Review: Following the excellent instalment from DJ Skull, Mentha continues to gather pace as a house and techno label of note with this sublime offering from Hakim Murphy. While the Chicago native may be known for some bruising hardware house and techno a lot of the time, he's showing his more sensitive side on this release with delicate tracks that head into deep techno waters. The title of the EP says it all, as nimble, expressive beats merge with soothing, aqueous pad tones for a most satisfying of listening experiences. Fans of early deep techno a la B12 and Stasis will find much to enjoy here.
Review: De Grey launched last year with a 12" from Webstarr, and now it follows up with the raw, rough and ready sound of Jack Angle. "Week-End" is a lithe, percussive beast of a track that matches bloated kicks with glassy hits for a tracky but distinctive end result. "6PNHHPE" is a looped up, off-kilter affair that sports an industrial techno thread but heads into stranger territory with ease. "Stablilizer" is a more balanced, melodic affair but again those distinctive metallic tones pervade the mix and inject some real character into Angle's music. "Selta" takes this approach and whips it up into the most lively, peak-time minded belter on the whole record, sneakily tucked away on the B2.
Review: Proudly positioned as a label dedicated to showcasing emerging talent within the realms of dark and dubby minimal techno, FarFromNormal return with their second release of the year. This time they're providing a platform to Nice N Trick & Sacke, who make the most of the vinyl space with two long form tracks that demonstrate just how much talent they have to offer. "Senor Memories" is a tribally-inflected experience sprinkled with off-kilter samples atop a driving techy backbone, while "Viola Profonda" steers a more streamlined course through crisp drums and nerve-jangling violin on a one way trip into the heart of the night.
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: Fans of stripped-back, minimalist techno - particularly the Eastern European variant focused around Romania's thriving scene - will happily tell you that every release from Christi Cons and Vlad Caia's Sideways Invisibility Theory project (AKA SIT) is worth checking. This, a double-pack containing half of the tracks from their new album (a second part is also available) is certainly noteworthy. It features a quintet of trippy, low-slung late night workouts seemingly designed to operate in the cracks between tech-house and minimal techno. There are naturally subtle variations throughout - a nod to dub techno here, a psychedelic acid line or dreamy deep house texture there - but throughout, their focus remains firmly on wonky early morning workouts.
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: Although only a few months have passed since Constant Sound was first minted, the label run by Burnski and Jon Woodall is now ready to unleash its fourth EP. Entitled Raw Moments, it features a hot original by Paolo Rocco and is backed with accomplished remixes from the legendary Nail as well as boss man Burnski.
Canadian Rocco is well known on the Montreal circuit for his broad and energetic DJ sets, whilst he has also cracked the Beatport charts with his own tunes, namely 'Move Body, Move Forward' on Klasse, as well as with follow ups on Real Tone. He impresses once again here with 'Raw Moments', a track that does exactly what it says on the tin.
The whole track is built upon rock solid kick drums that bounce and bobble about as curious bird sounds and gloopy synths dart about next to cow bells and hi hats. It's expertly lively and robust.
First to re-imagine the track is Burnski, who injects some seriously fat bass, a subtle sense of shuffle and infectiously crafted grooves laden with dub motifs and rich reverb. It's perfectly designed for no frills and non stop dancing, frankly.
Last to remix is DIY Discs man, Classic Music Company associate and all round house tastemaker Nail. His Smoke Dub is a bulky house jam with buffed metal melodies, squelchy drums and sci-fi synth sounds that is deep, stays low and is perfect for back room basements.
This label might only be on its fourth release, but already it has announced itself as a go to outlet for fans of fresh intelligent sounding house, and this release only confirms that.
Review: Giles Smith and James Priestley have left an indelible mark on house and techno culture in the UK, not least thanks to their fabled Secretsundaze parties. These days they're taking that iconic stamp into the studio, and following up on strong turns for Mule Musiq and Phonica last year they're finally dropping a full length EP on their own label. The quality is as high as you would expect, from spicy, snarling fire starter "Mezcal" to the transcendental swirl of "Stand Up". On the B side, "Testing" takes things a little deeper with a heady stomp and a tricky disposition that will satisfy all the selectors.
Gus Gus - "Your Moves Are Mine" (Sanasol remix) (9:24)
Thor - "Black" (7:32)
Biogen - "Stream" (Sanasol Lost In Time remix) (6:39)
Review: Next up on the ever-excellent Oscillat is "Spellbound" by the supremely talented Matthew Dekay. This moving deep house jam uses a few key elements to make a soul-stirring confection for truly spine-tingling moments in the middle of the dance. From the slithers of vocal to the insistent key riff that bounces throughout, this is an outstanding slice of contemporary house music loaded with feeling. Mandar then take the original and inject it with a feisty peak time energy shot through with a little trancey magic and an acidic undertone. It's not a raging beast but rather an energizing workout for the brain and the body - just what you need in the midst of a marathon.
Review: Following choice wares from tape_hiss and Pascal Viscardi, Love Notes stride into winter with a fulsome offering from lesser-known artist Subtenant, who packs just the right balance of classic acid and modernist techno into the three original tracks on this 12". "Evergreen Soul" looks set to turn heads in the club with its playful organ flex hopping around the punchy 303 notes, while "Artisanal Acid" brings some homespun hardware handiwork to the table. "Know How It Feels" drops in at a slower tempo, but it's D'Marc Cantu who steals the show with a dynamic remix of the title track loaded with detail and shot through with dub.
Review: Floog is the alias of Romanian tech house producer George Gavanescu, who alongside Livio & Roby is part of the trio Premiesku and has appeared on labels like 20:20 Vision, Vakant and Mulen Records. Serving up this riveting new four tracker for Archie Hamilton's Moscow imprint here, Gavanescu is in fine from: from the rolling main room thumper "The Gathering", to the swing-fuelled acid house inflected groove of "Balance Right" to the deep minimal house of "Sepe Patru" on the flip which is aimed squarely at the dancefloors of Bucharest's renowned afterhours scene. All killer no filler on this one here - tip!
Review: After a quiet 2016 thus far Och's Autoreply label is finally back in action with a frankly fantastic selection of workouts from Mark Broom. In keeping with the style Broom has been exercising in new Perbec jams with Baby Ford, this is more restrained than the muscular techno Broom can also be known for. Instead, you get expressive, satisfying house tracks such as "18.2" and the neatly pumping "10" with its killer array of synths to satisfy the dancefloor and the mind in equal measure. Avoiding unnecessary fireworks in favour of perfectly chosen and shaped elements, this is a glittering demonstration of Broom's cool-headed approach in the studio.
Review: No-nonsense German label EXT has gone back to basics here, delivering their first split-artist EP since 2016. DJ Gonzo and Dr Yes handle side A, unfurling a tactile but wonky techno jack-track ("Ring Center") full of jaunty, all action synth-bass, bleeping computer electronics, fluttering synth riffs and clanking drum machine beats that doff a cap to both Chicago jack and Motor City futurism. Rough Thought takes over on side B, charging through a bustling combination of rising and falling intergalactic synth lines, deep space chords, surging arpeggio bass and a drum track so sweaty that it could have been laid down by a drummer who has just downed four cans of the world's most repulsive energy drink.
Review: Next up on Acid Pauli and Nico Stojan's Ouie imprint are two veterans of the electronic music scene, but the label bosses are pretty tight lipped about their identity beyond that. Showing off some serious night moves on "Slow Down", the title track is perfect Berlin sunrise material: a lush serving of low-slung techno-pop that makes the perfect summer soundtrack. On remix duties is Lovestruckk, the duo comprising of Stojan and Holmar Filipsson (aka Thugfucker) inject more dancefloor dynamics before closer "Slow Down", a slinky and hypnotic tech house cut moves the EP into a moodier sonic territory.
Shakmat, But Happy (Pauli Psychdelic Breakfast - take 9) (9:25)
Review: German deep house stalwart Martin Gretschmann aka Acid Pauli is back on Ouie, the Berlin-based label he runs with Nico Stojan. This self-deprecatingly titled EP showcases Gretschmann's dancefloor prowess yet again. From the slinky and hypnotic locomotion of "Dancing In The Trunk" which deservedly takes over the entire A side, while B side cut "Goran Utan" goes deep into the afterhours with its shimmering melodies, humming bass and clipped rhythm patterns and rounds off with even more minimal and reduced aesthetics on the disorienting "Shakmat, But Happy" (Pauli Psychdelic Breakfast - Take 9)".
Review: The annual Cocoon compilation is a perfect snapshot of what's going on in the more popular corners of the European techno scene. Curated by label head and Ibiza party king Sven Vath, this year's edition is a comparatively deep and melodic affair. A big shout goes to Talaboman for their excellently entitled "Big Room Anthemic Groovy Pounding Trance Dub Bomb Superb!" which is indeed a big room anthemic groovy pounding trance dub bomb, while Edward serves up a more twisted roller (the excellent "End Days"), Raxon goes deep with "The Turbulent" and Mark Broom hammers home with tripped out sci-fi banger "Jaded", amongst many other gems.
Review: Kiwi brothers Chaos In The CBD return to Mule Musiq with their third EP for the long running Japanese label. They are in fine form throughout, offering up cuts that combine great ideas and intriguing musical motifs with just the right amount of serious dancefloor grunt. They're in full on saucer-eyed mode on A-side "Hydrate", a breakbeat-sporting deep house roller whose extended ambient intro, swirling chords, whispered vocal samples, gentle acid lines and early '90s U.S garage stabs combine to create a suitably loved-up vibe. Flipside "Searching For Signal" is similarly inclined but sounds a touch more psychedelic, with trance-inducing electronics and heady chord sequences catching the ear above another shuffling breakbeat-driven groove.
Review: Mint Condition's ear for essential reissues has struck gold time and time again. Next up in their spotlight is a 1996 EP from Two Full Minds that was first released by Bushwacka! & DJ Vorn. Whether the agelessness of this record is a testament to the producers' original vision or a sign that dance music doesn't evolve as much as it thinks is unclear, but what's certain is that these tracks bang. There's the impish cosmic synths and clacking breakbeats of the title track, the brilliantly named "I Hate Anthea Turner", which is a spaced out garage-tech kicker, and ecstasy rush of closer "Space Port" all ready to do damage on the floor.
Review: To date we've not been treated to a solo outing from Lazare Hoche - he's most commonly spotted alongside fellow deep house operative Malin Genie, but now he's going it alone with two cuts of assured groovers suited to the hazier hours of a 4/4 throwdown. "Time Guard" is a swooning beauty of a track buoyed by gorgeous synth strings and a nagging groove. "Maths" is a more forthright, club-focused affair that places all the emphasis on sharp, funked up drum machine beats, but there's still a chill in the air that keeps the track firmly rooted in the deep end.
Review: As legends go, Don Carlos can be held pretty high up there. There are few producers which can instil as much admiration as the Italian deep house producer. Here he steps up to the stellar Imogen Recordings with a two tracker which proves he can still do what he does best. 'Alina' is eyes closed business right from the off. Waves of atmospheric synth strings and hazy chords roll in, as blissful pads sway with filtered drum loops. Part II is a variation on this masterpiece, progressing through the intro in a speedier fashion for those that need an express ticket to that peak time power. Alone on a Mediterranean beach or surround by a packed dancefloor, Alina is one to get lost in from start to finish and a solid statement that Don Carlos certainly still has 'it'.
Review: We're not sure who's behind the mysterious AC-EXP project, but the shadowy figure returns with more of that strange, submerged house music he's been tickling discerning DJs with over the past few years. After taking last year off, "1A" is a fine place to start things up again with a strutting jack track carrying acidic synth pulses that flirt with measured delay processing. It's a jam that sounds steamy and sinister all at once. "1B" maintains this restrained but seductive vibe with the slightly trancey throb of the lead synths pivoting around the snappy drums to great effect.
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: Edward's graceful take on modern house and techno is a perfect fit for Trelik, and the German producer sounds comfortable as he unfurls swooning threads of otherworldly music for the tripped out dancefloor. The "Ogermania Mx" of "Mikko" is a hazy, string soaked affair pitched somewhere warm and dreamlike, but there's plenty of energy churning away in the lower register. "Lottery" is a more twitchy affair for darker times, all moody bass bounce and looming drones around a shuffling set of percussion. "Groaning Ghosts" is the techiest of the bunch, and there's a whole lot of freaked out sound design swirling around in the mix as well. This is simply stunning, highly advanced dance music from a modern day maestro.
Kai Alce - "Power Thru Part 3 (Don't Turn On The Lights)" (feat Azulu Phantom - Martinez Brothers edit)
Big Strick - "Spontaneous Combustion"
Glen Lewis - "Life Everlasting" (feat Njojo & Bongani - Dennis Ferrer's Passion Of C dub)
Love Letters - "Ducue" (Xtended Dick dub)
Dan Curtinb - "Echozeichen"
Brinton Mckay - "Real Cool" (Abe Duque remix)
The Martinez Brothers - "Mistakes"
Trevor Rockcliffe - "Visions Of You" (feat Blake Baxter - Carl Cox remix)
Paul Johnson - "House Illusion"
Party Crashers - "Come & Get It"
Sir Lord Commix - "Chicago Jazz"
K Alexi Shelby - "Spanish Fly"
Louie Vega & The Martinez Brothers - "Let It Go" (TMB alternate version)
Review: The new incarnation of the famous fabric mix series serves up a big one here with Ibiza kingpins and US house torchbearers The Martinez Brothers laying down a fulsome 23 track mix. It brims with the sort of energy that they always have themselves in the booth and takes you on a contemporary trip through the bendy minimal of Cabanne, Frak's percussive workout and some tropical curveballs from The Bayara Citizens. The Brothers also impress with two of their own tracks - "Jam Joint" and "Mistakes" - full of wonky synth work and shuffling drums, and it marks another highpoint in their longstanding career.
Review: REPRESS ALERT: Thule are back on the Icelandic techno reissue trip, this time returning to a serious classic from Sanasol (Yagya & Thor) that originally came out in 1997. This particular, highly sought after, gem leads in with the majorly heady house throb of "Seveneleven (Original Mix)" which piles the dubby processing and lush melodics on heavy while still retaining a sense of airiness to uplift the soul. By contrast, the "Closedonsundays Mix" focuses on a tough but crooked beat and that undulating bassline for a completely different flavour. On the flip, the "Sanaramalonger Mix" returns to the mellower flow of the original but with a more submerged finish and some pronounced dub stabs. Then the "Ozzy Mix" finishes the package with a minimal take that prefigures the upsurge of dubby clicks n' cuts laptop beats that would explode in the years to come. Essential tackle for all deep techno explorers.