Review: Frey follows up Reframe, his 2015 release on Live At Robert Johnson, with this left of centre affair. "Looking Back" is a drawn out, acid-heavy affair that resounds to steely snares and a feeling that the listener is being sucked backwards down a tunnel to Alice in Wonderland. By contrast, "Clown Time" is a high tempo affair that has echoes of Woody McBride's acid sound, aligned here with break beats and vocal snippets. Finally, there's the title track; different to the preceding arrangements, it's a sprawling affair, led by a buzz saw bass and featuring indistinct, new-wave vocals - the kind of jam that Intergalactic Gary will spin.
Review: A second set of selections from Live at Robert Johnson's excellent Lifesaver Compilation, for those who missed out on the CD/vinyl samplers when they dropped a few weeks back. Benedikt Frey kicks things off with "Sometimes", an atmospheric, woozy, melancholic and occasionally sombre slice of quiet house. The Citizen's Band continues on this intergalactic tip with "Descend", the aural equivalent of drifting through outer space with your eyes closed - all alien ambience and bubbling electronics. A fine EP draws to a close with Portable's huggable "Nano Flower", a hook-up with Lcio that pits drifting flutes and cute synth melodies against sweaty live drums and enveloping strings.
Review: It's been three long years since Benjamin Milz's last release, and that was as part of an all-start ensemble of Frankfurt talent on Chi-Wax. This, then, is his solo debut for Live At Robert Johnson, and it's really rather good. There's something thrillingly no-nonsense about the thumping kick drums, hissing cymbals, woozy melodies, restless cowbells and ragged acid lines of "Dc2", which feels like an all-out assault on the senses. He prioritizes mood and melody a little more elsewhere, playing around with attractive arpeggio lines on the tactile and picturesque "Obd", while fusing cloudy chords, glistening melodies and UK-garage influenced beats on the bold and beautiful "Basic Motion".
Review: Bodies is Chanaski aka Stefan Haag's third release on the acclaimed LARJ label, and sees him drop a series of hardware-produced jams. First up, he displays his love of 80s electro with "Erscheinung". Featuring steely 808s and a Parliament bass, it seamlessly fuses stern, robotic synths and a riotous, freestyle aesthetic. On "Paura", Haag turns towards the dance floor, this time with straighter kicks and squelchy bass pulses creating a robust techno jam. However, Chinaski has a different side: "Forbidden" is more reflective and sees him drop evocative electro synths, while "Face 2 Face" provides the listener with an atmospheric ambient outro.
Review: Synthesizer fancier Chinaski (AKA producer Stefan Haag) doesn't tend to release a lot of music, with his last EP of note dropping way back in 2013. That said, what he does release is usually top notch, with rich, colourful synth melodies and sepia-tinted chords riding fizzing drum machine rhythms. This expansive first EP for Live at Robert Johnson is packed with such moments, from the chiming beauty of dancefloor shuffler "Night School" and the Pet Shop Boys-on-class A's rush of "Hide Society", to the ghostly tunefulness and tech-house chug of opener "Time To Kill". Best of all, though, is "Midnight Workout", a tear-jerking chunk of deep synth-pop melancholia that's simply sublime.
Review: The Citizen's Band's second instalment for Ramona's favourite label hollows their long lasting love affair. Christian Beisswenger's (CB Funk, one half of Arto Mwambe) is nothing less than dealing with the demise of an empire. "Broken Rome" is a codeine trip through early Nu Groove rave tracks as well as an ode to Junior Vasquez at the helm of the Sound Factory seen and heard through frosted glass. "Densed" on the other hand tips its toes into the current deep house stream with an Arto-Mwambe-like hook and a thumping bass line. The spaces in-between those rudiments are taken up by the IDM finger exercise and jewel that is "Into": Ottoman dancing!
Review: Davis a key figure of Sao Paulo's strong techno and house scene and a member of the collective behind the underground warehouse event series ODD. On his second EP for Frankfurt institution Live At Robert Johnson, Davis brings together breakbeat and acid with his trancy signature synthwave melodies. "Ordinary Sleep" has a noirish, moody and slow burning vibe that is perfect for setting the mood in the early evening or the AM hours alike, the emotive electro as heard on "Different Angle" takes aspects of a classic sound while giving it a fresh modern interpretation and "Quantum Consciousness" is a throwback to Chicago's first wave in all its gritty dusted down attitude: think Adonis or Ralphi Rosario.
Review: Davis is one of the main movers in the Brazilian house/techno scene and runs the In Their Feelings label. This is his debut release on Live at Robert Johnson and should raise his profile on this side of the Atlantic. It certainly proves the German label was astute to sign him. "Metal Clouds" kick starts the release with morse code bleeps before moving into waves of rough tones and sirens. Meanwhile, the title track offers up a deeper take on this approach, with dark acid lines unfolding over a stripped back rhythm track and thunderous claps. "Reverse Fault" is deeper and more hypnotic, revolving around a slick acid line and swirling synths, while closing track "Plenitude" has echoes of classic Dial.
Review: When Maxmillion Dunbar released Max Tracks For World Peace EP, it confirmed his arrival as a producer with genuine talent. The stand out track from that EP was a rainbow-tinted fusion of old-world ambience, contemporary deep house and shimmering, synth-wave goodness called "Polo". Although superb, it seemed to be rather overlooked at the time, perhaps because its kaleidoscopic melodies, spacious grooves and eyes-wide-shut feel didn't quite fit in with contemporary dancefloor values. Pleasingly, Live At Robert Johnson have decided to give it a much-deserved single release, with two brand new versions for Dunbar fans to drool over. And drool you will. Field-Pickering has provided a brand new extended version, with stretches out the six-minute original into ten minutes of crystalline gorgeousness. Arto Mwambe man Phillip Lauer - a Live At Robert Johnson regular whose debut album will drop on Running Back later this spring - provides the remix. It's a smart choice from the LARJ camp, because Lauer is no stranger to melodic, soundscape deep house. Highly recommended.
Review: Currently enjoying a resurgence in interest after his lauded Fatty Folders LP last year, the evergreen Roman Flugel drops this tasty four-tracker for the Robert Johnson crew and it's a fine example of just how effortless the man can make high grade house music sound. "OTH" is a warm and grooving run through rich layers of synths, with the sci-fi touches of earliest Sheffield bleep but none of the coldness. "Cookie Dust" meanwhile is a touch feistier, as the tempo gets upped and the track comes off sounding like cool-as-ice electro techno. "Thank You Jack" and "Girls With Status" show where Flugel can head with more downtempo sounds, with the latter being a particularly sweet slice of broken beat elegance.
Review: These days, you never quite know what you're going to get from Roman Flugel, but chances are it'll be worth checking. Desperate Housemen, his first EP for the versatile Live At Robert Johnson, is suitably interesting. Over the four tracks, Flugel flexes his electronic muscles, dusts off some vintage keys and lays down typically spellbinding grooves. There's the palatial Kraftwerkian electro/techno of "Lovedancing", the ambidextrous low-end wobble of "Mulish Crease" (like early Warp IDM with a dancefloor pulse), and even a spot of woozy deep house ("Iron Curtain"). Oh, and the farting sub and nagging hooks of "Dishes & Wishes", a kind of smacked-out version of Mr Fingers "Washing Machine" given a twisted disco makeover. Pretty much what you expected, eh?
Review: It can be hard to predict what Fort Romeau will do next. While he's always excelled at making evocative, melancholic blends of vintage deep house, instrumental synth-pop and glistening electronica, he's prone to frequent stylistic shifts, as his eccentric 2015 outings on Cin Cin and Running Back neatly demonstrated. For this EP on Live At Robert Johnson, he's back to his deep and emotion-rich best, laying down a trio of tracks that emphasise mood, melody and simple beauty over the demands of the dancefloor. "Facing The Sea" is the most obvious club-friendly of the three - think chugging, hissing rhythms, winding melodies and Behaviour-era Pet Shop Boys chords - though it's the intensely beautiful "Seventyfour" that really stands out.
Review: During the day, Jacques Bon can be found behind the counter at the Smallville record store in Paris, while by night, he focuses his attention on the kind of deep, sensuous house that he sells. The title track here is a stripped back, fragile groove that resounds to chimes and evocative tones, all realised against a 120 bpm tempo. On "Hey Matt", he ups the ante slightly to drop a chord-heavy groove that has a slightly woozier feel. The release also features two remixes of "Fractals" by Lauer. The first, the 'Frankfurt Beat' version, is a pulsating electronic affair, while on the 808 version, Lauer drops an irresistible, rolling take, laden down with acidic tones and evocative riffs.
Review: A new EP by Frankfurt house hero Phillip Lauer is up next on Live At Robert Johnson. This is his first release in five years since the H.R. EP and let's not forget that great Live At Robert Johnson Volume 6 mix CD as well. The Tearsh EP features the retro emotive Summer of Love style groove of the title track, which you could imagine playing at a rave under the M5 motorway back in '89. "Antinat" continues on with the same knack for lovably cheesy 80's synth disco melodics which he explored with Fabrizio Mammarella on the Black Spuma project last year while "Jetdentist" takes things down a druggier nu-disco route more suited to the early hours. He saves the best for the last on the explosive hi-NRG stormer "Deass" which we admired in in all its camp ferocity!
Review: It's been a fair few years now since Italian producer Massimiliano Pagliara, famed for his analogue-heavy blends of bright synthesizer melodies, pop hooks, Chicago house grooves and robust acid lines, relocated from Italy to Berlin. It's obviously been a fruitful move, as this second full-length - his first dropped in 2011 - is mostly made up of collaborations with locally based producers. Norwegian exile Telephones lends a hand on the deliciously Balearic "Long Distance Call", with one-time NYC resident Lee Douglas recalling his TBD work with Justin Vandervolgen on the murky acid assault that is "Fall Again". Elsewhere, you'll find a range of moods, ranging from the enveloping power house of "Native Tribes of Jupiter" (a hook-up with Credit 00), to the dreamy synth-pop of "With One Another".
Review: Massimiliano Pagliara has been flirting with other labels over recent years - most notably Ostgut Ton and Uncanny Valley - but his heart remains with Live at Robert Johnson. As a sign of commitment, he's delivered Devoid of Dimension, an EP in two parts. Part one begins in confident fashion with the sparkling thrills of "Free at Last", where twinkling synth melodies and spine-tingling chords dance around a sweaty, occasionally cacophonous, percussion-rich groove. The melodious, electrofunk-goes-house fun continues on the thoughtful "Unstoppable Trajectory", before Pagliara drops into loved-up mode via the impeccable tunefulness and melancholic chord sequences of "Blue Eyes". Finally, the Berlin-based Italian simmers things down on rolling, slo-mo closer "Small Town Life", a pleasingly dubbed-out chunk of bass-heavy, synthesizer-driven Balearica.
Review: Feel Live is southern Italian DJ/producer Massimiliano Pagilara's third full-length for Frankfurt institution Live At Robert Johnson, following up 2011's Focus On Infinity and With One Another - released in 2014. Recorded between Los Angeles, Portland and his base in Berlin as well as at airports and on intercontinental flights, it is his most playful and imaginative work to date -featuring a variety of bold and stylish sonic narratives. Featuring vocals by Private Agenda (the lo-slung "Winter In Los Angeles"), Peaking Lights' Indra Dunis (the neon-lit disco antics of "Trust The Direction In The Wind") and the inimitable Fort Romeau on the tripped-out chilltronica of "Floating Room".
Review: Lennard Poschmann may not be as famous as his artistic name sake, but as his first album for Live At Robert Johnson shows, he is keenly aware of electronic music's cinematic power. This is audible on the lush ambience of "Welcome" and "Zerphyx", while similarly emotive sounds are underpinned by a hyper-speed, Juan Atkins style rhythm on "Rise" and "A66", where a warm, buzzing bass supports Poschmann's sublime synths. At times, the album veers too close to other producer's tropes - the delicate "Situation" is the most Aril Brikha track ever made - but like his enigmatic predecessor, Wells throws the futuristic electro of "Trianon" and the bleep-laden soundtrack of "Sincere" to keep his audience guessing, in Third Man style, right till the very end.
Review: Offenbach?s favourite son returns! A long time affiliate of legendary local institution Robert Johnson, White/Rimini boss Oskar Offermann represents for the hometown club which gave him his first break - after releases on quality labels like Mule Musiq, Aim and locals Hardworksoftdrink. The tracks on his new offering entitled Truth With The Kilos are right in harmony with Frankfurt?s new breed (such as the Traffic and Pager crews), as best heard on retro techno/electro jams like "Motikids Im Swingerclub" or "Moments Later", while "Dopey" goes down a dirty slo-mo acid route.
Review: Live at Bobby J's serve up this remix shaped addendum to Mr Pagliara's excellent thick set long player Focus for Infinity, with mainstays Tuff City Kids and B.H.F.V. at the controls. Anyone who's checked a Tuff City Kid production in recent times will be getting a bit excited at the prospect of a remix proper as well as some bonus acid endeavours from Lauer and Janson. Rightly so too - in their hands "A Wrong Chance" gets moulded into a heaving mass of cavernous thumping house brilliance that constantly switches between moods. Just wait for the truly haunting treatment of crystalline chords to arrive! The Acid Bonus Riddim version is the more basic variant, stripping it down to let the bass do the talking before the acid takes effect. The presence of B.H.F.V. is a welcome return for the duo who slipped out the excellent throwback electro jams on ET 01-06 earlier in the year, and their take nine minute on "In Order Of More Depth" applies a similarly bleep heavy approach amidst expansive surges of Technicolor light. Big tip for the heads!
A Process (feat Lcio - Flutramental Version) - (8:20) 120 BPM
A Process (Acappella) - (2:09)
Review: Few are better than Portable at creating killer grooves that defy convention. "A Process" is a great example of that. Although its groove sticks to a 4/4 tempo, it swings, bumps and winds majestically, sounding not unlike the illegitimate offspring of broken beat and tech-jazz. With some beautifully simple classic house pianos and a similarly tactile vocal atop, "Process" slowly builds to a percussive crescendo before tailing off into touchy-feely, beatless territory. It's as atmospheric and heartwarming as you'd expect, without resorting to aural cliches. There's also a slightly more coffee table rework featuring a series of natty flute solos and a delay-laden acapella that could prove useful to creative DJs.
Review: The veteran London duo Giles Smith and James Priestley aka Secretsundaze debut on Live At Robert Johnson with pure deep house vibes. Here they serve up something with a bit more old school flair on "Gigantic Impossibly Large", which sees them channel a classic sound, particularly on the NYC dub which calls to mind that timeless aesthetic of early Statside house. The brooding tension and drama of OG's version sounds more reminiscent of today's dancefloor dynamics, while downbeat reductions exist in the form of the exotic and arcane 10 AM version and the slow burning boogie down antics of the B2 jam make a worthy addition also.