Review: It's encouraging to see a big label like Cocoon supporting newcomers when it would be far easier and possibly more lucrative to stick with the more bankable big names. YouANDme's "Raw" sounds like what would happen if an acid casualty were to attempt to make tool house. The drums are dense and the rhythm shuffling, but the chord breakdown has a freakish undercurrent and the whole arrangement has a woozy, soft-focused feeling. Meanwhile, Alicante mines a similar path to many of his contemporaries, with snappy percussion and a muddy acidic bass reminiscent of Ostgut, but then the track is pushed into a different dimension with a trancey hook inspired by mid-noughties Get Physical releases.
Review: This split release is the first in a series of four records celebrating the German label's 15th birthday. First up is owner Steve Bug, whose "A Shot In The Dark" track gets remixed by Taylor. With a subtitle 'Trapped in 92', it is no surprise that Bug's deep chords and jacking house is infused with dark snare rolls and even some stray gun fire! The Organ Grinder's version of Boris Dlugosch's "Sweet Talk" is just as raw, with the insistent chords, sprawling acid lines and jagged percussion sounding like something from Ian Pooley's mid-90s catalogue. By contrast, youANDme's "Quince" is cleaner, crisper, more precise - but still likely to appeal to those who love the kind of tripped out house that Poker Flat specialises in.
Review: For the 50th anniversary release on Rotary Cocktail, label owner youANDme teams up with industry veteran Steve Bug and Namibian vocalist artist Black Soda to present "I Hear You", a lush serving of Detroit inspired high tech soul. They combine some dubby influences on the rather hypnotic instrumental version up next, followed by the emotive and entrancing "Beyond Ai" and it's similarities to the Transmat classic "Groove La Chord".
Review: Berlin-based producer Tim Toh has been making deep house grooves on respected underground imprints such as Ornaments, Mild Pitch and Philpot, and after slowing down on his output the last few years - he's back with a vengeance if this riveting new release for Hanseatic heroes Poker Flat is anything to go by. Featuring vocals by Lisa Toh, the absolutely sensual and downright slinky late night groove of "Voyager" could have been equally at home on sister imprint Dessous. This is followed by a swirling and hypnotic rework of "Traveller" by Full Pupp/Internasjonal main man Prins Thomas, in addition to the sultry and emotive deepness of glorious closer "Excursions".
Review: Steve Bug founded Poker Flat two decades ago and while much has changed since, the quality of the music has remained a constant. From established artists to upstarts alike, the Hanseatic powerhouse has introduced discerning house and techno to dancefloors far and wide - from Berlin to L.A. and everywhere in between. The label marked its 20th anniversary this year: a huge achievement and one of which everyone involved with the imprint is proud of. Fans will not just consider this just a celebratory compilation then, but certainly as a commemorative one as well. Highlights not limited to: boss man Bug's new slinky and hypnotic collaboration with Spain's UNER titled "Mantis On The Moon", the ever reliable Francesca Lombardo delivering some moody dancefloor drama on "Flumen" and acclaimed German sound engineer Hannes Bieger proving he's capable of even more sonic mastery on the other side of the desk - as heard on his collaboration with Sailor & I "Chemistry" (Dub). Elsewhere, label staple Mihai Popoviciu appears with two tracks, we particularly enjoyed the sensual, late-night boompty jam "Sleepwalking" and legend Ian Pooley's sublime rework of Eva Be's "Delight".
Review: As one of the most feted labels in techno, it's not hard to imagine that Cocoon receives a ton of demos. Fittingly then, the Dots & Pearls compilation series shines a light on the type of music that is bubbling up from the underground via the label's inbox. Youandme's"Claret Loss" sets a high standard, with its lush strings underpinned by a robust groove. Similarly, Florian Hollerith's "Ohrenzirkus" - which also features on label owner Sven V?th's Sound of the 19th Season - strikes a balance between the musical and the functional as deranged horns unravel over a gritty back drop. Maintaining this melodic feeling is Petar Dundov's beautifully mournful "Pyroelectric". However, there is another side to this equation, with Marc Romboy dropping the menacing bass-led "Sequential Error". Irrespective of the mood however, Dots & Pearls V is sure to become an integral part of this year's clubbing soundtrack.
Review: Martin Mueller aka youANDme is a busy DJ, producer and label maker. A millennial dedicated to his
life of music, his impressive achievements include releases on Ornaments, Rotary Cocktail, Polymorph and
CUTZ.ME, but also on more iconic labels like Rekids or Desolat. Do yourself a favour: listen to the pile of releases and catch up with a remixes by Moodymann, Radio Slave and Seth Troxler. With his debut on Drumpoet, he enchants with the Chicago inspired "All Comes Back' with the touching vocals of Gjaezon. plus Washerman and Quarion provide remixes that go very deep.
Review: Martin Muller and Daniel Stroter have an impressive list of releases to their credit, and Something won't do their reputation any harm. The title track is a dubby underground groove, lent weight by thundering claps and its dramatic chord sweeps featuring sensuous, breathy vocals. It shows that modern underground house need not forsake emotional qualities in the quest for functionality. Dutch producer Literon is on remix duties, but his version is not as intense as his releases on Fortek. Focusing on the original's deep chords, he makes them more insistent, and frames them against a backdrop where razor-sharp, Photek-style percussive licks prevail. Recommended.