Reviewed this week
Although Ludovic Llorca has released albums under his other production aliases (the most recent being 2017's jazz-funk set "The Garden" under his longest-running pseudonym, Llorca), "Unbalanced" marks his first full-length outing as Art of Tones - some 13 years after he launched the project on 20:20 Vision. It's naturally a wonderfully warm and positive set, with the veteran French producer making great use of dusty jazz, soul, funk and disco samples throughout. There's plenty of breezy, feel good club tracks to be found dotted throughout - see "Keep On Having Fun", the electric piano-fired drive of "Where One Is", the hypnotic "Grow" and classic gospel deep house of "Grow", for starters - alongside a handful of hazier downtempo cuts that recall the early days of his production career in the mid 1990s.
If you missed any of Z Records most potent releases this year, do not fear: boss man Joey Negro has brought together all of the label's best bits on one handy, plus-sized compilation. There's another chance to savour the Escort style Brooklyn disco revivalism of J Kriv and Adeline's "Vertigo", Sean McCabe's smooth and soulful rework of Detroit Rising and Ron Trent's impeccably musically rich remix of Joey Negro's "Distorting Space Time". Synth-fired boogie goodness is also provided via a superb "Unreleased Dub" of Janet Kay's 1980s gem "Eternally Grateful" and a brilliant Joey Negro rework of the APX, while soaring, string-laden disco hits are dotted throughout the compilation. If you dig disco, house and boogie, you need this in your life.
Synth-y, squelchy contemporary disco bordering on slo-mo house is the order of the day on this four-tracker from rising Brighton producer Ian Upfold. '30 & Rolling' itself foregrounds a hefty walking b-line and Flat Eric-ish wobbles, while 'Sick Day Jam' contains nods to both early prog ? la Guerrilla Records and 80s electro. 'Love's Gonna Get You' then delves into the mists of time for inspiration and comes out clutching a famous Jocelyn Brown vocal from 1987, before 'Natural High' adds a little Balearic flavour with its Italo-house piano and sampled, spoken self-help vocal.
Former Glenview Records scalpel fiend Buzz Compass has appeared on Editorial releases countless times over the last few years, though this is the first time the imprint has granted him the honour of a full solo EP. He subsequently delivers, slowly sashaying between the jazz-guitar-laden Balearic/deep house fusion of "Aqua", the picturesque, glassy-eyed flutter of "Oh Baby", the warm and enveloping, LTJ Style disco-house hypnotism of "To Be Loved", the electric piano-sporting deep house breeze of "Joy" and the chunky, bass-heavy flex of filter house workout "Izy" (seemingly a rework of a chant-along Brazilian jam). Excellent stuff, all told.
Via a series of riotous re-edit EPs on Basic Fingers, the Patchouli Brothers have quickly established themselves as purveyors of high quality, party-starting fare. It's little surprise to find that the Toronto twosome's Whiskey Disco debut is packed with cracking cuts, too. First turn your attention to elastic EP opener "He Wonders" - a starburst of exotic synth lines, misty-eyed vocals, bouncy beats and rubbery bass guitar - before shaking your rump to the horn-heavy deep disco-funk flex of "A Mighty Joy". "Can't Stop Christy" is a beacon of hot-stepping tropical disco warmth, while "Take You There" serves up some seriously soaring classic disco.
Spanish nu-disco don Rayko (Raico Pe?a) revisits four 60s/70s faves with impressive results. Marvin Gaye's 'Mercy, Mercy Me' becomes lazy, lounge-y groover 'Mercy', with fat live bass and looped snatches of Gaye's vocal floating over the top; Steve Miller Band's 'Fly Like An Eagle' becomes blissy, druggy throbber 'Fly' and Ray Carlos's 'Amigo' is, er, Roberto Carlos's 'Amigo' but a bit more Balearic! The jewel in the crown, though, is 'Dust Woman', a frankly superb reworking of Fleetwood Mac's 'Gold Dust Woman', with added eerie howls, that will cause some real 'WTF?' moments on dancefloors...
The latest release on Dennis Kaun aka Kaos' label is also one of Jolly Jams' most unusual Eps to date. The truly notable track here is "Mighty", a chugging nu-disco affair that features a druggy take on the vocal from Sylvester's "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)". Elsewhere, Balearic Skip present a guitar strewn workout in the shape of "Etta", its murky, slow-motion groove also populated by diva vocals. For sheer dance floor efficacy though, the clear winner is "Love Freddy". Centred on a high-paced electronic groove, it sees Balearic Skip pulsate their way to disco nirvana.
Codie Currie's career to date has been a story of continual improvement, with each successive EP of deep house treats being a little more polished, accomplished and sun-kissed than its predecessor. He's at it again here on his first House of Disco outing. He first channels the spirit of Giorgio Moroder's Donna Summer productions on the Euro-disco chug of "Alpha Bravo", before throwing everything but the kitchen sink - think P-funk bass, wild synth solos, sweeping strings, jaunty Rhodes riffs and unfussy disco drums - at the excellent "Itomata". There's a slight Detroit Swindle vibe about the densely layered, life-affirming sample-house flex of "Oderberger", while Smokin' Jones hook-up "Agony" is an electric piano-laden deep house bumper.
Serbia's Disco Fruit Records present a 15-track collection packed with disco, nu-disco and disco-house goodness. It's very much an in-house affair - label boss Tonbe contributes two tracksm while Disco Fruit regular Mitiko is behind a further six - which makes the general standard of what's on offer even more impressive. Highlights include Mitiko's boogie-ish 'Do You Really Want My Love?', Loshmi's gloriously camp, Euro-inspired 'Easy Night Drive', Hotmood's lazy, low-slung 'Let's Ride' and Tonbe's phat-assed jazz-funker 'That Sample', while special mention should be made of Kellini's 'No Balance' which, to older ears, is Animotion's 'Obsession' in disguise.
If you're a regular buyer of releases on leading disco edit labels of the era - think Hot Digits, Masterworks Music and Spa In Disco - you should already be familiar with Massimo Vanoni. It is, though, Midnight Riot that he's arguably most associated with. There's naturally plenty to set the pulse racing on the Italian producer's latest outing on Yam Who's imprint. We're particularly enjoying metronomic opener "From The Ghetto", where jazzy electric guitar loops dance atop locked-in beats and an undulating, acid style bassline, though the woozier but no less leisurely warmth of "I Need A Rhythm" is almost as good. "Alchemy of Sounds", a slightly brighter and sharper cut influenced by jazz-funk and P-funk, is also pretty tasty.
After releases on the likes of Paper Disco, Particle Zoo and Midnight Riot, Rich Hall and Megan Jones come to Manchester's Supaearth with three slices of sumptuous, slinky nu-disco. 'Set Yourself Free' has a full female vocal, African chants and a dreamy, Stonebridge-esque feel, 'What You Want' starts out sounding quite electronic but soon drops down into something more soothing and soulful, and then 'Brenda' closes out the EP on a chunkier, more stripped-back note but still finds room for some euphoric hands-in-the-air piano moments. A classy EP that wears its influences proudly on its sleeve.
Form Beyond is the musical alter ego of Alex Wastnidge, an "emerging talent" who is fast becoming a valued member of the Paper Disco family. According to the label, Wastnidge jammed out these three tracks using his MPC, a small collection of analogue synths and bass and electric guitars. This stripped-back set-up has resulted in a trio of tracks that are loose, warm, groovy, floor-friendly and tons of fun. We're particularly enjoying the low-slung dub disco bass, rolling beats and sparkling synth stabs of title track "New Moon", though the cowbell-laden deep space shuffle of "Earthbound" may appeal more to those who enjoy the dub disco antics of the Idjut Boys and the Leng label. Closing cut "Mass Transit", a cheery chunk of Balearic-minded Italo-disco, is also rather good.
Reversing the usual process, this EP of disco edits begins with a disco-fied take on a house classic, and not the other way around! Adeva's 'In And Out Of My Life' is the classic in question, and Birdee makes a fine fist of the repurposing job he's done. So, too, have Chuggin' Edits with 'Sat Feev', a cheeky Bee Gees refix, though your view on that may vary depending on what you think of the original. Elsewhere on the EP, Soul Avengerz' 'Right For Me' (original source unknown) is a solid disco houser, while Chewy Rubs take us back to the early 80s with their re-edit of The Real Thing's 'Foot Tappin''.
13 months after wowing us with a Multi-Culti style druggy disco debut on Disque-Discos, Daniel Aristidez finally delivers his second salvo via another fast-rising Mexican label, Calypso. He begins in similar fashion, wrapping breathy female vocalizations around a chugging, tribal-tinged groove on the atmospheric and ear-pleasing "Nada Nada (Original Mix)", before layering up the drum machine hits, tribal vocals and Latin hand percussion on EP highlight "Reyerta (Original Mix)". Aristidez navigates a course through feverish Amazonian rhythms, raw analogue bass and psychedelic electronics on the superb "Ecoca", while Simple Symmetry brilliantly re-imagine "Nada Nada" as a bustling and percussive chunk of Middle Eastern disco delight.
French compilation label Nova's output has ranged from reggae to jazz to world music, and this club-oriented collection ploughs a similarly eclectic furrough. There's a strong African flavour to much of the album (check Onipa's 'Open My Eyes', in particular, for some fine contemporary Afrobeat), but there's plenty of variety on offer too: Polymod's 'No Other' comes on like an early Orbital off-cut, Folamour's 'Can't Live Without You' is a dusty slice of 70s-style soulful disco, Zerolex's 'Paradise', Puzupuzu's 'Treo' combines Afro-house beats with some fine acid squiggles, and on it goes. Dive in and explore!
Festive fun and frolics from prolific scalpel fiends We Mean Disco, as leading lights Philly Vanilla head to the dinner table with a steaming bowl of hearty "X-mash" (geddit?). It's a veritable feast of floor-focused party vibes, with the cheekily named twosome flitting between organ-powered disco-house (nine-minute workout "The Human Kind"), vibraphone-laced, delay-laden and suitably tooled up disco ("Heavy Vibes"), smile-inducing '80s soul/boogie-pop cheeriness ("Givin You All My Love") and disco-era Michael Jackson in dub ("Chilly Bean"). Since making this "X-Mash" was a collaborative effort, we also get to savour the woozy and dreamy old school house flex of Kid Paris ("There's No Hype Without Adelis (Wave Techdown Remix)") and the We Mean Disco crew (the party-hearty, pumped-up disco-funk goodness of "Ich Liebe Zu Tanzen!".
Italian imprint Boutade Musique is rightly proud of its track record of showcasing new talent. Here, they offer up a debut to an artist still taking his first steps in the industry, Higloo. He starts in confident fashion with the bumping, low-slung beats and phased vocal samples of the Brazilian funk-fuelled disco-house cut "Over Now", before exploring deeper and more soulful house pastures on the similarly loopy and sample-rich "Sunshower". Elsewhere, "My Mind" is a deliciously warm and breezy mid-set house shuffler complete with UK garage style R&B vocal samples, "Dance With You" sounds like it was designed to invoke glassy-eyed "moments" out on the dancefloor and both "Bump" and "Party At" flit between filtered vocal samples and chunky house grooves.
After impressing via a tasty two-tracker on Monoside earlier in the year, Cohen makes his bow on Danny Worrall's Masterworks Music imprint. In terms of the headline attraction, it's a close run thing between the slamming, full-throttle disco-house celebration of "Sit Up" - all bumping, bass-heavy beats, rising horns and looped vocal samples - and the filter-heavy, slightly tooled-up '80s electrofunk revision "See". You'll also find a slightly slower chunk of '80s soul bliss at the end of the EP ("Baby Boy"), while "Love On The Beach" is an endearingly hazy fusion of woozy deep house and turn-of-the-'80s disco-boogie.
Spoonerisms abound as Meddie Mercury (we chuckled, at least) drops some serious peak-time loop jams on Dikso. The Am$trad Billionaire member hits the ground running with the effortlessly sweet, filter-boasting disco-house giddiness of "Hurt & Pain", a peak-time bumper that recalls the Halcyon days of "French Touch" house. Elsewhere across the EP you get the heavily chopped, hot-stepping 80s soul-meets-deep house throb of "I Wanna" and "Higher Luv", a decidedly deeper, more bass-heavy take on the producer's rolling disco-house template. Disco purists might turn their noises up at the Glaswegian's peak-time jams, but the rest of us will be hammering them hard in DJ sets in the weeks and months ahead.
It's taken a while, but S3A is back on Local Talk, a label he last graced in 2013. He's produced many killer EPs in that time, taking his brand of dusty, sample-laden deep house goodness to such labels as Quintessentials, Quartet Series, Times Are Ruff and Soundofspeed. We can happily report that he's on top form throughout, from the rubbery, layered, disco-deep house roll of EP opener "Premiere Rexidence", to the slick, Chez Damier style chunky deep house warmth of closing cut "Deep Mood Vol. 4". In between, you'll find the cheery blast that is "Searching Force" (a bustling house rework of an old Real Thing disco-funk classic) and the rushing old school house bounce of "End Track For A DJ".
Exclusives
IAN UPFOLD - 30 & Rolling EP (Bandolier) - exclusive 28-12-2018
VARIOUS - Joey Negro's 2018 Essentials (Z Records)
RAYKO - Cocktail Disco Edits (Rare Wiri Spain) - exclusive 28-12-2018
Exclusives
NUSPIRIT HELSINKI - Take It Back (People That Make The Music) - exclusive 04-02-2019
ARISTIDEZ - Evasivas Esotericas (Calypso) - exclusive 27-12-2018
CUZ ELECTRIC - What You Want (Supaearth) - exclusive 21-12-2018
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