Review: Given that Pete Herbert has done more than most to define the synth-heavy nu-disco sound, it's pleasing to see that he's finally got round to recording a debut solo album. Made in the Shade naturally encapsulates all that's good about Herbert's work - think colourful synthesizers, loved-up pianos, dreamy chords, rich analogue synth-bass, Italo-disco style arpeggio lines, disco cowbells and an saucer-eyed Balearic mindset - while delivering a string of tracks that sound as good slouched on the sofa at home as they do while dancing in the sunshine. Highlights come thick and fast, from the classic Italo-house surge of "Washed Up" and T-Coy-does-nu-disco cheeriness of "Night Boat", to the soul-flecked tingle of Robert Owens hook-up "Pass Me By" and groovy, acid-flecked deepness of proto-house shuffler "Time".
Review: Since launching as a Tirk sub-label in 2009, Nang Records has gone on to outlive its parent label and become one of the most reliable imprints in nu-disco. The label's progress has traditionally been charted by compilation series The Array, with new volumes appearing every 12 months or so. This latest installment is naturally packed with highlights, from the sparkling disco-soul of Hot Toddy's remix of Situation's Andre Esput hook-up, "Get To Know Me", and the contemporary Italo-disco throb of James Rod's "Steelerr", to the quirky Balearic bliss of Cardmoth, the synth-heavy wooziness of Deepkey, and the trippy, acid-flecked thrills of Aimes' "A View of Istanbul".
Review: This is big: a collaboration between Balearic nu-disc heavyweight Pete Herbert and "the voice of house" himself, Robert Owens. In its original form, "Pass Me By" is bubbly and attractive, with Owens' adding deep, soulful and emotion-rich vocals to a sparkling, synth-heavy backing track that effortlessly joins the dots between freestyle, proto-house and Italo-disco. The equally impressive remix package is headed up by two fine reworks from Daniele Baldelli and DJ Rocca: a chugging, undulating cosmic disco vocal version and a spaced-out, groove-driven Dub that hits home hard despite the lack of Owens' full vocal. Elsewhere, Aussie adventurer Dr Packer gives it an electrofunk flavoured house makeover and Pete Herbert turns in a fluid, Balearic-inspired rework full of heady synth lines and tumbling pianos.
Review: Along with Sheffield combo Hiem, Rayko is fast becoming Nang Records' most reliable artist. It would be fair to say that his latest album, No Stopping - his fourth in total and first since 2014 - is undoubtedly his strongest yet. Blessed with some fine guest vocals from Tania Haroshka and, perhaps more impressively, Crazy P's Danielle Moore, the set features much more "live instrumentation" - most notably bass and electric guitars - than the Spaniard's previous full-lengths. This adds an extra level of musical richness to the Madrid man's synthesizer-heavy tracks, which once again flit between hard-edged nu-disco, sun-kissed Balearica, revivalist electrofunk sweetness and the kind of cosmic disco that we would once have expected to hear from Daniele Baldelli and Marco Dionigi.
Review: Slovenian Sare Havlicek's music is all about the music and moods determined by the cultural draft so typical of the area where Mediterranean passion hooks up with East European pride and where German exactness blends with hedonistic Balkan spirits. He returns to Nang with the first single of his eagerly awaited fourth album entitled Softmachine. "Everybody Freak Out" announces Sare's return with a loud disco bang. It's a low slung and funky deep disco joint. Remixes come from artists all over the planet. Our favourites were by Kim & Buran with their Space Disco mix which has a cosmic intergalactic feel about it and the upbeat-neon-lit rendition by Kontinents from Budapest.
Review: Sare Havlicek has long been one of Nang's most reliable artists, delivering a steady stream of well-crafted albums and singles. Predictably, the Slovenian is in fine form on this fourth full-length - his first for two years - gleefully sprinting between joyful, Chic-inspired disco ("Everybody Freak Out", "Like You Wanna Do", "Here Comes That Sound"), woozy, synth-heavy Balearica ("Softmachine"), undulating Italo-disco inspired electrofunk ("Riot"), colourful P-funk ("Science of the Beat"), sumptuous Balearic disco bliss ("Music and Lies") and "Stranger Things"-inspired synthesizer soundscapes ("Perpetual Rise" and opener "Dreamachine"). In other words, it's another spot-on collection from the Slovenian.
Shield Of Love (Sare Havlicek And Loudery First Avenue remix) - (5:45) 120 BPM
Shield Of Love (instrumental) - (6:23) 120 BPM
Shield Of Love (Sare Havlicek And Loudery First Avenue instrumental) - (5:45) 120 BPM
Review: Next up on Nang, they finally got a record that they signed back in 2011/2 out the door. Why it has taken them six years of A&R to turn this one around is another story: but better late than never. Featuring the mysterious Unclepasha with Loudery aka Marc Green (boss of Nang), "Shield Of Love" is the kind of disco house that is funky and filtered to perfection: think the 'French Touch' vibe. It also gets an awesome remix: Slovenian Hare Havlick teams up with the aforementioned Loudery on a euphoric trance rendition - the old fashioned way and just the way we like it. Also conveniently included are an instrumental version of both renditions for DJ use.
Dance All Night (Sare Havlicek remix) - (6:09) 115 BPM
Dance All Night (Yomakomba remix) - (6:12) 118 BPM
Review: Kontinents may be a new name, but the producers behind the project - one of whom is based in Budapest, the other in Moscow - have apparently both tasted solo success in the nu-disco scene. You can hear this experience in the way they've written and produced "Dance All Night", where breezy and attractive vocals from guest singer Shusha rise above a bubbly backing track rich in chunky synth-bass, bright nu-disco electronics and sun-kissed lead lines. Bonus cut "Be With You (Extended Mix)" is arguably even stronger and sunnier, with sing-along chorus vocals and a slightly more Balearic house feel. The package also includes two remixes of "Dance All Night", with Yomakomba's wonderfully warm, dreamy and emotion rich deep house interpretation being our pick of the pair.
Review: Long serving Sheffield twosome Hiem has a new album ready to drop. First, though, we get a taste of what's to come in the shape of "Highlife", the duo's first single for two years. It's a jaunty and groovy affair, with band member Bozz doing his best Phil Oakey impression over a dub disco-meets-synth-pop backing track rich in rubbery bass guitar and sleazy saxophones. Nang regular Pete Herbert is on remix duty, delivering two floor-friendly interpretations in his usual elastic nu-disco style. He adds some Italo-disco inspired synth solos and fizzing electronic noises, re-playing the duo's bass guitar part on his favoured synthesizer of choice. Of the two, it's the Dub that we prefer, though the vocal version is almost equally as impressive.
Review: Legendary Sheffield techno-pop duo Hiem are back! First breaking out in the mid noughties with anthems such as "She's The One" and "Zombie Party" which received equally prolific remixes by Mathew Jonson and Konrad Black respectively. Nick "Nico" Eastwood and the inimitable David "Bozz" Boswell never really stopped going: and now London based Nang present their new Hotspace LP, which follows up some great collaborations on the label with Phil Oakey (Human League) and Roots Manuva, not to mention the 2014 full length entitled Freaky Nights. Much like their previous effort, the duo continue pursuing their love of pop-inflected nu-disco sounds: and the dynamic opener "High Life" is strong evidence of this from the get go. There is some gorgeous slo-mo Italo like on "Oxygene", some lo-slung soul/funk swagger on "My Evil Friends" and even a bit of comedic value in the form of the hilarious satire "Monkey Office".