Review: Since launching on vinyl in 2019, the Ron's Reworks series from Crazy P co-founder Jim Baron AKA Ron Basejam has consistently delivered high-quality reworks that tend to shy away from the obvious and over-played. The standout on the series' fourth missive is undoubtedly 'They Speak Colour', a loopy, soft-focus disco-house jam whose relentless grooves, synthesizer splashes and simmering orchestration make it sound like Soundstream after a bong full of Marijuana smoke and several disco biscuits. Elsewhere, 'The City' is a canny revision of an unusual disco-boogie number that builds through sections of drums and cut-up, scat style vocals before finally flourishing late on, while 'The Cull' is a deep and meandering head-nodder tailor-made for warm-up sets and sit-down bar gigs.
Instant Funk - "I Got My Mind Made Up" (Alan Dixon remix) - (8:42) 115 BPM
First Choice - "Let No Man Put Asunder" (Alan Dixon DJ Tool) - (5:16) 122 BPM
Review: Glitterbox regular Alan Dixon brings us his take on five Salsoul classics, but rest assured these are no shoddy "whack a 4/4 kick under it" bootlegs - Dixon was given full access to the original multi-tracks for this project. Even so, it's a brave man or woman indeed who looks at the Salsoul catalogue and thinks "I could improve on that," so he's wisely avoided doing anything too radical or adding any extraneous elements of his own, instead simply teasing out the tracks' most familiar hooks and giving them a structural make-over, rendering them easier to programme in contemporary house and disco sets. Classy stuff.
Review: Almost 12 months after the vinyl version hit stores, the second volume in Jim Baron AKA Ron Basejam's Ron's Reworks series finally lands on digital download. The real killer here is 'Your Brain On Music', a slightly beefed-up and tooled up version of an Italo-disco-era chugger rich in driving bass, spacey synthesizer lines, proto-acid sounds and almost symphonic electronic chords. Elsewhere, 'Be Bizarre' is a tight, mostly instrumental revision of an electrofunk era big studio rock number - all squelchy synth bass, glistening guitar riffs and heavily edited, effects-laden drum machine beats - while 'Call Me' is a fine scalpel edit of a sparkling boogie jam. If high-grade, club-ready re-edits are your thing, you need this EP in your life.
Review: The fact that the previously vinyl-only Ron's Reworks edit series has finally landed on digital download is a very good thing indeed, especially since the man behind the project - nu-disco don Ron Basejam AKA Jim Baron of Crazy P - has been responsible for some fine re-edits over the years. There's plenty to get the blood pumping on this third instalment, starting with 'Revelation' - a sparkling rearrangement of a life-affirming, piano-laden number that sits somewhere between jazz-funk, Latin jazz, spiritual jazz and disco. 'Games You Playing' [sic] is a synth-sporting slab of disco-funk heaviness rich in punchy horns, mazy sax solos and thickset grooves, while 'Bada Bongo' is a percussive, break-driven, drum-heavu workout guaranteed to get limbs moving on the dancefloor.
Review: Neo Blues 3 announces its arrival via our most trusted Vehicle label that's been a port of call for disco edits for the world over. Turning in another four-tracks here it's spearheaded by the uber-warm kick, woofing bass and melodic percussion sequences of "Sea-Line". Harking back to the days when artists like Eddie C and Tornado Wallace were dominating the slo-mo, chugging disco sound, "Condition" adds yet another beefy boost to a Ken Roger's classic, while funkier soul and blues jams from Kings of Survival make the cut alongside that all time cinematic classic by Rodriguez's ("Sugarman").
Review: Lately Leeds' Deelicious has seen his loose and groovy tunes grace the likes of Sound Exhibitions and Disco Fruit. Here he rolls out five sizzling new bangers. The urgent slice of socially conscious funk, "Lonely Town Lonely Street", kicks things off, "Trust Me" incorporates housier filtered loops into the mix and the title track is celebratory slice of disco-pop with some ace bloc-rocking breaks and punk-funk bass work. Elsewhere we enter orbit with the melodramatic sci-fi boogie of "Mechanical Body" and "Change Your Mind" is an amazing example of early underground dance music reconfigured by a 21st century perspective.
Review: By his usually prolific standards, Ben Worrall AKA Crackazat has been rather quiet of late, with 2020 producing just one release of note - a rather good EP on Freerange. Here he strides into 2021 with another label debut, this time for Detroit Swindle's Heist Recordings. The headline attraction is undoubtedly 'Alfa', a chunky-but-breezy slab of jazzy piano house perfection that's later given a more classic-sounding deep house tweak from Detroit scene stalwart Rick Wade. Elsewhere, 'Class One' is a rushing, life-affirming dancefloor treat tailor-made for sun-soaked outdoor dancing, and 'Tiger's Eyes' sees Worrall add mind-altering TB-303 motifs, sustained organ chords, swirling synth-strings and rushing riffs to another energetic, peak-time ready house beat.
Review: Otherwise known as "F*ck Resident Advisor", Alex "Omar" Smith's latest album includes some of his most potent, colourful and musically inventive material of recent years. This five-track EP, which includes (uncredited) contributions from a number of fellow Detroit artists, gathers together some of the many undoubted highlights. The FXHE founder begins with the sleazy, bassline-driven peak-time deep house thrust of "Simply", before celebrating the unbridled joy of old school piano house (and disco guitar samples) on the arguably even better "Gonna Luv You". Spacey synths and lo-fi late-night house grooves are provided via "Bread Over Red", while "Mell'ike Bom Bom In'dair" sits somewhere between electro, early Inner City and mutant dancehall. There's a triumphant conclusion, too: the sparkling vocal deep house positivity of John FM hook-up "In My City".
Review: Michael The Lion and Amy Douglas' self-titled EP on Soul Clap was arguably one of the best disco-focused releases of 2020, so hopes are naturally high for this remixed version. To kick things off, Jamie 3:26 and Danou P get to work on 'James is the Message', combining sturdy but loose drum machine beats with glorious disco instrumentation and a killer bassline, before Crazy P's Jim Baron dons his Ron Basejam guise to turn 'Willing' into a mid-tempo, jazz-funk influenced disco shuffler. Best of all though are the Patchouli Brothers reworks of 'Find a Way', where Steven Klavier joins Douglas on vocals. The Canadian duo re-imagine the cut as a synth-heavy fusion of nu-disco, proto-house and gospel, in the process delivering a sure-fire dancefloor anthem for summer 2021.
Review: For his latest trick, spoonerism-loving rework maestro V (AKA sometime funk-breaks producer Valique) has decided to offer up a second selection of "Neo Blues" scalpel works. He begins by delivering a chunky, rolling revision of Ann Feebles' rock-tinged gospel-funk classic "Beware", before chugging his way through a pitched-down revision of a weighty T-Rex glam-rock classic ("Jewelry"). This is followed by EP highlight "Holis", an inspired - and suitably epic - "Afro-blues" revision of one of Nina Simone's greatest moments, and the low-slung voodoo-house hypnotism of "Mississippi Lullalby (V's Rendition)". To finish with a. flourish, the Vehicle main man then adds some elastic new drums to Otis Redding's version of "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay".
Review: Summer's here and Permanent Vacation is in the mood for some sun-kissed, positive-sounding club cuts. The Magic Gardens EP certainly ticks that box, with confirmed label-hopper Alex Burkat (100% Silk, Third Ear Recordings, The Night Owl Diner) successfully joining forces with Los Angeles duo Wild & Free on the excellent title track - a drowsy chunk of warming, loved-up loop house that gets progressively more acidic and intense as it progresses. Wild & Free strike out on their own on 'New Direction', a sparkling slab of dreamy nu-disco/synth-pop fusion that's as bright and breezy as a mountainside dawn on a hot summer's day.
Review: Junior Sanchez may not enjoy quite as high a profile as he did back in the nineties and noughties, but he continues to deliver regular doses of tried-and-tested dancefloor gold. His latest EP - his first for Crosstown Rebels - ticks a lot of boxes, delivering a quartet of cuts tailor-made for big rooms and dark basements. He first joins forces with fellow scene stalwart Todd Terry on 'Live Forever', a slowly building, tactile chunk of celebratory house retro-futurism that's as spine-tingling and rushing as they come, before opting for heavier bass on disco-tinged number 'After Love'. 'My Mind Goes' is an even heavier and more psychedelic late-night bumper, while 'Body Heat' is a wonky techno number full of mind-mangling riffs, warped bass and Switch style beats.
Review: Alexander Lay-Far is undoubtedly one of the most talented house producers of his generation: an artist whose love of expansive instrumentation is matched by a keen sense of what works on the dancefloor. His first outing on Marcel Vogel's Lumberjacks in Hell imprint is typically impressive, though the artist's liberal use of hip-house style breakbeats is a surprise. This being Lay-Far, they come laden with intricate musical details on both 'Good Thing' (think saucer-eyed female vocal snippets, deep sub-bass and poignant piano motifs) and 'Up We Go' (dusty jazz piano, funky jazz-funk bass and colourful chords). Elsewhere, 'Heavy' is a rave-ready fusion of broken beat and breaks rich in old school stabs, while closing cut 'My Reflection' adds US garage swing and UKG bass to jaunty jazz-house musicality.
Review: Fittingly, the first musical missive of 2021 from the In Dust We Trust label showcases the album's co-founders, Chaos in the CBD (New Zealand-born brothers Ben and Louis Helliker-Hales) and Jon Sable. The trio offer up two collaborative cuts, both of which give different spins on the fusion of dub techno and hypnotic deep house. There's opener 'Mahia Madness', a thickset, late-night number that's as dubby and hazy as any Deepchord record, and the gently picturesque, Sprinkles-esque 'To Puke Thunder'. The EP also boasts a solo track apiece, with Chaos in the CBD opting for non-stop, energy-packed deep techno hypnotism ('Coral Castle'), and Sable reaching for dreamy deep house chords and rubbery broken beats ('Ascension Island').
Review: As the title suggests, this wonderful EP from COEO pays tribute to the glory days of early '90s piano house. If you've been struggling through the current global pandemic, we guarantee that all four tracks will put a smile on your face and a spring in your step. Our pick of a very strong bunch is 'Hyperactive', where bold piano stabs, style synth-sax motifs, New Jersey garage style organ chords and a rubbery, all-action bassline ride a sweaty and chunky, hip-house style rhythm. There is of course much to set the pulse racing elsewhere across the EP, from the deliciously deep, loved-up and glassy-eyed wonder that is 'I Can Never Be Yours', to the acid-fired bustle of breakbeat-driven closing cut 'Bliss'.
Review: Sultry warm disco sessions for the open air this season with this swift four-pack from Paper Disco combi Anoraak & Luxxury. "Fire Inside" swoons a summer disco vibe with Lauren Turk's breathy lead vocals - reminiscent of a certain Linda Clifford circa-79 or pop starlet Kylie (circa-99) - while look to Anoraak original "Up To You" for a percussive, cosmic and instrumental burner. Staccato guitars and drum machine sequences collide with the odd space pong and warehouse sized vocal processing in The Emperor Machine's remix, supported by a straight up free and easy 'Fire Side" instrumental with subtle chorus line. Hot hot hot.
Review: So far in his career, St Petersburg-based Nikita Kropachev AKA Diskette has done his thing almost entirely for Russian stable SOVIETT. Now though, following recent excursions on Rare Wiri and Silhouette Music, he comes to Manchester's Sprechen with a three-tracker from the dreamy, Balearic side. The title track is a hazy, synth-y affair built for slow groovin' in the afternoon sun, the slightly more upbeat 'That's Not True' throws together Italo synths, muted piano chords, a looped, reverb-heavy "love me, love me" female vocal and more, while 'Honey Melts' drops the tempo right down and is one for the morning after...
Review: Under the now familiar Whitesquare alias, Maurice Uzzan has spent the last seven years bouncing between high profile and well-regarded labels such as Toy Tonics, Culprit, Freerange Records, DFTD and Life & Death. Here he returns to the latter label for the first time since 2019, delivering the first helping of a two-part release that tends towards the summery and celebratory. Opener 'Carte Blanche' is a driving, throbbing treat, with the Rome-based producer adding crunchy cowbells, spinetingling synth-pop chords, breakbeat bursts and mutilated male vocal samples to a druggy, intergalactic groove that reminded us of the most inspired 'space disco' moments of Hans-Peter Lindstron and Todd Terje. 'Lux Interior' meanwhile joins the dots between piano-laden Italian house, sweaty Italian house and glassy-eyed nu-disco.
Review: Sicky Piano is a new alias for Austrian producer Manolo Brigante, AKA We Mean Disco!! AKA Philly Vanilli, and this latest guise - as the EP title subtly hints! - finds him moving away from his usual disco and boogie vibes into housier territory. 'Tribal' is a serviceable drum- and organ-led workout, 'The Gallery' comes on like a tuffer take on Hed Kandi-style disco-house, while 'Tech Da House' fuses disco elements (is that a snatch of 'Let The Music Play' we heard?) and tech-house, with all three tracks adopting Brigante's trademark kitchen-sink, 'more is more' approach to production and instrumentation.
Review: The first release from Belarussian producer Iner's Dobro label contained a wealth of high-class deep house treats from an expansive cast of international artists. This sequel follows on along similar lines, with Iner choosing to showcase six sizzling tracks from a variety of rising stars and established. Spanish producer Hurlee kicks things off via the atmospheric and musically detailed deep house jazziness of 'Pel Meu Per Tu', before Igor Gonya wraps jazzy old soul snippets around a bustling beat on 'Mess In The Head'. Sun-kissed, electric piano-laden carnival house flavours are the order of the day on Cosmocomics' 'Surf and Smoothie', while MuteNoise and Jeff The Fool both make merry with samples lifted from classic disco-funk jams. Will Sonic successfully rounds things off with a classic-sounding deep house pumper with bags of energy ('Musica Melodica').
Review: Here's something significant: the first new single from legendary New York house duo Masters at Work since the mid 2000s. The good news is that Kenny 'Dope' Gonzalez and Little Louis Vega have not lost their touch after all these years, with 'Mattel' delivering a killer combination of bouncy, 'Nuyorican' house drums (programmed to perfection by MPC master Gonzalez), spooky late-night synth-string stabs, hazy early morning motifs and bleeping electronics. It's perhaps a little moodier than we may have expected, but that's no criticism. The accompanying 'KenLou Dub' is even more of a cosmic, percussive and atmospheric peak-time treat, while the 'Beats' version is terrific for DJs who like to play around with percussion. It's great to have them back!