Review: Alphonse has already dropped a pair of 12"s on Especial in the past, but he's on especially excellent form this time around. A veteran of the halcyon rave days of the 90s, he's got a lot to draw on to conjure his particular kind of machine jams. "Moan Up" is a truly dazzling track, all twinkling synth lines interweaving around a crisp old school groove. As well as the loved up peaks of the original, there's also a beatless mix of the track that lets the melodies shine on their own. "White Pepper" takes things moodier and lets some sultry sax wail over the top, while retaining some of that boxy drum machine energy. There's even space for some tasteful guitar wailing - excellent.
Review: In 1996, Dreamscape's Ed Marshall donned a new alias, Aplomb, and delivered the first fruits of his new project to New Age House Records. Only one track was ever released on a limited label promo, "Wondering". World Building's Ari Goldman, who previously put out a compilation of Marshall's work as Dreamscape, is a fan and has decided to rescue it from obscurity via this single-sided 12". The track itself is hard to accurately pigeonhole, combining as it does dense, carnival style drums, female scat vocals, warm bass, dreamy deep house chords and synthesizer flourishes reminiscent of early '80s jazz-funk. Either way, it's a sunny and groovy chunk of obscure house positivity that's well worth a place in your collection.
Review: In 2009, two years after the original version appeared on Somi's debut album "Red Soil In My Eyes", Joaquin "Joe" Claussell and Brian Bacchus joined forces as Soul Feast to remix Fela Kuti cover "African Lady". A decade on, Claussell has decided to reissue the package's most potent and percussive moment, the layered "Drum Dub" on a tasty seven-inch single. While there are key elements of Somi's original version present - the killer bassline, some delay-laden horns and fleeting glimpses of guitar - the mix is dominated by layered Afro-house percussion. This time round, the mix comes backed with an "Acapella EFXS" version, which contains all of Somi's superb vocal and is closer in tone to the duo's 2009 club mix. Like the A-side, it's superb.
Review: Overthink is a Barcelona based label run by Nicolas Etorena, who taps homeboy Luis Malon here for four cuts of wonky retro rave and techno shenanigans on the "Champions Fantasy EP". The man has appeared on labels like Slow Life and Opia in recent times, so you should already have an idea of what's to come: from the electro-fied alien funk of "Terrify", to straight ahead peak time bangers like "Is TLM" with its savage 303 squelch, nodding to classic Yorkshire sounds. Driving B side cut "Vincha For All" receives a bouncy rework by SUR main man Jorge Gamarra that'll get you staring right down into the vortex.
Poisoned Words (Ricardo Villalobos remix 1) (6:35)
Poisoned Words (Ricardo Villalobos remix 2) (13:39)
Review: The Mandar dream team of Lazare Hoche, Malin Genie and S.A.M revisit "Poisoned Words" with a double dose of remixes from none other than Ricardo Villalobos. The minimal overlord lives up to expectations on both flips of the original track, needling into the tiniest sonic details and holding down an insistent groove that will sit beautifully in the mix. The A side features a simmering version that revels in wriggling sound design with ample space to flex and mutate, while the B side stretches out into a quintessential Villalobos wormhole of a remix. Unmissable sonics from one of the scene's true legends.
Review: Fresh from delving into his ambient side on the pastorally-enhanced "Loom Dream" album for Whities, Leif revives his self-manned Tio Series with another double-shot of delicate but impactful cuts outside the conventional slipstream of modern techno. The rhythms fall crooked, the synths trickle, bubble and cascade around the groove and the atmosphere remains humid and heady, especially on ear-snagging B-side "Rumex". "Montpelier" sports more explicit dubby flourishes and a spread of sonic flora and fauna in the middle distance that truly brings the track to life.
Review: A big driver behind Mood Hut's success over the last few years has been their willingness to encourage collaboration between their extended crew of producers. Their latest co-produced affair comes from long-serving crewmember C.Z Wang (best known for his People Plus release earlier this year) and Aquarian Foundation's Chad Thiessen AKA Neo Image. "Just Off Wave" is warm, woozy and bass-heavy, with drowsy chords, fizzing electro noises and trippy vocals (courtesy, we think, of guests Seperated At Birth) riding a hybrid analogue house/electro groove. That beat is cut-up, beefed-up and heavily enhanced on flipside "Open Mic Beat", which is a sweaty drum track - with, it should be said, occasional chords - that should appeal to aging B-boys and girls.
Review: Detroit producer Scott Grooves returns to his Modified Suede imprint with Bitter Sweet, following on from the jazz-driven Motor City funk of "The Journey". This 12" sees the underappreciated Grooves on typically excellent form; the title track offers a piece of dusty, subtle Detroit house, where fuzzy Rhodes piano are joined by jazzy string melodies and a mechanical groove in a similar manner to Kevin Reynolds' similarly slow burning "Liaisons", while "C Track" offers a sublime piece of rolling house whose urgent yet gentle piano chords are caught in a swell of bottom heavy bass and rattling hi-hats.
Review: Valencia's Pepe has built up quite a discography over the last few years, with this fine outing on Church following similarly impressive releases for Let's Play House, Lobster Theremin, Loose Fit and Sprung. The EP's impressive title track is available in two variations: the sparkling, breakbeat powered "Roll Mix" - think hip-house style drums, weighty dub bass and occasional dreamy chords - and a "Bleep Mix" that beefs up the sub-bass while adding some suitably sparse, computer game style electronic melodies. Another clear highlight is "You Must Not Be Me", a fine combination of rush-inducing, sunrise-ready electronics and bustling breaks, while closing cut "Recollection" is a rather lovely drift into opaque ambient territory.
Review: Two years after they offered up the first part in the "Retrofitted Future" series, Primary Perception partners Mahy and Nichel Cruz return to Slow Life with volume three. They hit the ground running with "Valis", a crunchy romp through bold analogue bass, twisted acid lines and spacey electronics, before bouncing their way through more melodious, warm and ear-catching territory on the aptly named "Sci-Fi Jazz". Side B boasts two versions of "Funky Emotions" - the low-slung, bass-heavy and decidedly futuristic original mix and the altogether deeper and dreamier "Break mix" - as well as utterly gorgeous ambient track "Space Is An Ocean".
Review: Natural Midi has been one of the primary homes to Scott Grooves' tunes, easily the most underrated producer from the Detroit area, and he's back on his own label with four new beauties. Grooves has been churning out exquisite deep house bangers since the 90's, a very specific brand of dance music that incorporates everything from jazz, to disco and funk; his basslines are always warm and soothing, while his percussion is dusty and the synth lines musical. In an age where 'outsider' house rules, his grounded approach is always a breath of fresh air to us. The opener "Finished" is a funky house swinger choc-a-bloc with gorgeous claps and stuttering toms, and "Inspiration Sound" scratches the 4/4 off for a bit of broken trip-hop - a certified winner. On side B, "The Sauce" is moody, spaced-out and offers subtle keys, while "Nitty Gritty" slams out a dicing little percussion with a lo-fi feel. Absolutely terrific.
Review: Japanese artist Sunao Gonno's idiosyncratic sound has appeared on labels such as Endless Flight, International Feel and Beats In Space over the years, where he's dabbled in shoegaze, kosmische and psychedelia as heard on 2015's breathtaking "Remember The Life Is Beautiful" or on last year's contemporary jazz outing "In Circles" with Kazuhiko Masumura. An accomplished DJ also, he's no stranger to Berlin's Panorama Bar, where Nick Hoppner (Touch From A Distance) has long held a residency. The two artists collaborate for the first time on "Lost", featuring three sublime sonic journeys: go deep into the exotic on "Bangalore" with its world music influence, or chill to the vivid downbeat tones of "Love Lost" until "Start Trying" returns to the program with its neon-lit aesthetic plus breakbeats reminiscent of the rave era.
Review: The unstoppable Cromby lets rip on Unknown To The Unknown. His first release on DJ Haus's U2TU motherlabel, he's gone in all rave guns blazing. "Cruising" is a thumping Detroit-edge acid meteor shower. Wave after wave of 303s and rising big-blast pads, there's some serious momentum in this track; just mix it in and watch it demolish. "Gigolo" shakes its money maker with a little more uplift as chords climb and chime throughout the mix, constantly reaching higher and higher. A little like Cromby's profile right now.
Review: Atjazz & Jullian Gomes released their "Big Bad Crazy" album nearly a year ago to wide acclaim, and here is one of the LP's standout tracks which receives a rework from Freerange/Delusions Of Grandeur chief Jimpster. He replaces the sensual late night deepness of the original version of "It's My Time" with a slinky, hypnotic and absolutely mesmerising vibe, awash in shimmering melodies, delay drenched snippets of the original vocals and an absolutely addictive bassline. There's a handy instrumental on the flip too. Braintree's finest delivers the goods once again on this hit that's sure to have wide crossover appeal.
Review: Ever-dependable hero of deep house since the good old days, Glenn Underground is back with fresh goodies for his Strictly Jazz Unit imprint, and if you liked what he's done before then there's no doubt you'll like this as well. "Shiloh (A King's Return)" is a steady roller, defined by the synth-sax freestyling over the top of a crisp beat and bluesy chord workout. "We, The Party (Let's Get Down)" is a more soaring affair, with some neat kinks in the drums and a sumptuous spread of Rhodes action all delivered in that quintessentially Blue Note GU flavour.
Kerri Chandler - "Peace Of Mind" (D'Julz remix) (6:46)
Lafayette - "Better Late Than Never" (Kettama Garage remix) (5:00)
Jiletta Riley - "The Way It Was" (Marquis Hawkes Classic club vocal) (6:57)
Review: There's little better, house-wise at least, than vintage Kerri Chandler productions, though these fresh remixes of tracks by the New York maestro would certainly run them close. German producer Henrik Schwarz steps up first to re-imagine Chandler and Jerome Sydenham's "Powder" as a fluid but hypnotic chunk of building, synthesizer-heavy house in his usual melodic, tech-tinged style, before D'Julz turns in a wonderfully warm, locked-in revision of "Peace of Mind" full of drum machine handclaps, woozy chords and fizzing electronics. Over on side B you'll find a superb Kettama Garage mix of Lafayette's Chandler-produced classic "Better Late Than Never" - think late '90s UK speed garage and you're close - as well as a partoculalry reverential take on Jiletta Riley jam "The Way It Was" by Marquis Hawkes.
Review: Since making his debut in 2015, Chris Stussy has released a remarkable amount of music. Yet it's hard to fault any of his 22 previous EPs, which tend towards the chunkier, tech-tinged end of the deep house spectrum. His latest four-tracker is naturally full of top-notch cuts, too. Check first opener "Edge of the Mirror", where wonderfully melodic musical elements wrap themselves around a tough electronic deep house groove, before diving into the bass-heavy early morning hypnotism of "Forever Moving", which sounds like something you'd have heard at Twilo in New York circa 1996. "Synchronicity" is a string-drenched treat blessed with a fantastically rush-inducing breakdown, while "Electro Girl" is a fine fusion of tech-house electronics and oven-hot deep house grooves.
Review: Detroit stalwart Scott Grooves has been churning out 12" singles since the early '90s, yet the quality barely seems to drop. This second - and, according to the producer's own sales notes, "likely last" - installment in the Parts Manager series contains five more top notch workouts. As ever, there's plenty of variety across the EP. Contrast, for example, the flowing, ear-catching musicality of classic deep house opener "Gravitas", the body popping drum machine hits and rubbery P-funk bass of "Deneb", and the deep nu-jazz shuffle of "Monowaltz". The pleasing eclecticism continues elsewhere, via the fluid electric piano workout "Bittersweet Live", and the Chez Damier style basement smoothness of hypnotic closer "?".
Review: Katie Campbell AKA Roza Terenzi has been in fine form over the last couple of years, offering up must-check EPs on Dekmantel, Kalahari Oyster Cult, Butter Sessions and Bizarro. Here the Australian producer makes her first appearance on Klasse Wrecks, offering up the delightfully clanking, funk-fuelled analogue bounce of "Metal Glo"- a wonderful combination of Syclops style electronic refrains, loose-limbed machine drums and attractive melodies - and the even wilder and sleazier, acid-fuelled peak-time wonkiness of "Allstarz", whose dreamy chords offer a neat counterpoint to the ragged antics underpinning them. There are two tidy "Metal Glo" remixes, too: a deliciously glassy eyed, bleeping revision from label bosses Luca Lozano and Mr Ho, and a Morgan Wright and RP Remix that turns the track into a sweaty, off-beat treat.
Review: What more can be said about the output of Alex 'Omar' Smith? The Detroiter's releases have perhaps been a little more varied of late than we've come to expect, but the quality nevertheless remains dizzyingly high. This white label excursion is full of floor-friendly gems, with Smith's use of classic house samples and familiar vocal samples also making it one of his most party-hearted releases for a while. Check, for example, "Catch Ya", where a much-loved turn-of-the-'90s acapella rises above bouncy New Jersey organs and snappy machine drums. "Better Believe It Baby" brilliantly wraps a chiming synth loop and R&B style vocal snippets around a chunky, disco-fired deep house beat, while "Cheat" and "Pull Ovaa" are deliciously dusty, bass-heavy deep house workouts with just the right amount of hypnotic late night charm.