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Nu-Cleo - In the Zone (Aural Zone, 2021)

In a move that sees his star rise that little bit higher, Michele Lamacchia introduces to the world his new label, Aural Zone, with a brand new EP from his Nu-Cleo alias, and it's as magical as ever.

The art of spreading your passions across a collection of names is a rich tradition that, as some artists have put, keeps listeners second guessing, but also keeps them engaged with the narratives that play out right in front of our eyes, and in many ways this is the kind of journey we have been on with the music of Italian producer Michele Lamacchia. For the past few years now, Lamacchia has been wowing music lovers the world over with his ultra sleek take on House music, with the style very much being influenced by the Dream and Italo house movements of the early 90s, but much like the music of frequent collaborator Nicola Loporchio, there's a real twist of modernity thrown in there that really turns the head. The melodics are beautifully conceived and executed, with an emotional vein that runs through the majority of his productions which keeps the heart aligned and the soul very much on side, and as a dance laden experience there isn't much better than the music which Lamacchia pushes out the door. We are continually engaged by the emphasises placed on depth, experience and tone, as we look to place ourselves firmly within the layers in order to get to grips with the parameters of the music, and it's a journey which always excites with it's all encompassing embrace. Floating up to cloud nine is a near constant in his music, as feels of the highest order carry us through the music from start to finish, never for one moment letting us going or leaving us behind, merely allowing us to capture all the magic that resides within the experience. As mentioned previously, his music contains a number of homages to the early 90s Italian house scene, and like we have discussed previously with a lot of Loporchio's releases, it's a very positive homage in that the music carries on the essence of the movement, both in terms of the keys and tones being used but most importantly the spirit of it all, the core ideals that defined the period coming full circle to a contemporary context, and it's hard to think of other producers who do it better in that regard. It's a style of dance music that will forever remain at the forefront of emotional experience, and for Lamacchia it's all about harnessing that potential and continuing onwards with both it's legacy and it's ability to grow into the 21st century, and this approach has endeared so many to his varying discographies. Release wise, there's a hefty amount of excellence to highlight, starting off with his Rhythm of Paradise name, with records to check out including 'Paradise' (2016), 'Signals' (2018), 'Universe Of Love' (2018), and 'Pleasure Zone', which we had the 'pleasure' of reviewing last year (it's a cracker, go check it out!). The R.O.P presents Love Island release, 'Illusion', is a real beauty and another record we highly recommend checking out. The '4 Phunk' EP, which landed last year under the Gourment de Funk alias, is a proper 4 on the floor stunner that is filled to the brim with emotionally charged progressions and searing rhythms. Aside from his own productions, as mentioned Lamacchia has worked alongside Loporchio on a number of projects, with the duo releasing music under such names as B.U.M, D38 Authority, KETAMA, Loss of Gravity, Mediterranean Key Collective (which also features Carlo Troya), Raw Joints, Rydm Sectors and XPRESSION, with some excellent records being released under these names which are well worth checking out. He also released 'Mind Regulators' as The Evidence in 2019, a group project he shares with Davide Disanto, which moves the focus away from the dream house vibe and more into deep and rolling progressions. In all, Lamacchia captures much in his music, be it the simmering sunset, the deep rolling topographies of the countryside, or the feeling that resides in your chest and the deep lights light up your eyes, there's plenty of depth contained within as to satisfy an audial narrative to any adventure you find yourself on, and that remains a testament to his vision as a producer. The range of atmospheres that come our way helps to maintain a steady connection between us and the music, and Lamacchia's music constantly calls out to us in an effort to get us involved with the ongoing flow, and this approach simply embraces the listener from all sides, a warmth that only comes from the sincerest of producers. If you haven't checked out his previous efforts, we very much recommend you do - it's an experience you will never forget.

And now we arrive at his latest effort under the widely celebrated Nu-Cleo alias, 'In The Zone', which lands on his brand new imprint Aural Zone. Nu-Cleo remains one of Lamacchia's most celebrated aliases, with the two previous EPs under the name, 2019's 'Outerzone' and 2020's 'Total Control', both lauded for their sense of presence and their soft delicate tendencies, and as House records go you don't get much purer than the music found within these two beauties. This record is no different in many ways, with plenty of emphasis placed on the flows that bind the feeling together that passes through the core of the music being presented, our hearts and minds firmly locked into everything that passes us by. The essence remains strong throughout, with Lamacchia showcasing to us the depths of his visions that remains able to serve from one plain of existence to the other at the drop of a hat, moving from the deepest of spaces to the most engrossing of audial environments, and as an experience it's hard to deny it's purity and it's grace. So, without further delay, lets dive right into this little gem of a House record.....

Up first comes 'Who Is She', and this one begins with the gently undulating percussion to get us firmly in the mood. The drums are light and airy, with plenty of space found between the hats to get us going, and as the sequence is allowed some to loop through the melodics start to shine through in the form of a rolling key line and whistle like lead synth line, with the two sequences intermingling within one another with a delightful sense of momentum. The vocals on top add the finishing touch to proceedings, with their repeating presence adding that nice human touch up top that aids in the airy and cheery feeling that resides throughout the mix. The track takes these dips in energy that allow for the listener to move up and down between the layers with ease, as we continue to vibe along to the impeccable rhythm and the succulent melodic outlays. A superb opener! Up next comes 'Spaces and Places', and here we see the drums come into view with a lot more emphasis placed on their depth, particularly with those gorgeous kicks. The hats and other percussive features reside very much up in the top half of the mix, which helps craft a huge amount of space for the bass and the initial key line to slot into view, and before long the mix is added to with further hi hats through the middle to add further weight to proceedings. The track takes a dip in energy before coming back up with the bass line dropped for the moment, and this is to introduce the vocal sample and the chords, and oh wow are they effective indeed. Their tone and placement floats just above the drums, moving from a place that seems far away before moving just below the drums, and it's this weaving nature that adds enormously to the flow of the track, keeping us on our toes as we groove through the membranes of existence and elevate ourselves to pure bliss. The track continues to weave us around it's little finger, with plenty of elements floating away to provide these plateaus that ebb along with a searing intensity, just waiting for the right moment to shine once again in the sun, and this is achieved when the chords come back into our lives, those damn chords. A truly beautiful slice of house music, certainly one of our favourite cuts from this year.

'Hypnotic Shuffle' arrives next, and this one begins with an ever impressive drumming outline to get us going. The various elements that make up the groove shift and flitter throughout the various spaces being crafted, giving the rhythm a real sense of dynamism, with the whispering filtered vocals up top providing a real sense of invitation into the mix. This ensemble continues onwards, and at the right moment the keys come into view, a three chord progression that warms the soul with it's bountiful tone and delicate texture, with the hats coming into a solid line to greet them as we become firmly locked into the progression. The vocals drop away to give plenty of space to the keys and the drums, with a gorgeous key line emerging within the middle of proceedings that gives over further flavours for us to dwell within. The track then swings between drum laden segments before bringing it full circle with the chords arriving back into view, as we drift into the summer breeze, content as hell with the music that has continually washed over us, never losing sight of the horizon line as we are greeted with one final slide through the haze. This one has us floating, for sure. Pure bliss. To wrap things up, we have 'Gravity (All Nite)', and this one begins with the kicks and claps to get us going. The structure is suitably loose, with the gaps beginning to be filled with hats and light chordal blemishes that move from underneath to the top, giving over a proper hazy and feel good vibe in the process. The melodic features come and go, with our good selves invited to inhabit the spaces between the keys as a light bass line starts to crop up within the structure, with intriguing percussive elements cutting up the top ends with a feverish intensity. The track then takes a big dip downwards in energy, which provides plenty of space for the various melodic layers to have their moment in the sun, with a vocal sample popping up to add further energy to the mix, with this feeling confirmed as the drums come back into view. The structure is impeccably balanced, with the mix of the bottom ends coupled with the top parts masterfully integrated, creating this tunnel for which all the melodics can shine forth and sparkle, with the track climaxing once more before descending into another gorgeous breakdown. The feels that course through our bodies during this moment is so intense, but in the best possible way, as we prepare ourselves for the kicks to slide back into view, and it's every bit as glorious as the first few seconds of the track. This is a house record that covers all bases, in both it's rhythmical style but also it's melodic spread, and it's an EP that you will immerse within either on the beach, at home, or deep within the most groovy and emotionally charged of DJ sets. Sublime from start to finish.

It's becoming more and more difficult to think of new superlatives to describe the current crop of Italian producers who make music that so effectively combines the country's dance music heritage with inventive and diverse productions that are heralding in the new age, and Michele Lamacchia remains very much at the forefront of this audial renaissance. Lamacchia really delves into the purities and the essences of House, exploring all corners of possibility and thought which lead to expertly produced records that give over the feels and the rhythm in equal measure. This EP is no different, with a wide variety of styles provided that speak to both the mind and the body, with the immersive nature of each cut really standing out as impressive and total. This might be the first record on his new imprint, but it's already laid down the groundwork for a bright future indeed, and as consistency seems to be one of Lamacchia's strongest assists, we definitely have much to look forward to from Aural Vision and the man himself. Excellence personified.

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