Review: Hot on the heels of that rather wondrous Le Sampler Des Copains doublepack, Pablo Valentino's Faces label returns proffering a debut for long serving Italian DJ and producer Giovanni Damico. The White Rabbit Recordings boss has quite the impressive discography, with 12" shaped emissions on Bitter Moon, Lumberjacks in Hell, Seven Limited and Black Key Records. His La Dame Et Le Conga EP fits snugly into the Faces aesthetic and yes it does feature some conga on the title cut. An apparent nod to Damico's latin and jazz past, "La Dame Et Le Conga" is quite exquisite in both its original form and the accompanying Magnificent Deep remix from Rick Wade. Either side of those Damico brings some soul heavy and sample heavy house vibes with closer "What U Feel Like" a real B-side gem.
Review: Pablo Valentino's Faces label gets 2016 off to a flyer with a rather hefty double LP compilation called Le Sampler Des Copains. Translating simply as The Friends Sampler, this ten track compilation features productions from friends old and new of the label and will appeal to anyone that likes their house deep, soulful and all about the groove. Nestled inbetween are the occasional interlude of a slower tempo that ensures the label's roots in instrumental hip hop are not forgotten. Roman Rauch, Not Danilo (Plessow?), Simbad and Valentino himself contribute tracks along the way, and S3A set the tone with the burning, insistent house business of "Boiler Lyon (The Ravist's Face)". The superbly titled "My Tax Agent Fucked It Up" from Not Danilo is the best cut here for many more reasons than the name. That bassline, pow!
Review: On Escape To The Vibe, Kazuki Kamaguchi's first outing on Faces Records for two years, the Japanese producer delivers another lesson in deep, soul-flecked, sample heavy house. He begins by getting deep into the jazz on "Black Box Jam", an Andres style looper full of intoxicating Rhodes chords, saxophone samples and dense, organic percussion. The more bass-heavy "Free Show" is, if anything, even deeper and looser in feel, while "Escape To The Vibe" piles on the dancefloor pressure via sneaky MPC style swinging drums, chopped-up vocal samples and warm, rich bass. Best of all, though, is arguably "Fall Together", which makes great use of a rubbery bassline and superb electrofunk and hip-hop samples.
Review: It doesn't always follow that a producer's surroundings influence their music, but you can certainly hear more than a little of the laidback, sun-soaked haziness of Baja, California, in the work of producer Fabricio "4004" Tepetitlan. It was there on his 2014 debut for Quintessentials (Looking At You, alongside pal Sebastian Vorhaus), and comes to the fore again on this solo outing for France's Faces imprint. There's a genuine jazzy looseness and Rhodes-driven warmth to opener "Reciprocal", while "Round Streets" mixes a subdued soulfulness with bouncy percussion, chunky bass and tasty deep house melodies (check, too, S3A's breezy piano house-meets-rave remix of the same track).
Review: Given that Creative Swing Alliance's Pablo Valentino owns Faces Records, it's surprising that this is the deep house duo's first single for the label (it's doubly surprising given that the imprint has been active since 2002). Happy, the Weekend EP was worth the wait. Each of the four original tracks delivers the perfect balance between tactile soul, chunky dancefloor grooves, rhythmic swing and heady musicality, as if their aim was to sit somewhere between Moodyman and Motor City Drum Ensemble. Arguably the EP's standout moment though, is Rawinthecity boss Fulbert's remix of "The Way You Need Me" - a dusty, ultra-deep groover capable of sending shivers down the spine of even the most sober of punters.
Review: Cologne-based selector and DJ Stephen Baldo has been putting records out for a decade now, but has really found his sound since he started to transmit music under the Ugly Drums guise. After an album for Quintessentials and 12" stealth drops on Kolour, Black Key Limited and Fifty Fathoms Deep last year, the Ugly Drums project resurfaces in triumphant fashion with this killer transmission for the ever excellent Faces label. Featuring contributions from Kalakuta Soul System, Chesney and Detroit based MC/Producer Brownstudy, the four tracks here are perfect ammo for any self respecting selector who likes to duck between house, disco and hip hop with lead cut "The Freak" our favourite.
Review: Marvin Gaye-styled party atmospheres, soulfully sung notes and beating drums all hit the spot for jubilant dancefloor vibes in the opening track of Kez YM's Root Bound EP, which after moving into the drum machine-jamming and chord-persistent "Random Collision" - one can't help think MCDE raw cuts! "Alive" provides passages of Rhodes that sing like birds, freeform jazz samples and more loop party-commentary, while "Passing Through" ventures into dubbier territory, but there's plenty of percussion, happy atmos and keys to prevent it from fall too deep into a moody ether.
Review: Having had success with some killer electro-boogie influenced singles, Australian producer Inkswel now rolls out this eight-track mini-LP. There's no old tracks featured here and its makes sense as the 80s boogie influences have largely given way to a darker, more warped and frankly more interesting take on things. Tracks like "Australiaborialis", "Circle Jerks" and "Stardusted" are just messed up, slo-mo loops with off-kilter hip-hop grooves. Totally weird and totally brilliant!
Review: Despite looking like a 1980s glam metal star, Japanese producer Rondenion is deep house through and through. Now plying his trade with French label Faces, he's previously released excellent material on Still Music and Rush Hour. The Montage EP sees him delivering more organic, jazz-flecked material shot through with a hustling urgency and intoxicating intensity. The relentless keys and jazz drums of "Herb" lead the way, before "Surely" injects some wayward jazz-funk into the floor-friendly mix. "Convulsions" follows suit, sounding like Theo Parrish in Ugly Edits mode, before Inkswel rounds things off with a suitably fluid rework of "Surely". Highly recommended!
Review: Over the past few years, MCDE has cultivated its own sound and vibe within the expansive spectrum that is deep house and this is thanks to, in part, the formation of a tight-nit family unit. Jayson Brothers are back once again with their signature sound on "Drop Back", a mellow yet raw beat surrounded by climatic pads and chopped-up vocals. "North & Pulask" is another sweet MPC-cut house jam rich with ringing melodies and sharp, crunchy hi-hats. On the B-side, Creative Swing Alliance introduce a deep, Detroit-flavoured percussion on "Yeah" but CSA member Pablo Valentino goes solo and maybe steals the show with "Like It Was 99" - classic hip-hop fuelled deep house for fans of Moodymann, Andres and the whole 313 sound. Highly Recommended
Review: Given his love of all things jazzy, it's perhaps no surprise to find that the latest Motor City Drum Ensemble label release (via parent company Faces France) is a modern re-boot of fluid jazz-house. "Cosmic Cart" itself is delightful, a spacious, flowing composition that fuses the looseness and organic grooves of jazz with the comforting pulse of high grade deep house. If Moodymann relocated to Moldova and necked copious amounts of tranquilizers, it would probably sound something like this. Soulphiction provides a suitably odd, slightly darker house take (think acid, wonky 4/4 beats and long, drawn-out chords), while Laroye turns it into a piano-laden jazz-house anthem (St Germain dragged kicking and screaming into 2012, if you will). Terrific stuff, all told.
Review: When he first reached the wider deep house scene on Yore Records, Kez YM demonstrated his ability to absorb the legacy of Detroit house as fathered by the likes of Kenny Dixon Jr. or Theo Parrish and adapt it to a more direct template. Where his influences might be famed for their curveball tracks, a DJ is safe with Kez YM's bluesy, soulful jams. It's actually 'Smoke Reflection', the closer on this EP that wins out with its smartly employed vocal. Whilst Kez YM's productions are undoubtedly steeped in a vintage deep house aesthetic they maintain a high-grade ethic that makes it hard to resist.
Review: Finally! Motor City Drum Ensemble aka Danilow Plessow drops the Raw Cuts series into one neat little package. Ubiquitous in 2009, the series showcased the Stuttgart native's ability to combine warm pads and luscious synths to create a house sound with a decidedly classicist tip. On this EP you'll also find two new jams from the Plessow-produced Jayson Brothers and a couple of new MCDE tracks, the highlight being "Prayer".
Review: A real gem, this supremely funky and slick Nu-Boogie bomb will remind you of many things, but will still uniquely burn itself onto your brain after a couple of spins. L'Aroye (aka Frenchman Thomas Arroyo) has already released acclaimed tunes like "Be The One" and "The Meet", and has been supported by Jazzanova, Patrick Forge, Gilles Peterson and 4Hero to name but a few.
Sounding in equal parts like Change (Luther Vandross's first disco/boogie gig) and PYT-mode Michael Jackson, the production on this is second to none. Every single note is groomed and smoothed out to perfection, with L'Aroye's voice sounding soulful but never cheesy.
The release comes with a range of different formats, with the dub and instrumental being as useful as the vocal. With any luck, this should be a smash really soon.