Thanks to the success of his recent Rendezvous EP on Lost Palms, Michael Baltra is a producer on the rise. It seems as good a time as any, then, to re-release last year's in-demand Rearview EP. This edition not only boasts both untitled tracks from the original 12", but also a bonus track in the shape of "O'Neal", a fine chunk of loopy, filter-heavy peaktime house built around samples from a woozy '80s AOR pop gem. While impressive, it's "Untitled (A)" - a chunky, club-ready deep house cut with Motor City techno percussion, chiming melody lines, tropical textures and saucer-eyed vocal samples - that's really floating our boat. "Untitled (B)", a stomping but woozy chunk of late night dancefloor bliss, completes a fine package.
Like so many others of late, Baltra seems to be looking to the halcyon days of Italian dream house for inspiration. While it's easy to identify plenty of other influences across the four tracks - the rough-round-the-edges feel of lo-fi analogue house, the undulating TB-303 lines of Chicago acid (see the fuzzy deep house bliss of "Angel"), early British ambient house (the woozy and becalmed "ISO") - it's the grandiose, stretched-out pads and saucer-eyed atmospherics of vintage Italo dreaminess that catches the ear throughout. These are most evident on superb opener "Rendezvous", but can also be heard accompanying the shuffling two-step rhythms and evocative field recordings that mark out DJ Seinfeld's superb remix of "ISO".
No Regrets was originally released 18 months ago on cassette, and now Of Paradise have made it available on vinyl and digital. It's a melodic but raw work that sees Baltra tread a path between deep house, the raw jack of Chicago and wistful electronic sounds. Despite its title, "Fuck All Y'all Haters" resounds to whispered vocals and warm melodies as Baltra deploys an insistent jack track. The title track also features the sound of the human voice, but this time it's a hushed tone deployed over a densely textured but still raw techno roller. Like Legowelt and Lone, Baltra has mastered the art of mixing the melodic with the uncontrolled fizz of hardware-produced rhythms - and nowhere is this more evident than on the vivid deep house of "Soul 4 Real (Vocal Mix)."
Craigie Knowes is a weird and wonderful leftfield disco label based in Glasgow. How weird you ask? It's pretty out-there, but then all the best music has nearly always been so, and that's fine by us. This various artists EP, Knowes Universal Broadcast, features five tracks, the shortest of which is seven minutes long. That would be "Fade Away" by Baltra, a lo-fi distorted acid jacker, Highfield Casuals deliver the dreamy and melancholic "Highfield Daze", whilst Natureboy Gold rocks it harder with the slammin' Fairlight/303 orgy, "Prozac Test". Lastly Stephen Simpson delivers "Qaua", a heavily percussive, sub aquatic groove machine.
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