Review: Notching up 15 successful years as a record label is some feat in this day and age, so it's understandable that Systematic has decided to mark reaching this milestone in style. The German imprint's anniversary EP - a tidy looking picture disc - fittingly kicks off with a track by founder Marc Romboy. He's at his mesmerizing best on "Shooting Stars Never Stop", a deep tech-house roller rich in cascading melodies, starry electronics, subtle acid lines and clanking machine drums. Rodriguez Jr offers up the elongated chords, hypnotic grooves and glassy-eyed positivity of "Okeechobee", before Artbat doffs a hat to mid-90s UK techno on the aptly titled "Orbital". To round things off, John Digweed joins forces with Nick Muir on the shimmering brilliance of "Alkouln", whose loved-up breakdown is simply stunning.
Review: It's been a little while since we heard from Laura Jones, but the Leeds-based producer is back in action on her own Sensoramic label with a strident EP of limber tech house excursions that highlight her continued progression as a producer. "Pathway" is a gently bouncy cut with bubbling synths coursing between the subtle swing of the beat, using vocal snippets to great effect to create a decidedly trippy atmosphere. "Tough Crowd' pushes the psychedelic approach even further with some truly wigged out tones swirling in a cut just made for eyes-closed-dancing moments. 100Hz takes on a remix of "Pathway" that uses crafty, militaristic drums and sparse treatment of the melodic and vocal elements to create a delicate, compelling alternative vision of Jones' original.
Review: It's been a while since we last heard from Juniper, the Manchester-based duo who showed much promise with early outings on Underground Quality and the like. Having previously popped up on a various artists 12", they return to the ever-essential meandyou with a strong statement of intent, packing five tracks into an EP that presents their subversive style immaculately. "Indigo Children" is a head-turning cut that fuses uptempo Motor City style electro and techno with industrial tones, while "Life Source Negative" switches stance for a beautiful, craftily constructed drift into woozy deep house. Every track is noteworthy on this release, balancing immediacy and warmth against experimental textures in a way that sits very comfortably on meandyou.
Review: For the 20th release of the Valencian label Oblack, it is over to Los Pastores aka Snna and Nacho Arauz/Juliche Hernandez from the Canary Islands (DownHill Music). They gather up all their talents to come up with one of the most clubby, dance floor oriented tracks from the label thus far. "Bigger Easy" is classic late noughties style minimal that's big on druggy elements plus those pitch shifted vocals (a la Marc Houle) are a worthy addition. On the flip, "Get Back" is a funky electro house jam with a buzzy synth lead and bumpy bassline over its tight groove, plus those subtle disco influences thrown in for good measure work a treat. The remix by Japanese guy in Berlin, Tomoki Tamura, is the real winner on there though. Here he takes the track into reductionist afterhours territory, with all its dusty and sparsely hypnotic elements working in harmony.
Review: Blind Box heads Julien Sandre and Konstress know a thing or two about deep, undulating house grooves, and their continued exploration of immersive cuts for hidden corners of the dance yields further delights on this sixth instalment in the Blind Box series. The first side of this 12" finds the two label bosses twisting out immaculate jams shot through with playful sound design. "Would" locks into a subtle swing and revels in lopsided synth stabs, while "Hedone" plunges into a stunning intricate techno landscape peppered with glitchy tones. On the flip, Julian Alexander follows suit with the crisp, funky "Baku Man" and the more experimental tones of "Casserole".
Review: Purism leaps into action once more, this time welcoming a strong cast of lesser known characters that fit right into the adventurous approach to house and techno that the label has forged its reputation on. All these producers make their first appearances here, but you wouldn't know it listening to the quality of the tracks on offer. Rafael Kasma's "Static Rope" is a quintessential grooving house jam with some killer filtered chords, while Munir Nadir brings the twitchy minimalism vibes on "Milagro". Jackie is on a sultry, jazzy deep house tip with "Lune" and Mag0 rounds things off with the cheeky, quirky funk of "Spectrum".
Review: Constant Black continues its superb string of releases with this latest outing for the imprints close affiliate Michael James. The label run by Burnski and Jon Woodall hands things back to James for an outing of deep minimal grooves. "Bosh!" starts things out just how you would expect with a title like that, strong punching swinging rhythms ready to sway any party. "Pol" and "Hallucinate" keep the momentum going with sleek minimal works, which are sure to be utilised across the globe this summer!
Review: If the smiley face clad centre label wasn't a sizeable enough clue, Happy Family is a new project from New York staples Eric Duncan and Justin Vandervolgen which sees the pair try their hand at acid house. Both are closely associated with disco edits of course, but if you've seen either DJ you'll know they are well up on all forms of dance music. This expertise is deployed perfectly on the two tracks here, with "Burnt" a relentless exercise in strobelit 303 madness that is a no brainer for the sweatiest part of a DJ set. They tone it down a bit on "Hard To Breathe" which despite the title is an altogether looser production with plenty of room between the tumbling drums and hypnotic lead synth lines.
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.
Will Saul & Kommon - "Two For One" (original mix) (5:23)
Will Saul & Kommon - "Two For One" (Appleblim remix) (6:29)
Review: As a follow-up to Will Saul's exclusive-packed - and generally well received - DJ Kicks set, !K7 has decided to reissue two of the most celebrated tracks, with fresh new remixes. On the A-side you'll find Jabru and Joel Culpepper's "Church" - a decidedly organic, soulful chunk of deep house/UK garage fusion - with accompanying Zed Bias rub. The UKG veteran gives it a bouncy, bassy two-step makeover, wisely retaining Culpepper's brilliant vocals. Flip for Will Saul and Komon's spacey "Two For One", where dreamy flourishes rub shoulders with throbbing electronics and delicate house beats. The remix is provided by Appleblim, who adds a new layer of percussive toughness - in a bruk-meets-two-step style - whilst retaining the warmth of the original.
Review: Washington DC's Justin Nouhra has been intermittently slipping out high grade minimal house on labels like Silence In Metropolis and Cahoots for the past five years, and now he's been snapped up by Courtesy Of Balance for an impressive three-tracker loaded with shimmering tones and elegant grooves. "Subpoenad" has an irresistible bump and some starry eyed synth flairs that melt into the ears very easily indeed. "Day Job" follows a similar tact, with some more pronounced chords punching through the mix. "POV" rounds the EP off with a bugging bouncer of a track, and yet more of those pristine, sweetly filtered tones amidst the slender drums.
Review: The fourth release from London-based label Eya continues to shape out an intriguing identity that nods to classic techno tropes while charging ahead with their own agenda. Label boss Jos' "Planet Eya" sets a lively pace with its forthright drum machine jack offset by warm synth licks. Evil Knebel matches the tempo and weaves in a cosmic set of tones, which Poten then cosigns with the equally trippy, propulsive "Intransigence". Jos is back at the helm for closing track "Purify", which strikes a darker tone without losing that raw, vintage techno flavour that makes this label one to watch.
Manuk & Oli Silva - "Nevermind The Crispies" (5:55)
Eliaz - "Verdico" (7:06)
Meta 4 - "Urnammu" (7:45)
Jorge Gamarra - "Dypac" (5:42)
Review: There's a certain air of buy-on-sight mystique around EYA Records, somewhere between the low-key presentation of the music and the cult artists they're calling on to realise their particular vision of deviant dancefloor business. This is unabashed freaky party tackle, from Manuk & Oli Silva's delirious B-movie jack track "Nevermind The Crispies" to the uneasy electro snarl of "Verdico". Meta 4 has equally nightmarish moods to share on the graveyard acid of "Urnammu" and Jorge Gamarra seals the deal with the schlocky braindance horror of "Dypac". It's the kind of record that you'll be reaching for come Halloween, trust.
Review: Vox Populi's Field Works Vol.II sees the Berlin based label travelling to different parts of the world in order to collect sounds and archive some of the finest musical traditions. This record is the result of a trip to Japan led by Swiss anthropologist and label founder Fred Scharf. It was inspired by academic methods: particularly ethnomusicology and incorporates everything from field recordings, studio recordings, religious rituals, fighting championships and even wedding ceremonies. From the slo-mo acid of Japan Blues (Berceuse Heroique) seductive "Chapter V" to Frenchman Tim Karbon's exotic polythyrhms that hypnotise you on "Chapter VI" and Shizka (aka Inoue Shirabe) getting into some abstract groove theory on his splendid offering "Chapter VIII".