Review: With a name like "Elysium", you'd expect this EP from experienced producer Lars Bartkuhn to be blissfully melodious, unashamedly positive and musically expansive. It is, of course, with the original version of the title track expertly joining the dots between humid deep house, head-in-the-clouds jazz and the sun-soaked waviness of the Italian dream house movement. Bartkuhn makes great use of live instrumentation - horns, woodwind instruments and pianos, in particular - which are smothered in tropical field recordings and work in unison with a jaunty house groove. On the flipside you'll find two alternative takes: the effortlessly saucer-eyed, slowly building "Inner Experience" version, and the looser, more live sounding Paradise Dub, where the producer trades saxophone and synthesizer solos. Both are, naturally, superb.
Review: Assisted by long-time studio partner Kaidi Tatham, former 4 Hero man Dego's been on fire of late, delivering killer singles - and a fine album - for the likes of Eglo and Rush Hour. Here he pops up on Neroli again with more superb, soul-flecked dancefloor fare. "Don't Stop (Let It Go)" is particularly potent, offering a disco and jazz-funk influenced chunk of celebratory deep house laden with thrilling live instrumentation from members of "the 2000 Black family" (Tatham and others, basically). He completely flips the script on "Save It Till Later", a refreshingly rough and ready chunk of bass-heavy, acid-flecked house/techno fusion that benefits greatly for some particularly warped electronics. Darkness and light on one 12"; what's not to like?
Review: Enjoying a brief sojourn away from then 2000 Black label he's long called home, sometime 4hero member Dego pops up on Neroli with a two-tracker that blends his usual jazz-funk inspired instrumentation with warm and fragrant, dancefloor-focused grooves. The jazz-funk influence is strongest on flipside "Just Give It A Long Shot", a more languid affair rich in squiggly synth lines, toasty bass guitar, slack-tuned drum breaks and the kind of group vocals that would have once sent rare groove heads into a spin. A-side "Twelve Steps" is arguably even better, with whispered vocals, jazzy synth lines and sunny guitars wrapping around a pleasingly rubbery Brit-funk groove.
Review: Yes! A brilliant induction into the Neroli annals of fame for Mr Dego and his 200 Black crew; joining the likes of Domu and Nubian Mindz in adding some classic bruk boogie perspective to Volcov's long running label. There's numerous reasons to check this triple hitting Find A Way plate, not least the title cut where Dego teams up with Akwasi and Kaidi Taiham, with the latter offering up a rare turn on vocals as opposed to manning the keys; the results are sublime and soul enriched boogie which offers a nice contrast with the deeper, rolling bump of "The Hurt". The amazing Bembe Segue turns up on "Sunshine" with Dego and crew wisely taking a step back to let her take centre stage.
DJ Man X & Albert Sterling Menendez - "Consequences" (feat Blaze - Blaze vocal mix) (8:16)
Lee Pearson Jr Collective - "Tell Me What It Is" (feat Terry Yancy - Abicah Soul remix) (7:04)
Lee Van Kleef - "In The Wrong" (feat Lifford - Manoo dublove mix) (6:01)
Review: Esteemed selector Volcov's latest compilation series, Inside, focuses on tracks that have never appeared on vinyl before. The first EP in the series is wonderfully soulful and sultry, and contains a trio of grown-up dancefloor cuts. On the A-side you'll find Blaze's revision of DJ Man X and Albert Sterling Menendez's effortlessly soulful "Consequences", an impeccable fusion of Osunlade style broken house rhythms and rich, organic instrumentation. There's a similar feel to the Abicah Soul remix of Lee Pearson Jr Collective's brilliant "Tell Me What It is", while Manoo's fine rub of Lee Van Kleef's "In The Wrong" encases a steppy, Latin-tinged house groove in jazzy piano solos, spacey electronics and lilting synth-strings.
Review: Chicago's Shannon Harris goes in real deep on this latest 12" for the incorrigible Neroli imprint and as per usual, it's nuthin' but shimmering quality throughout. Harris revisits two of his classics; first on his Lucid Dream mix of "Into The Light", a jazzy, deep house number featuring the vocal talents of Brandice Manuel, and then on the Elektrix remix of Kinetic Energy, a hazy lo-fi cut which would make the perfect soundtrack to any sunrise. Bliss.
What Do You Prefer? (feat Vernard Burton - Deep & Raw mix) (5:02)
What Do You Prefer? (feat Vernard Burton - Lee & David Orchestrated mix) (5:13)
Bye Bye (feat K LaDawn - vocal mix) (5:34)
Bye Bye (feat K LaDawn - instrumental) (5:33)
Review: Shawtyshank returns under his Lee Pearson Jr Collective with two collaborative slabs of evangelistic soulful house. First up is "What Do You Prefer" with New Black Renaissance man Vernard Burton. Staccato lines over a horn-parping jack, both versions provide inner fulfilment. Flip for a hook-up with RC Groove affiliate K LaDawn for a softer shuffle where smoky sultries play a seductive lead role. Stunning.
Review: Italian imprint Neroli grace us with the second in a series of 12 inches prepped to celebrate their 10th anniversary. Volcov's label is known for excelling in many styles and that's aptly demonstrated here. Jus Ed's better half Jenifa Mayanja kicks off with future boogie of "Sunset" which sees her ethereal voice glide over an increasingly off kilter jazz bump. Chicago veteran Anthony Nicholson follows with relentlessly uplifting vocal assisted groove of "Communication". The real gold however is nestled on the B Side, with "So" from Mancunian Be (Prime Numbers/Wolf Music) a heaving mass of Detroit influenced brilliance which locks into a Rhodes heavy and delightfully soul flecked groove midway through. Nutmeg aka UK legend Dego rounds things off on a high with the rusted bruk step danger of "Tangent".
In The Spirit (feat KB - instrumental mix) (10:19)
Review: Remarkably, it's been 23 years since Motor City legend Alton Miller released his first 12". Here, he dips into the archives of previously unreleased material to present a trio of cuts From The Vaults. He's at his positive best on "Waiting For You", a loose and organic sounding deep house gem smothered in slick, modern soul vocals, hazy chords and jazzy musical motifs. There's a slightly more bumpin' feel about the similarly soulful "Run & Hide", which benefits greatly from chunkier beats, bolder bass, and some fabulously spacey synth solos. Best of all, though, is instrumental flipside "In The Spirit", where dislocated vocal snippets and winding melody lines ride a dense, Afro-influenced drum track.
Review: The analogue love continues... Hot in pursuit of "All The Little Things", Detroit OG Alton Miller delivers more fresh soul. And we mean soul; "She Don't Want To Be" is an exquisite dreamy percussive house cut that sits somewhere between Faze-O and MAW. "In Spring" maintains the woozy daydream feel while shuffling up the groove into more of a party-minded affair while "Can't Get Enough" is pure, uncut Detroit house funk. Beyond authentic.
Review: Returning to his fruitful Latin Soul Brothas venture, Ricardo Miranda once again reaches across the Atlantic from Chicago to Italy to collaborate with Neroli on this sturdy and varied four tracker. "808 Signatures" instantly stands out, working around a skippy groove that features more cowbell and rimshot than anything else from the fabled drum machine, while a looping synth creates a cheeky, left of centre feel. "Voices Of The World" is a more summery, piano-led jam with a Larry Heard flavour, and "Faces Revenge" pulls everything back for a slow but sturdy DJ tool. "Mental Samurai" cools everything off with another richly melodic jaunt through floating pads and gossamer beats.
Review: Last year, experienced Chicago producer Ricardo Miranda delivered the first Latin Soul Brothas 12" in four years. Here, he brings the long-running project back to Neroli for the first time since 2012. As usual, he uses the opportunity to fuse traditional Chicago house tropes - the dreamy fluidity of Larry Heard, the sharp acid lines of Phuture, and so on - with percussion and instrumentation from the world of Latin music. The results are uniformly excellent, from the twinkling pianos and winding acid lines of "Dizzy Vibes", to the dusty electronic jazz bliss of closer "Friday Grooves", via the "Brazilian Rhyme"-goes-house shuffle of "Otra Voz".
Review: Since rising to prominence thanks to his association with Jamal Moss's Mathematics Recordings imprint, Marcello Napoletano has delivered memorable material for the likes of Gravity Graffiti and Berceuse Heroique. Here, he pops up on long-running Italian deep house and broken beat imprint Neroli. The real killer is opener "Neroli Track", a formidable analogue jack-track built around clattering machine percussion, crazed synth bass and off-kilter electronics. That said, there's plenty of tried-and-tested dancefloor fodder elsewhere on the EP, from the breezy, left-of-centre piano house jam "Love Me", to the dense tribal intensity of humid closer "Innamorato".
Review: Still buzzing from the reaction to his recent album as Specter on Sound Signature, Andres Ordonez joins forces with old pal Jose Rico for the first Our Own Organization EP in three years. We'd argue it has been worth the wait, too, because all four tracks are top drawer. They begin with "My Mind Is Gone", a wonderfully deep and laidback affair where spacey, melancholic chords and lilting melodies gently dance atop an electro-influenced rhythm and raw analogue bass, before pushing up the tempo via the sludgy shuffle of "Special Sound". Flip the record for the hazy, piano-sporting dub-house warmth of "Days of Old" and a blissful chunk of mid-tempo deepness that recalls both the glory days of Italian dream house and the head-in-the-clouds wonder of ambient techno.
Review: Whether operating within house or techno, Motor City producer Patrice Scott's productions are always shot through with the warmth of machine soul. "Chasing Dreams", the lead cut from the producer's first outing on Italian imprint Neroli, is a perfect example. Dancefloor chops are provided by a rolling drum machine rhythm, while life-affirming positivity comes via Scott's canny use of spacey chord sequences and fluid, Larry Heard style piano motifs. It's a simply sumptuous track. It comes accompanied on side B by the deeper and woozier "Remember When?", where gentle pianos cluster around a bubbly electronic bassline and brilliantly stereo panned percussion, and the lingering synth solos and spacey electronics of hip-hop tempo slow jam "New Day".
Review: Italian imprint Neroli borrow the talented Swiss born and Spanish based Skymark from Modern Sun Records for this five track EP that showcases his many ranges, traversing beyond deep house at times to incorporate jazz and funk. Lead track "Thank You (Ed)" eases you in, its gentle tones paying homage to larger than life Brazilian musician Ed Motta, and it doesn't prepare you for the undeniable funk of "Clavins Debauchery", one of few tracks to merge sleazy slap guitar with finely judged house tones. The remainder sees Skymark stick closer to the deep house template with three tracks featuring the vocal talents of Jair Santiago with the slow burning "Stay True To Myself" a clear highlight.
Review: A quick google search of "Blake Hall" results in links to an Essex community hall, a disused tube station and a Pokemon character from Bulbapedia. It's fun to imagine that somehow all three inspired Soul 223 aka Steve Pickton's latest Blake Hall Boogie missive on Italian imprint Neroil (a possible nod to Eno's 1993 hour long instrumental opus?). The title track seats modulating synths next to fluted bass tonks and metallics, replacing wonted Roland hi-hats. "Epiphany" is a quickened and shuffly groove with a fuzzy synth line as its centrepiece, whereas "From The Dirt" enters drowsy balearic territory via slower BPMs and off kilter sonics. The upbeat Nite Life mix to "The City Never Sleeps" caps off an EP perfect for the future boogie tip.
Review: Trinidadian Deep tails the end of his 2012 with the Deep Love EP on Italian imprint Neroli. The off kilter piano keys, shuffled cabasas and percussion of "Sweet Gal" are paired with love-drenched synth moans that make for a deep house piano classic. "Mama Yemeya" follows suite with more virtuoso piano drive, cushioned with friendly rattlesnake shakers and dreamy cascades of house music warmth, ideally to be heard on a cruise liners sky deck at night somewhere in the Mediterranean. The upbeat baseball stadium Rhodes and tropical drums of "My Eshu" is then a sun dance for the upcoming European summer.
Review: It's been a good 12 months since a Trinidadian Deep release, and two years since his last EP for Neroli. Here he returns to the Italian label with another trio of tracks rich in musicality and dreamy, spine-tingling depth. Opener "Dem Jump" sets the tone, delivering a saucer-eyed take on Mood Hut style new age house built around bossa-influenced drums and peppered with delicious marimba melodies. There's more of a traditional US deep house bump to the similarly dreamy "Eyes Closed" - all tactile chords and twinkling piano solos - while "Beyond Us" layers sun-bright synth melodies over a dense, bongo-laden rhythm. All three tracks are magical in their own way, as you might expect from someone of Trinidadian Deep's pedigree.
Review: Volcov's Neroli is definitely all about the classic sounds as much as it is about emotive deepness and soul. A label where Domu, Dego and Kaidi Tatham have all appeared in recent times so you know how serious they are! This time around it's over to NYC producer Trinidadian Deep who has served an apprenticeship of sorts under legends of the craft such as Ron Trent and Osunlade. Speaking of which, the spiritual Afro vibe of "London Steps" is very reminiscent of Osunlade or Ron Trent's African Blues Project. "Spirit Speaks" is pure bliss amidst a wash of rich synth textures and swirling pads with hypnotic conga drums. Finally "Lil Love" is driving deep house for heaving dance floors featuring yet another execution of fine elements, no doubt honed by his time with NYC's finest. Tip!
Review: Trindadian Deep was initially schooled by deep house legend Ron Trent, before casting out on his own. Native EP V is his second 12" of the year for regular home Neroli. As you might expect, it's full of musically rich deep house explorations that don't try too hard for attention. A-side "Native Rebel" is particularly beguiling, with stretched out organ lines tumbling over cosmic synth riffs and deep, layered, organic sounding percussion. On the flip you'll find the Larry Heard-meets-Kaidi Tatham lusciousness of "Native Bruk", followed by the fluttering synth solos, loose-but-dense percussion and killer chord progressions of "Native Uprising".
Trinidadian Deep & Lars Bartkuhn - "The Parish" (Full Experience) (10:10)
Trinidadian Deep & Lars Bartkuhn - "The Parish" (dub) (4:32)
Review: Given that Ron Trent was once his musical mentor, it's perhaps unsurprising that Trinidadian Deep is capable of producing spellbinding spiritual deep house. His former mentor's influence can be heard within the layered African percussion, lilting synthesizer melodies and spacey riffs of "Native Palo", the opening track from the New York-based producer's latest EP. There's no doubt that Trent would also love the Osunlade style beats, drowsy chords and steel drum solos of "The People". On the flip, "Trini Deep" joins forces with like-minded deep house stalwart Lars Bartkuhn for two passes of "The Parish". There's the "Full Experience" mix, an organic, warm and enveloping chunk of deep house bliss smothered in syntheszier and piano solos, and a trippy, percussion-rich late night "Dub".
On My Heart (feat Paul Randolph - KZR Blazed vocal) (6:54)
On My Heart (feat Paul Randolph - Delvyn Groove mix) (6:57)
Speak Your Word (feat Osunlade & Rasiyah) (5:58)
On My Heart (feat Paul Randolph - KZR Blazed instrumental) (6:57)
Review: Having recently devoted more time to re-edits and compilation work, the DJ/producer known as Volcov re-launches his jazzy and soulful Isoul8 project. The producer's first single under the pseudonym for five years is little less than superb. The EP opens with the KZR Blazed Dub, a wonderfully deep and soulful treat where Paul Randolph's evocative vocal comes smothered in elongated, deep space chords and undulating jazz-house drums. The Delvyn Groove version, rich in jammed-out Fender Rhodes riffs and rubbery live bass, sounds a little like vintage Georg Levin cuts on Sonar Kollektiv, while "Speak Your Word", featuring the combined talents of Osunlade and Rasiyah, brilliantly joins the dots between jazz-funk, deep house and 2000 Black style broken beat.