Review: Occasional Rong Music types and Smash Hit Music Co mainstays 40 Thieves transfer to Claremont 56's dancefloor offshoot Leng for a touch of heady Balearic chugginess. "Backward Love" is arguably their best single for some time, coming on like a twisted Balearic disco trip through San Francisco's party underground with only copious amounts of LSD for company. It features backwards guitar solos, a killer groove and the sort of tight, dubwise disco bass that used to mark out Mudd releases. Flipside "Crystal Mountain Thunder Fuck" (really!) continues in the same vein, sounding not unlike an 80s alt rock B-Side. Well and truly baked - we love it.
Review: San Francisco trio 40 Thieves have never been particularly productive, dropping a handful of impressive releases over the course of the last decade. It's something of a pleasant surprise, then, to discover that this long-awaited debut album encompasses an impressive 20 tracks. It's exciting to report, too, that The Sky Is Yours is also rather good. Sitting somewhere between low-slung punk-funk, misty-eyed Balearica, slacker dub-rock, stargazing disco, wonky jazz, stripped Italo and bubbly nu-disco, the 20 tracks bristle with sassy alternative attitude and intoxicating underground flavour. It takes a little time to soak it all in, but it's worth the effort; The Sky Is Yours is full of weird and wonderful highlights.
Review: Balearica exponents 40 Thieves are back on Leng for this cheeky little treat. "In Your Space" is five minutes of slow motion cosmic pleasure, holding a soft and fluffy linear 70s groove that's in no rush to go anywhere...and with the chilled mood it'll put you in, that's a very good thing indeed.
Review: 40 Thieves long awaited debut album, The Sky Is Yours, was something of an epic; 10 years in the making, it stretched out across two CDs and four slabs of vinyl. Here, two tracks from the album get the remix treatment, with crate diggers-turned-party animals Psychemagik and Phil Mison's Cantoma outfit at the controls. Psychemagik's version of "The Sandpiper" is particularly good, delivering a heady, Arabic-influenced slice of chugging, eyes-wide-shut Balearica that benefits greatly from a rubbery groove and woozy chords. Mison takes a different approach on his rework of "The Sky Is Yours", laying down a version that sounds like T-Coy making late '80s Italian house. It is, all told, the epitome of Balearic house.
Review: Turkey's Ali Kuru specialises in slow, textured and deep beats with sultry, exotic overtones. His forthcoming LP "Egzotik" has elements of the type of noirish Mediterranean vibes peddled by Guy Gerber or David August. Here we have a selection of remixes of mainly album tracks. First up Italian cosmic legend Daniele Baldelli and Dario Piana team up for a killer electronic body music remix of "Ashoka". Next, Craig Bratley delivers a moody, minimal rework of "Zurna", "Return To Paradise" is turned into a traditional clippety-clop clap-along by Nicola Cruz and lastly "Lost Bedouin", reworked by Peter Power, recalls a million 90s chillout rooms.
Review: Ali Kuru took a decision some years ago not to seek publicity, preferring instead to let his music speak for itself. Egzotik, his long awaited debut album, seems to have a fair few stories to tell. Smothered in evocative field recordings made around his home city of Istanbul, the album is notable for fusing exotic Persian instrumentation with grooves and sounds more readily associated with cosmic disco, krautrock, dub, Balearica and Detroit beatdown. On paper, it's an unusual combination that should sound forced or contrived. In reality, it's a brilliant example of an artist with a singular artistic vision achieving his goals. Put it this way: it's amongst the most inspired and enjoyable debut albums we've heard this year.
Review: Turkish producer Ali Kuru is now some ten years into his recording career. While he's yet to receive serious attention, there's some undoubted gold to be found amongst his bulging discography. This first outing for the ever-reliable Leng imprint is arguably one of his strongest EP's to date, and once again showcases his Balearic-minded blends of traditional Turkish instrumentation, dub disco grooves, and downtempo nous. "Luna" is particularly fine, with exotic Turkish sounds gently unfurling over a warm, deep and dubby groove. He raises the tempo a little on "Araf", with fluttering flutes and Middle Eastern vocal snippets riding a metronomic groove built around reclaimed samba percussion and foreboding bass.
Review: It would be fair to say that Auf Togo's releases for Leng are sporadic, to say the least. While there are good reasons for this - Sasa Crnobrnja is busy with In Flagranti, while Clement Cochot-Coloum has his hands full with the Fabulous Penetrators - it's still frustrating for those who enjoy their undeniably quirky take on Balearic-rock fusion. Happily, this third EP - their first since 2013 - is chock full of highlights. Opener "The Basement", featuring MT, is an undeniably eccentric chunk of leftfield, AOR-influenced disco-pop, while "Second Tongue" blends undulating dub disco grooves with blazed, spoken vocals and punk-funk attitude. Closer "Carpet Stains", meanwhile, is a more obviously up-tempo, rock-influenced affair, with the duo's bold guitar chords counter-balanced by shimmering electronics and lilting melodies.
Review: Recently snapped up by Claremont 56 offshoot Leng, Auf Togo are a new duo comprising Clement Cachot-Coulom (The Fabulous Penetrators) and Sasa Crnobrnja (In Flagranti). As you might expect deep, rolling leftfield disco is the order of the day, with the title track being a seven minute opus with incessant claps, lolloping bass and 60s West Coast-style guitar strums adding a sunkissed feel to proceedings. "Member Talk" is more lively, with an open high hat steering things along in a hippyish groove. Again, the laid back funk-rock guitar adds a whole new sonic layer, setting the tone nicely for some quality chilled out clubbing.
Review: First surfacing on Leng late last year, the Auf Togo pairing of Fabulous Penetrators bassist Clement Cachot-Coulom and Sasa Crnobrnja of In Flagranti repute was one of the less expected collaborations. Nonetheless their Second Left EP was a delight, discarding with the heavily edited smutty disco that Crnobrnja pioneered with In Flagranti in favour of a rich Balearic sound that felt at times like the results of Tame Impala recording after a week camped out in an Amsterdam coffee shop. It's great to see them back on the Leng label with more Auf Togo, with lead track "Old Models" adding some cooing vocals into the mix over a taut, tight and warm Gallic disco groove. Meanwhile "Waiting For Beggi" retains the upbeat tempo but the mood is hazily Balearic and the bassline sumptuous.
Review: Slippery synth disco abounds as Grecian newcomers Thanasis Skouzis and George Fountzoulas develop their Bonnie & Klein brand on Leng. "Singularity" is straight out of the late 80s play book thanks to its array of flutes and wind elements. "Ergosphere", meanwhile, is a much slower affair with a drone-like dynamic that builds more and more momentum as more elements are introduced into the mix. Truly hypnotic.
Review: The latest release from the Claremont 56 stable is further proof that Mudd & Co seemingly reside in a place where the sun always shines. On this Leng twelve inch, Ray Mang and Lexx have been enlisted to add some aural Vitamin D to the DNA of two tracks from Cantoma’s album Out Of Town. Mang’s version of "Under The Stars" is a world away from his visceral pumping work on the recent Glimmers album, opting to retain the feel and pace of the source, imbuing the bass with several degrees of added warmth and adding an ethereal quality to the vocal harmonies that flourish in the depths of the mix. On the flip Bear Funk affiliate Lexx tackles "Gambarra", stripping back the cosmic oscillations of the original to focus on the harmonious partnership between Marcelo Andrade’s vocals and the lilting guitar melodies over a percussive groove which throbs but never dominates.
Review: For all his skills as a DJ - and, let's face it, he pretty much created the Afro-cosmic DJ style all on his own - Daniele Baldelli's productions have not always hit the mark. It's heartening to report, then, that this collaboration with Dario Piana for Leng Records is arguably the best thing he's produced to date. "Infinity Machine", where wild, effects-laden Clavinet lines, jammed-out electric piano chords and meandering synthesizer solos ride a particularly druggy arpeggio bassline, sets the tone magnificently, before the Italian duo jogs towards dub disco territory on the percussion rich "If You Drive". Badlelli's love of spacey synths, crunchy guitars and tactile synth bass comes to the fore on closer "Air Vibes", which also boasts a wonderfully tactile breakdown.
Review: Earthboogie - aka London soundsystem owners Izaak Gray and Nicola Robinson - make their wax debut with three raw, groove laden disco blends. Digging deep into both afrofunk and Italo roots, there's a universal musical language that grabs you physically across all three cuts. "Mr Mystery" sits between Booker T & The Mgs and Daniele Baldelli while "Route Ten To Interzone" is an energetic township jam with added synth sheen. Finally we're seduced by the Balearic weaves, ripples, twangs and horns of "The EB Theme". A rainbow of vibes from start to finish, this one's hard to put down.
Review: Earthboogie is currently on a break, so it's likely that this fine single is the last we'll hear from them for a year or two. First up is "Creepy Steve", a previously unheard workout that wraps lashings of Latin style percussion, spacey synthesizer noises, fuzzy guitar solos and African style vocals around a mid-tempo dub disco influenced groove. Arguably even better is Joel Harrison's remix of the title track from the band's superb debut album "Human Call". He retains some of the Afro-centric elements and live instrumentation but also adds dreamy, Larry Heard style chords, thrusting drums and some suitably wide-eyed musical touches. The result is a spacey deep house gem that's as warm and comforting as it is dancefloor friendly.
Review: The East London-based duo of Izaak Gray and Nicola Robinson have previously released a pair of EPs on Leng, showcasing their unique musical vision. This vision has never been clearer than it is on Human Call - a vibrant eight track album that combines African and South American dance music with a wide range of complimentary sounds. From spacey analogue electronics, and sun-kissed Balearica through to jazz, dub and disco. Throughout, Gray and Robinson showcase an impressive level of musicianship, combining dusty drum machines and warm analogue synthesizers with razor-sharp electric guitars, rich bass, cascading saxophone solos and hazy, life-affirming vocal harmonies.
Review: Earthboogie's debut album, Human Call has rightly earned praise upon its release earlier in the year, with listeners responding positively to its sticky and humid dancefloor fusions of African and South American rhythms, chunky dub disco, retro-futurist house, spacey analogue electronics and sun-kissed Balearica. Hot on the heels of that release, Leng Records has sourced new remixes of two album highlights. The remix of "High Minded Man" from Running Back label boss Gerd Janson is an electrifying classic house rendition with an Afro influence that's just as neon-lit as you'd expect. Next, synthesizer-wielding Balearic stalwart Pete Herbert gives "Silken Moon" the late night boogie-down vibe that this veteran of nu-disco always does so well.
Review: By his usually prolific standards, Fernando Pulichino has had a very quiet 2016. In fact, this fine EP for Leng is his first, and presumably only, release of the year. It wuld be fair to say that it's been worth the wait, though. As usual, each of the three tracks is built around his own fine instrumentation; check, for example, the spacey synths, tactile synth-bass and freshly baked guitars of opener "Backwards". Arguably even better is the funk-fuelled Balearic blues workout "Natural 77", which boasts Pulichino's own freestyle vocals, razor-sharp funk-rock guitars, and one of the producer's traditional rubbery basslines. Closer "Attic Party", a breezy trip through deep space via the Adriatic, is also rather good.
Review: Former Silver City man Fernando Pulichino seems to be mellowing with age. Having previously explored punk-funk, nu-disco and deep house on his solo releases, he's now switched his focus to dub-influenced, slo-mo Balearic synth-rock. Many of the old trademarks are still present - think rubbery live bass, fluorescent, vintage-sounding synths and unfussy beats - but are here joined by fuzzy guitar solos and an evocative vocal from guest star Fiorucci. It's a potent blend, reminiscent of early '80s cosmic rock with a little more nu-disco nous. The original vocal version is joined by a delicious Extended Dub, which impressively stretches out the infectious, head-nodding groove.
Review: Although their name sounds like the kind of faux-scientific title students might use to legitimise wayward experiments with hallucinogenic fungi, Mushrooms Project are in fact bona fide nu-disco veterans. "16823" recently appeared on their Undergrass LP and now it gets its own pair of remixes. Brennan Green goes all linear and shimmering Balearic electro-disco on us, while Mudd go all analogue - delivering six minutes of restrained disco rock bliss.
Review: Ah yes, it's the unstoppable Mushroom Project back to dominate our nu-disco charts with their inimitable swagger, and it's the Leng label that welcomes the back with open arms. To be honest, we're overjoyed to see them again, especially if they're bringing this many tunes along with them - all marvellously diverse and rich in harmonic texture. "Rivea Corymbosa" and "Rio Paraiba Do Sol", for example, are simply two sublime slice of balearic funk, while other tunes like "Dirty Bolas" veer onto more beat-laden territories. Tribalism and funk are very much at the core of all these tunes, and while it's all too easy to go for the big names and forget those riding below the radar, this release by Mushroom Project is both some of the best music these guys have put out, and makes for one of the best EPs on our charts this week. Warmly recommended.
Review: More sleazy, mid-tempo and laid-back percussive styles courtesy of The Mushrooms Project - it's what they're becoming known for really. They are back on London's Leng with a sound that immediately resonated with rising stars and newly signed label mates Earthboogie. "Dubby Bolas"is actually from the Italian duo's 2016 LP Rivea Corymbosa. It really excited Earthboogie - who turned it into cosmic/balearic tinged ambient house journey. Equally, the Mushrooms were fans of the Afro disco sound that the Londoners displayed on their debut track "Route Ten To Interzone" which they have now respectfully reworked featuring a little bit more dancefloor dynamic.
Review: Psychemagik's recent, two-part Magik Sunset compilation was arguably one of the best of the year, with the crate-digging twosome gathering together an impressively obscure selection of Balearic-minded nuggets. Here, two compilation highlights get the re-edit treatment. Veteran New York crate digger and occasional Rong Music contributor Andi Hanley steps up first, providing a sensationally sensual extension of P'Cock's blazed, blue-eyed soul tinged dub disco head-nodder "Telephone Song". It's impeccable in its' execution, with Hanley brilliantly emphasizing the original's smooth, reggae-influenced groove. Label boss Mudd handles Francis Lai's "Young Freedom", once again stretching out the original's blazed groove before making high with the spiraling synthesizer lines and horizontally inclined strings.
Review: Last year Payfone main man Phil Passera moved to Sant Celoni, a historic Catalonian town to the North West of Barcelona. It clearly provided him with much needed inspiration, because his latest single is a beautifully Balearic, soft-focus love song between two women set in the historic town. The song is wonderfully woozy and sun-kissed, with drowsy bi-lingual vocals, glistening guitars and warm synths rising above a languid rhythm track. In Flagranti handle remix duties, offering up a revision that joins the dots between dub, Balearic synth-pop and proto house. Solid instrumental and radio edit versions complete a must-check package.
Review: Out Of The Blue, Phil Mison's first compilation for some time, was apparently inspired by his first few trips to the White Isle of Ibiza, and specifically the unlikely set of circumstances that led to him filling in for Jose Padilla at Cafe Del Mar. Musically, it's reflective of the story, joining the dots between impossible-to-find rarities (see the loved-up instrumental jazz-rock of "Jelly" by The Cactus Rose Project and the life-affirming fusion business of Christoph Spendel Group's "Forever", for starters), huggable Balearic synth-pop, flamenco-inspired sunset gems, and a smattering of head-in-the-clouds Italian dream house killers. Given Mison's heritage and status as one of Balearica's top selectors, it's perhaps unsurprising that Out Of The Blue is undeniably brilliant.
Review: There are few record collectors and DJs with crates quite as deep as Psychemagik. They've already proved this beyond doubt via a trio of brilliant Magik compilations for Paul Murphy and Simon Purnell's Leng label. Magik Sunset Part 2 continues this run, gathering together another double-album's worth of fantastic obscurities from the worlds of stoner disco, left-of-centre rock, psychedelia and Balearica. As usual, there are some genuine "how did I not know about this record" moments, from the star-kissed Balearic jazz of Fabio Fabor and saucer-eyed white boy reggae-rock of the Trepidants, to the Flamenco-tinged AOR disco shuffle of Jack Adkins' "Sunset Beach".
Review: The Leng label has managed to put together a handsome trio of producers with this latest EP, managing to find some painfully common grounds between Phil Gerus (Futureboogie / Sonar Kollektiv), Lay-Far (Local Talk), and newcomer Solitary High School. Together, this quirky selection of house-not-house producers have dropped four magnificent summer anthems, glazed in a noticeably neo-romantic coating, tapping into both the disco and coldwave bubbles. Pleasingly eerie synths are blended with steady drum-machine rhythms that permeate an undeniably boogie element from their low-ends, especially on the masterful "Love Life", an excellent example of modern sampling.
Review: Born in Italy, based in London, the name of Paolo Guglielmino AKA Super Paulo should be familiar to nu-disco buyers by now, but this latest offering for Leng Records may well be his finest work to date. In its Original form, 'Bella Topa' seamlessly blends early hip-hop beats, hints of Eastern mysticism, plangent west goast geetars, lounge-y flourishes and more into a druggy, chuggy mid-paced disco-funk groover that can rival the best of Compass Point Studios' legendary output, while the Club Reconstruction Fast and Club Reconstruction Slow mixes offer two alternate takes. A triumph.
Review: Leng has offered up some decent debuts over the last few years. This two-tracker from previously unheard Moscow producer Takovoi is another. "5-2-9" is particularly potent, with the Russian wrapping snaking, delay-laden sax samples, warm chords, blissful synthesizer arpeggio lines and faintly foreboding electronic stabs around a heady, pleasingly chugging dub disco groove. "The Fox With The Dog" features a similarly tasty fusion of psychedelic electronics, layered percussion and glassy Balearic flourishes. This time, though, the breakbeat-driven groove is altogether heavier, helped in no small part by some seriously weighty electro bass and the notable presence of mind-altering, TB-303 style acid lines.