Review: Overthink is a Barcelona based label run by Nicolas Etorena, who taps homeboy Luis Malon here for four cuts of wonky retro rave and techno shenanigans on the "Champions Fantasy EP". The man has appeared on labels like Slow Life and Opia in recent times, so you should already have an idea of what's to come: from the electro-fied alien funk of "Terrify", to straight ahead peak time bangers like "Is TLM" with its savage 303 squelch, nodding to classic Yorkshire sounds. Driving B side cut "Vincha For All" receives a bouncy rework by SUR main man Jorge Gamarra that'll get you staring right down into the vortex.
Review: Dr Rubberfunk (AKA long-serving DJ/producer Simon Ward) may have reached the start of middle age, but he's showing no signs of succumbing to a typical "midlife crisis". In fact, his recent releases have been among the strongest of his career to date. The third part of his ongoing "My Life At 45" series is another belter, with opener "A Matter of Time" - featuring talented, fast-rising vocalist Izo FitzRoy - being a particularly strong exercise in revivalist 1960s soul. Elsewhere across the EP, "Slim's Mood" is a fine chunk of hazy rhythm and blues featuring some awesome, Peter Green style jazz guitar solos, while closing cut "Moody Drums" is a chunky beats track tailor-made for funk and hip-hop DJs who like to get busy in the mix.
Review: Since signing with Ransom Note Records in 2016, Bawrut has been on a fine run of form. Remarkably, this is the Madrid-based Italian's fifth EP for the imprint and it's every bit as memorable as its four predecessors. Like much of his work, title track "Pronto Arpeggio" is rich in razor-sharp analogue electronics, with high register arpeggio synthesizer lines rising above punchy beats, manic drum fills and mind-altering acid motifs. It's successfully toughened up by KiNK before Bawrut returns with "Shooreee", another boldly percussive and constantly building exercise in analogue electronics manipulation. Ruf Dug's brilliant remix takes the track to another level entirely via even denser drums, rougher acid riffs and more glistening lead lines, while "Atchu" is a chugging chunk of late night acid sleaze.
Review: Hotmoods hits double fingers with another stellar selection of steamy disco sizzlers. This time served up on a heavyweight 12", "Esta Noche" leads the charge with Todd Terje style melodic magic chugging away to the skies. "Shabba" features joyous vocal harmonies and splashes of synths that take you to the beach, and "Looking Back" ups the funk with busy bass playing and a lead synth that rings out with infectious happiness. Last of all, "Wanna Be Lost" gets more romantic and up close and personal with female vocals layered over elastic drums. All in all, an essential slab of wax for any disco DJ.
Review: Under the Special Request alias, Paul Woolford has released some stellar music this year. Astonishingly, "Offworld" is his third album of 2019; it could well be the best, too. It explores different sonic territory too, drawing heavily on electro, futurist Detroit techno, Boards of Canada style IDM and the slick 1980s productions of Jam and Lewis. The result is a stunningly beautiful, spacey and far-sighted set that contains some of Woolford's most emotion-rich work to date - and that's saying something. It also finishes in stunning style with an impeccable remix/re-make of the Grid's "Floatation" that sounds like the best early 90s Orb remix you've never heard.
Review: Mainz-based house hooligan Butch teams up with good studio pal Christian Vogt (Yellow Tail/Rebirth) once again for their new thumper - a remix of Andy Gibbs of The Bee Gees' 1980 hit "Desire". Said to have been circulating for more than a year on selected USB sticks, it's finally available for all. The sexy and low slung main remix is sure to burn up any dancefloor, and is backed by a groovy and swing-fuelled dub version, a handy and functional drum tool and a nifty vocal tool too. It's what Gerd Janson & Co. best described themselves as "blue-eyed R&B house.. made to please and evoke those unifying and uplifting dancefloor moments".
Review: Following fine releases on Shipwrec, Natural Sciences and Return To Disorder, masked electro/techno misfit Galaxian (real name Mark Kastner) makes his first appearance on Ilian Tape. The Glasgow-based producer starts in suitably big fashion via "External Observer", where what sounds like an orchestra of synthesizers gets to work over a skittish, bass-heavy electro beat, before exploring more dystopian dancefloor pastures on the moody, alien-sounding and otherworldly "Fuzzy Clouds Of Potential Existence". On side B he gives his out-there interpretation of early jungle ("Coming Up For Air"), batters a broken computer into submission and makes electro gold out of it (the slightly melancholic "Mechanistic Control Fantasies") and soundtracks the end of days (or possibly Brexit) on weirdo closing cut "Terminal Phase".
Review: Munich duo Rhode & Brown have been bringing the good stuff to Toy Tonics for some time now, and they're sounding especially vibrant on this new joint. "Nine To Shine" is a sweet and soulful, 90s flavoured deep house jam with catchy vocals and a bittersweet mood to help you throw off the baggage of the working life once the weekend rolls around. "Honeymoon Affair" piles on uplifting piano chords and smooth acid bass for a full-fat house burner, while "Sumthin" chops up some serious funk samples for a massive dose of feel-good. "Your Beauty Is A Spoiler" completes the set with a wistful mood centered on an impeccably edited soul hook, making this a house 12" with plenty of mileage for a multitude of situations.
Review: Atjazz & Jullian Gomes released their "Big Bad Crazy" album nearly a year ago to wide acclaim, and here is one of the LP's standout tracks which receives a rework from Freerange/Delusions Of Grandeur chief Jimpster. He replaces the sensual late night deepness of the original version of "It's My Time" with a slinky, hypnotic and absolutely mesmerising vibe, awash in shimmering melodies, delay drenched snippets of the original vocals and an absolutely addictive bassline. There's a handy instrumental on the flip too. Braintree's finest delivers the goods once again on this hit that's sure to have wide crossover appeal.
Review: Defected offshoot Glitterbox is a label that embodies the old school spirit of early house and disco - polysexual, positive and hugely expressive. The latest single is another testament to that with majestic producer Qwestlife serving up a perfect fusion of disco lushness, house groove and funk bass on "Fever". Add in hip swinging claps, Grammy winner Siedah Garrett's vocals, a sprinkling of Sugarhill Gang and Grandmaster Melle Mel and you have a real bobby dazzler. Deep digging disco don Kon serves up a joyous remix as well as a beatless reprise for DJ trickery.
Review: REPRESS ALERT: Thule are back on the Icelandic techno reissue trip, this time returning to a serious classic from Sanasol (Yagya & Thor) that originally came out in 1997. This particular, highly sought after, gem leads in with the majorly heady house throb of "Seveneleven (Original Mix)" which piles the dubby processing and lush melodics on heavy while still retaining a sense of airiness to uplift the soul. By contrast, the "Closedonsundays Mix" focuses on a tough but crooked beat and that undulating bassline for a completely different flavour. On the flip, the "Sanaramalonger Mix" returns to the mellower flow of the original but with a more submerged finish and some pronounced dub stabs. Then the "Ozzy Mix" finishes the package with a minimal take that prefigures the upsurge of dubby clicks n' cuts laptop beats that would explode in the years to come. Essential tackle for all deep techno explorers.
Review: Four years ago, Vincent Lemieux + Guillaume & The Coutu Dumont made their collaborative debut as Flabbergast via a fine EP on Circus Company. They've been silent since, meaning that this belated sequel on Yoyaku feels like a big release. "Enweye" operates towards the deeper end of the stripped-back tech-house spectrum, with the duo wrapping intergalactic synthesizer melodies around rock solid kick drums, crashing cymbals and fluid tribal percussion on impeccable opener "Nowel". "Jowanne" is arguably even deeper, with cascading ambient lead lines tumbling down over a shuffling rhythm track and more tropical drum hits. Over on side B, Varhat offers his interpretation of "Nowel", in the process delivering a loose-limbed tech-house percussion jam with hazy, sun-kissed melodies occasionally rising above the sweat-soaked beats.
Review: Holden's 2006 debut album was an astonishing one that gets a timely reissue on double crystal-clear splatter vinyl. A high watermark for proudly synthetic and computer made music, it was the bold arrival of an artist who endures as an innovator to this day. "The Idiots Are Winning" is a masterclass in unhinged grooves, glitchy electronic sounds and mutant sounds that set a new benchmark in experimental textures, sound design and dance floor clout. "Idiot" is the standout banger, "Lump" is more trippy and heat workout, and "10101" is the twitchy and mesmeric workout you cannot escape. Music as idiosyncratic as this doesn't come along too often, and even 13 years left it still sounds fresh.
Review: A new enigmatic duo from London named Two Shell present Livity Sounds' next installment. Their debut "Access EP" draws influence from the South London underground of the late '90s and early 00's, with a nod to more contemporary Bristol sounds across these four wicked tracks. From the off-kilter stepper that is "Heart Piece', through to the glacial and deconstructed dub techno of "Contactless" and the rolling bass-driven entrancer "SYNC-2020" - they have forged an EP of warm but stripped-down, deft UK style grooves to mark an anthemic debut. More groundbreaking future sounds from the ever reliable Bristol label.
Review: J Room steps up with a contribution to the minimal tech house conversation that sees emergent artist Jale making a strong statement with three powerful original tracks and a remix from Cosmjn. Jale's style leans on Detroit string synths for a sense of melancholic grandeur, and densely packed rhythm sections that bump as much as they punch. "Orbital Dream" takes things in a dreamy after hours direction, and "Eclipse" works up some rugged synth trysts that snap around a subtly broken beat. Cosmjn's remix of "Orbital Dream" is not to be slept on either as it subtly adjusts the accent of the groove to make an immersive tech house roller par excellence.
Review: Have a word. One of Special Request's heaviest, most sweat-inducing tune of 2019 getting remixed by Mall Grab and Sully on a pink vinyl? Is this even real? Yes it is. And these remixes absolutely slap. As the titles suggest, Mall Grab takes it down to 135 and in doing so has created even more of a heavier punch to the mix. Man-of-the-moment Sully, meanwhile, flips the original "Vortex 150" into a 164 jam. Once again the breaks are set to throat-slice, the processing makes you feel like you're being zapped by high voltage electricity cables and the whole vibe is 100% long dark tunnel. Immense remix business here.
Kerri Chandler - "Peace Of Mind" (D'Julz remix) (6:46)
Lafayette - "Better Late Than Never" (Kettama Garage remix) (5:00)
Jiletta Riley - "The Way It Was" (Marquis Hawkes Classic club vocal) (6:57)
Review: There's little better, house-wise at least, than vintage Kerri Chandler productions, though these fresh remixes of tracks by the New York maestro would certainly run them close. German producer Henrik Schwarz steps up first to re-imagine Chandler and Jerome Sydenham's "Powder" as a fluid but hypnotic chunk of building, synthesizer-heavy house in his usual melodic, tech-tinged style, before D'Julz turns in a wonderfully warm, locked-in revision of "Peace of Mind" full of drum machine handclaps, woozy chords and fizzing electronics. Over on side B you'll find a superb Kettama Garage mix of Lafayette's Chandler-produced classic "Better Late Than Never" - think late '90s UK speed garage and you're close - as well as a partoculalry reverential take on Jiletta Riley jam "The Way It Was" by Marquis Hawkes.
Just An Illusion (Ilija Rudman Night Institute mix) (3:04)
Don't Look Any Further (Ilija Rudman True Colours mix) (4:38)
Review: Off the back of the awesome "Sagittarii" LP on Stevie Kotey's Bear Funk earlier in the year, Croatian deep disco hero Ilija Rudman is back with a couple of sweet re-edits on Brooklyn Highs. He takes on Imagination's classic "Just An Illusion" for a "Night Institute Mix" where he pitches this sexy late night lovers anthem down a few notches for that good ol' low slung effect. On the flip, he delivers a respectful edit of Dennis Edwards and Siedah Garrett's 1984 classic "Don't Look Any Further" for a "True Colours Mix", which again goes for that slo-mo vibe just nicely.
Review: Priku's new diffusion series Atipic Lab has brought us some killer material of late, by some right heroes of the Rominimal scene such as Arapu, Vlad Arapasu and Cosmijn. The latest edition comes from the ever reliable Vincentiulian, who first appeared on the label back in 2016 with the brilliant Atipic 002 - which we consider a modern classic. Expectations are high, then, for ATIPICLAB 006 and he certainly didn't let us down. From the obtuse yet mesmerising bounce of A side cut "Agera", to the more straight ahead B side cuts such as "I Don't Wonder" which shows off Vincent's knack for crafty and infectious rhythm programming, and the funky afterhours groove of "Ultrak" with its smooth rolling bass.
Review: For those who dig Jeff Mills but don't have the time or money to hoard records from his extensive back catalogue, the ongoing "Director's Cut" series showcasing hard-to-find gems from his discography is a godsend. Volume five begins with a trip back to 2015 and "Solar Cycles" - an alien-sounding, otherworldly mid-tempo techno loop jam - from the limited edition, USB-only "Proxima Centauri" album. Side B begins with the bleeping tribal techno hustle of "L8" from 1998's "Skin Deep EP", before Mills offers us a chance to drift through space via 2006 track "Above Waiting Worlds", which is one of his most intergalactic and cinematic dancefloor cuts to date (and that's saying something).
Review: Texan psych-funk fun time outfit Golden Dawn Arkestra get some remix treatment via this double pack from Razor-N-Tape, which leads in with Austin Ato's positively dreamy deep house version of "Children Of The Sun". JKriv takes on "Cosmic Dancer" and makes it into a slick disco-fied workout that adheres to the RNT vibe, while Dicky Trisco takes the track and makes it into a suitably interstellar strutter heavy on the synth lines. Then then the second slab of wax offers up a side each to the original versions, from the Afrobeat-indebted "Children Of The Sun" to the sweet and starry-eyed disco of "Cosmic Dancer".
Review: James Ruskin's Blueprint label might be more than 50 releases deep, but it is still turning out vital techno. Famous beer lover Truncate is behind this latest no nonsense three tracker and first up he races out of the blocks with the wall rattling kicks and brilliantly linear grooves of "The Bell" which indeed has some eerie bell sounds bringing mystery to proceedings. "Initials" is for the messier late night hours, with loose synths unfolding in unpredictable patterns and melting your mind. "Timbre" is then the atmospheric closer that takes you inwards. Timeless stuff.
Review: Back in the heyday of the Scando-Disco scene, Jann Marius Dahle had a flurry of records as Fjordfunk and under his own name. Rightly recognised by the leaders in that scene, he's been quiet for the best part of 20 years, but now he returns with the stunning, fully-rendered wonderment of "Infinite Zest". This is an album bursting with colour and musicality, as gorgeous instrumentation meets with tenderly executed disco with a distinctly Norwegian mood. From the starry-eyed synth interplay of "Alina" to the noodling funk of "Nussing", Marius Dahle's skill as an arranger and producer is a revelation. A well-deserved, long awaited return to the fray from a rightful peer of Prins Thomas, Lindstrom et al..
Review: Following a string of sizzling singles released over the best part of a decade, The Pendletons (AKA E Da Boss of Myron & E fame and Bay Area producer Trailer Limon) has finally got round to recording a debut album. It's something of a slick, soulful and groovy affair, offering a mix of breezy West Coast grooves, sun-kissed instrumentation, snaking horn solos, colourful synthesizer lines and oodles of soul-powered vocals from the group and guests including Howard Johnson, K-Maxx and Gizelle Smith. While it's something of a time capsule, stylistically at least, few do this kind of warm, glassy-eyed nostalgia better. Put it this way: it's every bit as good as we'd hoped for and much more besides.
Review: Eight albums in and Elbow still know how to keep us interested. This time round it's a record that seems caught in perpetual motion, refusing to stay still even for a minute off its proggyness, with this the LP most removed from their standard modus of hyper-emotive, string-capped anthemia. Not that the contents aren't huge and destined to fill main rooms and outdoor arenas. A refreshing break for a band that, while unarguably talented and accomplished craftsmen, may - in the eyes of some at least - have at times been guilty of opting for the safety of familiarity rather than braving the great unknowns of sound. If anything, then, "Giants Of All Sizes" is the final pour that cements their place in the pantheons of British music. Exquisite, innovative and highly original stuff.
Review: It's been 10 years since Alix Perez blessed the world with his debut album "1984". To celebrate, Shogun Audio are re-releasing the album with all tracks available on vinyl for the first time and it sounds every bit as good as you'd hoped it would. A stark statement of intent that's aged incredibly well, this is where the London Belgian sowed some of his deepest seeds; from the beat variation and playful twists of space on tracks like "Voices" to the evergreen soul of "Forsaken" (still the only Peven Everett-fronted drum & bass track to this date) via the glitchy grime of "Calm Of Cast", it was clear, even back then, that Alix would go on to set whole new levels and benchmarks. This is a pivotal slice of history.
Review: When it comes to offering up albums of carnival-ready Latin-soul, it could be argued that Gabriele Poso is in a league of his own. Certainly, his 2018 set for BBE, "Awakening" was superb, and this follow-up on Soundway is every bit as good. The South American influences - think samba, Azymuth sytle jazz-funk, Brazilian boogie, MPB etc -catch the ear throughout, alongside his extensive use of warming synthesizers, sun-kissed electronics and his own voice, which seems to get richer and more seductive with each successive release. The quality threshold remains so high throughout that it's barely worth picking out highlights: it's literally "all good", and you really should check out the album when you get a chance.
Review: Kamaal Williams has described The Return, his now reissued debut solo album, as "a natural evolution from the Yussef Kamaal project". Yet while that was made in collaboration with drummer Yussef Kamaal and played around with jazz in its myriad forms, The Return sees the man sometimes known as Henry Wu stamp his own mark on proceedings. So while "visionary jazz" (as the press release puts it) is his aim, this manifests itself in a range of ways. Contrast, for example, the leisurely jazz-funk flex and stoned feel of opener "Salaam" with the more groove-driven, dancefloor vibes of "High Roller", where sinewy strings tumble down over hip-hop influenced live house beats, meandering Herbie Hancock style synths and a superb bassline.
Review: Detroit producer Scott Grooves returns to his Modified Suede imprint with Bitter Sweet, following on from the jazz-driven Motor City funk of "The Journey". This 12" sees the underappreciated Grooves on typically excellent form; the title track offers a piece of dusty, subtle Detroit house, where fuzzy Rhodes piano are joined by jazzy string melodies and a mechanical groove in a similar manner to Kevin Reynolds' similarly slow burning "Liaisons", while "C Track" offers a sublime piece of rolling house whose urgent yet gentle piano chords are caught in a swell of bottom heavy bass and rattling hi-hats.
Review: Perpetual Rhythms continue to offer up fresh variations on the deep house formula with this classy new drop from Taelue. Crooked electro experiment "The 4th Dimension" opens the record up to any number of possibilities, before the forthright pump of "Twin Flame" locks things into a haunting workout. "Rage Against Oppression" takes things in an angrier direction, all ragged and snarling production values with an acid-techno leaning. "A Bleak Moment" provides more space for exploration away from the floor, and then "The Sunken Place" sinks into sinister soundwaves driven by a nervy arpeggio. "Reflections" finishes the EP off with a trip into slow, spaced-out, acidic ambience.