Review: The fourth release on Black Rox finds the Africa-loving label looking to a fine pair of suitors to do the business on a fine pair of edits. Soft Rocks is up first, channelling all the sun of the source material into a track called "Date With The Rain". It's a sweet natured jam layered with gorgeous vocals, perfect Afro guitar licks and a bubbling organ line. Roots Unit takes over on the B side with the more tricky-to--pin-down affair that puts snaking percussion at the front of the mix and loops up some mantras and chants for a truly head-spinning end result.
Review: Commonly found rocking out on Unison Wax, Constant Sound and Pleasure Zone, Diego Krause is a certified mover and shaker in the minimal house scene, and he's on fire with this latest round of missives for Blind Box. "Malice" leads the charge with a plethora of eerie synth textures flexing organically round the sturdy beat, while "Monolith" slips into a slinkier groove while keeping the tripped out tone tweaking at the forefront of our minds. "Return" brings a tougher, fist-pumping rhythm section with a snaking syn-cussion tones trickling throughout, providing Blind Box with plenty of material to sink their gnashers into on the remix.
Review: Super Tuff is a relatively new concern hailing from Brooklyn, committed to presenting a broad range of talent from the more curious corners of the house spectrum. On this third release we're introduced to the delightful sound of DJ Heure, who unfurls wonderful pattering percussion, jazzy notes and a mellow, ambient finish to pull at the heartstrings. There's a slightly more forthright thump to Hot Coffee's "On The Verge", but it's still a dusky twist on the typical deep house formula. Label boss M. Vaughan brings things a little more upfront on "Man 2 Man", and top-drawer German producer Tilman weaves a rich and invigorating tale with his swooning "A Day To Remember".
Review: Thus far all we know about Wilson Phoenix is pressed into the previous two records the anonymous operator has released so far in 2018. That should be enough for techno heads with their ears to the ground - this is rough and ready hardware business for those who like it nasty. While not perhaps as willfully unhinged as Neil Landstrumm, it's very much in that sonic ballpark, not least on relentless acidic opener "Between Mars." Things get a little freakier with the pinging electro delights of "Moon Machine" before the rowdy rave beast "Exo Planet" levels the landscape with some brutal synth stabs that would sound at home on an early The Prodigy record.
Review: The Cyclist fires up his Tape Throb label for a sixth instalment of grubby, wayward sonics that pivot around a danceable axis while reaching to a higher plain of musical expression. There are plenty of psyched-out overtones bursting out of "Requite", and there's a rugged groove cutting its way through the dense thicket of ferric noise. "Chime" has a more tender approach in some regards, sporting a tropical lilt and sparser arrangement, but there's still plenty of space for artful distortion. "Brave New Wave" is a brilliant mish mash of peppy electro, early synth pop weirdness and that overall Cyclist sound that only he can conjure up. "Mackabee" goes in on that particular quality to finish the EP off in an evocative ambient lick sending out an SOS across a shoreline of grubby, tidal dub washes.
Review: HVL has landed on many different labels in recent years, but Rough House Rosie will always be something of a spiritual home for the adventurous deep electro and techno craftsman. Across the Hidden Valley EP he displays a fluid, instinctive approach to composition - "Enslaver" rolls out like a live jam but the detail and control embedded in the track is astounding. "Distom Spook" is charged with nervous acidic energy, while "Lemon Stealer" takes things in a more experimental direction with all manner of snaking synth voices wriggling around a crisp electro beat. "Crow Hill" finishes the EP off with a slow, rolling breakbeat groove and hazy pads for a quintessential B2 wind-down session.
Review: David Gtronic kicked off the Black Wood label with the Kryptoo 12", and now Javier Carballo swiftly follows up with the immersive tones of Morning Vibe. Carballo's sound is undoubtedly rooted in the minimal house he's turned out for One Records amongst others, but he's got a distinctive edge in his productions that makes them stand out. "Morning Vibe" in particular does so well because it matches airy pads and skittering drums with a measured lick of acid, making something truly trippy in the process. "Back For Good" pairs dubby chord pulses with shuffling hats, and "Chunchuneo" gets locked into an insistent rhythmic chug that it's tough to resist.
Review: For their latest vinyl release, the TINK! Music label looks to Lisbon and the enigmatic duo Gatupreto, whose Modo Di Trabadja 12" betrays all manner of influences that seep beyond the realm of house music. In their own words, "the art Gatupreto generates is simple, unpretentious and sincere, it owes to the classic rave vibe as much as to the rawness of hip hop as much to the sunset of Cape Verde as to the sunrise of the Lisbon riverside." This manifests itself in two understandably diverse productions from Gatupreto with the heavily percussive workout of Vahagn's closing remix of "Grandi Loba" of particular note.
Review: The Shahr Farang label is always an interesting one to check in with, sometimes veering towards fragile ambience as much as intriguing beat constructions. Here, label mainstay Sohrab invites Erik Jahaali to join in on the tough yet atmospheric thrust of "Industriegebiet", before he goes it alone on the moody beatless blanket of sound that is "Fasseleh". Jahaali is back on board for "Skypainter," which pivots around dusty pads and subtle, snaking rhythms in the deepest techno tradition. "Dayi Mohsen" is the surprise of the record, dropping into a Mo Wax style funk that should soothe all manner of chill out room scenarios.
Review: Kalbata is a delightfully unpredictable fellow, one minute turning out slick tech house with Guy Gerber and the next starting a dancehall riot with Warrior Queen. His long and varied career continues following a recent spot on Optimo Trax with this first 12" on Brush & Broom, a new label that is housing some particularly straight up 4/4 jams from the prolific producer. "Obskuur" has a clue in the name, plying a trade in the kind of furtive deep techno that ekes tension out of the most ambivalent of crowds with its oh-so-slow but powerful sense of progression. "Rumoured" has a broader palette, letting undulating threads of melodic synth work slither around the subby, minimal percussion.
Review: Slow Town's 17th release from Melbournes Luis CL is an ode to analogue jams. The Cran town EP shows what Luis CL (one half of the Zanzibar Chanel duo and co-founder of Ruff Records) is know for: Dirty but groovy drum arrangements, analogue synths and dreamy melodies and his kind of lo-fi and blurry mixdowns with definitely some Detroit influences. The three tracks were recorded in one take during his studio sessions.
Review: Alexander Kowalski has been immersed in techno for a long time, and his sound is massively representative of the reduced, late night Berlin sound. As d_func. he's contributed many times to Marcel Heese's Finitude label, and now he's back to pay tribute to UK free party techno legends Spiral Tribe. Kowalski's own interpretation may be more minimal and hypnotic than the wild, raucous energy Spiral Tribe was best known for, but his trancey approach comes on like a nostalgic vision into the early 90s, while also aligning with the modern masters such as Donato Dozzy and Peter Van Hoesen.
Review: It's been a little while since we last heard from Donnell Knox, but he's back in action finally on his regular haunt Sonic Mind with some of that evergreen US techno tackle that he's forged a long and winding career out of. "No Time" is steeped in the smoky pads of the Motor City, with a rugged rhythm section and errant bleeps thrown in to seal the deal. "Rat Race" takes things in a more housey direction, but there's still a certain mysticism that reaches beyond the average club banger. "Sick Mind" continues the theme, but ties more knots in the programming to make for another essential slice of techno, and then "Repetition" finishes the job with a razor sharp slice of sky-scraping hardware science.
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: Having largely operated on an autonomous self-release basis up to this point, Outstrip make a sturdy connection with the Dogmatik empire and serve up some of their crucial minimal house wares for all to behold. "A1" is a shimmering treat of a cut with just the right amount of colour bleeding in between the drums, while "NeproEP" strips things back to a raw, functional core. "Peremay" has an ultra-minimal, ever so slightly dubby vibe to it, while "Rastafara" keeps things as lean as possible as well. This is a record that does a sterling job of demonstrating how less can indeed be more.
Review: Is It Balearic...? continues to challenge our perception of what makes the perfect island breeze jam, this time around welcoming emergent producer Kimopots to the table with a track that is just crying out for a choice cocktail in a weathered hammock. "Synthetic" is anything but, riding on a bed of hand-played percussion and capturing an innate warmth in its melodic content that feels utterly natural, even if it has been played on synthesisers. Ilija Rudman steps up with a fat old bassline and some eerie strings and chimes that make his remix a thoroughly worthwhile one, and then Robot 84 makes a more drastic turn towards peppy deep house for an audacious revision that frames the original in a whole new light.
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: The Untold Stories shine a light on another lesser known practitioner from the field of adventurous minimal techno. Sebastian Eduardo has been previously spotted on Crosiere Musique and Kommuna Tapes, so you can be assured of his quality, but this EP makes the perfect opportunity to hear just how rich his sound is. "Twelve D Soul Connection" shimmers with deft synth interplay and a dense fabric of crooked percussion. "UI Enhancement" channels the spirit of old-skool micro house to great effect, and then "Lyhne's Death (But The Flowers Are Laughing)" brings a tougher techno undercurrent to the trippy pings and wavy pads that dart around the top of the mix. The whole record is a richly detailed trip well worth your attention.
Review: Following an appearance last year on Cabrera, Santiago Naura is back on his own label to expound his vision of modernist techno even further. "Dust (Mix 1)" is a pumped up workout, all muscular drums and bold, chiseled synth hooks shimmering around the rhythmic core. "Dust (Mix 2)" is a more heads-down affair that locks into a cyclical groove for the late night crowd to lose themselves to. "Element" presides over the B side with a deeper approach that makes great use of interplay between different textures and tones to create energy and momentum while keeping the drums on the straight and narrow.
Review: Waxwing pops up on Re-Fix with a crafty, chopped up soulful house approach that will sit right with fans of Max Graef and Felix Lenferink. "Can You" is a summery jam with plenty of sliced and diced vocals and romantic sweeps of melody, while "LongFunk" gets a cheeky shuffle in the mix with splashy drum hits and nifty Rhodes stabs to get bodies popping uncontrollably. "Do It For 'Em" gets even twitchier in the edit, using all kinds of heavily funked up samples to create a killer groove. "Stand It" takes a more classic New Jersey approach without losing that instinct for crafty twirls and curls to spice the mix up.
Review: Is It Balearic? welcome the mellow charms of Chris Coco and Camillo Miranda to lay down an unusual paean to a prehistoric love with the truly breezy drifter "Dinosaur Baby." While the tale might be a quirky one, the music is the real deal, all tumbling percussion locked into a slow, head-nodding groove, and this comes through even stronger on the "12" Dub". On the flip, Rune Lindbaek delivers a remix that fleshes the original out with laconic disco flourihes, and then Luke Solomon's version injects a little housey energy into the make up with his usual flair for off-kilter party fuel.
Review: Argy's These Days label is an occasional treat in the world of stripped down tech house, and it makes its first appearance for 2016 with a selection of club-ready remixes from the label boss, tackling various productions from German techno mainstay Paul Brtschitsch. The "Floor Adaptation" of "Green" heads into subterranean pastures, albeit with a powerful beat propelling it, and "Eternal Aspects" maintains that underground mood with a warmer synth repertoire. On the more flamboyant B-side, "Squeezed" takes on a wild old-skool quality perfect for more fiery moments on the floor before "Subbass" continues the jacking theme in fine style.
Review: The promise of Cooly G's releases for Hyperdub et al turns into maddening anticipation as the first taste of her forthcoming album sneaks out months ahead of the game! First up it's "Landscapes", co-produced with Simbad, and utterly devastating in its use of simple elements for maximum effect. A broken beat ticks steadily away under glossy, undulating streams of pads while Cooly herself enchants with her Neneh Cherry style vocal delivery. "It's Serious" on the flipside sees Cooly linking up with certified house legend Karizma for a more chunky, beat-driven offering that will slay floors in the same way that Altered Natives' "Rass Out" did some years back.
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: Tolga Fidan is seemingly on a roll of late, but in truth he's always remained committed to his process as a refined minimal maestro. His move to Finale Sessions may seem to be a step outside his usual stomping grounds, and the sound on the EP reflects this. Whether the title Lost Tapes means this material is old or not is unclear, but there's certainly a rougher, hardware-sounding approach on this record compared to the stripped down clicks he built his name on. "SJ SX - Tape 01" is still reduced in all the right places, but it comes on like a live jam of deepest psych-out techno rather than anything overtly minimal. With warmth and personality pouring out of every bar, this is a wonderful insight into another side of a long serving and much loved producer.
Review: Lost In Time has laid down some killer 12"s to date from the likes of Ralph Lawson and Tuccillo, and now they welcome London-based scene staple Alex Arnout to the label with an on-point EP of explorative house music variations. "No Borders" features long time US house veteran Jovonn, and the pair whip up a tracky tech house roller with serious percussive pressure and a subtle lick of dub in the mix. "Downtown 500" is a rough and tough, bashy house jam with a fresh drum palette, and by contrast "Riddim" brings a straight up deep house vibe with classic organ licks aplenty, that almost sound like they should be the handiwork of Jovonn as well. "Jam The Dance" finishes the EP off with a twitchy house cut peppered with vocal slices.
Review: Burgeoning Melbourne-based label Local Traffic returns with its second release, calling on the talents of lesser-known producer James IV. While this may be the chap's first time stepping out, his sound is already highly developed. Massive dub techno chords collide with fractured rhythms and exotic vocal intonations on the excellent "Scotland Yard", while "Tadao" leans on hand-drummed percussion and stripped down deep house of a truly refined nature. "M Island" is a lead-heavy, subliminal stomper with plenty of low-end presence, and then "The Light Without Love" throws something of a curveball at the end with its comparatively uptempo machine rhythms and subtly euphoric nature.
Review: Melbourne's Short Black label has been relatively sporadic with its releases up until now, having started back in 2013 with Matt Kennedy's Together At 2am EP and dropping the third release on the label back in 2016, Rustal's Privilege. Hopefully this excellent new transmission from newcomer Tristan Kino will be the start of more productivity from the crew. The EP starts off in fine style with the nervy, reduced acid twitch of "Yggdrassil", while at the other end of the record "Niddhog" presents a tougher, darker throwdown crafted for seedy techno dancefloors. Johannes Volk has been snapped up for remix duties, and does a sterling service with the metallic clang of his version of "Niddhog".
Review: Nereid appears out of the techno mists on the newly minted Warped Core label shrouded in mystery, with subtle monochrome head twisters to match. "Umea" leads the charge on the A side with an ethereal trip into dubby soundscapes filled out with plentiful reverb and pattering rhythms to snake straight into your cerebellum. "Operator" has an instructive bass throb carrying it along, although it imparts a similar steely aesthetic to the opening track. "Neptune" is no slouch either, using nagging mid-range percussion and eerie bleeps to spell out stern, functional techno of the deepest kind.
Review: Doing things properly and building up a DIY phenomenon from their base in Zurich, the Les Points crew have brought a fresh, daring originality to the house and techno scene with their gritty outboard approach and a wide range of stylistic tendencies. Taking a break from releasing on their own label, Audino, Barbir, Louh and Nicola Kazimir have been invited to the evergreen Trelik to broach their music to a wider audience. From the blissful space techno groove of "Anubis" to the tightly wound beats of "Housepacer" and on to the cranky acid funk of "Ripstyle", this is yet another distinctive transmission from the plucky Swiss crew.
Review: deepArtSounds may be a sublabel of Moto Music, but it's achieved so much on its own terms over the past decade. Now Joe Lewis is joining the esteemed ranks of the label with even more experience behind him - he was recording for the likes of Relief Records and Peacefrog way back when. It's no secret when you listen to his jams on Back 2 Live, where rugged and raw synth lines sit atop tough machine beats. "Love Mystery" is plenty tender where it counts, but "9 Lives" and "Confused House" head towards a rougher end goal for the nastier kind of party.
Review: The headspace Area's Kimochi Sound label inhabits is very much compatible with that of Rough House Rosie, and both labels have similar legacies of championing unsung talents. Now Area appears on Rough House Rosie with some of his beguiling abstractions on the deep, smoked out techno blueprint, and it's a match made in heaven. "Sweated" courses through a mysterious landscape of blown out low end riffs and distant textures, while "Still Moving Away" locks into a steadfast techno roll that complements the lingering notes hovering overhead. "Vicious Like A Koala" is a minimal workout based around an unusual drum set and a looming one-note bassline, and "Tessellated Rhubarb" finishes the EP off with some haunting ambient musings.
Review: Amid whispers of a new album from Unirhythm boss and Three Chairs stalwart Marcellus Pittman, two tracks from his excellent debut LP Pieces finally get committed to wax. It's a shame Pieces never got a vinyl release, but the chance to grip "Sneak Attack" and "Random Acts Of Insanity" on 12" should not be passed up. This 12" was actually released in 'blink and you'll miss it' white label format in 2014, but finally gets a proper issue! For those that don't have the LP, "Sneak Attack" is a curious concoction, with Syclops style electronics occasionally flowering over deep, dusty, intricately programmed rhythms. "Random Acts Of Insanity" feels a little bolder in approach, though its' rich chords and odd, off-kilter rhythm track are contrasted with some notably bonkers electronic touches.