Review: Having previously plied his wares on Rhythm Section International, Shall Not Fade and Banana Hill, Tom Burford AKA Contours pops up on ANMA with his first EP of 2020. The Manchester producer's varied but interconnected influences - African percussion and malimba melodies, the drowsy warmth of deep house and the jazz-wise shuffle of broken beat - can all be heard on superb EP-opener "Balafon", while sun-kissed downtempo number "Batterie" smothers a soft-touch, timbales-rich groove with loved-up electronic motifs, deep bass and some seriously sensuous Rhodes chords. "Returning" is available in two sparkling forms: Contours' Kaidi/Dego-ish jazz-funk/broken beat fusion original mix, and a K15 mix that smothers a rolling broken house groove in spacey chords and ear-pleasing melodies.
Review: Having spent much of the last year playing around with tropical rhythms and collaborating with African musicians, Tom "Contours" Burford seems to be coming of age as a producer. For proof, check this inspired EP for Shall Not Fade. It's nominally a deep house release, but the set's three original tracks are much more nuanced and imaginative than that. Check, for example, the polyrhythmic instrumental passages and layered tropical percussion that marks out the jazz-funk/house hybrid "Lisbon", or the humid-but-intergalactic sci-fi house of "5th Planet". Standout "North West" - all lilting horns, music box melodies and soft-touch percussion - comes accompanied by a fine remix by Kaidi Tatham, who delivers some Herbie Hancock-influenced broken beat business.
Review: Sample-based, hip-hop influenced house label Ele returns with a second missive. This time round, there's a quartet of artists at the controls, namely Manchester man Contours, GAMM and Local Talk regular Sameed, and the previously unheard Replete. The latter's "Legislate", a loose, languid, jazz-flecked chunk of sunshine deep house warmth featuring the suave vocals of Bini, is arguably the EP's standout moment - though it is pushed all the way by the crunchy drums, meandering electric piano solos and head-in-the-clouds dustiness of Sameed's "Someone Like U". The breezy, synth-heavy Balearic house breeziness of Contours' "Night Shift" and the drowsy, cut-up house thrust of "Rush", created by a producer who wishes to remain nameless, complete a fine package.
Review: Now into its fifth year, KGW's Shall Not Fade imprint has long been a reliable source of dusty deep house and rugged, warehouse-ready workouts. To kick-start 2020, the label has decided to celebrate this facet of their output via an expansive compilation of previously released highlights. There's a peak-time ready feel from start to finish, with our picks of a very impressive bunch including the bustling, riff-heavy techno pump of KETTAMA's "In The Garage", the sunrise-ready, melody-heavy bliss of Harrison BDP's epic "Watching The World Go By", the sleazy, acid-fired growl of Big Miz's "Primordial Soup" and the dusty-but-sparkling, emotive rich broken house brilliance of Contours' "Fifth Planet". In a word: essential.
Review: XOA continues to lay out a formidable interpretation of African-infused dance music for the modern age, following on from lauded appearances on Shake, One House and Soundway. Alongside Contours, he comes to Banana Hill with some next level transcendental head-quaking business that reaches from the roots of Afrobeat right through to contemporary FX dubbing business. "Too Much Talking" is a proper eyes-closed roller for the hazy moment in the dance, and "Express" ramps things up to a strident tempo layered with a barrage of congas and djembes. The hectic pace is offset by swooning melodies, all wistful synth splashes and plucky guitar chops, stirring the soul as much as the feet.