Review: By their standards, 2014 has been a relatively quiet year for Belfast boys Bicep, with a remix 12" and the Circles EP on Aus Music their only releases of note. "Lyk Lyk" is, then, a welcome return to action. The title track is particularly sweaty and once again mines vintage rave influences, with fluid synths and cut-up vocals riding a classic late '80s/early '90s breakbeat groove. "Poly Pineapple" is a little deeper, with waves of wide-eyed synths crashing over a thumping house groove. On the flipside, the duo join forces with partner-in-blogging Hammer for a couple of cuts; the woozy, glacial, synth-heavy "Icebowl" and "Day 3", a stomping chunk of retro-futurist techno smothered in 808 State style synths. Balearic techno anyone?
Review: A true pioneer DJ in the Balearic Islands and one of the legendary founders of Ibiza house music culture, Italian Giuseppe Nuzzo aka DJ Pippi remains a world class DJ. As well as being a resident at the island's premier club Pacha, he's also a producer, remixer and label boss of Aluminium Records. His 2016 track "Mr P" gets the remix treatment by Istanbul's Islandman - giving the track a dub-reggae tinged, sun-kissed and lo-slung treatment that's perfect for sipping pina coladas and people watching at Cafe Mambo. The Turkish sound magician in actual fact presents a couple of other remixes from Bager & Co.'s back catalogue: label staple Troels Hammer's "The Singing Clouds" gets the deep tribal rain dance vibe while Jose Manuel's "Babylon" (feat Bababar Dieng) features a splendid and hypnotic Afro vibe that's perfect for drifting.
Review: Earlier this year, Hammer broke loose of his long association with fellow countrymen Bicep with a fine EP of peak-time goodness for the Optimo Disco Plate series. Here the Northern Irishman returns to house pastures via an EP of saucer-eyed loveliness on Loft Records. The dreamy and ultra-positive "Canna" is particularly ear pleasing, featuring as it does a tactile mix of Twin Peaks style chords, hustling acid bass, rave-era whistles and glistening, eight-bit melodies. "Manaka" provides more dreamy positivity - think Adriatic sunsets and Mediterranean sunrises - while "Man Ray" sees him pay tribute to a master of surrealism via poignant electronics, lilting melody lines and some clattering drum machine percussion.
Review: We were somewhat surprised to learn that this is Rory "Hammer" Hamilton's first appearance on chums and sometime studio partners Bicep's consistently on-point label. He's not been shirking mind, having released fine EPs on Optimo Music and Loft Records, amongst others. Happily, C-Space is a fine homecoming, with "C Space" track - a thrillingly intergalactic chunk of saucer-eyed techno that sits somewhere between classic Motor City fare, Orbital and vintage Circulation and early '90s - ranking among Hamilton's best work to date. The deep space vibes then continue via the rubbery electro-meets-intelligent techno flex of "Atlantic 252", while closer "Inside Soul" is a deeper and even more spacey chunk of emotive machine funk.
Review: As the title suggests, this four-track missive boasts fresh remixes of tracks from Bicep associate Hammer's excellent Canna EP. It would be fair to say that there's a lot of talent on show and the results are uniformly excellent. Lauer leads the way with a typically glassy-eyed revision of "Canna" that effortlessly joins the dots between dreamy deep house and 1980s Balearic synth-pop, while the Supreems' version of "Man Ray" is a poignant and attractive deep electro shuffler rich in dreamy chords and meandering synthesizer motifs. "Manaka" gets two tasty transformations: a tactile and rubbery deep house revision from Glaswegian veteran Domenic Cappello that could well be the EP's standout moment, and a slow-burning, gradually building IDM style take from Firecracker Recordings regular Lord of the Isles.
Review: Glasgow-based Irishman Rory Hamilton aka Hammer follows up his previous Feel My Bicep outings with three machine-driven new tracks on the Parabola EP - which extract a rich sense of emotion from an evolving analogue setup. There's the slinky and hypnotic title track, awash in shimmering melodies, emotive pads and tight rhythms for an overall sublime experience, while for something more upbeat and funky he serves up the razor sharp, bass-driven groove of "Panoptic" until "Entropy" closes out this terrific EP in true style. An emotive 'hi-tech soul' journey in the tradition of the original Detroit sound - indeed we were really feeling this one!
Mario Hammer - "Call Of Cthulhu" (Salz remix) - (7:30) 119 BPM
UND - "Fox In The Box" (Salz Dub-o-matic mix) - (6:21) 125 BPM
Review: There's no denying Cologne dub techno duo Salz know how to remix a production, and here they do it for the sixth time as part of their Reworks 12" series which has been running since 2010. This time they invite Mario Hammer's "Call Of Cthulhu" to the table for dissection, which the pair filter and dub into a track that floats between the house of Henrik Schwarz and the techno of Quantec. The second option provides a stripped back dub-o-matic remix to UND's kooky "Fox In The Box" replete with the oddest sounding vocals you'll hear on a deep techno record this side of Snuff Trax.
Review: Given his success with the similarly minded Buddha Bar compilations, it's little surprise that Music For Dreams has asked DJ Ravin to compile their third "best of" collection. The Mauritian selector predictably does a fine job, delivering two exotic, globally focused mixes of material from the downtempo and Balearic label's extensive archives. For DJs, it's the unmixed tracks that most excite, and the chance to own a fine range of cuts variously influenced by dub, slow house, tango, dub disco and, of course, sun-soaked Balearica. Ravin's selection also includes a few chunky floor-fillers, with the cheery dub of The Kenneth Bager Experience's "What's My Name" and Serge Devant's shuffling deep house rub of Hess Is More's "Yes Boss" standing out.
Review: Having first appeared on CD earlier in the year, Graeme Clark's first official album of Revenge reworks comes to digital download. If you missed out first time around, it's well worth a listen - not least because there are some killer re-edits and reconstructions present. Interestingly, Reekin'structions by The Revenge partly shies away from Clark's celebrated tracky and hypnotic house sound. While his deft house touch is still present - see the delightful slow-build version of Velvet Hammer's "Party Down", or the low-slung retro-house remix of "Smurf Trek" by original electro-funkers Chapter 3 - some of the best cuts here are little more than traditional re-edits, with Clark offering killer new arrangements of little-known disco, soul and boogie originals.