The ever increasing understanding between Apron and Wild Oats and the many artists affiliated with both labels continues to bear fruit for those out there that like their house music raw and rugged. The idea alone of young Detroit talent Jay Daniel getting behind the buttons with suave Stevie Funkineven should set the pulses racing and both "Discipline" and "Abyss" will leave you craving more from this partnership. There's an effortless glide to "Discipline" as both keep the drums to a minimal yet bugged out line of kicks, leaving it to those killer keys and thick-set chords to hit you in the gut and the hips. "Abyss" finds the duo opting for a more pared back, abstract production where rhythm is kept to a minimum as the space is filled with tweaked out motifs that sound like a paranoia-filled John Carpenter.
If you're unfamiliar with the Ratgrave name, you're not alone: this bustling, future funk album marks the first time collaborators Max Graef and Julius Conrad have released anything under the alias. The set was apparently recorded at different times, and in different places, over a three-year period. Musically, it draws much inspiration from intergalactic jazz-funk, P-funk and otherworldly '80s boogie, but also feels instinctively loose, carefree and improvised. The result is a set of lo-fi cuts that sound like they were recorded straight to tape during improvisational jam sessions, but were probably far more polished and thought-out than you might expect. Either way, it's the kind of LP that gets better with each successive listen.