Another killer release from the label this time has London duo Senzala deliver hot on the promise, percussion fuelled frenzy for your afterhours satisfaction. The title track does just that as funky rhythms incorporate atmospheric swirls of sound, amid punctuating drums, on this uncomplicated yet hard-hitting arrangement. Nitin & Alexi Delano then provide an excellent remix adding more juice to the bass and reworking the percussive elements. Next track, Virus follows a similar template while the throbbing drum machines plus shimmering Detroit stabs of Transmit end on an equally robust series of notes.
A wonderful, beautifully realised piece of music that despite its brisk, grainy qualities is full of life-affirming warmth. The title track’s brittle rhythm track is offset by atmospheric, haunting pads and stabbing sounds as the infectious, fiery drum programing soon asserts itself. It all then feeds into the imagination with a remaining hint of yearning grasping out for resolution. Roscoe, follows upping the tempo and intensity in an altogether different direction while serving the dancefloor’s needs via rolling bass and shuffling hats. Which leaves the uneven, unnerving sequences of Snake Oil to complete with more futuristic sounds fuelling yet more beautiful possibilities.
The unmistakable rhythms of DJ W!ld return to the ever excitable Robsoul for yet another breathless journey into repeating beats and grooves. First up is Breakin which comes fully armed with splashing hi-hats and rough-edged bass twisting their way until the breakdown refreshes you via a splash of heated Disco. With You, again hits you with tough drums and unrelenting low-end theory, while dreamy keys seek to add a more soulful flavour to the affair. The excellent Only What I Am is next with super funky bass looping across an inevitable sea of beats coupled with the eventual evolution of the funky sample. The equally excellent, All About You then ends on a more tender note with emotive keys summing up thoughtful, uplifting atmospheres to finish.
The title track doesn’t pull any punches by delivering smoking hot, deliciously sleazy grooves that recline on just the right side of dangerous. Powered by powerful, hypnotic Chicago styled bass and aided by darkly spoken words, that don’t sound all that sensuous, this is best experienced with the lights down low. Energize, proceeds with tougher rhythms that secure the dancefloor with an excitable array of sounds, while third original Love or Money poses the question via breathy French voices and classic Soul vocals over yet more distinct, creative arrangements of sound. Breath-taking remixes come from a typically energetic DJ Sneak who pounds out the beats while highlighting the voices and synth tones, and from Louie Fresco who conversely creates moodier atmospheres most effectively.
‘Brought to you from the mean streets of Burnley’ which may not have the same ring as ‘The Big Apple’ but then you could transport these grooves anywhere and they would work just as effectively. Some Bang, kicks things off with rough, tough beats fuelled by brutal low-slung bass accompanied by a voice over plus a tweaked slice of Disco that keeps you guessing. Next, is the irresistibly hot ‘Take House’ which is an altogether funkier affair via its crisp, rattling hi-hats and juicy basslines along with warmer undercurrents that combine into one infectious production. Great début release on this brand new UK label….
Düsseldorf based producers Die Wilde Jagd remix Etienne Jaumet’s La Visite (taken from his latest album) with such wild abandon it’s startling – You’ve got to love this. Feeling experimental yet making perfect sense its sizzling blend of fizzy electronics, soulful instrumental touches, alongside playful drums and captivating voices make this first rate music. Low Jack then re imagines the while episode care of a heavy dash of Dub sensibility that lets the hypnotic synth tones race free. Leaving the Gilb’R Midnight version of Midnight Man to drop the beats altogether, aiming the controls for (edgy) ambient bliss and producing another exceptional sequence of sounds and thoughts.
Danniel Selfmade & Karretero
Say What? Records
Exceptional production in the shape of Subzhero which pulls all sorts of trippy ideas together into a formula that not only feels expansive but also devastatingly explosive. Driven by sassy electronic drums which feel compellingly organic this strives for all sorts of intensity and reaches fever point somewhere along the way via an undulating, twisted amalgamation of rhythm and atmospheric sound. Formatz, then drives harder with repetitive beats and twisted vocal touches all pounding their way into oblivion.
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.
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…
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…
The latest from Tiefschwarz’s label kind of sneaks up on you from behind but rapidly turns out to be one of the most sublime pieces of music I’ve heard in August. Sitting somewhere in-between dreamlike melancholy and engaging drum machines Eric Volta and Jonny Cruz’s ‘Sunrise Blind’ gently plays with your imagination as trippy, undulating synths and beautifully, breathy vocals from Jacques Canziani float across the speakers. The second half of the release then sees With The Rain Comes Sorrow by Gab Rhome and Maher Daniel pursuing a similar theme with another captivating arrangement of sounds and atmosphere’s complimented by touches of twangy guitar, vibes and haunting voices.
I almost love this record but then when you hear the Minos bassline it is all so tempting. Not so sure it doesn’t go a bit Pete Tong after that with the addition of ‘Rave’ styled stabs, although when they drop out you’re returned to the punchy rhythmic hand-claps and that delicious bass. Fairmont provide the remix which almost sounds like all of the best bits from eighties electronic film soundtracks, complete with the appropriate drums, and again it’s all so tempting. Easy, then returns to House with punctuating beats and bass accompanied by fuzzy stabs on what proves to be most hypnotic in the process. Robi Insinna aka Headman then completes with an excellent dub excursion that feels never short of being totally vibrant.
Love them or simply like them a lot, My Favorite Robot never do things by halves. Which, in this case has them join forces with the excellent No.19 resulting in a display of some seriously devilish music. Beginning with the dark sequences of The Circus and ending up on the intensity of The War to End All Wars there is never an unflinching moment anywhere on the LP. Some tracks such as Here Tonight drag your senses down but then others such as irresistibly funky Home ft Clayton Steele point the mood in the opposite direction. The title track itself sets Acid syncopated rhythms against brooding synthesizers and feels like the future waiting to happen. Nothing left to say…
Pal Joey’s name spent many hours rotating on my turntables in the 90’s as he did likewise with lots of Dj’s so Hot Music will no doubt raise a smile on many faces reading this. The compilation of his work including the various guises pays testament to the strength of his output and if you haven’t moved to the likes of Earth People ‘Dance’ then here is your chance. it was always a playful sound which combined the creative use of sampling with heavy-duty drums and is a recipe that stands the test of time for sure.The music ranges from the more recent soulful sounds of Loop-D-Loop ‘Show Me’ to the deeper Disco of Dreamhouse’s excellent ‘Jump And Prance’ so all bases covered. Do also try his Los Dos ‘Tomorrow’ which typified the sound of an era with its pulsating vibes, sassy percussion and irresistibly deep keys. But not to put too fine a point on it this is a producer that you need get acquainted with, or re-acquainted as the case may be.
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.
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 Vol 1
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…
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.
Konrad Black & Art Department Graveyard Tan No.19 Music
Things do indeed only get better as this ridiculously good release from one of the world’s hottest labels No.19 testifies. Following quickly on from Tone Of Arc’s excellent single comes this from Konrad Black (Wagonrepair) and No.19’s very own Jonny White who along with Kenny Glasgow form Art Department. Graveyard Tan, as you might suspect from the title plays with hauntingly deep tones and simmering moody tensions that are at once deliciously intense and beautifully epic. Played over crisp hi-hats the expansive bass broods its way into your consciousness with the simple intonation of the word Baby all that needs saying. Version Two replays those very elements but either way it doesn’t get a lot better than this.
Behling & Simpson ft. James Fox EP2 Futureboogie Recordings
It can’t just be about the sunshine but every time I hear something new from Futureboogie smiles appear. You’ve got to admire the sheer audacity of the low tempo which always feels thrilling and of course deeply funky. This is no exception as the apt Work That Body stretches out uplifting chords over crunchy percussion and a vocal sample that weaves its way into your brain. The second track to feature James Fox is Tangled and if anything feels more expansive with its huge bassline and nagging synths complimented by oriental-esque chimes. AAW picks up the pace with more loose percussion and cool piano, while Good Thang feels that bit moodier, though equally effective, with more infectious rhythms and hot production values.
Huxley & Sam Russo Jamma’s Basement EP Leftroom Limited
Love the combination of daring styles on this latest from Huxley & Sam Russo whose stars are clearly in ascendance. Opening with off-kilter keys the continuing sense of being warped is offset by crisp percussion, familiar delayed vocals, and a dancehall styled bass which you can’t help but move too. This inventive production simply shines. As does the curiously titled William’s Trainers which follows with more sizzling hi-hats and classic House sensibilities adding reason to the twisted vocal edit.
Sound advice from Mobilee whose 93rd release once again reminds you just how vital the label always proves to be. The title track featuring Daniel Wilde begins with deliciously funky toms and then works its way into frenzied arpeggios by way of space aged vocal fx and a taut rhythm section. Next, Junction plays with heavier tribal toms and further haunting voices, this time over tech stabs which the louder they get the better they feel.
Release 35 sees the label on perfect form with one of their strongest to date. Kicked off by a classic House Music (all night long) bassline sparse percussion then invites you to dance alongside pounding beats and Take Me Higher vocals which, in this case, have survived the nineties unscathed. There’s something inescapably cool about how all of this sounds. The Argy Remix then sensibly retains the bass and adds early nineties Detroit styled organ to his suitably sparkling production. And speaking of the motor city, the legendary Rolando rounds it all off by displaying typical flair via excellent, yet unsettling, drum programming which makes the whole experience shine even more brightly.
More in the way of old music sounding new as Diynamic see Italian duo Hunter/ Game join up the dots between the eighties and now, while sounding vital and energised in the process. Cool synth lines combine with acid tweaks and Deep House bass to produce something instantly pleasing on opening track, Under. Boogie Music co-produced with FreakMe follows on to explore avenues of Electro-Funk bass and smoothly soulful vocals, as the title track goes down the classic Chicago route employing an infectious Reckless Lady vocal loop and melodic keys. Crazy Enough, finishes by building the tension superbly with staccato guitar and also takes its cue from the same influence pool, but as with all the music on the EP feels completely contemporary.
Tone Of Arc Shaking The Baby/ No Pushers No.19 Music
And so the story continues with Tone Of Arc and this deliciously funky production that combines effortless cool with heavy-duty electronics. Providing a taster of what’s in store from his forthcoming album for the label Derrick Boyd’s distinctive ‘live’ style incorporates all that’s hot at this very moment: creatively treated voices saying something alongside irresistibly dark-bass notes, with imaginative arrangements of percussion and sound. No Pushers, then expands those boundaries by delving further and deeper with sumptuous keys and almost jazzy Rhodes that feel comfortably warm, while reverberating vocals remain tastefully soulful. Outstanding.
Not in any way to make light of Tinnitus but this does sound good. The title track sizzles with sparkling sythns which offset the deep beats and bass perfectly, and it’s those very notes that give the production such a unique feel. You could say, hypnotic and even apply the words trance inducing… Stronger, feels moodier and again plays challenging keys off against throbbing rhythms, ending up seemingly sinister with its unsettling, insistent vocal edits driving the distraction. Play It, almost lightens the mood with funkier feeling drums and bass, though also retains its playful sense of experimentation and probing, nearly ambient, sounds.
An excellent debut album from, Tristesse Contemporaine whose electrifying take on new-wave is all at once dangerously exciting, yet always deeply emotional. Love the way the words play with the late seventies inspired guitar sounds on some tracks and the tension these arrangements inspire. For starters can’t get enough of the beginning number, Empty Hearts which is a case in point with its Hook styled bassline, Magazine beats and icy cool vocals sounding so in-vogue it hurts. But, it’s certainly not all about historical reference points as the album plays very much like today with spoken words rapping over irresistible rhythms and uniquely, contemporary electronics. Try the video to I Didn’t Know below and you’ll get a piece of the action…
Desperately trying to avoid the cliché but there actually is: something for everyone on here. That is if your mind is open to touches of everything from Balearic to Latin, to House and Disco, plus with most shades coloured in-between you could also pretty much use that other cliché: essential. Music like the Mudds Width and Comfort remix of Key boy ‘Viva Blue’ makes you pray for summer days to materialise sooner rather than later (U.K) while Flash Atkins, Crazy P and Neil Diablo will have you gravitating towards the nearest dancefloor. But that’s probably to undersell the sum total of the twenty two tracks which are offered here on what is essentially a first-rate compilation.
Bill Withers debut album from 1971 gets a timely reissue care of bbr and a record that contains not only Harlem and Ain’t No Sunshine, but also Grandma’s Hands can really only be regarded as a classic. If you were lucky enough to catch BBC 4’s recent excellent documentary: Still Bill then this album is all the more profound as his experienced wit and wisdom can benefit us all. Produced by Booker T. Jones this still sounds incredible today and there are a couple of great covers to witness too, namely Let It Be and Everybody’s Talkin’. But don’t miss out on the exquisitely mournful Hope She’ll Be Happier and or the blues/ rock inflected Better Off Dead either – indeed don’t go missing out on any of it!