Review: 2019 was a breakthrough year for Adam Longman Parker AKA Afriqua, thanks in no small part to the release of his brilliant debut album on R&S (the mixed-up and imaginative "Colored"). It's a curious quirk then that his latest single features tracks not recorded last year, but rather way back in 2017. It shows a producer trying to take tech-house in interesting new directions whilst still maintaining the club-focused rhythms and late night hypnotism frequently associated with the style. We're particularly enjoying the melancholic, funk-fuelled deep-tech eccentricity of "Haven" and the colourful melodies of the decidedly druggy "Noga", though lolloping and layered opener "Moonspa" may well be the best of an off-kilter bunch.
Review: Oliver Moon introduces the Dancing With Strangers record label, alongside good friend and fellow DJ/Producer Paul Louth aka Agile Kind - who inaugurates the label here. While it may have been a long time between drinks for the veteran DJ on the production front (he's intermittently created music under aliases like Water Walk and Soulfish over the years) he proves that slow and steady wins the race on the "Pyramid EP". The emotive vibe of early '90s British IDM and US techno-soul is eminent throughout. From the sensual deepness of the title track or B side cut "Mime" which are reminiscent of classics by the likes of DaRandLand, not to mention the full throttle rework by legend Kirk Degiorgio under the As One moniker on the flip.
Review: The most surprising release this week comes from Thomas Melchior's newly inaugurated My King Is Light label, presenting its sophomore release courtesy of veteran U.S. producer Amir Alexander. The Vanguard Sound main man isn't usually known for his minimal house exploits, but sure proves his talent for it here on the 'Wisdom' EP. A side "Catacombs2" treads along a ghostly trail similar to Melchior's own work, with all its deep and hypnotic elements aimed squarely at the afterhours dancefloor. On the flip, we have the lean and subtle groove of "Globus" which continues with the arcane and 'magickal' vibes; its bouncy melodic bass works your feet, while the warped/operatic vocal tones flip your mind!
Review: This slick package of high grade weaponry is the second and final part of the Gargoyle Classics reissues series. It turns attention to Baltimore in the mid 90s, a time when techno, IDM, electro, rave and breaks were all freely colliding with one another. The result is a four tracker that you would have a hard time placing given its timeless appeal. From the slick electro techno funk of "I Said" to the more bouncy techno remix via the turbo charged bass of "Ten After 3" and freaky sci-fi work out that is "Do You Believe" (Space Evader mix), this is perfectly red hot tackle.
Review: Shanti Radio's previous multi-artists EPs were all superb, so it's little surprise to see that the latest also consistently hits the spot. Amonita sets the tone via the soft-focus tech-house shuffle of "Lavender Bloom", where lilting strings, dreamy chords and eyes-closed female vocal samples flutter around a hypnotic groove, before RVNZ offers up the similarly breezy and spring-fresh bliss of "Big Red Machine". Over on side B, Hermazez explores the kind of ultra-melodious and atmospheric hybrid progressive house/tech-house sound that the All Day I Dream label does so well ("Flame Keeper"), while Fulltone unfurls warm and ear-catching melodies and sumptuous chords on sunrise-ready closing cut "Woodland Oracle".
Review: The Atipic catalogue has certainly grown exponentially in the last couple of years, with some particularly fantastic releases coming from Rominimal scene heroes like Vincentiulian, Vlad Arapasu and Cosmijn. The latest addition comes from Bucharest-based newcomer Florin Serban aka Aparte, who label boss Priku has chosen to present a smashing debut here on "ATIPICLAB 007". Teaming up with fellow debutante Dan Blatov on the sparse and hypnotic Sunday morning vibe of "Guidance", before going solo on the flip with the moody bass-driven groove of "Distant Thunder".
Review: Strap in for a wild techno ride on the first ever offering from Psionic. The new label kicks off with an EP from Astral Travel. The aptly named artist reaches for beyond the event horizon on "Sky's The Limit", with its punchy kicks and relentlessly wobbly bass. "As One" gets into a nicely mechanical groove built on stomping kicks and rigid synth movements that make for perfectly robotic funk and the trip closes out with "Orbiting." With its urgent drums that are smooth and silky and serene synth work, it's one for peak time techno cruising.
Review: The enigmatic Au Pair imprint resurfaces for its third edition, featuring yet more dusty and understated grooves. On 003, be utterly hypnotised by the deep and woozy boompty business of "An Understanding", while tripped-out grooves that are perfectly engineered for sleep deprived Sunday mornings are catered for on "Nothing Else". The moody B-side cut "Wild In The Isles" is similarly perfect for those moments of solitary paranoia on the dancefloor. Overall, this release will certainly appeal to fans of afterhours minimal house, in the vein of recent releases by 'Rominimal' heroes such as Crihan and G76 - tip!
Jared Wilson - "Lynnwood2 Northgate Transit Center" (6:39)
Sohrab - "Sinking" (6:42)
KCLF - "Reloaded 9615" (4:17)
Review: Undersound Recordings hit release number 15 with a various artist EP that packs four vital techno punches. Audio Quest's "The Mental Screen" kicks off with some old school techno that recalls the sound of legendary Dutch label Djax-Up. It's filled with metallic snare sounds and deep space bleeps. Jared Wilson of course brings the acid that has defined his output for years, and Sohrab get busy with a kicking number and some busy melody patterns. KCLF closes out with twisted bass and shiny chords that look back to go forwards with "Reloaded 9615".
Review: Nobody does tough rolling tackle for the peak time quite like the Audiojack boys. The Leeds-based duo head up the revered Gruuv imprint and have left their indelible mark on The White Isle with their legendary parties. Indeed, their sound is a worthy addition to the Mannheim-based 8bit imprint; Jorge and Nick Curly, like Rial & Birkenshaw themselves, churn out proper tech house that is aimed squarely at the main room. The track in question is "Are We Here", that sees them deliver something a bit more restrained than usual. This is a smooth and euphoric slow burner that's perfect to build up to the bangers in your set, harnessing all that 'energy'. Speaking of which, that's the operative word throughout the B side cut "Higher" with its deep and bass-driven pulsation that's sure to get the sweat dripping from the walls.
Review: Mannheim's Sukhumvit returns after a little time out to focus on brother imprints such as NCSS and Yaji Project, with a release by Mancunian Josh Baker who's on duty for this orange beauty, delivering four fresh cuts for the dancefloor - no remix needed! Four strong cuts on "EP Y": from the ethereal hypnotism of A side cut "In Two Minds" followed by the tough rolling funk attack of "Barge Deluxe" and its subtle French touch (think Djebali!). On the flip, standout track "Laid Back Trax" with it bumpy and swing-fuelled groove hammers the message home in style. Tip!
Review: Having recently impressed with a deliciously off-kilter - and hugely impressive - debut album on Studio Barnhus (last year's must-check "Once Upon A Passion"), Stockholm's Bella Boo dons the alternative BB alias and offers up a cheeky, acid-laden future anthem. In its original A-side form, "Hey Ladies" sees the rising star top a sweaty, all-action house beat with dreamy chords, layered R&B/soul vocals, deliciously dirty bass and waves of angular, mind-altering acid lines. It's a brilliant combination of elements all told, with Boo's smart production and on-point arrangement making it a genuine peak-time banger for underground DJs. The accompanying vocal-free Dub Mix is superb, too, with the Swede replacing sampled R&B snippets with bubbly electronic motifs and even wilder acid lines.
Review: Hoary Ukraine has kept up a busy rate of release since first appearing in the world, and as was the case with their eighth EP in April, this ninth offering is a various artists affair that calls on some slick tech house talents. Nick Beringer's "AI" is tight and crisp, with an old school feel thanks to the neon baseline, the Sota really pumps the party with his effervescing, fist pumping "Zerosandones". "UXB" on the flip is Nolga's clipped, bass driven tech-garage shuffler, then closing things out is Diego Krause with "Touchstone", a darker jam with some fresh sound designs.
Review: Andalucian imprint Rationalism is back with its first EP for 2020, featuring straight-up club beats from two young and prominent electronic music producers. Homeboy Cajal (Madtech) takes care of the A side with the groovy and swingin' minimal funk of "Housy Beat" which reminds us of that classic Minibar vibe, while second offering "Morning" is classic deep house for the afterhours - just like the name suggests. On the flip, we have Argentinian Juzel (Frost Plates) who delivers the Todd Terry influenced tool that is "Esouh" followed by the lean and trippy boompty-boomp of "Tetris In The Club". Basically, more great tunes from Martin Bellomo's respected label.
Review: Is there a techno producer quite as capable of crafting melodious, far-sighted and wonderfully positive techno workouts as Derek Carr? If there is, we've yet to find them. There's perhaps slightly more of an audible tech-house influence at work on his latest EP, but the producer's alluring obsession with colourful electronic motifs, glassy-eyed pads and spacey sci-fi sounds remains. The A-side is all about "Tiger", a glittering sprint through swelling chords, snappy machine beats and lilting sunrise melodies that's subsequently given a chunkier, funkier tech-house makeover (with added deep bleeps) by Giuliano Lomonte. Over on side B, Carr deftly joins the dots between bittersweet melancholia and sun-kissed warmth on deep electro number "Technopolis", before painting broad brush strokes of aural colour on emotive techno gem "Remain".
Review: Following a sterling first drop from Nick Holder, Selections return in fine style with this EP from Tobi Danton. This is proper deep house in the modern mode - crisp beats and silky smooth synth lines shot through with a spaced-out attitude. Just tune in to "That's Right" and find yourself transported to the dancefloor of your dreams. "1988" is equally light and limber, with a classy vocal sample heralding the Chicago roots of the music, while "Last Dance" takes on a more anthemic tone with its strong melodic core and uplifting bump. Kevin Over comes on board for a remix of "Last Dance" that treats the original with care, edging some 90s motifs, dubby flourishes and a tougher jack into the mix without losing that hazy mood.
Review: After some great EPs for tap labels such as Metereze, Half Baked and Tavera Tracks in recent times, Greek wunderkind John Dimas is back to inaugurate new imprint Synq with the 'Rave Wave' EP. As the name may suggest, there are retro-tinted party tunes that see Dimas make the journey into classic techno sounds like many others in the minimal house fraternity have tuned into in recent years - and he does a damn fine job if we do say so. On the A side, we have "Transmatik" and there's a clear enough reference found in the title, incorporating Rhythim is Rhythim style syncopated drums effectively for Motor City inspired number. While on the flip, the hi-tech soul themes continue on the acid-laced future funk of the title track.
Review: Barely two weeks have passed since Andrei Popa AKA Direkt delivered a strong contribution to the Atipic Lab series, but the Romanian producer is already back in action. "Language Point" is, of course, another rock-solid outing, this time on debutant label Thinc. Check first the deliciously spacey, sci-fi sounds of purist tech-house opener "Language Point", a slick, synth-heavy and far-sighted affair that's later given a glitchier, more contemporary tech-tinged makeover by remixer Vincentiulian. Direkt continues to dance his way through distant constellations on hypnotic EP highlight "Ephemeris", before combining chunkier tech-house beats, bubblier electronics and broken computer sounds on trippy, heads-down closing cut "Nova".
Review: Disordered Rhythm Metronomy may be a puzzling (and, let's face it, rather strange) artistic alias, but the two men behind the project, Ricardo Villalobos and Edward, have produced some of the most distinctive leftfield techno of the last decade. As a result, you'd expect their first joint EP to be a killer... and it is. A-side "Vormlock" is a rubbery, off-kilter treat, with the experienced duo peppering an elastic synth bassline and sparse, skittish drums with glitchy stabs, tipsy lead lines and all manner of wonky, out-of-this-world noises. Over on the flipside you'll find title track "Down", a deeper and dreamier chunk of spacey minimalism in which typical Villalobos style percussion and softly squelching bass comes cloaked in some suitably intergalactic synthesizer chords.
Review: Since he made his debut five years ago, Johannes Kolter AKA Djoko has happily flitted between labels, in the process offering up a string of rock-solid releases. "Endless Explorations", his first vinyl outing of 2020, sees Kolter add another label to his discography, French dub techno imprint Berg Audio. Kolter sets the tone perfectly on opener "Ikarus", where fluttering, pleasingly spacey dub techno riffs and sustained chords ride a crunchy tech-house groove, before joining forces with T JACQUES on the acid-sporting, late '90s style tech-house-funk of "Instincts". The funk-fuelled, acid-sporting fun continues on bold, melodious, intergalactic and hugely enjoyable flipside opener "In Flavour" - check the jazzy keys and garage-influenced swing - while deep space closing cut "Asteroids" is smoother than a baby's backside and every bit as potent.
Review: Is East End Dubz the hardest working producer in the 21st century tech-house scene? He's certainly prolific, as his sprawling discography attests, but what's more impressive is the consistent quality of his releases. He's hit the mark yet again on this EP for his self-titled imprint. A-side "Wobble" is particularly potent, featuring as it does a fizzing fusion of insatiably funky bass, surging acid lines and shoulder-swinging beats. "Slammin" is closer in tone and style to the producer's trademark tech-house glitchiness - all mangled electronic motifs, straightened-out Villalobos drums and deep bass - while "Izit" is a tidy, acid-flecked box jam that increases in weight and intensity as the track progresses.
Review: Madonna, Depeche Mode and Kelis - what do East End Edits have in store for us next? This seventh instalment harks back to the charming deep jazzy house of their inaugural release - think of the legendary St. Germain and that should give you a fairly good idea. The track's smoky, late night jazz bar vibe is complemented by a rolling bass and swinging rhythms that should appeal to the likes of Rhadoo or Petre Inspirescu - legends of the Romanian scene who themselves have lent their deft hand to the French producer's work as remixers in the past, too.