Review: As always with the legendary production styles of 6Blocc has provided us with some sizzling flavours on this spicy, extensive new refix collection, taking the title 'Dub Marley'. Reworking numerous works from the most famous name in reggae music, 6Blocc does what he does best, pulling older tunes into the here and now through a combination of junglist and dubwise production approaches. The project as a whole is pretty exceptional, with numerous classics from the late great Bob being thrown in for multiple recreations, including 'Forever In Dub', 'Revolution, 'Ganja Gun' and more. For us there are a couple of clear standouts, with the '140 Steppers Remix' version of 'Running Away' and the highly energetic drum skips and breaksy rolls of 'Stir It Up' being the two that immediately jump out from this impressive selection.
Review: Sasha brings us collection of tracks that have featured in his Spotify playlist series of the same name, which is oriented towards midtempo, contemplative but still beats-driven cuts spanning breaks, ambient and leftfield electronica. While much is being made of this "new direction", a more cynical observer might say it's the first CD of 'Northern Exposure' plus drums; all the same, there's much to enjoy here if you're in a laidback kinda mood, with standouts including MJ Cole's haunting, fractured 'Maestro' and Cortese's 'Circles' with its air of restrained menace. The album also includes two fresh cuts from The Man Like himself, 'Corner Shop' and recent single 'HDNI'.
Review: Following up the lead single "Under Your Skin" with Kevin Knapp, veteran duo Audiojack of Gruuv Recordings fame finally unveil their full length album on Crosstown Rebels. The Leeds natives James Rial and Richard Burkinshaw last served up an LP back in 2009, so it's another career high for the pair and features a diverse array of moods and grooves across 10 tracks. From the balearic downbeat chill vibe of "Binaural Dreaming", to the funky and bass-driven tech house of "Easy Rider" or similarly the acid laced "Psychoactive" (Part 1) which are more typical of the pair. Not to mention the utterly euphoric second single "Feels Good" featuring vocalist Jem Cooke, its a cohesive effort by these staples of the Ibiza party circuit.
Review: Dutch techno and electro veteran, Orlando Voorn has been even more prolific than usual of late, delivering must-check EPs on Kompakt, Bombis and Bad Manners. Voorn's new outing on Burek, a Croatian label that's genuinely going places, is rather good too, though musically far more colourful, funky and house-influenced than we've come to expect. Check first sweet, summery and boogie-influenced opener 'Soul Society', before getting your ears around the heady piano-house stomp of 'Lovin' You (Shine)' - a superb slab of celebratory retro-futurism - and the warming haziness of twinkling deep house cut 'Waters Run Deep'. Elsewhere, 'Funk Isolation' adds undulating bass guitar, swirling chords and bleeping 8-bit melodies to a hot-steppin' house beat, while 'Waters Run Deep (Beatless)' reinvents that track as an ultra-deep drift through ambient space.
Review: Kicking up some new, dusty and frenetic sounds for Exit Records is the emergent Sun People, a solo project known for stand out releases before this on labels like Modern Ruin, Disko404 and Hyperboloid (thanks to a rare 2015 long player). Concentrating here once again on the EP format, Sun People conjures up a mixology of uptempo and hybrid fusions, be it the juke and drum and bass induced "Rich Man Poor Man" to the fluttering percussion and subbed-out basslines of "Spirits". Deeper, stuttering footwork sounds make it into "To Give" (an EP highlight) with some edgier, topped-out drums keeping it levelled in "Main Squeeze". Rain dancing with Sun People.
Review: Under the Ejeca alias, Gerry McCartney has regularly delivered retro-futurist singles that draw inspiration from vintage UK house and techno. This album, his full-length debut, takes this approach even further, delivering a non-stop, sweat-soaked journey through brand new rave and UK hardcore-inspired productions recorded in Southend-on-Sea last December. There's much to enjoy throughout, from the almost overwhelmingly loved-up opener, 'Rainfall', and the skittish, US garage-influenced breakbeat hardcore haziness of 'Need You', to the piano-powered happy hardcore hedonism of 'My Love', mind-melting 'Variant' and rushing 'Tell Me'. Also superb is closing cut 'Sunrise', a fittingly titled conclusion tailor made for sound-tracking sun-up moments at remote mountain raves.
Review: Following the release of Cease & Desist's bleep & bass retrospective, Join The Future, in the spring of 2020, there's been a notable increase in labels reissuing similar material from that period. The latest archival imprint to get in on the action is Mint Condition, who have prepared a fresh, expanded edition of Peter Duggal's 1990 EP as Doggy, 'Psyche'. The title track - a much sought-after fusion of squelchy acid bass, bleeps, TR-808 cowbells and post-electro UK house beats, comes accompanied on this release by sparse, Unique 3 influenced bleep number 'Haze', original B-side 'Dog Food' - a more layered and starry-eyed exploration - and two previously unheard early versions of the EP's headline attractions. In a word: essential.
Review: 14 years have passed since Benji B and Judah established their monthly Deviation parties in London. This fine compilation celebrates the club's legacy and sound, which famously touched on all manner of soul-fired musical styles whilst keeping one eye (and both feet) on the dancefloor, with Benj B selecting cuts that never failed to rock the party. Expect a mixture of skewed, bass-heavy beats (Dorian Concept, James Blake, 00Genesis), heady instrumental hip-hop (Waajeed, Damn Funk remixing Baron Zen), Afro-funk (K Fimpong), peak-time UK bass mutations (Pearson Sound, Martyn, Mala), high-grade deep house (Gilb'r remixing Rick Wilhite, Theo Parrish) and a smattering of genuine scene anthems (Detroit Experiment, Maurice Fulton's remix of Alice Smith, DJ SPen presents DJ Technic).
Art Alfie - "Dance To The Conga" (2021 version) - (3:35) 84 BPM
Review: Kapote's first Mushroom House compilation for Toy Tonics, released last year, did an admirable job gathering together some of the most cosmic, psychedelic and Balearic-tinged nuggets in the vast Toy Tonics catalogue. This "indie-Afro-weirdo" focused sequel (as they put it) follows a similar script, though this time the percentage of unreleased tracks is far greater. Highlights come thick and fast throughout, from the drowsy, Afro-influenced deep house jazziness of Harry Wolfman's 'Upstream (2021 Version)' and the chunky, Marimba-laden Afro-house bounce of 'Night Masquerade' by Vito & Druzzi, to the slo-mo disco haze of Kapote's own 'Besamo Fly (2021 Version)' and the feverish, percussion-rich quirkiness of Art Alfie's 'Do the Conga'. Throw in some killer remixes by Joe Clausell, Red Axes and DJ Sprinkles, and you have a genuinely essential compilation.
Review: With a string of EPs to his name for labels including Whiskey Pickle, FKR Records and Diggin' Deeper, New York-based DJ/producer P-Sol aka Patrick Sullivan chooses his own Wall Of Fame label (est 2015) as the home for his debut long-player. The overarching theme is deep house from the midtempo and, at times, more experimental end of the spectrum, but across its 16 tracks the album evidences a wide range of influences, from chill-out and Balearica (see, for instance, 'Aite Chill') to hip-hop ('Wzup'). Indeed, the loop-based production style suggests P-Sol's hip-hop roots may run pretty deep - but if it's hazy, laidback electronica built for lazy sunny afternoons you're after, this is well worth checking.
Review: A true artist with the ability to go from strength to strength - Leon Vynehall presents the follow up to the lauded 2018 album, Rare, Forever. Still serving up some of the most original hybrid-form house music there is, Vynehall's sound here is as deep, abstract and mysterious as it is colourful, gritty and polished. Flirting with downbeat and drone activities across the album in numbers like "All I See Is You, Velvet Brown", "Ecce! Ego!" and "Farewell! Magnus Gabbro" - to ambient rave in "Worm (& Closer & Closer)" - there's atmospheric jazz to catch in "Alichea Vella Amor" next to the lonely horns and cascading strings of "Mothra". Beatwise, Vynehall's perplexity for dance music goes all the way in "Snakeskin - Has-Been" & "Dumbo" - with "An Exhale" a melodic, breathing wall of synth-tuned noise.
Review: As always, the Dank N Dirty Dubz team have supplied us with a spectacular compilation selection as they release the 2021 edition of their '4/20 Compilation Series'. Featuring 21 original masterpieces, the project is stooped in heavyweight dubstep names, including the like of Roomate, Pushloop, The Widdler, The Greys, Khromi and more. It's a wicked project overall, exploring the full depth of dubstep, from the emotive soundscaping of Demure's 'Alien' original, to the more jovial melodies of 'Oh, I Insist' from Blicka and futuristic dubwise delights of Morning High's 'Contemplate'. It's a powerful selection, not only showcasing how solid the label is looking, but also dubstep music as a whole. Our highlights include the colourful melodic skips of L-Wiz's 'Pcm Dub', the trancelike arpeggios of Repulsion's 'Old Photos' and of course the softened dubwise delights of 'Duality' from Distant Memories.
Review: Still revelling in their release of Ikonika's Bodies EP, Don't Be Afraidenlists a fresh set of remixers, and an Ikonika VIP dub, for its first roll out of 2021. The Swamp81 affiliate and Illaman producer Sumgii takes on "What Kinda Pain Are We Talking About?" with a heavy hitting remix of hybrid techno drums and interjecting dubstep/rave. Impressing also is the 91-92 hardcore inspired sonds of Semtek and Iona's Midnight Snacc project, sending in something spacey and sweetly atmospheric, with its lo-fi breakbeats a ++. This EP's second wildcard artist, Quest?onmarq, brings a Jersey club / techno sound to DBA with a number that goes large on its bassline next to a fanfare of drums and synths in Ikonika's Jeff Mills-esque VIP dub. Whose afraid of Detroit.
Review: If you like your sounds stripped back to the bare creative minimum, then this EP from two legends of the game will be right up your alley. This pair understand that less is more, and understated textures can still be packed with toughness and integrity of sound. Nightingale is jungle of the best kind, the type that is purely focused on the rhythmic hypnotism of breakbeats and free of any frills, pretension or unnecessary add-ons. 'Slugstep' is the one which grabs our ear most, with stuttering breaks and an acidic backdrop of undulating texture and rich, vibrant depth. Kiat's 'More Than One' is also a proper percy, with a haunting vocal line that shivers through in the arrangement in a cascade of melancholic, musical melodies. Perfection.
Review: As the title suggests, this expansive collection from long-running Munich staple Compost Records gathers together gems - mostly previously heard, but with a smattering of unreleased cuts - from the last couple of years. There's much to enjoy throughout, and plenty of variety (the latter a hallmark of the label's output over the last quarter of a century). Our picks of a very strong bunch include a pair of atmospheric Afro-tech club cuts from Pablo Fierro and Raoul K & Rancido, a lusciously deep and squelchy Luke Vibert remix of Felix Laband's 'Righteous Red Berets', a hypnotic tech-house take on Marsmobil courtesy of Ripperton, the slow-motion, Sly & The Family Stone influenced funk-rock haziness of Enzo Elia's 'Desert' and the deep, acid-flecked electro of Godot's 'Phonem'.
Review: It's been a while since Roman Flugel last delivered an album, and that was the all-ambient Themes I-XIII in 2018. Eating Darkness, the German veteran's fifth solo full-length, is therefore well overdue. It's a quietly confident and undeniably entertaining affair, with the former Alter Ego man smartly sashaying between evocative IDM ('Magic Briefcase', 'The Best is Yet To Come', the Autechre-ish 'Eating Darkness'), druggy slo-mo fare ('Chemicals'), raw new wave throb-jobs ('Wow'), acid-flecked jack-tracks ('Jocks & Freaks'), hypnotic late night minimal techno ('Cluttered Homes'), drowsy downtempo cheeriness ('Locked'), beautiful ambient synth-scapes ('Charles') and revivalist Euro-disco pump ('D.I.S.C.O'). Throughout, Flugel reaches for vintage analogue and modular synthesizer sounds, giving the album a distinctively timeless feel.
Review: Contemporary jazz label outta the UK, First Word, brings us a compilation highlighting a select group of artists, groups and collaborations the label has works with and supports, taking in broken beat, hip hop, jazz and R&B to spoken word and soul. Highlights from its UK roster include tracks by Darkhouse Family, Kaidi Tatham and Sarah Williams White to a streak of US artists in 14KT (and that Tall Black Guy remix) to Muhsinah, Stro Elliot & James Poyser. Special mentions go to Melbourne songstress Allysha Joy, New Zealand jazz drummer Myele Manzanza and Japanese trumpeter Takuya Kuroda! French act Souleance turn out some playful latin breaks in "Mont Maudit" with some classy disco coming outta Don Leisure's "Egg Yolk Bun". Full flavoured First Word selections.
Review: This year, Fred Everything has been busy revisiting tracks from his back catalogue. The latest cut to get the revisionist treatment is 'Barbarella', a gorgeously intergalactic fusion of deep house and squelchy nu-disco that first featured on his 2018 album Long Way Home. The headline-grabbing revision comes courtesy of Parisian legend I:Cube, who reinvents the track as a sleazy, spaced-out chunk of metronomic synth-pop/space disco fusion with added acid bass and lashings of starry-eyed synths. Fred Everything provides two 'Slow Down' versions, both of which shuffle along at 89 BPM. The main mix is a street soul tempo wide-eyed shuffler, while the 'ReDub' is a sparse, analogue bass-propelled late-night treat full of echoing beats and sharp, mind-mangling acid lines.
Review: The BLDSMX team have pulled out something pretty special with this scintillating new extensive compilation, introducing it as the first edition of 'Armada Sounds'. The project itself takes a deep-dive into the more expansive areas of juke and footwork, unloading fifteen tracks of split influence to keep the journey as exciting as ever. We really do move around a lot of different areas of footwork, from the manic, metallic sounding drum stutters of Aladar's 'Jump' and high intensity bass twists of Eric Uh's 'Digital Voodoo', to the more minimal displays of Fourtwenty Sound's 'Right Here'. There is a high bar set across the board with this project, but our highlights have to include the glitchy, almost 8bit sounding melodies of Oceatied's 'Astromechanical Juke', the rave-ready drum breaks of 'Massive' from Harka and of course the super powerful bass growls of 'Bruk' from Provoke'. Awesome work!
Review: Most DJs tend to see the DJ Kicks series as an excuse to not only show off their DJ skills, but also the eclectic nature of their music collections. That's the approach Jayda G has taken on her fine instalment, delivering a breathlessly brilliant mix and a selection of unmixed tracks that genuinely has something for every occasion. After beginning with the deep disco of Light of the World, Aged in Harmony and Glass Beams, the Ninja Tune artist offers up a mixture of 21st century Afro-soul (Kokoroko), dubbed-out Brit-funk (Atmosfear), synth-laden '80s soul (Don Blackman), sample-rich 21st century house (Gerry Read), chunky dancefloor deepness (Naomi Darkness, DJ Boring), Motor City-inspired futurism (LNS, Fit Siegel), sub-heavy techno (Haai) and dusty future R&B beats (DJ Koze).