Review: Some five years after re-launching his Crayon label via a fine EP of vintage "Tracks From The Vault", original 1990s tech-house producer Mark Ambrose serves up more gems from his bulging archives. The quality threshold remains dizzyingly high throughout. Check first the moody, back room dub of "Nightshift (Deeper Mix)", where gentle, alien synth lines and deep space chords tumble down over a heavy analogue bassline and locked-in beats, before turning your attention to "Space Animals", a deliciously dubbed-out affair rich in sub bass and drifting, deep space chords. If that's not enough, flip over and trance out to B side "Seduction" and finally, the slamming techno beats, looped electronics and mind-mangling TB-303 motifs of closer "Dusty Acid".
Review: Rominimal veteran Barac Nicolae returns, and this time on Felipe Venegas' esteemed imprint Drumma with a pair of tight, infectious minimal tech house productions. The rolling and hypnotic main room grooves that he's built his reputation on can be heard loud and clear on the powerful "The Mirror Of Spirit", while the flipside houses a deeper, after-hours vibe via "909". Despite its name, the beats produced by the trusty Roland drum machine aren't the main attraction. We think "303" might be more well suited for this acid entrancer!
Review: Ever reliable Berlin duo Cab Drivers are back on Cabinet with more boompty minimal house business you've come to expect from the legendary duo. Powered by analogue soul throughout, Daniel Paul and ZKY go deep into the night with the emotive, bass-driven title track before getting freakier and darker on the flip with "Quotes". Well suited for the after-hours, this 12" is packed full of vintage drum machine flair and intoxicating electronics.
Review: Few are held in as higher esteem or instill as much admiration as the Italian deep house legend, Don Carlos. Imogen Recordings continue their stellar release form, locking down the maestro for a blissful two tracker that gives just as much energy, awe and emotion as his early '90s output. 'Alina' is eyes closed business right from the off. Waves of atmospheric synth strings and hazy chords roll in, as blissful pads sway with filtered drum loops. First come the dusky piano twinkles, then the trademark Don Carlos analogue bass tones, proving as prominent as ever behind melt-in-the-mouth sax grooves. Every turn and tweak conjures up memories of carefree elation - its ecstasy inducing dance music without the need for artificial enhancements. Part II is a variation on this masterpiece, progressing through the intro in a speedier fashion for those that need an express ticket to that peak time power. Shakers, claps and congas are brighter in the mix whilst the addition of a springing synth arp, fluctuations to the bassline and a re-sleazed sax line give just enough diversity to make it distinctive. It's hardier than Part I, but with every bit as much finesse and feeling. This is the real deal - no nonsense house music from a heart and head that have seen it all. Alone on a Mediterraneo beach or surround by a packed dancefloor, Alina is one to get lost in from start to finish and a solid statement that Don Carlos certainly still has 'it'.
Henry Hyde - "Every Day's A Good Day For A Swim" (6:18)
Review: The ever-charitable Needs project continues apace with another stunning cast of characters offering up their dancefloor creations to help a good cause - the environmentally-focused Cool Earth NGO. On this 12", Eris Drew delivers the uplifting breakbeat celebration of "See You In Snow", while Edward takes things deeper with the tripped out minimal house groove of "Mind Loop". D. Tiffany brings a particularly crafty approach to her own drum funk science on "Sun Trip" and Henry Hyde cools things down with the mellow, new age 2 step stylings of "Every Day's A Good Day For A Swim."
Review: Whether this is merely a double-EP or an album is a moot point, because either way it's Sequalog co-boss Etienne's most expansive release to date. It's every bit as alluring as his much-discussed EPs on Traffic, Art Of Dark (a split effort with Evan Baggs) and Undersound Recordings. Check, for example, the foreboding tech-house funk of "3rd Nuke", the mid '90s Orbital style dancefloor melodiousness of "Forget Me Not", the bleep-laden electro crackle of "All About", the analogue-heavy bounce of "Lies Inc" and the "peak time in a dark warehouse" flex of stab-happy stomper "The Doubtful Guest". Arguably best of all, though, is creepy dancefloor destroyer "Information Society", which sees Etienne wrap clandestine minor key melodies around a booming, "LFO" style bassline.
Review: UK tech house hero Burnski has been serving up some serious heat of late under the Instinct alias, channelling that old school UK vibe of drum & bass, speed garage and 2-step. His exploration into these styles bring about this sixth instalment of his eponymous series with 3 cuts set to cause havoc on dancefloors this year. A side cut "Overthrow" rides on a slick tech house groove before moving into a swing-fuelled rhythm and razor-sharp sub-bass and it's business as usual. On the flip, shadowy stepper "Phased" fuses Artful Dodger's classic swagger with the dark sci-fi aesthetic of Ed Rush & Optical. Finally, put your lighters up for the furious junglist roller that is "Free Life".
Review: British-born producer/DJ Christian 'Jay' Newman who now resides in techno mecca Berlin inaugurates his new Meld imprint (which he runs with some friends) with a four tracker that rides on the new wave of ex-minimal, retro-influenced techno/house. With a decent portfolio of releases for Idle Hands, Butter Side Up and NorthSouth, Newman is in great form here on the "Preservation EP". Whether it's the hyperware bleepy bounce of the title track, lo-slung UK breaks on "Greasy Spoon" or hypnotic afterhours tackle by closer "OJT", we foresee big things from this fledgling label. Fans of Time Passages, Pager or Limousine Dream will love this.
Review: Lauren Lo Sung's star continues to rise as the talented minimal house producer and DJ partners up with the mighty Lazare Hoche. This four track EP is packed with bombs, from the shimmering, metallic deep house finery of "Running" to the cheeky acid wriggle of "Dusty Pink". Things take a darker, deeper turn on the fierce "Fixate," and then lift into fluttering after hours tones for the sublime and ever so slightly trippy "Lara's Dub". Now firmly entrenched in the cut and thrust of the European minimal house scene, Lo Sung's talents spill out in abundance on this assured pack of highly workable and versatile floor filling 4/4 burners.
Review: AE Recordings turns its attention to Oculus, who they describe as a "titan of the Icelandic techno scene", famed for his live sets that have kept bodies moving for the past decade. He commits some of his sounds to wax here, maintaining the otherworldly emotional lilt that often comes from the scene orbiting AE and Thule Records, but with a bolder sound palette than some of the icy dubbed out artists he rubs shoulders with. "Nostalgia" deals in powerful, swooning chord progressions, while "Rydgad" pings a set of metallic percussion around a sturdy but crooked low end groove. "Morph" takes things deeper, while "Flod" offers up a classy take on the minimal techno aesthetic, with added sound design trysts for good measure.
Review: Fresh from the success of two top notch EPs on iile, Leo Pol unveils his most ambitious release to date. All I Got In Me is something of a beast, with seven tracks stretched across two slabs of wax. It's a rather pleasingly varied affair, all told, with the experienced producer flitting between Detroit style techno futurism ("BH2"), warm, chunky and occasionally tough deep house ("All I Got In Me", "Live Concrete"), spacey beatbox electro ("Live Love") and the kind of tech-house cuts that look to both the Motor City and Chicago for inspiration. As a bonus, he's also included a collaborative cut under the St Ouen Connection moniker, the deep and hazy, techno-tempo positivity of "Masile".
Review: Keinemusik co-founder Gregor Sutterlin AKA Rampa is the latest addition to the Innervisions roster. His debut EP for the imprint is dancefloor-friendly and for the most part club ready, but also slightly more experimental and off-kilter in ethos than you'd perhaps expect from Ame and Dixon's long-running label. Check first the non-stop A-side suite of tracks, where the oddball electronics and effects-laden looped vocals of "79249 (Intro)" seamlessly segues into the ghostly lead lines, thrusting arpeggio bass, creepy effects and locked-in techno drums of "They Will". Radiohead-influenced vocal number "Tell Me Are We" is a glassy-eyed outsider tech-house collaboration with WhoMadeWho, while "Lavender Boogie" is a richly percussive affair rich in ice cream van chimes, dense African percussion and hushed tech-house tones.
Review: Times have changed since Jake Williams first donned the Rex The Dog alias for Kompakt in 2004, but his ability to deliver ear-pleasing, synth-heavy dancefloor cuts has never faltered. "Vortex", the lead cut from the producer's first EP on 2019, is a particular potent example of his art, with Williams building and releasing tension via sparse, spacey lead lines, new wave style synth chords, matter-or-fact techno beats, trance-inducing motifs and some suitably mind-altering breakdowns. It's arguably his strongest club cut for years and certainly the most alluring. Over on side B, "Elektromekanik" sees Williams brilliantly alternate between moments of loved-up, rush-inducing dreaminess and thrillingly angular, hard-wired modular electronics.
Review: Japanese techno legend Fumiya Tanaka returns to his own Sundance imprint with a brand new 12" with a customary strange and cryptic title. While information is scarce on the theme behind "We Would Like To Do Song For The Step", we can happily report that the Berlin-based artist's penchant for deep, hypnotic minimal house is on full force across the EP. We can easily imagine the dusty and understated title track being played on a Sunday afternoon at Hoppetosse, along with "In A Memorable 2018" where ethereal samples sit atop a groovy percussion layer. If you're longing for some old Tanaka material, the bass-driven and rolling minimal funk of "Don't Stuporous" calls to mind some of the quality grooves found on his acclaimed "Beautiful Days" series a couple of years back.
Review: 21 years have passed since Silverlining (aka Asad Rizvi) and Nathan Coles first joined forces as Two Right Wrongans and released "The Not Quite Right EP", a brilliant three-track collection of pioneering tech-house treats. That 12" has long been tricky to find - unless, of course, you're willing to fork out rather a lot to purchase an original copy online - so it's great to see the EP's two standout tracks getting the reissue treatment. A-side "System Error" is particularly potent, with fizzing sci-fi electronics and gently pulsing chords rising above a techno-tempo, house style rhythm track. "Straight Ahead Then Take The Next Wrong" is more hypnotic in tone, sounding like a blueprint for today's glitchy, bass-heavy tech-house tracks.
Review: One of the most singular artists in the Romanian minimal scene, Chiriches Vincentiu Iulian returns with more of his idiosyncratic grooves for new imprint Contemporan following up a great inaugural release by Sublee. "Contempo EP" delivers four diverse yet functional grooves that are aimed squarely at the dance floor, both at peak time and also those creepy dark after-hours moments. Highlights are plentiful throughout; check the smooth and dubby deepness of opener "Fixfue", trippy bass-driven funk of "Sonara" and reduced alien transmissions of "S-ude CV".