House Reviews by Alex King

ArtistTitleLabel, CountryDate

Brian Scott Funk Train After Dark February 2003
Jerome Pinder Funktify Sounds Unique February 2003
Rotation Put Your Hands Up High / Shine Active February 2003

Kosheen Harder Arista July 2002
EP2 Dance Champion July 2002
Alicia Keys
Butterflyz/Troubles J Records July 2002
Sinister Chimera Arista July 2002

Unknown ArtistBecausewhite labelMay 2002
ScubaThat LookWork, whiteMay 2002
Angie StoneWish I Didn't Miss YouAristaMay 2002
2 Elements feat. JannaBrazilian NightsFresh FruitMay 2002
Deep on Plastic Presents D-BrothersStand By MeWork DeluxeMay 2002
The BeginerzReckless GirlCheekyMay 2002

Johnny KingPlay Me / FuscoWork White, Netherlands15 April 2002
The GroovelabUncut Funk EP Vol. 6Fresh Fruit, Netherlands15 April 2002
BoBoHouse Music EPFresh Fruit, Netherlands15 April 2002
Hook vs. PhilterThe FeelingOven Ready Productions, UK15 April 2002
unknown artistWhen Doves Collidewhite label15 April 2002

February 2003 Reviews

Artist(s): Brian Scott
Title: Funk Train
Label: After Dark
This bumpy cut is on Smokin' Beats' sub-label, After Dark. Looped strings and a low, warm bottom end are the focus for most of the track in its dub format. The vocal mix uses a wah-wah fx'ed guitar riff, which was less present on the flip. It definitely makes this interpretation less dull. The bass line is reminiscent of tattoo's 'history of disco' from a few years back. Neither the dub nor the so-called 'vocal' mix has much of a vocal. It could do with a strong vocal or something to make it stand out, as it has the potential to. Still, it will definitely keep the funky 'floors happy...Get on the funk train y'all!

Artist(s): Jerome Pinder
Title: Funktify
Label: Sounds Unique
The fifth release from the growing Sounds Unique label is a preacher-style affair. As with most of the releases on this label, the bass guitar is heavily present in all mixes alongside some twangy guitar strumming. The piano hook in the breaks sounds like something I've heard before but can't put my finger on the source. Nice though! Kayo's 'disco surprise' is just as described, with bursts of an excellent trumpet-led disco sample. Definitely my pick of the mixes.

Artist(s): Rotation
Title: Put Your Hands Up High / Shine
Label: Active
Put Your Hands Up High starts of sounding like a slightly rough Knee Deep production; solid beats, smooth funky loop and a filtered building break down. It then bursts into a totally disco-tastic cut with accompanying vocal. I'm sure if I was old enough I would have remembered the original first time round! I think it takes more than one listen to appreciate! Whereas the flip-side packs the punch more immediately. It's one real chunky tune and on a loud, crisp sound system there is no way this can't rock your floor. Trumpets and the old filtered loop are the order of the day on 'Shine'. Simple but oh-so effective.

July 2002 Reviews

Artist(s): Kosheen
Title: Harder
Label: Arista
No, I haven't changed my style - these are the Ashley Beedle mixes. I actually haven't heard the original mix but these two mixes (vocal & dub) serve the slightly more chilled house 'floors. The vocals really do come together with, and compliment, the deep-ish bass line. Subtle synths and "Harder" vocal stabs are included in the make up of these mixes. The 'soultek' dub, as you might expect, is the same as the vocal but with mix but with less vocal! No surprises there then. This isn't going to make anyone jump up and down in frenzy but it is great to listen to in a warm up or at home. General release is on 5th August.

Artist(s): EP2
Title: Dance
Label: Champion
Champion has been absent for whiles but is now back and this release was definitely worth waiting all that time for. This track comes out of New Jersey and is produced by Kerri Chandler, so you know it's going to a be 'the bomb'! The track comes in two mixes. Kerri Chandler's Centro Fly mix uses a nice disco loop with "dance" vocal stabs dropping in, and a sexy saxophone to top it all off. In the flipside mix, Onionz takes it slightly deeper made clear by the bass line and percussion. Thankfully it still uses the original loop and saxophone. Champion are back, watch out!

Artist(s): Alicia Keys
Title: Butterflyz/Troubles
Label: J Records
'Butterflyz' and 'Troubles' form a double pack of dance remixes. Of course they're taken from her multi-million selling album (double platinum in UK), 'Songs In A Minor Key', The mixes of 'Butterflyz' come courtesy of one of the biggest stars (not literally!) of the dance community, this is of course Roger Sanchez. Jay-J and Chris Lum turn in two mixes of 'Troubles'.

The Roger Sanchez 'Release mix' of 'Butterflyz' starts as if it's going to go the tribal route but it actually turns out very soulful. He incorporates the guitar so well that at times it sounds live but so very crisp. Ms. Keys' vocals are obviously beautiful and definitely add soul to the mix. It's quite a long mix (over nine minutes) but it doesn't lose your interest because it changes by emphasizing different elements in the mix. Sometimes the guitar may be put the fore, other times it may add percussion or Alicia's vocal. The dub, again provided by the 'S' man, doesn't differ too much from his 'Release Mix'. It's shortened down a bit, and has a great Latin guitar solo section, backed by percussion for a few bars. Jay-J and Chris Lum's mixes of 'Troubles' have little energy to them, nothing really makes them stand out. Go straight to 'Butterflyz'. General release is yet to be confirmed at the time of writing, keep your ears to the ground!

Artist(s): Sinister
Title: Chimera
Label: Arista
The clue as to the make up of this track is in the title..any guesses? Give up? Ok, it's a cover of Orbital's 'Chime'. The double-pack comes with mixes from West London Deep, Basstoy and Dreamcatcher in addition to the original mix by Sinister (not Orbital!). For me the original mix is what suits my sets better. The drum pattern used reminds me of Jakatta's 'American Dream'. There are lots of echoing atmospheric sounds and a great break. If it's a pumping mix you want, head to West London Deep or Basstoy mixes. West London Deep use a driving and familiar bass line - you'll know it when you hear it! Mark Picchiotti, in his Basstoy guise, turns in a pumping mix with a rough, dirty bass line. For a trancier, melodic affair you'll find a Dreamcatcher mix somewhere on one of the two pieces of vinyl! Out on 12th August.

May 2002 Reviews

Artist(s): unknown artist
Title: Because
Label: White label
If you managed to get your hands on the limited whites of ‘When Doves Collide’, you’ll be interested to know that ‘Because’ is the follow up single. This time he uses vocals from a Beatles’ song with the same title. I would have been sceptical if I hadn’t listened to the track before being told it used vocals from the famous 60s/70s band. I think what makes using the vocals ‘acceptable’ for us house heads is that it’s done in a subtle way, not using obvious parts. Aside from the sample ‘Because’ is a plodding tech-house excursion with good use of bongos to compliment the vocal in the breaks. This artist, whoever he may be, is getting better with each release so check him out.

Artist(s): Scuba
Title: That Look
Label: Work White
You may have heard of Scuba from his high placing in the buzz chart last year, with “I Need Your Love”. This new release features three tracks. The first, and leading track “That Look”, is a large slice of funk with a smooth, 80’s sounding hook running throughout. Flipping over to the b-side you have “I Thought I Made You Happy” followed by “Venga Conmigo”. The first of these two leans subtly towards the filtered side of house music. This is complimented by an uplifting male vocal added to the breaks. The third and final track is my personal favourite. It’s a tough, percussive workout accompanied by an almost Indian sounding loop and shouts of “Venga Conmigo”. Not only this, but a quarter of the way into the track you’re surprised by the sax that comes in and lifts proceedings to a higher level. Get on this and make it one of the biggest tunes this summer, it certainly deserves to be.

Artist(s): Angie Stone
Title: Wish I Didn’t Miss You
Label: Arista
You may have heard this one already as the Pound Boys’ mix has been going ‘round on limited whites known as “Stoneface” and has appeared in the Buzz and Cool Cuts charts. It samples O’Jay’s classic soul track “Backstabbers” and is the second release from Angie’s ‘Mahogany Soul’ album. The double-pack of mixes I have features several mixes from Hex Hector and Mac Quayle. Most of their mixes follow the deep, progressive route making good use of Miss Stone’s heartfelt vocal. However, if you like your music soulful you should head straight to the Poundboys’ mix. Angie’s vox reaches out from the funky background and grabs you by the scruff of the neck. It’s a truly beautiful piece of music, capable of making grown men cry (that’s saying something!). Out on 10th June.

Artist(s): 2 Elements feat. Janna
Title: Brazilian Nights
Label: Fresh Fruit
As the title might suggest, this track has strong Latin influences. You have two mixes to choose from: a vocal or a dub. The vocal mix uses lots of live percussion (courtesy of ‘Martino’) along with a soft kick and Latin-tinged keys with Janna’s vocal bringing everything together. The dub is slightly tougher using vocal stabs, this time focusing more on the Latin keys. This is a weapon made for the summer to get those booties movin’.

Artist(s): Deep on Plastic Presents D-Brothers
Title: Stand By Me
Label: Work Deluxe
Work Deluxe, now on its sixth release, is still a relatively new label in comparison to it’s big brother ‘Work White’. It focuses more on the soulful, vocal tracks coming out of the Netherlands. On the a-side you have a vocal and a dub from Pino Arduini who goes down the deep but soulful, melodic road. Out of those two, the dub makes more impact making great use of the female preacher-style vocal and a funky bass loop. Flip this 12” to side B and you have two more mixes. This time they’re less deep, more straight-up funky house. The first of the two (andro extended mix) is a no-nonsense, ‘grab you from the start’ number. The second (extended original mix) is a builder. It starts off warming you up, in comes the vocal and its all nice and laid back. Then comes the break, with the female vocal demanding you to stand by her, it filters right down, then hits back again. Keep an eye on this label if you like your stuff soulful with a chunk of funk!

Artist(s): The Beginerz
Title: Reckless Girl
Label: Cheeky
There’s been a lot of hype over this in the last few weeks and I’m happy to say it’s worthy of it! Produced by Def E and Ibi, this is something fresh that stands out from the many records in circulation at the moment. It samples both the vocal and loop from a 60’s record called “I Must Be Doing Something Right” by Irene Reid. The original mix is a thumpin’ funky ride through filters, sweeps and some strange noises are thrown in for good measure. The loop accompanied by the deep funky-ass bass challenges you to stay still while listening to this record! What makes this record stand out is the vocal; it’s so gritty and a refreshing change. Surprisingly the words have great relevance in today’s society. On the flip side Sister Bliss turns in a slightly tribal/percussive mix. This is also surprisingly different from any other records I’ve heard recently. It starts off with a weird but funky synth sound with filtered stabs. Halfway through, at the break, Sister Bliss takes heads towards a more melodic, progressive groove. This is only temporary though, going back to the way it started off. It’s great to see some refreshing new stuff. Out 24th June.

15 April 2002 Reviews

Artist(s): Johnny King
Title: Play Me / Fusco
Label: Work White, Netherlands
The quality Work White label has done it once again. These two tracks are from Johnny King who, in my opinion, is a great producer with not enough recognition here in the UK. Two fantastic past productions from him which stand out in my mind are 'Summertime' and 'I Need You Love' both on Work White. If you haven't heard those check them out, anyway on with this release. We're treated to two mixes of 'Play Me', the Main Mix and the WaWa Dub. The Main Mix is a perfect tune for the Spring/Summer, great percussion and funky hook with a jazzy trumpet adding flavour now and again. The WaWa Dub is a much darker interpretation, with a tribal edge and every now and then going back to the original hook used in the main mix. 'Fusco' is the other track on this 12" and once again it is damn funky. It plays around with a familiar loop, to great effect. This is recommended!

Artist(s): The Groovelab
Title: Uncut Funk EP Vol. 6
Label: Fresh Fruit, Netherlands
Groovelab and Fresh Fruit come up trumps with this release. Three cuts, all as funky and driving as a Ferrari on acid. That's very funky and very driving! First cut, 'Revolution Drums', has a pumping rhythm track with beautiful keys and a vocal that really lifts the track. Moving on, the second cut 'Uncut Funk Part 7' has slight retro leanings in its samples if you listen close enough, but they're brought right up to date by Groovelab's modern approach. Lots of effects, dropouts and general playing around with sounds make this far from uninteresting. Flip over and you have 'Uncut Funk Part 6'. Now this track is amazing. It could be classed as piano house but not as we know it! The piano gels so well with the female vocal and the rhythm track. The breaks are short but beautifully atmospheric. All in all these are three tracks of funkin', pumpin' house music. Shame on you if you do not have this in your box!

Artist(s): BoBo
Title: House Music EP
Label: Fresh Fruit, Netherlands
Fresh Fruit are on form. This is certainly a label you should consider paying attention to if you like the funky, European house sound. This EP is actually one track with four different mixes, so it will satisfy a few varying tastes in house. You have the choice of a Dub, Main Mix, Tribal Mix and a 'C Funk Mix'! A different mix for a different mood, which is always handy. You can probably guess by the title that the tracks feature a spoken 'House Music' vocal. Your guess would be correct; the vocal is fx'ed to sound dark and frightening! I don't know if it achieves this, you decide, but the tracks are great so who cares.

Artist(s): Hook vs. Philter
Title: The Feeling
Label: Oven Ready Productions, UK
Coming back to the UK from the 'Netherlands Special' we look at Oven Ready Productions. This is a label, which has been dormant for about five years and comes back with this release from Nick Hook & Philter (aka Moose). 'The Feeling' comes in two forms. Nick Hook takes care of the progressive side of things with a smooth, melodic interpretation. The mix I choose to play is the Philter mix. It starts out in a kind of break-beat house form but goes on to full on 4/4 house with a strong bassline. For me it's the gated vocal, which kicks in on the first break, that make it stand out.

Artist(s): unknown artist
Title: When Doves Collide
Label: white label
As you can probably tell by the hint in the title and the mysterious nature of label and artist, this cut uses the vocals Prince's 'When Doves Cry'. The artist hasn't gone down the well-trodden route of using the chorus, in effect creating a new interpretation of 'When Doves Cry' with Ani Di-Franco on vocal duties. The track's a dark, almost haunting journey, through wind pipes, acid type stabs and a heavy bass line. There should be a few white floating around but they'll be snapped up quick, so search it out before they're all gone!

Reviews by Alex King