Review: Under the Akufen alias, Marc Leclair was one of the undoubted deep house stars of the early 2000s - a "micro-house" and "digital disco" pioneer who served up a swathe of killer releases. Since returning from a near decade hiatus in 2012 Leclair has not consistently hit those highs, but he's still capable of crafting quality cuts - as this fine EP proves. Check first the breezy bounce of "My Blue House", where sun-kissed piano riffs and sweet synth-strings dance jauntily above a typically swinging groove, before turning your attention to the smooth micro-house deepness of "Forever In Love With You". "You Look Delicious" sees Leclair add spacey jazz electric piano solos to a deep and glitchy groove, while the Surface-sampling "Play" sits somewhere between digital disco and skittish electro.
Review: The Quartet Series label is born out of the collaboration between like-minded house enthusiasts, four producers who share a similar vision of club music and who have each earned their stripes on different labels. First up, we have Local Talk's Crackazat with "Lindop Circles", a gloriously laid-back house chiller with a funky twist, Quintessentials contributor Saine goes for the proper 'chug' approach on his wavy "Prime Chops" tune, "Totally Not Mystique" by Apparel Music's Nachtbraker is a woozy, bass-heavy stomper, and Gnork heads straight to the warehouse with his minimal, Chicago-filtered "Chord Tool". Ah, yes.
Review: Since debuting earlier in the year, Kuzma Palkin has delivered a handful of releases that explore the murky middle ground between experimental house and techno and intriguing eletcronica. There's a similar feel to this first outing on Quartet Series, with opener "Macho Culture" offering an ear-catching blend of distorted, loose-limbed machine drums, descending analogue motifs and icy, occasionally melancholic electronic melodies. The Russian producer's love of stabbing, dirt-encrusted basslines comes to the fore on skewed deep house shuffler "Muscle Mass Increase", "Proper Sauna Chill" channels the spirit of warehouse-ready rave music whilst sounding more like dub-fuelled deep house, and "Krepkiyeye Bitepsy" sounds like Maurice Fulton's Syclops project with a jazz-flecked electro twist. Impressive stuff, all told.
Review: Given his productivity over the last four years, it's rather a surprise to find that "When You Find A Stranger In The Alps" is Mautits Verwoerd AKA Nachtbraker's debut album. Predictably, the sometime Heist Rand Dirt Crew producer is in fine form throughout, serving up an expansive, 13-track set that effortlessly flits between sparkling, melodious deep house floor fillers ("Flambo", "Randy"), reggae-tinged club tracks ("NSFW"), bouncy techno ("You Can't Run"), soul and disco-inspired mid-tempo shufflers ("The Dream Sequence", "Just Doing My Thing"), funk rock smashers ("Aliens") and a surprisingly large number of ambient interludes and MPC-driven beat-scapes. In other words, it ticks a lot of boxes whilst remaining enjoyable and entertaining throughout.
Review: Somewhat surprisingly, this three-track EP marks Nachtbraker's first solo salvo on the Quartet Series label he established in 2016. Happily, it's a bold and thrill-packed affair, starting with the wild, jazz-funk-goes-disco-house flex of opener "Small Towel People", which peppers a pounding house groove with stratospheric synth solos, jazz-fired double bass and all manner of quirky, energy-packed samples. Elsewhere, the sweaty jazz-house-XXL vibe continues on shoulder-swinging smasher "Kippendijen", whose bombastic beats are perfectly matched by a relentless bassline, before "Zomaar" sees our hero effortlessly join the dots between jaunty, MPC-driven hip-hop beats and drowsy, chopped-up deep house.
Review: Nachtbraker's latest rock-solid EP features previously unreleased remixes of tracks from his 2018 album "When You Find A Stranger In The Alps" by some of his musical friends and acquaintances. The headline-grabbing rework comes from Wolf Music regular Frits Wentink, who brilliantly re-imagines "LOL" as a rubbery, off-kilter fusion of broken beats, tropical vocal snippets, dreamy chords and P-funk-fuelled synth sounds. Elsewhere, Central gives "Flambo" the French touch treatment, Nachtbraker himself reaches for the squelchy acid bass on an off-kilter deep house "Evolutionary Mix" of "Just Doing My Thang" and Nemo Vachez's dub mix of "Horsepony" is the kind of dubbed-out ambient techno stroll that stirs memories of classic early '90s releases.
Review: The comic book-inspired Quartet Series returns to action, with another four studio superheroes joining the label's unofficial 'League of Extraordinary House Producers'. Returning hero Nachtbraker kicks things off with "Dobie", a quirky foray into percussion rich, jazz-house territory that packs serious dancefloor punch. Laurence Guy successfully breaks up the beats on the deep and woozy "Love & Be Loved", while Tommy Vicardi Jnr works his DJ Sneak style beats and cut-up samples hard on the deliciously energetic "Aplomb". Finally, LK doffs a cap to R&B, hip-hop and Detroit deep house on the pitched-down 4/4 shuffle of closer "Honey", which should appeal to those who enjoy the work of Marcel Vogel, Inkswel and Andres.
Review: Quartet Series is back with the Bodybuilder Series after Scott Franka inaugurated the series in Spring. Here label boss Nachtbraker sourced some serious production talent from Eindhoven, The Netherlands. It's the Portamento Boys' first ever release, characterized by catchy melodies, quirky vibes and warm analogue grooves. First offering "Been There Come Back" is a neon-lit/ nu-disco journey to the stars that will appeal to fans of Smalltown Supersound. "Portamento 101" is described best by the label themselves. It "feels like you're playing the 1986 version of Outrun on your Sega." Finally, the slow burning groove of fittingly titled "Final Dinner" gets deep with spangling arpeggios, dusty classic drumcomputer beats and an unabashed nod in general to '80s Italo.
Review: Props to Quartet Series for recruiting the hugely talented S3A, a sample digging producer whose dusty and quietly soulful take on deep house rarely disappoints. Interestingly, he's in a sleazier and more percussive frame of mind on EP opener "Presentiment (featuring Mikka Blaster)", a bustling and heavy affair which wraps a skipping, tribal-influenced rhythm track in bumping bass, swirling strings and sharply edited orchestral samples. The disco-sampling hustle of "Something More" is similarly chunky and upbeat, while "Wu Impact" remains funky, focused and fearsome despite the presence of glassy-eyed soul vocal snippets and densely layered samples. If that's not enough to set the pulse racing, the 4/4 UK garage influenced bounce of "Influences" should put a spring in your step.
Review: Complete with superhero comic book cover art, Quartet Series go on to explain that for the second outing in their Series, French fry and Parisian Concrete resident S3A (Sampling As An Art, Faces) infuses the good guys with some positive energy. They're not wrong; this one is reminiscent of MCDE's Raw Cuts series; pure disco cut-up goodness. Ponty Mython's "Lovin' You Is A Pleasure" goes for more of the tropical, low-slung house vibe to fuel exotic daydream fantasies while Newcastle's NY*AK does slo-mo house good a proper covered in the right amount of dust and smokiness.
Review: Nachtbraker's Quartet Series label was founded to serve up EPs containing tracks from four different artists. Here, the imprint changes tack slightly, instead delivering a quartet of cuts from one artist: debutant Scott Franka. He sets out his stall via the title track, where bold chord progressions - played on some particularly starry synths - rub shoulders with iron-pumping acid bass and restless drum machine hits. Elsewhere, near Balearic melody arpeggio lines and eyes-closed pads combine to create a positive mood on the bumping "Toenail", the producer cannily doffs a cap to ghetto-house on the bass-heavy, cut-up thrills of "Sorry", and takes a trip into broken house territory on the acid-driven madness of "Street".
Review: Having previously set out their stall via a series of well regarded multi-artist EPs, Quartet Series has decided to offer regular contributors a chance to release solo singles. The first comes from Parisian producer Tell. He begins with the driving, bass-heavy grooves and undulating synth loops of "Faster Than Light", before tipping a wink to Behaviour-era Pet Shop Boys and vintage Italian house on the wonderful "Y'all Feel That Honey (Paradise Mix)". "What Can You Do For Me" is a superb slice of jazzy, US garage-influenced deep house bliss that makes use of a much-loved boogie-era vocal, while "Vamos a la Playa" is a fluid dancefloor treat smothered in jazzy guitars, rich chords and soft-focus sax lines.
Review: Thanks to two superb EPs, Quartet Series - so-called because each release features a track each from four different artists - has already established itself as a must-check label. Predictably, there's more sonic gold to be found on the imprint's third EP. Tell kicks things off with "Hope Springs Eternal", a woozy, kaleidoscopic, garage-inspired bumper smothered in electronic positivity, before Darko Kustura moves further towards early Floating Points territory with the loose, warm, fluid and spacey "Messier Object". Loz Goddard's fine "Home" successfully melds crispy drum hits, undulating melody lines and rich chords with a bluesy vocal sample, while Bal 5000 impresses with the psychedelic, outer-space madness of "The Acid Is Mine But I Share".
Review: Two years on from the label's launch, Nachtbraker's Quartet Series imprint is really hitting its stride. This expansive, seven-track mini-album comes courtesy of debutant Verner. It's a pleasingly eclectic affair, with the previously unheralded producer successfully turning his hand to becalmed ambient ("The Motion Pictures"), jazz-funk synthesizer action ("Area" and the beat-free "L'Inzio") and heavy dancefloor synth-funk ("Tascladista"). Naturally, there's also a swathe of tasty deep house cuts on show, with highlights including the rubbery futurism of closer "Late Night Job", the mid-tempo sunshine of "Upset" and the dusty, percussion-heavy early morning sludge of "Crash of the Web Era". Impressive stuff, all told.