The Sugar Cane Chronicles Vol.1
Woah. Bristol's Hypercolour has signed up Gary Gritness, aka Slikk Tim (or Tim Becherand) — French producer, multi-instrumentalist and collaborator with the likes of Kenny Bobien, Louis Vega and Los Hermanos. Cohort also of UR's 'Mad' Mike Banks and Orlando Voorn, with references like that you barely need to even hear the music. Luckily, the 'Sugar Cane Chronicles' is genuinely blinding. 'Preachin' Some Tight Game' is purest, distilled house music. 'Working Girls' and 'Stayin' Strong Hand' are a kind of blazing modern boogie, while 'Fly Shit' is some fly electro-vibed shit. Just. Buy. It.
'Art Of War (II) EP'
Former Money Shot recipient Peggy Gou returns with her second 'Art Of War EP' for Radio Slave's Rekids imprint, and it's another stunner. 'Jen High' is pleasingly rough-hewn house music, all the crackles and pops retained and riding the tough, pulsating percussion, with gentle electric pianos for contrast. 'When Round, They Go' squelches in all the right places, acid licks abrasive against warming pads. Meanwhile, Rush Hour and L.I.E.S. artist Terekke arrives on the remix, a phasing, flanging journey through the deepest, most unctuous house. Lovely.
Producer Hans Thalau reinvigorates his long-running colours series, this latest instalment — the first since 2013 and the first of four new shades — being 'black'. 'AA' is a languid introduction, robust house music at the 95bpm mark. It soon gives way to 'BB', a rattling, arpeggiating, trance-inducing excursion. 'CC' is considerably firmer, Fred P-style pads warming every inch of you. Winding up with 'DD', more pads and strings envelop you like a warm but slightly unsettling dressing gown. Long may the colours flow.
Shaun J. Wright & Alinka
'Face The Truth'
Staunch Chicago business from Chi-Town's Alinka and former Hercules & Love Affair dude Shaun J. Wright for this pristine excursion on Damian Lazarus's eminent Crosstown Rebels, after previous outings together on the legendary Classic. 'Face The Truth', with its haunting pad melody, and Wright's spooky vocals making for a blazing piece of late-night house music. Audiojack pitches in with a solid dub, but it might be the moody and majestic 'Pleasure' which wins out. But there are no losers here, least of all the tom-tastic 'My Heart Is Sincere'.
'In House EP'
Over 13 releases since 2011, Leicester's City Fly has proved time and again that it knows its onions when it comes to classy, underground jams. This EP brings together some of the core crew members. Jonna and Samwell recruit Lady Blacktronica for a nagging, irrepressible groove, unleashing bassline hell at the halfway point. 'Last Trip To Gandahar' is blissful disco oblivion, while Darran P's soothing Rhodes keys and clattering percussion on 'Without You' is skilfully understated. Rounding things out, 'Flori's Holloway' gets a firm yet hypnotic re-rub from J'Shez.
Still don't know who these three fellas are, but 10 releases in, it looks like any grand reveal of this faceless trio is increasingly unlikely. Not that it matters, of course. It does tend to draw one's focus from the peripherals to the music in question instead. 'A1' (yes, the names continue to be perfunctory) is magnificently ravey, synth stabs and a snare from a classic hardcore loop making for some tough dancefloor gear. Over, 'B1' retains the no-nonsense, tops-off vibe, a throbbing bassline and some scything drums underpin Germanic-sounding vocal instructions. Alles ist klar? Sehr gut.
'Lines + Colours'
London producer Moiré, last seen on Actress's Werkdiscs imprint, pitches up on Ghostly International's Spectral Sound spin-off, a perfect spot for his intricate, voluminous, funk-heavy productions. 'Red Circle', featuring Bones on the mic, is a delirious house music fever dream, dropping squidgy bass, adding white noise, layering percussion back in, dropping everything out bar the Morgan Geist-esque, pared-down drum track. It's just dazzling. 'Brixton', meanwhile, is spacious, trippy perfection, with added street vibes.
De Fantastiske To
Marius Sommerfeldt and Ravi Brunsvik are Norway's De Fantastiske To, or — as even a non-Norwegian speaker might surmise — the 'Fantastic Two'. Judging by this sterling four-tracker for veteran northern house-power powerhouse Paper Recordings, they are indeed capable of conjuring the fantastic. Title track 'Monokrom' features the odd-ball vocals of their countryman Ost, of Ost & Kjex fame. Weighed heavy with lurching swing and off-kilter stabs, it just pushes all the right buttons. Label boss Flash Atkins turns in a wonderfully wonky mix too, but this is all solid. Bravo.