Review: We have a grudging admiration for Audaz's Lolita series, which offers up untitled, numbered re-edits with little fanfare or fuss. While track titles wouldn't go amiss, there's no denying the high quality of the cut-jobs on show. Predictably, volume 10 in the ongoing series boasts another swathe of must-have edits. These include a gently sped up and tooled-up take on Cymande classic "The Message" ("091"), a shirtless skip through one of the Pet Shop Boys' most Italo-disco influenced early cuts ("092", which bites 1986 single "Love Comes Quickly"), an electric piano-solo-laden Euro-disco bounce-along ("094) and a disco-house revision of what sounds like a classic disco cut ("096"). In a word: superb.
Review: The Southpoint unit have had yet another sparkling year, with their sound constantly evolving at the forefront of UK bass music's ever expanding boundaries and parameters. This year they have taken it to the next level, with the seventh edition of their 'Southpoint Presents' series launching across all platforms, including bangers from the likes of KXVU, Jakebob, Bushbaby, Muttley, Moony, Mofaux, Dunman, Drax, Movement, Tengu and more. We also see Presents debuts for the likes of MPH, On1, Negativ and Daffy, arguably rendering their strongest compilation in the series.
Review: If we were to give an award for label of the year based entirely on consistency, it would be hard to see Four40 not running away with it as they finally round off what has been an untouchable year with one last killer compilation. Royal Flush takes the role of compiler on this one, pulling in some scorchers from the likes of Soulecta, ZeroFG, Jack Junior, Tuff Culture, Earthnut and of course Royal Flush himself. There are a couple of tracks here we feel really hold their own amongst a stacked line up, with Pavv's classic sounding '3210' being one of them, alongside 'Guilty Twitches' from Ozwald and the choppy vibes of 'Love Is Coming' from the legendary EL-B.
Review: We were rather astonished to discover that "24/7 Love Affair" is Michael Baumann's first album as Soulphiction for 11 years. We were a little less surprised to find that it's superb. In fact, we'd go as far as to say that it could be considered a "best practice" example of the kind of loose, sample-heavy, soul-fired deep house that is all the rage right now. Yet the album's epic length - it comprises no less than 17 tracks - also allows Baumann to mix it up a little too, with a swathe of ocean-deep club jams being joined by search diversions as the morning-fresh broken beat loveliness of "Jus Listen", the stomping disco-funk of "The Mood", the bustling breakbeats of "A Freak" and the blazed instrumental hip-hop of "Good Night Ema".
Review: Produced in the early part of this year, "Destination Mars" marks Maceo Plex's terrific return to Drumcode for the first time since 2014. The track is a powerful main room thriller: steely and barrelling with equal parts tension and suspense, plus featuring vocals by the legendary Josh Wink of Ovum Recordings. On the remix front, we have label staple Raxon delivering a slinky and adrenalised rework which sees the Emirati producer at the top his production game, while the hypnotic perspective by Argentina's Shall Ocin is perfect for those heads down moments - and will draw you further down into the vortex.
Review: 2019 has been a resounding success for the 1Forty imprint, with a fantastic run of releases under their belt across the realms of multiple different genres. Today we check out their last drop of 2019 as they continue their run of funky and garage compilations. Firstly, they bring together both Muder He Wrote and Logan for a tasty roller by the name of 'Worthwhile', before Razor & Hamdi bring down the vocal fire over Retrospects funky infused 'What You Gonna Do'. Next, the vocal flavours and nostalgic chords come to life in Higgo's smooth UKG smash entitled 'Soul 2 Soul' before LR Groove & Dryman conclude proceedings with 'Life Form', a stomping, carnival-ready creation!
Review: It's been a little while, but boy were we pleased to see this one come together as the Bash / Julio Bashmore combination reigns supreme on this brand new single entitled 'Jubilee'. The team at Trule has delivered us an absolute gem, as the spacey atmospheric design and crunchy drum shuffles work their magic atop warm 808 bass drives with fantastic results. It's a heartwarming UKG original, topped off by a more uptempo rethink from Al Wootton, who smashes it out of the park with his simple, but effective overhaul.
Review: Now many have guessed that this one has been in the works for a while, but that makes us no less excited to unveil this tasty new album projct from J:Kenzo, who returns to his home imprint of Artikal Music for 'Taygeta Code'. From start to finish, the album is a true exploration into electronic music, primarily of course focussed around 140BPM. It's got bass pressure on 'Desired State', it's got acidic originality on 'Hoodwinked', it's even got a weighty guest vocal from the legendary Flowdan who returns on Kenzo's Darkside VIP mix of 'Like A Hawk'. This is an excellent showcasing of J:Kenzo's ability within a crowded dubstep scene.
Review: The 'Jalapeno Funk' series reaches its 11th installment, which is no mean feat! As such, you should have a pretty good idea what to expect here already, and you'd be right. All the usual Jalapeno suspects - Flevans, Skeeweiff, Smoove & Turrell, Speedometer, The Allergies, Dr Rubberfunk, Aldo Vanucci - are present and correct, and while it has to be said there aren't many stylistic surprises or curveballs on offer, fans of the label's trademark funk 'n breaks sound will be more than satisfied, with highlights including Flevan's light-footed 'Speculate' and Vanucci's Hammond-toting 'Get A Hold On This'.
Review: By his normally prolific standards, Marquis Hawkes has been surprisingly quiet in 2019. In fact, this three-tracker for regular home Aus Music is just his third outing of the year, following typically well-received releases on Honom and Unknown To The Unknown. Opener "Hashtag Life Goals" is a wonderfully dreamy and glassy-eyed affair, with female spoken word samples, drowsy chords and picturesque melodies rising above booming bass and beats so sweaty they might have a fever. Hawkes successfully breaks up the beats on "Don't Forget To Subscribe", where thrillingly positive synthesizer motifs and woozy chords envelop NYC Freestyle-influenced electro drums, while "CS Groove" is a locked-in deep house box jam full of crunchy machine percussion, headline-grabbing bass and enveloping chords.
Review: Following a run of vinyl-only EPs on Automatic Writing, Negentropy and Butter Side Up, Sweely returns to the digital domain via his first EP for Distant Hawaii for over two years. He kicks things off by lacing distant female vocal samples and ultra-deep chords over a techno-tempo speed garage beat on "You Can Try This", before wrapping squelching, acid-style electronics and doom-laden chords around a bouncy drums on "Feeling Cozy". The four-to-the-floor garage influences return on the Grant Nelson-doing-deep house flex of "I Do It Naturally", while closing cut "The Never Ending Groove" is a pleasingly elastic jog through jazzy deep house territory.
Review: Making his first appearance on Constant Sound, Subb-An comes correct with the deadly breaks flow of "Access" that pivots neatly between bass music and the minimal house blueprint. "Rewire" is a much lighter affair thanks to a classy chord sound that modulates at the core of the track, bringing a melodic hook into the mix to wonderful effect. Burnski and Michael James then team up as Relic to deliver a remix of "Rewire" that's heavy on the funk, doing a great job of tweaking that chord line and pouring some serious heft into the lower regions of the frequency range.
Review: Its festival operation may have enjoyed its most successful year so far, but Dekmantel remains true to its underground roots on this look back at 2019. There's the off beat disco of Freedom Engine, Mathew Jonson's new project, as well as left of centre curveballs from Lamellen and Epsilove. That said, the Dutch collective also understand what's needed to rock a dance floor. Fittingly, 2019 includes the electronic disco of Jex Opolis "Earth Boy" and Betonkust & Palmbomen II's acrid acid workout "Underground Dance Floor", which both appeared on the label earlier this year- as well as the timeless icy techno classic of Terrace's "Bewitched".
Review: French house legend Alan Braxe teamed up with Parisian "urban folk, ghetto funk and soulful pop" duo The Spimes to release the original 'Moments In Time' EP back in 2013, and now it's back with a whole bunch of new remixes, just in time for the new decade. The mood overall is "The Beloved meets 80s synth-pop in Ibiza", with the new rubs of 'Time Machine' ranging from the spangly and dancefloor-friendly (Le Crayon) to the laidback and dreamy (Chateaubriand), and 'One More Chance' served in your choice of glacially chilled or fat-assed n' strutty flavas courtesy of Memory Tapes and Lifelike, respectively.