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.
In recent times, Krystal Klear's EPs have wholeheartedly paid tribute to a variety of (mostly New York-based) historic clubs, artists and dance music sub-genres. While he's officially broken the spell with The Division EP - his first outing on Running Back - for the most part it's still a heart-warming, retro-futurist treat. He kicks things off with the cheery, Italo-disco revivalism of "Neutron Dance", where throbbing synthesizer arpeggio lines and mid-80s melodies are underpinned by a bustling mid-tempo house groove, before slowing things down via the Balearic synth-pop shuffle of "Division Ave". Then you'll find more muscular, freestyle-meets-acid house fun (wild and mind-altering peak-time highlight "Shockzoid") as well as the baggy, glassy-eyed Balearic house rush of closer "Moonshake Mike".
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.
Geoff "Man Power" Kirkwood has been friends with Futureboogie Recordings founder Dave Harvey for years, so it's little surprise to see him releasing an EP on the on-point Bristol imprint. "Barranquilla Trifle" is arguably one of his most ear-catching cuts to date, too - an exotic, humid and mind-altering fusion of bubbly electronics, glassy-eyed synthesizer riffs and hustling drum machine beats propelled forwards by wave upon wave of mind-altering acid lines. Mancunian hero Ruf Dug's accompanying "Zouk Remix", which sounds like a long lost synth-zouk classic from the original Balearic era, is arguably even better. The cosmic deep house shuffle of bonus cut "Kaon" completes a superb package.
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.
Gabriel "Lele" Sacchi joined Rebirth last year, following an impressive 2016 solo debut on Prins Thomas's Internasjonal imprint. Surprisingly, this is the producer's first single for 12 months. "Dreaming Won't Do" is impressively positive and colourful, with Chic style disco guitar stabs and dreamy vocal samples from a classic disco-boogie cut rising attractively above an Italo disco-inspired groove. Tiger and Woods reach for the pianos on their fantastic peak-time house rework, before former Visionquest twosome Benoit & Sergio re-cast the track as a strobe-friendly chunk of Moroder-inspired Euro-disco brilliance that will have dancers reaching for the lasers in no time at all.
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.
The unstoppable Vogel machine is back on Lumberjacks with another serving of soul-soaked house goodness to warm the cockles as we step into Spring. This time around he's called on one of the great house vocalists of our times, Khalil Anthony, to lay down a vocal on "Brown Curls" that melts over Vogel's peppy, organic production. Nebraska bring a deeper, chunkier flavour to the track with their remix, and the results are just as captivating. Anthony's also on hand to croon over "You Are A Star", an equally simmering jam with more of that dusty house pressure from the deep end of the pool, while "Those Moments" finishes the record off on a funky, instrumental tip.
"Flavourism", a sparkling chunk of deep house hedonism featuring the vocals and fluid synthesizer playing of Seven Davis Jr, was one of the standout tracks on Detroit Swindle's recently released debut album. Here it gets a deserved single release alongside a trio of new reworks. Two of these come from off-kilter deep house hero Pepe Bradock, whose Bittersweet Mix douses Davis Jr's vocals in trippy dub delay and wraps them round a loose, crunchy and surprisingly chunky beat pattern. The long-serving Parisian also delivers a suitably trippy acappella version (the Spookapella), while Justin Barera and Will Martin join forces for a revision that adds a little garage swing and sun-kissed chords to the Dutch duo's sublime original version.
If you copped DJ Heure's two EPs on Distant Hawaii, you'll know that the Adelaide resident is a producer on the rise. Predictably, his first outing on Brooklyn-based Let's Play House is very impressive. Check, for example, the delay-laden synth stabs and sun-kissed piano parts of rolling, percussion-rich, deep disco-house opener "Take Dat Chance" and the sound space filling fusion of deep house dreaminess and techno tempo rhythmic hustle of closer "The Feeling". Elsewhere, he brilliantly smothers a jazzy, broken house groove with early '80s Herbie Hancock synths on "Eastbound", before offering up an impeccable slice of poignant two-step futurism on EP standout "Last One".
Forever joining the dots between the genres and the ages, Four40 dig deep across their own vaults and those of seminal labels such as LU10 and Lepento. The end result is a snapshot of the last eight years of bass house and UKG. Whether Billy Kenny's "Work" still melts your skin or the whirlwind vocal harmonies of Sherbert Dip's "Mazeltov" melt your mind, there's a timeless mischief laced throughout. Other highlights include the sweet filtered disco loops of Peter & The Stringfellow's French-touch "Can You Hear Me" and the cheeky Chi-town chugs of Keva's "Ask Myself" and the brick-crushing side-swiping jacking funk of label newcomer Paul Lawrence and "My Summer Holiday". Forty thumbs up.
Parisian deep house DJ Joss Moog's cheeky exploits have mainly come to appear on local Phil Weeks' esteemed Robsoul imprint, however he's also found time to release on his own Ondule label - which he has run with Jean Ce since 2015. Introducing the the Nocturne EP, which follows up some great releases thus far in 2018 by Labeuz, Reubents and Around7. From the title track's moody and hypnotic bounce, to the smoky jazz room vibe of "Pause" or the tough and funky boompty business of "Party Line" - again Moog perfectly bridges the gap between disco, funk, soul/jazz and hip hop: in a way that can only be matched possibly by Berlin's Money $ex crew.
It would be fair to say that there's a head of steam building behind "Far Away Place". It was originally featured on Bruno "Xinobi" Cardossa's 2017 sophomore set On The Quiet, but has since appeared as a single (on Anjunadeep, no less). We're willing to wager that this edition, featuring some fine new remixes, will be extremely popular with both DJs and dancers. Last year's fine rework from Jody Wisternoff and James Grant is joined by new rubs by Tensnake and Pete Herbert. Predictably, it's Tensnake who takes top prize via a sparkling, funk-fuelled, synthesizer heavy version that sounds like a summer anthem in the making. That's not to say that Pete Herbert's revisions aren't good, though; in fact his breezy, extra percussive Balearic disco Dub is every bit as essential.
After his remix of Shkoon's track "Bushiya", Chilean DJ/producer Rodrigo Gallardo now presents with his own EP on Underyourskin Records. It is the first solo EP on the imprint by him, according to the German label. Gallardo has put together a mix of electronica and downtempo here on the Minero EP. In addition to the two original tracks - the woozy latin folk of the title track and "Como Si Fueran Dioses" (which will appeal to fans of the Crosstown Rebels or Sol Selectas sound) the release also includes a minimal techno styled remix by Berlin's M.RUX and one by MoM & ANuT which is respectful to the original, but injects it with more added dancefloor dynamics in impressive fashion.
Sharif Laffrey is something of an unheralded hero of the underground Detroit scene. Active since the halcyon days of the mid-90s Motor City rave movement, his sporadic releases are rarely less than superb (as those who copped last year's radical, thrillingly wayward acid house mutilation of Pet Shop Boys "Always On My Mind/In My House" will attest). The one-track "And Dance" is another delightfully wonky epic; a 14-minute fusion of chopped-up Italo-disco loops, rising and falling acid lines and heavily manipulated spoken word vocals. There are multiple stops, starts, breakdowns, drops and build-ups, with Laffrey subtly building up the pressure via waves of wonky Motor City electronics throughout. There aren't many of these around, so act fast if you want to secure a copy.
While the previous volume in Shir Khan's superb Black Jukebox series came from one of electronic music's most experienced producers, John Andersson AKA Zoo Brazil, this latest missive is the work of a duo that is still at the start of its musical journey. "Young Dutch producers" T.U.R.F, to be exact, a pair who debuted on Apparel Music late last year. Check first string-laden opener "Drawn To You", where simmering orchestral samples swirl around a bouncy and rolling house beat, before turning your attention to the elastic disco-house bounce of "Second Chance" and its' sweet, cut-up vocal samples. If that's not enough to convince you to click the "buy" button, then check the sunshine-ready, peak-time deep house dreaminess of closer "Kukuza".
Predictably, Suol has gathered together tracks from an impressive list of deep house producers for this expansive first volume in the Hallo Montag 2018 series. German veteran Ian Pooley sets the tone with the jacking, acid-tinged deep house bounce of "Time", before M Ono shows off his synthesizer soloing skills via the glassy-eyed Balearic house brilliance of "Waffelhaus". Iron Curtis's contribution, "The Further You Look", sounds simultaneously low-slung and gently dreamy (it's a fine combination), while Black Loops doff a cap to the greats of disco-house via the funk-fuelled, sample-heavy stomp of "Is This A Banger?" If you're in the mood for something a bit more bumping, the boompty-inspired stomp that is Carlo's "Lluvia" should be right up your alley.
Mano Le Tough and the rest of the Maeve crew have been friends with Kev Sheridan for many years, encouraging the fellow Berlin-based producer to deliver a debut EP. He's finally done that and, unsurprisingly, it's really rather good. Check first the title track, a sumptuous chunk of blissful dancefloor warmth in which melancholic organ and electric piano lines relax over the deepest slow house beat you're ever likely to find. Sheridan's impressive grasp of mood and melody can also be heard on the poignant mid-tempo shuffle of "Wash Over Me", while closer "Losing Someone Is Never Easy" ratchets up the melancholy via delay-laden drum hits, subdued analogue bass and heart-wrenching piano parts. As debut EPs go, Alone in Berlin is up there with the very best.
The always reliable Paper Recordings are back with West Yorkshire's Flash Atkins and the captivating vocals of one Charlie Sinclair from Canterbury - singer from Sylvette who are one of Manchester's hottest new bands. They join forces for a collaboration that promises to be the start of something special. The track has already been gathering heat, with the one and only Bill Brewster singing its praise. From the deep, hazy and sunkissed feel of the original (which you could imagine being played on a Los Angeles rooftop), to the remixes - The Hardway Bros moody rendition injecting it with a right dose of dancefloor drama, and the slo-mo and absolutely low slung makeover by San Francisco's Tal M. Klein - it's certainly all good!
Having tickled the fancy of a fair few DJs with last autumn's High Praise Edits release, Books is naturally keen to showcase original productions again. Hence this fine EP for the fast-rising Omena label. Title track "Sour Grapes" is our pick of the bunch, offering as it does a fine balance between dreamy, soul-flecked musicality and chunky, fireside-warm deep house grooves. Laurence Guy's remix of the same track, which reminded us of the hybrid deep house/broken beat/jazz-funk fusion tracks of 2000 Black, is also superb. The hits keep on coming elsewhere on the EP, too, with both sample-heavy, deep disco-house workout "Taking Care of Business" and the undulating, electronic audio sunshine of "The Spice Must Flow" both hitting the spot.
MARCEL VOGEL/KHALIL ANTHONY - Brown Curls (Lumberjacks In Hell) - exclusive 30-04-2018
ALPHONSE - Better Weather (Hypercolour)
KRYSTAL KLEAR - The Division (Running Back Germany)
HAMMER - Canna Remixes EP (LOFT)
DETROIT SWINDLE feat SEVEN DAVIS JR - Flavourism (Heist Recordings)
TRIKK - Vilara EP (Innervisions Germany)
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