Review: Here's something to set the pulse racing: a fresh set of remixes of tracks from Iron Curtis and Johannes Albert's recent collaborative album, the synth-heavy, far-sighted goodness that was Moon I. The headline attraction is undoubtedly Versatile Records veteran I:Cube's stellar rework of 'Hunting', which the Parisian successfully re-imagines as a gloriously tuneful, immersive and mood-enhancing fusion of analogue deep house and deep, intergalactic synth-pop. He's also delivered a deliciously delay-laden, drum heavy\Bonus Beat' dub mix for those who love to play around with percussion. The EP's other revision comes courtesy of Permanent Vacation co-founder Benjamin Frohlich. His excellent take on 'Nektar' wraps reverb-heavy female vocals and nagging acid lines around a rubbery synth bassline and boogie-era proto-house drums.
Review: Dresden label Uncanny Valley's big name supporters include the likes of Jimpster, Steve Bug, Scuba and Ripperton, which gives you an idea of the kind of leftfield-leaning deep house and techno to expect from this 10th birthday compilation. Big names may be in short supply but quality certainly isn't, with the album's 18 full-length tracks ranging from RJ's floaty, dreamy opener 'Nie' to the acid throb of Iron Curtis's 'Ensuite', and from the jazzy bruk beat-isms of Lake People's 'Roaming The Streets' to the psychedelic small hours deepness of Charlotte Bendiks' 'Pasco', with a DJ mix from Conrad Kaden tying the whole collection together nicely.
Review: To celebrate notching up 50 releases, Uncanny Valley offered up a septet of colour-coded EPs featuring never-heard-before cuts from its growing roster of artists. With that campaign finished, they've now collected together all of those tracks on one suitably epic compilation, All Colors Are Beautiful. It's a pleasingly positive, life-affirming and kaleidoscopic collection all told, with the likes of Lauer, Jules Etienne, Johannes Albert, Cuthead and Basic Soul Unit taking it in turns to deliver cheery, synth-heavy cuts that variously join the dots between deep house, nu-disco, synth-pop, proto-house, jacking acid, crunchy electro, Motor City techno, ghetto-tech and glassy-eyed late-night sleaze. The results are uniformly excellent, making this one of the most essential compilations of 2020.
Review: As the title suggests, this surprise compilation of exclusive material from Gerd Janson's Running Back label was put together in response to the killing of George Floyd, and in order to raise funds for the National Association for the NAACP's Legal Defence Fund. Given his connections, it's perhaps unsurprising that Janson has managed to tease out terrific tracks from the likes of KiNK (the sparkling, synth-laden goodness of 'Machine Funk'), Genius of Time (a fine dub of the dusty, ultra-deep late night hypnotism of 'Network Labyrinth'), Roman Flugel (the snappy analogue heaviness of 'Feel The Heat (String Mix)' and Tiger & Woods (rainbow-coloured deep Italo-disco jam 'Lonely Toad').
Review: As you'd expect, there's plenty of treats to be found on the fifth colour-coded EP in Uncanny Valley's 50th release series. Iron Curtis steps up first with an enveloping and hypnotic chunk of deep house headiness ("Against My Window (Dazed Mix)", which boasts a particularly strong bassline), before Perm peppers a hybrid ghetto-house/electro beat with starry synth chords and pin-sharp TB-303 style acid lines on "VLIW". CVBox tiptoes the fine line between spaced-out deep house, acid and electro on the formidably fuzzy "Cat Cut Claps", while Dispo 5000 crafts a sturdy electro cut out of stabbing acid bass, ethereal new age chords and crunchy machine drums ("Klinkenberg").
Review: Uncanny Valley ends the year with a 13-track retrospective that sums up why it is such an idiosyncratic label. 13 Tracks moves in style from the bizarre acid beats of "Macho Man" by Mr Incognito and Amrint Keen's vaguely epic electro track "Believe" into more dance floor friendly tracks. These include the moody, atmospheric techno of Qnete's "Alone Together" and Chino's acid-heavy "Kolaps". In between these ends of the spectrum there are once-heard, never forgotten moments such as the vocal electro of Credit 00's amazing "Hammer Jack Voices Wall" and Serial Error's tribal house meets new beat track "Drum Abuse (Vocal)" - which both underline again what an idiosyncratic label that Uncanny Valley is.
Review: Three cheers for Stefan Riesen's Morris Audio imprint, which has now notched up a century of releases after two decades in the game. By way of celebration, Riesen has decided to release a clutch of EPs containing a wealth of previously unheard gems. Part one begins with the Motor City influenced deep house jack of Iron Curtis's "Ultraviolett [100 Mix]", where shimmering chords slowly rise above sturdy beats and a wonderfully raw analogue bassline. Anna Wall and Corbi join forces for the sinewy deep house sensuality of "Tower of Babble" - all dreamy chords, lilting melodies and fuzzy analogue bass - before Repika serves up the hypnotic deep space chords and bustling bottom end grooves of "Don't Break". Arguably best of all, though, is the all-action contemporary Chicago house funkiness of Elvis Cassetta's "Lethargy Zero".
Review: Predictably, Suol has gathered together tracks from an impressive list of deep house producers for this expansive first volume in the Hallo Montag 2018 series. German veteran Ian Pooley sets the tone with the jacking, acid-tinged deep house bounce of "Time", before M Ono shows off his synthesizer soloing skills via the glassy-eyed Balearic house brilliance of "Waffelhaus". Iron Curtis's contribution, "The Further You Look", sounds simultaneously low-slung and gently dreamy (it's a fine combination), while Black Loops doff a cap to the greats of disco-house via the funk-fuelled, sample-heavy stomp of "Is This A Banger?" If you're in the mood for something a bit more bumping, the boompty-inspired stomp that is Carlo's "Lluvia" should be right up your alley.
Review: Confirmed label-hopper Iron Curtis last popped up on Uncanny Valley in 2015, contributing a fine cut to the Dresden imprint's fifth anniversary compilation. Here he finally unleashes his first EP for the imprint, serving up a predictably impressive four-track missive. He begins with the Larry Heard style deep, jacking grooves and ethereal synthesizer melodies of "Sweet Romancer", before upping the intensity of the beats on the drowsy pump of "Nixdorf Danse". Those looking for life-affirming release should check the rush-inducing dancefloor bliss of "Triroom", while closer "Take Me Home" is an altogether woozier, dreamier and more Balearic affair, with jangling guitars and cut-up vocal samples sashaying from the speakers.
Review: For his label's tenth edition, Switzerland's Baaz serves up a fine release by German deep house purveyor Iron Curtis on the Maple EP. Starting off with the raw, minimal and cyclical techno jack of the title track (wicked!), it's a bit of a change of pace from the label's usual preference for ultra deep or dubby aesthetics: but equally subterranean and hypnotic all the same. Speaking of which, "Collision" indeed gets with the program on this absolutely lush downtime journey, while on the flip we've got two short but sweet offerings: "Entago Entery" and the blissful "Reset Me" providing the mandatory ambient track that has been known to close out the label's recent offerings. More quality from undoubtedly one of the top labels in deep house of the moment.
Review: Johannes Albert's Berlin based imprint Frank Music is on a roll right now. Its new compilation celebrates five years in business and what a way to celebrate, drafting NYC deep house legend Fred P with the sublime "Energy Cloud" (which is one of his best tracks of late in our opinion), Berliner Iron Curtis with the ultra-smooth deepness of "Operater 123" (live mix) and the epic dancefloor drama of "Got The Juice" showcasing Freer and Reilling's typical studio magic as always. The most upbeat offering is by Jena's Tim Toh (who has previously released on Philpot and Ornaments) with "Hidden Beauty" a late noughties style journey in the vein of classic Innervisions, Buzzin Fly or Freerange.
Review: When it came to celebrating their first five years, Uncanny Valley decided to do things differently. So, alongside a retrospective (Five Years On Parole - What Happened), they've delivered an EP of previously unheard material from the archives (Five Years On Parole - Gems From The Vaults), and this selection of brand new cuts. There's naturally much to enjoy, with Chinaski and Panthera Krause both delivering wonderfully deep and dreamy analogue house workouts. There's something particularly impressive about Derive's krautrock, Kraftwerk and proto-techno inspired contribution - think modular synthesizers and pulsing drum machine rhythms - while Iron Curtis' "En Suite" is a clandestine acid jacker build around ragged 303 lines, metronomic percussion and trippy synthesizer motifs.
Chubby Dubz - "The Way It Used To Be" - (5:17) 122 BPM
Loz Goddard - "Your Last Lover" - (7:28) 122 BPM
Review: Detroit label Kolour Recordings pack in some heavy weight artists with this three-track release and first up is Iron Curtis who takes a break from his Achterbahn D'Amour collaboration to return to the label first the first time since 2011. He delivers a chord progressive house jam that pitched up could qualify as hiNRG, while Firecracker artist Chubby Dubs goes all out woozy with dreamy Rhodes that give way to a plodding bassline and smoky male vocal. Enter Loz Goddard with "Your Last Lover", a jazz flecked house tip reminiscent of Mic Newman and Francis Inferno's earlier work.
Review: It has been a productive time for Office Recordings with the recent release of Baaz's Red Souvenirs double album being followed up by this high-grade 12" from Iron Curtis. With his Care single for Hudd Traxx only just out, The KMS Years is the second single of 2015 for the prolific German and it finds him on sublime form as ever. Lead track "Magnet" trades in the dulcet deep house tones that Curtis has built his name on, with a sizzling drum set buffeting along just the right balance of pads and more snappy melodic elements. "What Happened Happened" however represents more of a departure into downtempo broken beat territory which sounds like a comfortable place for Curtis to find himself, before Berg issues a "Reduktion" on the track which actually seems to beef it up into a more floor-ready jam.
Review: Boutique beat outlet Black Key Records return with an eighth release, welcoming the SMPL pairing of German deep house don Iron Curtis, and Leaves into the fold for the Hello Ada! EP which comes brandishing a remix from AUS and Secretsundaze talent Youandewan. "Hello Ada!" is a nicely driven jam with louche hi hats racing atop nimble beats and bass which duck and dive as they bobble along deep below the surface. Fleshing out the nicely roughed up framework are synth hooks, more smeared pads and the occasion vocal yelp as well as some cute trumpet motifs that are oh so subtly stitched into the overall arrangement. It's archetypal deep house with a kick and is sure to be one the label's biggest to date. The remix from insular soundsmith, Youandewan, is just as good but for different reasons. His version has more emphasis on the big rubbery kick drum blobs, uses the vocal more frequently, and abstractly, but glows in the same way thanks to the aqueous, shiny and reflective synths that rise up and up through the mix. It's as elastic as it is fantastic and contains possibly his finest breakdown to date.
Review: There's much to admire about Bastian Volker's follow-up to 2012's What About Talk About, which recently dropped for the first time on digital download. Whereas the first volume frequently flipped styles, retaining a smoky, late night vibe throughout, this follow-up largely ploughs a deep hose furrow. That's not a criticism, though; the three deep house cuts here (and particularly the hazy, wide-eyed loveliness of "Those Things") all get just the right balance between crackling atmospherics, melodic warmth and floor-friendly rhythms. "KMS", co-produced with Iron Curtis and reworked by Soulphiction, is particularly beautiful The EP's one non-house moment, the horizontal downtempo jam "Whatabouttalkabout", is also very impressive.
Review: Iron Curtis's "Horses", released last year on his "Small Wide Waist Band" full-length, is a glorious example of why there's still plenty of invention left in house. Managing to be both ludicrously tough and gorgeously intricate, it threw a lot of unusual and eccentric sounds into the mix with impressive effect. If you missed out, you can get it here, alongside a trio of equally impressive remixes. Top prize goes to deep house veteran (and all round legend) Move D, whose stripped-back but intensely beautiful take will make your ears feel like they're wallowing in a Radox-infused bath. Nu-disco types the KDMS provide a wonky, off-kilter rework that sits somewhere between organic deep house and wide-eyed electronic disco.