Reviewed this week
Given Gerd Jansen's experience, connections and deep-rooted knowledge of underground dance music culture, it's perhaps unsurprising that he's recruited some top-draw talents to remix Tornado Wallace's fantastic Lonely Planet album. Versatile veteran I:Cube is arguably the star of the show. Not only does he deliver a deliciously saucer-eyed take on "Today" - think spacey, left-of-centre synth-pop fused with dream house aesthetics and lolloping electro beats - but also a slightly more tribal-sounding "Beats" version full of dub delays that's equally as inspired. Elsewhere, Move D provides a darker, thickset deep house version of "Today", while Scandolearic overlord Prins Thomas turns "Trance Encounters" into a bubbling, otherworldly epic rich in bustling acid lines, descending melodies and sun-kissed guitars.
This an altogether epic offering from Deetron; a vast collection of un-mixed tracks from his brilliant DJ Kicks mix (naturally included as a bonus cut) that is little less than a lesson in the evolution of techno over the last three decades. Amongst the 38 tracks you'll find fine representatives of a myriad of sub-genres (intelligent techno, dub techno, IDM, ambient techno, gospel techno, and so on), as well as past, present and future classics (Damier and Trent's "Morning Factory", Spacetime Continuum's "Swing Factory", Mark Ernestus's recent Equinoxx remix, the Motor City bliss of Rhythim is Rhythim AKA Derrick May's "Ka-o-tic Harmony", a brilliant old Black Dog Productions workout). In other words, it's a breathlessly brilliant collection of both well-known and obscure gems. It comes heartily recommended.
Lauer and Gerd Janson's Tuff City Kids project has been revered for their signature sound that has made them the current toast of the house music scene - neon-lit classic analogue sounds that are evocative enough to be featured on a John Hughes movie soundtrack - if they could go back in a time machine. On the face of it, you'd be surprised by their remix choices: for example Marcel Dettmann? Rest assured they're in good hands here with the Berghain resident - whose recent exploits have also been invested in the early industrial sounds of the '80s recently and that's really evident on his rendition of "Scared". Likewise, fellow Berghain regular and Hotflush boss Scuba dons his more nefarious SCB guise on a perspective of "Nordo", creating a seething and mental warehouse techno jam to lead in to the peak time. Elsewhere, Roman Fluegel impresses as always with his slinky and hypnotic rework of "R-Mancer" while Permanent Vacation boss Benjamin Froelich delivers not one but two remixes of "Tell Me" featuring Hot Chip's Joe Goddard.
Alexander Pletnev aka Ponty Mython is originally from Russia, but is currently settled in Vilnius, Lithuania. His releases have popped up on top labels such as Dirt Crew, Nurvous and Quintessentials in recent times - and he can now add Bristolian tastemakers Futureboogie to that list. His sleek nu-disco style of groove as heard on "Pink Tango" is a neon-lit, lo-slung balearic groove for Summertime cocktail parties. Injecting more of an '80's flavour into it is Fabrizio Mammarella (one half of Black Spuma with Lauer) working his retroverted magic as always and jam packed full of vintage synth presents. From something different, Pletnev offers up the tropical vibe of "Appreciate It While It's Not Too Late" (original mix) and its mesmerising marimba action that makes you wish you had a hammock and Pina Colada in hand.
It's that time again: Berlin institution Innervisions returns and rounds up this year's melodic techno futurists on Secret Weapons' tenth edition. Indeed it's a big one, but not with the usual suspects, would you believe. Take for instance Marc Romboy: the German tech house legend behind the respected Systematic imprint appears with the spacey and euphoric dancefloor drama of "Infrared", rising star of the Berlin scene Nitam (previously on Ostgut Ton sister label Unterton) appears also with the seething, late night adrenaline of "JS/42" which nails that Panorama Bar vibe so nicely. Elsewhere, the always impressive Southern Italian duo Underspreche make a welcome appearance with "From The Exotism To The Future" yet another example of their contorted take on Afro house, while minimal don Marc Houle reappears, with a nifty rework by German power duo Frankey & Sandrino on the epic journey of "Paligama"
Named after the Polish word for 'roots', this great new EP finds Anii threading her way in between subtle deep house and techno folds. Polish music, tribal percussion and elegiac melodies merge wonderfully. Born in Poland and now operating out of London, Ania Iwinska has had previous releases on top labels like Stil Vor Talent, Polymath and Sincopat, but now makes her debut on Cologne powerhouse Kompakt. From the chugging, brooding dancefloor drama of "Working The Root" that will hypnotise you into submission, to the tension and full-on suspense of the title track. Be assured that more late night moodiness awaits on "Cyganka" incorporating traditional strings and Ry Cooder like guitars on this hazy and esoteric trip into the deep.
This expansive EP marks Demuja's first outing on established Brooklyn imprint Let's Play House, following seven years spent flitting between labels such as Freerange, Nervous and Skylax. Predictably, he's at the top of his game throughout, delivering seven chunks of sample-heavy house music destined for peak-time rotations on discerning dancefloors worldwide. Amongst the ear-catching favourites you'll find the Clavinet-sporting disco-house sweetness of "I Wanna Know", the string-laden piano-house rush of "Blue Cut", the celebratory, fun-time house-funk of "Hatsu" and the dusty, late night jazziness of closer "It's Over", where elongated organ chords, filtered blue-eyed soul vocals and glistening guitars stretch out over restless drumbeats.
Junktion is Hans Peeman from Nijmegen, Netherlands, co-founder/A&R at Outplay. The deeper side of house and everything that goes with it is his thing and The Wide Awake EP is good evidence of this. There's a real Thomas Bangalter style vibe to this EP, as evidenced on the low-slung disco loop goodness of the title track and "What We Are" following in suit, with more wicked sample cut ups rocking the night away on this funky groove. Then we've got "Don't Mess Up" which is perfect for those Summer open-air parties with its dusty arrangement and hands in the air vibe; the real highlight on here.
Tale of Us' label is steadily growing a reputation for championing left of centre dance music and "Ray" is no exception. The work of Swiss pair Adriatique, it brings together unusual sources to create a distinctive vision for contemporary techno. "Voices from the Dawn" boasts the dusty, grainy authenticity of proto-techno and ambient, with the duo integrating droning bleeps with a pulsating, electronic groove. On the title track, they go deeper; the rhythm is low slung and hypnotic and a melancholic synth riff unravels over a sequence of understated kicks. It's another killer release from this fast rising imprint.
In case you haven't noticed, Paper Recordings has been on fire in the 18 months that have passed since Paper Cuts volume three landed. Further proof is provided by volume four of the label's "best of" series, which adds a couple of unheard exclusives - the sparkling, ever-building nu-disco headiness of Bachgenaur's "Steady Drummer" and Vinny Villbass's Metro Area-ish instrumental re-make of Diskobeistet's "Birkelunden" - to a tight list of 2016 and 2017 highlights. These include (but aren't limited to) Chris Massey's rubbery, funk-fuelled tweak of 2 Billion Beats' "Sold My Soul", the glassy-eyed, sunset-friendly warmth of Crazy P's "Last Knockers", the organic haziness of Steve Cobby's "Boule De Suif" and the soulful house/nu-disco fusion of DJ Spinna's ace rework of Soundersons' "Can't Get Enough".
Oakland-based Tartelet regular Space Ghost is a hard man to pin down, musically at least. As this fine album proves, his trademark sound has many notable reference points - the slipped synth-boogie of Dam Funk, the dusty synthesizer ambient and sticky rainforest samples of the 1980s new age movement, the starry futurism of Detroit techno and the kaleidoscopic synth-bass fusion of Lone, for starters - but also occupies a sonic space all of its own. Naturally, the album is impeccably produced, draws on all manner of beats and basslines, and is the kind of set you'll never tire of hearing. Melodious, picturesque and atmospheric from start to finish, Endless Light is an unassuming triumph.
On his first appearance on Lobster Theremin, sometime Salt Mines, Flux and Of Paradise artist Shedbug has decided to flex his creative muscles. Over the course of five more than tidy tracks, he successfully turns his hand to a variety of underground electronic styles. So, while there are plenty of dancefloor thrills to be found throughout, the EP opens with an immaculate chunk of heady deep space ambient ("2"). The EP's most arresting peak-time moment is the bass-heavy, breakbeat-driven dirtiness of "You Think", where progressively more intense acid lines rise above an aggressive and foreboding backing track, though dark electro workout "Journeyman" and the pitched-up analogue deep house bliss of "For You" are equally as thrilling.
There is no doubt that Butch aka Bulent Gurle is one of the biggest names in European dance music- and this release confirms why he is so popular. In essence, "Countach" is a re-invention of 90s German trance. Its central riff contains the same kind of melancholic qualities that the releases on Eye Q, one of Sven Vath's previous labels during the 90s, boasted. Allied with a buzz-saw bass, Butch now gives those melodic characteristics a tough dance food focus. Cocoon has drafted in Butch's peer, Kolsch, to remix the track, and he deploys a mean, rolling rhythm and prowling bass to give "Countach" a more contemporary flavour.
So far, the majority of Simon Neale aka Shadow Child's releases have been on his own Food Music imprint, but Dance Trax is sure to raise his profile. Issued on the well-known Unknown to the Unknown label, it also sees Neale's creative focus shift to old school influences. "Renegade Stabz" is a stab-heavy break beat techno affair, while on "Nonsense", a similarly party-themed sound is audible, this time with a rolling groove replacing the crashing breaks. Atypically for Shadow Child, "Don't Lose It" sees him deliver a jacking, minimal techno workout, replete with firing percussion and analogue bleeps. Working under his Geeeman guise, Gert drops a storming minimal house take on "Lose It".
Late last year, the producers behind the Keinemusik label came together to pen an album under the same name. Now the German label and the Keinemusik protagonists - Rampa, Adam Port and &Me - have commissioned remixes of tracks from the long player. First up is Life & Death boss DJ Tennis, who is tasked with reworking "You Are Safe". Using eerie synths, clattering drums and electro bass pulses, he turns the track into a hypnotic house track. For the second remix, Frankey & Sandrino take to the controls. The pair's version of "Guilt Trip" is slower and more understated, but the atmospheric textures and subtle pulses are as memorable as the DJ Tennis remake.
Israeli veteran Guy Gerber has been surprisingly quiet of late, with this EP marking his first new material for over 12 months. While a little closer in tone to regular deep house than many of the Tel Aviv producer's releases, the EP comes laden with the kind of ear-pleasing melodies and dreamy audio textures we've come to expect. Opener "What To Do" sets the tone, wrapping drowsy, filtered vocal samples, spacey chords and twinkling piano motifs around an oceans-deep groove, before Gerber gets more percussive on the creepy, Raw Silk-sampling shuffle of "Night of the Gold Diggers". The fluid "Hummingbird Blues", on the other hand, is a gently jazzy deep house number rich in rubbery acoustic bass and cascading orchestration.
There's no sign of "difficult second album syndrome" to be found on All That Must Be, George Fitzgerald's follow-up to 2015 debut full-length Fading Love. In fact, you could say it's something of a triumph. It was written over an 18-month period and tracks the highs and lows of his private life, largely by eschewing his club-rocking roots in favour of songs and instrumentals that bristle with melancholy, gentle melodiousness and ear-catching electronic instrumentation. Of course, it's still rooted in contemporary club sounds, its just more James Blake or Jamie XX than, say, old pal Will Saul or Special Request. Notably, it's the more poignant songs, including fine collaborations with Lil Silva and Tracey Thorn, which linger longest in the memory.
Neue Grafik's first effort for London's Rhythm Section comes at a time where the imprint seems to be relying on international artists instead of simply looking around its back yard. If they sound anything like this, though, we totally understand the rationale. For anyone into the broken, or jazz-minded, side of the house spectrum, this is a winnig bunch of tracks, floating on drum machine grooves with traces of r&b and boogie. "Innervision", the title tune, opts for a more pop-minded flex thanks to Wayne Snow's sensual vocals, but the rest of the EP is grounded in a synthy, raw kind of feel that is often heard on the very best of vintage dance anthems. Lovely material, as always.
To date, sometime Antinote and Melody as Truth contributor D.K (AKA Paris-based producer Dang-Khoa Chau) has yet to release a duff record. In fact, we'd go as far as saying that each of his releases has been nothing less than essential. The Mystery Dub EP, his first EP for Music From Memory offshoot Second Circle, is every bit as alluring as its predecessors. As usual, many of the tracks come doused in humid, tropical samples, boast rush-inducing chords and melodies, and are underpinned by brilliantly programmed, Maxmillion Dunbar style machine rhythms. Highlights-wise, we're rather enjoying boisterous, delay-heavy opener "Stick By The Rules (Long Version)" and the ambient house influenced brilliance of "Rebound", though the simpler "Mystery Dub" and obligatory ambient cut "Wise Bird" are similarly impressive.
Two years on from the release of his first Ideal Juice compilation, Djebali serves up a second collection of previously vinyl-only treats. Like its predecessor, Ideal Juice Compilation 2 features specially edited versions unique to the collection. As you'd expect, the 10-track collection is full of warm, woozy and emotion-rich deep house treats, with highlights including the bouncing, sun-kissed jazziness of "Sure Shot", the disco-fired warmth of "36th New Street", the low-slung, mid-'90s NYC revivalism of "The Nine Star" and the rubbery peak-time pulse of "Punchline", where early Floating Points style synthesizer motifs rise above a loopy, string-laden groove and bustling beats.
SPACE GHOST - Endless Light (Tartelet Germany)
HYPOLEON - Hypoleon EP (Intimate Friends)
SHMOO - Free Shmoo! (Love Notes From Brooklyn) - exclusive 16-03-2018
JAMES TEEJ & SILKY - Illuminated Cabaret (Rockets & Ponies)
LOGA R/COZZY D/ADVOKKAT - Sampler (Robsoul France)
OOFT! - Intricacies Of Modern Life (FOTO Recordings) - exclusive 26-03-2018
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