dj t

Album Review: Future Disco Vol. 5: Downtown Express - Various

Last year's Future Disco 4 turned out to be one of the better mix albums I heard last year. Despite coming fairly late in an ongoing series it had a really strong sense of identity and multiple classic tunes. Future Disco Vol. 5 follows the mantra of if it ain't broke, don't fix it... What you have is another collection of contemporary house tracks from the current batch of hot new things, this time packages up under the subtitle Downtown Express.

So we have another winner then, right? Sort of. The problem here is two-fold:

Firstly this doesn't have any disco. Where as volume 4 had Kaine's 'Love Saves The Day' and 'Zombie Tropicana' - classic soul vocals and experimental eclecticism that encapsulated some of the original spirit of disco this latest release really just feels like a collection of recent house releases. Because of that fact there just isn't any noticeable identity.

Secondly and more importantly the quality just ain't as high. There are a few good standout tracks but nowhere near the same caliber as on the previous release.

So if it isn't exactly a killer release or a highwater-mark for the series then what is it? Mostly just a collection of decent tunes - good but unlikely to blow you away. Miguel Campbell's 'Something Special' is a case in point - it's a nice minimal but bouncy house track but nowhere near as good as his MAM collaboration I recently reviewed, which would have been a much more 'disco' choice.

There are still a few good moments, they just aren't quite as consistently essential as volume 4's best tracks were. Tensnake once again deliver the business on Tiger & Woods filtered mix of 'Need Your Lovin' and the Pitto instrumental version of T J Kong & Nuno Dos Santos' 'Something Happened' is a great tense piece of tech-house funk. Benoit & Sergio's 'Principles' is still excellent, as Benoit & Sergio frankly always are and Maceo Plex's mix of DJ T.'s 'City Life' shows once again that no-one makes techno influenced sunshine house as well as Maceo Plex.

The album only really starts to deliver as it closes though. Joakim's 'Find A Way' is given a beautiful remix by Soul Clap - aptly entitled the Soul Clap Floating remix the result is a deliriously contemplative loved-up sensation that captures the introspective coming-of-age feeling the Joakim album from which it is lifted attempted to capture in the first place. It just might be Soul Clap's finest remix to date. Similarly the Prince Language mix of Penguin Prison's rather formulaic pop house track 'Multi Millionaire' transforms the original into a suitably climatic old Chicago house tribute.

It's a shame things don't start quite as well as they finish.

Future Disco Vol. 5 is out on February 27 on Need Want, available for pre-order from on CD and MP3 [affiliate links].

Album Review: Heidi presents The Jackathon - Heidi

The Jackathon makes a bit of a poor first impression. Starting with an intro in the form of Derrick Carter telling us Heidi is bringing us something "you ain't never heard before” she then drops into Soul Clap's 'Incoming Bitch (Get Low)'. A problem for me on two counts - the intro smacks of self-indulgence from a DJ who doesn't have the reputation to permit it and 'Incoming Bitch' is a pretty terrible track from a usually dependable outfit - it's tasteless, two-dimensional and the combination of the vocal and high pitched squeals is frankly irritating.

It took me a while to get past this but I'm pretty glad I did - much of what follows is great. 'What The Funk' by Solomon is tasteful, minimal and, yes, subtly jacking house music in all the right ways. It feels old and new at the same time. DJ T. proves he still has something to offer on the drum-heavy dark vibes of 'High'. Featuring vocals from Nick Mauer, it gradually builds into a sweatbox of a track, a tribute to being lost inside the drugs and the music.

Juan Maclean seems to be on some sort of mission - following on from his excellent turn on DJ Kicks where he turned in a fantastic straight up house mix he helps Heidi do the same here with the inclusion of 'Love In Tatters'. It may not be rocket science but it's done very well - straight up head music, perfect for lovers of house.

Actor One delivers a heavy, dubby number on 'March Violets' that keeps things minimal and simple, shining all the brighter for it. The mix closes with Steve Bug's 'Jack is Back' followed by an outro by Derrick. Sadly this feels slightly anti-climatic - Bug's track is fine enough but it doesn't feel like an 'end' and the outro is not much better than the intro. The result feels like the warm-up DJ handing over to a headliner rather than the end of a night peak.

So a duff start and, to be honest, a few too many mentions of the word (/ name) Jack (yes, we get it, it's about jacking) but other than than Heidi hits her target here. The Jackathon is mostly pitched just right - it's a mix album for lovers of stripped back, simple house music that's perfect for a sunny day or a pre-night out warm-up.

BP x

Heidi presents The Jackathon is out now on Get Physical, available from on CD and MP3 [affiliate links].

Album Review: Fabric 51 - Various mixed by DJ T

Perhaps ironic given his pseudonym but out of the heavy hitters within the Get Physical stable DJ T seems to have been the least prolific within the medium of the mix CD. Both Booka Shade and M.A.N.D.Y. have released mixes in the past (in the latter's case seemingly at the expense of ever getting an album out) but this is, to BlackPlastic's knowledge, DJ T's first.

Even more surprising, given DJ T's tendancy for producing club tracks rather than the introspective albums of some of his label mates (Bronnt Industries Kapital or Booka Shade and particularly their The Sun and The Neon Light album) Fabric 51 is surprisingly deep. Refreshingly so.

It is an album that is much slower and thoughtful than BlackPlastic would have anticipated. Michael J Collins eases the listener in with the minimal and atmospheric 'I Just Wanna Be Your Disco Bitch' and with that the pacing is set - nice and slow - for what follows. And what follows is pretty fabulous. The Salax Peep Show Remix of 'A Million Secrets' by Stuffa sounds like some whining indie boys taken straight from the cover of NME yet rapidly thrust into a dubby, emotive minimal workout - and shockingly it works.

This slow, twisted vibe runs throughout the rest of Fabric 51 to create something that really feels different. Danton Eeprom's 'Give Me Pain' sounds like Metronomy meets Hot Chip in a race to the cool indie kid dance floor and the kick, when it hits, is pure joy. And the level of experimental liberalism never fails to land well - even the bohemian 'Jesus Was A B-Boy' from Ben Mono featuring Jemeni hits with well aimed humour. Hell - BlackPlastic recently said that we never wanted to hear DJ Mujava's 'Township Funk' again and yet DJ T even makes us take that back for the Crazy P mix, applied here, is a thing of melancholic joy.

DJ T has undeniably managed to exceed expectations here. Whilst he may be not have the catalogue of mix albums of M.A.N.D.Y. he has just delivered a mix level with some of their best and the finest Fabric album in a good few months.

BP x

Fabric 51 is released on Monday - order now from on CD or MP3 [affiliate links].