Review: Illyus & Barrientos are the rising Scottish tech-house duo that are staples of top labels DFTD and Glasgow Underground, and who had a breakthrough year in 2018. They kick start this year with a future anthem on the label they now call home: Toolroom. There is a couple of worthy new bangers here: from the exhilarating funky house explosion of "The One" and its infectious disco loops, to the fierce tech-house stomp of "Shout" named after the pitched-up diva vocals throughout - that will no doubt whip the crowd into a frenzy. This in combination with a tough rolling, bass-driven groove that is aimed squarely at peak time dancefloors in the main room and it's a hit prediction right here! Expect to be hearing it a lot in 2019 for sure.
Review: Recently celebrating their third year in business at Berlin's infamous Club der Visionaere, Romanian imprint Polen are back with this new EP by Inner aka Cristian Ghiban, with some more and deeply emotive minimalism. On the A side there's "Breakup" with its high fidelity sound fuelled by a clean, broken beat with soulful pads and processed vocal samples while "No Light Without D" gets properly deep and ethereal . On the flip we've got "Pause & Stop" which is probably the most energetic cut on here; this highly engineered micro-house cut ticks all the right boxes. Finally "Why Don't You Let Go" is the kind of reduced mini-funk that gives a nod to the likes of Seuil or Robin Ordell.
Review: EYA Records presents a double 12" of plush techno and house spanning styles, giving four producers the chance to showcase the breadth of their sound with two tracks each. Innershades brings emotive 90s swoon and peppy acid to the A side, before Two Phase U slips in a little uptempo robo-disco sauce and a feisty jack track. Otis takes things in the direction of wiggy proto-trance and bleep techno, and then Zots finishes up with freaky synth work dripping with mischievous personality. This is a set of tracks that demands to be noticed - don't sleep.
Review: Using the Turkish psychedelic project Insanlar as a jump off point, Honest Jon's have enlisted Ricardo Villalobos to turn out one of his grandiose remix projects that gels so naturally with more exotic sound sources. The original of "Kime Ne" is already an enchanting, Moog-infused groover rich with traditional vocals, and then Mr Villalobos locks the ingredients in for a typically cosmic ride into stripped and hypnotic house territory, letting the lutes intertwine with dusty reams of percussion using that alchemists touch that could only come the man himself. The remix spreads itself over two sides of wax, leaving one side of the double pack free for a fetching etching as well.
Review: Coming off the back of two albums for Japan's Mule Musiq, Petre Inspirescu drops a new single for the imprint, taking his iconic brand of dancefloor minimalism to a wider, perhaps less tech-savvy audience. That's not to say that Mule isn't a home to some of the most exciting electronic beats around, but Inspirescu's style takes the catalogue onto a much darker path. "Murgulll" is headstrong and groove-heavy, coming through with an interlocked cocktail of sounds that mould to create an endless atmosphere of euphoric doom; "Cumva" is the dubbier of the two, launching a deep-minded bass missile that morphs into something more improvisational and more akin to the previous material that has graced this sublime label.
Review: Active for the past couple of years, Burnski's Instinct alter ego has been a revealing window into the ruder side of this seasoned producer's repertoire, and so it continues on round seven of this self-titled label series. The A-side jam "Operation" finds the Leeds stalwart in UK Garage mode, riding a mean bassline flex and amping up the 2-Step shuffle. Jack Michael takes up the B-side mission with a razor-sharp electro workout that matches bleepy electronica with badass breaks and nasty bass to get bodies freaking all over the joint. This is a record precision primed for basement sessions - if you're looking for some sounds to do real damage in the dance, look no further.
Review: UK tech house hero Burnski has been serving up some serious heat of late under the Instinct alias, channelling that old school UK vibe of drum & bass, speed garage and 2-step. His exploration into these styles bring about this sixth instalment of his eponymous series with 3 cuts set to cause havoc on dancefloors this year. A side cut "Overthrow" rides on a slick tech house groove before moving into a swing-fuelled rhythm and razor-sharp sub-bass and it's business as usual. On the flip, shadowy stepper "Phased" fuses Artful Dodger's classic swagger with the dark sci-fi aesthetic of Ed Rush & Optical. Finally, put your lighters up for the furious junglist roller that is "Free Life".
Review: More from James "Burnski" Burnham under the Instinct alias, a pseudonym he seems to utilize for forthright, no-nonsense club tracks. There's naturally plenty of playable material to be found on this fourth Instinct EP. First turn your attention to A-side "Renaissance", where slowly rising, progressive house style orchestration and dreamy deep house pads cluster around punchy two-step beats and starburst electronics. Turn to the flipside and you'll find the swinging but driving tech-house chunkiness of "Universal", as well as the sub-heavy trip that is two-step tech-house cut "Phantom". That cut boasts some particularly attractive soulful vocal samples that seem to drift across the sound space at key moments.
Running In The Underwood (Michael Mayer remix) (6:53)
See Where You Are (7:16)
Review: Frankfurt institution Cocoon throws us a curveball in the form of this minimal pop ditty by local legend Markus Nikolai, one of the great minds behind the legendary Perlon imprint who is joined by Ole Schulte as International Anything. They return with their sophomore effort, following up their debut on Perlon earlier this year with another boompty lo-slung effort in the form of "Running In the Underwood" featuring some super catchy vocals. On the remix is one of Kompakt's main men, the inimitable Michael Mayer, who provides a stellar rework which goes for a frantic and adrenalised electro style. Second original offering "See Where You Are" similarly goes down a (proto) electro route in the vein of legends Kraftwerk for this robotic slice of heaven.
Review: Under the International Anything alias, collaborators Markus Nikolai and Ole Schulte made their bow on Perlon in 2017, contributing a fine track to the label's "Superlongevity 6" compilation. Almost two years on they return to the storied imprint with their debut 12". Interestingly, it's not your average Perlon 12", featuring as it does two quirky, off kilter synth-pop jams. Both boast typically delay-laden machine drums, darting synths in the fashion of '80s electrofunk and skewed noises that bring it closer to the minimalism we'd normally expect from the imprint. Of the two, it's the female-fronted funkiness of A-side "Like This Girl" that most impresses, though the slightly deeper "Echo of the Years" is also ace.
Review: For his label's tenth edition, Switzerland's Baaz serves up a fine release by German deep house purveyor Iron Curtis on the Maple EP. Starting off with the raw, minimal and cyclical techno jack of the title track (wicked!), it's a bit of a change of pace from the label's usual preference for ultra deep or dubby aesthetics: but equally subterranean and hypnotic all the same. Speaking of which, "Collision" indeed gets with the program on this absolutely lush downtime journey, while on the flip we've got two short but sweet offerings: "Entago Entery" and the blissful "Reset Me" providing the mandatory ambient track that has been known to close out the label's recent offerings. More quality from undoubtedly one of the top labels in deep house of the moment.