Review: REPRESS ALERT: Mandar are back on Oscillat Music following their stunning five-disc LP from last year, and the deep house super group are sounding as vital as ever. "String Theory" holds court over the A side and promises to be the soundtrack to many a heart-stirring moment under starry skies this summer. The titular strings are a powerful force in this track, bringing a classy brand of emotion to the slinky dancefloor tones Mandar are best known for. "Poisoned Worlds" is a deeper club cut that places the emphasis on crafty drum science for after hours crew, providing a neat balance to the show-stopping tones of the A side.
Review: Both of James "Burnski" Burnham's previous outings under the Instinct alias were critical and commercial successes, so hopes are naturally high for this third serving of club-ready tech-house treats. We're particularly enjoying A-side "Resistance", a warm, woozy and rolling affair that sits somewhere between the skipping beats and broken computer sounds of Parisian tech-house and the drowsy, organ-laced warmth of Floorplan's gospel-driven techno. That's not to say that there aren't great moments to be found elsewhere on the EP; in fact, the bouncy, low-slung skip of chiming, UK garage-influenced workouts "Union" and "Hologram" (the latter a two-step affair that reminded us of Zed Bias' Sirkus-era outings as Maddslinky) is every bit as intoxicating.
Review: Botanic Minds have quietly built a vibe that is all their own with a series of 12"s from lesser known artists on the fringes of the minimal scene. There's something different at work in these tracks, not least on the limber opening jam that kicks off this uncredited fourth release on the label. "Track002A" has a more familiar house shuffle, but there's still an intriguing atmosphere submerged in the micro samples lingering in between the beats. On the second side, things get super minimal on "Track001B," pushing the dancefloor dynamics to the back and focusing on strange shards of sound instead. "Track002B" finishes the EP off on a lopsided, funky tip with another lysergic soundscape hovering in the middle distance.
Review: The third release on NorthSouth Records establishes the imprint as a vessel for the buoyant sound of minimal 2 step, as Chris Geschwindner and Henry Hyde return following their appearance on the label's inaugural 12". It's a sound and tempo that slots right in with the more established threads of minimal house music out there right now, but there's an undeniable UK kink in the groove that makes these jams stand out. "Modern Axis Of Evil" is a seductive, noirish cut while "In 2 Infinity" balances twitchy rhythmic elements with mournful, lingering keys. Hyde favours a broken beat template on "No Shoes No Entry," and then "Reverse Me" wriggles down into a reduced shuffle as technical as it is meditative.
Review: Remarkably, this 12" marks the first release from Germany's Otherside label since 2014. It comes courtesy of two of techno's most storied producers, German studio wizard Butch and minimal legend Ricardo Villalobos. There's a pleasingly fluid and melodious feel to epic A-side "Funfviertel", with Butch and Villalobos peppering an off-kilter, stripped-back techno groove with starry chords, broken electronics and humid, kalimba style melodies. On flipside "Down", the duo opts for a far denser rhythm track, which boasts layered drum hits in Villalobos's traditional South American-influenced style. Throw in a pulsing but weighty bassline and a whole heap of stereo trickery and you have another locked-in late night delight.
Review: Since launching in 2006, the men or women of mystery behind the sneaky Digwah series have delivered a couple of sought-after, single-sided 12" singles that blend familiar samples with rock solid tech-house grooves. Predictably, this third volume in the series sticks closely to the blueprint, wrapping twinkling electric piano motifs and a restless, looped bassline around a rhythm track rich in jazzy hi-hats, snappy drum machine snares and tough, locked-in kick-drums. It's arguably closer to deep house than its predecessors, with the tactile and warming samples - lifted, it seems, from the late '60s West Coast rock record - helping to create a rolling, late night feel. The previous Digwah releases sold out quickly, so you'll have to act fast to secure a copy of this one.
Review: You know what? There just isn't that much good electro-minimal around as much these days, and one of the only labels still churning out the goods is Claude Von Stroke's Dirtybird imprint. As per usual, the bearded American is one to spot new and exciting talent, and Fisher is one such recent finding that has struck a chord, not just with us but also with DJs and dancers everywhere. This new EP kicks off with the grizzly bass of "Stop It", a bass-fuelled tech monster complete with the label's trademark vocal samples, while "Ya Didn't" steps closer to the traditional Chicago house framework - also driven by a healthy dose of bass. "Crowd Control" ties the EP off with a twisted, filtered groove that is...just...SEXY. Bless up, Fisher.
Review: In what is surely an unexpected collaboration in the field of house and techno, Mosaic mastermind Steve O'Sullivan teams up with Ricardo Villalobos for a hypnotic trip through minimal landscapes that plays to both of their strengths. The rock-solid rhythm of "Sullric" surely belongs to O'Sullivan while the rich, subtle layers of samples, tones and other such sonic decorations come straight from the Villalobos school of production. The two mixes on this 12" only have minor differences - whichever side you drop things will get considerably deeper than they were previously. Of such ingredients are classy, immersive techno joints made.
Review: It's the fourth go round for Monsieur Blue, who steps back up to the plate with another three surefire jams from the slinkier side of the minimal house spectrum. "Track 1" is an exquisite trip through blue-hued keys and shuffling drums, striking a fine balance between the lounge and the dancefloor. "Track 2" takes a moodier approach, eking out mysterious chords and injecting a little juice into the low end to suit a more rugged situation, and then "Track 3" jettisons the ballast and pings off into a dubbed out sphere of house music perfectly crafted for the times you want to get lost at sea.
Review: Having made his debut on Roots For Bloom back in 2013, Michael James was made to wait for another opportunity to impress. That came last year via a trio of highly regarded releases on Constant Sound and its Constant Black offshoot. Things are clearly going well, because he's now served up his most expansive collection of tracks to date: a seven-track double-pack featuring a variety of club-ready treats. Check, for example, the low-slung, bass-heavy tech house creepiness of "Catch Me If You Can" and "Winds of Change", the gently spacey bump of "Stormy Skies" and the fluttering late night dreaminess of "Dog Day Afternoon", where stretched-out chords recline over a chunky, dub-influenced bassline.
Review: Seb Zito is undoubtedly a producer on the rise. There was a bit of hype surrounding the first two releases on his Seven Dials imprint, so expect this return to FUSE London to simply fly off the shelves. It helps, of course, that the three included tracks are all heavy hitters. Arguably the best of the lot is A-side "Take No One", a slamming tech-house jack-track whose immense power is largely derived from a stabbing but driving analogue bassline. Over on the flipside, "So Good To Me" is impressively dreamy, spacey and warm with genuine rhythmic swing, while the more dub-centric "Hit It" is a bass-heavy box jam in which Zito gets busy with a drum machine over a speaker-bothering bassline.
Review: More tough rolling tech house on the minimal tip from London based heroes FUSE and a true staple of their imprint: Rich NxT. Beginning with the funked up functionalism of "Brigade" and its hip-hop house samples throughout, which is then followed on the B side by the release standout in the form of "Serious" with its catchy vocal samples atop - possibly from an old Italo or even pop record. This sunny festival inspired cut will appeal to other cheeky and likeminded DJ tools by the likes of Kirik - or anything on ODE, really. Next up, he gets back to the program on the bangin' and swing fuelled party jam "Fight" which will really get the hands in the air down at Hearn Street car park this Summer. In addition to around half a dozen releases for the imprint thus far, NxT's also found time to release on Germany's Pleasure Zone and Hund as well as his eponymous white label imprint.
Doodlebug - "Loose In Your Mind" (Silverlining remix) (7:03)
Review: Yet more gems from the Silverlining studio, this time turning to the much sought after "Breezin Thru" track originally released in 1998. This is a true classic from the golden era of tech house, rooted in the London scene defined by the likes of Terry Francis and the like, and yet it sounds like it could have been made yesterday. The strident, upfront beat and immersive atmospheric shimmers are pure dancefloor gold. On the flip, Andy Blake and Dave Coker's Doodlebug project gets the remix treatment, winding up as crafty electro breaks with a tilt towards the deep end of the dance.
Review: The latest release from Seekers offshoot Twig showcases a quartet of cuts by new recruits to the label's growing roster of artists. Jacopo kicks things off via the surging but squeezy synth bass and classic tech-house tropes of "Biloxi", before Chris Geschwinder joins the dots between Brown-era Orbital and jacking 21st century tech-house on acid-fired workout "Marie Pose". The B-side opens with out pick of the bunch, a jazz-dance friendly futurist house odyssey from Modex propelled by squiggly acid lines and rubbery jazz-funk bass, before Lapucci rounds things off with the deep space techno bounce of "Clouds On Mars".
Review: 20/20 Vision welcome Nathan Jonson to the label to deliver some of his esteemed beats - he was previously known as Hrdvision, and as a member of Midnight Operator alongside his infamous brother Mathew. It is in fact MJ who gets the run of the A side with a bouncing, bubbly remix of "Business" that calls to mind some of the most wriggly threads in that unmistakable Jonson sound. "Let Your Body" strikes a different tone on the B-side, conjuring up some rave ghosts and decanting them into a thoroughly modern club burner heavy on the dramatic arrangement and sure to create wild responses on the dancefloor. "Business" in its original form is a loose and funky-as-hell electro jam with live, glutinous monosynth flex and Detroit-tinted pads to die for.
Review: The tech-house scene trend for "mysterious", vinyl-only EPs lacking artist or track credits shows no signs of dying down. This week's choice "unknown EP" apparently comes from Germany and is loosely titled "Belief", but that's literally all we know. The music contained within - particularly the snappy, bass-heavy, mind-altering hustle of the extended A-side track, where dreamy chords and a weighty analogue bassline slowly rise above a punchy machine groove - is actually pretty good. Elsewhere, we're also enjoying the chunky bounce of "Track 3", whose bubbly, bustling bassline comes accompanied by spacey riffs and intergalactic electronics.
Review: It's been ten years since Jordi Mary first donned the now familiar Jan Handez handle. In that time, he's released a handful of rock solid EPs for the likes of Multi Vitamins, Smallroom Music and Tabla Records. Here he returns to action for the first time in two years. Marty begins with the serious low-end pressure, darting electronics and skipping beats of deep tech-house treat "A02", before slamming down the swinging, spacey tech-funk of "B09", where galactic melodies and sci-fi chords wrap around another weighty but loose groove. His obsession with startling sub-bass is further explored on chunky B-side opener "A04", while the Le Loup Equation Mix of "B09" is almost rush inducing in its pursuit of deep, stargazing thrills.