Review: Deep House doesn't get deeper than Deep Explorer, Dubbyman's evergreen label transmitting out of Spain. On this latest 12", Allstarr Motomusic makes a welcome return after the first volume of Beauty & Simplicty back in 2015. This time they're working in collaboration with vocalist Sarignia Bonfa and the results are stunning. "Burning (In My Soul)" is a gorgeous, dubbed out slice of deep house with a true Midwest flavour, while "El Sonido Deepex" takes things into even more sultry territory. There's also space for downtempo reflection on "Space Of Life", but also watch out for the deadly remix of "The Whole Hood In My House" by CVO.
Review: Always a reliable destination for cult talents operating on exciting frontiers of techno, meandyou this time shine a light on J.S. Zeiter, who adopts the Analog 1 alias for some dense, meticulously crafted trips into the strange psychedelic underbelly of dub techno. "SM4L" features pastoral chord swells straining behind a babbling brook of high frequency sound design, while "Mistral" takes a classical approach to ambient composition, all yearning arpeggios and lingering keys. "Interlude" is a brief twirl around blown out drums and textural impulses, and then "SKIV Loop (Rework)" sets a more positive tone for the end of the EP, pushing classic dub techno sounds into a hazy, summery space away from the usual icy tundra the genre normally inhabits.
Review: Finale Sessions welcomes Anaxander to join label main man Michael Zucker for another one of those impeccable trips through top shelf deep house. Anaxander gets busy with "Stabs Of Love", a truly ear nagging piece that cuts through the glut of soundalike productions to say something truly special. Meanwhile his "Heart 2 Heart" resides on the B2, presenting a lighter, more playful cut peppered with pattering bongos and sprightly keys. Zucker gets into a slightly off kilter funk on "Greater Is He" before dropping into a perfect bump on "Lost Without You", putting some swing into dub house and making it sound natural.
Review: The recent news that the Jealous God label is planning to wind down was slightly softened by the impressive selection of releases that will appear before it does. Chief amongst those was this EP from Champagne Mirrors, an alias of Blackest Ever Black contributor Alex Barnett. Extended Communication Techniques is as dark, unsettling and creepy as you'd expect, with occasional shards of light - a headline melody here and there, with similarly rare slivers of woozy electronic positivity - helping to balance out Barnett's dystopian tendencies. It's one of those sets that benefits from repeated listens, with each successive play revealing additional layers of moody detail.
Review: Organic Analogue broadens its remit on this killer boogie inflected diversion from Italian producer Croza. Where the label has been often associated with deeper techno and electro, it sounds right at home exploring the Moog bass licks and snappy drum programming that pours like a fine wine out of every track. "Night Heat" is the perfect lead track, all steamy synth throb and funky guitar licks, while "Feel" turns up the pressure with a proto house burner that would have set the Paradise Garage alight. Also look out for a rare appearance from AD Bourke, who cruises on to the record to deliver a blissed out version of "Night Heat" for the smokiest of sundown situations.
Obsolete Music Technology - "High Top Fade" (6:32)
Specter - "Butters Whipped" (6:02)
Isoke - "Soul Glo" (3:10)
Damon Lamar - "Bermuda Triangle" (7:02)
Chicago Skyway - "Edged Out" (6:04)
Review: Perpetual Rhythms is already well-regarded as a bastion of quality amongst contemporary Chicago house labels, and now they've downright sealed the deal with this mammoth compilation from a stellar cast of local cats. There's too many to all list in detail here, so focusing on the highlights, Dcee leads things in with the tumbling cosmic jazz leanings of "Suavecito," Hakim Murphy teases with a spacious and daring exploration in the liminal zone between ambient and house, and Obsolete Music Technology gets invigorating with the bouncy "High Top Fade." Those tracks alone are enough to deserve your hard earned, but there's reams of other excellent forward-facing Windy City jams to sink your teeth into.
Review: The Decemberists' eighth album sees the Portland gang return having significantly changed tack in the four years since their last album. Working with John Congleton, producer for St. Vincent and Future Islands, the band have made their use of synthesisers and electronics a focal point on 'I'll Be Your Girl', an element that had previously stayed in the background. To accompany this change, they've shifted their songwriting towards more synth-pop territory, evident on opener 'Once In My Life', 'We All Die Young' and lead single 'Severed'. A number of tracks bear the hallmarks of The Decemberists' classic Americana sound, but the contrasts at play make 'I'll Be Your Girl' their most adventurous record to date.
Review: Georgian producer Hamatsuki appeared on GASP last year with the Uncertain Loops cassette release, but makes his vinyl debut on this damn fine 12" for the recently minted Sensu label. "Remember" is a rich, undulating swirl of deep house laden with melancholic pads, while "Rett" sports a sunnier tone for its own arsenal of soft, rounded synth tones. DJ Sports comes on board for a remix of "Rett" that plays with said synths and creates springy, computer jazz melodic threads out of them. "Inexplainable Inner Sadness" completes the set with another trip into warm, Chicago-indebted house tones for the introspective dancer.
Review: Earlier this year, Indianan dream-pop group Hoops' confident debut album 'Routines' established the band amongst the stronger acts in the genre, comparable to Mac DeMarco, Mild High Club, Homeshake, Soft Hair and more. This compilation of demos and home-recordings is equally as strong, in all their retro and nostalgic haze, made even hazier by the sound of the tapes they were recorded on. For a collection of demos, it's overall wholeness is pretty impressive, and should be essential listening for any fans of dreamy, 80's-inspired VHS indie.
Review: Laroze is flying the flag for US inspired house music in France, wearing influences from Nu Groove to Mahogani Music on his sleeve and delivering that classic strain of deep house that never dulls with time. "Bring It Down" is a soul-stirring boost of energy fuelled on the hedonism of optimism of vintage 90s house, from the chords to the vocal hook. "Port De La Lune" does a damn fine job of looping up some feel-good disco licks, and "You Better Give Up" shows a different side to Laroze that feels as indebted to R&B and downtempo as house music. Kosme comes on board to do a remix of the track that reframes it as a rolling breakbeat number.
Review: UK based French underdog Arnaud Le Texier returns on his Children Of Tomorrow imprint with a collection of fierce and functional cuts for clandestine warehouse parties. On the Spilt 7 EP, the label head honcho himself takes care of proceedings on the A side: with the tunnelling, mentalist epic "Ooze" that's perfect to take the punters further down the spiral, while the greyscale and textural mood of "Le Gratteur" calls to mind the sinister industrial experiments of Shifted's Avian imprint. On the flip, the reins are handed over to Russian producer Unbalanced - who hasn't been on our radar for a while, but we're certainly curious to hear what he's been up to since his stellar releases on his eponymous and Rebalance imprints. Indeed "Warehouse Tool 2 & 3" respectively do exactly what they say on the tin. These two seething, steely and austere cuts are perfect for maintaining the adrenaline levels on the dancefloor.
Review: Having previously melted our hearts with the fantastic Qi Xin Mian Guan EP on Pleasure Unit, Lithuanian duo Miskotom cruise up to sister label Pleasure Wave for this extended trip into exotic boogie territory, where the sound palette of 80s new age is alive and well. From the jazz funk undertones of "Hyenas Laugh" to the spiritual lilt of "Senoi," this is a record designed to make you feel at ease. "10th Day" gets slow and seductive, "Kuai Can Che" plays around with more danceable rhythms and "Kopiec" gives us the ambient palette cleanser that every great record needs at the end.
Review: Having built up the suspense with a strong run of singles, Mr C finally delivers his latest album in a fit of house and techno savvy with a strong dose of political intent to boot. Intended as a comment on the state of UK clubbing, stylistically Incidents veers from slo-mo acid to the kind of heated jackers the man himself would have been playing at Clink St back in '88. Amongst other stylistic touchstones there's a whisper of electro powering the rousing "Stand Up", but really this is the sound of an acid house veteran stripping everything back and accurately capturing the spirit of the sound when it first broke. If anyone's qualified to take to such a task, it's surely Mr. C.
Rushing Through My Mind (Mang Dynasty extended version) (8:03)
Rushing Through My Mind (Mang Dynasty instrumental version) (7:00)
Rushing Through My Mind (Mang Dynasty radio edit) (3:56)
Review: Ray Mang's slick disco stable Mangled calls upon a new pair of provocateurs to lay down a sun-kissed steamer to blow away those winter blues. The agents in question are Josefin Ohrn and The Liberation, and their "Mang Dynasty" is every inch the Balearic idyll rendered in a long form discoid jam. The extended version on the A side fully floats out into gently psychedelic waters guided by Ohrn's infectious hook, "I've got you rushing through my mind." For those who just want the groove there's the instrumental mix available as well, or you can always plump for the radio edit if time is short.
Review: Sudd Records has been going for some time as a digital-only label, but now they make the leap to vinyl with the help of Detroit champ Gari Romalis. "Abstraxx (Linear Mix)" kicks off the record in a heady fog of undulating pads, the smoke positively drifting out of the speaker cones over a simple, deep-as-you-like drum pattern. "Dark Ryda (Sunset Mix)" gets a little more funk in its rhythm, but the same mellow mood prevails, almost reaching dub techno levels in its atmospheric chord swells. "Heat (Bout That Life Mix)" takes things out of the darkness and into a lighter frame of mind, but Romalis is still firmly in the deep end of the deep house pool with this final cut on the record.
Jordan Fields - "Lifted My Soul" (Larry Heard remix dub) (6:54)
Maxi Aubert - "Message In The Box" (6:13)
Africans With Mainframes - "Loving Photons" (5:42)
Gene Hunt - "Native 1987" (JF re-edit) (4:04)
Review: There's something delightfully simple about the formula behind Descendents of the Deep's From Chicago To Detroit series, which predictably aims to bring together top-notch deep house from the Windy and Motor cities. This second installment begins with JF's previously unheard re-edit of Gari Romalis' 1995 cut "Butcher's Choice", a righteous lesson in bumpin', New Jersey-influenced deep house. It's followed by a typically emotionally-rich Larry Heard dub of Jordan Fields' 1994 cut "Lifted My Soul", before Maxi Aubert combines Heard style analogue deepness with rich, Motor City electronics on "Message In The Box". Elsewhere, there's a new JF edit of Gene Hunt's throbbing 1987 jack-jam "Native", and a wonderfully broken chunk of techno/house fusion from Africans With Mainframes.
Review: Is It Balearic? welcome Ilija Rudman back to the fold for the first time since the excellent True Colours album back in 2015, and the Croatian disco house mainstay sounds like he's on searing form. "Motions" is a luscious deep house jam with a throbbing low end, but made all the more powerful by the sultry vocal turn from Andre Espeut. Italo house veteran Don Carlos is a smart shout for two remixes, kicking off with the uplifting yet understated groove of the vocal version before spreading over the B side with the beatless but driving pulse of the ambient mix.
Review: Leigh Darlow and Matthew Bandy have got plenty of experience in the world of deep house, both individually and as Saison. Building on a solid run of releases for Papa Records, the project makes its vinyl debut on Guesthouse with some undeniably catchy jams for the peak of the night. "Please Don't Go" is a cool slice of party fodder that hinges on a classic soul vocal hit, while "Do You" gets a little more choppy in the mix with yet more recognisable licks that should get the masses sweating and swaying without needing to resort to a hectic tempo. "The Moody Blues" lets the keys do the talking, while yet another of the hefty grooves Saison craft so well rolls out underneath.
Review: The SlapFunk crew have been enjoying plenty of attention lately, and quite rightly. Their pumped up house sound is hard to refute, taking the heads down trippiness of minimal house and beefing it up with classic jacking sounds for an infectious party mixture. Samuel Deep gets the message, bringing just the right kind of swing to "MOOV!" to get bodies popping all over the joint, while "Keek Iz" rides the same beat but in a lower register. "42915 Beatz" is just as drum led, but there's a little more fidgety sonic interplay popping off around the drums. Ingi Visions pops up on the B2 for the distinctly more eerie "Tekniq", placing an icy string synth refrain at the heart of the track with chilling results.
Review: Bobby Pleasure's Needs label has been launched as a not-for-profit concern aimed at raising money for worthy causes, and on this second instalment they're setting their sights on British homelessness charity Crisis. They've called upon a cracking cast of deep house operators to help donate their jams to the cause, kicking off with Tilman's infectious, looped up heavy-grooving "Without Your Love". Jonny Rock takes a boogie-inflected, 80s approach on the aptly titled "Oldschool Funk Edit", while Lucky Charmz heads into swooning edit territory on the beautiful "Sun Mountain". Pletnev rounds the record out in fine style with a tripped out bongo roller in the shape of "Babunde'.
Brown Curls (feat Khalil Anthony - Patchworks remix) (4:48)
If You Like (Alma Negras's Wisdom Of Oz remix) (7:38)
If You Like (feat Tim Jules - instrumental) (3:09)
Review: Marcel Vogel's latest on Lumberjacks In Hell welcomes the mighty leftfield NYC MC Sensational to flow over his learned disco house grooves. Sensational sounds right at home on "If You Like," and Vogel gives him a slightly freaked groove to riff on that works just fine. "Brown Curls" taps up Khalil Anthony, one of the finest UK house vocalists in operation right now, and Patchworks remixes it into a dreamy disco funk jam for the boogie brothers and sisters to shake it to. Alma Negra gets busy with "If You Like," creating a tumbling Afro-centric re-rub par excellence, and then Tim Jules comes on board with an instrumental version that nudges into tightly wound funk territory.
Review: Norwegian producer Wasserfall makes his way to Chicago/Los Angeles based Hesperian Sound after several releases for Greta Cottage Workshop, offering a highly organic affair. The EP opens with "Stiv Heks" which evokes a lush natural landscape, both dreamlike and quirky. The remix from young Chicago newcomer, Daniel Chavez, strips down the original for a simplified yet feverish dancefloor edit. The B Side returns to Wasserfall's signature laid-back jazzy deep house sound with "Twilight" and "Gravlaks", which flex the producer's knack for working in samples into his grooves. A consistent warm psychedelia flavors these four functional tracks with looseness and reverie.
Review: Nat Wendell launches the Depth Of My Soul label with a confident slab of deepness that should draw plenty of heat on the peaks and troughs of the house music landscape. "The Way" is a crisply produced pumper, revolving around a seductive little lead line and the haunting titular vocal hook - there's a whiff of tech in the make up of the track, but the groove is all house. "Theoretics" follows down a similar path, keeping things moody and mechanical without disposing of the funk, and then it's down to "Release Your Soul" to bring a little light into proceedings with some mellow keys and dubby flourishes.
Review: Icelandic techno veteran Yagya enjoys a release on X/OZ that celebrates both new and old material. The tempo is noticeably ramped up on "One Weak Light" but never at the expense of that dark and mysterious Icelandic hue. "Existence Is Weird" is no slouch either, but Yagya shapes out his atmospheres with such a refined touch that you barely notice how quick the tracks are running. "A Very Long Daydream" is a gorgeous ambient track dug out of the archives, while "Getting Closer To An Unknown Goal" sees the re-release of a track Yagya released as Rhythm Of Snow back in 1999.