Huxley & Shenoda
'Chatsworth Sound EP'
Since winning Best Label at the DJ Mag Best of British Awards in 2011, Defected have continued to go from strength to strength. Adroit at raising their finger to detect the prevailing wind of change, they've earned their rep by transforming the stirrings of the underground into mainstream success, pushing the likes of Tensnake to even greater heights and introducing house legends such as MK, Murk and Kevin Saunderson to a new generation of clubbers.
With label boss Simon Dunmore aided by ears like those of Luke Solomon, a leftfield dance icon in his own right, and one of the men jointly responsible for defining labels Music For Freaks and Classic Records, you can be sure that even if some of the label's output isn't to your taste, you'll rarely have to wait long for a Grade A, bunker-busting missile of tune.
UK clubs are still currently going crazy for the sound of '90s garage-influenced house, and there aren't many — if any — who've perfected it with the seeming ease of Bristol's Huxley, aka Michael Dodman. From the bubbling bass and spoken word of 'Box Clever' to the 2-step breakdown of the ravier 'Little Things', his tracks have been finding favour everywhere from Detroit's Visionquest to the airwaves of Rinse FM, making Huxley one of the hottest names on the circuit.
In this light, his studio partner Shenoda is a relative unknown, but he's been making his way across DJ Mag's radar for some time. Dropping us a DJ Weekly podcast back in May to accompany his 'I Feel EP' for Huxley's Saints & Sonnets imprint (a DJ Mag Killer Of The Month), it was clear that his sound encompassed all that we're digging, mixing garage and hazy deep house with the peripheries of techno's youthful new wave.
Knowing this, 'Chatsworth Sound' really does sound like a meeting of minds. Certain to be championed from all quarters is lead cut, 'I Don't Know'. Straight in with a rising pad, there's no messing about as skipping drums and a fat sub drop into a female vocal. Then the bass kicks in proper, and there's only one way that things are going to go as it switches up before a second break and drop.
While this is undoubtedly the flashy show-piece, 'Premier' is in a similar league. More restrained, it still rides a wave of monumental speed garage sub-bass, pitched-down male vocals cuts and a full female chorus looped over the body of the track to grab your full attention before it rides out with heavily reverbed keys.
With another hit on his hands, 'Chatsworth Sound' proves Huxley the master of his oeuvre with a winning formula that rarely sounds formulaic. And if there's any justice, Shenoda will soon be just as recognisable a name.
Pusherman x Unit 7
New digital imprints in today's infinitely saturated cybersphere need to make a statement. And few come as forthright as this double A-side on WRHSmusic. Pusherman's 'Alysia's Theme', with its bleak industrial intro, sets the tone before dropping into a dark, chest-clutching vision of cyborgian funk. However, it's label-owners Unit7 who deliver the killer blow with 'On My Mind' — a brooding tech house steamer with a cavernous underside of gut-churning bass, perfectly primed for peak time.
There's nothing 'Candle In The Wind' about Eltron John's latest effort for hip new Polish imprint S1 Warsaw. As the title implies, it's a bug-eyed slice of jackin' house built around sinister synthetic strings and a contorted vocal sample (repeat after us: “BOMBY, BOM, BOM BOM”). Expect the likes of Alkan and Brodinski to drop it at a sweatbox near you. The Linkwood rework on the flip is also a bomb-y – albeit smoother.
La Fleur is back, this time with a slamming New Jersey house jam with deep chords. As flowery as her namesake, it's got enough substance to rock any dancefloor in full flight. Built around a hook that coils around a vocal sample, it unfurls into a forest of free-flowing melodica. Kenny Larkin's remix is a grim tunnel-tech version with jazzy keys, and 'Tide' is a tough, metallic groover with plenty of swing.
Audiojack continue to get the best out of their signings with A1 Bassline's best work in ages. 'Instasound' is booming jungle-inspired house, accentuated by spacey pads and MC ad-libs, then turned into a teasing, dubby bruk groove by Mr G on his 'Ibiza Dub'. 'Jaguar Shark' is even more lively, chunky garage drums and classic NYC piano and synth-work showing a new level of musical maturity. We are most definitely 'inta' this sound.
He might live in Manchester, but CVNT (aka Nial Connoly) knows his vogue ballroom – visit his CVNTY blogspot if you're not up to speed. Mixing ubiquitous 'The Ha Dance' [Masters At Work] tropes with a host of UK influences, this latest five-track EP sizzles with energy and attitude. Most obvious standouts are the 130bpm bumping bass of his 'RIP Groove'-sampling 'Feminine Destruction', and 'Ding', which transposes chopped hardcore breaks onto slow-slung, subby trap, but 'Statement' is solidly original throughout.
Everyone knows the Spanish like it deep, dark and sexy. Los Suruba's latest for their eponymous imprint is a chugging tech house juggernaut that builds towards a blistering, post-apocalyptic storm. The perfect climate for Silky to work his magic with some sultry wooden percussion and a warm underbelly of sub-bass to form an unusually house-y number, before Ceri gets all tweaky with some disorientating minimal. Macabre, but majestic.