Let’s Dance – Defected presents House Masters: Todd Edwards (Defected)

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Various ArtistsDefected presents House Masters: Todd Edwards (Defected)

reviewed by Ben Hogwood

What’s the story?

The time is ripe for a Todd Edwards retrospective. The much-loved producer, credited as one of the founding fathers of late-90s garage, UK style, has always had a distinctive way of working his beats. With clipped percussion, cleverly-used samples, good humour and a large dose of soul, he has been a go-to man for remix and production for nigh on 30 years. Daft Punk have credited his influence, and worked with him on two albums, while a whole host of chart bothering artists, among them Moloko, Robin S, Wildchild and Wretch 32, have gone his way for a remix.

Recently Defected have taken Edwards under their wing, restoring hundreds of previously unavailable productions to the catalogue, and this double album provides a useful retrospective and a reminder of what might be in store for the collector.

What’s the music like?

Brilliant. You don’t get to be dance music royalty without making good music – and there’s no doubt Edwards makes great music for good times. His fluid grooves are sliced and diced, the clipped percussion sounds putting a skip in each beat.  The approach is largely soulful, and on grooves like God Will Be There and the landmark Edwards production Saved My Life, more than a bit spiritual.

Defected have divided the collection in two, with a set of full length original productions complemented by some excellent examples from the remix collection.  The original productions are equally represented by past and present, with You’re Sorry one of his best recent songs, and the Sinden collaboration Deeper working really well on the vocal front. All I Need is more percussive, while Dancing For Heaven is a buoyant treat and Fly Away is super cool. The Daft Punk association is well represented, with the charmer Face To Face bringing out the best in both sides, and Fragments Of Time, from the Random Access Memories album, a great track for top-down driving.

There is a smoother version of St Germain’s Alabama Blues, with a warm guitar and organ but not quite the heat soaked charm of the earlier version. Indo’s R U Sleeping fares really well, as does Moloko’s Pure Pleasure Seeker – while Zoot Woman’s Taken It All gets a shiny remix.

Does it all work?

Yes. Edwards has an effortlessly cool style and it runs throughout this collection, moving between house and garage with great ease. He always gives the vocal plenty of room, but still packs the production with all kinds of riffs, beats and soundbites, keeping the dancefloor moving at all times.

Is it recommended?

It is – but be warned, listening to this might take you down a Todd Edwards rabbit hole. With so many productions remastered and now available through Defected, it would be churlish to stop here!

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You can buy David Penn’s House Masters compilation from the Defected website here

Let’s Dance – House Masters: David Penn (Defected)

Various ArtistsHouse Masters: David Penn (Defected)

reviewed by Ben Hogwood

What’s the story?

Spanish DJ David Penn gets this very welcome career retrospective from Defected, a chance for fans to appreciate not just his original, Latin-flavoured house tunes and his teamwork with DJ Chus, but a whole host of remixes. Penn has in the past bravely taken on classics like Pete Heller’s Big Love and Sophie Lloyd’s Calling Out, but as this collection shows he always comes out on top.

What’s the music like?

Excellent, and brimming with good vibes. The original productions include Penn’s uplifting Nobody, which sets the tone from the off, but also What Is House, with Rober Gaez, and Stand Up, a piano-led, gospel-tinged winner with Ramona Renea. The collection has a really good ebb and flow between these productions and Penn’s remixes, so early on we get the rolling beats and bass of Jack Back’s (It Happens) Sometimes and a brilliant take on Candi Staton’s Hallelujah Anyway, smooth as silk in the production but still hitting the essence of the song. Later on the same can be said for Ron Hall & The MuthafunkazThe Way You Love Me, which Penn treats just right, and also Todd Terry’s Babarabatiri, which plays right into his Latino strengths.

Speaking of which, Penn’s El Sur, with Jabato, is a highlight later on – as is Esperenza, the long-established anthem made with regular sparring partner DJ Chus. Both appear later with a remix of Lenny Fontana’s The Way, before teaming up with Concha Buika to bring the house down on Will I (Discover Love).

Does it all work?

Yes. Penn’s remixing style is uncomplicated – which is an underrated quality, because it means the quality of the original still shines through in spite of the new clothing. The Mediterranean warmth is ever-present in his own productions, which flow beautifully and are consistently classy. A good piano riff is rarely far away from a David Penn production!

Is it recommended?

Yes. It’s great to see Penn getting the spotlight in this way, and he deserves his place alongside the hall of fame Defected have built up in their House Masters series. He understands what makes house music work so well in the hotter European climes, and this compilation shows off his output beautifully.

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You can buy David Penn’s House Masters compilation from the Defected website here

Switched On – Defected presents Most Rated Ibiza 2019 (Defected)

Various ArtistsDefected presents Most Rated Ibiza 2019 (Defected)

reviewed by Ben Hogwood

What’s the story?

It has been another memorable summer for Defected. 2019 has seen their head Simon Dunmore and a collective of starry guests return for a third consecutive residency at Ibiza’s Eden club, and the label’s presence grows ever stronger on the island in their 20th year. Most Rated embodies that upward curve, with 30 excellent floor fillers.

What’s the music like?

Very, very good. There are two mixes here that make nearly two and a half hours of paradise for vocal house lovers. The choice moments arrive right from the first track of the first mix, Roberto Surace’s Joys, with its lifting of vocals from the Richard X & Kelis collaboration Finest Dreams. From there we can enjoy another superb Todd Edwards moment, Deeper presented in remix form by Gorgon City. As the momentum builds Riva Starr’s remix of G-Flame and KCC’s Heaven and Melba Moore’s My Heart Belongs To You (the Ferreck Dawn remix) double up effectively, before the piece de resistance of the first mix, Mattei & Omich & Nathan Nicholson’s superb track Doors, with its tagline ‘you close one door and another one opens’.

Finally the swirling strings of Cinthie’s Mesmerizing leave a mark…and if you’ve any sense you’ll head straight on to the second mix. Here Andreya Triana shines on vocal duties with The Vision’s Heaven, while Bless Me Toda from Alan Dixon adds a spiritual high. The music heads deeper with the Heller & Farley Project with Cevin Fisher, the Fire Island remix of We Built This House, and Dave & Sam’s Till The World Blow Up, featuring Mike Dunn. Dunn reappears with the bouncy If I Can’t Get Down, and there’s a similar spring in the step of Alaia & Gallo’s Trippin, featuring Dames Brown. It’s great to see Cassius present, remixing Oliver Dollar’s John’s Church, before the final winning double from Horse Meat Disco (Joey Negro’s remix of Falling Deep In Love) and one of The Shapeshifters’ very best tracks, Kimberly Davis powering the vocals for Life Is A Dancefloor.

Does it all work?

Emphatically so. Hands in the air, smiling faces and dancing feet are all symptoms of the Defected approach, and it transfers effortlessly to these two hot weather winners.

Is it recommended?

Yes, without question. Defected are riding the crest of a wave at the moment and this compilation sums up all the label’s qualities at the moment.

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