Review: Unlike many of its rivals, Fingerman's Hot Digits label doesn't fill its' obligatory annual compilation with back catalogue cuts. Instead, we're offered a vast number of previously unheard re-edits, remixes and original productions. It's a successful blueprint and one religiously adhered to on Hot Digits: Year Seven, the popular imprint's latest must-check collection. There's not enough room to single out every sonic highlight, but our current favourites include the breezy boogie squelch of Ross Fitz's 'I Miss Your Love ('85 Mix)', the driving deep house haziness of Fingerman and Henri Le Blanc's 'Leave Your Cares Tonight', the neo-trance cheeriness of Picklejam's 'Endorphin Situation' and the stab-happy, peak-time house retro-futurism of 'The Feeling' by Downunder Disco.
Review: After releases by DoctorSoul, Dave Mathmos and Vibes4YourSoul, Berlin-based Too Slow To Disco are back with number six in their edits series. This one comes courtesy of Los Angeles nu-disco wizard Blake Robin aka LUXXURY, who has built up a solid reputation via his method of using the multi-tracks of classic hits to create dubby/slow-mo versions of classics. On TSTD06, we have "Hello My Love" which is a loved-up and low slung slow burner that's worthy tackle for the late night, followed by the romantic '70s swagger of a well known AOR classic on "Baby Please Don't Go (Oooh No)".
Review: The titles here might suggest a re-edits EP but rest assured the five tracks ARE actually original, albeit sample-based, productions. 'Step Off The Train', for instance, does indeed bite EBTG's 'Missing' as you'd expect, but simply takes a two-line vocal snip and loops it up over a slo-mo grinder that sits right on the deep house/nu-disco cusp, while 'Oops Upside' is another house/disco fusion that draws not on The Gap Band but on a female-sung cover thereof. So let's not worry about sources and inspirations and just say these are five classy midtempo groovers that'll suit more discerning nu-disco floors down to the ground.
Review: Fresh from dropping a pair of fine fusion EPs with Dele Sosimi on Wah Wah 45s, Medlar returns home to Wolf Music Recordings with his most expansive release since 2013 debut album Sleep. In keeping with his musical evolution since then, Aerial is a thrillingly eclectic, colourful and imaginative affair, with Medlar flitting between the Wally Badarou-on-acid vibes of the undeniably cosmic title track; the acid-fired, cowbell-rich strut of 'Iguanadon'; the percussion-rich Dinosaur L mutations of 'Elephant Bingo'; the downtempo jazz-funk of 'Elv'; the late-night, drum machine driven weirdness of 'Cr78-108'; the '89 NYC garage-meets-New Jack Swing flex of 'Phoenix Lights'; and the slow-motion, bass-heavy Balaearica of 'Sin Prisa'. In a word: ace!
Review: French label Citizens of Vice welcomes the Canary Islands' very own Sauco to the mix with the Sun Goddess EP featuring sleeper hit "Sun Goddess". With the lead track tripping out on flamenco-like guitars, looped disco-machine grooves and balearic synth, it undergoes a funk and ballroom workout in Lanowa's worthy remix. With Rayko dubbing out the guitars, tuning his synths and pumping up the Roland in his Italo-inspired version of "Soulstice", it's the undeniable vamp, build and crescendo of the original within it mega groove that does the trick on us here.
Review: Having previously released two action-packed EPs of classy deep house from an international roster of artists, Iner's Dobro label has decided to go one step further and release a fully-fledged compilation. The quality threshold remains pleasingly high, but stylistically it's a little more eclectic than the label's previous releases. It begins with a series of deep, drowsy and jazzy downtempo cuts - all head-nodding post hip-hop beats and warming instrumentation - before confidently moving on to the sort of jazzy, musically expansive deep house that the Belarus-based label has previously done so well. It all adds up to a genuinely terrific collection of high-grade, previously unreleased treats.
Review: Bucharest-based Victhor previously won plaudits for his collaborative EP on All Day I Dream. This TRYBESof label debut also includes some collaborative cuts, namely vocal and dub versions of 'Luna', an attractive fusion of rising and falling electronic melodies, attractive synthesizer sounds, steel pan style motifs and rolling, thickset tech-house grooves. Both are impressive and in-keeping with Victhor's trademark sound, but it's opener 'Al Oud' that really set our pulse racing. Piled high with exotic vocalisations, faintly foreboding chords, rubbery tech-house grooves and Middle Eastern/North African instrumentation, it's the most impressive Arabic house excursion we've heard for some time.
Review: When we are discussing the modern greats of electronic music production, there's no way we can have that conversation without Calibre's name coming into the mix and blend. This brand new album via the team at Signature takes the title 'Feeling Normal' and is a straight up masterclass, from the stunning breakbeat-driven soundscapes of 'Barren' and 'Man Got Sandwich' to the colourful post-garage designs of 'Feeling Normal' and 'Time To Breathe' alongside Cimone. It has a touch of everything and the quality levels just don't seem to dip, regardless of whatever genre or style we are hearing. There are also some serious highlights, with 'Badman' alongside DRS being a somber, post-dubstep homage, 'Has To Happen' being a sumptuous, emotive roller and 'Predictable' being a futuristic steppers delight. Incredible work as expected!
Review: A cool cat within the ranks of Sound Exhibitions, and known cohort with other labels like Kraak, Timewarp and Legofunk - Vito Lalinga returns as Vi Mode Inc Project! Music for some sweltering nights of funk to come, Lalinga throws down something hot and heavy, chunky and groovy in "No Money", followed by a stripped back yet beefy and effervescent jazz cafe number, "This World". With some howling midnight lounge funk in "Passion Train", Lalinga loops his guitar riffs with extra summertime guitars and a steady groove holding it down in "Party Love." With a golden sound of '90s jazz motifs, as if lifted from Miami beach marinas or the inner city's hidden swing clubs, horns blaze with fanfare in "Passion Train" next to the big band jams, broken beats and extravagant solo instrumentals of "Freestyle".
Review: Permanent Vacation bring us the debut long-player from Rhode & Brown, a Munich-based production duo consisting of Friedrich Trede and Stephan Braun. It's sitting in our Deep House section, but to label it simply as such would be a disservice to the wide range of influences on display, as acid, disco, Motor City techno, 80s coldwave and more are thrown into the Balearic melting pot, then served up with a distinct pop garnish - on 'Lost In Cat Content' there are even nods to jungle and breaks. The 303-sprinkled 'Note To Self' is probably the closest we come to straight-up deep house territory, though, while 'Wave 200' is another standout with its late 80s/early 90s Ibiza feel.
Review: Following up the lead single "Under Your Skin" with Kevin Knapp, veteran duo Audiojack of Gruuv Recordings fame finally unveil their full length album on Crosstown Rebels. The Leeds natives James Rial and Richard Burkinshaw last served up an LP back in 2009, so it's another career high for the pair and features a diverse array of moods and grooves across 10 tracks. From the balearic downbeat chill vibe of "Binaural Dreaming", to the funky and bass-driven tech house of "Easy Rider" or similarly the acid laced "Psychoactive" (Part 1) which are more typical of the pair. Not to mention the utterly euphoric second single "Feels Good" featuring vocalist Jem Cooke, its a cohesive effort by these staples of the Ibiza party circuit.
Review: Four synth-y nu-disco jams make up Helsinki-based Roberto Rodriguez AKA Manolo's new EP for Rare Wiri. 'Amalfi Drive' sets the tone, a druggy, chuggy affair that blends Balearic and Italo influences with a hint of jazz-funk, then tops the lot with a soulful male vocal loop. 'Phobos' and 'Paseo Maritimo' are both in a similar vein but a little more obviously floor-friendly, and would have sounded right at home in Rimini or Ibiza Town circa 1989-90, before closer 'Away (For Too Long)' drops the tempo to a crawl - definitely one for those post-club chillin' sessions.
Review: Das Pop founding member Reinhard Vanbergen combines with Charlotte C to present an instrumental psychedelic rock trip in Souvenir Des Bon Gout that combines a sense of French pop ambient like Air or Charlotte Gainsbourg next to an original '70s sound you could associate with Black Sabbath's "Planet Caravan". Inspired in part furthermore by Belgian master chef Kobe Desramaults and the much adored Chambre Separee restaurant - perhaps where the two frequented while making this album - Souvenir Des Bon Gout trips through a landscape of western psychedelic classical, dubbed out folk strings to touches of country disco. All coated in a generous dose of reverb, Souvenir Des Bon Gout will be a hit for anyone into Alain Goraguer's soundtrack to La Planete Sauvage.
Review: Statues are the Essex-based trio of Bradley Lucke, Mark Crookes and Grant Carruthers, and their new EP packs two tracks in four mixes. 'Rotunda' is a slo-mo jam that sits somewhere between spangly, Nang-esque nu-disco and shimmering Balearica, whether you opt for the sparse, bass-throbbin' Original or warmer, more sumptuous Gold Suite Remix. It's the accompanying 'Lessons' with its mantra-like vocal that stands out, though: the original comes on like an unlikely but effective cross between the goth-psych whimsy of Love & Rockets and the laidback stoner pop of Freakpower, while Coyote's remix enhances the groove without detracting from its druggy, lazy charms one iota.
Review: Stuck at home with nothing to do for days, starved of culture and community? Now you know how Bjorn Torske felt in the Tromso of the late 80s, writes Hell Yeah. Bjorn Torske, a legend to come out of the enigmatic Norwegian disco scene, and now Hell Yeah Recordings main selector, has been called upon to captain a flight through Hell Yeah Recordings impressive discography. With cassettes of the mixtape already sold out, this digital version - with stand alone tracks - brings together sounds of label mates like Alexander Robotnic, Max Essa, Luminodisco and the much loved Gigi Masin & Templehof collaboration. Gliding from Calm's celestial "Space Is My Place" to Crimea X's piano-driven "10PM", housier Lauer remixes or Prins Thomas Diskomiks, Torske makes himself known by threading some his own own edits (and kleggsommer dubs) to complete a fantastic voyage through the Italian label. Hell Yeah!
Andres Vegas & Gota Rai - "La Isla Blanca" - (7:00) 105 BPM
Trujillo - "Brothers Groove" - (6:05) 58 BPM
DJ Dayjob - "Electric Nova" - (4:09) 128 BPM
Review: Get down with the phat beats of DJ Dayjob and the searing synth line of "Electric Nova" to get the party started - Apersonal Music's La Isla Blanca EP is banging! Bringing us back down from the clouds and into the tropics is Trujillo's "Brothers Groove" which stays there, hot and heavy, thanks to the jungle bar atmospheres, jazz funk melodies and baerlic grooves of Andres Vegas & Gota Rai's "La Isla Blanca". With Jona Jefferies lastly dropping in with a lo-fi blend of stuttering synths and vocal melodies, she sees out an EP evenly balanced between the tropics and stratosphere.
Review: Sasha brings us collection of tracks that have featured in his Spotify playlist series of the same name, which is oriented towards midtempo, contemplative but still beats-driven cuts spanning breaks, ambient and leftfield electronica. While much is being made of this "new direction", a more cynical observer might say it's the first CD of 'Northern Exposure' plus drums; all the same, there's much to enjoy here if you're in a laidback kinda mood, with standouts including MJ Cole's haunting, fractured 'Maestro' and Cortese's 'Circles' with its air of restrained menace. The album also includes two fresh cuts from The Man Like himself, 'Corner Shop' and recent single 'HDNI'.
Review: Amazingly, it's 25 years since George 'E.A.S.E' Evelyn and then production partner Kevin 'Boy Wonder' Harper sat down and recorded "Dextrous", their monstrous, bleep-era classic on Warp. A quarter of a century later, Evelyn is still going strong, though the grooves have mellowed a lot in that time. Here, Warp celebrate the producer's epic career with a much-deserved retrospective. All the familiar favourites are present, from the rush-inducing thrill of early dancefloor smashers "I'm For Real" and "Aftermath", to the sinewy downtempo goodness of the decidedly Balearic "Les Nuits", the blazed hip-hop dub of "195 Llbs" and stoner soul of "70s 80s". This version also includes a number of exclusive remixes, with names like JD Twitch, Special Request, LFO, Morgan Geist and Loco Dice putting their own spin on this classic material.
Review: In September 2020, Crosstown Rebels main man Damian Lazarus will release his first solo album in almost a decade. To get us in the mood, he's decided to offer up this teaser single. In its original form, "Mountain" is a drowsy, bass-heavy breakbeat affair in which his own atmospheric spoken word vocals combine with gently pulsing, sunrise-ready chords and short vocal snippets from a much-loved Joanna Law classic ("The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face", a Balearic-era classic whose acapella is much-loved by chill-out DJs). Tornado Wallace delivers a superb remix in which sparkling synth sounds and decidedly Balearic flourishes ride a dark analogue bassline and bongo-boosted breakbeats, while Tbi Dabo re-imagines "Mountain" as a bumpin', peak-time ready tech-house treat.
Review: If warm, lounge-influenced downtempo grooves are your bag, you may already be familiar with Jacob Andersen's Bogo Ent. project. Since making his debut on Music For Dreams with the fittingly titled Debut in 2016, he's delivered a number of must-check digital singles. There's plenty to savour on his latest EP, beginning with the luscious afternoon warmth of opener 'Soul Drums', a languid 80 BPM number full of sharp horns, crunchy clavinet lines, relaxed beats, Air-style lounge keys, dreamy vocalisations and expressive flute solos courtesy of Wili Jonsson. Elsewhere, 'Toy Machine' is a druggy, synth-heavy chugger with added congas, 'Drommen' is a bouncy chunk of digital reggae, 'Baby Song' is a flute-lden afternoon delight and 'Vendio' is a sun-bright slab of nu-disco/Balearic fusion.
Review: Given the growing eccentricity of his Superpitcher project, it would be fair to say that Aksel Schaufler is a neat fit with the similarly inclined Studio Barnhus label. Certainly, the former minimal techno producer has delivered the goods on 'Lonely Lover', his first release of any sort for two years. The title track is simply gorgeous: an epic slab of slow building, soft-focus deep house that creates heads-down dancefloor gold out of little more than brilliant percussion programming, effects-laden drum hits, swelling (and often filtered) chords, and some deliciously misty-eyed samples from a dreamy old French chanson record. Also impressive is the similarly framed virtual flipside 'Smile It's a New Day', a clicking, string-laden shuffle through sunrise-ready deep house minimalism that's worth every second of its ten-minute duration.
Review: The team behind the Love International festival has joined forces with Apiento's Test Pressing website to launch a new collaborative EP series, LIXTP. To kick things off they've recruited Melbourne's Fantastic Man, a producer who knows much about atmospheric, retro-futurist house flavours. He begins in confident mood with 'Cloud Manager', where echo-laden piano solos and dreamy chords rise above gnarled analogue bass and off-kilter machine drums, before doffing a cap to the era of 'bleep and breaks' on the shuffling, sub-heavy 'Lounge Wizard'. 'Psychic Monthly' is slow, psychedelic and deliciously odd, while 'Tome Apprentice' brilliantly joins the dots between deep electro, acid and shimmering Balearic house.
Review: DJ, producer and remixer Ted Ganung outta NYC hooks up with tenor and alto saxophonist Rosemary Quaye for this four-track Universal Love EP. Merging liquid drum and bass with broken beat, house music and splashes of calypso jazz, it presents a third featurette for Rosemary Quaye in a row following Deeper Visions I Told You single and remixe package. Hot summer night jazz takes flight in "Rejuvenation" that's seemingly cut from the same cloth as "Free Spirit" only underpinned by a rolling drum and bass groove. "Universal Love" offers up some extra downtempo jazz contexts next to the dubby tropes of "Serendipity" that caps off an EP of four distinct and uplifting jams of freestyle, electro-jazz.
Review: For those without an extensive knowledge of jazz around the world, Ulf Kleiner is a German pianist who used to produce nu-jazz and deep house as Perry Colo. Under that alias, he collaborated with veteran German house producer Ian Pooley in 2019; here, Pooley offers up his dancefloor-focused takes on a dusty piano-jazz cut from Kleiner's back catalogue, 'Tubes Grande'. You can hear the gentle, shuffling original at the end of the EP, alongside an 'Analogue Piano Dub' that sounds like live jazz-house. The headline attractions are undoubtedly Pooley's revisions though. He adds snippets of Kleiner's piano to a surging beat, warehouse-ready deep house stabs and a rubbery synth bassline on his main remix, before opting for a deeper, dreamier sound on the equally impressive Dub mix.
Review: Introducing 9EYE, a new project to find its debut through the Finebeatz label which in this case presents a slower range of slower BPMs and chugging baerlic deep house. Taking off with "Loco Pilot", 9EYE blends shamanic percussion and cavernous drums with ballad-like vocals that bring to mind the voices of Chris Isaac, Nick Cave or Chris Martin from Coldplay. With some dubby licks of guitar and an abstract melody lifted from the sound of a railway crossing, you've got a chugging soundtrack for some starry nights in the wild wild west. Guitars play an even more prominent role in "Orisa" alongside sunsetting atmospheres, hand percussion and a analogous bassline that invites the listener into a canyon of trance-like balearica all the more. The EP finds its remixes in Harro Triptrap who gives each number a slightly techier trance remake. Arizona calling.