Review: Regarded as a rising talent on the contemporary house scene thanks to his contributions to labels such as Morris Audio, Deso and Midnight Love Club, German producer Nick Beringer is collared by Skylax for this weighty slab of wax. Afterhours Cuts Vol 1 is split six ways and each of the tracks demonstrate the Berliner's production prowess and studious reverence for the key elements that made the early 90's period of house music so classic. Expect crisp, adventurous drum programming, a healthy dose of vocal sampling and hook laden motifs mixed up with jazzy textures throughout - the final "Afterhours Cut" is reminiscent of Dani Plessow in his Raw Cuts pomp.
Review: The Skylax bossman most commonly known as Hardrock Striker ignites his Bleu Blanc House project with two quintessential happy house jams. All bubbles and strings, "Stomp 5" fuses disco with Chi-town to great filtered effect. Coming on strong like 1999 Roule record, there's a deep infectiousness in its loopy wizardry. "Don't Mess With La Foudre" hits even sweet g-spots with its big piano riff and mid 90s playfulness. Feel good vibes like this never die.
Review: West coast legend Lance Desardi is back on Skylax. Since 1998 this guy has released on cult labels such as Chez Music, Siesta and James Curd's Greenskeepers, alongside other 'best coast' legends of the time such as Doc Martin or Hipp-E & Halo. Now based in London and heading up the Legwork imprint, he's back with an amazing deep house/breakbeat release that sounds so original in comparison with other stuff we are hearing today. The 8-bit sounding groove of "Knights Of Zenu" could have been from a Commodore 64 video game. "NYCSHIT" (like its name may suggest) is a raw and stomping New York basement jam in the vein of Kerri Chandler, while on the flip "What We Are" brings the deepness on this emotive and swing fuelled groove.
Review: Time for a legend session as one of Italy's most respected DJs - Serendipity's Marco Socci - makes his debut on the iconic Skylax imprint with a dream-filled Mr Fingers style vocal soul-burner. Guaranteed to soundtrack the perfect sunset or sunrise, it's complemented by a two killer versions: the filtered mix is a powerful slice of lavish piano-tickled soul while Jason Groove lays down a classic Trax style jam loaded with 808 bass and crisp percussion. Loaded with an acapella, too. This covers every base and beyond.
Review: Adorning ten inches of clear red vinyl, Skylax present the latest in their series of Terre Thaemlitz curated House Explosion releases. Volume 3 sees the house music polemicist present live versions of tracks that were part of Electronics, his 2008 collaboration with conceptual German noise orchestra Zeitkratzer. Recorded in Berlin, Sprinkles drops live acoustic versions of "Down Home Kami - Sakunobe" and "Hobo Train" which stretch the concepts of what passes for deep house brilliantly. This is resolutely not music you'd bang in a warehouse at 2am and is a marked contrast to the deranged Moodymannisns of the recent House Explosion Vol 2 but Sprinkles fans will love this.
Review: Skylax swiftly deliver a second dose of Terre Thaemlitz's House Explosion musical schizophrenia with the standard of the first DJ Sprinkles vs KSHE twelve inch more than matched with the two tracks on this lemon yellow record. There's such a richness in musical texture to both "Crosstown" and "Infected" it takes several listens for everything to sink in. "Crosstown" contains the idiosyncratic socio political commentary on pan sexuality you'd expect from a Sprinkles production, but it's wrapped in a finely balanced and stunning arrangement of shuffling percussion, ethereal harmonies and lusciously spectral organs. The opposing counterpart "Infected" is just as impressive, perhaps lifting the dramatic strings from Madonna's "Vogue" and slipping them behind a KDJ style surfeit of heavily processed vocal loops, bustling key riffs and multi faceted percussion.
Review: Skylax treat our ears to the second dose of Terre Thaemlitz's musically brilliant schizophrenia in a matter of months. June's "Hush Now" was one of this year's more enduring deep house jackers and on this latest DJ Sprinkles Vs K.S.H.E 12" Thaemlitz doubles the quantity of tracks but retains the quality. "Down Home Kami-Sakunobe" eases you in with the odd but bewitching combination of violin strings, intermittent piano flourishes, overdubbed percussive shuffles and glacial breathing. Cavernous atmospheric abound on "Double Secret" which is dominated by bass notes of true warmth and the tingling interplay between soft piano and haunting vocals. "Fuck The Down Low" completes the proceedings on the A Side with a short but oh so sweet Moodymann esque bumper replete with a sample familiar to Beastie Boys fans. The real gold is reserved for the B Side with "Hobo Train", a raw percussive delight. You will be totally captivated from the early moment that the cavalcade of heavily compressed hi-hats take centre stage.
Love Island - "Love Connection" (Afterhours mix) (5:57)
Slowdawn - "Don't Play Around" (6:45)
Sameed - "See Ma Thang On You" (5:04)
Review: Skylax head honcho Hardrock Striker teams up with DJ Sprinkles, celebrating two decades of Skylax Records and bringing politics to the dancefloor on Skylax House Explosion (S.H.E.). They present the second of three exclusive vinyl releases, accompanying the mix CD for the 20-year compilation. On this volume, Turkish producer Sinan Kaya kicks off the A-side with the classic deep house vibe of "What's Mine is Mine" a sexy/smoky jam for the late night, Parisian Flabaire gets deep down and dusty (as always) on the jazzy "Riders In The Sun". On the flip, Slowdawn picks up the pace with his energetic yet emotive "Don't Play Around" and closing the EP is Sameed Alexander Rezayan with the sweltering disco cut-up "See Ma Thang On You".
Violence FM & The Underground Soulsavers - "Soleil Mauve" (11:41)
Review: Having previously danced "Under the Garage" and "Under The Loft", old pals DJ Sprinkles and Hardrock Striker are now throwing shapes beneath "The Ballroom" on this third and final part of the exclusive vinyl series accompanying their celebratory Skylax House Explosion mix CD. Fittingly, there's a trio of tracks to choose from, beginning with the tactile, loved-out dream house chords, fluttering FM synthesizer melodies and rubbery, retro-futurist Balearic house grooves of Lauer's "Bigs". Octa Octa steals the show with the alternately chiming and dreamily deep "Running" - all eyes-closed synthesizer melodies, elongated chords, cut-up vocals and snappy drum machine percussion - while "Soleil Mauve" by Violence FM and The Underground Soulsavers is an effortlessly good chunk of dreamy, melodious and ultra-deep house.
Simoncino - "Inga's Creme" (Chez Damier Morning After mix part one)
Soul System aka Nicholas - "Everything Must Change Originally"
Sameed - "Bad You"
Damien Zala - "Shake Vibration"
FTG, Belfie & Alex Tea - "Public Enemy"
Joey Kay - "All Night"
Lady Blacktronika - "Right Direction"
Carlos Nilmmns - "Gwen's Song"
Violence FM & The Underground Soulsavers - "Soleil Mauve"
Lady Blacktronika - "Again See Spring"
Sinan Kaya - "What's Mine"
Urban Inc - "Beatdown"
Jason Grove - "Streets"
Love Island - "A Feelin'"
Octo Octa - "We Will Be Together Forever"
Rosenhaft - "Voyager"
Concept e25 - "What Did You Say"
Kuba Sojka - "Walk On Moon"
Groove Riddim - "The Difference" (feat Nathaniel X Project)
Niko Marks - "Real Funk Don't Die"
Signal ST - "Bongo Trax"
Mike Sharon - "Free Your Mind"
Garage Shelter - "Attempt" (Lonely Heart dub)
Peter Black & Hardrock Striker - "Dreamtime"
Review: Given that it's been 14 years since French producer Hardrock Striker established the Skylax label, this retrospective catalogue mix-up has been a long time coming. Old friend DJ Sprinkles handles disc one, delivering a mix that brilliantly blends her uniquely dubby and spaced-out take on house music with dusty, soulful and largely U.S-centric deep house jams from the likes of Sameed, Lady Blaktronika, Chez Damier, Joey Kay and Carlos Nilmmns. On the second disc, Hardrock Striker focuses on more recent label material, whizzing through a swathe of tactile, deep and groovy retro-futurist cuts from the likes of Octa Octa, Niko Marks, Groove Riddim and Garage Shelter.
Review: After a hiatus of over a decade, Italian producer F.T.G returned in 2013 with "Tribute '89", a fiendishly limited, single-sided 12" that sold out almost as soon as it went on sale. Here, that superb cut - a heavy drum machine workout that sits somewhere between the darker end of Chicago house and '89 European techno - gets a deserved reissue, alongside a couple of previously unheard cuts. "Public Enemy", a collaboration with Belfie and Alex Tea, is a little more melodious, sounding not unlike Willie Burns and Larry Heard jamming. Alex Tea joins F.T.G on "Bango", which is deep, dubby and jacking - a kind of hypnotic version of Chicago house, with a little '89 New York thrown in.
Review: The producer that keeps diggers guessing is back on Skylax with a double pack of refined house grooves named in honour of the label that has borne his music thus far. Wherever and whenever this music appeared, there's no arguing with the simple beauty of a cut like "John Blue" with its tripped out organ line and globulous pad, or "Rawkicks 2" in all its lounged-out grooving glory. There's a lot of space allowed for soul samples and loose-fit beatdown drums, moving this release away from a strictly dancefloor release into a wider headspace. With his delicate touch and unfussy delivery, Jason Grove will undoubtedly be worming his way into even more heads thanks to this LP.
Review: Detroit producer Jason Grove has long been one of Skylax's most reliable artists, with his numerous albums and singles amongst the strongest releases in the label's back catalogue. Predictably, he's in fine form on this first 12" for three years. Both "Without U" and "Just Try (88-89 Tribute)" are deep, quietly soulful and classic in tone, showcasing sounds that reference vintage Larry Heard productions, Inner City and Motor City futurism. Those looking for a warmer, richer and groovier vibe should check "Do You Wanna Know (Flipside Mix)" (which also boasts a thrillingly heavy analogue bassline) or the New Jersey garage-inspired deep house positivity of "About You (Samplamind)" and dreamy, breakbeat-boasting "Love (Beatdown Part 2)".
Metallika (Hardrock Striker's original Kick Out The 12s mix)
Metallika (In Flagranti's Danceteria NYC mix)
Metallika (David Gilmour Girls' Who's Next mix)
Review: Skylax records: The company focused on releasing original obscure dance classics and everything that sounds fine to their ears. For their 9th release, Hardrock Striker's 'Metallika', they decided to bring a brand new fusion between disco (cowbells, bassline), italo (the arpeggio) and electro (check the minimal-maximal synths) with unforgettable results. Plus 2 monstrous remixes by In Flagranti.
Review: Hardrock Striker is at the reins for "Motorik Life", the 21st Skylax release - and the label boss's first twelve since 2009 - which will get plenty of attention thanks to the clutch of DJ Sprinkles remixes. However this doesn't mean you should overlook the pummelling brilliance of Hardrock's original, which does a superlative job of marrying Cosmiche rhythms to a deviant techno pulse. The accompanying Sprinkles dub veers away from the techno and towards the Krautrock, adding some shuffling percussion reminiscent of Can's "I'm So Green" before the track unfolds into the vocal patterns that permeate the Striker original. The best is reserved for last with Sprinkles turning in an epic near 14 minute remix that incorporates a spoken word speech that the title refers to - the resultant sound is very much a worthy follow up to Sprinkles' "Midtown Blues" - freeform house business at its finest!
Review: Skylax continues to release original obscure dance classics. For their fourth release they've brought back a gem from Manchester heavyweights Joy Division. This unreleased track was originally written by Ian Curtis with fantastic lyrics speaking about Hell, isolation, alienation, obsession and underlined by the end of his relationship with his wife Deborah Curtis. Remixes on this release come courtesy of the Freaks & rising stars In Flagranti.
Review: Skylax come through with the house ruffness once again, presenting a second edition of their Houseville of Skylax series which brandishes cuts from the masters Heckle, Luv Jam, Rezkar and Muzikbox. Proceedings commence with the two part "Roundabout" from John Heckle, a double dose of primal freeform manipulation of his trusty Roland gear which will interest any fans of his excellent work on the Mathematics label - part 2 is particularly heavy! Bikini Freak Sascha Peinetti adopts another alias in Master Muzikbox and delivers the proto house harmonic brilliance of "Forget About What?" which is quite rightly described by the label as invoking the spirit of Ron Hardy. On the flip Rezkar takes it deep into the system with "Won't Be Long" and Crow Castle Cuts regular Luv Jam ends proceedings on a more restrained note with "Acid Mouse".
Review: Jason Grove's barnstorming arrival with the 313.4.Ever LP on Skylax last year was reportedly made up of recordings that had lain undetected on cassette releases since the early 90s. Now he returns with a bundle of fresh productions that retain the same spirit as the old material, but equally explore new ideas. The primal bumping house has been smoothed out in places, and waved aloft in others. "Track 9" is a heated peak timer for sure, but it's swiftly followed up by the seductive deepness of "Balance". "Deep Throat" can't help but stand out with its brushed drum percussion and understated swing, but from there the EP plunges into ever more mellow territory, winding down on the easy roll of "Back Home".
Review: Skylax's vinyl only Extra Series was launched in late 2013 with some rare Jason Grove material on the debut release. It's been a while but a rather second release from Skylax Extra is now here and proves it was very much worth the wait! Deep house scholars should need no introduction to the work of Chicago artist Joel Kay, whose hand in helping to mould the shape of US house music dates back some two decades. The Heart & Soul Of Joey Kay: A Chicago Retrospective 1990-2012 provides a great primer of Josef Krupinski's stripped back take on house as Joel Kay, throwing down 12 cuts where simple ideas are executed with aplomb and groove is central.
Review: Skylax's admirable label concept revolves around releasing original, obscure dance classics. That's exactly what they've done with their 19th release from four reputable house producers; Jacob Korn. Mano le Tough, Marcos Cabral and Jaime Read aka LHAS. Jacob's A1 "Falta De Sueno" has an immediately deep house groove with synths and echoey bass, sharp hi's and a meandering electronic melody. A2 "Going The Distance" from Mano Le Tough is a suspense-filled piece that boasts a killer bassline and glorious strings that reek of drama. On the flip, Marcos Cabral delivers "How We Got There", which is immediately up-beat with flat tinny bells leading down into a bad ass bass that rolls throughout. B2 from Jaime Read is the EP's clear party track; drenched in fun and uplifting beats, its eighties synth and gorgeous disco bass pattern ends a killer 12" on a glorious high.
Review: Lady Blacktronika walks into the Skylax label like she owns the place with It's A Blacktronika World EP, and the first track, "Right Direction", get things off to the right start; great groove, great melody, great drums, great rhythm. Thick and rich Rhodes of the former are chocked by a tight tremolo effect in "Deee With It (How Do You Say)", while "Cheat & Lie" is like a deeper take on "Right Direction" mixed with something in line with MCDE's Raw Cuts series. "Fantasize Me" sounds like a hi-fi DJ Spider production and completes what could be described as this year's best deep house record. Respect.
Review: Marcus Mixx is one of those legends of the underground; known to all those that know. He's been at it since '92 with his Marcuss Mixxed Up Records imprint, so this guy knows what's what. Starting off with "Foiled, Fooled & Fouled (Pointed Up @ Downstairs mixx)" a funky little number with a soaring trumpet solo which will get some seriously heated dancefloor moments happening. More curious track titles follow, such as on "Wasted Funeral Tears (He Did What mixx)" which gets a bit darker and fiercer with its gritty bassline and hissing high hats, backing some creepy female choir samples; it's pretty good actually! Finally, we've got "Clear, Yet Hazy Destiny (Dirty Window mixx)" on the flip, with its cheesy and wonky melody backed by double bass and a tight rhythm which is more suited to post peak time moments. Some tremendous, previously unreleased moments that we're glad saw the light of day.