Firstly, I must apologize for the tardiness of this / last month’s tips. This is no fault of The Insider, who mailed me the finished article weeks ago, while I was in transit, in Europe. Back home now, but slightly fogged by jet-lag, I take full responsibility for this now being a brief rewind into June. Everything is of course still “hot”, still current. I think some of the tunes mentioned remain unreleased. From Joe Claussell celebrating Local Talk`s 10th anniversary, to Byron The Aquarius launching his own label, Talknoi$e. Beats are broken, disco classics extended, and the music of Africa invoked. Georg Levin gets compared to Bryan Ferry.
All words and selections by our favourite four-to-the-floor expert, The Insider.
There are house records and there are house records like this. First hurled into the atmosphere back in 2012, when Swedish duo, Local Talk, launched a label that was going to be THE most important soulful house imprint in Stockholm. As the best things often are, it was a meeting of friends, who came together to deliver the timeless double A-sided single, Moon Shadow & Moonlight. Fast forward a decade, and the Local Talk heroes have gone from strength to strength, building their mighty brand. In celebration of a sterling 10 years, they’ve dug deep into their dusty archives and reissued this forever house classic. To refresh it, 2022 style, Body & Soul’s EQ maestro / magician, Joe Claussell, turns Moonshadow into 10-minute epic, with the most uplifting breakdown since Kings of Tomorrow’s heyday. The flipside is blessed by two thirds of the original Bassfort line-up – now going under the Kyodai moniker. Who better to shake up Moonlight than these Berlin blood brothers, and what a tremendously monumental re-rub they’ve delivered! If you didn’t buy this record – and I really don’t think they’ll be any left – you’ve missed one gigantic, collectable piece of black plastic. 10/10
Is there an argument to be had as to whether we’ve had a few too many old disco edits? Maybe, but when they come out of the studio like this, then you’ve gotta let them off the hook. Charles Vaughan might be largely unknown, but I’m making a note to keep my ears him, as his selection here is top draw. Somewhere in South London, Vaughan has worked some groovy disco magic on the 1975 original and made it Studio 54 ready for shimmering summer dance-floors. There’s a good ten minutes of this sparkling, feel-good “odyssey”, where satin shorts, sequins, and roller skates are all you’ll need to make it through the long disco night. Theon Bower also steps in and flips the switch taking the track into more house beat territory. Loved by DJ Harvey, the Idjut Boys, Laurent Garnier, and Horse Meat Disco – of course! 8/10
If Afronaught says “its dope”, then I’m in. Taking inspiration from the West London sounds of the Co-op, Romans SofaTalk and XL Regular, get down and dirty across four tracks of jazzy broken beat loveliness. Hosted by Daniel Leseman & Hans Peeman – aka Fouk and the label heads at Outplay Records, Afro Quarters offers up four tasty slices that sit so well together, while having their own unique flavour. Funk, soul, and jazz, merge with broken beats and some hip-hop swagger. Electronic, but infused with live instrumentation, heavy, funk-fuelled bass-lines, and keys that make it hard for the dancer not to groove, and wiggle! Throw in some tastefully done flute and Rhodes solos, and you’ll find yourself thinking of the masterworks of Kaidi Tatham. Packed with luscious warm chords and some unbelievably impressive broken house beats, Laurent Garnier, Francois K, Zepherin Saint, and original Bugz in the Attic gangster, Daz-I-Kue, are all giving it one big thumbs up. 8/10
Casbah 73 may be a new name to some, but he’s been gliding below the surface of the scene for some time as a solid record digger and dealer. Originally from the USA, he spent time dwelling in the UK before settling – with his ridiculously large record collection – in Madrid. From his studio in the Spanish heat, Oli Stewart delivers the tropical carnival of Let’s Invade The Amazon. The OG dropped last month, and Razor-N-Tape’s JKriv’s remix is waiting in the wings for summer. Boogie Angst have flexed more A&R muscle, bringing on board Yoruba Records high priest, Osunlade. The highly revered producer / DJ, and label boss, gracefully takes the natural vibe of the original, and transports us to his own unique universe. Osunlade’s journey is warm and uplifting, colourful and spiritual. It’s a thing of beauty. 8/10
When I heard the name Georg Levin, my mind was immediately transported to the mega house classic, I Got Somebody New, which featured the honeyed tones of Clara Hill alongside Georg himself. You’d be shocked at the tracks he’s sung on, and like me, you might not have known it was him. His career started at MTV, and then after meeting Dixon, they formed the studio project, Wahoo. Georg’s collaborated with Jazzanova, Masters At Work, Robert Owens, Basement Jaxx, and had releases on Strictly Rhythm, MAW, and Sonar Kollektiv! After a ten year gap, Georg is back in full-on Roxy Music / Bryan Ferry mode, with It Was Fun For A While. This hauntingly beautiful `80-inspired gem does it for me in its original form, with a totally infectious groove and some elegantly crafted melodies. Remixes come courtesy of Amberoom, who delicately treat the music with considerable care, resulting in a more stripped-down, dubbed-out affair. Tim Paris summons some shimmering magic, while Eitan Reiter transports us to a dirty strobe-lit basement. There’s a lot of love in the air for Georg Levin right now. He’s back, and we`re so glad that he is. 9/10
Pure Balearic vibes coming out of the Alma Negra camp this month with Harambee, a tune inspired by their time in Kenya. Mixing those memories / moments up with Marcus Valle / Estrelar grooves, the Basel brothers called the E.P. ‘Harambee’ – which means “Let’s pull together” in Swahili. The release bursts with sunshine goodness over its four tracks – continuing the Alma Negra brief, of maximum rhythms, incendiary live percussion, cooked with Latin flavours. The title cut is filled with funky brass, Rhodes, and an incredibly catchy vocal. La Gozadera is Cuba in a can! It’s an up-tempo fast footed, hip swinging guapa, laced with some KILLER keys. There’s the afro-boogie of When We Used To Dance – reminding me very much of the wonderfully wonky italo of Massimo Barsotti’s Whole Lotta Love. The closer comes via Bruno “Voilaaa” Patchworks, with his Highlife rework of the title track. Put it all together and you have one excellent collection of perfectly polished, tightly produced, club-ready cuts from the mighty Alma Negra. 8/10
Razor-N-Tape co-founder, JKriv, has been around the block. The bassist for Tortured Soul back in the day, now strumming the strings with Escort and Underground System on the NYC nu-disco scene, his label Deep & Disco formed a strong base for his output prior to RNT. Now this live musician, DJ, promoter, and producer, drops Something Else, which has to be one of his strongest pieces of work to date. Since RNT – a label that has been known for it’s DJ friendly disco edits – took a turn over a year ago to focus on more original creations and live acts, we’ve seen their Reserve off-shoot imprint go from strength to strength. This current celebration of that new direction really is a peach! With a host of Brooklyn talents onboard, including Brandon Markell Holmes – and his soaring vocal – on the opening cut, and Nic Hanson alongside the incredible Phenomenal Handclap Band on the summer anthem, Try Again, but it’s the low-fi groove machine of Shoulda Been Me that`s the one, featuring the voice of Conclave’s Toribio. Then…as if it couldn’t get any better… Detroit’s Alton Miller takes it up even further, into rolling deep house territory. What a TUNE! 10/10
I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed watching the flight of an Aquarius as much as I have that of Byron. Bursting onto the scene back in 2016, as if from nowhere, when all the time he was below the surface, playing keys for Kai Alce, and working with a lot of very serious producers on the hip hop scene – way before we knew him. First dropping a 10 track album on BBE, which caught the ears of Theo Parrish. Releases followed on king Theo’s Sound Signature, Eglo, Mutual Intentions and most recently, Shall Not Fade. Jeff Mills no less, approached him, and Byron released another full-length, on the hallowed Axis too! A classical pianist, his love for all things jazzy, soulful, for live frequencies, and live instrumentation is infectious. Byron launches his Talknoi$e label with the 001 of Shroomz, Guns and Roses. Born out of a pandemic – a time he spent barefoot in nature, trying to get through the dark – the resulting E.P. will move you. It will move your feet, it will lift your spirit, and warm your heart and soul. Byron the Aquarius is a force to be reckoned with, and this record is a true testament to that. 10/10
More broken beat loveliness from the Heist camp, and Makèz, with the glorious Holy Sun E.P. Since they first came knocking on the Dam Swindle studio door, Maarten and Lars knew that these two young stars had something special. This new record kicks off with a track that displays such sensitivity and maturity, topped with a vocal from virtual unknown, Ava Lava. It’s simply stunning! The title track gets a rework by fellow Amsterdam trailblazer, Retromigration, who changes up the broken rhythms for more of a straight forward 4 / 4. Lifted was tailor-made for the descerning dancefloor – its rolling bass and strings conjuring up serious footwork heat. Inwards is acid flecked, while the closing the Detroit Experiment-esque, La Grande Folie, has blissed-out keys, heavy bass and live drums go widescreen. This final cut leaving a deep impression, and a strong suspicion that Makèz have one ‘serious’ future in the electronic jazzy-house scene! 8/10
This month’s final recommendation comes care of Dijon label, Cosmocities, who play host to Tokyo’s Masumi Nishimura, aka Inner Science. Nishimura-san spends his days designing soundscapes in unusual places, such as Tokyo’s planetarium! Thus giving Cosmic Tracks its stargazing theme. A four-track affair of sparkling loveliness, embellished by two further gems from Hot Chip`s Joe Goddard, and Giegling staple Map. Ache. Shimmering and shape-shifting, Inner Science carries us off into a trippy and kaleidoscopic headspace. The acid-infused glitter of Unfold leads the way, while Quiet Track follows a similar course, with its chiming melodies and driving bass – both boasting a haiku-esque spiritual balance. Never Fade Away blows the winds of transcendence through a finely engineered mix of a galactic groove and showering lush textures. Mr. Goddard then takes End of the Beginning for a slower jaunt across solar-soaked pastures, while Map.ache’s bleached-out pads evaporate into the ether as the bass-line etches its way deep into your musical mind. 8/10