German imprint Quintessentials' mission statement is to keep underground house music on the map. It claims to hold a candle to those old house records: they love that raw yet soulful vibe. For their 56th (!) release they have tapped Mexican producer 4004, who has had releases also of late on FACES, Poetry In Motion and Late Night Jackin'. Smoky late night groove "No Dreams" gets things off to a good start with its smooth Rhodes, bumpy bassline and hypnotic bongo action. We particularly enjoyed the pumping NYC basement vibe of "Fanta Club" while "Black Alley Shuffle" gets back to the program in sexy and dusky fashion complete with some dusty rhythms, diva vocals and further mood lighting with the impressive use of filter sweeps.
Since this EP dropped on vinyl earlier in the year, the sizeable title track has become one of the most ubiquitous peak-time anthems around. That's not meant as a criticism; few do rush-inducing musical moments quite like Dusky, and "Square Miso" is one of their most euphoric productions to date. It's something of a retro-futurist treat, with colossal piano riffs and dewy-eyed vocal samples riding thunderous drums and a booming, mind-altering bassline. For extra spine-tingling pleasure, check out the beat-free "Reprise" version, which wisely emphasizes the "Strings of Life" style pianos and synthesized strings, and the warehouse-friendly, Inner City style throb of "LF10".
Few Portuguese producers can boast as strong a track record as Trikk, whose high reputation was founded on fine singles for the likes of Optimo Trax, Hypercolour, ManMakeMusic, Lossless, Pets Recordings and, most recently, Innervisions. Here he returns to the latter with his most ambitious project to date: a debut album rich in tribal drums, exotic synthesizer motifs, humid electronics and all manner of global musical influences. Naturally there is a number of bespoke, floor-friendly tech-house and deep house cuts to enjoy, but the album's genius primarily lies in the producer's devotion to mood and melody. There may be plenty of tracks that would sound good in DJ sets, but it also works as an album to listen to from start to finish: something that can rarely be said about house albums.
Story has it that Chicago disco legend Sadar Bahar discovered Ben (aka Cosmic Force of Clone/Creme Organization fame) Spaander's Utrecht based studio, and it's said to be housing around 60 synths. Electro fiend Spaander 'was charmed by the electronic elements in Sadar's funk and Sadar loved Ben's ideas.' They claim that nothing was sampled on these two tracks. There's undoubtedly an old school flavour to "We Are Righteous People" with its funky bass, sleazy guitar licks and bongo drums galore over spacy synths. Next up "Bouncing Atoms" gets the party started in fine form with dusty/live sounding drums, more frenetic guitar work and the mandatory cowbells going off all over the place!
While Ben Worrall's debut album as Crackazat, 2015's slightly overlooked Crescendo, was quietly impressive, this sophomore set is simply superb. Naturally musically rich - Worrall is a brilliant producer, but has always been a very talented musician, too - the set sees him lay down ten tracks that gleefully join the dots between slick jazz-funk instrumentation, sensual and soulful vocals, brilliantly played solos and grooves that put the dancefloor first and foremost. While there are a few downtempo explorations dotted throughout (the dreamy synth chords and meandering synth-sax of "Midnight In Sector Six" standing out), it's naturally the quality and quantity of his U.S garage, soulful house and deep house cuts that impresses most.
Well consider us surprised to say the least: we'd have never of thought that the acid house anthem "Theme From S'Express" would get a re-release on Jamie Jones' Hot Creations powerhouse - not to mention some absolutely killer remixes. Originally released in 1989 and produced by the legendary Mark Moore (in collaboration with Pascal Gabriel) from their debut studio album, Original Soundtrack. It peaked at No. 1 in the UK Singles Chart in April 1988 for two weeks and is considered as one of the earliest electronic music songs to incorporate sampling. The remixes come courtesy of Greek tech house hero Detlef - whose version is respectful to the original, but gives it an adequately modern reshape and works that 303 acid darn well. Lauer and Gerd Janson's Tuff City Kids remix keeps it in the late '80s realm, like they always do so well. It incorporates some steel drum presets and a hot Juno bassline.
Birdee: aka the Los Angeles dwelling Italian Marcello De Angelis is back, with some killer boogie-house disco flavours on a new ISM Records EP. "Meant To Be" is a funky and feel good deep disco joint, featuring vocal dynamite Alena Herel. Then there is Yam Who? dropping the remix business and in the process inject the track with some added dancefloor dynamics: for later in the night when any serious DJ needs to turn the heat up a notch or two.
Propaganda is Oliver Huntemann's fifth studio album, and sees him expand his sound and range over the course of 12 tracks, without losing his signature style. "Taktik" and "Poltergeist" see the German producer flirt with slower tempos, but the bass is so menacing on the latter track that its intensity is unstoppable. The pace picks up on the insane filtered builds and rolling snares of "Egoist", while recent single "Rotlicht" is classic Huntemann, all spiralling foghorns, insistent percussion and the darkest sub-bass this side of late-90s tech-step. Propaganda does contain some real surprises - like the down tempo sound scapes of "Anonym" - and the eerie electro of "Momentum", but its unifying theme are bass lines that are uniquely malevolent and multi-layered.
German duo Extrawelt are back on the scene. Comprised of Arne Schaffhausen and Wayan Raabe, the Hamburg based duo have long been a fixture on the esteemed Cocoon Recordings since their debut over a decade ago. Their very first release was on Border Community, shortly after being discovered by boss James Holden. In addition, they have had regular releases on labels like Traum and Darkroom Dubs. Fear Of An Extra Planet is their third album and don't be put off by the dubious title; it's a great album that covers a wide variety of moods and grooves. From the deep and slinky tech house of opener "Superposition", they further explore the harbour city 'minimal-electro' sound that homeboys like Stephan Bodzin and Oliver Huntemann put on the map - like on "Gott Ist Schrott" or "Gentle Venom". There's nefarious and seething dancefloor drama of the strobe-lit kind to be found on "Punch The Dragon" or the evocative closer "2084".
Wisely, house legend Kerri Chandler has used the opportunity provided by this DJ Kicks mix to showcase some of his greatest influences and inspirations. For the most part, that means a slick selection of soul, jazz-funk, disco and boogie gems, with highlightsincluding the dubbed-out, synth-heavy early electro/hip-hop fusion of Fantasy Three's "It's Your Rock (Instrumental)", the sumptuous, solo-heavy bounce of Andre Seccarelli's "Shock Number 1" and the sensual modern soul warmth of The Foreign Exchange's body. Throw in a wealth of specially created interludes, an exclusive Chandler production (the spaced-out Afro-dub deepness of "Stop Wasting My Time") and one of the Innerzone Orchestra's greatest moments (acoustic soul cover "People Make The World Go Round") and you have a suitably superb collection.
Given that she first worked with the Classic Music Company 15 years ago, it seems fitting that the label is releasing the long serving Chicagoan's debut album. Described by its creator as a "very personal statement", the set contains a mixture of remastered gems from the vaults and fresh new material - including a swathe of collaborative cuts featuring headline-grabbing names such as Seven Davis Jr, Joi Cardwell, Sam Sparro and regular studio sparring partner Tim K. It's naturally rooted in deep house, but also rather varied, with the First Lady of Chicago House variously doffing a cap to classic jack-tracks, smooth soulful fare, synth-laden boogie-house, wide-eyed late '80s fare and Dancemania-inspired hip-house. The set also contains a rather wonderful cover version of Carly Simon's "Why".
The third volume in the Dance 2017 series is notable for featuring the first collaborative production from Giles Smith and James Priestley under the Secretsundaze moniker. Given that they delivered their first combined mix CD some ten years ago, "Motorway" has been a long time coming. It's also rather good, offering a hypnotic and wide-eyed blend of urgent, 128 BPM percussion, parping synth stabs, heavy bass and swirling string loops. It's not exactly Kraftwerk's "Autobahn" for the tech-house generation, but we sense the Robots would approve. Less surprising is Palm Trax's "Outflight", a positive and melodious chunk of synthesizer-heavy deep house goodness full of new age melodies, darting synth-bass and crunchy drum machine hits.
A love letter to the Basement Boys 2001 classic with Ras Baraka "An American Poem", Malik Ameer Crumpler lays down an incredible, wry and poignant sermon over a swing beat that builds into some fine freeform horn work from Leron Thomas. A fusion that spans Sheffield, Paris and New York, pays homage to Gil Scott Heron and delivers a critical message, the timeliness of this is legitimate.
Given that previous releases from the publicity-shy Sirs crew have been rather good, hopes are naturally high for their latest trip into wide-eyed, musically rich dancefloor fusion. As usual, there's a decidedly hazy, sun-kissed feel to the original version of "What a Day", which features Cinnamon Denise adding sumptuous vocals to an Afro-tinged deep house shuffler full of warm electric piano chords, live bass and Balearic instrumentation. Arguably even better is Manoo's thrillingly epic and dreamy Batacuda Remix, which not only boasts layered Brazilian drums but also some wild and wonderful synth solos. Sirs delivers an even lengthier, slightly more percussively intense tweak of the French house producer's revision, before treating us to a brilliant ambient "Reprise" crafted around swirling chords and delay-laden Fender Rhodes.
There's much to enjoy on the latest volume in Toy Tonics' ongoing hallucinatory house series, regardless of your psychedelic state of mind. The undoubted standout is Joe Clausell's epic version of Karl Hector and Nicolas Tounga's "Ngunga Yeti Fofa", a feverish, dub-flecked deep house interpretation of a track rich in both African and South American vocals and instrumentation. That said, we're also fans of Vito and Druzzi's "Night Masquerade", where Steve Reich style marimba melodies and fizzing synthesizer solos rise about a jaunty, tropical house groove, while Kapote's "Besamo Fly" is a lolloping, mid-tempo romp full of delay-laden African vocal snippets, jaunty Afro-funk horns and sludgy drumbeats.
Sam Supplier's classically-informed summer house smash gets the all-important re-licks on Champion. The unstoppable FOOR adds a sweet and sassy two-step sparkle, CR2's Glasgow house dons Illyus & Barrientos apply a little conga hypnosis and subtle tropical soul while T2 ups the tempo, gets busy on the 4x4s and hurls in a powerful bassline riff loaded with skin-rippling dark harmonics. Round the clock business.
Having first graced Futureboogie Recordings late last year with the brilliant Brisk EP, Phillip Lauer returns to the Bristol-based imprint for a second sortie into loved-up, retro-futurist house territory. While you'll find a fine example of his usual glassy-eyed, Balearic-minded deep house sound (the wavy riffs, melodious bass, cowbells and tuneful electronics of "Tyco"), it's the trippy and gently psychedelic moments elsewhere on the EP that most impress. "Clipper", a kind of saucer-eyed synth-pop-meets-house number smothered in cascading synthesizer melodies and Italo-disco, is very enjoyable, while darker, acid-flecked opener "Pile" - think moody Detroit techno at a house tempo with flashes of EBM-era dancefloor sleaze - is arguably even better.
Following on from releases on Relief and Crosstown Rebels, Samuel Walker and Gavin Royce have selected Dirtybird as the platform for their debut album. The US pair are sure to surprise with the gentle electronics of opening track "Sunday" and "Role Models", which sees them collaborate with OnCue to deliver a catchy electronic pop track, albeit one that is tethered in grimy bass. However "Best Track Ever" sees them revert to type and adopt the general approach of Claude Von Stroke's label with its cut-up vocals and bleeps bass tones. That said, their penchant for catchy hooks and pop influences is never too far away here and "My Own Thang", which features Sophiegrophy on vocals, is a bubbling, bouncy track, led by insistent, catchy vocals.
Ahead of the annual ADE, Hot Since 82's label has compiled an exclusive seven-track release. It starts with Romano Alfieri's "The Flagman", a rolling chord-heavy slice of filtered techno that breaks, drops and builds in all the right places. Vibe Killers' "Means of Escape" sees the tempo slowing down to focus on the house sound of New York as tribal drums underpin muffled vocal chants. The sampler swings back towards techno as Montel Citizenn drops the dense rhythm and trance-y synths of "I Feel So" - which, rather fittingly, has echoes of the classic Dutch techno record, Timeless Altitude by Secret Cinema - while Sydney Blu's "Mind Games" is more contemporary sounding thanks to its rolling snares, shrieking siren riffs and wild build-ups.
With just ten EPs to his credit in as many years, Joe is not the most prolific artist, but he clearly favours quality over quantity. Tail Lift is his fourth release on Hessle Audio - he debuted on the label during its early days back in 2009 - and it's as individualistic as ever. "Tail Lift" sees the UK producer combine a swinging rhythm with jazzy keys and some wild-sounding, out of tune segues. Throw in psychedelic riffs and rave whistles and you've got one of the most unusual dance floor tracks of 2017. "MPH" sees him go even weirder, with wobbly piano lines and lo-fi kazoos unravelling over mid-tempo drums. This will keep his fans content until Joe's next left of centre instalment.