Guarapachanga (A Nicholson Miquifaye remix) (9:14)
Guarapachanga (A Nicholson Miquifaye reprise) (5:56)
Review: The New York-based (U)nity is made up of Michael Valeanu, Axel Tosca Laugart, Chris Smith, Max Cudworth and Amaury Acosta. They formed the band in 2006 as a project to explore Afro-Cuban jazz, funk, soul and contemporary electronica. They say they've been influenced by everyone from Chucho Valdes to Art Blakey to Led Zeppelin to Kendrick Lamar, and you can definitely hear all of that in this jawdropping work. "Guarapachanga" is special in that it was the first song written by the band back in their days as music students at The New School. It's derived from the style known as guarapachangeo - the most advanced form of Cuban rumba, heavily improvisational and based on very complex rhythms and melodies. On this recording, (U)nity is graced with a guest performance by Grammy Award winner Pedrito Martinez, a master rumbero, one of the greatest conga players ever, an innovator who has left a permanent mark on Cuban music. Martinez is also a priest in the Yoruba religion and a historian of Cuban culture.
Over its eight and a half minutes, "Guarapachanga" twists and turns and journeys through a mind bending array of different tempos and modes, from Latin jazz to hip hop, ultimately ending with a trippy ambient soundscape. The whole thing is overlaid with free spirited melody, soul and the Afro-Cuban essence that is the band's lifeblood. The white-hot live playing gives it the feel of the best early-morning jam session, yet it packs a sonic punch that will make it sound incredible on a good sound system in the hands of adventurous DJs in the world-beat or spiritual-house vein. If you didn't know "Guarapachanga" was a contemporary work you might mistake it for a Loft classic; yet it's also as fresh and exciting as anything you'll hear this year.
Review: After spending last autumn working alongside Rampa and Adam Port (see the trio's excellent "You Are Safe" album on Keinemusik), Andre "&Me" Boadu has enjoyed a quiet 2018. In fact, this outing on Pampa is his first release of 2018. He begins with the atmospheric and undulating delight that is "In Your Eyes", a slightly jazz-flecked rolling deep house excursion that brilliantly builds energy throughout. Boadu accomplishes this using two contrasting melodic elements: fluid piano solos and a foreboding electronic motif that increases in prominence and intensity as the track progresses. Over on side B, "As Above So Below" is an altogether deeper proposition, with hushed, cymbal heavy percussion, tech-tinged drums and a spacey, undulating synthesizer melody combining to create a hazy late night mood.
Review: It's common knowledge now that #.4.26. is Ilian Tape mainman Dario Zenker, who under this alias released a slew of hard hitting DJ tools on cult label Frozen Border - and this is his first new material under the name since five years. From the sheer terror of dynamic opener "Mono Middle", a dystopian electro number saturated in dense lo-fi fuzz, the broken beats continue on the minimal boom and thump of "Whenever Voi". But it's the B side that proclaims no more Mr. Nice Guy here, with the slamming old school energy of "Free Upload" calling to mind the early '90s sound of Djax or Pro-Jex, while "Van Cul" again demonstrates Zenker's fine ability to weave broken beat arrangements into epic, big room techno bangers.
Review: Constant Sound sublabel Instinct comes correct with some ruff n' tuff steppers from 0113, a shadowy alias that channels pure speed garage energy into a record of pure firepower. There's no messing with lead track "Inside", all nasty bass and frantic swing with more rudeboy swagger than a souped up Vauxhall Nova. "Steppa" darts around a crooked 2-step flex to die for, embellished with eerie atmospherics to darken up the dance. "Rouge Fader" brings some heavyweight 4x4 bump n' flex, and "Break" keeps the pressure up to make this a four-deep dancehall wrecker of the highest caliber.
Review: 100Hz have consistently snuck out 12"s since the early 90s, but their productivity is at an all time high and their Modugroove label is the perfect vessel to get more of their smartly crafted tech house treats into the ears of discerning DJs and dancers everywhere. This second release on their label kicks off with the atmospheric twinges of "Klon 6 Step", a sizzling, simmering cut for transcendental moments on the floor. "Wild Fudge" is a snappier affair peppered with folky string plucks that sound fresh in the club track context. "Infrastructure" takes things on an emotive tip with a range of strong melodic leads, and "Tinky Tink" ramps up the unease with a creeping jam for the less salubrious end of the night.
Review: Florence based label Bosconi is back with 100 Hz aka UK legends Lee Renacre and James Chapman who have been around since the late eighties. This is their second release on the Italian imprint; their Mila EP was their first for the label back in 2009. On the A side we have a re-issue of their 1989 track "Shoot The Bar" a sturdy and cyclical house groove on the tougher side of things with a nice double bass holding the track above a tight rhythm and dreamy Rhodes piano. "Primary Colours" sounds more like minimal, but given more of an edge by all the dusty and lively analogue machines that power it along. Its bumpy bass and restrained synth stabs supporting some simplistic rhythms and works quite well. Finally "Oliva Funk" is more of a classic NYC house cut, those rapid fire cowbell strikes will help it bear even more resemblance to classic Kerri Chandler style vibes.
Review: More wicked grooves from the vaults of UK legends 100 Hz. Comprised of Lee Renacre, James Chapman and Doran Walker, the team behind the seminal Format imprint have had retrospective works reissued on the likes of Bosconi, Slow Life and Howl in recent times - so indeed you can recognise the trio's influence on a new generation of underground house producers. Here they inaugurate Doozy Cult from Lisbon, with some timeless snapshots of bleep techno as heard on the cyclical hypnotism of "Tomfoolery", the tunnelling minimal techno of "Lapiz Boof" and the ethereal shuffle of "Neptune" on the flip - that is just as suited to present day afterhours parties as it was way back when.
Review: Robin Twelftree has been busy over the past year bringing back his particular take on peak time house with a disco edge. Prolific in the late 90s and early 00s, his 12Tree project went on an extended hiatus but now finds a new outlet with the Hot Piroski label. "In The Sun" is a sassy uptempo workout with funk and flamboyance to match the tougher edges of the track. "Magic Dust" slows things down to a supremely mellow strut, with heavy lashings of soul blissed out over the top of the drums. "Guitar Solaar" stays in the downtempo zone with a subtle cosmic lilt and gorgeous vocals unfurling over loose and lazy breaks.
Review: Hot Piroski is a newly minted label that promises to serve up "a boisterous mix of space disco, deep funk edits and Balearic beats" all commandeered by Barcelona producer 12Tree. Things get off to a sultry start with the cosy undulations of "Lazers", which sports a housey strut to carry its wistful melodic tones. "Gamma Ray" is a spicier affair with rugged bass that firmly plants the tune in the dirty disco department. "Swamp Love" has more of a classic edit feel with its dusty, looped up samples and choppy edits, but it's equally a delightfully laid back groover to suit a whole plethora of situations.
Review: Sneaker Social Club are not messing around! Following their previous outings from the legendary trio 2 Bad Mice comes remixes from two impeccably forward thinking break crafters; Sully takes "Gone Too Soon" into some fantastical places as the breaks scream jungle but the big breeze pads scream Alex Reece but both elements work together emotively. Falty DL, meanwhile, gives us a hardcore schooling on "Limit Of Paradise" with its heavily layered breaks, wall of sound pads and dynamic drops into spacious hooks. Bad to the (clear vinyl) bone!
Review: Chris Romans has been rolling out crucial electro jams for a number of highly regarded labels since the early 00s. Amongst them are Touchin' Bass, Shipwrec, Frustrated Funk and Central Processing Unit, so that tells you everything you need to know about the level he's operating at as 214. Now he comes to 20/20 Vision with some body-poppin' jams of the highest order, broadening the tech house label's remit to embrace the thriving electro scene with one of its most vital practitioners. "Potential Events" is a brooding, atmospheric affair while "Windeye" draws on a more playful, Detroit indebted palette of sounds. Radioactive Man remixes "Windeye" with a steady, finely detailed approach, and then "Back To Sine" finishes the record off with another snappy salvo of funky drums and bubbling synths.
Review: Frustrated Funk, Shopwrec and Central Processing Unit are just some of the quality labels on which the enigmatic 214 has delivered his wayward strains of electro and techno. This new single for Lunar Disko is straight-up, high calibre business, as per usual, starting with the mesmerising pads and alluring soundscapes of "The Breakfast Club", a beat-driven escapade through a wave of majestic synths. "Lunar Landing" is more on the Dutch electro side of things, thanks to its sub-aquatic beats and general demeanour while, on the flip, "Jade" injects some Chicago house live through an industrial filter, and "Hurley" liquifies its synths down to a thick pool of sonics and subtle beats. Gorgeous music.
Review: Fresh from an inspired outing on 20:20 Vision, Chris Roman once again dons the 214 mask for a four-track missive of Steffi's resurgent Klakson imprint. Fittingly, opener "Soapdish" - a proper peak-time Rotterdam electro workout - utilizes synths sounds and ragged riffs that invoke memories of Dexter's Klakson classic "Intruder", while "Synthesizers Made of Paper" brilliantly wraps spacey, life-affirming electronics motifs around a suitably crunchy machine beat. Over on side B, "Snow Banks" is a mildly foreboding, surprisingly melancholic chunk of deep electro brilliance and closer "Pattern Rotate" buries chiming lead lines below a deluge of twisted acid lines and distorted, funk-fuelled electro drums. Simply essential.
Habbanera (Leo Mas & Fabrice alternate remix) (6:41)
Review: Over the years, Italian eccentrics 291out have proved tricky to pin down. While their releases are rooted in the spacey end of the jazz-funk spectrum, they also touch on film soundtracks, quirky electronica and meandering progressive rock. This time out they're operating on a Latin tinged jazz-rock tip, with crunchy guitars, fuzz-soaked horns, rubbery bass and eyes-closed electric piano motifs rising above a head-nodding groove. The band's included "Alternative Version" is noticeably wilder and more intense, with a looser beat and a greater number of mind-mangling horn solos. In terms of remixes, you'll find Italian veterans Leo Mas and Fabrice at the controls. Their A-side revision sounds a little like a jazzier take on Italian Balearic rock merchants Almunia, while their flipside "Alternative Remix" is a bounding, peak-time-ready jazz-house workout.
Review: 2DeepSoul are the core crew behind Inner Shift music, so as you might expect they've got a keen instinct for the finest strains of pure deep house as you'd happily dig from the likes of Patrice Scott or Fred P. They open up the Windows EP with the dreamy haze of "Clarity" before "Contour Lines" brings a pulsing, techy lead into the mixture of sweeping pads and snappy beats. "Someday" is a rich, harmonious ambient excursion, and then "It's A Sign" finishes the EP off with a truly meditative trip for the smoothest deep house cruisers to lock onto.
Review: Under the 2XM alias, super siblings the Murray Brothers have thus far proved to be rather good at fusing heady, smoky deep house with the dreamy chords of ambient house and a variety of interconnected influences. They're in fine form on this EP, too, effortlessly moving between two-step/dream house fusion ("Dancing Styles", which surprisingly reminded us of late '90s Irresistible Force Records), eyes-closed jazzy deep house bliss (the fluid electric piano solos, rich chords and dusty beats of "Doing It"), ultra-deep, Floating Points-esque soulfulness ("Gentle", featuring the evocative vocals of Neil Macleod) and jaunty, synth-sporting dancefloor haziness ("Sorry That You Love Me").