Review: Following up some great tracks on Pinkman, Mannequin and Malka Tuti in recent times, British synth wizard George Thompson returns under the Black Merlin alias - delivering some bold EBM and electro-noir antics for Berlin imprint She's Lost Kontrol. The rusty grind of analogue arpeggios, with minimal rhythms awash in icy trails of reverb plus guttural howls through walls of distortion shall taunt you throughout the sonic contents of the Noi EP. While Thompson sure has a knack for nailing all the hallmarks of early industrial music, he still finds time for the same tribal meditative minimalism found on his Karamika project as heard on the riveting "Noi 2" - one of the EP's highlights.
Review: Given he's previously released some seriously creepy, atmospheric techno on Berceuse Heroique and Pinkman, you'd expect Black Merlin's Mannequin Records debut to be similarly unsettling. That's certainly the case with A-side "DEF", a hypnotic and feverish affair where raw and restless, industrial-inspired riffs rise above paranoid, held-note chords and a locked-in drum track. You'll find more brain-melting, razor-sharp modular motifs on the arguably even more intense and wayward "Oba Enka", while closer "Ham" wraps undulating, acid-style electronic motifs around an altogether fuzzier, looser groove. It sounds like it would be capable of inducing vivid hallucinations in early morning dancers, which in our book is no bad thing.
Review: A special release from Minimal Wave here as the uber rare Irene & Mavis EP from UK synth poppers Blancmange is granted a reissue! Those with a pub quiz winning level of knowledge of UK synth pop will no doubt be familiar with the 80s hits of Blancmange duo Neil Arthur & Stephen Luscombe, yet this debut EP dating back to 1980 will still sound revelatory. The self released Irene & Mavis EP marked Arthur and Luscombe to be fully willing to experiment with DIY electronics, impressing Mute founder Daniel Miller sufficiently to proclaim them "maiden aunts of electronic music," and thus more than suited as a subject of focus from the Minimal Wave label. There are definite similarities between this nascent stage of Blancmange and the output of Cabaret Voltaire from the same era, particularly in the masked and disembodied nature of the vocals, whilst "Holiday Camp" and "Just Another Spectre" are wonderful examples of instrumental synth music. Despite originally being released in 7" format, the six newly remastered tracks are presented here in 10" format by Minimal Wave with the distinctive artwork retained!
Review: After kicking things off with the killer "Mariachi Guadalajara" by Lewski, Or:la's Cead label returns with another emergent talent, Blu Terra. The Warsaw based producer comes on strong for this breakthrough release with the heavy slapping, sound design-enhanced electro of "Person Sans". Even if the opening track felt detailed, it's superseded by the barrage of information spilling out of crafty, distinctive acid monster "20,000". "Western/Eastern" spreads across the B-side in a nervous twitch of rave energy geared towards big dark spaces, perfect for that spine-tingling part of the night when the real world feels very far away indeed.
Review: Romanian producer Borusiade finally hits Ostgut Ton's Unterton sub-label, placing the artist on a clear platform on which to showcase his devious blend of techno sounds to a less minimally-minded dance crowd. This is tough dance-floor material that should be churned out at peak time. His strain of industrialism is loud and audible on "Forewarned Is Forearmed", a steely, broken techno rhythm that gathers more and more pace as its deathly sonics cave in, while "Common Ancestor" pounces on fluidly without the help of any kick drums. "Doublethink" is an ode to 1984 dystopia, a wide soundscape of liquid drums and eerie melodies swirling over head, leaving "Atlas" to ponder in a dark, intricate whirlpool of sludgy melodies and broken percussion shots. Techno-approved and fully recommended.
The Sixteen Steps - "Signals From The South" (6:28)
The Sixteen Steps - "Promises On The Run" (7:17)
Review: Rampant and 'up for it' as usual, the Cititrax label is back with a new set of wayward technoid experiments for the more trained ears on the dancefloors. This time it's Romania's Borusiade and newcomer The Sixteen Steps who share two sides of a wax plate and, of course, proceed to annihilate any idea of a quiet night in. The former sets off with the mechanical acid bumps of "Infatuation", guided by an eerie set of vocal blurs, and that's followed by the comparatively more beat-centric techno of the apocalyptic "Confutation". On the flip, The Sixteen Steps first lands on "Signals From The South", a house banger with noxious levels of mutant bass at its core, followed by the single-minded industrialism and sheer techno brutality of "Promises On The Run". WOWZAH!
David Bowie/The Rebels - "Revolutionary Song" (4:42)
Marlene Dietrich - "Just A Gigolo" (3:34)
Review: Here's something to get Bowie fans hot under the collar: a first worldwide pressing of the Thin White Duke's "Revolutionary Song", his only contribution to the soundtrack of 1978 West German flick "Just A Gigolo", in which he also starred alongside silver screen legend Marlene Dietrich. The song was recorded with a local band of musicians hastily dubbed "The Rebels" and sees Bowie in classic crooner mode, adding his distinctive vocals to a jangly, largely acoustic number that's effectively a folksy take on waltz. Over on side B there's a chance to enjoy one of Marlene Dietrich's last ever recordings: an atmospheric cover of 1930s cabaret standard "Just A Gigolo" which ended up being the movie's title track.
Review: As per usual, those fiendish folks over at Dark Entries have amazed us once again with yet another barrel of 1980s gold from the depths of the underground. This time it's German new wave band Boytronic who see a reissue, and the EP in question is 1988's "Byllyant", which features the magnificent Plus 8 mix - a shot to the head made up of warm bass tones and hard-hitting drum machine patterns - and also the US mix, which literally sounds like it was made yesterday; for being an '80s EP, Boytronic steered well clear of cheesy and to be honest, they give New Order a proper run for their money. The 1984 mix of "Trigger Track" is a wonderful electro stormer, stamping its fast beats over eerie pads and growling basslines. This would be silly not to recommend! For the diggers.
Review: This remix package by the mysterious Brainwaltzera (Furthur Electronix/Analogical Force) features cuts from his enviable discography, including reinterpretations of recordings featured on the recently released Poly-Ana LP on Berlin based Film - which received plaudits from underground dance music heavyweights. From the the candy inflected electro of "Muddy Puddle Trot" remixed by legend Luke Vibert, Berlin based synthesist Eva Geist (AKA Andrea Noce) and her brooding, slow-burning gothic noir on the "Kurzweil Dame" remix or Philipp Otterbach's evocative ambient rendition of "Triangulate Dither" awash in reverb drenched textures and metallic FM synthesis.
Review: After the ultra-limited white vinyl edition of Brainwaltzera's superb "Epi Log EP" sold out in record time last year, Film has bowed to demand and served up this speedy black vinyl reissue. If you missed out first time around (and many of us did), it's worth picking up. Highlights are plentiful throughout, from the mind-altering throb of "Doctor Who"-goes-dub techno pulse of "Triangulate Dither (Fairytall version)" and deep space bliss of "[Take 2]", to the Autechre style IDM breakbeats and chiming melodies of "Count_Dem_Pops". Brainwaltzera even chucks in a track that sounds like Boards of Canada jamming with Dam Funk (the dreamy "Bad Endgar"), which sounds every bit as wonderful as it looks on paper.
Review: If you've ever wanted some straight-up italo disco but then wondered where to find it, where to start, who to ask, then Dark Entries have sorted you right out. As usual, the label come through strong, and this time they reissue an italo disco classic by Brand Image (T.Scarfone and M.Scarabelli) originally released in 19983, and representing the genre with flying colours. "Are You Loving?" contains the 1980's in every sense of the word: quirky, melancholic vocals riding over a grainy drum machine beat, and accompanied by massive synth stabs and an inimitable sort of groove - simply lovely. There's an instrumental on the flip just in case you love the sounds but are slightly scared by the power of the vocals...
Review: Emergent duo Broken Arrows were previously spotted lurking around Giallo Disco back in 2015, so you should have some idea of the kind of lurid late night machine sleaze they like to get their hands dirty with. They've now slid over to the sympathetic but marginally more techno-minded Vivod imprint with a new clutch of deviant heaters for those adventurous dancefloor spaces where B-movie sounds reign supreme. "Female Predator" is a tough EBM-tinted workout with plenty of jack in its stack, while "Fear Eats The Soul" takes a more synth-wave approach with some speech samples thrown in for good measure. "Edge Of Darkness" is a more tense affair that pings arpeggios around a minor key refrain, and then "Basic Structure" whips out the hardest track on the record, a lithe industrial stomper laden with rhythmic noise and a mean synth bassline that will hit your solar plexus like a battering ram.
Review: Gritty, abrasive and grey-scaled noise fluxions from Daz Quayle and Tony Snowden for the seventh instalment of the Aperture series. The mood is tense and the sounds are cold. It's six tracks of filthy machine noise straight form the gutter. Seriously though, apart from the usual suspects in the game such as Prurient, Kevin Drumm, Whitehouse etc, this is some of the best noise-driven techno music we've heard in a while. Each track brings something special to the picture but the stand-outs are definitly "Sub Clinical" for its menacing rhythmic roll, and "Blood On Your Hands" for its originality - an utterly wacked-out bassline amid all that percussive storm. Sick.
Review: Having made his name during the late '90s and early 2000s as a maker of particularly forthright techno, Oliver Ho has broadened his horizons in recent years. Nowhere is that more obvious on his Broken English Club project, which debuted last year with a pair of industrial and EBM minded releases for Jealous God and Minimal Wave offshoot Cititrax. Here he returns to the latter, laying down more fuzzy, straight-to-tape journeys into analogue, mid '80s dancefloor experimentalism. There's naturally much to enjoy, from the peak Cabaret Voltaire grittiness of "Drycutting", and the bleak EBM throb of "Ritual Killing", to the ghostly synthesizers, Jaydee bass and droning textures of "Channel 83".
Review: Music From Memory's first retrospective of obscure Brazilian electronic music, "Outro Tempo", was arguably one of the strongest compilations of 2017. There's a second volume on the way, with curator John Gomez this time focusing on music made between 1984 and '96. First, though, we get this taster EP featuring two previously cassette-only cuts. On the A-side you'll find Bruhaha Babelico's "Bruhaha II", a ghostly and mind-altering chunk of delay-laden new wave/industrial funk fusion full of fuzzy bass, echoing female vocals, dubbed-out electronics and psychedelic yelps. Turn to the flip and you're greeted by Individual Industry's off-kilter, outer-space synth-pop jam "Eyes". Like its predecessor, it's an unusual, intoxicating treat.
Review: Benjamin Brunn and Dave Wheels are old studio buddies, having worked together on and off since 2006. "2000", though, is their most ambitious joint project yet: a collaborative album for Sushitech that offers up breezy, melodious and cheery fusions of heady dub techno, gentle electronica, chugging sofa-friendly haziness and glitchy late night hypnotism. It's an interesting blend but one that certainly hits the spot. Highlights include the horizontal pulse of "Orainge", the wonderfully hypnotic after-hours throb of "Iratamoto (Version)", the bold and sun-kissed undulations of "In The Club" and the pie-eyed warmth of "Waldeck".
Review: 10 Germany seem to get it bang-on each and every time! For a label who has released the likes of Ancient Methods, Perc and Matthew Herbert, among other legends, we'd expect nothing less than the spectacular and this is exactly what we got with this latest collaborative effort by Italy's Daniele Brusachetto, Jansky Noise, Human Larvae and Damaskin. Brusachetto's "Grigi Ma" is weird and wonderful pop tune set against a backdrop of cavernous percussion rattles, while Janksy Noise's "Black Night" is a full-on drone monster. Over on the flip, "Ruined" by Human Larvae is a fuzzy, noise-fuelled scorcher, and "Apocalypse" sees Damaskin produce the EP's only shred of rigidity thanks to its consistent 4/4 kick...accompanied by some rather gnarly power electronics, of course.