Rarely is there a compilation as hotly anticipated as this little baby. Compiled by the master and captain of Dirtybird Records himself Mr Claude VonStroke, this is the culmination of a year's worth of curation on his part. Featuring appearances from Justin Martin, Ghostea, Catz N Dogz, Cause and Affect and Claude himself, it's a huge collection of Dirtybird house including the massive dancefloor hit "Okay" by Shiba San - Claude Von Stroke's personal fave. This has to be this year's first truly essential purchase. Don't think, just bag.
Richard Fearless collaborator James Greenwood makes the kind of skewed, heavily electronic music that has much in common with Daniel Avery's fine debut album from last year. This second EP for Erol Alkan's Phantasy Sound imprint is suitably dark and woozy, with "Guidecca" - all shoegaze vocals, new wave synths and clandestine atmospherics - being particularly good. It's as stylish as you'd expect, but charmingly weary, too. The fuzzier, spookier Dub of the same track is also excellent. Bonus cut "Half Open" is solid, rather than sensational, but at least allows him to build more of a straightforward dancefloor groove via drum machine beats and densely layered synths.
Having met at school, sharing a passion for music and skating, Florian Vietz and Andreas Hopfl met at high school, the Coeo duo's name supposedly comes from a health and safety warning adorning the side of a coffee cup, which read "Contents Hot". It's something shared in this simmering collection of raw house tracks, with "Do It" starting hard and staying hard, and "Will I" features beautifully crafted vocals and an almost percussive arpeggio lead which sits mellifluously on floating pads and raw piano chords. Remixes come courtesy of Steve Huerta and Vorres, who add their resective dubby and gospel-esque approaches to the source material.
Any act that derives its name from the Almighty could be setting themselves up for a fall, but not in this instance. The title track is a ponderous, dubby affair, its lumbering beats underpinning pensive melodies, and in a similarly contemplative vein is "Are We" (featuring Egle Sirvydyte). There, the rhythm is faster and pulsing, but the female vocal combined with the trancey synths makes for a spiritual techno groove. Finally, "Apnea" is more subtle, with pitter pattering beats and an infectious bassline insinuating itself into the arrangement. Ys offers conclusive proof that the devil does not have a monopoly on all the best tunes.
Is the inclusion of six remixes of the same track excessive? In this instance, it could be argued that Closure is strong enough to stand on its own merits. A deep, dreamy slice of house, its fey vocals and simple but beautiful melodies mean that it will melt hearts. As for the remixes, some of them remain in dreamy mode, with the chiming chords of Balcazar, Sordo and Kosmas Epsilon's version impressing the most. Of the dance floor versions, there is a greater degree of variance; Jeancy's take is a heavy roller and John Kat's take is more stripped back - but neither hold a flame to the clipped but beefy drums of Jonas Woehl's remix.
Running Back and Shan turn in some classic dub-driven techno with accompanying tools that would get the nod from STL. The 4/4 rhythm and moody "Chord Memories" on the A-side sounds similar to what Vril first produced for Giegling's Staub series, while "Tool 1" delivers some deep, filtering house. The Chicago house "Tool 2" on the other hand will be a more familiar sound to followers of Gerd Jansen's label, while "Tool 3" brings it back to square-one with some more upbeat, tape-delayed dub techno.
Fabrice Lig on DJ Bone's Subject Detroit label backed with killer remixes from Aaron Carl and DJ Bone! Allegedly stored in the Subject archives for some time, "Hmong Dignity" is finally unleashed and the original will be familiar to anyone that's witnessed a DJ Bone set in recent years. Eminently raw, but filled with melody thanks to those chords and restless riffs, "Hmong Dignity" is a fine example of how Detroit influenced European techno. A remix from the late, great Aaron Carl features, lending the track a familiar dose of murkiness thanks to some stomach churning bass, whilst that instantly recognisable central melody is wisely retained. The accompanying remix from DJ Bone glides along on a tough techno meets electro vibe, superbly slicing up the melodic element to form an entirely different refrain.
Livingroom Techno is an interesting concept. As the title suggests, it's Connaisseur Recordings' choice of "techno" records (think tech-house, deep minimal and tech-tinged deep house) that they think are particularly suitable for home listening - not just lounging on the sofa, mind, but also shuffling round your living room like a modern-day house lover. This fourth instalment in the series is as sumptuous, sinewy and sensual as previous instalments, variously delivering breezy sunrise goodness (Chymera), bubbly tech-jazz (Koett), melody rich groovery (Lake People's delicious "Stepwise") and Latin-tinged deep carnival fare (Ian O'Donovan).
Drawing on a vast range of influences, Bejewelled tries and largely succeeds in being all things to all men. The title track is a jacking affair that features the plink plonk of xylophone bells, while on a completely different tack, "Don't Look" is led by a stepping rhythm and a rude UK garage sub-bass. "I'm Tired" uses a similar approach, but on that occasion, the bassy licks are fused with an angelic vocal, ponderous techno chords and a series of rewinds. Rounding off this unusual release is "Resonant", a stripped back techno groove that features the sound of rattling percussion and killer subs.
If you're sick of winter and pining for sunnier times, this three-track blast of positive goodness from the Atmospheric Existence crew should help. Each of the three tracks offers a smile-inducing blast of audible sunshine. Japanese producer Tomi Chair sets the tone with "Sunstroke", a jazzy fusion of rolling drums, hissing cymbals and relentless feelgood pianos. Experienced studio boffin Simon Tappenden dons his Ourra guise on "Marine Morning", a Detroit techno-influenced trip into deep, spacious, sun-flecked house territory (think picturesque melodies and hypnotic rhythms). Finally, Miles Sagnia moves further towards Motor City futurism territory on the intoxicating, upbeat "Elements" - all darting synths, subtle acid tweakery and heady late night grooves.
As its title suggests, the latest compilation on Bpitch gives vent to the label's deeper side. It begins with Chaim's "Rain", where jazzy textures bubble to the surface over dubby beats. The track has an ethereal, almost subdued feeling to it and is in stark contrast to the raucous minimalism that Bpitch is sometimes associated with. This understated approach isn't confined to Chaim's contribution however; even more dance floor tracks like the pumping bass of Cormac's "The Present" are teeming with emotive undercurrents and Kassem Mosse's version of Ellen Alien's "Our Utopie" sees a series of chiming bells prevail over a pumping groove.
Kashawar steps back into the fold for Autoreply's 17th release, following the rising German producer's breakout releases for underground imprints Project London and Soul.on Records. For his Autoreply debut, Kashawar presents Moments and Lost Memories which covers all bases of his production palette. With collaborations with Steve O'Sullivan on Mosiac plus Pluie/Noir appearances approaching, it's clear Kashawar is a special young talent!