Review: What with Critical celebrating their ten year anniversary this year it's only right and proper that there should be a landmark album, looking back on their success to date. Enter Critical X; featuring a carefully curated selection from Critical's past, present and future (watch out for some cracking unreleased material), this is a must buy for deeper D&B heads. Stand outs from across the 16-track album include Breakage's awesome "Staggered Dub", Spectrasoul's iconic "Organiser", and of course jungle revivalist anthem Bladerunner's "Back To The Jungle". Make sure you check out the remixes from Mefjus and Enei, which add the final cherry on the cake for this superb and frankly rather essential release.
Review: Kicking off with a VIP of one of the killer 90s jungle nostalgia anthems of 2010 - Bladerunner's "Back To The Jungle" - it's a great start to the next Critical compilation. Moving through the tough, percussive sounds of Break, soulful dub tinged efforts of Breakage, the blissed out Calibre in "Rockafella" to the sounds of man-of-the-moment, hotly tipped Enei with his fantastic "Forgive Me" around the halfway point, it's immediately apparent why Kasra's label has garnered such respect from his peers. Lomax - one half of Loadstar - provides a deeper incarnation to his Ram bangers in "Innocent X" and elsewhere, Rockwell's "Underpass" makes a re-emergence as does ubiquitous anthem "Redlines" which closes this utterly superb compilation.
Review: Described as being "vital members of DJ Friction's irrepressible Shogun Audio movement", this acclaimed duo pride themselves on their ability to combine both depth and dancefloor-beats in their productions. For this split-release we have a remixes of their track "Organiser" by Foreign Concept who takes the original and twists it into a slow and sinister beast. The digital B-Side features "One Chance" by their Russian labelmate, Enei, remixed into an even darker, glitchy affair by Emperor.
Review: Well well well... What a way to kick off a new year: Modified Sonics sees the entire Critical troop go to town on each other's work and celebrate the label's 15+ year contribution to the game. No stone unturned, no shoe unthrown; from long-demanded VIPs such as Emperor's sharp update on "Infrasound" and Mefjus's VIP of "Disrupted" come well-deserved re-ups of classics such as Binga's fuzzy take on Serum & Bladerunner's "Who Jah Bless", Benny L's gut-troubling twist of Enei's "Mosquito" and a crucial twist of Rockwell's breakthrough gamechanger "Underpass" from none other than Perez. With loads more dopeness from the likes of QZB, Hyroglifics, Klax and many more, this is one of the best V/A albums Critical have ever put together. Essential.
Review: It's that time of year again when Joey Negro unveils his label's choicest cuts for the latest season on the White Isle. As usual it's a selection of both quality and quantity (22 tracks in all) and highlights include the laser-disco-house of Doug Willis' "Spread Love", the linear stomp of The Sunburst Band's "Journey To The Sun" and Munk's cheeky hi-NRG rework of "Do you Dream In Colour".
Review: Following a host of releases with his Sunburst Band, Z Records boss Joey Negro is back to perhaps what's he's best known for: spinning light and soulful disco house. This second in the series kicks off with the handbaggy "Smile" by Mistura and take in thumping diva business "Every Day Of The Week", sublime techy house "Life Is So Strange", unsullied authentic disco "Power To The People", acid-jazz on "Better Things To Come" and the phaser-heavy, electro-boogie of "Begun To Love".
Chuck Brown & The Soul Searchers - "Back It On Up" - (6:34)
Review: End of year reflections... For some labels it's just a re-hash of familiarity. For others it's a chance to really celebrate the breadth of releases. Negro's Z Records definitely falls in the latter category as we're dazzled with disco and funk sciences through the ages: From cheeky edits of disco classics (Lady Aya's "Shake Your Body") to rare funk jams like Chuck Brown & The Soul Searchers "Back It On Up" (taken from Paul Phillips ace Under The Influence album) via more straight up funky house work-outs Jakatta's "Scattering Stars" and Supernova's superb futurisation of "American Dream".
Review: Throughout his long career, Swedish producer Andreas Saag has flitted between deep house and nu-jazz, crafting a melodic, musically rich and soul-flecked trademark sound. He's a good choice, then, to compile and mix a collection of Z Records' deeper moments. There's much to admire on this unmixed version (Saag's mix is included as a bonus cut), from the flowing keys and fluid grooves of the Swede's own remix of The Sunburst Band v Atjazz's "When The Lights Meet The Sky", to the string-laden beauty of Andre Lodeman's rework of Akabu's "Another World". Highlights come thick and fast, with further notable selections from JD73 (remixed brilliantly by Tornado Wallace), Jupiter Beyond, The Sunburst Band (reworked by Recloose) and, of course, Joey Negro.
Review: Joey Negro's Z Records have a remarkable knack for knocking out vintage compilation after vintage compilation. Here though, they've really discovered a rare niche of unmined gold courtesy of Nuphonic's David Hill who acts as selector. As Hill explains "gospel music has often followed trends in secular music" and this album captures 24 attempts of gospel getting on the disco and boogie trains. Highlights include the hiNRG longing of "I Need You", the electro-soul of "Love Is The Message" and the piano & strings frenzy of "Awake O Zion".
Review: Dave Lee's Z Records imprint has always been a reliable source of the sort of grandstanding house, soulful garage and disco-flecked grooves that require strong vocals. Lee, of course, is a past master at this kind of thing, and his 20-plus year career has seen him forge links with many legendary vocalists. This compilation celebrates those 'divas' - there are notable appearances from Taana Gardner, Gwen Guthrie, Thelma Houston, Michele Weeks and Taka Boom - by showcasing some of their best work for Z. There's some great material peppered throughout, from the classic disco-soul of the Sunburst Band's "In The Thick of It" and "Everyday", to the block party electrofunk of Kola Kube's cover of Carly Simon's "Why".
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.
Review: Joey Negro's Soul Of Disco series has always been a great source of forgotten disco gems for those who like their dance music rich, stringy and soulful. This third two-disc selection from the Z Records boss is no different. For disco diggers, there's plenty to enjoy, be it the rich, horn-drenched instrumental grooves of Board Of Directors' "Hanging Tough", the raw, clavinet groove of Loi's "Body Contact" or the wobbly synth bass and perfect percussion of Phenomenal's "One Two Three". With a smattering of bonus re-edits from Joey Negro himself for those who like their grooves a bit more DJ-friendly, The Soul Of Disco 3 is nigh on essential.
Review: Here's a deliciously simple idea, beautifully executed. As the title suggests, the EP features Joey Negro, Sean P and pals re-editing cuts from the duo's superb Supafunkanova compilations of vintage disco-funk gear from the '70s and '80s. Aussie scalpel fiend Dr Packer kicks things off, delivering a smooth, rolling, house-tinged rework of Magnum Force's 1984 electrofunk jam "Cool Out". Joey Negro weighs in with an excellent, dancefloor-friendly rearrangement of Foreal People's obscure, slap bass-heavy "Love Begins With You", before DJ Reverend P emphasizes the killer drum breaks and spacey synthesizers of Stimulus' P-funk smasher "Super Stimulus". Finally, Sean P expertly extends Jackie Cole and Hot Platinum Fantasy's "I've Got A Trouble Man", giving the afro-tinged funk jam the expansive 12" version it's always deserved.
Review: Having already compiled "20 Years Of Joey Negro" earlier in the year, Z Records have now put together some of the many-aliased producer's best mixes and originals from the last twelve months. The fluid funk of his mix of AC Soul Sympnoy's "Still In Love" is a stand-out, while his slow funky-house version of Carly Simon's "Why" is another must-have. With his Raven Maise and Akabu projects also handsomely represented here too, this is a key collection for all funky house fans.
Review: Z Records annual Ibiza compilation is a much-loved institution, intended by Joey Negro as a companion for those heading out there this summer or for those listening at home in the less Balearic UK. With a 22-song tracklist it'll take all summer to get through it, but what a summer! Highlights include Negro's collaboration with the mighty Horse Meat Disco, "Candidate For Love", the raw disco-not-disco gem "Crystal Lover" and the simply gorgeous forlorn house of "Everybody Wants Something". So, another great season then!