Neil Smallridge Chrome Yellow EP (REP007) 1. Chrome Yellow 2. Don't Cheat 3. Don't Cheat (Max Martinez' Into The Deep Cheater's Mix) Neil Smallridge occupies a special place in our hearts here at Republic since he produced the label's initial release, last year's seminal Buena Vista EP. So it's fitting that Neil returns for Republic's lucky seventh release. But if you're expecting a rehash of the sizzling, Latin-inflected sound of the first record think again. With the tough, stripped-down tracks on the Chrome Yellow EP, Neil takes it back to basics and affirms his deep connection to the uncompromising underground tradition of his native Northern England.

The name suggests something industrial but flashy, roughneck but classic, like a custom-painted Mustang or the trademark yellow safety stripes in the interior of the old Hacienda. It's an apt moniker for the fierce title track, with its old-school organ-driven hard-house -ska- vibe and its nasty tech-funk bassline. The haunting dub echoes ripple across the simple, spare drumkit, marked by deft buildups and breakdowns. It's timeless house, a huge sound that's hard as it is deep.

The flip track "Don't Cheat" is honestly amazing - a crackling instrumental jam that's chock-a-block with melodic flourishes and dramatic snippets of soul. The droning organ builds tension as it slides off the stomping drum track, while the piercing keys and breakbeats on the climactic breakdown recall the classic warehouse funk of Nightmares on Wax and Warp Records. This is lean and mean house for a very big sound system in a very dark space.

Max Martinez' - Into The Deep Cheater's remix works a deeper, more melodic vein, with fuzzy, distorted keyboards and loopy jazz changes played off the insistent vocal sample that reminds us, "Cheaters never win." Neil and Max can never be accused of cheating with music this real. With these three dangerous tracks, Republic 007 is licensed to kill - a secret weapon for sophisticated playlists...