Review: Elina Shorokhova aka Soela is a multi-talented artist hailing from southern Russia who now calls Berlin her home. It is there where she continues to build her presence in the community through her live and DJ sets, alongside documenting the local scene and artists through her lens as a photographer. Following up an impressive run of releases on the likes of E-Beamz, Lost Palms and Australia's Red Ember, Shorokhova returns with four evocative tracks on the ever reliable Kompakt imprint. From the sensual breakbeat driven progressive house vibe of "Lily", soothing and sensual deep house for the late night on "Close Your Eyes" and the slinky and hypnotic tech hose of "White Becomes Black" - we have only seen the start of Shorokhova's blossoming and promising career.
Review: Russia's Nina Kraviz graces the record buying public with her first material in some time, with the three tracks on Ghetto Kraviz the prelude to a full album pencilled in for release on Rekids at some point next year. Nods to the seminal Dance Mania imprint abound as soon as your eyes clasp on the cover art, and this continues with the stripped down music held within, as Kraviz's languid drawl is looped up and dizzyingly placed amidst the minimalist; low slung bass and 808 flex on the title track. "Jealousy" is that bit smokier, with Kraviz herself sounding slightly intoxicated amidst the stripped down jack. (Intriguingly both sound quite fun when spun at 45 rpm). As the flipside "Show Me Your Time" operates at 45prm there's no footwork fun to be had there, though it's an equally potent combination of Kraviz's vocals laid atop each other amidst the sub heavy beat.
Review: Low-slung stuff from the Nabucco label bossman, with the original just as primed for afternoon party vibes as it is the earliest morning sets. Gradually building momentum from its pared back stepping opening, soaring synth lines and subtle vocal stabs invoke the glory days of West Coast house- as smooth as it is uplifting, warm and inviting. On the flip, Mandar's remix retains most of the same elements, placing a more emphasis on the keyboard stabs and, although running for less time, has a greater sense of journey. Its dubby mid section allowing plenty of room for jazz inflected pianos to usher in smoky, chilled-out vibes in direct contrast to the punchier moments. The result is arguably even more useful that the original, and certainly something capable of pulling dancers in and not letting go.
Review: The SlapFunk crew have another new recruit for their mission to match minimal dance aesthetics with tough old-skool punch. Danish producer Martinez has plenty of experience having released everywhere from Guidance to Moon Harbour and Minibar, and he sounds right at home freaking the funk for the Dutch contingent. There's a straight up strut to the jacking drums on opener "Inter Species Relations", while "Aspired Commotion" slips into the kind of wriggling shuffle you'd expect from a SlapFunk release. "No Data" adopts a skippy 2-step stance with some eerie textures on top, and then "Shanty Town" finishes the record off with more swinging business peppered with delightful keys.
Review: Vinyl Speed Adjust have conquered a lot of labels in their time, ranging from BodyParts to Pressure Traxx, Visionquest to Pleasure Zone. Representing a different twist on the Romanian minimal sound, the pairing of Andrei Predoi & Claudiu-Eduard Balan now find themselves on Constant Sound dropping the subtly psychedelic tech house trip out, "Semantic Expressions". As if the trance-inducing original wasn't enough, we're also treated to gold-standard remixes from Mike Shannon and DoubtingThomas, both of whom bring their glittering score cards in the minimal fraternity to two distinct but complementary versions of Vinyl Speed Adjust's track.
Review: The shadowy EEE series has already brought us tasty and much-played tech-house interpretations of a familiar jazz-house gem and a string-laden '80s synth-pop shuffler. Their third single-sided affair - as championed by Zip and Riccardo, no less - takes on a much-loved early noughties R&B classic, placing carefully selected and sequenced vocal snippets around a seriously snappy and sub-bass-heavy groove. Although tech-house in style - note the glitchy electronic noises and spacey effects fixed to the beats - the track's infectious rhythm track was clearly influenced by the current electro revival. This added swing and shoulder-swinging looseness, coupled with the familiarity of the vocal elements, makes EEE03 a guaranteed peak-time winner.
Review: Pascal Benjamin is next up on Constant Black, following strong prior bouts from Michael James and Daniel Akbar. The Dutch producer has been dropping bombs on SlapFunk, Botanic Minds and many more in recent years, and he's sounding taut and toned on this slab of after-hours goodness. "Rascale" is one of those snaking tech house joints where the devil is in the details, crying out for a crisp soundsystem to bring the subtleties of sound design to life. "5th Snooze" is a more tightly wound affair with a subtle jazziness rubbed into its joints, while "Full Colour" brings the kind of funky bump and trippy mood you used to find on the Trapez label. "Liez" completes the set with a sharp approach that wriggles its way under the skin.
Review: Nebraska's Friends & Relations series continues to serve up the finest disco-sprinkled house delights, following on from the previous installment of Disco Dubs with another on point reduction of dusty grooves through the mixing desk. These jams are stripped back and oh so heavy, with FX flaring in all the right places to give an eerie, trippy tint to the jams. It's like walking into the deep end of the session where Walter Gibbons jams with King Tubby uptown, and you'd be right in thinking that's a match made in far-out disco heaven.
Review: Fresh from dropping some heat on Leftroom, Alex Arnout continues his productive streak with this sterling return to Jack's House after he last graced the label with its first release back in 2016. "Sync Jam" packs a serious shuffle that hits squarely in the pleasure plexus for any discerning tech house head, while "Calling U" adopts a playfully spooky tone as it wriggles through a plethora of freaky synth squiggles. "Resergen" completes the set with a spirited dash through hooky techno drum programming and a mean chord line that captures a little old-skool optimism in the process.
Review: Cartulis bounce from the essential release from Eliaz to this intriguing slab by Reade Truth, a New York techno original who was last spotted on Warm Fiction, Blkmarket Music and Path Records. His "Wires, Everywhere" album was a big release for Cartulis last year, and now he's back with further ruff n' tuff cuts that drip with Big Apple attitude. From the deep diving "Starflight" to the epic, ranging "Space Out (Expression)", you can sense Truth's hard earned swagger but it's also balanced out by subtlety, a sense of space and groove that makes each track a pleasure to sink into.
Review: This is just the fourth release on Negentropy, but already the label has been catching attention for doing some really interesting stuff, while consistently delivering dancefloor material that refuses to let go once you've been hooked in. French groove monster Sweely seems like a pretty good fit for the imprint, then, as this three tracker proves with ease. Crisp, sharp, and packed with energy, 'Take One' kicks off with the kind of punchiness that belies what's about to happen- soon dropping into a freeform, jazz-infused breakdown that appears to come out of nowhere, switching the vibe of the tune completely. You can almost see the sci-fi console lights behind the micro-percussive detailing on 'One Or Another', while 'Deep Into The Rhythms' is destined to please anyone who enjoys getting their head down to an archetypal relentless roller.
Review: Earthen Sea adds to the Kimochi Sound with a soulful examination of indistinct margins, suffused with dusky haze. It's a heady atmosphere and has a palpable heaviness throughout. Starting the record are the concrete reverberations of You Don't Never Know, followed by the murky ebb and flow of Fly. 13 Beat(less) is diffused ambience.
Shielding fittingly closes the record, and weaves Earthen Sea's many textures with intricate syncopation.
Review: Staggeringly, this tidy tech-house EP from Dan Andrei is not only the Romanian's first release of any sort for four years, but also his first vinyl single since 2011. He begins in confident mood with "SOS", a gentle, undulating affair where pulsing electronics, drowsy chords and fizzing audio glitches clamber atop of a warm, mind-altering bassline and unfussy machine drums. "In The Bass" is a darker and wonkier workout for clubs that like it dark and clandestine, while "Still Unclear" adds warming deep house chords and dusty melodies to a futuristic tech-house groove. To round things off, Andrei offers up a spot of alien tech-house chug where swirling, deep space chords and another ear-catching bassline dominate the sound space.
Review: We're always thrilled when another edition of the E-Wax series drops! Following in the timeless spirit of UK tech house, the Berlin-based label serve up another mysterious release by an anonymous artist - but we have a few guesses as to whom it may be. These four cuts will be reliable secret weapons for any DJ keen on the afterhours, or the Sunday afternoon sessions alike. We were digging the sunny and emotive acid vibe of A1 and the sensual swing-fuelled deepness of A2, while the B side was definitely ruled by "Blk 03" - getting on that punchy and infectious Ukranian vibe popularised by the likes of iO (Mulen) or Silat Beksi.
Review: Mark Ambrose brings his years of expertise in the deeper end of the techno spectrum to bear on this latest joint for Crayon, the label he founded way back in the mid 90s. "Destiny Angel" is a stomping, expansive cut with a cinematic lilt to its sound design and melodic progression - one for people to truly travel on. "Bleeps & Bits" is a more rugged workout that digs deep into intricate rhythm programming and FX processing to create a unique future-tribal flavour. "Just Tonight" keeps the beats dynamic and broken, but with a much hookier punch and some choice vocal snippets that should find favour with all kinds of DJs.
Review: Universally respected French artist Okain - master of house music - is up next on Ben Rau's META Imprint under his brand new alias House of Kain. The A-side "Throwback" is a rolling house track with a rumbling MPC groove that references the sounds of late 90's tech house, but updated for today's dancefloors. On the flip, things get even deeper and emotive with a full sense of swing on the super groovy "Time Factor". Following up some great releases on Be Chosen, Infuse and his own Talman Records - Samuel Thalmann continues on with a winning streak of killer records of late.
Review: Artists who made club-focused music tend to debut with singles or EPs, so it's something of a surprise to find that Arno's first release is a triple-vinyl album of tasty dancefloor tracks that sit somewhere between hypnotic tech-house, warm deep house and mind-altering electro missives. As debuts go, it's very impressive, with highlights dotted across all three slabs of wax. Our current favourites include the skittishly funky electro skip of "Sacre Bleu", the sparse, bass-heavy minimal techno throb of "Start Making Sense", the ghostly deep space shuffle of "Set Me Free" and the out-there wonder of "Cleopatra Jones", where oddball electronic noises rise above a deep and drowsy bed of hazy ambient chords and densely layered drums.
Review: Saktu is an alias of Sasha Kaktus, boss of the St. Petersburg-based Heisenberg label. He returns for a new EP with buddy Alex Adamov for the first time since 2016's Kacheli EP on Reshape Agency. On the A side we have a rolling and ethereal cut that is the title track - this one is certain to have major crossover appeal from fans of UK tech house to the Rominimal sound. On the flip, you are treated to the equally hypnotic futurist bounce of "Flicker" which will appeal to fans of Sublee or Piktor. It then gets a rework by Berlin-based deep house hero Maik Yells, who takes the track down a trippier and more arcane route.
Review: Sharp, staccato and bouncy, Offenbach's Tom Ries has garnered a solid reputation for humanising tech-ier house music through organic feeling instrumentation, without forsaking the kind of weightiness needed to score a proper party. This package is no different. The title number is a stepping, chunky, minimal workout that takes just the right amount of time to drop its sparse, jazzy melody. 'Off Track' ups the level of cheekiness, its top-end percussive accents counterbalanced by suppressed, near-jacking lows. 'Bucks', meanwhile, is more of a head-nodder crammed with micro-house niceties and punchy drum formations. Bringing things full circle, kind of, the FK7 remix of 'Karchert Riddim' is a click-y, subtle, early set groover that starts as it means to go on, solid beats bumping along beneath noises that give more than a nod to acidic tendencies.
Review: While the misguided and misinformed continue to debate the right for tech house to exist thankfully there' are still many producers making intricately detailed and intelligently programmed beats out there, in turn keeping the genre bursting with potential. Such is the case with this four tracker from Norwegian duo TAR 1337, AKA Terje Bakke and Rub800. Opening on a dubby, minimal tip, 'Init Patt' develops one of the most surprisingly madcap hooks we've heard in ages- hearing is understanding. 'VCult' is perhaps the track its precursor could have been, growing into a layered, immersive darkroom workout with sweatier results. 'Relax Nothing Is Under Control' bridges the gap into sharp, non-banging techno stuff, a dirty number with bags of compelling noises keeping you locked in. Rounding out on the more spatial 'Tranquility Base', this is mature, highly usable stuff.
Jakob Seidensticker & Boronas - "Eye Games" (9:18)
Meinschafer & Hirte - "Drum Roll" (7:47)
Meinschafer & Hirte - "Traffic" (7:08)
Review: After a three year hiatus, German label Uwaga returns and makes up for lost time with this killer four tracker - featuring some legends and newbies alike. On the A side, the man from Hamburg Jacob Seidensticker gets into some dreamy and surrealist minimal techno (that rolls deep!) on "Eye Games" featuring Boronas. A truly hypnotic cut that's perfect for Romanian style afterhours business. On the flip, an emerging duo from named Cologne Meinschaefer & Hirte serve up some emotive minimal house deepness. They had their very first release on No More Drama recently and are in fine form on "Drum Roll" and "Traffic" respectively.
Review: This white vinyl 12" contains more mysterious and mind altering minimal techno/deep house fusion from the Retrospect label, an imprint that steadfastly refuses to provide details of the artists behind its releases. A-side "No Lies" is foreboding and hypnotic in equal measure, with undulating electronics, swirling chords, ghostly textures and echoing aural elements bobbing and weaving above a chunky, locked-in groove. The even more hypnotic "Envogue" continues on a similar tip, with elongated chords and delay-laden vocal snippets rising above a rock solid kick drum pattern, simple but weighty bassline and tech-house percussion programming.