Review: There aren't many producers working on the soulful and jazzy end of the dance music spectrum with quite as a strong a discography as Alexander Lay-Far. Whatever label he's operating on, the Russian producer always delivers the goods. He's done it again here on his first Razor 'N' Tape Reserve outing. Over the course of four must-check tracks, he confidently bounces between jazz-funk-flavoured broken beat/deep house fusion ('Searching For Your Love', with its' ace slap-bass and starry keys); deep and jazzy breaks (the head-nodding, toe-tapping 'Trinity'), warehouse-ready late night hedonism ('What It Is', with its Yorkshire bleeps, raw analogue bass, bouncy beats and soulful vocal samples) and bluesy, sample-heavy jazz-house ('You Can't Stop The Profit'). In a word: ace!
Review: Alexander Lay-Far is undoubtedly one of the most talented house producers of his generation: an artist whose love of expansive instrumentation is matched by a keen sense of what works on the dancefloor. His first outing on Marcel Vogel's Lumberjacks in Hell imprint is typically impressive, though the artist's liberal use of hip-house style breakbeats is a surprise. This being Lay-Far, they come laden with intricate musical details on both 'Good Thing' (think saucer-eyed female vocal snippets, deep sub-bass and poignant piano motifs) and 'Up We Go' (dusty jazz piano, funky jazz-funk bass and colourful chords). Elsewhere, 'Heavy' is a rave-ready fusion of broken beat and breaks rich in old school stabs, while closing cut 'My Reflection' adds US garage swing and UKG bass to jaunty jazz-house musicality.
Review: The latest volume in Local Talk's occasional reworks series comes from label regular Crackazat, who duly serves up a fine collection of mostly fresh remixes of back catalogue tracks. There's naturally much to admire throughout, from the rubbery electrofunk bass, drowsy piano riffs and cut-up vocal samples of the producer's revision of Art of Tones classic "The Rainbow Song" and a sparkling, riff-driven peak-time tweak of HNNY's loved-up "Tears", to wonderfully retro-futurist reworks of Deymare's "1990" and "Unconditional" by Terrence Parker, a re-imagining that's the epitome of feelgood deep house. Throw in a string of slightly jazzier revisions and you have a rock solid collection of cuts.
Review: The Leng label has managed to put together a handsome trio of producers with this latest EP, managing to find some painfully common grounds between Phil Gerus (Futureboogie / Sonar Kollektiv), Lay-Far (Local Talk), and newcomer Solitary High School. Together, this quirky selection of house-not-house producers have dropped four magnificent summer anthems, glazed in a noticeably neo-romantic coating, tapping into both the disco and coldwave bubbles. Pleasingly eerie synths are blended with steady drum-machine rhythms that permeate an undeniably boogie element from their low-ends, especially on the masterful "Love Life", an excellent example of modern sampling.
Review: Unlike most other prolific producers, Alexander Lay-Far's frequent releases are rarely less than utterly inspired. Predictably, "Be The Change", which features the honeyed vocals of long-serving British scene stalwart Pete Simpson, is another gem. In its original form, the track is wonderfully loose, groovy and sunny, with Simspon's superb, heartfelt vocals working wonderfully well with Lay-Far's shuffling, slightly broken deep house beats, funky bass guitar line and sparkling electronics. Remix-wise, Lay-Far and Dohm's acoustic re-make is a future Balearic classic and Kid Sublime's interpretation is a slick, deep and soulful shuffler infused with killer synth-bass. As if that's not enough, bonus cut "Sweet Mess" is an impeccably sunny and jazzy number that's as enjoyable and life affirming as an afternoon dip in the Adriatic Sea.
Review: It would be fair to say that Stee Downes, a vocalist, beat-maker and producer whose soul-flecked productions have appeared on such labels as Sonar Kollektiv and Lazy Days Recordings, is a perfect foil for talented Russian house head Alexander Lay-Far. In its original form, "Never Good Enough For You" is a jaunty, rolling treat - a hip-hop influenced soulful house throw-down propelled forwards by a deliciously loose, broken house groove. It's accompanied by a tidy instrumental and the bass-heavy house "Remix", which features "straighter" deep house beats and a wicked analogue bassline. The bustling hip-house influences can also be heard on Lay-Far solo cut "Blow My Mind", a throwback to the Halcyon days of rolling West London broken beat that makes use of some killer P-funk synths.
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: Mad Mats and Tooli's Local Talk imprint is back after a great release last time by Irish legends Fish Go Deep. This time around its the turn of Moscow's Alexander Lay-Far who after releasing two volumes of How I Communicate already this year, now releases the remixes of his dusty hip-hop influenced deep house. On the A side "Lock & Rock" gets a re-rub by the one and only Mr Scruff, whose dusty and low slung dope beat turns the track into a perfect Sunday afternoon accompaniment to a misspent youth in Berlin this summer. The vibes continue with Sound Signature associate Ge-Ology remixing "Like The First Time" doing his urban/high tech soul crossover so well once again: this one's pretty special we must say.
Review: After a recent appearance on Local Talk alongside London's legendary Ashley Beadle, Russian house casual Lay-Far steps back up on the label with a whole album worth of electronic delight, go way beyond the usual deep house equation. We're dropped into an airy, magical world of floating harmonics thanks to the "Intro", a feeling that is somehow transported effortlessly into the romantic house licks of "Like The First Time" and "Lock & Rock". There's also plenty of up-tempo goodness in the form of cuts such as "Slope", "Side 2 Side", or even the Detroitian-sounding "Submerging". This is much more than a deep house album, and its moments of tranquillity amid the beats are what truly make it stand out.
Review: The unstoppable Lazy Days imprint shoots to kill with this latest nugget from two of its regular sharp-shooters, Art Of Tones and Lay Far. The former, Ludowic Llorca has made appearances on everything from Local Talk to Belgium's We Play House label so it's safe to say that he knows a thing or two about house music! "Koniokola" is a chord-heavy pipebomb with beautiful swirls of delay and balearic charm, a truly effective piece for DJ action. Lay Far, who has also appeared on Local Talk and other quality outlets such as 4 Lux, delivers the perfectly dusty and cowbell-heavy "Coming Back". True house beauties with a magic touch.
Review: Should the dark days and cold nights of winter be dragging you down, you should listen to this 10-track collection from Fred Everything and Mike Fresco's Lazy Days Recordings. It was, apparently, designed to "keep you warm on cold winter nights". Certainly, there's something rather toasty about Fred Everything's deliciously fluid and quietly soulful "Street Luv", while you'll struggle to find a smoother, sexier deep house track than San Francisco man Lace DeSardi's "Expressions" (though Lay-Far's string-laden, disco-influenced "New Day, New Light" pushes it close). Wisely, they've also included a few chunkier, tougher and stripped-back cuts (see the Satoshi Tomiie and Matthias Voigt hook-up, for starters), but the album's real standout - Shur I Kan's "Blue Giraffe" - is also its most musically expansive moment. Seriously, it's one of his best tracks to date, and a real "feelgood" treat.
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: Russia's new wonder kid Lay-Far comes through on the wonderful Lazy Days with another blissful episode of grooving deep house for the label. Spanning all corners of the genre, from disco-influenced sampling to more Balearic corners, "New Day, New Light" and "Thru" are perfect summer soundtracks for those never-ending beach parties, while "If Only The Time" covers more hazy, seductive moods thanks to its slo-mo tempo and lo-fi vibe. Class.
Review: Dusty's Jazz & Milk imprint has developed a killer reputation for providing us with some of the best hepcat-jazz-with-a-contemporary-twist thrills in recent years. Here he decides to tie up the story so far in a neat compilation featuring some fine work by his every trusty roster. Highlights include Dusty's laid back brassy mix of "Afro Hop", Sam Irl's deep and sensual house cut "Time", the stoned g-funk of "Hey Girl/Boy" and the furious drum-fuelled joint "A Good Old Holiday Groove".
Review: Croatian singer Yannah recently marked a shift away from her jazz roots with her debut long player which was co-produced by labelmate and 2 step/broken beat hero, Zed Bias. This single features epic album closer "Western Horizons" as well two non-album collaborations with Lay-Far: the deep and sumptuous house of "Brave" and the strings n piano n trumpet party anthem "Empty Heart". Seems that leaving the jazz world wasn't such a bad decision...
Review: If you're going to launch a record label, it's vital to hit the ground running. This is what the Russian duo behind the Beats Delivery label have done with this first EP. Designed to showcase the emerging deep house scene in St Petersburg, it casually flits between shuffling goodness and eyes-shut groovery. The St Petersburg Disco Spin Club's sub-heavy "Like A Movie Star" takes top billing - not least for its curious combination of bass and cut-up sample magic - but there's little in the way of filler. Krill Tipo's dense, off-kilter "Let Me In" is also excellent, while Ponty Mython's chiming "First Date" should be essential listening, too.
Review: You'd expect a collection of tracks from the likes of Rick Wade and Anton Zap on esteemed deep house imprint Shanti to be pretty nifty, and - predictably - it is. With five soft focus excursions to choose from, there's plenty to get excited about - not least Wade's contribution. "Sexy Rostov" is as smooth and silky as we've come to expect, with enough bottom end groove to please all but the most bass-obsessed rave urchins. Zap's "We Are Satisfied" is equally simmering, but the real revelation is "Marwencol" by the St Petersburg Disco Spin Club - an unfeasibly beautiful slice of slow house brilliance that boasts some particularly intricate piano arrangements.