Reviewed this week
When it comes to crafting lengthy, disco fired dancefloor treats, DJ Koze has previous form. His "Extended Disco Version" of Lapsley's "Operator" quickly became a White Isle anthem in the summer of 2016, and we fully expect "Pick Up" to be one of the disco-house hits of 2018. Based around spine-tingling samples from a heart-felt, orchestrated 1970s disco treat - think Tom Trago's "Use Me Again", and you're close - the veteran producer slowly builds the pressure before really letting loose in the closing stages. Then "The Love Truck" is an altogether deeper, dubbier and dreamier affair, seemingly designed for leisurely warm-up sets and gentle, early morning shuffling.
Their minds might be broken but their spirit or their technical abilities most certainly aren't... Russian duo Two Minds split an EP with Method for a firing five-piece banger salute. We kick off with a VIP of "Won't Stop Killing", a track that opened the year for them with menace. Elsewhere we have the Benny L-esque groans on "What The Hell" and the laser-blazing murderation session with Method that is "Broken Minds". Elsewhere Method closes the shop with two utterly savage steppers: "The Lost Mine" is a guttural, grizzly lash-out while "The Hill Rats" is all about the sandpaper funk, brain-melting textures on the fills and beautifully strange halftime twists. If it ain't broke...
Congratulations Mark Knight on Toolroom turning 15. Since its inception in 2003, they have released some era-defining tracks and brought the brand across the world with residencies, one-off shows and festival stages. Marking a milestone wouldn't be complete without a celebratory compilation - and they have indeed gone big! Celebrating the famous Toolroom sound and underpinned by a club ready ethos, Toolroom 15 contains a mammoth 70 tracks. Brand new and exclusive tunes from: Weiss with the sleazy 303 jack of 'Acid Chunk", Danny Howard with the tough rolling peak-time antics of "Got That Sound" (original mix), Man Without A Clue with Curtis Gabriel on "Back It Up" and you can bet D'Ramirez appears too - with the slinky and dub laden "Get Wrecked".
Having previously released on many of the edit scene's most prolific labels - think Hot Digits, Editorial, Masterworks Music and Disco Fruit - Deelicious attempts to complete a full house by adding Alpaca Edits to his CV. Perhaps the most notable feature of the EP is the subtle variety of the producer's reworks. Contrast, for example, the heavy but swirling disco-house bounce of "Sexy Cream", whose undulating orchestration works in perfect harmony with the producer's chunky new house beats, and the '80s boogie-meets-disco-funk brilliance of synthesizer-heavy opener "Tilt". Those searching for deeper and dreamier vibes should also check the hazy country-disco sweetness of "Dreamer".
Oof! Just when you thought their album Wardance slapped us back to the golden age hard enough, along comes this disgusting five four track trench stomper. "Jungle All The Way" lives up to its name with sweeping, sneering electrified bass licks, "Killimanjaro" is a titanic stampede with fat percussion tones and reams of pranged out hoover stabs, "Lose My Head" joins the team at Benny L's foghorn factory and heads up the armageddon division while "Dubplate" wraps up affairs with a love letter to the foundations, all tingly Headz-style synths and a drop that's so sick you'll need a repeat prescription. Stinking.
Mystery man of the moment Unglued follows up his en mass scene-supported "Bootstrap Bill" with his debut single proper for Hospital and he's clearly developing a signature, both in terms of fun track titles and, most importantly, a loose minimal funk that's loaded and coded with surprises and strange twists and turns along the way. "Chicken In A Spacesuit" brings the soaking wet farty bass textures to the fore while the (not so humorously titled) "Ghetto" brings a rougher techier edge to the vibe with crunchier drums and a sharper step momentum but the funk is still there in its distant rippling wah wahs. Another superbly sticky situation.
You'd expect a compilation curated by open-minded DJ/producer Hunee to be eclectic in nature, and Hunchin' All Night is just that and more. Marketed simply as "a collection of his favourite dancefloor cuts from the '70s until modern time", the triple-vinyl set is packed with obscure and inspired jams in a variety of styles. Compare, for example, the gentle but tribal rhythms and new age synthesizers of Carlos Maria and Nuno Canavarro's "Blue Terra" with the glistening, mid-80s Balearic jazz-funk brilliance of Stanislas Tohon's "Owhaaou" (as re-edited by Dutch digger Raphael Top-Secret), or even the Clavinet-heavy Highlife brilliance of Pat Thomas's "Yesu San Bra Disco Hi Life". And that's before we get to the acid-flecked techno madness of Villa Abo and Hunee's wonderfully dreamy and dubbed-out pulse of Mappa Mundi's "Trance Fusion".
A:Grade continues to live up to his name with this stunning five-piece suite. It launches with a cowboy-laced stepper session that's laced with a whole range of strange staccato hooks and counter hooks, "Rusty Swing" also lives up to its name as A:Grade takes a squeaky tone and creatively wraps up a whole jam around it, "Claggy" takes us to the far east via the karzy while "Blockchain" gives the bitcoin bros a run for their money with its bullishness and relentlessness. For his finale salute A:Grade gives us "Psionic", a springy stepper coated with trippy sci-fi textures and enough techno tendencies to power a small village. Handle with caution.
What could be more fun than a hot-to-trot combo of driving disco bass, psychedelic acid lines and haunting, Sylvester style vocals? That's the winning formula behind Chicago star Honey Dijon's new collaboration with Aussie vocalist Sam Sparro. This killer combo is brilliantly executed on both the original mix and longer "Disco Version", which sounds to us like a summer anthem in waiting. The track's nagging TB-303 acid lines are pushed to the fore on the wilder Cosmic Energy Dub, while Cratebug's "Nova Remix" is a predictably dusty slab of deep house/disco fusion.
As the sun still sets on their evergreen third album How We Live Spectrasoul deliver a series of killer remixes and versions to celebrate. First up is this golden twist from Calibre. Immaculately redressed to highlight the delicate emotion and beauty of the original, it's yet another heart-stopping work of art from the singular Signature bossman. Spectrasoul themselves take care of "Say What" themselves by twisting up the swaggering halftimer into a beautiful rolling moonlit 170 jam while "Remember Me" closes the wax with its spacious plucks and barbed vocal. You won't forget this in a hurry.
Next up on Katakana Edits is emerging edit wizard Gary Shepherd aka Streamer, an expat in Amsterdam who turns in a bunch of cheeky resplices here of some obscure covers and versions. From the deep, down and dirty rendition of Stevie Wonder's classic "Superstition" which gets high into the stratosphere, some spiritual African disco by way of reggae on a cover of "Lively Up Yourself" and likewise some more Jah dubwise shenanigans on the block rockin' beats of "Raggamuffin Soul".
No questions asked: when Tomoyoshi tells you to get funky, you flipping do it... Especially when he's delivering obscenely good floor fire like this. So simple, stripped back but loaded and coded with wry groovemanship, "Get Funky" is all about the classic wet fart bass and fluttering, wobbled subs. "Mad Jazz" continues the funk with a classic Bristol-style brock-out. Tunnelling, tubular subs and a slight whiff of Clipz-style relentlessness, this is Tomoyoshi at his heaviest and hairiest... And we love it. Don't mess around with this one.
Efdemin's 2008 mix CD on Curle, Carry On - Pretend We're Not In The Room showed that he was as adept and inventive behind the decks as he was in the studio. A decade later, the same holds true for the follow-up mix, Naif, but this time the boundaries are more blurred. Consisting of 29 unreleased tracks - 10 from the German producer himself and 19 from like-minded artists - the selection runs the gamut, from the hazy, abstract tones of WaWuWe's "Beams" and DIN's noisy "Glide", into hypnotic dance floor techno such as "Laveline", Efdemin's bleep-y collaboration with Konrad Springer, the glorious mid-tempo minimal roller "Watte" - recorded as Sollmann & Gurtler and then 'versioned' by Efdemin and expansive dub tracks from Pom Pom and Marco Shuttle.
Get your buckets out and fill them up... It's "Feeding Season" at the zoo and, judging by the outrageously fat bass groove the monsters are hank marvin. Expanding and mutating on every 32, there's an old school G-Dubs feel the riff and as it punches and evolves. "Acting Up" provides the dessert. A crisp rolling damager with an on-point vocal hook and some superb development in the layered drums. Another bullseye release from the ever-reliable Dialogue.
Those with a love for turn-of-the-'90s UK house and techno may be familiar with Westworld, one of the many aliases of video game music composer turned rave producer Matthew Gray. Here, two of the most potent cuts in the Westworld catalogue get the rework treatment, with Running Back boss Gerd Janson at the controls. First it is all about Janson's tweak of "Dreamworld", a piano-sporting Italian dream house tribute that the producer has wisely chosen to smooth out and make even more dizzyingly loved-up. 1990 single "The Slam" also gets the scalpel treatment. Interestingly, Janson has chosen to ignore the original's bleeps and heavy sub-bass, instead focusing on the track's rolling hip-house elements. He's also delivered a tasty DJ tool in the shape of the beats-and-effects vibe of the "Dub Siren Beats" tweak.
No drama, here's Trauma... And he's here to make you question every fibre of your existence. "Selfish" sets the scene with its all-out sandpaper riff and sudden swoop into ravey bliss on the breakdown. "Lies" takes a more leftfield route with a Serum-style slimy Q&A while "Code Red 2017" dusts off the chainsaw and cuts us all down a peg or three. Finally we hit "Artificial". The stankiest stinkier of the set; one buzz on those alien bass textures and you'll be speaking in tongues.
Consistently adding spice to our sets since he emerged on Ingredients in 2011, Trex comes correct with the fittingly-titled "Tabasco". A waspy, buzzy bass-tickled jam with rugged drums and a 3am Randall vibe stamped all over it, it sets the scene for two more exceptional floor remedies... The spine-melting synths, trippy textures and burped-out bass of "Gonna Get Up" and the slightly more understated growls and crystalline drums of "Murphy's Law". Trust in Trex. Trust in Trust.
Epoch returns! And he's packing some of his rarest steez since "Soundboy Abduction". All air raid sirens, trippy widescreen basses and a scientific spoken word all comprise to form a brutal wall of sound slo-mo drama on "V1" while "Roacher" bubbles with a technoid sense of playfulness and unpredictability. Finally "Rib Cage" takes the surreal sensations to even higher levels with a melting intro, nagging hi-end percussion and the strangest harmonic strings ever to grace an Innamind release. Truly singular.
Celsius mainstay Surreal dials in US scientist Jaybee for three pristine rollers. "Signal" shows us a signal with divine rattling breaks, a groaning bass and some ace late-entering jazzy keys. "Blow" takes us deeper into the storm with an introspective sidewinder; sashayed with an air of early Lenzman, there's an immense soul coded deep into the feels right here. "Minimal" closes the show on a high with Detroitian synth tones and a classic sense of foundation insistency. Three swings, three hits; this one strikes in all directions.
If you dig deep house - hell, electronic music full stop - then you should be rather excited by the arrival of Cerebral Hemispheres, the first Mr Fingers album for 26 years, and the first of any kind by the producer behind the alias, Larry Heard, since 2003. As you'd expect, the album is exceptionally good, with Heard's famous musicality and fluid keys-work coming to the fore throughout. While rooted in melodious, huggable deep house, Heard naturally uses the opportunity to veer off in the myriad of different directions, touching on jazz, dub, downtempo grooves, soul, samba, tech-soul, deep acid house and much more besides. It has the feel of a genuine future classic and could well be his strongest album to date. Given his track record, that's a bold claim, but Cerebral Hemispheres really is that good.