Reviewed this week
Hot on the heels of Soundway's fantastic Gumba Fire compilation of South African boogie and synth-soul comes this partner EP, which shines a light on the country's short-lived but influential Heads Records imprint. The label was only originally active for two years between 1982 and '84, but in that time released a handful of killer 12" singles. A few of those came from Starlight, whose sought-after "Picnic" - a proto-bubblegum, boogie affair heavy on rising horns, jazz-funk electric piano solos and rubbery synth motifs - is arguably this EP's standout moment. Elsewhere, contemporary scalpel fiends get their chance to rework classic Heads Records moments, with Frankie Francis delivering dubbed-out renditions of two cuts: Manyane's stomping, Italo-disco-influenced "Thabong" and Adaye's gravelly, gospel-influenced peak-time disco-funk workout "Turn It Up".
Moussa Clarke knows a thing or two about making feel-good dance music. Over the years he's been involved in a variety of underground and chart-bothering hits, including - some 21 years ago - PF Project's Trainspotting-inspired "Choose Life". Here, he pitches up on Midnight Riot alongside Zak Gee and vocalist Rachel Gavaletz with "Still Feel The Pain", a rubbery chunk of disco revivalism rich in low-slung bass guitar, simmering strings and Chic style guitars. Choose between the self-explanatory Disco Mix, more house-focused Classic Club Mix and reworks from Laurence Schark and Yam Who? Predictably, it's the latter's breezy and jaunty rub - think punchy horn stabs, delay-laden synth squiggles and life-affirming pianos - that provides the killer interpretation.
More from prolific duo Cuz Electric (AKA producer Rich Hall and vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Megan Jones), who have previously released material on Paper Disco, Alpaca Edits, Midnight Riot and Spincat Music. "Santa Cuz" (chuckle) marks their first release for Particle Zoo. There are two original cuts to choose from: the classic electrofunk/gentle piano house fusion of "Mother's Ruin", which features a particularly strong vocal from Jones, and the dreamier nu-disco flex of "Dea's Gone Dancing", where decidedly Balearic musical touches wrap themselves around a synth bass-propelled groove. The package also contains a trio of tasty remixes, of which Stephen Richards' rubbery and percussive dub disco take on "Dea's Gone Dancing" and Don Dayglow's dubbed-out, acid-flecked revision of "Mother's Ruin" - made in tribute to Boyd Jarvis - are our picks.
Although best known these days as Cab Drivers, Berlin's Daniel Paul and Jens "DJ Zky" Augustowsky have been working together under different aliases since 1994. Karo was one of their earliest aliases, with the Zwo 12" - in which "Zwo Fremde" originally appeared - slipping out in 1995. It's good to see the track getting a second airing, because it's arguably one of the finest tech-house tracks of all time. Loopy, hypnotic, tracky and blessed with some wonderful cyclical synth motifs, it feels like the missing link between Detroit-influenced UK tech-house of that period and the more dub-focused sound of Berlin. This time round it's accompanied by the specially recorded "Backside 50", a similarly slick, melodious and locked-in cut bristling with spacey pads, darting acid bass and intergalactic electronics.
For the latest volume in his ongoing Beats & Bobs series of "new beats, basement edits and unreleased mixes", Karizma has donned his darker, more electronic alter ego, Kaytronik. Fittingly, he kicks things off himself, delivering a throbbing, locked in late night Dub of 2016 album track "Holy" that was not only made in tribute to the late, great Romanthony, but also sounds a lot like the legendary producer's muscular loop-house funk. Elsewhere, Rocco Rodamaal delivers a brilliantly tactile and loose-limbed remix of "Forever Grateful" full of elastic but heavy drum rhythms, cut-up and effected vocal samples and restless classic house riffs, while Hugo LX drops a dusty, jazzy and swinging revision of "Boy". Impeccable stuff, all told.
Some four years on from their last collaborative outing, Chicago legend Merwyn Sanders (formerly of Virgo Four) and Aussie adventurer Inkswel join forces for another cross-Pacific hoedown. In its original form, "Each Other" is a deliciously percussive affair, with Sanders sweet vocals (whose lyrics call for unity in the house community around the world) gently rising above a hybrid electrofunk/deep house backing track that's particularly infectious. The accompanying remix package is exceptionally strong, too, featuring two fantastic revisions apiece from Henri Le Blanc (a bouncy, analogue-rich peak-time house 'Remix' and a Kwaito-inspired "Afro Remix") and Sanders himself, whose "Old School Mix" is a killer chunk of revivalist Chicago acid.
Cuttin' Headz has previously released music by Basement Jaxx and Luke Solomon, and now the US label welcomes Loco Dice to the fold. The title track is a rolling house groove, powered by sassy percussion, filtered vocal samples and a bleary, acid-soaked bass line rising slowly but steadily through the arrangement. It's a heady affair and is perhaps at odds with the perception of Dice as minimal producer. On the flip side, the US label has scored a real coup. Alan Oldham only started releasing again under the DJ T-1000 in recent years, and his version of the title track sees the Detroit producer lay down a deep, tripped out acid version that just keeps on grooving
Quantize Recordings is run out of Baltimore by Dj Spen and Thommy Davis. As executive producers, they work with other producers, artists, writers, and remixers to use the labels as a vehicle of expression. Here they present UK producer Dave Anthony, who from early '90s has been knee deep into the US sound - first picking up with the vibe of Detroit, then his real love coming from the soulful sound of New York. Featured here are some of his club anthems from over the years, remixed by himself and fellow label alumni. We particularly enjoyed the sensual rework of "Let Love In" (feat Sheree Hicks) by the legendary Terry Hunter, NYC stalwart Quentin Harris steps in to inject some groove action into Anthony's own "Live To Love" featuring Tasha LaRae, and the latin infused collaboration with DJ Spen "I Live For You" (feat Stephanie Cooke - DJ Spen & Gary Hudgins remix).
Boss of Amsterdam's Bobby Donny imprint Frits Wentink teams up with man of the moment: London based Aussie DJ Boring (he of "Winona Ryder" fame) for a bunch of classic house perspectives by two heroes of the nu-skool. The skittering, swing-fuelled rhythms of early '90s garage seem to be a consistent element on Wasted Years Of Pumping Iron. From the dark, hip-house flavoured bounce of "Oli Coony" or "Derek Antony", through to the trippy deepness of "Chad Brothers" with its woozy keys and Todd Edwards style rhythms pumping away beneath all that lo-fi tape saturation.
It was way back in 1999 that Kings of Tomorrow side project Soul Vision first dropped "Lowdown". Here, the deep, soulful and sensual Boz Scraggs cover gets a new lease of life thanks to Defected's reissue focused offshoot 4 To The floor. There'sno superfluous contemporary remixes, just the five versions featured on the duo's original 12". So, the slick and sumptuous Classic Vocal and slightly tougher Club Vocal - both of which put a dreamy, Inner Life era Jocelyn Brown style female lead front and centre - are followed in turn by the thrilling cut-up and percussive Dub Groove (where jammed-out electric piano stabs and sweaty drum breaks catch the ear), a dreamy but stripped-back Reprise and rolling Beats DJ tool.
Jeremy Sylvester makes his return on the ever-ready Urban Dubz imprint for the third edition of 'Lost Tapes'. Straight from the off we are treated to fanatical garage flavours, as lofi melodies on 'Junior Boots' whilst the crunchy drum stylings on 'Where Brooklyn At' and 'Going Deep' conjure up a potent sense of nostalgia. We then finish up with the more newschool sounding choppy riffs of 'Let's Bounce' and the intense basslines and skippy rhythms of 'Bad A Boom' rounding off an EP built for the summer sunshine.
Niles Cooper has got something for your mind, your body and your soul. Following up great releases for the likes of Stil Vor Talent and Pale Springs, the Danish producer knows how to produce old school house classics to bring you back to the 90's. Exemplified on the tremendous Miss The Times EP for Normandie based Planet Gwer, where the Aalborg native throws down the swing-fuelled Stateside bounce of "Miss U Harry" calling to mind the early days of Strictly Rhythm, the melancholic "The Father" calling to mind the early sounds of Chicago, or the rather Larry Heard indebted deep house journey "With U I Can Feel It" that's full of evidence of such within its title.
CAAL is a producer and DJ with roots from Ibiza and Barcelona, born with the alter ego of a residency in Amnesia - where he has spent the last 10 years sharing lineups with the most important names in electronic music. His need to unleash an artistic vision has given life to productions on major labels such as Suara, Wow! or Baumhaus among others. He's joined by fellow Barcelona homeboy Baum (Paul's Boutique/Elrow) on a stomping release for Lee Foss' Repopulate Mars here on "Mama Drama". With its moody, druggy bounce further accentuated by layers of pitch shifting vocals - this one is perfect to set the mood at sunset on The White Isle this Summer. Bristol's Eli Brown delivers a rolling and adrenalised rendition up next, that's perfect for the peak time. As does rising star Lauren Lane, with her trippy minimal-funk rework that'll go down a treat at the afterhours.
Exclusives
ALEX AGORE - I Wanna Talk 2 You (0G2N) - exclusive 25-05-2018
LOUIE VEGA feat TONI C - Time Don't Wait (Vega)
KARIZMA - Beats & Bobs Vol 7 Kaytronik Edition (R2 UK)
Exclusives
SANTE SANSONE - Open Space (Glasgow Underground)
BABERT - Shadow Dancer (Disco Revenge)
VARIOUS - Northern Power House Vol 3 (Night Shift Sound)
Top Labels
Strictly Rhythm
freshly squeezed
Z Records
ministry of sound
Defected