Review: Alongside pal and fellow Karlovac Recordings founder Mr Tophat, Art Alfie has produced some of the most interesting and respected house music of recent years. Remarkably, Reveries Of is not only his debut album, but also his first solo outing of any kind. It's a sprawling but hugely enjoyable set, full of spaced-out, lo-fi deep house cuts that are rich in evocative melodies and mood enhancing musical elements, but low on slick production polish. Highlights include the Detroit influenced melancholia of "LLamada 911", the jazz-fuelled Balearic house pump of "Klubbensborg", the dub-wise, ska-sampling madness of "Greg's Island", and the epic, techno-tempo stomp of closer "East Village Trip".
Review: We were rather surprised to learn that "Eyes of My Mind" is Axel Boman's first solo single on Studio Barnhus, the label he co-founded, since 2013. It's also his first EP of any sort since 2017 (though 2019 did see the release of his fine "Le New Life" LP on Mule Musiq). The track is little less than a loved-up aural hug; a slow building, deliciously glassy-eyed affair in which dreamy chords, quirky vocal samples, droning bass tones and bubbly electronic motifs ride a bustling, loose-limbed drum track that sits somewhere between regular deep house, Max D's Dolo Percussion project and good old-fashioned breakbeat. Boman calms things down dramatically on "Echoes of My Mind", a swelling, wall-of-sound ambient revision of the A-side that's as comforting and meditative as they come.
Review: The genius of Baba Stiltz productions - aside from their consistent high quality, of course - has always been their eccentric unpredictability. His latest EP for Studio Barnhus - his first for the Swedish label since the tail end of 2015 - sticks to this script. Across the five tracks, you'll hear tactile and dreamy deep house bliss ("Snowwhite"), future R&B-informed vocal synth-pop ("Baby"), bubbly, sun-kissed synthesizer Balearica ("Freeeze"), and hypnotic, loved-up tech-house brilliance (the superb "Are You Mad? Cause I'm Not Mad"). Arguably most impressive of all, though, is the humid "XXX200003", which gently rises on waves of marimba melodies, African-influenced percussion, and fireside-hot chords.
Review: A three-tracker here from Stockholm's Gabriella Borb?ly, coming on her own Studio Barnhus label. A refreshingly wide-ranging offering it is, too: all three tracks can safely be classed as 'deep house', but each takes quite a different approach. Kicking things off is 'The Hours', which marries deep, tribal beats to luxuriant piano chords, mournful sax and sweeping strings in a melancholy, midtempo kinda way. Sporting heavily effected male/female vox and strange, toy keyboard-like sounds, 'Alom' operates in blissed-out slo-mo territory, while if uptempo, floor-friendly jazz-house is more your bag then 'Barak' should suit your needs nicely, Daddio!
Review: Since signing with Studio Barnhus in 2018, Bella Boo (real name Gabriella Borbely) has released a couple of quirky, off-kilter EPs in the Swedish label's trademark hard-to-pigeonhole style. Here the Los Angeles based delivers her debut album, an expansive nine-track affair that shifts shape at regular intervals. After beginning with the lightly Afro-tinged vocal deep house pulse of "Can't Leave You Like This", she breaks up the beats on rolling workout "She's Back", offers up some downtempo nu-jazz on "Tuesday", squelches her way through contemporary deep hip-house number "Hotel Europa", goes on an ambient diversion via "Stars", and doffs a cap to Floating Points' early works on the jazzy but acid-fired wonder that is Axel Boman hook-up "Do The Right Thing".
Review: Sweden's Gabriella Borbely, AKA Bella Boo, trails her soon-come debut album 'Once Upon A Passion' with this two-track release. The handful of EPs she's put out to date have consisted mostly of wonky, midtempo deep house, but this one finds her exploring more leftfield, downtempo territory: some gently tapping wood block percussion aside, 'Tuesday' is a near-ambient piece made up of piano chords, fragments of at least three different vocal parts (one male, two female) and a mournful sax line, while 'Can't Leave You Like This' is a slow-building Balearic cut that's tailor-made for warm-up sets.
Review: Young Swedish producer Bella Boo earned lavish praise for her 2017 debut EP on Third Try Records, so hopes are high for this follow-up on Axel Boman, Kornel Kovacs and Petter Nordvist's admirable Studio Barnhus label. Predictably, it's something of a treat, with Bella Boo eschewing house music conventions in favour of a trademark style that puts imaginative eccentricities front and centre. Check, for example, the razor sharp, acid-style motifs, delay-laden bells and skewed drum machine work of "Is It Rude To Wear My Shades", the ultra-deep headiness of EP standout "Magnolia" and the picturesque early morning shuffle of "Homesick, Where's Home". She also displays a keen grasp of eyes-closed left-field pop on fluid opener "LA Confidential". Impressive stuff, all told.
Review: Next up from the Studio Barnhus Sweden crew we see them welcome back the wonderful Bella Boo, this time reworking a number of previous releases into vibrant remix creations, kicking off with the trippy melodic swirls and punchy bass slaps that emit from Off The Meds' rethink of 'She's Back. Next, Karima F gives 'Can't Leave You' a potent tribal rethink, Shy One delivers a spacey roller revamp of 'Tuesday' and Kornel Kovacs sends 'Stars' to the breakbeat manipulation machine for a sombre lick of paint. Finally, Matthew Styles provides us with a stripped back 4x4 overhaul of 'Sin Sin' rounding off a fantastic selection of fabulous recreations.
Review: Swedish producer Axel Boman seems to have been around forever, delivering solid and occasionally sensational deep house. In fact, he first emerged in 2009, and somewhat surprisingly Family Vacation is his debut album. It's a rather impressive beast, if truth be told, offering a whirlwind trip through his inspirations, from the downtempo analogue wooziness of "Let's Get Nervous" and jaunty, jazz-wise, US-influenced deep house of "Son of a Plumber", to the dreamy electronics and off-kilter rhythms of "No! No! No! No!", and the Theo Parrish-goes-Calypso vibes of "Bottoms Up". Most impressive of all, though, is the dark, humid, tropical pagan flex of "Kings & Emperors". Its' African voodoo atmosphere offers a startling alternative to the quiet positivity found elsewhere.
Review: One of the joys of Alex Boman and company's Studio Barnhus label is its' obvious eccentricity. This, of course, makes predicting the sound of each subsequent release tough, but rather thrilling. Here, they offer a label debut to former model turned underground house/techno producer Esther Silex. The Cologne-based DJ/producer does a good job showcasing the depth and variety of her sound, with the three tracks variously touching on rolling, tech-tinged deep house ("Hans"), atmospheric, modular-sounding hypno-techno ("Heinrich"), and dreamier, more melodious fare built around the manipulation of a handful of killer samples (the blissful "Oskar").
Review: Drew Lustman has been relatively quiet by his standards this year, though he's still found time to offer up a couple of quality singles on Blueberry Records and Unknown To The Unknown. Here he makes his first appearance on Studio Barnhus with an EP that showcases two distinctly different sides to his multi-faceted musical persona. Title track "Flechazo" is a veritable drizzle of melodic positivity, with eyes-closed synthesizer motifs, sun-bright electronics and dreamy chords cloaking a crunchy, off-kilter deep house rhythm and suitably heavy bassline. In contrast, "New Lover" is a fair more warehouse-ready affair, with Lustman reaching for the mid-90s U.S garage riffs (think "Show Me Love"), bustling breakbeats, booming bass, sweaty female vocal samples and twinkling melodies.
Review: Here's something to savour: a fresh set of collaborations between old Finnish friends Freestyle Man (AKA Klas-Henrik Linblad, otherwise known as Sasse) and Jimi Tenor, who first worked together in 1997. It's the pair's second joint effort for Studio Barnhus following 2017's unsurprisingly eccentric "Sleepover". First up is "Journey", a deep, off-kilter chunk of groovy house-pop fusion where Tenor reprises his once familiar role as a sleazy, late 20th century lounge singer. It's superb, as is the twinkling, boogie flavoured deep house bliss of "Jori's House" featuring both keys and flute solos from Tenor, while "Smoke & Alcohol" is a sun-kissed, party-friendly chunk of vocal broken beat jazziness. Arguably best of all, though, is the sub-heavy house mysticism of clonk-fired closing cut "Are We It?"
Review: Here's something to set the pulse racing: a surprise joint EP from experienced Finnish producers Jimi Tenor (still best-known for his eccentric lounge-jazz escapades on Warp) and Klas-Henrik Lindblad (AKA Sasse and, here, Freestyle Man). Tenor's drowsy and distinctive vocals - as well as his fuzzy old synthesizer melodies - come to the fore on the first two tracks, with dusty deep house opener "Power of Love" impressing slightly more than the tongue-in-cheek "Pyjama Party" (which, incidentally, reminded us of Tenor's late '90s material). Elsewhere, Lindblad's love of Metro Area style nu-disco is explored on "Turku Airport", while "Temple of Music" sees jazz-man Tenor layering solos over a slick and sumptuous deep house groove.
Review: In recent times, Studio Barnhus co-founder Kornel Kovacs has delivered a string of eccentric, hard-to-pin-down 12" singles that drag house music in weird and wonderful new directions. He's at it again on Bells, the Swede's long-awaited debut album. While largely deep, melodious and quirkily lo-fi - the distinct sound of tape hiss is never far away - Kovacs nevertheless veers off in many different directions over the album's ten-track direction. So while the pitched-down UK funky rhythms and 8-bit synth melodies of "Josey's Tune" impress, dancefloors may prefer the rambunctious, redlined Latin-house thump of "Gex", the sparkling rave revivalism of "Dance...When The Record Spins", or the rubbery bounce and pulverizing analogue bass of "Pop".
Review: When it came to commissioning remixes of tracks from his superb sophomore album "Stockholm Marathon", Kornel Kovacs reportedly rang his favourite producers - or at least those he knew would provide "characteristic" revisions that took his tunes to new sonic spaces. It would be fair to say that the plan worked. The "Paradise Alley" version of "Marathon" is a wonderfully sparse, jacking and mind-altering acid house interpretation rich in bold bass and Dream 2 Science style chords, while Robert Dietz's "Bling Bling" mix of Rocks brilliantly joins the dots between rushing synth-pop, deep breakbeat house and hazy electro. Elsewhere, D Tiffany steals the show with a chiming, out-there deep house tweak of "Purple Skies" and Butch re-casts "Baltzar" as a beautifully languid mixture of glassy-eyed Balearic house and pitched-down deep synth-pop.
Review: In need of both "friends and inspiration", last year Kornel Kovacs moved back to his "beautiful, boring" home city of Stockholm. Once again residing in his old apartment and surrounded by collaborators (primarily Matt Karmil, jazz musician Niclas Skagstedt and female vocal duo Rebecca and Fiona), the Studio Barnhus co-founder set about recording his follow-up to lauded 2016 debut album "The Bells". The resultant set is predictably impressive, with Kovacs offering up a range of ear-catching vocal and instrumental tracks that brilliantly fuse elements of spacey deep house, mutant R&B, leftfield synth-pop, lo-fi electro, tech-jazz and glassy-eyed electronica. More often than not the collaborations with Rebecca & Fiona hit the mark (see "Club Notes", "Purple Skies" and "Marathon"), but there are plenty of other highlights elsewhere on the album.
Review: It's been almost a year since we last heard from Church, Cin Cin and Outplay regular Laurence Guy. Last time out, he delivered a tasty trio of jazz-fired deep house cuts for Mule Musiq; this time round, the talented producer is showcasing his versatility with predictably picturesque results. Highlights come thick and fast from the off, where "Wildlife" introduces us to Guy's sound world via bustling, hardcore style breakbeats, Aphex Twin style acid lines and bold, life-affirming chords. Club-ready cuts include the dreamy deep house-meets-ambient techno bustle of "Missing In Reaction" and the hot-stepping, stab-happy and bass-heavy rush of "My Brain Is a Scrambled Egg", while the included forays into ambient and IDM - most notably "Are You Fine" and the "Electric Counterpoint"-inspired "It's Good To Try" - are uniformly superb.
Review: We can't remember the last time Sweden's Studio Barnhus put out a duff or mediocre release. This latest missive, from label-hopping producer LD Nero (an alias of busy German Alex "Cortex" Neumann), is another fine release. Near 12-minute opener "Put Your Heart Close To Mine" is particularly sweet, with swelling synth chords and bouncy pads riding a classic, New York house influenced groove. He dives into deeper waters on "Distant Signals From The Acid Aviary", where spacey noises and fluttering chords effectively join forces with a bold, dub-wise bassline and hypnotic drum machine rhythms.
Review: Some three years on from his first appearance on the label, Studio Barnhus welcomes back Stockholm eccentric Lukas Nystrand Von Unge. The EP's six tracks were recorded at various points between 2010 and 2016, and tidily showcase his open-minded approach to music making. After opening with the gospel-influenced leftfield house shuffle of "In My Heart", Nystrand proceeds to sprint between woozy lo-fi deep house ("A Track For You"), tape hiss-encrusted, four-track U.S garage (the music box melodies of sparse beats of "Bell Dance"), tipsy jazz-house ("Aroubi Song"), and triumphant, low-slung disco house haziness (standout closer "It Always Rains").
Review: Sweden's Axel Boman is the man at the controls here. Working as Man Tear (usually with fellow countryman Petter Nordvkist, here with vocalist Johan Jonason) he's put out a handful of tracks over the past half-decade on DFA, Needwant, Future Disco and Studio Barnhus, and now he returns to the latter with two cuts that look to the late 70s for inspiration. 'Kill Me' would be a fairly typical disco-house workout were it not for the single male vocal line, which loops throughout and has a new wave/powerpop kinda feel: it might take a listen or two to sink in, but it's a proper earworm once it does. 'Black Park', meanwhile, comes on like Talking Heads given a nu-disco makeover.
Review: Mark Evetts is nowhere near as prolific as he once was, but the Birmingham-based producer is still capable of crafting must-have releases. He's at it again here on his first outing for eccentric Swedish label Studio Barnhus. Opener "Nova Blur" sees Evetts' add warm chords and skewed electronic lead lines to his usual hypnotic deep house template, while closing cut "Outdoor Pursuit" is a surprisingly fuzzy, lo-fi and distorted stomp through dense drums and echoing percussion sounds. Perhaps most ear catching of all is the faintly foreboding "Find A Way", where echoing chords, creepy melodies and looped Irish fiddles attempt to smother a sturdy, locked-in groove, though the fuzzy, proto-house influenced "Block Out" is also rather fine.
Review: Three years on from his first appearance on Studio Barnhus, multi-talented Matt Karmil returns to the eccentric Swedish imprint. He's in a surprisingly positive mood on opener "All Together", a chunky slab of skewed loop-house brilliance whose slipped 4/4 drums come laden with sweet, saucer-eyed samples and jaunty stabs. The celebratory mood is enhanced further by the DJ Sneak style bounce of "Meg", before he serves up the polyrhythmic madness of "UG", where synthesized bells, loved-up chords and bombastic sub-bass take centre stage. There's also a horizontal bonus in the shape of delicate but trippy, soul-fired loop jam "Tell Me Why". In other words, it's another must-have from the former Idle Hands, PNN and Beats in Space man.
Review: Hailing from the north of Sweden, MLIR ('Modern Life Is Rubbish') are a three-piece collective specialising in dancefloor grooves inspired by world music. Here, they serve up two tracks on their own Studio Barnhus label. Despite the Spanish title, the energetic 'El Baile De Los Muertos' ('Dance Of The Dead') is actually an African-sounding affair, with chant-style vox and a fluttering riff played some unknown stringed instrument, with some sci-fi synths sounds thrown in for good measure. 'Mania', which operates at a slightly lower tempo, has a more Arabic/Middle Eastern feel and comes topped with random spoken, English-language vocal samples.
Review: Given the quality of their previous releases - and, in particular, last summer's tasty two-tracker on Beats in Space - hopes are naturally high for Mount Liberation Unlimited's Studio Barnhus debut. Interestingly, "Double Dance Lover" maintains their obsession with improvised music making, but relies more on traditional instrumentation than synths and drum machines. The "radio version" is a sweaty, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink disco exploration that sounds like an unlikely collaboration between the Idjut Boys and fellow Swede Kornel Kovacs. The real killer, though, is the near 15-minute Disko Dubb Mix. This begins as an Italo-disco shuffler, develops into a Prins Thomas style 'Scandolearic disco' groover, and ends in a flurry of sweaty guitar, piano, percussion and synth solos. It's utterly mental, but in the best possible way.
Review: Five years on from the release of their staggeringly good debut EP, "Astr Travelling Through Life", Mount Liberation Unlimited is finally ready to unleash their first full-length excursion. It's a typically loose, off-kilter and musically rich affair, with the Swedish duo layering all manner of electric and electronic instrumentation (glistening jazz guitars, toast bass guitar, analogue synthesizers and so on) over a range of live and programmed rhythms. Stylistically, it's wonderfully hard to pigeonhole, with the pair's eccentric fusions - some dancefloor-focused, others more suited to pie-eyed home listening - variously mixing and matching elements of disco, house, Balearica, acid, Italo-disco, IDM, proto-house, synth-pop, ambient and jazz-funk.
Review: Berlin-based producer Sofia Kourtesis joined Swedish imprint Studio Barnhus last year, offering up an assured debut EP that took a left of centre approach to deep house/tech-house fusion. If anything, this follow-up is even better, with the Peruvian expertly showcasing her impressive grasp of drum programming and inventive production techniques. Our pick of an impressive bunch is title track "Sarita Colonia", a throbbing affair that builds to a righteous, life-affirming conclusion (all cut-up string samples, booming bass and glassy-eyed vocal snippets) after a deep and drowsy start. There's much to set the pulse racing elsewhere across the EP, including the sub-heavy, melody-rich wonkiness of "Akariku" and the sunny deep house warmth of "Hollywood".