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: There's much to admire about Kamaal Williams' contribution to the long running DJ Kicks series, not least the producer, DJ and keyboardist's blend of self-made exclusives (both under his name and his alternative Henry Wu alias) and largely overlooked gems. Highlights in the former category include a stunning live version of "Snitches Brew", the jazzy Latin house of "Projections" (a Henry Wu hook-up with Earl Jeffers) and "Lowrider", a jazz guitar-propelled cut from his collaborative Yusuf Kamaal project. In the latter category, we'd suggest wrapping your ears around Awanto 3's dusty and ultra-deep "Pregnant", the deep jazz-funk bliss of Diggs Duke's "Cause I Love You", the up-tempo dancefloor soul of Peven Everett's "Stuck" and the slow motion wonder that is Steve Spacek's "Hey There".
Review: Under the DJ Laurel alias, Lavr Berzhanin has proved to be one of Katakana Edits' most reliable re-editors of recent times. We've lost count of the number of EPs he's delivered for the prolific imprint, but they're all rather good - as is his latest expansive effort. There's much to get the blood pumping across the six-track salvo, with our favourites including the rubbery, bouncy and glassy-eyed disco bliss of "All I've Got", the soaring, horn-heavy soundscape disco-soul shuffle of "Battend Ships" [sic], the blue-eyed soul goes drum and bass bounce of "Cookie" and the wah-wah guitar sporting two-step soul goodness of closing cut "Annie Mae". In other words, it's another rock solid collection of tried and tested reworks.
Review: What we have here is a fantastic selection and representation of the future of reggae music worldwide as the Nice Up! team unveil the fifth edition of 'Nice Up! The Session'. The release features some pretty top draw names, including the likes of Parly B, Gardna, Seanie T, Gappy Ranks and more. From the junglist flavours of Fleck's 'One Step At A Time' rethink, to the future dancehall delights of 'Bad Mi Bad' from XL Mad & Gappy Ranks, we witness the full breadth of reggae's development in 2019, with other favourites including DJ Madd's crispy rethink 'Chasing Dreams' from Rider Shafique & Precha, along with Folding City's experimental overhaul of 'My Yout' from 'Origin One & Irah'. Excellent stuff!
Review: Since debuting in the early 2000s, Dutch trio Kraak & Smaak have established themselves as one of Europe's premier purveyors of eclectic, funk-fuelled dancefloor positivity. It's little surprise then to find that their new album "Pleasure Centre" - their sixth studio set in total - is another joyous romp. This time round, they've drawn more influence from West Coast style blue-eyed soul and yacht rock while continuing to offer nods towards boogie, P-funk, synth-pop, '80s soul, jazz-funk and Rotary Connection (see the superb "Twilght", with vocals by rising star FitzRoy). It's a wonderfully warm and attractive blend, with the result being a superb collection of dancefloor cuts and heady downtempo numbers that all adds up to their best album to date.
Review: It's been a long wait but like an epic trilogy we thought we were never going to get, Andy Stott delivers a third record related to the ground breaking Passed Me By and We Stay Together EPs. Nothing stops the rolling onward lurch of "Versi" with "Take" a sort of houseir counterpart in rhythm that's given huge bassline pulse of Intelecto reminiscence. Epic Modern Love Sounds. Jus like in 2011, all reference points of genres heard here are contorted, abstracted and blown up to a full scale of subsonic fidelity. Tracks like "0L9" transmute house to a whole new degree of sunken deepness, while amid light footwork numbers and the harmonics in "Promises" and throughout "It Should Be Us", the record is a huge hello for dub music, club culture, tempos and convention.
Review: Some six years ago we met Mr. 8040. It was 2357 A.D. and our hero was in the throes of hazardous journey back to his home planet. This premise was set up with Welcome To Mikrosector-50 LP in 2013, a debut Space Dimension Controller album for R&S. Love Beyond The Intersect, it is told, sees Mr 8040 again exploring "the unknown world in the hope of finding help." With Space Dimension Controller at the controls, this return represents a deeper touch to the story, with Moodymann levels of deep house depth reached in "Alone In An Unknown Sector" alongside the equally ambient and evoking sounds of "Sundown On Memory Point". A new level of maturity and minimalism shines through on the album with the power of subtleness is on display here. Cue ambient swells of cosmic atmospheres dusted up by the soft pitter-patter of luscious drums and sweet shining synths. Godspeed Mr. 8040!
Review: Dekmantel up in this bizz with a new release from the freshly emblazoned Neon Chambers, a collaboration between Sigha & Kangding Ray. Both artists come from different but adjacent backgrounds of techno and here they combine with snapping raster effects and IDM philosophies to create and sound and rhythm that's made to fit an industrial, colourful and contemporary club context. Strands of Roly Porter epicness can be felt in "Cascade" that are underpinned by the heavy weight clak of nail gun kicks, with "Helles" and "Apollo" crafting wild rhythms and melodies from vox. Some deconstructed UK vibes in "What It Takes" too that might even turn the head of Soundman Chronicles 'headhoncho' Parris.
Review: Oderbruch is Rene Pawlowitz's fifth artist album as Shed, and the title refers to the place in east Germany he comes from. It's no surprise then that this long player is a deeply personal affair. "Die Oder", named after the river in that region, flows serenely thanks to a slip-slide rhythm and gentle pads. "Menschen & Mauern" is the polar opposite, with Pawlowitz dropping high-speed break beats and evocative organ playing. A similarly introspective mood plays out on the dusky sound scapes of "Sterbende Alleen", where Pawlowitz's sense of disillusionment is palpable. However, like any personalised work, the mood swings, with the dreamy "Nacht, Fluss, Grille, Auto, Frosch, Eule, Mucke" restoring a sense of calm with its bucolic tones.
Review: Following a long series of EPs dating back to the early 2010s, UK duo Psychemagik step up with their much-anticipated debut album. Opener 'We Can Be One' (featuring Quinn Lamont Duke) is a dreamy Balearic-pop-soul nugget and sets the tone nicely, with the album as a whole veering between Zero 7/Lemon Jelly-style leftfield pop (check out the cinematic 'Chimera', or 'Valley Of Paradise', which is like finding Simon & Garfunkel jamming with Nils Frahm in the chill-out room) and soaring, disco-fied deep house reminiscent of Faze Action (see 'Triumph Of The Gods' or 'Above The Clouds'). It's a little 'polite' at times, but an engaging listen all the same.
Review: Hudson Mohawke and Lunice hook up once more as TNGHT, a colourful and cut up collaboration between two artists with a wild ability to bend new shapes and sounds out of a myriad of ghetto, rave and trance inspired genres. With previous releases of LuckyMe and Warp collectively, II, presents the duos first official record in some seven years and this newest drop follows the release of their "Serpent" single last month. Vocals in their various forms dominate the record alongside tumbling tones of exotic samples and bizarre drum machine action, alongside rave synths, heavy trap sequences and bubblegum pop all wrapped up in the deconstructed mayhem of future bass.
Review: Last year Disco Halal introduced us to Mount Kismet, a production trio comprising David Ducarage, Douglas Pisterman and Henning Specht, via a track on the multi-artist "Perfect Strangers EP". Here they offer the threesome a chance to set out their distinctive take on exotic musical fusion via a debut album that effortlessly joins the dots between psychedelic electronic disco, intoxicating Middle Eastern music and chugging, sunrise-ready house. There's much to admire throughout, from the layered percussion and haunting melodies of "Agfa" and "Arif", to the spaced-out, string-laden brilliance of "Targajh Movement 1" and the stylish Arabic post-punk psychedelia of "Teenage Fantasy".
Review: While Emilio Acevdeo hasn't put out many releases as Lesser Drakar alias, he's no musical newcomer and has even worked with Gary Numan and Egyptian Lover in the past. Given this history, it's unsurprising that "Piramide 1" - a collection of madcap electronic tunes that he made for his DJ sets over a decade ago - is really rather good. Musically, it joins the dots between New York electro, cheeky 80 synth-pop, freestyle and new wave, adding a healthy dose of tongue-in-cheek humour. There are tons of fine original cuts that include sneaky references to video game soundtracks, but it's his zany electro cover of Queen and David Bowie's "Another One Bites The Dust" that really set our pulses racing.
Review: New Zealand dub masters Fat Freddy's Drop return with more seamless original material. Sound the horns! Some five years in the making a fresh set of coastal, cosmic and psychedelic vibes with classic strains of lovers dub and jazz, or make that Italo, synth and disco music. Not least the pumping closing statement that ends the album in the synth heavy "Trickledown", a track that's big on warehouse techno and deep house touched up by a bit of Ska. A stand out club track on the album in stark in contrast with the slight of pop, funk and folk added to "Special Edition" and "Kamo Kamo". Nevertheless "Six Eight Instrumental" does a good job at keeping us in space.
Review: It's now a full 20 years since the Wah Wah 45s label was born out of a long-running London funk, soul, jazz and hip-hop night of the same name, and they're celebrating their birthday with this 20-track compilation featuring 13 back-catalogue highlights plus seven brand new offerings. And an impressively varied affair it is too, ranging from quiet storm-like bruk beat/soul-jazz (the Yam Who? remix of Alison Crockett's 'Like Rain') to straight-up dub (Lea Rea's 'The Road'), via 6T's-style deep funk (Kutiman's Marlene Shaw-esque 'So Long'), gentle acoustic soul/R&B (Honeyfeet's 'Clap Hands'), angular Afro-funk (Dele Sosimi's 'You No Fit Touch Am') and more.
Review: Well, it's safe to say that Plant Power have unearthed a real gem with this one as they welcome in the top quality sounds of Foamplate for three swampy heaters, kicking off with the fuzzy bass tones and choppy drum work of 'Kingsize'. This amphibious roller then splashes into the incredibly unpredictable drum chops and warbling synth tones of '2020', before we take a final twist on 'All Talk'. This one is a more minimal roller, focusing more-so on its glittering, spacey atmospheric design, rounding off a body of serious ear candy.
Review: French nu-jazz and electro-swing veteran Pascal Houpert, better known as Minimatic, returns to the Tour Eiffel label with this five-track EP. 'Doo Ding' comes on like electro-swing via Ninja Tune, the rap-vocalled 'Jump Down Flute' will please the backpackers and b-boys, 'Cinammon Song' is a more sedate affair that'd slot neatly into Balearic/downtempo sets, 'The Whistler' is a lively lil' workout for the jazz-dancers, and 'Rue De Siam' plays us out on a mournful, torch-y note. Throughout, Houpert's liberal use of loops and scratches injects a more contemporary danceloor energy that saves these tracks from being mere pastiche.
Review: Bristol crew The Allergies present an EP that showcases the two different strands to their musical output perfectly. 'Every Trick In The Book' is a straight-up 'new old' funker with live-sounding brass, Hammonds, a suitably fat bottom-end and an absolutely scorching female vocal from the "raw and blues-y" school of thought. There's a strong late 60s/early 70s feel to this one (some 80s-ish synth licks in the middle notwithstanding), whereas the accompanying 'Nuff Respect' finds Aspects returning to their rap roots, spitting impressively fast-flowing, polysyllabic bars atop a backing of funk beats and scratches. A treat for soul boys, b-boys and backpackers alike.
Review: UK label Sneaker Social Club - still reeling in 2019 from releases by Horsepower Productions, Basic Rhythm and Soundbwoy Killah (to name a few) - introduces Low End Activist to its roster. Source material for the record is said to come from a VHS recording of Muzikon Sound System documentation made in Blackbird Leys estate in Oxford in 1988, with the record drawing heavily on soundsystem culture and in particular its social function in the Afro-Caribbean communities. Futuristic drums and subtle bleep generation references can also be found in amongst the distorted boom and dub of a retro-active yet wholly futuristic and contemporary approach to bass music.
Review: The Lost Scripts project returns to follow up 2016's Hiverned #4 EP. Hivern Discs chief John Talabot and the ever reliable Pional now restart a series of releases featuring some of the jams they have been recording during these past years between Barcelona, Madrid and Giske (Norway). Speaking of the latter, the slow motion groove of "Giske" is an utterly hypnotic and mesmerising minimal techno journey deep underwater, while "Mozart" is more upbeat, featuring an abundance of dancefloor dynamics on this evocative and majestic deep house journey - equal parts tension and suspense throughout.
Review: Hailing from California's Bay Area, Sudi Wachspress AKA Space Ghost should need little introduction to lovers of downtempo beats by now: this is his seventh long-player. More importantly, though, it's an album that's worth checking even if you're NOT normally a big fan of the style, because there's a much stronger dancefloor sensibility in evidence than on previous output. Opener 'Sea Snake Island', for instance, could easily slot into an early-doors deep house set, as could the vaguely melancholic 'Lavender Oil', while the title track has something of jazz fusion air about it. It all adds up to 50 minutes of really very pleasant listening indeed...
Review: With trance music enjoying a current streak of vogue through club culture today it's important to remember legends of the past alongside what's going on now. In Search Of Sunrise volume 15 does exactly that by pitching artists like Jam & Spoon together with Jerome Isma-Ae in a Blade Runner-reminding remix to "Follow Me" - full of tension and release! Furthermore the compilation highlights the Gouryella project from Ferry Corsten with the epicly synth-drenched "Surga", while other bona fide numbers come from Markus Schultz, and Fonzarelli with '80s Italo disco trance throwback "In My Dream", while Peppemansion & Angelo Di Franco' are another highlight with their minimal burner "Mariposa". A secret weapon hidden deep within.
Review: Thunder Jam's latest EP comes from a producer yet to make his (or her) mark in music, the capital letter loving REZ. The artist has another EP due out on Hatched soon; if this debut EP is anything to go by, that will be well worth a listen. We're particularly enjoying the chugging, slow-motion disco-rock head-nod that is opener "Too Cool To Be Careless", a revision of a well-known 1980s AM radio hit that will have your dancefloors singing along when the chorus eventually drops. Elsewhere, "Believe In Magicians" re-imagines a quirky and bluesy swing number into a locked-in chunk of hip-house, while "It Was All A Dream" successfully rearranges a slap-bass sporting chunk of "juicy", 80s-inspired 1990s hip-hop/R&B.