Review: Bamboo Room lands on (Emotional) Especial in a fit of 80s grooves as you would expect to find on the label, but this is in fact the handiwork of debutant duo Duncan Thornley and Laurence Horstman. As Weird Weather they're exploring the fertile hinterland between proto-house, dub abstractions and worldly sounds - they may not be the first to do so, but they sound like complete naturals in this curious bubble. "Sequence 5" is a driving beatdown peppered with space-shaping delays and reverbs, while "Trash Dolphin" takes a cooler approach with some delicate percussive tones and chimes. "Bamboo Room" is a stark, stern beat track fit for a mid 80s cop thriller soundtrack, and the "Ormus Mix" that follows shrugs off most of the drums and heads into satin-lined ambient territory.
Junior Fairplay - "End Of Love" (Roy Of The Ravers remix 2) (4:46)
Freeform Five - "Throwing Stones" (Jamie Paton remix) (7:23)
Red Axes - "Waiting For A Surprise" (Kris Baha remix) (7:21)
Bal5000 - "Kids" (7:26)
Review: (Emotional) Especial heralds its 30th release with a killer package from an all-star cast that takes in label regulars and newcomers alike. The vibe starts heated and heavy with modern acid champ Roy Of The Ravers taking a blunt instrument or two to Junior Fairplay's "End Of Love," firing off the kind of bludgeoning b-line and fizzing drums that makes his direct approach to the dancefloor so potent. It's somewhat surprising to see Freeform Five pop up on this 12", but Jamie Paton's remix of "Throwing Stones" sounds utterly natural in the habitat - a brooding, simmering trip shot through with noirish synths. Kris Baha gets busy with Red Axes' "Waiting For A Surprise," twisting out an exotic bubbler perfect for the low tempo chugging crowd, and then Bal5000 wraps things up with the gorgeous electro-disco delights of "Kids".
Review: Alphonse has already dropped a pair of 12"s on Especial in the past, but he's on especially excellent form this time around. A veteran of the halcyon rave days of the 90s, he's got a lot to draw on to conjure his particular kind of machine jams. "Moan Up" is a truly dazzling track, all twinkling synth lines interweaving around a crisp old school groove. As well as the loved up peaks of the original, there's also a beatless mix of the track that lets the melodies shine on their own. "White Pepper" takes things moodier and lets some sultry sax wail over the top, while retaining some of that boxy drum machine energy. There's even space for some tasteful guitar wailing - excellent.
Review: 10 Germany seem to get it bang-on each and every time! For a label who has released the likes of Ancient Methods, Perc and Matthew Herbert, among other legends, we'd expect nothing less than the spectacular and this is exactly what we got with this latest collaborative effort by Italy's Daniele Brusachetto, Jansky Noise, Human Larvae and Damaskin. Brusachetto's "Grigi Ma" is weird and wonderful pop tune set against a backdrop of cavernous percussion rattles, while Janksy Noise's "Black Night" is a full-on drone monster. Over on the flip, "Ruined" by Human Larvae is a fuzzy, noise-fuelled scorcher, and "Apocalypse" sees Damaskin produce the EP's only shred of rigidity thanks to its consistent 4/4 kick...accompanied by some rather gnarly power electronics, of course.
Review: 10 PILLS MATE is on one hell of a roll in closing the year off; after Andrew Red Hand's absolute killers, here comes six more techno bruisers from newbie Faur. The young chap is in no mood to mess around, and it's clear that he means business given the raw jungle power of the opening "Track 1", and the jacking, tooled-up techno of "Track 2" and "Track 3", the latter of which slips steadily into a nightmarish wormhole of hypnotics and pure dread. "Track 4" is a loose, distorted arrangement while, on the flip, "Track 5" is totally dancefloor-bound with its stealthy techno slither, and "Track 6" ties this magnetic EP off with a rugged beat flex that reminds us of the golden days of the DJAX label. BAD-ASS.
Review: A new concept here for Berlin based disco/house label founded by Deep88: 12Records. On Underground Is The New Upperclass EP, the title says it all: here are four emerging artists with their fresh and natural idea of house music that's keeping it real: no pictures, no posers. From Rhythm 2 Soul's tribute to 808 State on "Soul Catcher" and the gritty lo-slung acid of Colkin's "Boston Illegal" on the A side. The flip features the sensual and evocative deepness of Modena's MHCrew with "I Remember Aus" (featuring Krabah) and lastly PTR Zoo with the neon-lit "Lombok" taking its cues from hip-house and new jack swing.
Review: 124 Recordings know how to put together a deep house compilation, and they're sounding fierce on this latest, appropriately titled Levels Up. The jams come heavy and funky from a range of on-point operators, leading in with Tom Jay's quintessential New Jersey bump n grind on "Hanging On". David Moran is a little more shadowy but no less groovesome, while Nicola Brusegan takes things on a sweet and smooth tip. Across the whole double pack there are classically informed jams to satisfy the most weary deep house heads, but keep an ear out for the old-school flavoured heft of Freak D's "Power Of Bass", which should get some seriously jacking airtime in the right kind of dance.
Review: 12th Isle's latest must-check chunk of entertaining experimentalism comes from Lo Kindre, whose dub-wise 2017 debut on Optimo Music was arguably one of that year's most overlooked EPs. "Chlorophytum", the producer's first solo missive since then, is another lo-fi electronic dub treat. Of course, it's not all gentle bass-heavy rhythms, endless delay trails and cute electronic melodies - closing cut "For Sleep" is a buzzing electronic raga, for example - but it's on these bass-heavy excursions that Lo Kindre most frequently hits the spot. Highlights include the extraordinarily sub-heavy shuffle of "Sounder", the ambient dub wooziness of "Aibell" and the creepy alien-dub oddness of "No Hiding".
Review: Harlem NYC based 13th Hour return with more music for the witching hour on their third release, after having previously shown off great grooves by Belgian Ricky Razu, Tbilisi's Hamatsuki and local lad M. Vaughan. This time round they have decided to focus on two select talents, with the A side being taken care of by Colombia's Felipe Gordon. He takes a break from the three-piece Mercury to deliver the Jazzmatazz inspired cut "I'll Become Blue" and the dusty, emotive deepness of "The Last Time I Saw You". On the flip, things start to heat up with Australian Loure (Apparel/Slothboogie Jamz) who serves up some sexy late mood lighting on "So Dive" and vocal-led cut "Club Shade".
Review: Fresh from laying down a killer remix of KiNK on Running Back, 17 Steps bosses Dusky offer up their first EP of 2018. The EP's title and opening track, "Amongst The Gods" - a wonderfully sweaty, retro-futurist peak-time anthem full of poignant chords, beautiful synthesizer melodies, bustling breakbeats and ethereal vocal samples - were named in honour of their late friend Jan Francis, promoter of London's infamous ATG Warehouse parties. Much of the rest of the EP sounds like it was tailor made for Francis' old events, too, from the restless piano stabs and fluid chords of "Angles", and the trance-inducing, arpeggio-driven chug of "The Captain", to the sweat-soaked, acid-powered techno intensity of mind-altering smasher "The Ace". There's no doubt their old friend would approve.
Review: Hot on the chem trails of his Dispatch EP "Posse", Cologne's SubMarine returns to Alix Perez's 1985 with his first EP for the label. It leads with "Xertz", a sinewy roller data spitting roller that's been heavily supported by the likes of Monty, Halogenix and Perez himself. "Dive Alarm" is pure cascading panic while "Luna" rumbles with a creepy sense of gothic suspense and pure alien purrs on the bass. Finally "Angler Beat" bigs up all fishermen out there with a bassline that will catch us all hook, line and stinker. Take a deep dive today.
Review: 1985 is a London based platform for forward thinking electronic music, basing its roots in 170/85 BPM and beyond. Label head honcho Alix Perez takes charge of the label's next release alongside label staple Montgomery Brimley from Toulouse (aka Monty) and London based Jeroen Snik aka Icicle (Shogun Audio/Entropy Music). Perez first flies solo on the darkside techstepper "BXL", while "Caligo" (with Monty) builds the suspense with its industrial edged atmosphere. On the flip, "Live With It" (with Icicle) is minimalist breakbeat science with a futurist edge, featuring pitch shifted and melancholic vocals, with a sub-bass that tears through your speakers like a chainsaw.