Review: Emotional Rescue dig out a quintessential private press curio and give it a tasteful 7" release that should tickle all lovers of blue-eyed soul with a subtle electronic kink. There's a smooth pop nous at the heart of "Passion", but also a naivety in the production that hints at the bedroom studio roots of 4AM's limited forays into recorded work. There's space for Fairlight-esque stabs and something approaching an acid bassline, but it's all framed in a mellifluous slice of melodious groove. "The Man I Feel" takes the A side and steers it into playful instrumental territory to great effect, the consummate 80s dub out.
Review: Unpredictable Dublin label maintain their capacity to surprise here, digging into the vaults of Ethiopian funk mob to reissue their 1984 accidental houser "Kalatashew Waga". Originating from the sole Admas album, Sons of Ethiopia, "Kalatashew Waga" has grown into something of a cult player amongst the more considered selectors over the years and gets pressed up for 12" by Major Problems replete with a fresh remastering job from the master Thomas P. Heckmann. Fans of the gliding style of lo-fi boogie PPU specialise in will love this track. Complementing the original, Major Problems have scored a brand new remix from long term Admas fan Andras Fox that brushes the track with some soft-hued new age bliss.
Review: The last we heard from Kinfolk was on the excellent "Mirage" by Kalidasa, but now the adventurous and chug-friendly label is back with this killer EP from Alterleo. "Cabriodelic" will have hips swinging at an easy tempo, not least thanks to the nagging throb of the bassline and the swaying drums shaking over the top of the track. "On The Way" takes things in a freakier direction, using ample samples and channeling a little industrial noir, while "Tour De L'afrique" focuses on craftily programmed drums and captivating melodic subtleties. "In Sands" finishes the set with a wigged out acid-trance rumination that should appeal to those who love the sound of European freak-beats before dance music got compartmentalized.
Review: Despite not releasing all that much in 2018, Canadian nu-jazz combo BADBADNOTGOOD's reputation continued to rise. That was in no small part due to their eye-catching collaboration with Little Dragon, which resulted in the digital release of "Tried" back in September. Now the track has been given a deserved seven-inch single release by Ninja Tune. With LD lead vocalist Yukimi Nagano doing her best to channel the spirit of Minnie Riperton, "Tried" has a similarly languid, jazz/folk/soul fusion feel as some of the best works by Rotary Connection. BADBADNOTGOOD's admiration of the Charles Stepney-produced band comes through loud and clear through the choice of instruments and arrangements. For further proof, check the accompanying flipside instrumental mix.
Review: Tucked away in his Peak District hideaway, Jack Lever has been laying down sumptuous fusions of dusty ambience and lo-fi electronica for some time now. He first rose to prominence via a fine 12" on Apollo in 2013, before heading back to Derbyshire to self-release music from the archives on cassette and download. This return to wax is well worth a listen, if only for the drowsy, 6AM ambience of "Convair", which wraps shortwave radio crackle and yearning chord progressions around gentle acoustic guitars. "Torches" is a blissful and dusty outsider house shuffler, while lead cut "Roads" is a terrific, dancefloor-tempo trip-hop head-nodder rich in distorted guitars, cascading instrument solos and beefy dub disco bass.
Review: From Robsoul and Tsuba to Is It Balearic? and Futureboogie, Craig Bratley can be many things depending on who's releasing his music. He launches the Automatism label in a flurry of cosmic disco finery with "Ursa Minor", a synth-rich escapade that could make Cerrone feel a little giddy on its course to the stars. "Exotic Matter" slows things right down and ramps up the rock drums to create a noirish soundtrack vibe. "Exquisite Corpse (Zero Gravity Mix)" changes tact once more with some plaintive piano tinkering over subtle arpeggios, and "Running To Paradise" slides down into a smooth Balearic groove that rounds out this wonderfully diverse EP.
Review: Last spotted causing a "Ramshackle Rumble" on Aficionado three years ago, Brenda B Ray returns with three more Balearic spellbinders... "Solartude" eases us in slowly with a limping, soft arpeggio that's shrouded in chimes and a growing orchestral warmth, "Space Dustin'" removes any traces of drum for an ambient sojourn into a night sky as the strings take a back seat for swooning moments of melted vocal harmonisation. "Skip Hop To Bop" closes on an upbeat note with a layered synths tease back and forth over roomy kicks and majestic beds of chimes. One of a kind.
Review: It's been a while since we last heard from Jan Schulte and Diskoking Burnhart McKoolski's Bufiman project - two years, in fact. After previously plying their wares on Verein Freir Menschen und Musik, the eccentric Balearic/disco duo have been snapped up by Gilb'r's Versatile imprint. "Running (The Chase)" is something of a killer - a driving chunk of clavinet-laden disco fuelled by a seriously heavy post-punk/dub disco bassline. "Kavalier" is deeper and spookier, with new age synth melodies riding a loose, Afro-influenced groove. The slower "Bonobobeat", meanwhile, is a low-slung delight, with snaking synthesizer lines wrapping themselves around dense, head-nodding disco percussion.
Review: BAH040 is the first time out for Caissard DJ, not that you'd know on the basis of this plush, accomplished romp through 80s island boogie that chimes perfectly with the Bahnsteig 23 vibe. "Bright Dance" is a noirish smorgasbord of crystalline melodies and good, honest synth-pop thrust, while "Market Anthem" switches things up with a new wave twist. "La x5" is a wonderful curio, all stuttering, borderline baroque tones and Eastern string histrionics. The "Melange Dub" of "Arrakis" is a wild soul trying to be tamed by the machines, and then "Demo-cracy" dips into an almost minimal wave pulse before "The God Emperor" finishes the eclectic ride with ethnic chimes and percussion filtered through a grainy medium.
Review: Surely the freakiest house party in town, Bahnsteig 23 is the gift that keeps on giving. The relentless release schedule keeps up right here with this unmissable missive from Cherrystones, a learned selector and all round sonic oracle who regularly rubs shoulders with Andy Votel and that ilk of muso's muso. As you'd expect there's a rich spread of vibes on offer here, from the Afro-disco rub down "Simba Dub" to the Eastern psych lilt of "Belly King". "ExOhSkeletons" brings out some gutter punk styles and loops them into a strangely hypnotic form, and "Topical Meat Wave" imparts some pan-seared drama onto a French disco-funk. "KonGkinG" is a shouty new wave funker, and then the record wobbles out on a suitably deep B3 cut for the weirdos, all Oizo-esque synth blurts and sloppy live drum grooves.
Review: The Is It Balearic? train just keeps on rolling as Coyote proffers up even more refined grooves from the heart of the dreamy island dance. "Deep Italian" channels the spirits of classic sensual deep house that clearly nods to the likes of Vibraphone Records for inspiration, while "Fresh Hope" creates a more bewildering experience with interloping melodies and a more insistent beat underneath. "Take Me Back" uses plucked string motifs to weave its own enchanting message, while "Long Board" gets a more plush line in synths to work to round the EP out.
Review: Canada's foremost re-edit imprint continues to churn out the hits, largely by delivering dub disco and Balearic-tinged interpretations of long forgotten or little-known cuts. Common Edit regulars Dane and Khotin join forces on the A-side, delivering a sweet chunk of boogie-era synthesizer reggae ("Imho"), before heading futher towards peaktime territory with the low-slung, late night AOR disco of "System". Eddie C digs delves into his seemingly bottomless crates of obscurities for inspiration on "I Want More", a gorgeous chunk of piano-laden Balearic disco sweetness. Finally, Dane lights up something medicinal, closes his eyes and delivers the smacked-out, guitar-laden ambient chug of "One For Dane". It's an absolute beauty, if truth be told.
Review: Here's something to set the pulse racing: an unlikely collaboration between celebrated Italian producer DJ Tennis and Fink, one of the longest-serving members of the extended Ninja Tune family. The latter's melancholic, heartfelt vocals are a perfect foil for Tennis's gentle and melodious backing track, which layers bubbling electronics, simmering orchestration and twinkling synthesizer motifs atop a sparse, undulating drum machine groove. If we had to tightly define it, we'd call it lilting outsider pop. On the flip you'll find the "Club Mix", which wraps Fink's vocal and cascading pianos around a tactile, soft touch house groove.
Review: Dubbyman is on a roll with his releases at the moment, not least thanks to his incredible Deep Is Dead album landing recently on Deep Explorer. This time the Spanish deep house maestro is helping launch First Floor with an original jam that revels in a blanket of fog. "So Far" is the deepest of house jams, rolling along slowly and smoky without losing its presence, thanks in no small part to the soulful croon of the unnamed vocalist. Leo Gunn then steps up for the B-side, remixing "So Far" into a sprightly terrace anthem replete with snappy piano chords to warm your cockles, but fear not because that all-encompassing Dubbyman vibe persists throughout this release.
Review: Not An Animal are known for their heated takes on the art of disco-sampling house music, and Ess O Ess is one of the key factors in defining that sound. This comes through in spades on Take You To A Secret Place, where the title track comes marching out atop a deadly bassline that will cut through any mix to get the people freaking out. The dub mix is equally deadly, flying a generous dose of cosmic sparkle into the mix without losing the punch in the original production. Kuniyuki Hard takes a daring approach that slows the track down to a creep and emphasises space and tension. The Angophora version is even more drastic, seemingly stripping all the recognisable elements of the track out and leaving behind a plaintive thread of ambient instrumentation.
Review: Mehmet Aslan and Miajica represent some of the finest operators in Basel, and their Fleeting Wax label is on hand to represent what's good in the Swiss scene and beyond. On this latest release they turn to Eva Geist, who has previously been spotted on Macadam Mambo and Elestial Sound with her beautiful mix of synths and vocals, striking a chord between noirish synth pop and heads down club music. "Blumareciano" is a wonderfully seductive, slightly spooky stew of a track which San Proper then injects with his usual freaky energy to make for a more uptempo party version. Then Geist's "Begum" stretches over the B-side in a bubbling blend of delayed voices, tribal percussion and general outernational surrealism.
Review: Alexis Georgopoulos and Jefre Cantu-Ledesma's Fragments Of A Season was one of the highlights of Emotional Response's output in 2017, centred around blissful, Balearic instrumentation that shone a spotlight on the considerable talents of these accomplished artists. Now the label is revisiting the material with a couple of finely selected versions, the first coming from Emotional regulars Woo, who dutifully inject "Marine" with their effervescent, otherworldly expressions and create a glistening masterpiece in the process. Felicia Atkinson then tackles "AA Cleo" and sends it out onto the horizon in a haze of reverb romanticism, muffled percussive rumbles and murmuring vocals.
Review: Taken from last year's maxi EP under his off-piste Oeil Cube guise, I Cube's supersized "XXXX" gets the treatment from Red Light Records' Abel on this special 45". Taking its already smouldering slow-n-low vibe and giving it even more a hypnotic deep plunge, it's a respectful twist that loses none of the original's Balearic charm. Flip for "Etire En Avant" an immaculate slice of previously unreleased loopy magic that was recorded straight to tape in 96 but still sounds like it's 2096. Cool as ever.
Review: After a first volume that included Smagghe & Cross and Tom Bolas, Duca Bianco are back with another round of deviant disco delights for discerning diggers to get down to. Indovina Key's "Suy Taysik" is an insanely catch slice of synthy-disco, while Guillaume De Bois bathes in the sludge, all held together by some gorgeous full-fat leads. The omin-present Cherrystones brings a heavier tint to the B side with the clattering pots n' pans vibe of "Grunts Breakfast" and then Maybe Tonight bring a serious dose of 80s madcap sampling and boogie funk to "Tribuna Politica".
Review: Julien Jabre's Elias Productions returns with this sterling new package from the esteemed French producer. "Samana EP" kicks off with the Levant mix of the title track, which is a bombastic peak time cut loaded with emotional tension and release thanks to a powerful lead that reaches skywards like the crescendo of an unforgettable open air set. "Far At Sea" is a change of tempo that locks into a low slung groove without sacrificing the bold compositional surges that typify Jabre's approach in the studio. Lazare Hoche come on board to deliver an edit of "Samana" that nudges the wild peaks and valleys of the original towards a more steadfast, streamlined dancefloor workout.
Review: Elaine Kibaro is a French singer who grew up in Tunisia before enjoying a reasonably productive career in the late 70s and through the 80s. Emotional Rescue caught on to her fine contributions to the disco world via the Pour L'Amour collection, and now they offer up a pair of alternative cuts that add to the overall legacy of her career peak. "Fajrann" is a re-vocalled version of Kibaro's biggest hit "Aurore" sung in Arabic, speaking to her Tunisian roots, while "Ne Doute Pas" appears in its instrumental form for those who want the punchy Linn Drum beats and dazzling synth lines in all their glory.
Review: Anders Midtgaard is one of the leading proponents of the Balearic vibe in Denmark, alongside the likes of Kenneth Bager and Mike Salta. He inaugurates the Fantastic label with this beautiful summer groover, leading in with a plush remix from Italian maestro Luca Moplen. It's a feistier affair than Midtgaard's ever-so-slightly hazy original version, but both retain the core chord sequence that makes this such a heart-rending beauty of a track. The B side opens up with said original mix before Salta is then drafted in for a remix that leaves the disco locomotion behind for a breezier samba groove over which to play some delightfully warbling keys.
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: Palms and Charms' latest dose of "music for sunsets and dancing" comes from Miskotom, a Lithuanian husband-and-wife duo best known for their delicious deep house and dreamy downtempo EPs on Pleasure Unit and Dream Time. We're particularly enjoying languid but floor-friendly opener "Huacachina", where a lilting lone horn and drowsy chords rise above a cowbell-sporting beat and jazzy bass guitar, but the Nu Guinea style deep and dreamy jazz-funk goodness of "Berenice's Hair" is not fair behind. Further Balearic movements are provided on the flip, where the dreamy and drifting warmth of "Nazska" is followed be the gently bubbly beats, stretched-out chords, Simple Minds guitars and starry synths of "Aegean Cruise 1955".
Review: The third outing for Modern Manners emerges on the back of two very strong 12"s that introduced this anonymous outfit to the world. "Timeless Vibe" continues where the last release left off, building up a wonderfully cosmic bed of processed melody under which casual hand played percussion and warm bass notes can linger. "Azzahar" too keeps things pleasantly soporific with its gentle pace and lilting guitar refrains, and then "Middle East Manners" rounds this excellent trio of EPs out with a beautifully realised swirl of sounds that find focus once a kick drum starts pulsing and the percussion starts building. Quite who Modern Manners are is a mystery at this stage, but across these three 12"s they've certainly made their presence felt in the softest, most laid back of ways.
Review: Coming to life on a hazy cloud of natural instrumentation and meditative composition, Modern Manners tap into the appetite for delicate new age musings beautifully on this debut release. "Amor Y Odio" is laced with Spanish guitar musings that spiral out over a simple but effective drum break that harks back to classic downtempo, while "Running With Me" edges towards a more sprightly lounge headspace while retaining the rich musicality felt on the first track. "Instant Illusion" is propelled by a bassline that wouldn't sound out of place on a house track, but here its punching out in a subtle, laid back environment that aims to get you horizontal in the most sophisticated way possible.
Review: Out 2 are the product of a New York-based partnership between Jeremy Campbell and R. Zanzibar, who are just the kind of cult operators that Emotional Response so dearly love. With one foot in classic Talking Heads inspired funk variations and the other in the catch-all stylistic melee of the modern age, this is highly developed party music for well-read rug cutters to bust out shapes to. Just check the gorgeous synth violin styles on "Fire" or the heavy dub beatdown of "Rubber Hour" - these cats know what they're doing. All new-no-minimal-wave lovers take note!
Phantom Band/Linear Johnson & The Protons - "Rush Rush"
Drums Off Chaos - "Drums Off Chaos"
Review: The sadly departed Jaki Liebezeit was the kind of drummer whose influence will be continually recognised over the decades to come. Best known for his work in Can, there are also many more sides to this singular sticksman, and Emotional Rescue has chosen to shine a light on his post-Can period living in Stollwerck. On the A side of this 7" curio is the sound of Phantom Band with Linear Johnson & The Protons. "Rush Rush" has a spiky new wave bent to it, but still Liebezeit's drumming stands out. The B side "Drums Off Chaos" need little explanation - it's the sound of one of the all-time drumming greats letting rip in a ferocious blast of percussive abandon.
Review: It was Memorial Day Weekend 2016, and the sun shined bright over the Detroit River. Pontchartrain stepped up to the decks at the Red Bull stage at Movement Electronic Music Festival donning his infamous "Detroit vs. Itself" t-shirt. His first song through the Rane rotary mixer was a dubplate made specifically for his set: "Afterlife". It's a brilliantly executed balearic daytime disco rework that warrants the praise of summer anthem that it's earning. On the flip is "Pool", an equally sunny slomo beatdown rework from Blair French. It's a delightful blend of cerebral and soulful, and is finally getting a release after being originally championed by Peter Croce on his Le Mellotron Paris set back in early 2018.