Review: Having built their reputation through 12" singles for the likes of Crosstown Rebels and Poker Flat, Dan Berkson and James What deliver their debut album, on their freshly minted imprint Modelmaker. Interestingly, Keep Up Appearances is an altogether warmer, melodious and more evocative set than you'd perhaps expect, with a smattering of rich downtempo cuts joining a solid selection of dancefloor-friendly deep house. You can hear a classic dub techno influence in cuts such as "Keep Up Appearances" and "Shadow Theory", while the acid-flecked, soul-soaked "Make It True" sounds like classic Osunlade. Best of all, though, are the more forthright efforts, with the ragged "Seraphim" standing out.
Review: Of all DJ duos currently operating in British dance music, Belfast boys Bicep might be the hardest to pin down (Optimo aside, of course). Certainly, this debut album is not easy to pigeonhole, though it is an enjoyably cohesive listen. This is largely down to two factors; the frequent use of deliciously colorful and loved-up synthesizer parts, and the duo's innate ability to utilize beats tailor-made for dancefloor devastation. So while keen dancefloor historians may notice sly (and not so subtle) nods to '89 rave, U.S house and garage, Italo-disco, late '90s progressive house, jungle and early British hardcore, the album never sounds anything less than a fine set of Bicep tracks. Expect it to be one of the biggest albums of the year.
Jay Tripwire - "Into The Shadows" (Boddhi Satva Ancestral Soul remix)
Koyla feat Zaki Ibrahim - "Wake With The Day" (Boddhi Satva Afriki Soul mix)
Papa (feat Mohamed Diaby)
Born Again (Boddhi Satva & Mr V Retouch)
Mama Kosa (with Kaysha)
Ni An Bagay (with David Walters)
Kanga Mutu (with Spilulu feat H-Baraka)
Review: Boddhi Satva is one of the leading lights of African house music, with a natural style that draws on his ancestral roots as much as it heads into the future. This new collection on BBE celebrates nearly 20 years since Satva first emerged with his debut album, spanning a whole host of career highlights and collaborations. There are some equally legendary figures involved here, from Afefe Iku and Alton Miller to Abel Tabu and Maalem Hammam, but the constant is Satva's style throughout. It's deeply rooted and spiritual, but also immediate and infectious like the best house music should be. At 30 tracks strong, this is a perfect primer for one of the finest forces in global dance music culture.
Review: Given the deep, dreamy and luscious sound of his productions, it's perhaps unsurprising that Brawther has been a regular contributor to Chez Damier and Ron Trent's Balance imprint. As Endless neatly proves, the Parisian producer has provided the label with some tremendous music since 2009, much of which could pass as authentic Damier material. The latter makes an appearance on the wonderful title track, but his trademark sound - fluid, quietly soulful, bumpin', hazy and dancefloor friendly - can be heard throughout this essential retrospective. Naturally, there's more than a little Trent flavour to some of the cuts, too - in particular the enveloping pads and twinkling pianos of "VXVXVX" - making this a sublime collection of sumptuous, ultra-deep house.
Review: It's a while since we last heard from Brisa, a Japanese producer best known for his superb 2008 album "Elevation Perception", a cross-genre fusion rooted in nu-jazz. "Th3rd" appears to be his first album since and, as you may expect, differs wildly from its predecessor. While it's still rooted in interconnected eclecticism, this time round his colourful, vibrant and life-affirming musical fusions draw far more influence from '80s electrofunk, synth-boogie, hip-hop beat-making, the vivid productions of Hudson Mohawke, slick synth-pop, R&B, breakbeat hardcore/early jungle and footwork. It's a jaw-dropping mixture of sounds and styles, but one that genuinely works. If you buy one album this week, it should be this one.
Generation Next & Big Strick - "Like Father Like Son"
Generation Next & Big Strick - "Full Of Life"
Generation Next - "Flynn's"
Review: Big Strick's latest full-length offering on his own 7 Days Entertainment label is a family affair, mixing tracks from the veteran Detroit producer with similarly deep and woozy jams from his 16 year-old son Tre Strickland, AKA Generation Next. The father-and-son team's approach to house - wringing atmospheric soul from bubbling rhythms, warm chords and blazed melodies - is surprisingly similar, as shown by the two deep, jazz-flecked collaborations showcased here. Elsewhere, both impress with their individual contributions, with Strickland Junior's slap bass-infused deep head-nodder "Flynn's" and sweet, winding "Mo Money" standing out.