Ian Blevins – Next EP

December 23, 2014 in Singles

Ian Blevins Next EP Keep It Zen RecordsWe move into housier pastures for tonight’s last review with this latest from Keep It Zen Records.

In its original form, Next itself harks back to the earliest days of house with its fierce Chi-town drums, plinky-plonk pianos and cut-up male vocal. Nick Beringer’s remix is a few notches deeper and more fluid-sounding, while Frits Wentink heads in the opposite direction with a twitchier, techier rub. Rounding out the EP is the even fiercer Stabbatha, which is like Jersey garage at its tuffest and most minimal, the drums reminding this reviewer a little of Ly’s/Jovonn’s classic Back To Zanzibar.

The originals stand out over the remixes for me but all four tracks are raw like sushi – heads only need apply!

Out: This week on general release, though it’s been out on vinyl/digital promo for a minute, as the Yanks say

About: Find Keep It Zen on Soundcloud and Facebook.

Cecyl – Forever EP

August 2, 2014 in Singles

Cecyl Forever Keep It ZenMore tuff, driving house grooves on this fine EP from Keep It Zen, although despite the higher tempo this is a deeper, less techy proposition than the Arch44 release below.

Four mixes of Forever to choose from. The Original ain’t nothin’ but a heads-down deep house groove, drums bass and organ stabs being the whole story until the 3:45 mark, at which point snippets of soulful male vocal and some piercing top-end synths join the party. The Mr KS Remix isn’t hugely different, if I’m being honest, while James Barnsley’s Dub Mix doesn’t take much explaining except to say that it’s got almost a tribal feel in parts. But the Julian M Schenkin St Remix does flip the script somewhat, with its added dusty breakbeats and middle eastern sounds.

It’s still the Original that works best to these ears, though.

Out: This week

About: You can find Keep It Zen on Soundcloud and Facebook.

Paco Wegmann – Pimpin’ EP

January 24, 2014 in Singles

Paco Wegmann Pimpin' EP Keep It Zen RecordsDJ Sneak’s been playing this one apparently, and it’s not hard to believe it given that his own influence is very much in evidence. Wegmann’s even described as a “Romanian house gangster” on the hype sheet.

So, er, yeah… four tracks of disco-jackin’-boompty frolics in the classic Sneak/Carter mode are what you get here, basically. The original comes in jazz-tinged Original and more heads-down Chris Carrier Remix forms, Hustler is all fierce snares and live double bass while Jam-O-Matic goes down more of a Chicago ’88 route. But “four tracks of disco-jackin’-boompty frolics” just about covers ’em all.

Fiercer floors will lap these trax up for sure.

Out: This week digitally, on vinyl from 17 Feb

About: This comes on the UK’s own Keep It Zen Records, who you can find here, here and here (Soundcloud, Facebook, web)


S.Jay – You Want It EP

December 5, 2013 in Singles

S.Jay You Want It EP Keep It Zen RecordsChunky, goodtime house/garage grooves are the order of the day on this EP from Leeds-based producer S.Jay.

You Want It itself features a big (UK) garage bassline, chipmunk’d female vocals and some decidedly mid-90s synth sounds. Away From Me is in a similar vein but more heads-down and with soulful male vox this time. Last of all, we come to Ohh Dub… which is also the pick of a fine crop to these ears, being a phat-assed fusion of deep house and garage stylings, complete with what sounds like a tiny snippet of Circuit’s Shelter Me, though probably isn’t. A techier refix of the same from Paco Wegmann completes an impressive package.

Even more impressively, this is the label’s very first release! What a great way to get started.

Out: This week digitally, though the vinyl’s been in stores a couple of weeks.

About: The debutant label in question is Keep It Zen Records, and you can find ’em here, here and here (Soundcloud, Facebook, web). And, seeing as I’ve got it open anyway, here’s S.Jay’s own Soundcloud page as well.