Review: Fresh from delivering a fine EP on Futureboogie Recordings, rising star Austin Ato pitches up on Phonica's occasional "White" series. Title track "Song For Mr Lewis" may well be the up-and-coming producer's single most impressive cut yet. An epic chunk of string-drenched, sample-heavy deep house brilliance, it contains all manner of jazzy keys solos, twinkling melodies and orchestral sweeps.Then Ato delivers an altogether dirtier and sleazier Dub of the same cut - with tons of additional percussion, including some restless cowbells - before reaching for the delays on the dreamy sunrise rush that is "Morning". It, too, contains some superb keys-work alongside a near perfect, eyes-closed spoken word vocal.
Review: The latest installment of the occasional Phonica White series comes from a familiar favourite, Berlin-based Japanese producer Lori. This is his third contribution to the series, all told, and is every bit as impressive as its' predecessors. He begins with "Monsoon", an atmospheric and percussive affair that blends the big room bounce of tech-house with the quietly evocative chords and tear-jerking melodies of gentler deep house. It feels rather tribal, all told, though arguably in outlook rather than the way it sounds. Flipside "Rainfall" is similarly tech-tinged in design, but a whole lot dreamier and deeper. It's melodies, in particular, are luscious, lending the whole thing a blissful, eyes-closed vibe.
Review: Long-serving DJ Justin Cudmore has put out releases on labels that have been affiliated with his DJing such as Interdimensional Transmissions and the Bunker. However, he now widens his gaze with this debut on Phonica's White offshoot. Like those previous Eps and his own DJing, the sound of Chicago and in particular acid, looms large here. "Twisted Love" resounds to a rolling , drum-heavy backing, breathy vocal samples and some of the most tweaked, tripped out 303 lines known to humanity. On "About to Burst", the mood is not as intense, but Cudmore still manages to imbue the spiky, percussive arrangement with the type of wired acid action that will get spines tingling and pulses racing.
Review: Originally from South Korea but moving to London at the age of 14 where she spent her formative years, Peggy Gou has since moved to Berlin (of course!) where she's since made her break releasing two EPs in less than a year on Matt Edwards esteemed Rekids imprint. Her new one on Phonica white sees her explore classic deep house aesthetics convincingly such as on the dusty MPC bashing Moodymann style deepness of "Day Without Yesterday" with its deep funk bass, emotive strings and woozy sample all working in perfect harmony. But "Six O Six" gets a craving for the acid life with some gnarly 303 lines going head to head with hands in the air vocals and rusty drum machine grooves.
Review: We're barely a quarter of the way through the year and it already seems like Peggy Gou is going to be one of house music's heroes of 2018. Here, the Berlin-based South Korean follows-up her brilliant Once EP on Ninja Tune (which included the soon-to-be-an-anthem brilliance of "It Makes You Forget") with a new EP for Phonica White (a label she first graced back in 2016). "Travelling Without Arriving" is a rubbery, sun-kissed deep house treat rich in elastic bass, toasty chords, glassy-eyed synthesizer melodies and dreamy, drifting electronics. Brooklyn beat-maker GE-OLOGY serves up a superb alternative version which retains the track's gentle positivity and breezy melodiousness while dragging it further towards futurist techno territory.
Review: The latest release on Phonica's offshoot stamp comes from storied German producer Stefan Laubner. The STL guise is known for its dense, locked grooves and on this release, he showcases this side to his sound. "Earworm" is based on dense, degraded drums, a lop-sided rhythm and woozy, detuned synth riffs. "A Cat & Her Solar Life" is a different matter. It calls to mind the deeper sound that Laubner explored for his Silent State release on Smallville. While the rhythms are more wiry and angular, the synth melodies float and dance like shadows caught in a grubby window as the light fades.