Review: Having thrilled dusty-fingered crate diggers with a reissue of Denis Mpunga and Paul K's impossible-to-find mid-'80s cassette album Criola - an unusual but rather fine combination of post-punk and traditional Congolese music - Music from Memory has decided to give some of the tracks the remix treatment. As you'd expect, there's many more hits than misses. Dutch rising star Dazion delivers a wonderfully cosmic revision of "Intermezzo B" full of fluttering new age synth lines and drum machine polyrhythms, while Tolouse Low Trax turns "Veronika" into a woozy and dreamy chunk of dub-flecked, loved-up downtempo bliss. Late night dancefloor thrills are provided by Interstellar Funk's intergalactic tribal techno take on "Intermezzo 2" and Prins Emmanuel's tactile take on "KWEI!", which sits somewhere between dub disco, boogie and proto-house.
Catherine Brenot - "Et Tout Est Yin Et Tout Est Yang" (club mix) (5:19)
1 Plus 1 - "Coming Up For Air" (instrumental) (5:25)
Fragile - "We've Got Tonight, Boy" (6:13)
Jarmaz - "Night City Life" (Disco remix) (3:55)
Friend Of Mine - "Just Your Pride" (4:47)
Mac & Monica - "You’re So Good To Me" (6:29)
Sala & H - "Feel The Love" (4:00)
Alexandra - "Fantasia (Fantasy)" (4:45)
Gioia - "No Secrets" (instrumental) (7:43)
Janelle - "Don't Be Shy" (dub) (6:40)
Alessandro Scellino - "Dinner In The Jungle" (Erotic mix) (6:49)
Brian Tatcher - "Hot Love" (instrumental dub version) (6:48)
Preludio - "Mysterious Nights" (4:46)
Review: Ilan Pdahtzur is as obsessive a record digger as any of his more visible peers. His particular niche is early to mid-eighties club music, and now he gets a platform to show off his skills thanks to the Spacetalk label. "Night City Life" is about music to match that exact setting - nocturnal urban metropolises with glowing neon lights shimmering in the darkness. There's a lot to love across four sides of vinyl here, from Italo disco to steamy boogie cuts and iridescent synth jams. It will make you nostalgic for a time and place you've never experienced (at least not as perfectly as this) and no doubt get plenty of dance floors on their feet.
Review: While the noise swirling around them is getting close to deafening, you get the feeling that the hype wouldn't penetrate the ethereal bubble that Peaking Lights exist in. The partnership of Indra Dunis and Aaron Coyes exudes innocence and wide-eyed delight at every turn - in that sense they make a pleasing departure from much of the current lo-fi zeitgeist. Where many of these artists have staked their claim to degraded sonics through a cacophony of noise and scrubbed-out vocals, Peaking Lights have a delicate, charming nature to them which uses withered production traits as a pathway rather than an end point. There's no denying that Lucifer is lo-fi (they even wryly name on of their tracks "Lo-Hi" on the album) but they don't use that aesthetic to mask the music that they make. Rather it sounds like they really don't have anything else to make their songs with other than Coyes' ropey home-made equipment and a battered four-track recorder. Whether this really is the case or not, there's no air of contrivance about Peaking Lights. For that reason alone the hype is well and truly justified. Highly recommended.
Review: Second time around for "In Togetherness", a private press gem from 1977 that has recently become popular with dusty-fingered collectors of underground disco and soul. It was originally written, performed, produced and pressed by almost unknown singer Judy Pollak and Michigan-based backing band 33 1/3. This Athens of the North vinyl re-issue follows a recent CD edition by Japanese imprint P-Vine. Musically, there's much to admire throughout, from the sax-and-synths-laden disco stomp of "Mr DJ" and down low disco-funk headiness of "Fascinating", to the seductive sweetness of Pollack's breathy vocal on "Come With Me" and the sun-kissed breeziness of the brilliant "More Than Words".
Review: When it comes to crafting languid, sun-baked Balearic grooves and shuffling, soft-focus disco-pop, few are quite as accomplished as Poolside. That much is proved by Heat, the LA duo's first album since 2012 debut Pacific Standard Time. This time round, they've embraced their West Coast roots even further, throwing elements of yacht rock and blue-eyed soul into this mix alongside their usual saucer-eyed blend of lilting Balearic instrumentals (see stunning opener "Hot In The Shade" and the Windsurf-esque "Drifting"), huggable slow motion disco-pop and jaunty, piano-heavy dancefloor workouts (there are numerous cuts that echo the sun-bright brilliance of early single "Do You Believe").
Review: Prins Thomas seems to have got this album making malarkey down to a fine art. Having taken what seems like an eternity to put together his 2010 debut album, Prins Thomas, he's now up to volume three in his self-titled solo series. Whereas previous albums had a crustier krautrock feel amongst the cosmic synths, Prins Thomas III is largely downtempo, delivering a range of atmospheric Scandolearic moments that recall his two full-lengths alongside pal Hans-Peter Lindstrom. As usual, there's much to enjoy, from the drifting downtempo fluidity of "Trans" and wonky leftfield disco of "Labyrinth" to the sparse off-kilter Italo of "Apne Slusa" and intoxicating Middle Eastern chug of "Arabisk Natt (Dub)". In many ways it's a muted set - by his standards, at least - but that only adds to its' lazy, hazy charm.
Review: Norwegian disco titan Prins Thomas returns to his regular stomping ground of Smalltown Supersound with this, his sixth solo studio album. Thomas is sounding as vibrant as ever, his musical ideas spilling forth in glorious arrangements of organic instrumentation and gentling bubbling electronics that melt into a mellow, groovy sonic realm. There are hazy, cosmic moments to be savoured on the likes of "Feel The Love", and more adventurous rhythmic trysts like the nagging, snaking percussive melee of "Ambitions". Thomas' studio proficiency is more than matched by his imagination and creative ambition - would you expect any less from such a titan of Scandinavian electronic music?
Instrumental Group Cabas - "Cry In The Night" (2:46)
Frederic Castel - "Open Up" (3:31)
The Electric Connection - "Cry Of The Lone Wolf" (4:40)
Fabio Fabor - "Idolo Moresco" (3:56)
The Primates - "King Kong" (5:03)
Tony Sinclair Orchestra - "Walkin' Through The Night" (3:42)
Trepidants - "Far Away" (3:50)
Review: There are few record collectors and DJs with crates quite as deep as Psychemagik. They've already proved this beyond doubt via a trio of brilliant Magik compilations for Paul Murphy and Simon Purnell's Leng label. Magik Sunset Part 2 continues this run, gathering together another double-album's worth of fantastic obscurities from the worlds of stoner disco, left-of-centre rock, psychedelia and Balearica. As usual, there are some genuine "how did I not know about this record" moments, from the star-kissed Balearic jazz of Fabio Fabor and saucer-eyed white boy reggae-rock of the Trepidants, to the Flamenco-tinged AOR disco shuffle of Jack Adkins' "Sunset Beach".
GRC Five - "Saga Of A Secluded Swamp Monster" (2:52)
Free Fantasy - "Caroline" (3:27)
Jeanette - "L'Amour Joue Au Violon" (4:24)
Wavemaker - "Tunnel Of Love" (3:40)
Bobby Lyle - "Making Love" (4:00)
Babla & Kanchan - "Aay Mere Dil" (6:17)
FG's Romance - "What Is Love Today?" (3:39)
Etienne Vermoessen & Guido Delo - "Easy Morning" (2:50)
Musyl & Joseppa - "Follow Me" (1:19)
Karat - "Auf Den Meeren" (5:59)
Review: Whatever you think of their original productions, there's no denying the continued quality of Psychemagik's compilations. Their latest epic exploration of member Danny McLewin's epic record collection, Ritual Music, is split into three parts. This volume, Love, predictably includes some genuine thrillers, from the new age electronica of Man Parrish's "Water Sports", and the global mysticism of "Amram" by The Rias Orchestra, to the breathy sleaze of Jeanette's "L'Amour Jove Au Viol", and seductive guitar solos of Bobby Lyle's jazz-funk classic "Makin' Love". We could go on. Suffice to say, there's barely a duffer in sight, and more intriguing twists and turns than your average sci-fi murder mystery.