Review: After establishing is reputation as a nu-disco artist on the rise via a string of releases on his own Sirsounds imprint, Daniel Klein AKA SIRS has finally been snapped up by a long-established label. His first outing on German stable Live at Robert Johnson marks a new chapter in his career, though the music on offer is just as alluring as anything he's released before. Opener 'Keep Forgetting' sets the tone, with waves of kaleidoscopic synthesizer sounds and picturesque electronics rising above a chunky, mid-tempo nu-disco groove, while 'Junee' sounds like an instrumental take on the Pet Shop Boys' deeper and more loved-up moments from the late 1980s. He flips the script on closing cut 'Call Me', adding warming synth and electric piano sounds to a slipped hip-hop beat.
Review: Dutch producer Perdu is known for his work on Optimo Music, Heist and We Play House, among other labels, and here he comes to Germany's Live At Robert Johnson with a five-tracker that draws heavily on Italo/cosmic disco for inspiration. 'Dystopia' is all driving 4/4s and shimmering synths, 'Retrograde Mercury' has an intense, claustrophobic, tribalistic feel, 'Rise Of F5' is uptempo and energetic, and 'Somehow It's Different Now' is a slightly more contemplative variation on the theme, before the Bells Remix of 'Dystopia' adds a little old skool Chi-town flava in the drums department.
Review: Benjamin Froehlich's musical involvement traces back many years in the cosmic disco and balearic scene, and into the networks of Robert Johnson club. It's fitting then that the Permanent Vacation co-head presents the latest installment in the Offenbach institution's label arm, with the strobe-lit and psyched-out acid house euphoria of "Club Fantasy", which comes with the Fantasy Verison - a stripped-back tool for DJ use. It's then full steam ahead on the heads-down stomper "Escape" which is perfect for those evocative moments, and ending with the intoxicating swirl of "Dream Machine" which will no doubt create some drama on the dancefloor.
Review: Get yourself acquainted with Llewellyn, the production alias of Martin Enke who's solo pursuits and Lake People collaboration can be found already on labels like Uncanny Valley, Kann Records, Permanent Vacation, Mule Musiq - and as Llewellyn on Riotvan. Recapture The Past elevates the project's profile through its release on Live At Robert Johnson that brings a synth saturated, '80s, Moroder-esque and discofied night driving sound to the Frankfurt label. Get your rock snares and arpeggiated basslines outta "The Final Essence" - our highlight - next to some proto-type happy house in "Recapture The Past". "Philly C Inside" offers a melodic and percussion heavy combination of stunts with "Simshit" flirting with computer games sounds and Cruisin' USA soundtracks.
Review: To the Robert Johnson club, Andrew Weatherall was one of the Frankfurt institution's most beloved residents. 'Lifesaver 4' is a compilation dedicated to the memory of the veteran DJ, featuring young talents and seasoned companions that have paid their musical tribute in order to commemorate the club's 21 year anniversary. Highlights not limited to: Perel's psychedelic off-kilter opener "Feuer & Wasser", the low slung sunset sounds of Panorama Bar resident Massimiliano Pagliara on "Before I Let You Go", club mainstay Gerd Janson delivering a typically neon-lit rendition of Portable's "Unity", the surprising addition of nearby Offenbach-based talent Cedric Dekowski on the afterhours minimal funk of "Livius" and Fort Romeau delivering his idiosyncratic style of hypnotic house on "Another Dymention". "Fail we may, sail we must".
Review: Davis Genuino follows up last year's Ordinary Sleep release on LARJ with this expansive affair. The title track is shaped by atmospheric synths and bleeding acid lines, with these elements unravelling over rolling, steely drums. "Avesso" follows a similar rhythmic trajectory, with off kilter kicks fused with a splurging bass to create a more stripped back track. In contrast, on "Fissura Na Neblina", Davis ventures down a mysterious path, with horror soundtrack-style synths melded with a pulsating bass. "Fugaz" meanwhile, is the most dance floor-friendly track, thanks to the use of a snaking bass and dreamy synths.
Review: Hesse native Victor Shan is next on local institution Live At Robert Johnson and if there's ever been a more poignant tribute to the clubbing institution and label - this is it right here. Taking his inspirations from disparate influences such as house, synthpop and balearic, Shan's LARJ debut 'Nordring 131' is named after the club's address in Offenbach. From the hypnotic classic house vibe of the title track which is awash in icy FM synthesis, the sublime ambient journey of "Meta", to the glassy-eyed and bittersweet Italo magic of "M1 Dreams". Finally, we hear him taking inspiration from the second Summer Of Love on the evocative "I Am For Real".
Review: Daniel Avery and Roman Flugel are Noun! Initially recorded some years ago at Flugel's former Frankfurt studio, the pair's collaboration descends deep into dubby, minimal and warehouse techno territory. Taking the best of Flugel's musical prowess with Avery's drum machine signatures, "Team Silent" embraces elements of '90s blueprint dub techno while "Meeting Of The Minds" leans more towards a sound you could expect to hear in Berghain; deep, cosmic, booming and sci-fi. An exciting new project on the books Live At Robert Johnson!
Review: Frankfurt institution Live At Robert Johnson present Diego Cortez Salas, a skilled talent of Peruvian origins who hails from Brussels and has had some impressive run of releases of late on tastemaker labels like Eclair Fifi's River Rapid, Correspondant and Biologic Records - which he's run with Abstraxion since 2014. Salas delves into classic house and disco aesthetics on 'The Complicated Art of Dreaming' EP: from the glistening FM synth tones of the smashing "Keep Them Closer" complete with signature 303 squelch, to the bass-driven peak time roar of "Guessing" and the emotive late night mood music of "Trustful" - all in all its one seriously neon-lit affair.
Review: Dusty, slammed down disco-house cosmiq. Whatever you wanna call it; space western discoteque pop from the techno future is still fun too. With dub trailing atmospheres streaking across the face of tracks like "The Light", all three here surf the skywaves of Detroit techno and Chicago house, lifting key notes and aquatic stabs from somewhere deeper in between too. Ripping key-tars and twangs bring the funk in "Volpi Polari" with "Fluto" going to Eiffel tower heights of Jean Michelle Jarre trance and '90s warehouse beats to lift you high.
Review: You can always count on British producer Mike Green aka Fort Romeau to provide epic and majestic and dancefloor drama, material that's been been heard on Permanent Vacation, Running back and Correspondant in recent times. He returns to Live At Robert Johnson to follow up 2016's Secrets & Lies with two brand new tracks here. Featuring the mesmerising dancefloor drama of "Dweller On The Threshold" awash in a dazzling array of rich melodic synth tapestries, while the moody and heads-down hypnotism of "Kontra Punkte" will entrance you deep into submission with its intoxicating bell textures - reaching near moments of sonar transmission.
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.
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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: Like a long and blurry session at the storied Robert Johnson club, Time Travel brings the listener on a real musical journey. It moves from the low-slung disco of Massimiliano Pagliara's "Sometimes at Night" into the deep, ponderous house of Portable and Maximillion Dunbar, moving into more dance floor focused grooves thanks to Benedikt Frey and Orson Wells before Frankfurt DJ Roman Flugel drops the brilliant wide screen electro of "Girls With Status". While Time Travel does largely document music emanating from the German city, it also goes back to the 80s to include the eternal Italo classic, "Flucht" by Zwischenfall.
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: 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: 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: People often forget that the widely-praised Robert Johnson club is actually from Offenbach and not Frankurt, a small town situated about 10 miles out of the city centre. Over the last few years, there's been a resurgence of talent emanating from the town, such as DJ Slynsgshot and his Yappin collective and associated artists like the Vincent Feit who opens the clubs thurd instalment of the Lifesaver series with a naughty little house melter called "X04". Across the comp, other RJ casuals appear, such as Massimigliano Pagliara with "Forever What", an aptly tropical house excursion, or Philip Lauer, Fort Romeau and the lesser known Felix Strahd. All in all, this is about the best house/techno compilation we've received all year and, like everything else the club does, it is an excellent addition to their catalogue. 10/10.
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 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: 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: 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: Frankfurt institution Robert Johnson have truly succeeded in creating an in-house label that stands strong on its own without needing to lean on the club that birthed it. Phillip Lauer has been a part of that success story since the early days of the label, appearing as part of Art Mwambe, as himself, and many of his other collaborative ventures. As such it makes sense that this addendum to the recent Lifesaver Compilation 2 release features two such projects, with Tuff City Kids up first. As ever from Gerd Janson and Lauer the vibe is brightly coloured and immediately grabbing, dealing in thoughtful house constructions without compromising on impact, while elsewhere Hotel Lauer features Phillip's brother Jacob getting involved for a more dubby excursion with a pleasing old-skool finish.
Review: Live At Robert Johnson's first Lifesaver compilation, released in 2013, offered an essential snapshot of the infamous club-turned-label's expanding roster, delivering tracks from respected heads and relative newcomers alike. This second installment ploughs a similar furrow, on one hand showcasing woozy dancefloor gear from familiar favourites (see Roman Flugel's formidable, sci-fi tinged analogue jam, "Tender Hooligan", and the beatbox electro-meets-spiraling synth-scapes of Lauer's "Language"), and genuinely impressive music from lesser-known names. In the latter category you'll find some genuine highlights, including the deliciously Balearic electronics of Chinsaski ("Futuresex"), and the Uncanny Valley style, semi-organic deep house chug of Benedikt Frey.
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: Orson Wells, AKA producer Leonard Poschmann, isn't exactly a new name - he's delivered contributions to split EPs under a variety of pseudonyms - but this is his debut solo EP. And what a debut. "Leaving", the EP's lead cut, is a bona-fide tear-jerker of epic proportions, built around Steve Summers/Confused House style rising and falling synthesizer lines, bittersweet melodies, squelchy acid tweaks and raw-but-stripped back drums. The equally melancholic "Searching" sounds like Lamont Booker's more introspective moments dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century ("New Age House" for a new century, perhaps), while "Jungle Warrior" feels like early Detroit techno, pitched down to a deep house tempo, with an added shot of feverish voodoo. As for the title track, it's stunningly beautiful. In a word: fantastic.
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.
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: 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.