February’s fruggers are spoilt for choice when it comes to four-to-the-floor gear. Jimpster surprises, slotting his jazz and soul into an unexpectedly downtempo setting. Lorenzo Morresi celebrates feminist auteur, Agnes Varda, on Le Bonheur. Yuksek joins forces with fellow Reims-based DJ / producer, Alex Blex. Simon Hinter delivers the dance-floor goods for Fluid Funk. Hazmat LIVE pays homage to Balearic pop goddess, Sade. Heist Recordings run their ace, annual remix relay. Peter Matson and Eno Williams collaborate on a cool future-afro anthem, while Sean McCabe and Harold Matthews Jr. generate some Good Vibrations. There’s also a super eclectic E.P. from Argentinian musical magician, Manuel Sahagun, on Freerange.
Words and selections by The Insider.
Deep house producer Jimpster goes full circle on this totally unexpected album, which will to put some jaws on the floor when it drops. Birdhouse finds the much-revered DJ looking back to his roots, to hip hop and jazzed infused soulful beats. The album was made during the dark days of the pandemic, but rather than mope in melancholia it`s bursting with optimism and overflowing with hope. The eight tracks on this superb collection showcase the cool blue depths of Jimpsters talent and expansive musical chops. Standouts include Ascension with the vocal of Oliver Night (though it sounds like Jimpster himself on the mic to me!) – first played by Gilles Peterson a few weeks ago on 6 Music. Then there’s the aptly titled, Beautiful Day, the deep and moody Future Paradise, and Telegram, which features hip house don, Capitol A…but I’m going to put this out there and say that Doors To Your Heart is the track of the album. The tempo lifts slightly as key changes make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck, while its broken beat rouses and the other-worldly vocal bolsters the spirit. Birdhouse is a fine body of work – rich, rounded and oozing with soul. It was conceived in a challenging time, but throughout this adversity Jamie Odell continues to inspire the masses and has emerged from the last few years even stronger than he was before.
Super sexy label, Rollover Milano, is the product of the crew’s long, 10-year, running party held at the Apollo in their home city. An event which has played host to all the gods of nu disco and the higher realms of house. This time the label heads and party residents, Rocco Fusco and Tiberio Carcano, welcome DJ / producer and talented guitarist, Lorenzo Morresi, to the fold. Morresi’s world of sound is deep rooted in jazz, which he mixes and blends with some blazing electronica. Having caught the ears of Worldwide FM, Spiritland, and Brilliant Corners, Morresi travels between the cities of London and Milan. This release is inspired by the 1965 arthouse movie of the same name by Agnes Varda – a cult flick that explores themes of modern feminism. Le Bonheur is a widescreen cinematic combination of contemporary dance music and sparkling vintage synths, intercut with the movie characters vox, all mixed up with some spacey atmospherics. Boston cosmic funksters Soul Clap flip the track with a very classy interpretation, that floats along on a gorgeous deep house groove. The killer E.P. closer, Amour a Trois, features French artist Gustave Robic aka Aerside on vocals, who took his lyrical and vocal inspiration from the films’ male protagonist Francois.
Yuksek is the tastefully off-centre French DJ and producer who runs Partyfine from his studio in Reims. The label has its own unique shade of disco / electro, and has played host to some notable artists like the inimitable Dimitri From Paris, Jean Tonique and Weekend Affair. Partyfine’s next release comes from someone Yuksek has known for a double decade, but they never quite got round to releasing anything before! Fast forward twenty years and Reims-based mystery producer, Alex Blex, pulls it together on his debut solo E.P., Nice Move Peter! The opener takes us on a tongue-in-cheek drive, where the glam rock, psychedelic vibe, and sexy sax place a cherry on top of this toe-tapping, top-down groover. Wait For It has the promise of Robotnik’s Problems D’ Amour before it switches up into a brass-filled jazz-funk. Yuksek reworks the title track and turns in one hell of a cosmic disco banger, where laser beams fire over a beast of a bass-line, while a thousand club starved ravers dance the night away under mirror-ball stars.
Simon Hinter has been making music for over a decade. Based in Cologne, this modest underground head has been compared to the late, great, Soulphiction. His percussion is strong, and his beat programming stands out to those in the know, and after his 2021 release on Freerange, he caught the attention of rising Dutch label, Fluid Funk. Hinter is a dexterous manipulator of soulful grooves and sample heavy blends, and since establishing himself as one to watch over the last few years, his credentials are racking up. With releases on Madhouse, Nite Groove and Quintessentials, and his Wanna Make Love making it onto Disclosure`s DJ-Kicks compilation. Phoenix Flight is another fine example of Simon dispensing his inimitable gospel. Jazz clarinets, brittle chords and drum workouts fill the title track, while Belly Belly displays classic strings, catchy bass, and loops of funk. Crazy Times takes a more broken beat direction, while the jazzy Rhodes and rhythms of Big Train give away Hinters long-time obsession with rugged hip hop.
Soul Clap`s Eli & Charlie hooked up with Detroit native, Walter Howard aka Hazmat LIVE, at an afterparty in Motor City, where Walter was flexing his Talkbox magic. Is this Sade’s No Ordinary Love I hear you ask? Yes it is. Die-hard Balearics may argue House Of Efunk are treading on some dangerous turf covering this seminal classic, but I have to say they’ve seriously pulled it off! Hazmat’s ‘Reimagination’ of this absolute classic keeps all the emotion of the original intact, and the love is stretched out over five varied interpretations. Hazmat’s vocoder version is stunning, with added lush chords and deep pads, while Charlie steps up with his widescreen spaced-out Ben Watts inspired effort, which also has an instrumental (digi bonus) if you prefer to leave the Talkbox to the side. Fellow Detroit original Delano Smith goes deeper still, rubbing the remix with his pristine late night sonics, along with Hijacked Records boss man, Antwon Faulkner, laying down impressive D-town flavours, raising the vibe and the tempo for a prime-time rendition of this timeless tune.
VARIOUS ARTISTS / THE ROUND UP 8 / HEIST RECORDINGS
Heist Recordings is one of those labels that’s always a sure thing and their Round Up has become something of a tradition. The concept goes – all the last year`s artists get invited to have a go at each other’s tracks. The tracks literally get written down on small slips of paper, given a shake, and picked out of a hat to determine who will remix who. The new collection kicks off with JKriv and Peter Matson taking a shot at Fouk`s massive bank roller Money, while Dutch duo, Makèz, work some broken beat magic on Parisian Marina Trench’s highly rousing Wake Up. Dark destroyer, Lore Of The Samurai lends his Justifice to Fouk who inject some significant bounce and expand the bass of this big bad boy of a track. Marina cleverly twists up Felipe Gordon’s Highly Corrosive Acid. Colombian trail blazer Gordon then re-rubs JKriv and Pete Matson`s New Friend, while Samurai-san completes the circle with a deadly do-over of Makèz’ City of All – which happens to be my pick of the pack. Confused? Just listen to it. This has to be the strongest Round Up yet. 10/10 Heist.
Brooklyn label, Bastard Jazz, welcomes Peter Matson back with his The Right Way E.P. It comes hot on the heels of Peter`s recent collaboration with Razor-N-Tape’s JKriv. Their Big Time, on Heist, perfectly paving the way for more hi-energy Balearic afro-disco goodness. The Underground System lead man flys solo on this fire cracker, showcasing his unique brand of cosmic disco loveliness. Matson pulls out all the tricks and brings all the right noises to the dance on the cracking, Call and Answer. Ibibio Sound Machine`s Eno Williams lays down her exotic vocal on the Lagos-leaning bomb, while London’s Faze Action Robin and Simon Lee do a fine job of transporting Eno to their boogie wonderland where the afro meets proto, disco, and house. The brilliant title track builds slowly to a burning Italo heat and wouldn’t be out of place in a Daniele Baldelli set! This whole EP is fun, its fresh and shouts “summer.” I’m keeping my eye on this producer.
Good vibrations is the label of love belonging to Bristol-based, Sean McCabe – a soul much respected on the underground scene for his super deep house productions. McCabe has made his mark on this genre over the years, and now he invites Chicago songwriter / poet / performer / producer, Harold Matthews Jr. back to his imprint. Harold, over the years, has penned some timeless classics, that you’ll perhaps be shocked to learn about, the most notable being Barbara Tucker`s I get Lifted. His tracks have shaken dancefloors and MAW sets since the `90s, and still do. On Peripheral Vision, Harold delivers a package of powerful lyrics over five solid cuts – collaborating with Cardiff’s DJ Fill and Black Sonix, fellow Chicagoan, Nickel Slick, plus vocalists, Syl Messi and Dawn Williams – on the sublime Into You. Sean joins in too on the remix. The collection spans from deep house, to solid soul grooves, to fine and credible hip hop. This album sampler is a must-grab for serious spinners.
Prolific in his home country of Argentina, Manuel Sahagun, has been producing, and spinning, extremely eclectic sets, lighting up dance-floors for a two decades. This man has fans in all the big names, with legends like Laurent Garnier singing his praises. Could it be that they share a burning passion for playing across the genres? Manuel`s previous releases have been on labels, Kolour and Tooman, and his remixes, for Robert Owens and Patrick Chardronnet, have been more than impressive. This second outing on London flagship label, Freerange, follows his stellar, Awake, from back in 2019. Manuel comes out all guns blazing with three tracks that range from acid-tinged, to Detroit-flavoured, to the more blissed-out closer, Ritmo Pandemico.
Selections from all these releases can be heard on Saturday – 8 til 9PM Japan time, currently 11AM GMT – when The Insider will be my very special guest on The Remedy, care of FM Karuizawa 77.5 MHZ. Following broadcast, the show will be archived on Mixcloud.