Reviewed this week
With his Wonder Stories label going from strength to strength, Aman "AIMES" Ellis has decided to launch a re-edit focused offshoot. It's perhaps fitting, then, that Wonder Edits first release comes courtesy of Ellis himself. All four tracks hit the spot, with Ellis getting just the right balance between old-fashioned scalpel rearrangements and contemporary, house-inspired loop jams. We're particularly enjoyed the choppy but celebratory disco-funk of "Makin' Moves" and swirling, vibraphone-sporting slo-mo disco closer "Lovin". In between, you'll find solid revisions of two better-known boogie-era gems, including Maze's proto-house classic "Twilight".
DJ, radio host and producer Stephen King made his production bow on KAT last year, serving up some tasty dancefloor morsels under the Virgo Type alias. A year on, he transfers to Midnight Riot with the brilliantly named Free Refills For The Broken Hearted, which also marks his first EP under his given name. The title track, a wonderfully loose, percussive and groovy affair rich in meandering saxophone lines, deep chords and glistening jazz guitar solos, is undoubtedly the EP's greatest moment, though there's plenty to enjoy elsewhere, too. Check, in particular, the bustling disco-funk punch of "Hold On To You", and closer "Blue Bawler", where blissful, undulating electronics dance atop a soft-focus house beat.
Fresh from inspired outings on Smokin' Beat, Chopshop and About Disco, Oscar Levantine makes his bow on Daniel Solar and Andi De Luxe's ace Dikso imprint. Turn first to "Chorus", a filter-sporting mid-tempo disco-house jam whose heady grooves and mind-altering samples continue to rise, fall, build and rise again throughout the track's seductive six minutes. The Mexican producer ups the tempo considerably on "Fairground", a bolder and more percussively energetic affair rich in bounding, bouncy house drums, looped piano refrains, swirling chords and the kind of sweet, dewy-eyed female vocal samples that make you want to hug complete strangers while a hundred percent sober.
New Yorker Patrick Sullivan aka P-Sol strikes back on Sao Paulo's Royal Soul - the first 100% Brazilian based nu-jazz/Nufunk/downbeat label since 2006. P-Sol runs the imprint Wall Of Fame, which has seen many of his own releases and has put out music on various labels such as Editorial, Hot Digits, Groove Democracy, Masterworks Music, Discodat and Los Grandes. Dealing with Viennese downbeat influences crossing his typical disco way - this dude goes straight to the point with these classy leftfield beats. From the soulful urban blues of "And You Say", the lo-slung deep disco jam "East New York" or "Wonderfool" with its evocative and sun-kissed groove which perfectly soundtracks this fabulous summer in The Big Apple at present.
Ali "Ooft" Herron usually operates out of his own FOTO Recordings label, so it's a pleasant surprise to see the Scottish producer pop up on Hot Digits. Naturally, there's no dip in quality, with Herron expertly exploring slo-mo deep house/ disco fusion (bubbly opener "Remote Lover" and the swirling Barry White style purr of "One Thing", before pushing up the tempo in pursuit of peak-time glory. In this category you'll find the layered hand percussion and spacey bass of glassy-eyed '80s soul rework "Keep Running" and the snappy, riff-heavy bounce of turn-of-the-'90s NY house workout "Indy Thinking". The latter is also given a bonus going over by label chief Fingerman, who adds swirling effects and trippy synths to make it sound like an alternate take on Lil' Louis's "French Kiss".
After a two-year hiatus, Wonderful Times founder Napoleon returns to action with a sizzling two-track missive on Jolly Jams. The Costa Rica-based disco emperor is in fine form throughout, first brilliantly using filter trickery to tease in a delayed-laden, dubbed out take on a soaring, tops-off Afro-disco smasher (virtual A-side "Disco Ashes"). Sleazy and otherworldly but celebratory enough to get even sober dancers reaching for the strobes, it's a superb re-edit. The same formula - filters, dub delays and copious amounts of reverb - also works its magic on "Love Spell", a slightly more spacey disco workout that nevertheless sounds like a hedonistic peak-time anthem in waiting.
Once upon a time, Chris Robinson AKA Ruff Diamond was an in-demand remixer reworking hits from the likes of Estelle and Beyonce. He's now returned to his disco roots with the launch of a new label, SuperEarth. Naturally, he provides the debut release, asking us to hold on to our hats as he attempts to "Rock The Discotheque". Robinson provides Main Mix and Radio Edit variants that giddily fuse elements of nu-funk, electrofunk and chunky disco-house with arresting hip-hop vocal samples and a sweet, R&B style vocal. '80s Child heads up the remix package, serving up a bongo-laden electrofunk revision in keeping with his boogie-centric catalogue, while Lempo lays down a tooled-up version that adds sweet synthesizer sounds to a chunkier peak-time house groove with impressive results.
For a long time, Perth's Greg Packer was considered a veteran of the local drum and bass scene, but in the last few years has reinvented himself as Dr Packer - and become one of the best of the best disco editors on the scene at present. It made perfect sense for him to give "Confess" his personal touch for the nu-disco heads, as he was one of the supporters of the track from the very beginning. He stays faithful to the original mix, where he adds an incessant bassline, his trademark beats, disco flourishes and works the arrangement to fever pitch!
This year Vito Lalinga has been somewhat prolific, releasing a string of solid EPs on Timewarp and Sound Exhibitions. This time round, he pops up on Greece's Kraak label for the very first time. Highlights are plentiful throughout, from the slap bass propelled nu-funk-meets-jazz-funk sunshine of "I'll Be Good To You Baby" and solo-laden Bob James tribute "Bitter Taste", to the rich, mid-tempo nu-disco bounce of "Chill Speech" and constantly rising Afro-disco/nu-funk fusion of heavy-hitting workout "Afroinvasion". Elsewhere, "Ghetto Space" is a deliciously positive, piano-sporting disco-funk roller underpinned by rolling house drums, and "I Got To" is a Clavinet-sporting peak-time workout rich in lapsed hip-hop vocals and jammed-out solos.
Having already released music on many of the nu-disco scene's most popular labels (Kolour, Midnight Riot, Masterworks Music and Giant Cuts included), Lux Experience is well established as a producer on the rise. Here the Norwegian adds another label to his bulging CV, popping up on Vier Deep Digital with some serious "Solar Funk". He first sets his stall out via the Dam Funk style synth-funk strut of "I Like It", before exploring talkbox-sporting Bootsy's Rubber Band territory on P-funk wriggler "I Wanna Do You". The same raw, analogue sounding synthesizer sound can be found at the heart of the slower "What You Want", while "Jammin" is ridiculously funky, hard-hitting and dancefloor-friendly. "Party Up In Here", a skewed but brilliant Parliament/Funkadelic tribute, is also well worth a listen.
Since 2015, Tel Aviv twosome Rabo & Snob has been delivering annual releases on re-edit stable Whiskey Disco. Here they make the transfer to one of Sleazy McQueen's other imprints, Lovedancing, with some tasty original productions. "Yawumna", featuring Somma Idrisu, effortlessly underpins jangly acoustic guitars and African vocals with a metronomic nu-disco groove, while "Afia", featuring vocalist Azizaa, sounds like an unlikely fusion of Afrobeat and Adonis's "No Way Back". Art of Tones provides an organ-laden, sunshine-soaked Afro-house revision of "Yawumna", while Jacques Renault provides a suitably chunky dub of "Ifa" for those late night moments.
The mysterious Loves Last Episode delivers a crafty edit of a classic from 1978 for the always reliable Midnight Riot here - it's an oldie but a goodie. While we certainly give credit to the edit, it's important to know that the original was one of the few non-disco No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 during the first eight months of 1979 and even received a Grammy. Nice choice!
Ever since they introduced themselves to the world via triumphant 2010 debut "Beam Me Up", New York disco collective Midnight Magic has consistently delivered the goods. Predictably, the outfit's latest single - their first new material for nearly two years - is another belter. "Give Me A Reason" is a sparkling, delay-laden exercise in early '80s NYC boogie/proto-house fusion, with evocative vocals, meandering horn lines and darting synthesizer motifs rising above a typically chunky, live-sounding groove. The band's proto-house/early Chicago house influences come to the fore on virtual flipside "Give ME Life", which includes some suitably trippy layered vocals and psychedelic synthesizer solos.
Following back-to-back re-edit releases on Barefoot Beats and Razor 'N' Tape, Balako returns to Greco-Roman, the label on which they made their debut, with a strong EP of original productions. The headline attraction is undoubtedly the full version of "Jungle Music" (track 3), a fabulously authentic Afro-disco workout rich in jaunty bass, Baldelli-style cosmic disco synths, strong vocals, punchy horns and sweaty live drumming. Austin Ato's remix is rather hot, too, with tougher beats, stripped-back instrumentation (the bassline and fluid electric piano solos dominating the sound space) and regular nods to Idjut Boys style dub disco. Slo-mo bonus cut "Don't Give Up", which explores the same Latin jazz-funk/early house/electrofunk fusion sound that was made stars of 80s Manchester band T-Coy, is also very impressive.
More from Mighty Mouse, a long serving producer who has recently become the undisputed champion of the on point, single track salvo. "Where In The World" sees him return to the warm embrace of Nightfilm, a record label he's enjoyed a long and fruitful partnership with over the years. The track itself is chunky and ear catching, with Mighty Mouse building from a deep and woozy start towards a triumphant, glassy-eyed conclusion. Along the way, the talented producer treats us to chunky, Italo-disco style arpeggio bass, kaleidoscopic chords, lilting new wave style synth, soundtrack-esque piano flourishes and just the right amount of hands-aloft electronics.
North Carolina's Brief Encounter were one of the bands to define the 70's US soul sound but, unlike many of their peers, the group remained in the sights of crate diggers and specialists, straying away from significant commercial success. This particular single, for instance, wasn't even released officially and has remained the stuff of legends until now, so it's thanks to the reliable Athens Of The North that we're able to give it a spin on our turntables. Put simply, "Where Will I Go" and "Always" are two unmissable soul ballads that are simply impossible not to appreciate and get excited by - they encapsulate a particular note of optimism and romance that represented the 1970s in America, taking us on a journey into the past. Don't miss it!
VARIOUS - Jura Soundsystem Presents Transmission One (Isle Of Jura)
SWORN VIRGINS - Fifty Dollar Bills (Deewee)
VARIOUS - Disco Made Me Do It (Midnight Riot) - exclusive 27-08-2018
BALAKO - Jungle Music (Greco-Roman)
LIMPODISCO - From Disco To The Underground (Remixes) (Golden Soul) - exclusive 27-08-2018
VHYCE feat GREGERS - Fly Out (Future Disco)
Top Labels
midnight riot
giant cuts
hot digits music
whiskey disco