Review: Six years after the release of their first inspirational Late Night Tales mix, fey Scottish post-indie miserablists Belle & Sebastian unveil a second volume. Given the unusual and exciting nature of their first collection, hopes are naturally high for Volume 2. Thankfully, it's every bit as odd, enjoyable and enlightening as the first edition. Psychedelic folk-pop, Indian soul, Balkan beats, Spanish crooners, Chanson ballads, film soundtrack compositions, Gold Panda, The Lovin' Spoonful, dancehall, The Pop Group and Pete Shelley all feature, alongside a range of thrillingly strange records that defy easy categorization. As a collection of music, it's breathtakingly brilliant, while the accompanying DJ mix is wonderful.
Review: Ed DMX's Fresh Up imprint enlist seminal French disco act Black Devil Disco Club and Yellow Peril Disco Group for this double drop of delightful weirdo disco - think a love of vintage synths, curious Italian synth-soundtracks, Radiophonic Workshop noises and tongue-in-cheek disco-campery. A-side "Max Stroke" sounds like the theme tune to some long-lost 1970s sci-fi series - British and low budget, of course - whilst "Bamboo Disco" is an effortlessly cheeky fusion of Tomorrow's World synths, quirky Far East-inspired melodies and vocoder shout-outs. It's very silly, but also rather endearing.
Taylor Caldron - "A Flock Of Devils" - (4:53) 125 BPM
Group Niob - "Tangent" - (4:39) 127 BPM
GDX & Dibek - "Sky Is Falling" - (5:40) 120 BPM
Aura Anthropica - "Drummondii" - (5:41) 163 BPM
M Step - "The Gap" - (6:39) 138 BPM
Ian Dunstaple - "Watermusic" - (6:02) 120 BPM
GDX - "Want You" - (4:48) 140 BPM
Dibek - "I Wait, I Wait, I Wait" (Draft) - (4:59) 155 BPM
Various - "1st Annual Report" (continuous DJ mix by Dibek) - (37:36) 133 BPM
Review: Vienna has always been a hub for alternative music, and two of the Austrian capital's veterans, Hans Platzgumer and Gerhard Potuznik, are behind Phlox. That the label's first compilation has a Throbbing Gristle-style title already suggests that it won't be full of Ibiza-friendly house. The glitchy ambience of Dmitry Mazuro's "Nostromo" confirms this, but it would be wrong to assume it is full of gloom-laden experiments. Both "Aint Gonna Love You" by GDX and Dibek's "Thick Carpet Of Leaves" are beautifully atmospheric, melodic tracks that unravel to disjointed breaks and dubby basslines, while GDx's "Want You" is a gloriously melancholic UK garage workout and Otzim Lee's "La Routine" is a techno groove based on swelling chords. . On this evidence, it sounds like Vienna's still a hub for the weird and very wonderful.
Review: Perc has clearly found a soulmate in Oscar Mulero, and here the duo present another collaboration between their two tough, heads-down techno imprints. Mulero's gnarled-but-futuristic "Blackstar" is arguably the best thing here. It's as hypnotic as you'd expect, but there's a whisper of melody and soul amongst the intensity. The same can be said about Manni Dee's "Serenity", which breaks up the beats a little to add a little more fluidity to an otherwise pulsating, metronomic techno groove. Those looking for more straightforward, no-holds bared after-hours techno should check Formula Strategy Group's "Rundoled", and the ricocheting atmospherics of Exium's "Raw Visions".
Review: Over the course of numerous albums and Eps, Laurel Halo has made a name with her experimental, uncompromising take on electronic music - can she do the same with her DJing? Listening to this, the 68th instalment of DJ-Kicks, the answer is a resounding 'yes'. It moves from the abstract chimes of her own "Public Art" to the bruising rhythms of Stallone the Reducer and Red Axes' low-slung electro into the next-wave Detroit techno of Fit Siegel and the bleary European sound of Dario Zenker, representing here with "Koraimer Bro". However, Halo is also aware that to understand where electronic music is going to, you must first understand its past - and the inclusion of tracks from Jeff Mills' Final Cut band and Blake Baxter's catalogue showcases her deep knowledge and passion.
Review: Paris DJs earned themselves a serious reputation as kings of the compilation with their online mixes notching up 3.7 million (or so they say) downloads. This popularity led to them releasing many official and fully licensed themed comps. However although they've previously explored Afro tropical, psychedelic, jazz and hip-hop themes, they've never touched on funk and soul...until now. They've dug deep here too, providing 15 very different interpretations of these styles including the eerie electro-funk of "Brassa Nova", the chilled out funky hip-hop of "Return Of The Dig-Fu" and the retro analogue shuffle of "Thinkin Back".
Review: The tenth anniversary of Perc Trax has provided its owner Ali 'Perc' Wells with the opportunity to release his first ever commercial mix. Using a lot of his own material as well as some smart selections from the label, including Factory Floor's remix of Forward Strategy Group, Wells acquits himself skillfully. However, it's this collection of unreleased material that really stands out. Veering from Happa and Truss' stomping, distorted techno and the Magnetic North-style kicks of Perc's "Hyperlink" to the frazzled broken beats of Forward Strategy Group and Mick Finesse & Pinion's tracks, it also features the cavernous acid of Drvg Cvltvre's "(I Don't Want To Die In) James Franco's House" and the shock-horror rave stabs of Sawf's "Goves". There's no doubt about it - Perc Trax is celebrating its first decade in typically raucous style.
Review: Out Of The Blue, Phil Mison's first compilation for some time, was apparently inspired by his first few trips to the White Isle of Ibiza, and specifically the unlikely set of circumstances that led to him filling in for Jose Padilla at Cafe Del Mar. Musically, it's reflective of the story, joining the dots between impossible-to-find rarities (see the loved-up instrumental jazz-rock of "Jelly" by The Cactus Rose Project and the life-affirming fusion business of Christoph Spendel Group's "Forever", for starters), huggable Balearic synth-pop, flamenco-inspired sunset gems, and a smattering of head-in-the-clouds Italian dream house killers. Given Mison's heritage and status as one of Balearica's top selectors, it's perhaps unsurprising that Out Of The Blue is undeniably brilliant.
Review: There are few record collectors and DJs with crates quite as deep as Psychemagik. They've already proved this beyond doubt via a trio of brilliant Magik compilations for Paul Murphy and Simon Purnell's Leng label. Magik Sunset Part 2 continues this run, gathering together another double-album's worth of fantastic obscurities from the worlds of stoner disco, left-of-centre rock, psychedelia and Balearica. As usual, there are some genuine "how did I not know about this record" moments, from the star-kissed Balearic jazz of Fabio Fabor and saucer-eyed white boy reggae-rock of the Trepidants, to the Flamenco-tinged AOR disco shuffle of Jack Adkins' "Sunset Beach".
Review: When he started his Renegades of Jazz project back in 2010, David Hanke described it as "an attempt to bring jazz back to the dancefloor". In essence, that means fusing live jazz playing - double bass, horns, keys, percussion - with grooves inspired by soul, funk and breakbeat. It's a successful formula, as this second full-length - an all-star affair featuring collaborations with many notable players and producers - more than adeptly proves. Highlights come thick and fast, from the Middle Eastern-tinged exotica of "Why Oh Why" and spiraling, bruk-tinged Diesler hook-up "Rokko Loko", to the skittering Hammond funk of "Little Hurricane" and early Dynamic Syncopation spy-funk thrust of "Chiffre's Henchmen".
Review: After the success of the first volume of Compost's Jazz Selection, Dutch DJ's Rupert & Mennert have dug back into the archives to compile this excellent follow-up. They've surfaced with some serious gems - Marbert Rocel's "Love Me" in particular is an absolute diamond of a song, with such a lyrical bassline and a soul-enhancing organ and vocals combo that could easily charm the paint off the walls. Elsewhere, more modern bop comes courtesy of Salvador Group's jazz-drum fest "Crosswinds" while Mystefy's "Eye Candy" demonstrates true mastery of a laidback piano style not heard since Ramsey Lewis.