Review: In recent times, Rush Hour's Direct Current offshoot has been a constant source of inspirational, dancefloor-baiting material. Seemingly designed to offer a retro-futurist take on house from producers perhaps better known for their more experimental material - see the thrilling, head-warping releases from Cosmin TRG and BNJMN - the imprint has rarely put a foot wrong. This two-tracker fits neatly into the RH DC template: Braille is a new pseudonym for Praveen, one half of post-dubstep visionaries Sepalcure. In true Direct Current style, the tracks presented here offer a cutting-edge take on house music that gives classic Chicago jack and the melodic futurism of Detroit a fresh new twist. "The Year 3000" opens with a delay-laden vocal snippet from Sterling Void's Chicago classic "It's Alright", before sprinting off on a woozy journey into 21st century Euro-jack. "Leavin' Without You" treads a similar path, but offers more basic, straightforward thrills; a heartfelt vocal sample nimbly dances round a ricocheting rhythm of off-beat 4/4 percussion, densely layered chords and mind-altering FX. Like its impressive A-Side, "Leavin' Without You" is off-kilter late night house music of the highest order. Essential.
Review: Four years on from his last outing under the alias, sometime Sepalcure member Praveen Sharma has finally delivered a new Braille EP. Astonishingly, it marks his first appearance on Hotflush since 2011. Perhaps the most striking thing about EP opener "Stand Still" is how deep, dreamy and picturesque it is, with Sharma peppering a snappy rhythm track with drowsy vocal samples, woozy chords and a wonderfully warm bassline. "Igloo" is, if anything, even sunnier - a tactile sample patchwork that sounds like Sepalcure after an afternoon on the beers at a Croatian festival. Elsewhere, "Needs" is a sweet and piano-heavy chunk of glassy-eyed, leftfield house brilliance, while closing cut "IOU" alternates between skittish breaks, booming sub-bass, twinkling pianos and mangled vocal samples. Like the rest of the EP, it's brilliant.
Review: While it might be tricky in these open-minded times for Scuba to shatter preconceptions the way that he did with his Sub:Stance mix a few years ago, this compilation should be seen really as a celebration of the man himself as a DJ. After launching with a decidedly minimalist approach, the mix meanders between pacey techno, bluesy broken beat and rolling dubstep tempos. At times the flow feels unsteady, but then it just rings true that he put this mix together for himself. Without a dancefloor to look after, who knows where many of our favourite DJs might take us?
Review: Many happy returns to Los Angeles imprint Friends of Friends, which with this expansive compilation notches up a decade of championing "one of a kind artists working to find new ways of connecting the digital and analog worlds". The weighty, 20-track collection naturally offers a great snapshot of the label's distinctive musical headspace, languidly strolling between woozy, semi-acoustic trip-hop beats (Somi & Haris Cole), evocative cinematic soundscapes (Cuddle Formation), drowsy redlined ambience (Deru), jazzy warmth (Sweatson Klank), loose-limbed bluesy dub disco (James Alexander Bright), atmospheric, post-house dancefloor shufflers (Keep Shelly In Athens) and buzzing, percussion-driven mutations of leftfield bass music (Slete Catorce).