Review: DJ Koze's Pampa has already a lot to be proud about - including the reissue of Isolee's We Are Monster - but this new album by Ada may propel it into the mainstream. Sounding like "Bryter Later" period Nick Drake getting comfortable with Jose Padilla's DJ sets, the German producer delivers jaw-droppingly beautiful songs like "Faith" and "On The Mend", where breathy vocals and plaintive, chiming bells are combined with mournful guitar playing and ambient textures. Meanwhile, "Interlude" and "Happy Birthday" embrace IDM sensibilities, the latter in particular teeming with warbling melodies. However, it would be wrong to dismiss Meine Zarten Pfoten as being fey or ephemeral, and the brooding bass of "At The Gate" is a reminder that while Ada's head is in the clouds, her feet remain planted on the dancefloor.
Review: With releases on his own Studio Barnhus label and Pampa, Axel Boman is one of the most promising European house producers. He showcases this talent on his latest release for DJ Koze's label; the title track comprises tough, tribal beats and a rolling rhythm, but it also has a warm, fluid bass and expansive chords flows through it. In case there was any lingering doubt about Boman's abilities, he delivers "Nokturn (Grand Finale)". Much faster than the title track, its splintered but insistent percussion, jazzed out stabs and dub effects show that he is one of the most innovative young house artists.
Review: DJ Koze's label delivers its own riposte to Cadenza-style tribal house on Nero. While the title track's drums are more rigid than the organic beats that have become the staple of Luciano's label, they provide the basis upon which Cleis introduces lithe percussive touches and infectious piano keys. Just when you thought that the arrangement couldn't get any more infectious, sensuous strings and an insistent Latino vocal sweep in to ensure it becomes an anthem. Hopefully "Amaranthus" on the flip won't be forgotten about. A deeper techno cut, its throbbing bass, ethereal vocal samples and dreamy melodies show that Cleis isn't solely focused on party sounds.
Review: Deep house from the more abstract/experimental side is the order of the day on this latest three-tracker from Berlin veteran Dave DK, who's also a regular on Kompakt. 'Jelly Legs' rides heavy, muted 4/4s and shuffly top-end percussion with luxuriant pads and strings to create a potential future sunrise classic, while the muffled, moody 'El Point (High Tide)' features a spoken male vocal in French and speaks to DK's background in techno. And then finally we come to 'Chicama' itself, a lazy, atmospheric deep house groove topped with extensive snatches of sampled Turkish or Arabic speech.
Review: Given his own background in the studio and behind the decks, it's no surprise that DJ Koze's Pampa label is releasing Fratzengulasch. The title track starts off fairly innocuously, with deft tribal house beats providing the basis for an understated house groove, but soon enough, an eccentric-sounding woman starts singing in German. Things take an even more bizarre turn as some Middle Eastern string instruments appear midway through. "Maikaferbenzin" is only marginally more conventional; based on a bass-heavy groove, its squealing sax solos and foggy trombone bleating are reminiscent of Villalobos after the end of a long weekend. And no, we have no idea either what the track titles mean, but we love this release.
Review: Ah, it's finally the summer and where would we be without a DJ Koze record to accompany those long, open-air parties? The title track is a lush, string-filled affair that chugs along slowly. It's made all the more trippy by a female vocal whose narrative begins with the claim that 'everyone is experimenting with ecstasy' and who goes on to talk about lies and meditation. If that sounds too cosmic for you, then we recommend that you check out "Knee on Belly". It could be the German artist's version of '90s disco house, but realized against a gentle minimal house backdrop.
Review: German veteran DJ Koze impressed earlier this year with the Amygdala album, his fourth in total. Here, Pampa presents the first of what we assume will be a series of remix EPs. Excitingly, there's a rare remix from Matthew Herbert, who weighs in with a superb version of vocal cut "Magical Boy". His version, built around typically swinging drums and unlikely percussion samples, is deliciously sweet, wrapping the sublime vocal in sampled jazz horns, bubbling electronic bass and atmospheric chords. Efdemin provides a really rather lovely, ultra-deep house version of album highlight "La Duquesa" (thinking touchy-feely Rhodes, atmospheric strings and evocative electronics), before Koze's own instrumental of "Magical Boy" completes an excellent package.
Review: When Kosi Comes Around originally dropped back in 2005 on Kompakt, it was a seismic blast in the minimal scene it was borne unto. As that genre got resigned to the back of the shelf in favour of more traditional house and techno, so this album may have been overlooked somewhat, but time can be a great healer. With a fresh perspective and a loving reissue on his own Pampa, DJ Koze returns to his magnum opus and proves the music has strength and weatherproofing far beyond the winds of hype. With an arresting use of melodic elements and a mind-bending focus on micro-detail in the rhythmic arrangements, Kosi Comes Around sounds as shocking and inspiring today as it did when it first came out.
Review: Pampa have called in the big guns for on this second installment of the DJ Koze Amygdala Remixes series, with Roman Flugel and Robag Wruhme providing two typically intoxicating revisions. Flugel steps up first, delivering a dreamy, lucid and melodic take on "Amygdala" built around restless cymbals and liquid house rhythms. While hardly tropical, the melodies and chords certainly doff a cap to classic 1980s new age recordings. Wruhme reworks "Nices Wolkchen", delivering a typically loose, atmospheric and engaging tech-house interpretation that seems to float from the speakers. It makes an already beautiful track almost implausibly wide-eyed.
Review: For his first release on Pampa for some two years, DJ Koze is in a decidedly Balearic mood. For proof, check opener "Seeing Aliens", where drowsy acoustic guitar loops and gentle piano riffs wrap themselves around a hazy, sunrise-friendly deep house beat. This glassy-eyed mood is prevalent on the accompanying "Extended Breakthrough Listen" version, too, which builds slowly via a moodier and more bass-heavy section, rich in glitchy electronics, before blossoming into the familiar Balearic deep house groove. Bonus cut "Nein Konig Nein" has a similar feel, even though it's built around gentle Afro-house drums, fizzing tech-house electronics and a drowsy vocal sample.
Review: When it comes to crafting lengthy, disco fired dancefloor treats, DJ Koze has previous form. His "Extended Disco Version" of Lapsley's "Operator" quickly became a White Isle anthem in the summer of 2016, and we fully expect "Pick Up" to be one of the disco-house hits of 2018. Based around spine-tingling samples from a heart-felt, orchestrated 1970s disco treat - think Tom Trago's "Use Me Again", and you're close - the veteran producer slowly builds the pressure before really letting loose in the closing stages. Then "The Love Truck" is an altogether deeper, dubbier and dreamier affair, seemingly designed for leisurely warm-up sets and gentle, early morning shuffling.
Review: Following up 2013's well received Amygdala LP, DJ Koze returns with his fifth studio album for his esteemed Pampa imprint. The Flensburg native (by way of Hamburg and Berlin) teams up with a varied cast to support him on this eclectic yet captivating collection of tracks. From lead single "Illumination" featuring Irish chanteuse Roisin Murphy of Moloko, the typically woozy and esoteric take on deep house as heard on the Bon Iver sampling "Bonfire" or the evocative ambient pop of "Muddy Funster" (featuring Kurt Wagner of alt-country outfit Lambchop) and even a bit of urban flavour as heard on "Colors Of Autumn" featuring Speech of American R&B group Arrested Development. The German producer turns in a strong effort that blurs the boundaries between pop and underground music styles - with a distinct flair and sense of ease.
Review: Hamburg's Stefan Kozalla aka DJ Koze returns in 2018 with his new opus entitled Knock Knock on his Pampa imprint - which exists outside of trend and influence. An unholy mixture of techno with disco, soul, hip hop and psychedelia - there are even wafts of easy listening and indie rock. Special guests include Bon Iver, Speech from Arrested Development, Kurt Wagner of Lambchop, Pampa's very own Sophia Kennedy and the fine vocal talents of Jose Gonzalez. The first single taken from the album is "Illumination" which features the inimitable Roisin Murphy from Moloko. A lo-slung, deep and soulful journey featuring subtle filtered disco house elements and it's very stylish indeed.
Review: If you're looking for an alternative to functional techno or boorish bass music, then you've come to the right place. Over twelve tracks Dntel delivers an album that places great emphasis on melodies and dream-like textures. Although there is a good deal of variety on Aimlessness - compare and contrast the warm, fuzzy ambience of "Never Say Goodbye" and "Waitingfortherest II" - the underlying sound design and approach favours the seductively fragile. There are some echoes of Dntel's glitch past, most notably on "Bright Night" and "Retracer", but the highlights here are the dreamy, wispy arrangements like "Doc" and "Paper Landscape".
Review: Providing a choice pair of remixes for the Pampa imprint, Koze enlists himself and Die Vogel to perform surgery on tracks from Herbert and Dntel respectively. Die Vogel's version of "My Orphaned Son" is an endearing excursion into pastoral house music, where music box chimes meet with strummed bass, stoic brass and simmering strings in a purposeful and finely balanced track founded on club dynamics but expressed through a richer tapestry of sounds. Koze's version of "It's Only" finds him in brooding mood, as largely depicted by the prowling organ line. There's all the goodness (or should that say weirdness?) that you want from a Koze jam, playing on emotions with unconventionality like only he can.
Review: Here's something of a treat for fans of hypnotic, left-of-centre house music: a now rare outing from pioneering German producer Rajko Muller under his now familiar Isolee alias. Floripa is his first release of any sort since 2013, and is as atmospheric and undulating as you would expect. Like much of his work, the title track seems to unfurl in stages, with fluid melodies and spacey riffs slowly rising to prominence over a glitchy, intricately programmed groove. There's a slightly more tropical deep house flavour to "Favouride", with humid percussion hits and a liquid bassline underpinning sticky pads and sparkling melodies. It's a slice of picturesque, unfettered positivity produced with Muller's usual deft touch.
Review: Amazingly, it's 15 years since Isolee first tickled our fancy with the deliciously hypnotic and pleasingly melodic micro-house anthem "Beau Mot Plage". He's tried many things in the years since, from stripped-back minimalism to semi-organic loop techno. "Allowance" his first full solo EP for nearly three years, has echoes of his glory days. The darting, fluid "Wobble", for example, employs similar synth stabs of shuffling grooves, while "You Could Do Your Memories" is as heart aching and emotion-rich as any of his Playhouse-era classics. Best of all, though, is "Allowance", a sparse but beautifully appointed slice of deep-tronica underpinned by a loose but sturdy groove.
Review: After putting out his most US-focused release so far in the shape of the sublime Timeless mix for Cocoon, Peter Kersten now focuses his attention on a more European approach to house music. The title track has
all the hallmark subtlety of Lawrence productions, with a bleepy bassline powered along by textured, hissing percussion, but the German producer does not forget his love of Detroit techno, and it's the melancholic synths that make this track so special. Lawrence opts for a similar approach on "Oolong High": there, a more understated combination of bass pulses and sonic blips are audible, but it's the gloriously introspective pads and synth flourishes that make it so irresistible.
Review: It would be fair to say that Niall Mannion's first EP for Pampa is amongst the Irish producer's most eccentric releases to date. While both "Your Heavy Head" and "Kitedub" are underpinned by bubbly, tech-house drums and electronics, neither is your average peak-time club cut. "Your Heavy Head" is smothered in eccentric noises and musical elements - think accordion riffs, wind chimes and snippets of Mannion's own weary vocals - while "Kitedub" is deep, drowsy and quietly picturesque with the Tough one's teary singing rising to the forefront at regular intervals. Speaking of vocal tearjerkers, Mannion does a good job manipulating his own contemplative lyrics on ambient closer "Ahsure".
Review: After a sterling job of inaugurating DJ Koze's new sub label Hart & Tief a mere few weeks ago, Berlin hero Mike Dehnert returns to hand in an equally brilliant release for parent label Pampa. Although known for his structured and disciplined industrial techno on his revered Fachwerk imprint, Dehnert has shown that he can go deep as well, without compromising his tough as nails work ethic. On "How Close To Be", a buzzing modular pulse grinds away on top of a restrained rhythm and delay drenched vocals and its less is more approach works wonders. More modular gnarliness for offer on the spooky "Me Too", where uplifting keys are contrasted by squealing analogue grit and a steady beat.
Review: This latest missive from highly regarded German deep house label Pampa blends the thrill of the new, with all the comforts of the familiar. It kicks off with the debut of a previously unheard artist, Californian duo Ricoshei. Their "Perfect Like You" is delightfully soft focus, delivering fragile, heartfelt lyrics over tactile deep house beats, simmering strings and atmospheric chords. It's certainly evocative, and delivers the perfect balance between saccharine sweetness and subdued dancefloor bump. Experienced German techno producer Dave DK pops up on the flip with "Woolloomooloo", a sublime saunter through dreamy, ultra-deep house pastures.
Review: The main reason why German producer Robag Wruhme is one of the few minimal producers who retains credibility is because he doesn't sound like anyone else. Cybekks is so soft and fragile that at times it feels like it's made of silk. Even the dance floor tracks, "Volta Cobby" and the title track are imbued with an eerie, dreamy sensibility, characterised by mournful melodies unfolding over ponderous basslines. However, Wruhme really shines on "Anton I" and "Anton II". The former is a beautifully reflective piano composition, while the second instalment is led by tinkering bells, sleepy, bucolic hooks and a vocal that warbles and flutters like a supernatural woodland being.
Review: It's been almost exactly 12 months since Michael Baumann last put something out under the Soulphiction alias, a garishly coloured 12" on his own Philpot label. For a producer of his quality, that's far too long. "When Radio Was Boss", then, is a rare treat. The title track sees him exploring his trademark sound, a mix of heavy analogue, acid-house inspired bass, dense, Latin-influenced percussion, quirky vocal samples and razor-sharp strings. As usual, the blend is just right. "Maybachswagger" is, if anything, even better, delivering an atmospheric chunk of clandestine late night deepness built around shuffling samba beats, foreboding chords and female vocal scat singing. Impeccable stuff, then... as always!
Review: Hamburg's Martin Stimming resurfaces with his first release in some two years, aligning with Koze's well respected Pampa Records for a two-track release that magnifies "the opposing sides of his studio psyche". Given Stimming has graced the likes of liebe*detail, Terminal M and Diynamic with his considered grasp of dancefloor dynamics, this Pampa debut is a smart move and shows he's lost none of his production panache despite the aforementioned absence. Lead track "China Tree" betrays a spikiness that will suit the dancefloor perfectly, with the primal bassline and raw, unpredictable drums really getting a grip on your attention. Those seeking some melodic sweetness from Stimming will be all over the B-side "Southern Sun" where Piper Davis's subtly affected vocals are woven into the very fabric of a woozy, kaleidoscopic production.
Review: Remix compilations can be a little hit-and-miss, but this one - gathering together five years of eccentric and often inspired reinterpretations from German veteran DJ Koze - is anything but. Koze often saves his best work for the remix domain, delivering imaginative reworks that take the original material into surprising new places. So, Herbert's "If Only" is turned into a sparse chunk of atmosphere-rich late night deep house, Caribou's "Found Out" is blessed with a new sense of wonky, left-of-centre purpose, and Zwanie Johnson's "Golden Song" is given a decidedly Balearic, beatless makeover. Highlights are plentiful, with Koze's dubby, low-slung afro-jazz reinterpretation of Soap & Skin's "Marche Funebre" standing out.