Reviews

Owen Jay & Melchior Sultana – Heat Rising – Minuendo Recordings

Owen Jay really is the daddy right now. Recent fatherhood seems to have coincided with a rich vein of form that a thorough-bred racehorse would be proud of. Winner after winner. And if rumours are to be believed then there is yet more to come from Malta’s very own deep house don.

Here on Heat Rising, Jay is again in cahoots with compatriot and long-time collaborator Melchior Sultana with the talented two-some turning in a tour de force for Spanish artist Ernie’s much-loved label Minuendo.

Featuring the divine vocals of Mykle Anthony, opening track Here For You is soulful, Chicago-inspired deep house at its most exquisite and entirely in keeping with both the imprint’s recent direction and Ernie’s own personal musical background. An achingly beauteous piece of work if ever there was.

Instrumental production Oceanic is almost signature Jay and Sultana these days; contemplative, emotive and sultry. Proper grown-up music with a house leaning. There is even a delightful DJ tool entitled Calm thrown in for good measure.

Hand-stamped, limited edition, must-have. You know the score.

Leo Gunn – Sea Change (Part One) – Deep Explorer

Although with only a couple of releases to his name, Australian producer Leo Gunn is already a name to reckon with. The fact that both those EPs have appeared on the splendid Madrid-based label Deep Explorer speaks volumes for the man’s ability.

Gunn operates squarely within the traditions of deep house with the influences of Chicago and Detroit entirely evident. This is a good thing. As such he is pretty much a model artist for Dubbyman’s imprint.

On Sea Change (Part One) it is all about four tracks of real quality. Any of the tracks could have opened up. As it were they plumped for Dancing With Dreams, wistful, faraway and percussion-driven Larry Heard-style house that meanders enchantingly from first to last bar. Come Down (Deep Explorer edit) is similar in intent save for a touch more jauntiness, whereas Open Spaces is a little more serious and thoughtful by design.

Final cut Quiet (Dubbyman re-make) takes the deep vibe up – or should that be down? – a notch, almost Bobby Konders territory, rounding off what is an entirely accomplished EP.

Various Artists – Analogue Signal – Batti Batti Records

My mad-love for Batti Batti productions is well documented here at Faith. Blind it ain’t though. So it’s just as well that no blinkers are necessary still with the label now four vinyl releases in and every one utterly essential.

On the Analogue Signal EP the modus operandi remains the same; four cuts from invited friends and guests plus work from Batti Batti owner – yes it’s that man again – Owen Jay and his regular studio partner Melchior Sultana.

Opening the show as it were is German-based producer Marco Nega. Although a newer name, Nega already has some pedigree having been picked up previously by Jennifa Mayanja’s label Bu-mako and Malcolm Moore’s Altered Moods imprint. Here with Voodub (Sumbody Is Missin), Nega drops a simple and effective groove drenched in deepness and class.

Label stalwarts Owen Jay and Melchior Sultana do what they have been threatening to do for some time now and that is deliver a track that will be considered one of the finest of its genre and will remain in many a record box for years to come. No hands-in-the-hair screamer is Mist Of Time but merely a beautiful, emotion-wrenching and tenderly-produced cut to immerse yourself in. Simple as that.

Italian beatsmith Nasty Boy is also a regular within the Batti Batti fold and with Walk Alone does what he does best; groovy and techy synth-heavy deep house made for the floor. Nino’s Synthese Cosmique is another perfectly judged addition to the EP and opts for a more techno and ambient influenced approach that rounds of a fine release in style.

Glenn Astro & IMYRMIND – Got Me Shakin’- Outernational

The Dutch dudes behind the Outernational label have definitely got their fingers on the collective pulse. Moving effortlessly between disco, nu-disco, deep house and something a little more bassy if the mood takes them, as it does here on this their seventh outing, everything they touch demonstrates exceptional taste, timing and tenacity.

And so it goes here as they pluck relatively little-known German duo Glenn Astro and IMYRMIND from the backwaters of house music and give them a wider audience.

The duo’s eponymous Got Me Shakin’ does what it says on the tin. An infectious, thumping slab of quality house music that rises above the pack thanks in part to an enchanting earworm of a melody that lifts the entire production. Astro’s solo Do My Thing is in some senses the more direct, bass-heavy sibling of the title track. Some solid synth work, however, renders it a cut above most of its ilk.

Heavy Cruiser from IMYRMIND is a quality tool crafted from the same mould as both Got Me Shakin‘ and Do My Thing. As with many an EP, the best is arguably left til last. Astro’s rather excellent UNLTD is the standout in my humble opinion; chunky, bumping and darn-right funky with more than a sprinkling of the deep stuff about it. Ace.

Sarp Yilmaz – Disintegration – Swink Music

Turkish producer Sarp Yilmaz seems to have a jackdaw-like fascination for classic noughties dance music if his debut release for Dublin’s blossoming Swink Music is anything to go by. But whereas many others might have lazily knocked out something a touch hackneyed, the boy from Istanbul manages to shine new light through old windows.

Borrowing on John Cutler’s It’s Yours, The Knowledge is straight-up dance-floor fodder with a sizeable dose of funk and an irresistible groove. Yilmaz turns to another tried and tested source for Stronger On My Own, this time the Kathy Brown classic, and proffers a more subtle and deeper rendition than the original and is all the better for that.

Acid Swing is more playful but with no less intent, the object of the exercise being to work a dance floor. It will. As with many an EP, it is often the last track that surrenders the most interest and so it proves again here with I Know Baby, a bumping, head-nodding turn that would do the business just as well had it been an instrumental.

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