Review: It wouldn't be summer without every house label under the sun releasing an Ibiza-themed compilation. To be fair to Dave Lee's long-running Z Records imprint, they've been delivering White Isle-themed collections every summer for many years. Given that their sound - a blend of funk-fuelled grooves, soulful house, tech-tinged anthems, disco re-edits, boogie revivalism and classic US garage influences - is well suited to sun-drenched alfresco parties, it's little surprise to find that Z Records Presents Ibiza 2015 is rather good. While much of the standout material comes from Lee himself under a variety of guises (check, in particular, the Doug Willis jam "Crystal Lover"), there are also top-notch cuts from Sean McCabe, Opolopo and Fibre Foundation, whose cover of disco/boogie classic "Weekend" is simply superb.
Review: For her latest long player, Tokyo Dawn informs us that this Swedish-Canadian soul singer and 'first lady of modern funk", opens up wider than ever before. We'll assume they mean musically, and if so, they couldn't be more right. In a big leap from her Art Slave album, this newie sees her collaborate with a pan-international selection of artists hailing from a as far afield as Detroit and Senegal. Highlights include the bonkers stop-start romp of "Just Like Magic", the otherwordly synth-jazz of "One" and the glistening, slow (e)motion overload of "All The Funk I Need (Stray mix)".
Review: Six years on from launching the It's A Summer Groove series, Joey Negro returns with a fifth selection of sunshine-friendly tracks from the Z Records vaults. While much of the label's output - soulful, accessible, funky and heavily influenced by disco, funk and boogie - could be described as "summery", there's something particularly bright and breezy about the 21 tracks gathered together here. Highlights are naturally plentiful, from the smooth disco-soul goodness of the Reflex's recent remix of the Sunburst Band's "The Secret Life of Us", and the terrace-friendly piano house of Shur-I-Kan's rework of Zo & Erro & Phonte, to the vibraphone-laden boogie-house goodness of Rainbow Connection and Taka Boom's "Surrender".
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: First released via a trilogy of EPs, Sickla is Peter 'Opolopo' Major's first album in five years. As befitting an artist famed for the soulfulness, aural colour and expansive musicality of his productions, the set's X tracks are piled high with infectious rhythms, organic instrumentation, vibrant synth sounds and electric piano solos so jazzy they could have been the work of Herbie Hancock. Musically, the album is rooted in deep house, jazz-funk, boogie and dancefloor soul, bult also includes nods towards broken beat, Latin house and head-nodding downtempo beats. It's a stunning, sparkling set all told, and easily Major's most accomplished and enjoyable work to date.
Review: There's something of a stylistic shift from Opolopo here, as he tones down his usual broken beat/nu-jazz/Afro leanings and instead serves up four cuts that can best be described as late 70s/early 80s jazz-funk viewed through a deep/disco house filter. There are floors out there where these will make great warm-up material, and others where they'll create memorable peaktime 'moments', but either way there's no doubting the quality of the production. The meandering Rhodes on 'Crab Sticks' make it the standout for this reviewer, but it's a close-run thing because there's not a duff cut in sight!
Review: Given that Peter Major AKA Opolopo has a proven track record of making inspired, hard-to-pigeonhole dance music awash with colour and soul, Local Talk's recent announcement that they're releasing a series of EPs from him is very good news indeed. There's naturally much to get the blood pumping and the juices flowing on this second (of three) EPs, from the carnival-ready Latin percussion, Roy Ayers-esque jazz-funk instrumentation and sparkling synthesizer melodies of opener "Silkworms", to the Rhodes-heavy, organic jazz-house lusciousness of closing cut "The Sluggard". Sandwiched in between you'll find the oddly swung but undeniably brilliant jazz-funk jam "Triplet Limp". In a word: essential!
Review: Four cuts from Opolopo here that plough exactly the kind of deep, soulful, jazzy furrow we've come to expect. 'Loose Limbs' gets the ball rolling and has something of a late 70s/early 80s jazz-funk feel - if you know who Mike Mandel or Wilbert Longmire are, you'll dig this one for sure! Take the same recipe, stir in a little Afro-house flava in the drums department and you'll end up with 'Chocolate Liquorice', while 'Moonwalk' comes on like Dave Lee in his most dreamy, spaced-out moments and 'You Can Make It' takes us closer to straight-up soul territory.
Review: Last year, Z Records regular Opolopo decided to spread his wings, pitching up on Kerri Chandler's Madhouse label with the cheeky, soul-fired classic house brilliance
of "Lowlife". Here he continues label hopping by bringing his good-time take on house to Good For You for the very first time. Predictably, the Stockholm producer hits the mark straight away, underpinning fizzing synthesizer riffs and smart electronic melodies with ballsy sub-bass and skipping, New Jersey-influenced beats on outstanding opener "Big Boy Pants". He opts for a more in-your-face feel on "Ed Witten", where life-affirming synthesizer solos and jammed-out piano riffs rise above a rubbery but relentless, disco-influenced deep house groove.
Review: Opolopo barely puts a foot wrong, so it's little surprise to find that this collection of Bits N Bobs is really rather good. Highlights include the sparkling, jazz funk-goes-deep house swing of "Put Your Cap On", the P-funk bass and squiggly D-Train synths of "Spray Tan" and the swirling, life-affirming disco-house bump of "Stroke My Disco", where cut-glass string loops and crunchy Clavinet lines ride a relentless groove. Elsewhere, he further enhances his disco/house fusion credentials via the intricately produced, musically expansive warmth of "The Lakedown Stomp", before rounding things off via the bubbly Dam Funk synth solos, Chez Damier chords and snare-heavy drums of jammed-out highlight "Eventide".
Review: Released last June, Opolopo's Superconductor LP, is the gift that keeps on giving. We've had a string of album tracks remixed ever since and here is the latest batch. First up Nachtbreaker tackles Feels Good 2 Me, delivering a muscular, celebratory house workout in the process. The euphoria escalates on Rhemi's rework of "Spare Me The Details" - all jazzy synths and sing-along vocals. There's even an instrumental in case the latter proves a bit too much for those who don't like to be distracted from the groove.
Review: Culled from their recent LP, Superconductor, Opolopo's "Candy Coated Perfection" has now been given an extra lease of life through a whole host of new mixes. They're nearly all by Prezzner, mind, but he's a really good remixer so it's all good. His Solar Dub may eschew the original's honeyed vocals but it's a killer slice of spacey leftfield disco. Elsewhere his Swingset mix appears to sample the sound of tennis racquets in a sleek, linear jack-a-thon, and the DeejayKul Meets Soultechnic rework of "The Best' is a delicious slice of deep n' jazzy soulful house.
Review: Given Opolopo's impressive track record over the last decade check his releases on Especial Records, Local Talk, Swedish Brandy and Sick Trumpet for proof. You'd expect this outing on Z Records to be rather tasty and of course it is, with Colonel Red collaboration "The Best" delivering a killer chunk of house-tinged contemporary electrofunk. Full of vintage-sounding synths, classic percussion touches, clipped guitars and wonderful vocals, it's a soulful delight. "Get On Up" is almost as good, offering up a breezy blend of piano house, undulating synth bass and late '80s US garage flourishes. It's the sound of summer - for those enjoy their music warm, positive, synth-heavy and soulful, at least.
Review: Local Talk's packed release schedule means that keeping up with the label's releases can be tough. Happily, founders Mad Mats and Tooli found a solution long ago: the best-of style Talking House compilation series, which here notches up its 11th instalment. Packed to the rafters with high-quality deep, dusty, jazzy and soul-fired house, the collection's highlights are plentiful. Our picks include the hazy gospel-house hustle of Soulphiction's 'Niederbeat Gospel Dub', the jazzy Afro-house warmth of 'One Less (Main Send)' by Urban Sound Lab presents Miss Yankey, the extra-percussive, organic deep house positivity of Vick Lavender's spacey 'Shifting Gears', the bruk-up breeze that is Anthony Nicholson and Mark De Clive-Lowe's 'Another Story', and the sunset-ready, bossa-house breeze of Shaka's'New Relationship'.
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: Local Talk's periodic round-up of classic cuts from the label's bulging back catalogue returns for an eighth time, with imprint founders Mad Mats and Tooli gathering together a predictably fine selection of tracks. Most bases are covered - house-wise, at least - from trumpet-laden Afro-house brilliance (Dasco's "African Power"), and ultra-soulful, Atjazz-esque broken house deepness (Wipe The Needle's super-smooth "Enchanted"), to "French Kiss"-inspired house hypnotism (Soulphiction's "Believe"), 21st century jazz-funk/deep house fusion (Crackazat's fine rework of Art of Tones' "The Rainbow Song") and ultra-deep, Nina Simone-sampling dancefloor bliss (Emvee's "Brotherman"). In a word: essential.
Review: It has been quite a year for the Toolroom institution. Celebrating their 15th birthday last year, they weren't ones to rest on their laurels, instead going full steam ahead with a bunch of genre defining compilations this year. But most importantly they have been instrumental in the comeback of funky house after a 20 year dormancy, with killer releases by the likes of Weiss, Cashio and boss man Mark Knight himself. Add to that one banging party at Chicago Social Club for Amsterdam Dance Event and it's evident that these guys are proper 24 hour party people. With a glorious year sadly coming to an end, celebrate a wonderful one that was on Best Of Toolroom 2019 with highlights not limited to: the rework of the Cevin Fisher classic "Freaks Come Out" by Jack Back, Hannah Wants & Kevin Knapp's deep down and dirty "Call Me" (extended mix), UK heroes Alan Fitzpatrick & Wheats delivering the certified banger "M27" and New York legend Todd Terry teaming up with Tuff London on "Psychodrama" featuring Jasmien Nanhekhan. If that was not enough, ascendant producer Maxinne delivers two mixes compiling all the tracks: one smooth House mix followed by a thumping Tech House mix.
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".