasing and the occasional gurgle of stretched tape, whilst "Mongoos" from Hank Jackson keeps it weird but turns the mood towards something a lot frostier. "Sumba Togola" from Jackson Lee mangles up all manner of vocal samples amidst a twisting groove of manipulated bass lines and unpredictable drum programming whilst the glistening "Welfare" suggests Huerco S is using the Independence Ave. Orchestra name to show a different aspect of his productions skills.
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