are now probably only behind Kompakt as my favourite current dance label; their entirely in-house compilation Volume II
a serious rival for Michael Mayer's masterful Immer
mix, and they have an impressive depth of talent. Pokerflat's sound strikes me as very inbetweenish, slipping through the gaps separating different approaches and curling around nooks and crannies. More hypnotic than Perlon but more luscious than Force Tracks, the shimmering melodies, deep dub bass and desultory percussion of the Pokerflat style is sensual but not quite pornographic - sort of like a tongue slowly circling round your belly button.
The work of Jeff Bennet
, my favourite Pokerflat producer, is somewhere between smooth, dub-heavy Sascha Funke tech-house and the aching gyrations of shuffletech I guess, and if that doesn't sound like a terribly wide strip then rest assured that Bennet thoroughly owns it - in fact he may be the sexiest house producer currently operating. "Last Breath" is my favourite track on Volume II
, a swelling and sizzling pattern of dub bubbles over a rapacious, slippery and irresistible house rhythm, the effect being something like making love on a carbonated waterbed. I suspect new track "Breaking Time" is even better though, upping the reggae quotient and filling the groove with a succession so many joyful ripples and hesitations that the track seems to quiver as it travels through your ears.
See also: Martini Bros. and Glowing Glisses, who are between them the best ambassadors for the ongoing fusion between microhouse and electroclash. Martini Bros' "Flash" might even end up as a hit, its hypnotic bass groove, whining synth melodies and eerie, deadpan but anthemic vocals that flit between German and English with disturbing ambiguity rendering it at least as addictive as anything Miss Kittin's done (well... they've yet to make their "Rippin Kittin" I suppose). Their just-released album looks like it may be a winner. The Supercollider-like Glowing Glisses offer firm competition though: the grunting, squealing "Shaked Ladies" is psychotic absurdist-pop, like Pantytec making an assault on the charts, while a sleazy funk frontman pouts over the top of a Frankenstein-refrain, "I like shaked ladies... I like shaked ladies...". "Ball" meanwhile is souped-up wriggle-disco, all fluorescent-coloured melodies and impossibly wired snares, snapping and flickering with the nervous agility of an electric eel.