Scorching release from Magdalena who also runs the annual EGO AIR event in Hamburg. But back to the music which delivers high on atmosphere while darkly sketching out intense, teasing moods via a web of engaging synth lines and probing low-end theory on the title track, Morphosfalter. Next, Monarchfalter undulates in a different direction with chiming keys punctuating a rush of fizzy electronics, again expansive by nature. Leaving third number, Schillerfalter to satisfy the quest further care off fiery snares and waves of robust sound.
Kicking off the New Year Mobilee sister imprint Leena has Kevin Yost supply another killer production. This deceptively uncomplicated number shoots straight to the heart of the matter with heavy-duty bass providing an irresistible lesson in low down theory. Accompanied by layers of haunting vocals and tough drumming alongside cutting synthesizer stabs Don’t Give In is much more than the sum of its message. I Don’t Get It, poses an unforgiving question which only underpins the moody electronics on sequence, with the third and final More, More replying via a more expansive production that is high on sounds with a certain jazzy, funkiness providing a suitably fine ending.
Life imitating Art as title track ‘Drowning in Irises’ is inspired by Van Gogh’s Irises painting. Equally impactful is Dance Spirit’s tough fusion of sharp percussion and bottom-end intensity alongside the fizzy addition of caustic synth lines transporting it all onto another level entirely. The sense of the otherworldly is continued with the addition of stabbing voices accompanied by a more blissful breathy ambience. The creativity then proceeds into Unfold with its darker tones settling into biting psychedelic sounds while contrasting melodic vocals lend this its own distinct edge. Completing is, In Between Spaces which marries minor pads together with gritty touches to produce something, again, rather wonderful as a result, swirling with ambience yet far from easy.
Rotten City Files/ Records
We like the breath of fresh air. And both originals define punky attitude along with a refreshing injection of life. Overdrive, sees the Madrid based trio deliver on the promise with moody rhythms augmented by fuzzy guitar plus an ice-cool vocal delivery. Addictive, certainly. The Jamie Paton remix retains that sense of occasion while blending it over pulsating electronic beats to devilish effect. The equally exciting Sriracha simmers with a kind of joyous melancholia that hints at 1980’s New Wave, and with an excellent remix from II Est Vilane who crash sleazy euro-disco into it this is all too hard to resist. Which then only leaves In Flagranti to hit Chipotle with a heavy dose of Acid frenzy for the bonus track.
Release: January 11
The Moment Not The Memory EP
Work Them Records
Time for Spencer Parker’s contribution to the label with two new tracks each provoking different sides of House/ Techno. For me, and for those who love beautiful chord progressions, Faster Forward is just perfect. Keeping you guessing from the outset as pulsating beats pitch themselves in a tough manner things soon proceed to get emotional as the tactile piano notes and warm pads simply ooze atmosphere over a total of almost nine minutes. The flip-side, Spacial is altogether more about Detroit and I guess ticks all those boxes just right too.
Blood Burgundy EP
A standout production which may not be to everybody’s taste but certainly should be. Teaming up once again with vocalist Gretz who adds a haunting, spiritual dimension to the opening Blood Burgundy while also being a captivating piece of music in its own right. Floating seamlessly across your stereo and emitting enticing frequencies that feel deep though full of energy this sounds in a class all of its own making. Followed by the electronic eighties inspired Concrete Jungle and then complimented by the left field ambience of Against the Rain it’s all first rate. This only leaves a Reprise of the title track to tease you still further…
release: March 19
Great release from Mobilee sister label Leena and yet another excellent set of productions from Ross Evans. Kicking things off is Caliente which is deceptively Disco but positively twisted into almost something else via a harsh set of beats and treatments of the sample and voices. Part Of The Dream is up next providing a totally different aspect with rich, ambient tones and crisp drums combining tastefully. “Asylum”, isn’t as devilish as the name suggests but a techy form of release that never loses breath, leaving Walk Of Shame to strike a familiar chord after every late night return by way of funkier synths and intense bass.
Big Break Records/ Sony Music
Always good to add a touch of class to the proceedings and Patti LaBelle is certainly that, and more. Her fourth album saw the angelic vocalist team up once again with Allen Toussaint and this album positively shines all the more for it. Of course he also produced Lady Marmalade with Patti as Labelle in 1974. But fast forward to 1980 and the more contemporary sound of Disco with the opening Give It Up (The Dawning Of Rejection) and the full version of the uplifting Release (The Tension), plus Get Ready (Looking For Love) – they do like brackets! All great stuff and with Christian John Wikane’s detailed sleeve notes you can never go wrong. Listen for yourself below…
release: February 24
So excited to get to review Derrick Boyd and Zoe Presnick’s Tone of Arc debut album. The Time Was Right captures everything I love about music that sits just outside that very loose term of soulful dance music, although of course this packs more emotion than a lot of that very same cliché. With song titles like Surrender, Lost In The Machine, and Hardly Standing setting the scene this plays out like life’s alternative with a smouldering, funky drive that would make Bowie blush with envy on the irresistible Love Kissed! Sure, you can hear the influences loud and proud but it makes for sparkling refreshment not to hear the early 90’s replayed over and over again, with the intriguing vocals referencing the lost era of new-wave. All that and their superlative cover of ‘Goodbye Horses’ go to vary the light and shade of the album while tempos live at varied speeds giving you that rush of excitement Tone of Arc do so very well.
release: May 13
Tapesh & Maximiljan
Slightly late in reviewing this but none the less a first rate release from the Dusseldorf duo sees the excellent All The Time at the top of the list with its infectious, brooding atmospheres and darkly sophisticated arrangement sizzling with infectious energy. Given the human touch via yearning spoken vocals this has to be one of my favourite releases from the label so far. Feelings, follows with more of a sense of urgency coupled with sleazier bass. Leaving, Get It On to deliver more of that Acid attitude as yet another excellent production sparks your imagination with fiery electronic sounds and rhythms.
InnerCity Records is the brand new Manchester based label from Mark Horsfall and Danny Stott and their first volume points the way forward to good times ahead. Music from the likes of Giom’s impressive bass-bizzy Exhausted and from Dale Howard’s typically pulsating Go Deeper indicates what lies in store in terms of fresh thinking House Music that isn’t afraid to look forward. The remaining artists included are: Leigh D Oliver, Roland Nights, Gutto Serta and finally Casey Lee Jones whose invigorating Feel It ends this most promising package. Listen below…
release: May 6
The Black 80s aka Hollis P Monroe & Overnite deliver a strikingly original piece of music with their latest for Air London. Not least of all because Give Me Something features a soul infused vocal that sits somewhere between light and shade, although with a haunting edge that will you find yourself mesmerised by. The music does a similar thing with drum machine beats and atmospheric electronics feeling distinctive and other worldly. Meanwhile, the Hollis P Monroe Mix replays the elements with a pacier tempo and further spaced out sounds to compliment the original.
Release: June 5