Review: Dimensions Recordings' fifth release is an LP by Turkey's most soulful: Kerem Akdag. His self titled debut album sees the Istanbul native deliver a mature piece of work that is bright and timeless - equally effective in the club as it is at home and brimming with the same ideas that have earned him releases on Apparel Music, Petra Digital and Darker Than Wax. Across eight tracks, Akdag demonstrates an extraordinary breadth of skills for such a young producer. From deep-down soul jams on the urban tip like "When I Think Of You" or "Isolated", through to straight -up, soulful and emotive UK inspired numbers like "Unite" or "Find Yourself" which are reminiscent of greats like 4hero or Bugz In The Attic. A great collection of tracks and highly recommended listening.
Review: With previous releases on Blind Jack's Journey and Tessellate, London via Istanbul's Aleksandir returns with this great new six tracker courtesy of Seb Wildblood's Church imprint. Shades of jazz, soul, broken beat and house linger throughout these lush and dusty downbeat selections. Take for instance the smooth opener "Before, After" with its seductive leads, airy pads and reduced polyrhythms, the late night deepness of "Gone Swimming" (which is so sensual) or the simply evocative mood lighting of "Between Summers" which respectfully recreates the vibe of UK greats such as 4hero or At jazz's classic nu-jazz antics.
Review: Malmo based Chicagoan Amir Alexander presents his second full length, following up 2015's Love & Fear - which appeared on his own esteemed Anunnaki Cartel. This will also be his second appearance on Bristol based Just Jack, and follows up some great releases by Dana Ruh and John Barera. Be prepared for lots of gritty and lo-fi analogue soul throughout the duration of Dusk 'Til Dawn. From the unadulterated grunt of opener "Lemmings Off A Cliff!", the tunneling acid vision of "Deep Blue Sea!" to the tribute to Larry Heard's Alleviated sound on the emotive title track and, indeed, the glory days of Traxx Records on the completely mental "Genesis 6!". Here Alexander proves yet again that he is still one of the most dynamic producers in house music today.
Review: As the Dekmantel brand expands to incorporate the Selectors festival in Croatia, the Amsterdam collective still remain focused on delivering quality house and techno singles and albums. Another fine year for Dekmantel ends with the welcome arrival of Invisible Switch, a second album from US techno artist Joey Anderson. His is a unique and at times alien take on the artform, crafting percussive textures and oddly intoxicating synth lines that sound unmistakably like Joey Anderson and no others. This is very much the case with Invisible Switch, with tracks like "Reset" and "Tell Us Where" instantly gripping your attention and not letting go, whilst "Amarna" is the most bludgeoningly intense production yet from Anderson. The EOY list compilers will be kicking themselves they missed out on this one.
Review: Mind Miniatures, the latest mysterious outing from publicity-shy Vancouver collective Aquarian Foundation, has been slated for release for the best part of 12 months. Finally it's arrived, and it's a bit of an off-kilter gem. Comprised of a seamless live performance split into two 20-plus minute parts, it's a dreamlike voyage that offers an updated take on the ambient house style first made popular by The Orb, Aphex Twin and Global Communication in the early '90s. As a fluid listening experience, it's superb, with exotic rhythms, pitched down deep house grooves, liquid chords, trippy electronics and dislocated vocal samples drifting in and out of an imaginative and immersive live performance.
Review: Having given keen listeners a healthy preview in his Fabric live mix last year, the artist formerly known as Stopmakingme delivers his full-length album for Erol Alkan's Phantasy Sound. It's a limber brew that channels a strong dose of analogue trickery through smart and snappy beat constructions, all bubbling, aquatic synths and troubled delays propelled by unfussy drum patterns so that the melodies can do the talking. Primarily this is a dancefloor album, moving from peppy breakbeat driven numbers to gently bumping house, but always the playful, ineffably warm synth work sets the tone, from "Naive Response"s robotic charm to "Drone Logic"s soaring grind. It's an album brimming in confidence and nailed with precision, and it's packed full of incredibly usable floor rockers to boot.
Ahead Of Time (with Park Hye Jin - album mix) (6:59)
Study Of You (6:26)
Forever Alone (4:23)
Review: New York's Baltra follows up his well received debut album from 2016 with a new one named "Ted" in honour of his father who passed away unexpectedly during the writing process. Inevitably that lends the record an extra air of melancholy, even when the grooves are surging. Making a surprise appearance is South Korean artist Park Hye Jin on the busy melodic track "Ahead Of Time" with an intoxicating dreamy verse of her own. As is this artist's style, his crisp drum work is complemented with fizzing electronics and glowing harmonies that are almost impossibly bright and vivid. It makes for an album that really grabs your attention.
Review: Joe Claussell's Sacred Rhythm Music is back to present new music under his alias The Bayara Citizens. Elektrik Afrika is his second full length of the project, where he pursues yet more of his idiosyncratic style of 'spiritual life music'. By fusing acoustic and electronic together as one, the project represents evolution - producing its own genetics and speaking an individual dialect of rhythm and sound. Traces can be heard in "Zainabu" (Spirit Dancer) which fuses electronic harmonizing on the skins of traditional folkloric rhythms, or the soul power of "Mofo Congoietric" (Joaquin's Sacred Rhythm version), through to the tunnelling and hypnotic power of "Bambara" (The Tribes Of Distortion dub) and the truly life-affirming "Diamonds" (It's Time To Let Our People Go).
Review: One of the deepest reaching projects from the multifaceted Vibraphone stable resurfaces for an extended trip through ambient sonics that marks possibly the most daring departure on the esteemed Italian label to date. The harmonious tones undulating throughout Sketches From Space are instant soothers, taking the odd cue from techno but defiantly beatless and meditative. It's a surprising addition to the long and winding Vibraphone story, but also feels like one of the strongest steps forward the resurgent label has taken since returning to the fray. Just try sinking into "Lagrangian Point L4" and you'll see exactly what we mean.
Review: Of all DJ duos currently operating in British dance music, Belfast boys Bicep might be the hardest to pin down (Optimo aside, of course). Certainly, this debut album is not easy to pigeonhole, though it is an enjoyably cohesive listen. This is largely down to two factors; the frequent use of deliciously colorful and loved-up synthesizer parts, and the duo's innate ability to utilize beats tailor-made for dancefloor devastation. So while keen dancefloor historians may notice sly (and not so subtle) nods to '89 rave, U.S house and garage, Italo-disco, late '90s progressive house, jungle and early British hardcore, the album never sounds anything less than a fine set of Bicep tracks. Expect it to be one of the biggest albums of the year.
Review: The big man on campus returns! Fast becoming a staple on Dixon Avenue Basement Jams, the Glaswegian producer throws down an impressive full length demonstrating the diversity within his musical repertoire - and count us in as fans. From the deep and soulful late night house of "Our House" which will have you 'doin' the wiggly worm', Afrobeat meets Innervisions styled melodic house on "Hammond Groove" while "High Heavens" explores classic neon-lit electro aesthetics from the '80s. There's even some harder stuff in there, like demonstrated on "The Great Beast" that's a slow burning early '90s style techno jam (which blows the bloody doors off!) and "Gear Tension" which throws in more hallmarks of the golden era such as 303 acid and Joey Beltram styled mentasms.
Review: Brian Cullen's Bjak project provides the learned house producer with a chance to reach dizzying, transcendental heights through a hazy, soul and jazz indebted approach as spiritual as it is groove-oriented. Having previously charmed the likes of Deep Explorer and Eargasmic, the debut Bjak album now lands on sympathetic Swiss outpost deepArtSounds, where Cullen will be keeping fine company with the likes of Ron Trent, Above Smoke, Trinidadian Deep and many more. It's a sumptuous listen overflowing with buttery keys, smoky trumpets and expressive, organic rhythms to get all true-school deep house heads nodding with approval. Just check the beatbox flow of "Groove Train" with its canny fusion of ear-catching sampling and accomplished musicianship.
Review: Swedish producer Axel Boman seems to have been around forever, delivering solid and occasionally sensational deep house. In fact, he first emerged in 2009, and somewhat surprisingly Family Vacation is his debut album. It's a rather impressive beast, if truth be told, offering a whirlwind trip through his inspirations, from the downtempo analogue wooziness of "Let's Get Nervous" and jaunty, jazz-wise, US-influenced deep house of "Son of a Plumber", to the dreamy electronics and off-kilter rhythms of "No! No! No! No!", and the Theo Parrish-goes-Calypso vibes of "Bottoms Up". Most impressive of all, though, is the dark, humid, tropical pagan flex of "Kings & Emperors". Its' African voodoo atmosphere offers a startling alternative to the quiet positivity found elsewhere.
Review: Axel Boman's 2013 debut album "Family Vacation" was something of a triumph, so it's heartening to report that this belated sequel is every bit as inspired. He begins in fine style by delivering his most loved-up and glassy-eyed track yet - a Sister Sledge sampling chunk of rushing sunrise deep house - before flitting between booming sub-bass and more bliss-inducing musical flourishes on the down-low throb of "Slave To The Vibe". There's an intoxicating and exotic feel to the gently percussive cut that follows, killer ethno-house jam "Paid By The Rhythm", while "Copacabana Dub" is an expertly executed exercise in deep house/Latin percussion fusion. As if that lot wasn't enough to set our pulse racing, trippy slo-mo house chugger "Don't Bug Me" and opaque deep techno shuffler "Konoba Boba" are both suitably sublime.
Review: It was about time we heard some quality deep, progressive tech out of Argentina. Cape aka Fernando Cappelletti drops a double LP on his own Savor Music, rocking since 2011 and home to plenty of solid house tunes by big names such as Felipe Valenzuela and Martinez, among others. But, My Own Jungle is more than just a dancefloor album, as tunes like "The Real" and "Rainforest" are deep and playful enough to be enjoyed over a pair of headphones. There are, of course, fully-fledged big room cuts like "In Armour", or the more tech-minded "Flavor", but Cape's versatility makes this album more than it set out to be.
Review: Building a formidable reputation as an artist with a diverse set of approaches in the field of electronic music, Ukranian producer Cape Cod delivers his debut album on Kiev House in a fine display of musicianship. From the opening track "Among The Stars" (which features Constantine on vocal) it's clear that this will be more than a straight up collection of dancefloor tracks. There are indeed some upbeat house tracks to be enjoyed, not least on the razor sharp garage bumper "We Don't Have To", but there's also equal space given over to more introspective jams such as "Put U Down".
Review: Fred Peterkin has decided that his latest full-length excursion should be credited to Captain P, an occasional alter ego first introduced on 2010 debut album The Incredible Adventures of Captain P. Musically, Escapism includes nods to many of his previously explored influences - slick Detroit hip-hop, Motor City techno, luscioius Chicago deep house, and so on - as well as audio musings on the effects of the Internet-driven news agenda (the superb, collage style cut-up "Social Media") and the nature of art itself ("21 Century Artist", a superb chunk of rubbery, soulful techno). For all the variety, it's the dancefloor-ready cuts that really sparkle, with the dreamy "Escapism", soul-flecked "All I Want To Say" and "These Times"- a brilliant hook-up with Lady Blaktronika - standing out.
Review: Emerging back in 2010 under a cloud of enigma with a quite excellent debut 12" for Mark E's Merc imprint, Chicago Damn has kept a relatively low profile choosing not to embrace the 'superstar DJ' lifestyle a few of his contemporaries have after a taste of critical success. Instead the UK-based Gavin McClary has surfaced on labels like Wolf Music and Wurst intermittently as well as issuing music via his own Chicago Damn imprint (do seek out his Chris Duckenfield collab I Really Do Believe if you aren't aware of it) Across these releases, McClary has demonstrated a penchant for rough and ready oddball house music indebted to disco and it's an approach explored further here on his debut LP. The six-track Experiments Must Continue LP features overdriven, rowdy house cuts such as "Sleep Deprived" and "Acid Tool" alongside the more stripped back sounds of "Strawberries & Kream" and "Experiments" that will appeal to the techier minded house DJs out there.
Review: Since the release of debut album Charmer three years ago, Claptone's profile has rocketed, despite his continued insistence of disguising his identity using a "golden-beaked mask". Fantast, the Berlin-based producer's second album, feels like a major release: a set of woozy and attractive pop-house songs with serious crossover potential. As with its predecessor, Fantast boasts a dizzying range of guest vocalists - Kele Okereke, Zola Blood, Ben Nicholson, Tender and Ben Duffy included - as well as sparkling, radio-friendly cuts that variously doff a cap to Daft Punk style disco-pop, Balearic piano house, '80s boogie, rock-tinged synth-pop and, of course, Claptone's deep house roots. Impeccably produced and full of attractive, hooky songs, this should cement Claptone's reputation as a producer on the rise.
Review: Four years have passed since Maya Jane Coles' last full-length excursion (2015's set as Nocturnal Sunshine not included), so it's perhaps unsurprising that Take Flight is something of a long and undulating epic. Featuring 24 tracks stretched across three LPs and a string of eager collaborators (Chelou, Rachel Butt of GAPS fame and We Fell To Earth singer Wendy Rae Fowler being arguably the best known), Take Flight is little less than an extended showcase for the DJ/producer's particular bland of shuffling, tactile tech-house, tweaked to suit the demands of radio and home listeners. One reviewer recently described it "love letter to dance music", and Coles' many fans will no doubt agree.
Review: After a four-year break from recording, acclaimed live outfit Crazy P returns with their ninth studio album. It may be 22 years since Jim Baron and Chris Todd founded the band as a jazz-funk, disco and deep house loving studio project, but "Age Of The Ego" is every bit as vibrant and relevant as any of their previous albums. In general it's a little more electronic and synthesizer-driven than some of their previous sets, with notable nods towards Italo-disco, synth-pop, electro and P-funk, but the constant presence of longtime lead vocalist Danielle Moore and their trademark attention to musical details means that the album never feels like a giant stylistic leap. In simple terms, the songs are as colourful, vibrant and entertaining as you'd expect.
Review: Despite his self-proclaimed hatred of nightclubs, Sheffield misery-guts Richard "Crooked Man" Barratt is rather good at making dance music. That's not to say that the former Sweet Exorcist and All Seeing I man's second album, "Crooked House", is a riotous romp full of wonky, low-slung, industrial-tinged house and techno slammers, though. While rooted in Yorkshire's traditionally raw, alien, bleep-laden and bass-heavy take on those styles, the album's genius lies in Barratt's ability to write surprisingly soulful, off-kilter songs, co-produced by fellow veterans Mick Ward and David Lewin, and voiced by some seriously talented singers (Amy Douglas and Pete Simpson included). The results are undeniably magical, with "Here On Earth", "Walls", "Take It All Away", "Every Killer Needs a Friend" and trippy "Echo Loves Narcissus" amongst the highlights.
Review: ***B-STOCK: Box damaged, product unused & in perfect condition***
- 10cm tear at top of sleeve
Despite his self-proclaimed hatred of nightclubs, Sheffield misery-guts Richard "Crooked Man" Barratt is rather good at making dance music. That's not to say that the former Sweet Exorcist and All Seeing I man's second album, "Crooked House", is a riotous romp full of wonky, low-slung, industrial-tinged house and techno slammers, though. While rooted in Yorkshire's traditionally raw, alien, bleep-laden and bass-heavy take on those styles, the album's genius lies in Barratt's ability to write surprisingly soulful, off-kilter songs, co-produced by fellow veterans Mick Ward and David Lewin, and voiced by some seriously talented singers (Amy Douglas and Pete Simpson included). The results are undeniably magical, with "Here On Earth", "Walls", "Take It All Away", "Every Killer Needs a Friend" and trippy "Echo Loves Narcissus" amongst the highlights.
Review: Some two years after dropping his debut album, "Broken Knowz", Jay Daniel delivers a follow-up. Interestingly, the fast-rising Detroit producer opted to move away from his usual club sound on "Tala", recently telling Resident Advisor that it was, "an invitation to know me outside of DJing". It's as deep, jazzy and musically rich as you'd expect, with Daniel flitting between jazz-funk/broken beat fusion, spacey ambient soundscapes, head-nodding hip-hop beats, intergalactic R&B instrumentals, super-smooth beatdown fare and the kind of hushed, glassy-eyed grooves that are best enjoyed while lying flat on your back at six in the morning.