Review: Mella Dee bounces back on his Warehouse Music label with this club-primed release. The title track leads the listener on a journey through 90s minimal techno, with chattering percussion accompanying analogue yelps and a wiry rhythm. The tempo moves up a few gears on "Toast" and "Sidewalk Surfer", with Dee applying roughly the same hardware-driven approach, albeit set to more pace-y backing tracks. "Maplins" resounds to grainy kicks and raw percussive ticks, sounding like it was inspired by Neil Landstrumm's 90s work for Tresor, while on "Rockport Xcs", the singular techno producer delivers detuned chords against a skippy, rolling groove.
Review: Having spent 2019 flitting between Chiwax, Super Rhythm Trax and the Nite Owl Diner labels, San Francisco-based rave revivalist and party-focused musical fusionist Chrissy kick starts 2020 by making his bow on Dusky's 17 Steps label. He's in predictably formidable form, too, with opener "In Paradise" delivering a near perfect fusion of energetic, hardcore style breakbeats, booming Jungle-esque sub-bass, swirling synth chords and the kind of wavy female vocal samples that set pulses racing at intoxicated outdoor raves. Ghere's naturally plenty to set the pulse racing elsewhere across the EP too, from the jacking cheeriness of "New Atlantis" and the stomping ghetto-tech rush of "New Instruments", to the deep breakbeat hardcore warmth of "Composition for Sampler, Flexatone & Vibraslap".
Review: Australian baller Mall Grab here with an EP of sorts that touches on rave, dubstep and hardcore atmospheres tapped into broken techno rhythms and electro drums. Trance and goa vibes make their way into "Hidden Worlds" for something equally fitting for the mega techno club as it is the bush doof - Australian slang for a rave in the woods. Something of importance to the producer at the moment who raised money for Australia's state fire services with Looking For Trouble's quick release of Don't Keep The Fires Burning. This record however sees Mall Grab return to the underground with head-nodding references to bleep electro in "Leaving Tokyo" to the gnarly gabba and Kill Bill sirens of "Switchblade". Deeper sounds of a subterranean Sunflower.
Review: Jan Schulte aka Bufiman drops his debut album on Dekmantel, and it's a thing of cosmic beauty. There's the odd ball groove of "Galaxy", on "Sara Sara", he tackles electronic boogie with great flair and "Hoolock Rock" is a superb slice of spaced out disco. However, Schulte's project is not just concerned with revisiting existing styles, and he seems to be just as content when teasing out weird and wonderful new hybrids. These are articulated most impressively on the frazzled acid and steely drums of "Blow Your Mind", the dreamy down tempo drums and tropical sounds of "News From The Treetops" and the sludgy electro funk on "Langsam Aber Slowly".
Review: Matthew Farrow takes a break from his Kepler alias to deliver this sure shot of garage rudeness to Burnski's Instinct label, and he's sounding absolutely on point. "Inside" has plenty of MC flava sprinkled over it, not to mention all the 4x4 rudeness you could wish for from the bassline upwards. "Steppa" is a more soulful cut with a crafty breakstep twist to it, while "Rouge Fader" brings it back to that naughty middle ground between uptempo house and proper swinging garage, DX7 organ and all. "Break" gets tricky with the drum licks again, completing a set of good time rabble rousing business.
Review: We have a very tasty selection here to sink our teeth into as 2TUF4U continue a highly successful run of original UKG drops. This latest offering comes to us from garage heavyweights Groove Skool, a production outfit known for their incredibly vibrant arrangements and colourful melodic structures, always delivering a scrumptious final product. This collection sees them lay down twelve bumping originals, with guest features including DJ Shockwavz, Craig James, Carpenter Man, Gravy Groovers and more, all adding their own unique elements to the blend with some fantastic vocal sprinklings. For us, the highlights have to include the laid-back yet super catchy twists of 'Say Yeah', featuring the wonderful Ten Levels, along with the old school shuffling chops of 'Burning Up' alongside 2Fuddha and of course the dancefloor ready chord movements of 'Inner Groove', featuring additional work from DJPS. It's a wicked selection to say the least, as 2TUF4U deliver yet again!
Review: Having released on labels like Clergy and Planet Rhythm,Temudo dropped his debut release, Context for Soma last year to huge acclaim. This follow up EP is sure to elicit a similar response. "Tough to Say" is a frenetic rolling banger, led by powerful filtered drops and pounding tribal beats. On "Cell Phones", the emerging producer opts for a similar approach, albeit with thunder claps and glitchy riffs to the fore. "At Least One Time In Your Life" sees him pick up the pace for a frenetic, steely rhythm track, while he brings the curtain down with the Millsian "Let's Treat It As Such".
Review: Breaking The Seal follows on from Ghost In The Machine's 2018 King Dead release for Perc Trax and consolidates Frank Nitzinsky and Nils van Lingen's reputation as purveyors of heavy-duty techno. The title track and "Cold Rush" are breakneck-speed industrial bangers, underpinned by concrete kicks and jackhammer percussion while featuring wild siren riffs. "Napalm Breath" sees the pair maintain the same intensity levels by deploying broken beats, but it's only a temporary reprieve and on "Combo Breaker" they impress with a wild combination of gabba kicks, splurging acid and noisy electronic riffs. It's a wild, roller-coaster ride through techno's harder spectrum.
Review: Now here is a legendary link up if ever we saw one, as Wheel & Deal founder and legendary dubstep figure: N-Type teams up with the untouchable consistency of Kromestar for two tracks of pure heat! First of all, we dive into the stunning melodic presence and general harmony of 'Nu Era Dub', which combines starlit synthesizer patterns with a grizzly underbelly to cook up an absolute heater. On the flip, the horns come into play as we dive into 'Mutants', another futuristic ball of melodic goodness, slapping together soulful saxophone riffs with high energy drum licks and vibrant pad textures for an instant classic. What a pairing!
Review: German producer Lorenz Brunner returns to Ghostly International for the first time since 2016's Corvus EP, with his sixth long player entitled 'Dwell', where windswept, moody and melodic moments linger with emotional resonance. When discussing the album title, Brunner described it as an experience 'when you're on a hike and you stop and look at the scenery; you may know which path you want to go next, but right now you are dwelling'. From the eerie yet evocative trance induction of the title track, or the seductive late night groove of "Mirror Games" to the cinematic tension and suspense of "Wire Threat" and the emotive deepness of digital bonus track "Equal", it is evident that Brunner's production style has certainly evolved to another level - a truly sublime effort.
Review: Bass as a genre is clearly undergoing a period of rapid expansion, with new-found influence from sounds as far apart as techno and dubstep. This latest drop from Homage sees Will Hofbauer lay down some super smooth tech-influenced creations, kicking off with the delightfully delicate 'Caned', which also comes complete with a choppy UKG rethink from Desert Sound Colony. Next up, 'Whiplash' provides us with a more time-dance style take of proceedings, followed by lastly by the moogy bass tones and glittering arpeggios of 'Rocks Off'. Lovely stuff!
Review: Following on from an extremely solid run of releases as the head of Project Allout, Skillzy unleashes a fantastic new selection under his new imprint 'Strictly House and Garage'. The line up is star-studded to say the least, welcoming UKG veterans such as Moony and Joedan leading the way, alongside heavyweight newcomers such as the extremely vibrant sounds of Weagle. There are a couple of serious stand outs on this one, with 'Don't Let Me Down' from Daze Prism providing a smooth 2-steppy box of delights, alongside YesEd's super high energy 'Steppin'. Lovely stuff
Dom E Ravel - "Essa Menina Ta Ficando Moca" - (2:11) 138 BPM
Review: An incredible 23 years and 58 instalments into this series, School Yard Breaks' in-house team of cratediggers have been going deeper than ever in search of cool drum breaks, unexpectedly funky basslines and other turntablist-friendly sonic ammunition. Artists here range from Ennio Morricone to prog-rock survivors Camel, and from short-lived jazz-funk outfit Hot Fudge (AKA Jacky Giordano/Black Devil Disco Club) to French 'zeuhl' combo Eskaton, via forgotten 70s rockers Thunderhead 75. Maggie MacNeal's Ike & Tina-esque cover of Cream's 'White Room' and John Sangster's instrumental organ take on a 'Sgt Peppers' fave are among the highlights; a Carpenters cover in Russian (?) is perhaps less essential, but gives you a good idea of the wonky, eclectic vibe overall.
Review: It's been a little while since we last heard from Mikey B, but what a way to make a return and kick off 2020 as he lands on the illustrious CruCast for a spicy four track selection. The first track that rolls into view is the title track 'White Lies', which alongside the fantastic vocal lines of Paige Eliza sees Mikey unleash an awesome display of original niche flavour with flavoursome synth melodies and choppy vocal prowess, followed up gnarly bass tones of 'No One Else' and catchy harmonic slices of 'Highs & Lows'. Finally, we finish up this wicked selection with a look at 'Commander', a grit-heavy 4x4 roller, designed to turn any dance to a ruckus. Excellent stuff!
Review: Now we can safely say that Manuka really were one of our stand-out dubstep labels of 2019, with a pile of expertly sourced releases and impactful branding, we can't wait to see what the future holds for them. Their latest offering is one of pure class as they invite Pluralist inside with a tasty four track selection. Firstly 'Let Them Blow' arrives with it's masterful garage-influenced drum processing and delightful vocal work, before the techy drum chops of 'Bussboy' warble into play. Next up, Kone joins the party, helping out on the glittering brilliance of 'Orbit', before we finish off with 'UN Sanctions', a dungeon-ready roller, featuring the unique vocal presence of Rex Domino.
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: Bergsonist aka Selwa Abd follows 2017's From Dualism To Monism long player with this collection of left of centre tracks. Drawing on her Eastern roots, Middle resounds to organic drum sounds. At times chaotic and dense, audible on the title track's clattering arrangement, in other instances club-friendly and direct - just check "Gaza Border Violence" or the electronic groove of "Otology" - it marks her out as an artist with a unique approach. In case you are in any doubt about Bergsonist's capabilities, on "Magnesium" she deconstructs beat down house and adds extra, textured layers that are nothing short of hypnotic.
Review: Philadelphia International wasn't the only label operating out of Philly in the 1970s you know! There was also CRS Records, which was the brainchild of producer Curtis R Staten, and which from around 1970 or so to the early 80s specialised in a raw, Stax-like soul and funk sound that was a million miles from the clubby sophistication of Gamble & Huff's label. Names like George Johnson Jr, The Butlers or The Caprells might not mean much to anyone but the most dedicated crate-diggers, but then that's surely the point, isn't it? If 60s/70s soul and 'deep funk' are your bag, there's a rich seam of previously under-tapped goodness to mine here...
Review: It's always exciting to see new Martyn hit the shelves, having proved himself to be one of the most forward thinking and experimental dance music producers of the last decade. This tidy new two tracker on his own 3024 imprint is a perfect example of his creativity in motion, kicking off with this glistening moogy textures and progressive rhythms of the title track 'One Eye'. On the flip, we are also given a certified gem as we see Martyn steer down a more funky-inspired path. This track takes the name 'Nerve Centres' and combines high energy percussive arrangements with blissful pad textures and warm sub designs, coming up in perfect balance.
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: Downplay were without a doubt one of the UKG scene's stand out imprints of 2019. It seems as though they are getting ready to maintain that position for another year as they get us started in good fashion with this crunchy selection from Nekst, beginning with the unpredictable drum switches and lethal bass growls of the title track 'Hektic'. Next up, we have two exclusive remixes of 'Frantik', the first of which comes to us from choppy garage angle, with When I Die providing a vibrant rethink, before Fork & Knife gets busy on a clap-heavy grime rethink to follow!
Review: With the best play-on-a-name since Com Truise and Eltron John we are now met with Gayphextwin, the alias of Brooke Keller out of San Francisco. Teaming up with Jose Bernat aka Pepe from Spain, the pair share a split EP on Portuguese label Naive that since its inception in late 2017 has released music from Photonz, Octa Octa and newcomer Ilana Bryne. The pair meet in Gayphextwin's remix to the euphoric, bass heavy and sweet trancey number "Palinka Hammer" by Pepe, who also delivers two originals that find subtle touches of jungle and amen breaks spliced between the tropical beats of "It's The Lights That Make You Pretty" and percussions of "Bridging Mechanics". Housier atmospheres make their way into Pepe's 'Hyperoxygenation' remix of "Spz1" too, with "This Is How I Feel" delivering a beatdown deconstruction of industrial beats and bleep-ridden tones.
Review: Slam close out the Edits series with two very different tracks. On "1001", they go straight for the jugular, with pounding, searing kicks and a brutal bass prevailing, The arrangement doubles up on itself, creating layer upon layer of intensity as it leads into a much needed drop, before starting up all over again. "Memoriam" isn't quite as visceral, but it also packs a serious dance floor punch. Underpinned by a rolling rhythm, it sees the veteran techno duo add in swathes of powerful bass, bleak synths and robust break beats. It's an epic, exhilarating affair that defines Slam's ability to craft tough but musical techno.
Review: Vision is Charlotte de Wiite's debut on Len Faki's Figure imprint and follows on from her trio of releases in 2019 on KNTXT. The title track echoes the popular techno DJ's club sound, resounding to rough, visceral beats and ticking percussion, while on "Out of Balance", she drops a throbbing, hypnotic groove that pulsates against the backdrop of atmospheric filters. "Unthoughtful" reveals another side to de Witte's musical personality, with slow-motion beats providing the basis for dreamy textures. Figure has tapped Kangding Ray for a remix and he drops a dreamy but powerful take on "Unthoughtful" that steps and swaggers majestically.