Review: Few are held in as higher esteem or instill as much admiration as the Italian deep house legend, Don Carlos. Imogen Recordings continue their stellar release form, locking down the maestro for a blissful two tracker that gives just as much energy, awe and emotion as his early '90s output. '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. First come the dusky piano twinkles, then the trademark Don Carlos analogue bass tones, proving as prominent as ever behind melt-in-the-mouth sax grooves. Every turn and tweak conjures up memories of carefree elation - its ecstasy inducing dance music without the need for artificial enhancements. 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. Shakers, claps and congas are brighter in the mix whilst the addition of a springing synth arp, fluctuations to the bassline and a re-sleazed sax line give just enough diversity to make it distinctive. It's hardier than Part I, but with every bit as much finesse and feeling. This is the real deal - no nonsense house music from a heart and head that have seen it all. Alone on a Mediterraneo 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: Imogen have stumbled across a rare gem here, presenting some previously unheard liquid funk jams from the lesser known Chicago pioneer James Perri. Some of his jams as Jimi Polo are perennial classics, while his time spent in Soul II Soul and elsewhere are testament to his gifts, but this particular set of recordings from the 90s have lain in wait for their time to shine. You can hear his skills as a session musician and arranger coming through in abundance on this warm, grooving, acid jazz inflected EP. "70s Theme" is a sparse, moody jazz funk cut, while "Brother Beware" is a smooth, sultry slice of message soul. "Express Yourself" is the truly uplifting slice of the pie, and it will chime just fine with any lovers of that classic Soul II Soul sound.
Review: Ilija Rudman struts out once again on his own turf with this latest slab of sizzling discoid delectability, shaping out all manner of warm and fuzzy grooves across varying tempos and intensities. "Metronomia" is a laid back workout, but it's the bombastic funk of "So Much" that steals the show on the A-side with its crafty construction and killer bass hooks. "Hibiscus Theatre" meanwhile ploughs deeper into the soil with its swirling pads and shimmering percussion lines, and then "If You Change Your Mind" rounds the EP off with some exemplary deep house for the more reflective souls to get down to.
Essential Dynamics (Ashley Beedle Afrikanz On Marz reprise) (3:23)
Review: Ilija Rudman is back on his own Imogen label with some gorgeous acidic deep house in the shape of "Essential Dynamics". It's got the perfect balance of emotion and mystery, human warmth and electro soul. Ashley Beedle dives in with the "Afrikanz On Marz Remix", bringing his illustrious soul and funk flourishes to bear on the jam. Fred Everything's take on the track is snug and undulating, anchored by a buttery bassline and rolling at a woozy tempo without losing its party credentials. Kai Alce delivers the remix of the release though, dropping his delicate but eminently funky touch on the track like only he can.