Review: By his usually prolific standards, Ben Worrall AKA Crackazat has been rather quiet of late, with 2020 producing just one release of note - a rather good EP on Freerange. Here he strides into 2021 with another label debut, this time for Detroit Swindle's Heist Recordings. The headline attraction is undoubtedly 'Alfa', a chunky-but-breezy slab of jazzy piano house perfection that's later given a more classic-sounding deep house tweak from Detroit scene stalwart Rick Wade. Elsewhere, 'Class One' is a rushing, life-affirming dancefloor treat tailor-made for sun-soaked outdoor dancing, and 'Tiger's Eyes' sees Worrall add mind-altering TB-303 motifs, sustained organ chords, swirling synth-strings and rushing riffs to another energetic, peak-time ready house beat.
Review: The release of Dave Lee's annual Essentials collection on Z Records - a kind of "best of the year" from his now 30-year-old imprint - is fast becoming as much of a Christmas tradition as family arguments, disappointing presents and undercooked turkey. Predictably the 2020 edition is once again up to scratch, with the much-loved Essex producer showcasing some seriously good disco, deep house, soulful house and revivalist dancefloor jazz-funk. Our picks of a very strong bunch include the rushing, sunshine soulfulness of Crackazat's 'Waterfalls', the Vision's 2020 re-rub of Jakatta and Seal classic 'My Vision', Michael Gray's extra-percussive disco-house take on Hi Voltage's 'Let's Get Horny', the celebratory brilliance of Art of Tones and Anduze's 'Flower Child', and the Shur-I-Kan's previously unreleased instrumental rework of Mistura's 'Smikle For Me'.
Review: Back in 2016, Crackazat launched the Period Works series as a vehicle for productions that explicitly paid tribute to his influences and inspirations, and in particular his love of glossy, musically rich 1990s US house and garage. Four years on, he's decided to gather together the tracks released so far in one place, adding a trio of previously unheard creations and a couple of bonus remixes to create Period Works - The Album. Highlights are plentiful, from the authentic 1970s disco rush of superb opener 'Waterfalls' and the classic Masters at Work shuffle of 'Fire Drift', to the 'Brazilian Rhyme'-goes-piano house rush of 'Fly Away' and the big room US garage bounce of 'I'll Be There'. The included squelchy, synth-laden rework of Sean McCabe's 'Holding On' is also superb.
Review: Given his track record, it's something of a surprise to find that this is Crackazat's first outing on Freerange. It's less of a surprise to discover that it's a superb EP. Lead cut "Valentine" is little less than sublime: a warm and floor-friendly mixture of bumping US garage influenced drums, jaunty jazz-funk bass, spacey synthesizer flourishes and jazzy piano motifs that veer from poignant and heart-aching to celebratory and rush-inducing in the space of five minutes. "Back Of My Heart" is a bleeping skip through bass-heavy deep house while "I Heard You" is a bluesy and jazzy house number straight out of the top drawer. If that's not enough to get you drooling, Patrice Scott's remix of "Back Of My Heart" is a warm, loose and languid intergalactic treat.
Review: Crackazat returns to Dave Lee's Z Records with a second volume of this unique EP series, which sees the Swedish-based Bristolian producer (real name Ben J Worrall) plundering the label archives for accapellas and creating new tracks around them. Fly Away features the vox from the Sunburst Band's 2004 cut, and is arguably more of a cover version than a new creation. I'll Be There opens with light percussion and a hefty but understated walking bass line, before bursting into life with chorus'd vox and gloriously 90's sounding chords, while Some Day comes on like a lost gem from the early days of Nice N' Ripe.
Review: "Holding You Close" was one of the undoubted highlights of Crackazat's sublime sophomore album, Rainbow Fantazia, which dropped to much critical acclaim last autumn. Here the track gets a deserved single release, with the fantastic original version - a deliciously tactile, eyes-closed vocal number underpinned by elastic acid bass and fluttering synthesizer motifs- being joined by a fresh rub from Detroit heavyweight Waajeed. The former Platinum Pied Pipers and Slum Village man naturally teases out the tracks more soulful elements, adding new female backing vocals to a sumptupus, partly electronic, partly organic deep house groove. It's a superb rework and arguably far more club-friendly than Crackazat's original version.
Review: Mad Mats and Tooli's Local Talk return with the second single from Crackazat's new album entitled Rainbow Fantasia. Ben Jacobs is a musician based in Sweden who grew up in Bristol, moved to London in 2007 (to study jazz at university) and has since then teached, played and composed electronic music. Here "Sundial" gets the remix treatment by Groove Assassin aka Nick Moss of Things May Change and Delve Deeper Records fame. He performs a respectful rendition of Jacob's deep and soulful track, but injects a little more looseness and flow in to counteract the very loopy original - sounding like classic Masters At Work in the process. Nice one!
Review: After recent outings on Local Talk and Z Records, Ben 'Crackazat' Worrall begins 2017 with an outing on new imprint Eureka!. "Coffee Time" is typical of his jazzy, undulating, mixed-up house sound, with darting, layered vocal samples and snaking sax lines riding a killer jazz-funk bassline and dexterous rhythm track. "Seven Steps" takes a more traditional approach to jazz-house, with Worrall working a killer groove created by fusing cut-up jazz loops and bouncy new drums. It's like a more forthright 21st century version of Boulevard-era St Germain, but with a little more UK garage influence in the bottom end.
Review: While Ben Worrall's debut album as Crackazat, 2015's slightly overlooked Crescendo, was quietly impressive, this sophomore set is simply superb. Naturally musically rich - Worrall is a brilliant producer, but has always been a very talented musician, too - the set sees him lay down ten tracks that gleefully join the dots between slick jazz-funk instrumentation, sensual and soulful vocals, brilliantly played solos and grooves that put the dancefloor first and foremost. While there are a few downtempo explorations dotted throughout (the dreamy synth chords and meandering synth-sax of "Midnight In Sector Six" standing out), it's naturally the quality and quantity of his U.S garage, soulful house and deep house cuts that impresses most.
Review: Given that this is Ben Worrall's fourth Crackazat 12" for Local Talk in less than three years, it would be fair to say the project now has a regular home. As with many of his recent tracks, "Proton Blue" looks to classic US garage for inspiration, peppering a bouncy groove with rich organ stabs and jazzy synthesizer melodies. It's accompanied by the alternative "Deep Orbit" version, a more hypnotic and slightly more spacey interpretation that gives greater prominence to the producer's jazzy synthesizer riffs. "Called My Name", meanwhile, is a soulful, jazzy and fluid affair blessed with a hazy vocal and some luscious jazz guitar. The cut's loose and languid jazz-funk influences are explored further on the arguably superior "Meet the Band" remix.
Review: Ben Jacobs aka Crackazat (we love that name!) returns to the unstoppable Local Talk imprint with his debut LP, a spiffing thirteen tunes of chimerical oddball house in a distinctive garage flavour for party goers and heads alike. Heavy chords, mild pads and plenty of digital processing feature throughout this beauty, where tracks like "Let Love" and "Eye Light" - NY house kinda joints - blend ever so well with more broken and stranger counterparts like "Oh Pagode" or "Ambience", the latter of which is a blissfull excursion into dense and meditative soundscapes. Gorgeous!
Review: Ben Jacobs ends 2014 the way he started it, with a dose of thrillingly sweet and melodious house on Mad Mats and Tooli's Local Talk imprint. "Somewhere Else" is a typically positive affair, with waves of ear-pleasing music box melodies, cheery chords and hazy vocal samples riding a swinging US garage groove. It's the kind of record you stick on to chase the blues away; it's almost impossible not to smile at its jaunty positivity. Ad Bourke tries a different tack on his rework, opting for a deeper, more melancholic sound and some hushed, DJ Sprinkles style beats. Even better is Hade 94's version, which adds a little analogue style grit and a booming, warehouse-friendly deep house feel.
Review: After sneaking out singles for the likes of Futureboogie and Astro:Dynamics over the past couple of years, it's time for Crackazat to step up to Local Talk with his limber and expressive brand of synth-rich deep house. "Candle Coast" features a simmering garage swing in its rhythm and keys that could sit neatly in a Strictly Rhythm classic, but it's a track piled high with tension despite the easy-bumping surroundings. "Dancrodile" takes a more leftfield direction into tropical flavours with its bright and breezy keys and shuffling ethnic percussion, and then "Silent Sing" goes ranging out towards a proto-techno jazz fest that would make the Motor City originals well up.
Review: Following a killer EP of more downtempo leaning grooves on Astro:Dynamics earlier this year, Bristol's Crackazat returns on Futureboogie with some material aimed squarely at the floor. "Book On The Beach" combines caffeinated congas with a laid back Chi town groove, while "Panic Aggressive" is a more low slung affair combining a sleazy guitar lick with lo-fi keys. However, the real star is the nine minute epic that is "Tunnel". Raw and chunky with an impeccable sense of rhythm, and combining deep atmospherics with madly tweaking synths, this is possibly the most original house track we've heard this year. Highly recommended.
Review: The Quartet Series label is born out of the collaboration between like-minded house enthusiasts, four producers who share a similar vision of club music and who have each earned their stripes on different labels. First up, we have Local Talk's Crackazat with "Lindop Circles", a gloriously laid-back house chiller with a funky twist, Quintessentials contributor Saine goes for the proper 'chug' approach on his wavy "Prime Chops" tune, "Totally Not Mystique" by Apparel Music's Nachtbraker is a woozy, bass-heavy stomper, and Gnork heads straight to the warehouse with his minimal, Chicago-filtered "Chord Tool". Ah, yes.
Review: With the 2016 Ibiza summer season in full swing, Dave 'Joey Negro' Lee has gathered together a bumper collection of label tracks that are currently doing the business on the White Isle. There are few surprises amongst the 28 selections - think swinging piano-house, soulful grooves, sun-kissed broken beat, contemporary disco reworks and synth-heavy boogie-house - but the quality threshold remains remarkably high throughout. Highlights include Lee's glistening 2016 re-rub of his vintage Doug Willis anthem "Spread Love", a deliciously loose and synth-laden Fouk rework of The Sunburst Band, the bad-ass boogie business of Spirit Catcher's "Rendez-Vous", and a killer 1995 rework of Fonda Rae's "Over Like A Fat Rat" from U.S house legend Victor Simonelli.
Review: Over the years, Local Talk bosses Mad Mats and Tooli have proved to be shrewd operators when it comes to commissioning remixes. As a result, the label's vaults are full of killer re-rubs, as this fourth collection of reworked highlights proves. Beginning with an inspired Ron Trent jazz-dance revision of Kyoto Jazz Sextet's 'Rising', the set smoothly moves between life-affirming, musically rich Latin house (Anthony Nicholson reworking DASCO), jazz-funk flavoured 4/4 smoothness (Kaidi Tatham tweaking Coflo), soul-fired organic house jazziness (Waajeed remixing Crackazat), analogue-rich late might hypnotism (a show-stopping Jamie 3:26 re-wire of Soulphiction) and sunset-ready tropical house (TRinidadiandeep's inspired re-frame of DASCO's 'African Power').
Review: Remarkably, three decades have now passed since Dave Lee AKA Joey Nergo inaugurated his label, Z Records. To mark the occasion, Lee has compiled this suitably epic, 44-track retrospective. There are plenty of big tunes and underground anthems present- see Jakatta's "American Dream", Raven Maize's "The Real Life", The Sunburst Band's "Everyday" and Doug Willis's "Spread Love" - as well as some of the veteran DJ/producer's favourite catalogue cuts and some slept-on gems. Throw in a string of memorable remixes - think Ame's remix of Akabu's "Phuture Bound", Grant Nelson's vintage rub of Z Factor's "Gotta Keep Pushin" and Joey Negro's revision of Patrice Rushen disco classic "Haven't You Heard" - and you've got a brilliant retrospective of one of house and disco's most consistent labels. Don't sleep!
Review: This excellent collection from Z Records draws together some of boss man Joey Negro's favourite label cuts of 2019, many of which he of course had a hand in either producing or remixing. There are naturally tons of superb multi-track remixes of disco gems old and new (see the versions of the O'Jays, Delia Renee, Tamiko Jones and Double Exposure), as well as fresh revisions of vintage Joey Negro house productions under other aliases (Doug Willis, Z Factor, Foreal People) and a swathe of killer cuts that join the dots between disco and house (Sunkids and Chance, Four80 East and CeCe Peniston, Bobby D'Ambrosia and Michelle Weeks). Throw in tracks and remixes from the likes of Fouk, Crackazat and Lay-Far and you have a superb collection of peak-time-ready workouts.
Review: The Z Records crew is off to the White Isle of Ibiza and they want us to dance along at home - hence this fittingly summery selection of celebratory disco and house gems. There are naturally plenty of recent label highlights (see the cuts from Crackazat and JKriv & Adeline) and a swathe of fine tracks and revisions from boss man Joey Negro. Amongst the many highlights you'll find the celebratory disco brilliance of Bob Sinclar, Dimitri From Paris and Byron Stingily's "Love Is The Answer", the boogie/house/soul fusion of Opolopo's colourful revision of "Searching" by Roberto De Carlo and Dyanna Fearon, the soulful house sweetness of Cookie's "Best Part of Me (Unreleased Original Mix)", and Faze Action's epic, solo-laden, jazz-funk style re-make of Raven Maize classic "Forever Together".
Review: Mad Mats' Swedish label release their seventh annual label compilation, and suffice to say that whatever particular sub-shade of deep house floats your boat, you're unlikely to come away unsatisfied here. Like it soulful? Then check for Trevor Lawrence Jr's 'Tiptoe'. Like it jazzy? Try Prequel's 'Lefty'. Fiending for those old skool Jersey organ jams? Jamie 326 & Masalo's 'Red Light' will thrill you. Or if it's stripped-back 3am tracky shizzle you're after, allow us to point you in the direction of First Floor's 'You Dubn't Know', with its throbbing bass and hauntingly familiar vocal sample. Now you're talking!
Review: As the title suggests, Local Talk's latest compilation showcases some of the best remixes and alternate versions nestling in the Swedish label's bulging archives. A quick glance at the track listing confirms the presence of some serious studio talent, with Atjazz, Kai Alice and Kaytronik amongst those supplying superb re-rubs in their own distinct styles. Highlights include, but are not limited to, Alexader Lay-Far's bustling and fuzzy rework of his own collaboration with Ashley Beedle and Darren Morris ("Slope"), Glenn Underground's wonderfully positive and musically expansive deep house rub of Kiko Navarro's "Nea Kemeni" and Basic Soul Unit's thrillingly stab-heavy "Basement remix" of Kyodai's "Moving" - a prime slice of early morning sleaze that's been a little overlooked since it appeared a few years back.
Review: For those who lack the time and willpower to keep track of Local Talk's frenetic release schedule, the popular deep house label's Talking House series is something of a lifesaver. Like its' predecessors, this fourth installment was compiled by label bosses Mad Mats and Tooli, and gathers together 13 more highlights from their rapidly-expanding catalogue. Naturally, highlights come thick and fast, from the hip-hop meets classic deep house flex of Zoe Zoe's "Bust Them Wifes" and the classic Balearic house revivalism of Luke Solomon's "Lost Channels (Live Piano Version)", to the hustling percussion hits and constantly-rising electronics of Kyodai's "Konbanwa" and the delicious jazz-house bounce of Moodymanc's "Morning".
Review: In a bid to celebrate 16 years in business, Mallorca-based Garito Cade Bar has joined forces with the like-minded souls from Sweden's Local Talk imprint. The result is a collection compiled and mixed by resident DJ Nacho Velasco, featuring both well-known and previously unheard gems from Mad Mats and Tooli's well-loved label. While many people will have some of the better known material here - think Fred Everything's excellent "Brothers & Sisters (PM Atlantic)", HNNY's "Fr The Very Forst Time" and Kyodai's "Something Special" - it's the previously unheard selections that make it Music Joined Us worth investigating. Of these new cuts, it's Tommy Rawson's lusciously loose "7 Days" and Jesse Futerman's smouldering "Life Is A Gamble" - smoky soul re-made as Latin-tinged deep house - that stand out.