Homeboy - 'Kaprije EP'
House is OK
Think the best beats in Croatia are the imported kind heard at the festivals that dominate the islands come summertime? Zagreb's Marko Pelaic is bound to make you think again with his Homeboy moniker, and this extraordinary three-tracker.
Although he's put out plenty of tunes on Wolf Music, Hypercolour, brilliant Croatian label Burek and his own House is OK stable (co-run by Janis, who's also scored a Killer on this very page), this troika of trax is something special, the kind that gets an artist really noticed. 'Kaprije', the lead cut is a breezy, Balearic, low-slung houser with moody, Latin grand pianos soaked in vivid pigment and vital soul, its squelching, electroid bassline keeping the grit and flavour intact, before a long ambient coda of swirling tidal synths and mechanical birdsong.
A tribute to the island of the same name, far off the tourist trail (for now), it's a fitting metaphor to describe the deeper musical richness that's in the country if you choose to look a little further.
'The Simple Things in Life' is a more electronic, upbeat thing, all warm analogue bass, cut-up, processed guitar figures, but still licked by coastal breezes, rich in detail and yearning. Lastly, 'Somewhere a Band is Playing' centres around some unplaceable, lush jazz funk sample, again embellished with Marko's gift for melody and clarity. Anyone who digs 'Deep Burnt' — surely anyone who likes house, then — will dig this. Proof if it were needed that Croatia is making its own generation of great dance artists.
Nautiluss - 'Fly High'
Nite Owl Diner
Just the third release on Chrissy Murderbot's new house-oriented label and already it's unmissable. Of the four-track EP, every track is strong, but check 'Fly High': its urgent sample cut-ups, propulsive kicks, claps and snares will make heads turn and feet move wherever it's heard. 'Aerochrome' featuring Vin Sol is also a pearler: its gun cocking percussive effects, techy disco build and eventual bass drop a tonic to the spirit.
Bodyjack - 'The Throwdown'
Consider the gauntlet flung. This latest fusillade from the house of Chris Finke is a tough thump of percussive house, rising bass groove and stabs. Check the little breakbeat dropdowns for serious flavour, replete with added Gwen McRae vox and rave prods. Vibes.
N / Y / X - 'Kalamazoo'
DIVA (aka Matt Didemus of Junior Boys) and Primitive World (Sam Willis, half of Walls) have a new label — and on this evidence, it's gonna be very exciting to watch its development. N / Y / X is a hook-up between Didemus and tipped producer Iron Galaxy and 'Kalamazoo' is a lovely piece of swung out, strung out squelchy analogue house, all clever melodic developments and bass interplay, where electro-pop and dancefloor house meet.
Janis - 'You Can't See Me EP'
Sound engineer by day — so that's why his tunes sound so crisp! — Janis is the other half of the House is OK crew, alongside Homeboy (see above), and has released on Tensnake's Mirau imprint. 'You Can't See Me', a techy mover with a drifty female vocal, creeping bleeps, dark, raw bass and a mind-mangling crescendo is great, but for this writer, 'Tender Love' is even better, with its hazy, gorgeous quintessential house chords, and a captivating vocal: atmospheric bliss.
After initiating London's Lobster Theremin imprint to become one of the most talked-about new house artists around, Palms Trax aka Jay Donaldson has followed up with an EP of pure gold for Dekmantel. Following suit with the sublime, bouncing, pad-laden sound of 'Equation', 'In Gold' is just as gorgeous, built upon a funky analogue wiggle that doesn't let up. 'People of Tusk' is more acidic but even more airy, flowing with whooshing analogue wind, addictive chords and a thumping 4/4. 'Sumo Acid Crew', on the flip, meanwhile, builds so beautifully it could be Omar S. Magic!
Redpine & Solo - 'Smoke City EP'
Leeds-based pairing John Stuckley and Sam Moss, aka Redpine & Solo, have delivered a cracking EP to Studio Rockers, the post-everything label run by the Moody Boyz's Tony Thorpe. Title track 'Smoke City' — all airy melancholic strings, skittering breaks and downlow subs — evokes near-forgotten '90s artcore junglists like Foul Play or Spring Heel Jack, while 'Stay True' is more of an abstrakt, cinematic beatsy Ninja beast. 'I Am Someone' is all meandering and jazzual, and 'The Love' featuring Franceskah is clanging, dubwise smoked-out trip-hop wonder. More top gear than a Clarkson box set.