Review: The Originals series continues to excel in deep-digging dot-joining department with this cool rewind back to 1977 when Velvet Hammer's "Happy" became a ubiquitous northern soul anthem thanks to its relentless groove, emphatic organ and soul-stirring falsetto vocals. Back to the future for the B-side we hear how celebrity hat wearer Pharrell Williams digested the classic and made it his own. Spanning over 35 years of soul, the Originals concept just keeps on teaching.
Review: Theo Parrish lays down a marker for a long overdue fifth album, apparently due out later this year, with the sublime Footwork 12". Named in reference to the dance as opposed to the breakneck offshoot of Ghetto House, "Footwork" is a sublime slab of Theo with many of his trademark production touches. Think lightly brushed percussion, meandering bassline that juts out with an odd funk, and subtle yet sumptuous musical touches, all topped off by a gruff "let me see your footwork baby" croon. Those Theo fans out there that like the man to get a bit rugged will be all over "Tympanic Warfare" too, where off the grid polyrhythms cannon around the channels, augmented by an ugly bassline and dexterous keys.
Review: Dungeon Meat is the new label and production outfit brought to you by Dungeon Masters Brawther and Tristan Da Cunha. Packing a serious punch, it's aim is to present tracks designed specifically to rock the party and shake the sound system. Originally conceived as a platform for their own musical visions it soon became apparent that they would have to open the doors to a select few who shared their ambition to make no messing, hard hitting house grooves. One of these artists is the mysterious Blunt Instruments who has the honour of kicking off the label. After road testing his huge club hammer "Hold Back" Brawther and Da Cunha knew it had to be on Dungeon Meat as it epitomised exactly the sound they wanted to present. "Hold Back" has been a firm fixture in their sets and even got cut to dubplate by Jeremy Underground Paris. It's not all about the A-side though as Blunt Instruments craft 2 other killer club cuts for the flip side. We won't go on too much trying to describe how good this EP is ... instead we'll let the music do the talking.
Review: The vinyl only Kolour Ltd operation dip their toes in the rich pool of house music talent currently bubbling away in Russia, welcoming Grodno based pair Four Walls & Funkyjaws into the fold on their first 12" of 2014. Four tracks deep, One Night In Grodno demonstrates this pair have a firm and diverse production grasp of what's classified as underground deep house. Check the mad sax solo that breaks free on opening cut "Jazzy Things" Listen on "His Name Is Fast Eddie" reveals Four Walls and Funkyjaws find it difficult not to let their musical side take hold, though the understated diva flex of "Love Train" might be the best cut here.
Review: Kon and Reflex combine for a cheeky 12" dedication to Michael Jackson for the fourth release on the Boston selector's increasingly on point Star Time label. Edit heaven or what? Reflex calls shotgun and reworks "PYT", amping up the vibe with much crisper drums and a whole lot more space present on that classic chorus drop. Meanwhile on the flip King Of Nothing takes "Get On The Floor" and gives it a modern day party refix complete with full-bodied dynamics, juicy slap bass and very cheeky disco bubbles in the background. Two more essential Michael Jackson edits to add to your collection.
Review: "Happy" has enjoyed matchless success, having hit the top spot no less than three times... And selling over a million copies in the process. Here Sony BMG unleash a 12" edition featuring the instrumental on the flip , adding a whole new lease of life to one of the most positive pop songs written in recent times. Breaking down into a really cool human rhythm, even without Pharrell's vocals this excels in every possible funky way.
Review: The hand-stamped train just keeps on trucking with Italojohnson, who offers up another three righteous slabs of hardware goodness for the fist-shakers out there. "Track 1" spreads itself over the A side with a tight and punchy rhythm section that gets off set by a gloriously bubbling set of sound effects, managing to be both utterly useful and pleasantly unhinged in the same bar. On the flip side "Track 2" moves with a more neatly trimmed old-skool jack, sleek and refined without sounding over-polished. "Track 3" slows things down for a dirty ride through slimy basslines and heavy cowbell abuse.
Review: "Mosaic Split Series kickstarts 2014 with three solid tracks of silky deepness that build upon the Mosaic sound of old whilst remaining firmly in the present.
A: Steve O'Sullivan vs Kashawar "Take a Seat"
Label boss, Steve O'Sullivan , follows up his recent Sushitech releases with this collaboration with young German producer Kashawar who has been gaining fans over the last year with his solidly atmospheric and funky EPs on Autoreply and Project London Records.
Raw, slow old school house beats is the order of the day here with a sprinkling of melodic nu school deep techno touches that help to make this track perfect for both the warm up or after party.
Just listen to the vocal sample if you have any doubts ... "Relax baby...Mr Big will take care of you in a minute."
B1: Titonton Duvante "Such Good Taste"
Despite an impressive back catalogue , including releases on Metamorphic, 7th City and Planet E , US techno veteran Titonton remains one of techno's best kept secrets and to say we are happy to welcome him to Mosaic is a massive understatement.
Fusing the melodic edge of classical Detroit Techno with the jacking dancefloor intensity of Chicago, Titonton's "Such Good Taste," is a welcome addition to the Mosaic catalogue. ....the combination of kick drum and bassline alone are a thing of beauty... there is no way your ass won't move to this beast!
B2: Eric Cloutier " Balsamaceous"
Eric has made a name of himself over the last few years on the DJ circuit with sets that have been described as sprawling in depth and sophistication, fusing the brooding intensity of tripping techno with the mechanic funk of contemporary house. Thankfully for Mosaic his productions do the same!
"Balsamaceous" is Eric's second release and showcases perfectly his unique take on the Detroit/Berlin Techno schooling he has obviously had: a deeply emotional yet hip wiggling take on the techno/house hybrid.
This is one that will get the more discerning dancefloors shaking this year. Pure class is an understatement!
Review: Despite some FXHE releases containing playful artistic references to the films that undoubtedly referenced the titles, this Romancing The Stone double pack from Omar S is sadly lacking in any MS Paint renditions of the Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner 90s vehicle of the same name. It does however contain four more fine examples of the fact no one does it quite like Omar S. Lead track "Leave" sets the tone, as ripples of percussion emerge from a pool of simmering sonic emotion and embarks on a masterclass in slow build dancefloor revelation at breakneck pace. "Romancing The Stone" pulls from the same palette of anthemic Omar S productions as "Here's Your Trance, Now Dance" and "Psychotic Photosynthesis" as a lead array of synths, keys and chords weave with supple grace over crunchy drums - watch out for the track finishing abruptly. On the second 12", "Frogs" dovetails from a simple disco guitar loop into fucked up abstract acid techno territory with little prior warning whilst "Surpass" finds AOS ending with some anthemic maximal piano house.
Review: REPRESS ALERT: After a 10 year hiatus, Steve O'Sullivan's Mosaic label returns under a new guise: Mosaic Split Series. This series will be split between old school artists from Mosaic and beyond and artists from the new school. This first release sees Mosaic legend Jorge Zamacona don his Urban Sombrero for the latest installment in his "mosaic efforts" series. A deep, trippy, dirty house workout in Jorge's unique style. In keeping with the whole ethos of this project we have newcomer Ben Buitendijk's offering , "Promised Land," on the flip. An ultra-deep dub house/techno track that echoes the Mosaic sound of old with a modern twist. Melodic and atmospheric, this one deserves to be played from beginning to end.
Review: After dropping the hammer with Blunt Instruments killer Hold Back EP, Dungeon Meat are back again debuting on their own label with the brain mincing Lose Your Mind EP. Both sides deliver big swings of their mighty axe and hit hard with their signature sound of meaty beats & beefy basslines. Aimed straight at the dance floor, it's obvious both the tracks have the intention to crack some skulls and spill some brains. Already road tested individually by Tristan da Cunha and Brawther at their D.J gigs & their Dungeon Meat live show, the reactions have shown that both of these tracks hit the chest and do the damage. Also included are two "tools" so the creative DJ's out there can get busy in the mix and give their sets a little meat injection. Pressed on 180g vinyl with embossed company sleeve dressed to impress with the trademark Dungeon Meat artwork.
Review: Hot on the heels of Floating Points' excellent King Bromeliad EP - a belated return to his deep house roots smothered in tactile jazz - comes this one-sided 12" single. "Sparkling Controversy" is a previously unreleased dub of "ARP3" from 2011's expansive double-EP Shadows. While the original saw Sam Shepherd recalling Moodymann's greatest deep jazz-house moments, "Sparkling Controversy" has a little more of a garage-flecked bounce. The warm Rhodes chords, darting synths and dewy-eyed melodies that marked out the original track are still present, and perfectly compliment Shepherd's warm, tooled-up rhythm. Its every bit as immersive and touchy-feely as the 2011 original, just a little weightier, with added punch to the percussion.
University Of Love featuring MBG - "Vostok 3" (MBG deep Trip)
DJ Trax - "Deep Modern Jazz"
Natureboy - "Euro-Disney" (part 1 & 2)
Dose Of Paradise - "Latin Dream"
Project Democracy - "Is This Dream For Real?" (feat China - psychedub)
Level 3 - "Around The Way (Unknown)"
Caucasian Boy - "In From Behind (Boom Boom Ina Bedroom)"
Manhattan Project - "Saturday Luv"
Vissal - "Get Up On Your Feet" (edit)
The Poets - "Emotion"
Review: Parisian label My Love Is Underground team up with fellow French operation Favourite Records to step into the compilation game with this crucial triple vinyl release put together by Jeremy Underground Paris. Since the label's emergence back in 2010, My Love Is Underground have been at the forefront of championing 90s house music with the supreme knowledge and digging skills of Jeremy Underground Paris leading to a raft of killer reissues as well as music from contemporary producers who tap into this classicist sound. As the title suggests, My Love Is Underground: 12 House Tracks Selected By Jeremy Underground Paris contains a bounty of rare, forgotten and unknown house gems, with Aaron Arce's Jhelisa sampling "Pressure" setting the tone for what to expect. Look out for the wonderfully crunchy "Euro-Disney (part 1 & 2)" from DJ Nature's old Natureboy alias.
Review: Genius Of Time and Running Back seems like such a perfect fit you wonder why the Swedish duo haven't graced Gerd Janson's label before now. It might be because Alexander Berg and Nils Krough aren't exactly the most prolific of duos when it comes to original material with only three EPs to their name since they inaugurated the Aniara project in such sublime fashion back in 2010. Fans of Genius of Time and John Talabot's DJ Kicks mix have added reason to engage in some vociferous rejoicing as the former's sublime offbeat number "Juno Jam" contribution to the latter release is centre stage on this 12". In addition to the A Side bliss of that Berg and Krough slip in two more percussive numbers on the flip which Running Back quite rightly point out would make "Joe Claussell proud".
Review: Boom! The good ship Golf Channel returns with the first of two essential offerings and a label debut for the killer Africaine 808. The Berlin-based duo Dirk Leyers and Nomad comprise Africaine 808 and those with a regular vinyl habit will know them from last year's DJ Muscle series from WT Records. As their name suggests, the usage of the 808 is key to the Africaine 808 sound, and their output thus far can be comparable with the music of Comeme albeit with a focus on some of Leyer and Nomad's personal favourite African and island funk tracks. The pair debut on Golf Channel with a two-track 12? that features some excellent graf style sleeve art done by Nomad. DO NOT SLEEP
Review: a white Mellotron M 400." So starts Klaus Hoffmann of his 40 years love affair with the Mellotron. Moving from Prog-Rock guitarist to Cosmic Disco warrior in a space of a few years, the birth of Cosmic Hoffmann would lead to a number of classic Kosmiche albums through-out the 1980s. Before this though came Space-Disco. Initially recorded in 1978 after endless late night sessions exploring the new realms of this free form electronic music, the first incarnation was recorded live to tape for a failed film project. An uplifting spaced-out synth journey, it was the later reworked version that would go on to become the lost cult classic. With added disco syncopation taking the track into interstellar spheres, it appeared only as a flipside of Cosmic Hoffmann's first and last single, "Weltraumboogie", in 1982. Unfortunately the release did not make much impression at the time but has become highly sought-after for the more leftfield DJ and music lovers in the years since. Now fully licensed and remastered, the inclusion of the unreleased 1978 Original will be only add to the collectors dream.
Review: It's rare that an electronic album is the biggest album of the year, or at least the most hyped. That's certainly the case with Syro, Richard D James first official release under his Aphex Twin moniker for some 13 years. So, is it in any good? For starters, it sounds like an Aphex Twin album. Listen through to the 12 tracks, and many of his familiar staples are present - the "Digeridoo" era rave breakbeats, the mangled synth-funk mash-ups, the intoxicating ambient-era melodies, the warped basslines and the skittish drill & bass style rhythms. There's madness, beauty and intensity in spades. In other words, it's an Aphex Twin album, and - as so many have pointed out since the album's release was announced - there's no-one else quite like Richard D James.
Review: The Moods & Grooves Classics series - in which vintage, long deleted gems from the back catalogue get another airing - continues with a strong quartet of tracks from Kenny Dixon Jnr and Rick Wade. The two untitled tracks from Dixon, under his occasional KDJ moniker, originally slipped out way back in 2000. Both are superb, with the goodtime shuffle of "Untitled 2" (all jangly house pianos and looped disco-influenced grooves) just losing out to the slower, African-inspired "Untitled 1" in the "EP highlight" stakes. Wade's two contributions - deep, spacious, blazed and deliciously melodious - are taken from his 1999 Quantum Expression EP. Of these, it's the enveloping, jazz-flecked warmth of "Forever Night" that stands out
Review: Edit culture has gone to such great crate digging depths, sometimes it's nice to return to the bigger, most well-known cuts... As long as they're edited and reworked with creativity, there's still heaps of miles left in them. All of these four twists are fine examples, as we're treated to Queen, Foreigner, Toto and the BeeGees. Each one subtly tricked out, dubby and just on the right side of cosmic, it's a kindly reminder than sometimes the best edits are the ones you've known all your life. Solid, sweet and essential.
Review: The boy Naples hooks up with Bankhead again for what looks and sounds like a sequel to last year's much loved El Portal 12" for The Trilogy Tapes. Apparently named in honour of the hospitable reception young Anthony received whilst playing a party in the Columbian town of Zipacon, this four track release opens with "Perron" which sounds like previous Naples hit "Busy Signal" hollowed out. From here, "Zipacon" feels like a real high point with fizzing, intricate drum patterns and a warbling pad line that really captivates. Flipside cut "More Problem" offers a undeniably booming interlude before Naples gets really bugged out on the excellent "Crazy Spirit".
Review: Tomorrow Is Now, Kid! returns just in time for summer with a collection of tracks taken from a reel of tape. In My Ghetto is the debut EP of Anthony Brooklyn, who has crafted four jams in spirit of the roughness of New York City's famous borough, Brooklyn.
Review: Those who heard Harvey Sutherland's excellent debut EP for Echovolt, Edges EP, will be familiar with his trademark sound - a toasty, analogue style take on deep house marked out by jazz-funk chord progressions, warming synthesizer melodies and shuffling grooves. He changes the script a little on this EP for Voyage Recordings, though there's still plenty of seductive deep house to enjoy (most notably opener "Oscillate" and the Inskwel style, boogie-influenced loveliness of "Bamboo"). Where the EP really comes into its own, though, is when he tries a different tack. "Old Wars" sounds like Moon B's electrofunk explorations wrapped in a snuggly duvet, while "Close Quarters" successfully fixes Herbie Hancock style synth melodies to loose, cymbal heavy beats.
Review: The sad passing of Frankie Knuckles earlier this year hit many people hard, not least fellow Chicago legend Ron Trent. The Prescription Records co-founder and all-round deep house legend has previously spoken about how he owes his career to the one-time Warehouse resident and here pays tribute to him in musical form. "7th Heaven" is as warm, loving and emotion-rich as you'd expect, with Trent layering his trademark keys, pads and melodies over a classic, Knuckles-style groove. It's the kind of wide-eyed loveliness that Knuckles himself would have been proud of making, and there's no greater tribute than that.