Spiral Arms EP
The first release of 2015 from Aus Music comes courtesy of Youandewan, and to use the parlance of our times, it's a fucking cracker. For our money, Ewan Smith, once of Leeds now of Berlin, has frequently threatened greatness. This is the sound of him achieving it. The three spine-tingling house tracks herein (plus a humping remix from Marquis Hawkes) will convince the thus-far unconvinced. 'Stak Poly Looms' layers fragile pads with skittering percussion in the most skilful manner. 'Isabel' flits from the dark side to the light, waiting until act three to unveil a devastating bassline. 'Fool Be Cool' is jacking acid melded with gorgeous garage. Oh, well done, sir. Well done.
Bred For Pleasure
'Better Than This'
To this day, whenever we see the words 'Larry', 'Heard' and 'remix', we get a quiver of excitement. He remains the master. Quintin Christian and Vandemeer (that's them of the title) and their sprawling double-pack from London's Lower East label arguably guilds the lily, with part one boasting heavy remixes from Naked Naked's Mak & Pasterman and Last Magpie. But it's Heard's passes — there's a Larry Heard and a Mr Fingers mix — that remind us what true deep house sounds like.
Lana Del Rey
'Brooklyn Baby (Remixes)'
Lana Del Rey's Brooklyn Baby gets deconstructed and thoroughly rinsed by the peerless Pepe Bradock, Juan Maclean, Richard X and Konstantin Sibold. It's 90s club vibes for both Maclean and Konstantin Sibold, the former blazing his Robin S organs, while Sibold's rerub glistens with thick drums, piano stabs and silken production. Richard X's throbbingly euphoric electro-house take is all kinds of epic, but it's Bradock who, with his hauntingly wonderful Sixth Mix, proves his long held genius status is still thoroughly deserved.
A statuesque release from Andy 'Hercules & Love Affair' Butler's Mr. Intl label. Hexxy is his new project with DJ Nark, founder of the excellent 'aural gallery' site Bottom Forty and Nark magazine. Debut track 'Edging' rattles and hums through a taut five minutes, a dark electronic disco workout thick with harsh hats and some old school vocal action. On the flip, it's Butler in solo form on 'Bewm Chawq', laden with snappy block percussion and snapshots from Sandee's classic 'Notice Me' adorning a bubbling 303 bassline. Vee nice.
'Jaded (Lone Remix)'
This third single to emerge from Disclosure's second album 'Caracal' has had extensive re-tools from the likes of Boy Better Know's Jammer and Dense & Pika, the latter being a dark, brooding techno workout. But it's this version from Nottingham's Lone which scores, all delivered in a lean, mean five minutes. Warm Detroit synths prepare the way for pulsing stabs and a rattling loop, retaining Howard Lawrence's vocals. It's an end of night anthem if ever we've heard one.
'Mr W00d EP'
Rob Glassett — for Fold is he, previously seen on the likes of Ornate Music — drops this delectable slab of unfettered funk for ManMakeMusic. 'Mr W00d' is filtered perfection, fattened by those type of skipping, skittering house beats that are most favoured on this page. 'Keif Chugwin' chugs, as it so kindly mentions in the title; a dark, big room rave number with a hint of menace. 'No Foolin'', meanwhile, delivers more delicate shuffling. It's solid gear.
Freude Am Tanzen
Stefan 'Juno6' Schulz gives jazz house a good — nay, great — name here. 'Woe and Flatter', produced with minimal computer interference, is stunning, with its gentle Rhodes-style keys, percussion fading in and out, pinned down by a pulsing four-four kick. 'The Session' and 'Rnapo Pina' are all languid and off-kilter, the former with echoes of muted horns, the latter weighed down with rasping synths. 'Hey There Buddy' is a wondrous, spacious groove, like St Germain at the Panorama Bar. Love this.
Akwaaba, Bakradze & HVL
'Ritual In Transfigured Time Vol 1'
Straddling Paris and Tbilisi in Georgia, Transfigured Time is run by Gacha (aka Bakradze), Ash and Serga, three childhood friends and patently connoisseurs of house music, and this is a genuinely stunning first release. Bakrazde's 'Quiet Loop' is quietly mesmerising, alternating between two simple piano chords, but becoming so much more than that, while HVL's 'Real Command' is shimmeringly, joyously emotive. Ivory Coast producer Akwaaba's 'Mumunde' broods beneath clattering percussion, and Bantu busts out deep, unctuous electro. This is exciting.
Soul of Hex
The superb Soul Of Hex — aka Mexico's 4004 and Sebastian Vorhaus — are on fire at the moment. There's another excellent release for Freerange this month too ('The Muth EP', also very much worth checking). This, for Mexican imprint CVMR, is loaded with a skippy groove and laden with spine-tingling pianos on 'Intro'. 'Sleep Mistakes', meanwhile, features Albert Vogt on vocals in a low-slung deep disco groove that's just irresistible. The equally hot Glenn Astro busts beats with a stuttering remix, while 'Ink' is a super-slick party-starter par excellence.
Just the fourth release on Yumé (following cuts from Neinzer and Claus Voigtmann) and already it's developing quite the rep. Doing his utmost to ensure he doesn't drop the ball is UK-born, Cologne-dwelling Matt Karmil, with three thoroughly hypnotic, minimal-yet-somehow-not-minimal grooves. 'I Freeze', with its occasional bursts of vocals, has trance-inducing qualities. 'You Boil' turns out a floor-filling, Crydamoure-esque, squelching acid loop, while 'We Thaw' — arguably the highlight here — is some of the most interesting monotony around.
Mr Alkan originally conceived 'Sub Conscious' for his 'Fabric Live' mix, released last summer. It would have been a shame to just leave it there. So here he unleashes its potential on his own Phantasy Sound. Johannes Auvinen, aka Tin Man, throbs his way through a dreamy, acidic excursion before unleashing hell. Well, by hell, we mean classic rave pianos. It'll have you reaching for your dungarees and white gloves. On the flip, Kamera pitches a moody, atmospheric take which drones and roars come the denouement. Both are marvellous.
The Vinyl Factory
He of Azari & III fame, Toronto's very own Dinamo Azari drops this blinder for London's Vinyl Factory imprint, a squelching, glacial workout with vocals from Fritz Helder and Starving Yet Full, who also assisted him on the Azari & III material before the group disbanded in 2013. This is the first single to drop from his forthcoming solo album — 'Estranged' — a most enticing proposition, if this is any indication of what's to come. It's out on 180g vinyl too, in case you needed further encouragement.
'When Monkeys Attack'
Blazing work from this 20-year-old from Miami, showing far more dancefloor savvy than he has any right to. The frantic 'When Monkeys Attack' is somehow mastered to sound like you're listening to it on a dodgy car radio coming back from an illegal rave in 1989. 'El Dinero Falla' skips, bumps and grinds in the best New Jersey style, jammed with off-kilter synths. 'Sadati', meanwhile, with a merciless bassline and reverb you could get lost in, pumps without a break for six minutes. It's a girthsome workout indeed. Massively promising.
'Whenever I Try To Leave'
Tenth Circle label boss Greg Sawyer steps behind the software on this polished three-tracker for Bristol's Falk Recordings. With its layered, melancholy pianos, 'A Fading Glance' is a lovely swelling thing, gorgeously understated. 'Mayflies' is brimming with moody, building atmospherics, minor chord pads and Burial-esque snatches of vocal. 'Whenever I Try To Leave' winds it up, a wash of echoing percussion, deep, unctuous vibrations and gently soothing pianos chords. This could lead Sawyer somewhere special.