Reviewed this week
Alongside the likes of yourself, you can bet that Mark Knight & Co. will be also be a known presence at Amsterdam Dance Event in 2018 and indeed they'll be well prepared with the appropriate tools - as this killer compilation proves. Highlights on this annual edition come from Maceo Plex - whose remix of "Nervous Tics" (feat Holly Walker) by hot British duo Maribou State takes you to the dark side, label chief Knight's massive rework of Sterling Void's eternal anthem "It's Alright" (feat Paris Brightledge) will surely get the hands in the air, as will Adesse Versions' edit of legend Kerri Chandler's "The Boom Can" and many others over the collection's five dozen tracks. To take you through every part of your trip, the album comes complete with three perfectly crafted and perfectly primed mixes.
Although there's always been some subtle variety within Innervisions' output, Dixon and Ame's imprint has become known for a particular type of grandiose, tech-tinged house. Props to them, then, for releasing this EP of arpeggio-driven, 1980s style Italo-disco created by contemporary Italian producers. Muscemi and Phunkadelica kick things off, first layering exotic Middle Eastern synthesizer melodies over druggy arpeggio lines on "Babilonia", before slowing the tempo a little via the ghostly tunefulness, robotic vocals and chugging bottom-end of "Velluto Blue". Stereocalypse then takes over, serving up two more killer cuts: the long, bold chords, slap bass and rush-inducing melodies of "Lone Solo Drummer", and the Rimini '84 pomp of the arguably superior "The Cunning Man".
Prolific Australian producer Bell Towers is back, this time on DJ Haus' imprint with a bunch of solid cosmic house grooves. The Berlin (by way of Melbourne) based producer follows up some great stuff in recent times for Public Possession, Permanent Vacation and Hell Yeah with the neon-lit balearic house of "My Body Is A Temple" and likewise "My Body Is A Tempo" which is reworked by homeboy Andras (Dopeness Galore/House Of Dad) and ventures deeper into trippier territory.
United Arab Emirates based party and label Boogie Box are back with some remixes of shadowy German producer STL - who presented their inaugural release last year entitled Constructive:No Words Required. It is not often that we hear STL's music reworked, and it was not an easy process since the parts to the originals were unavailable (no stems) - resulting in the remixers having to work creatively with the stereo masters. The results however are astonishingly good, as heard on meandyou duo Juniper's dubs in particular. The first is a contorted expression in minimal house, while the second is a cavernous and dubby stomper. Similarly, British producer Fold's atmospheric perspective utilses generous delay and echo to cavernous effect, and ending with Munich based Jonas Friedlich's personal and evocative dub that's perfect for setting the mood early in the evening - or the afterhours alike.
Justin Martin has dropped onto US label Dirtybird on remix duties for Strafe, furnishing a two-tracker that takes a dual approach to Strafe's Set it Off. The first remix is the slightly more relaxed of the two; imagine a classic rave sound merged with retro-esque stabs and melodies that leaves you plenty of space to move but still packs a bubbly bassline that evolves in tandem. Justin Martin's Party Starter Remix then lays down the real heat, a long intro gets you excited before twists of low-frequency bounce entwine with a proper funk injection. Suspenseful and driving, this is house that'll satisfy pretty much everyone.
Arms & Legs co-head and all round Berlin legend Daniel Steinberg takes up the reins here, following up great releases from the label by Harry Axt, Felix Da Housecat and Kristin Velvet. Steinberg's DJing has been heralded by many, having built a reputation as an artist who delivers serious fun on the dancefloor - he knows what works basically. He presents the moody bounce of "Domingo" here - all thunderous toms, blustering bass and eerie chords. The second offering "One DMC" is a more ferocious affair that uses a fat and dusty groove to power away beneath those catchy rap vocals.
Dekmantel scores a coup by signing US psychedelic pair Peaking Lights. Sea of Sand is a taster for an imminent album on the Dutch label, and it provides an intoxicating taste of what's to come. "Blind Corner" resounds to a throbbing groove, with Indra Dunis' vocals unravelling over the blissed out, textures, while on "Shift Your Mind", they trip the light fantastic with a percussive, bongo-heavy backing. "Hypnotized" sees the pair delver a slower, dubbed out arrangement. Keeping the listener guessing, "I Can Read Your Mind" is a wonderfully hypnotic, spaced out Italo Disco affair and "Noise of Life" sees Peaking Lights delve into dreamy electronic pop.
DJ/producer Josh Butler has previously tempted a swathe of old school house heroes to join the Origins Rcrds [sic] family, including Kerri Chandler and Rhythm Masters. Here he continues the trend, persuading Groove Armada boys Andy Cato and Tom Findlay to serve up their first new single in almost two years. Title track "House Musique" is a deliciously muscular, bass-heavy affair, with the long-serving duo peppering a stomping groove with nagging stabs and all manner of druggy vocal samples, before unleashing classic riffs and head-in-the clouds chords. "JB & The Drive" is similarly chunky and low-slung, with the epic breakdown, sleazy vocal sample and muscular vibe recalling the basement-bothering thump of Junior Vasquez's Sound Factory era work.
Following up past collaborations on top labels like Kompakt, British radio legend Pete Tong once again collaborates on Beesemyer with London based studio genius John Monkman (Anjunadeep/Crosstown Rebels/Last Night On Earth) here on their new thriller "Placebo". This slinky and moody tech house groove is perfect for building that tension and suspense mid-set, and is exactly the kind of 'dancefloor drama' we've come to know from the powerful duo yet again.
Cajual Records regular Sonny Fodera has always been a prolific producer, though he seems to have taken it up another notch in 2018. By our calculations, this outing on Abode marks his tenth digital-only outing of the year. Like many of its predecessors, "The System EP" sees him join forces with other like-minded producers. Flash 89 lends a hand on title track "The System", a bustling, all-action chunk of peak-time madness that sits somewhere between classic hip-house, muscular main room fare, old Switch records and the kind of mind-bending electro house that still packs 'em in at clubs the size of warehouses. Bohemien guests on the similarly retro-futurist "Feel The Same", which includes some suitably spine-tingling piano riffs and expertly cut-up soulful vocal samples.
Portland based Paul Dickow has been producing music for the better part of 20 years, beginning out at the turn of the millenium creating on experimental imprints such as Kranky, tigerbeat6 and Southern Lord. His main project though is Strategy which encompasses a wide variety of styles such as house, techno, ambient, experimental/noise, dub and more. He operates the Community Library and the currently dormant Archigramophone label too.The Future Shock EP features a wide selection of moods and grooves: from the ravey early '90s techno workout of the title track, the classic deep house vibe of the emotive "Forgotten Encounter" and the hypnotic outsider house of "Monsterzellos".
Ewan Willmott and Lydia Jones were last heard from back in 2012. Then, they were delivering the notably downtempo "Voltopia" album on This Is Music. Naturally, their return to Running Back after nearly six years is a slightly more floor-focused affair, with opener "Derbleep" recalling the tactile leftfield synth-pop and life-affirming spacey electronics of noughties greats Kelley Polar and Junior Boys. The EP's greatest strength, though, is the duo's seemingly innate ability to craft cuts that not only bristle with melodic exuberance but also come blessed with bags of dreamy, sun-kissed atmosphere. For proof, check the sunrise awesomeness of "Sly" and the jaunty genius of standout "Lit".
The unstoppable Paul Woolford returns. If the veteran Leeds producer wasn't busy enough churning out retro flavoured dancefloor weapons as Special Request, or bold house and techno on acclaimed imprints like Hotflush, Aus Music and Planet E - he's also found the time to make uplifting party house vibes recently for Edible and now Hot Creations. Fittingly, his latest offering is named House Hits Vol 1: a tongue in cheek albeit direct title for these two catchy and potentially anthemic classic house perspectives. The familiar bounce of "Story Of My Life" is reminiscent of The Windy City's first wave - think Ralphi Rosario or the like. There's a familiar vocalloop on the deep down and dirty acid trip "Don't Waste My Time" as well, which channels another icon of the same period's heyday - Trax Records.
Spanish duo Depaart are the latest act to sign to Sasha'a label. The title track brings together a multitude of different styles: there's the stripped back, minimal beats; bass that oozes menace and the somewhat apocalyptic sounding trance riffs. "Column Dance" is more understated; building on low-key drums, Depaart add in some throbbing low end before dropping an epic break down. It's exactly the type of track one could imagine Sasha himself playing. In stark contrast is the abstract "Watered, Cooked, Recycled", where the pair use deconstructed drums and a low-slung bass to create a new vision for minimal house. Factor in a deep, dubbed out take on the title track by A Friend of Marcus and Animal Picnic's tripped out take on "Column Dance" and you've got a hugely impressive debut on Last Night On Earth.
Spectral was one of the first labels that Michael Greene aka Fort Romeau released on at the start, and five years after his debut, he revisits the US label for his latest release. "Untitled III" is a seductive, tripped out affair, with melancholic melodies unravelling over a stripped back, electronic groove. On "Organelle", Greene slows the tempo down and fuses it with a beautiful organ riff - hence the title - while closing track "Empire" sees the UK offer his unique take on minimalism. Led by a glass-fragile rhythm and intricate percussion, it's one of the most individualistic takes on techno that you'll hear this year.
Southern German imprint Fckng Serious are back wih label staple Ann Clue, who serves up some moody tech house grooves on "TRIP". With its wonky, razor sharp bassline and tough as nails kicks - this one is perfect tackle for getting weird at the afterhours. This is backed by the warehouse techno banger "Calling It" which is perfect for those heads-down moments under the strobe light. Boris Brejcha & Co. have discovered an emerging talent in the form of Ms. Clue and her strident sounds. We very much look forward to what the Mannheim based producer has in store next.
London label ePM brings together a who's who of global techno for this remix compilation. Weighing in at the harder end of the spectrum are Truncate, South London Ordnance and Scan X, who deliver blistering re-shapes of Mark Broom, House of Black Lanterns and label boss Oliver way respectively. However, the more interesting versions occur when the chosen remixers opt for less obvious approaches. Claro Intelecto delivers a lush, deep house take on The Third Man; Juan Atkins rewires Esteban Adame's "Descendants" with hyper active electronic funk, while best of all, the brilliant Chris McCormack drops a spellbindingly melodic take on Ben Long's "Open Doors".
Vakant has been around for almost 15 years, but as its latest compilation shows, the Berlin label shows no signs of getting stale. The Evigt Morker take on Kenneth Scott's "Pranic Lift" is a case in point: based on a skeletal rhythm, glacial synths and beguiling bleeps shine through to create a beautiful deep techno track. Elsewhere, label regular Alex Smoke delivers a teased out groove and spacey chords on "Smivvy" and another familiar face, Tolga Fodan, drops the raw, bleep-heavy techno of "Lone". Most impressive though is the contribution of Anonym, the Detroit producer who has had a long association with the label: "Ghetto Jesus" is a vocal sample-heavy house jacker that is the furthest thing possible from Vakant's minimal roots.
Frosinone, Italy's Pizza Tunait are back with a various artists compilation showcasing the many moods and grooves that make their pies so irresistibly tasty. From the deeply introverted disco boogie of Padlock Man's' "A Camel From Outer Space" to Looked's druggy minimal tech-house as heard on "Quinto" - you soon begin to realize this is one diverse affair. If that was not enough, Giampi Spinelli's "New Breeze" ventures into Afro influenced technosoul territory in the vein of Sicily's Toto Chiavetta. Eclectic grooves presented in a consistent format from this underrated label yet again.
Juan DDD's Triplepoint label unleashes its second Fire compilation and it's a blistering affair. Blacktron's "32km" features hypnotic vocals woven into its stop-start groove, while on Stefano Zaninelli's "Figueretas", a deeper, more trippy sound prevails, thanks to firing hi hats and sick acid lines. This theme is teased out, albeit in full techno mode on DJ Frontier's "Saved", where spaced out vocal samples and a bruising, noisy bass dominate. In stark contrast again is German duo Format B's remake of DJ PP's "Groove You", where an old sample used by Paul Johnson resurfaces, accompanied by euphoric crowd cheers and a slamming groove. Triplepoint may be known primarily for its minimal house releases, but as this compilation shows, the reality is far more complex and compelling than that.
Exclusives
VARIOUS - This Ain't Bristol: Amsterdam Selections (This Ain't Bristol)
VARIOUS - Toolroom Amsterdam 2018 (Toolroom)
STL - The Redubs (Boogie Box) - exclusive 22-10-2019
Exclusives
VARIOUS - Cape Cool Vol 1: Sound Of The Townships (dig dis! Series)
ANN CLUE - TRIP (Fckng Serious)
VARIOUS - Great Stuff Pres Amsterdam 2018 (Great Stuff Germany)
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