Review: Bjarki's BBBBBB label has carved out its own unique niche in the techno world and next to occupy it is core label artist Stian "EOD" Gjevik. The former Rephlex artist shows off his magnificently complex and busy yet harmonic and melodic sound across five fantastically restless cuts that has lead synths taking you down a number of rabbit holes. Calming pads vie for your attention on "(Untitled) (W-R6)" while the acid laced "The Battery Poles (Are Conic!)" is so bright and shiny it'll have you reaching for your sunglasses. Few people speak so freely through their machines as this man right now.
Review: Detroit duo Aux88 always danced to a different drum than their Motor City peers, developing a ludicrously weighty trademark sound that put massive, mind-mangling analogue bass and gut-punching electro beats at the heart of the action. "Direct Drive", a 1995 release that has long been hard to find (hence this much-needed reissue), is one of the best examples of their distinctive sound. The title track (side A on this edition) is little more than a raw, thrusting bassline, snappy machine beats, spacey pads and occasional Kraftwerk samples, but it's brilliantly floor-friendly and brilliantly executed - Detroit body music for those who like their club cuts sub-heavy. Elsewhere, "Aux Express (DJ K1 Mix)" is a bouncy electro jam and the short "Bytes" tracks are wonky vocal samples for creative DJs.
Review: UK dub techno maestro Steve O'Sullivan is back with another payload of deep immersion heaters under his Bluetrain guise, this time on the Future Primitive label. There's a deadly restraint at work on "Congo Shuffle", where the elements get reduced to needlepoint precision and the low end rhythm section stalks with purpose. "Invisible Guest" takes things in an explicitly dubwise direction, channelling serious Rhythm & Sound vibes for an immaculate head-nodder, before "Paralyzed Dub" slows down further into an end of the line skank for the weary to find solace in - masterful movements in the echo chamber from start to finish.
Review: Saucer-eyed rave revivalists Tone Dropout can usually be relied upon to deliver the goods, especially if you're looking for sweaty, energy-packed slabs of warehouse ready techno, acid and electro. The label's latest missive is packed to the rafters with such giddy and forthright fare, to the bleeping, mind-altering insanity of Dawl & Sween's acid-fired throb-job "Laser Guided", to the "Bleep and Breaks" pressure of Samuel Padden's bustling "Quad Damage", to the stripped-back machine techno heaviness of Daif's similarly bleepy "Mysterious Freakin History". Elsewhere, the Ascot/WW track sits somewhere between early breakbeat hardcore and ambient techno, while Skywave Transmission v XOTR's "Warehouse 101" lives up to its name. Serious heat!
Review: Fresh from delving into his ambient side on the pastorally-enhanced "Loom Dream" album for Whities, Leif revives his self-manned Tio Series with another double-shot of delicate but impactful cuts outside the conventional slipstream of modern techno. The rhythms fall crooked, the synths trickle, bubble and cascade around the groove and the atmosphere remains humid and heady, especially on ear-snagging B-side "Rumex". "Montpelier" sports more explicit dubby flourishes and a spread of sonic flora and fauna in the middle distance that truly brings the track to life.
Review: Two years after they offered up the first part in the "Retrofitted Future" series, Primary Perception partners Mahy and Nichel Cruz return to Slow Life with volume three. They hit the ground running with "Valis", a crunchy romp through bold analogue bass, twisted acid lines and spacey electronics, before bouncing their way through more melodious, warm and ear-catching territory on the aptly named "Sci-Fi Jazz". Side B boasts two versions of "Funky Emotions" - the low-slung, bass-heavy and decidedly futuristic original mix and the altogether deeper and dreamier "Break mix" - as well as utterly gorgeous ambient track "Space Is An Ocean".
Review: Tribe Recordings' second missive is another standout techno affair, this time from Dawl who has been making big moves this year on Better Sound Italy, Tone Dropout and Hypnohouse. His futuristic sound hits that perfect sweet spot between techno and electro, all with a deeply cosmic edge. "Want Some Candy" manages to be super slick and sleek with a pumping bassline that will wiggle your backside. The intergalactic journey continues on the more textured and brain frying "Voyage" and completes with the acid laced jack track "Just Hausin" which is a real fist pumper.
Review: Fresh from remixing Goldie classic "Crystal Clear" for the veteran producer's reissue of 1997 album "Saturnz Return", Djrum (real name Felix Manuel) offers up his first single in nearly two years. "Hard To Say" seemingly surges from the speakers, with ambient style deep space chords, blissful female vocal snippets and tactile aural textures rising above a blisteringly fast techno beat. This high-octane pace continues on "Tournesol", a cheerily positive affair that wraps chiming, new age style melodies and humid tropical flourishes around another sweaty, non-stop beat. Like the A-side, it's impressively ear pleasing but also percussively intense, especially when the Aphex Twin style mind-altering acid lines make an appearance midway through.
Review: When it comes to offering up tough, mind-altering techno, few are quite as capable as Amelie Lens. Further proof arrives via the Belgian's second EP of the year, a four-track collection of dark and intense club cuts on regular home Lenske. Check first the thrusting weightiness of "Helium", where psychedelic lead lines rise above booming bass, trance-inducing drums and intoxicated late night electronics, before admiring the armour-plated stomp of "Man Over Machine", where Lens utters key words over another slamming rhythm track. Elsewhere, "Little Robot" is a mind-altering chunk of spiraling techno-trance, while "Storm" channels the raged intensity of Laurent Garnier's "Crispy Bacon" and re-imagines it for the 21st century.
Review: Following fine releases on Shipwrec, Natural Sciences and Return To Disorder, masked electro/techno misfit Galaxian (real name Mark Kastner) makes his first appearance on Ilian Tape. The Glasgow-based producer starts in suitably big fashion via "External Observer", where what sounds like an orchestra of synthesizers gets to work over a skittish, bass-heavy electro beat, before exploring more dystopian dancefloor pastures on the moody, alien-sounding and otherworldly "Fuzzy Clouds Of Potential Existence". On side B he gives his out-there interpretation of early jungle ("Coming Up For Air"), batters a broken computer into submission and makes electro gold out of it (the slightly melancholic "Mechanistic Control Fantasies") and soundtracks the end of days (or possibly Brexit) on weirdo closing cut "Terminal Phase".
Review: Do or Die has already made an impression on Nicolas Lutz's My Own Jupiter and now makes a sideways step to Binh's Time Passages, another label associated with a deep digging selection of underground DJs who are some of the most revered of the moment. Opener "90s" makes you wanna scream "aciiiiiiiiid" at the top of your voice, "EBM" channels some old school rave, breakbeat and techno vibes with its energetic drum patterns and bleeping synths. The title track is the most unusual of the lot, pairing withering synth lines with metallic drums and distorted drones that all add up to some powerful, warehouse-ready sounds.
Review: A new enigmatic duo from London named Two Shell present Livity Sounds' next installment. Their debut "Access EP" draws influence from the South London underground of the late '90s and early 00's, with a nod to more contemporary Bristol sounds across these four wicked tracks. From the off-kilter stepper that is "Heart Piece', through to the glacial and deconstructed dub techno of "Contactless" and the rolling bass-driven entrancer "SYNC-2020" - they have forged an EP of warm but stripped-down, deft UK style grooves to mark an anthemic debut. More groundbreaking future sounds from the ever reliable Bristol label.
Review: Michigan producer John Beltran is a master of atmosphere and emotion. His ambient has been used for countless seminal TV shows, he's been cited as an inspiration to Four Tet and has put out key albums on labels like Delsin and Peacefrog. Here he is in a distinctively club-focussed mood, but the synths still very much speak to your heart. "The Lake" is pure Motor City techno soul, and the ambient reprise allows you to wallow in his pads even more. "Twilight" then bustles with shimmering metal hits while pixelated keys drift about like a million fire flies in a warm night sky. Lush.
Review: For those who dig Jeff Mills but don't have the time or money to hoard records from his extensive back catalogue, the ongoing "Director's Cut" series showcasing hard-to-find gems from his discography is a godsend. Volume five begins with a trip back to 2015 and "Solar Cycles" - an alien-sounding, otherworldly mid-tempo techno loop jam - from the limited edition, USB-only "Proxima Centauri" album. Side B begins with the bleeping tribal techno hustle of "L8" from 1998's "Skin Deep EP", before Mills offers us a chance to drift through space via 2006 track "Above Waiting Worlds", which is one of his most intergalactic and cinematic dancefloor cuts to date (and that's saying something).
Review: Reade Truth has been dropping plenty of heat lately on Cartulis and Warm Fiction, but now he's back on his own label Path. There's a lysergic, freaky twist to the strain of electro-techno he's exploring, where the synths bubble and trickle with playful energy while staying rooted in a nocturnal underworld of basement-ready business. "Without A Doubt" is especially captivating on this tip, while the slight move towards melody on "Brain Damaged" is just as welcoming. Watch out for "A Secret Heaven" though - a consummately punchy New York groove garnished with plenty of off-kilter sonic debris.
Review: Via well-regarded releases on Budget Cuts and Eternal Ocean (a label he founded), Robin Lohrey ALA Ronan has quickly established himself as a must-check maker of the kind of alternately dreamy and psychedelic dancefloor fare whose roots lie not in contemporary club culture, but rather early '90s techno, trance, jungle and breakbeat hardcore. His latest 12", for D. Tiffany's Planet Euphorique label, touches on many of these themes, moving from the twisted psychedelic techno/ambient techno madness of "Dream Portal", to the sped-up, acid-fired thump of "Star Fissure" - think Braindance style electro after a few too many doses of narcotics - via the aquatic tribal techno throb of "Crystal Viewer".
Review: Venetian imprint Yay present the third installment of their sublabel 3N0 by Aljaz Gnezda aka Eliaz. The Slovenian producer's second EP features three minimal cuts from the wonkier end of the spectrum. Eliaz is said to have made the low slung acid bounce of "Lizergid" on the A side in 2013, before he switched to a mainly hardware setup. The other tracks on the flip are brand new: the tripped-out breakbeat action of "Erbiton" and the entrancing afterhours raviness of "Mental Spaceship". The man is slowly but surely becoming one of the prominent characters of his local scene.
Review: Some wicked underground sounds coming out of Ukraine (and beyond) on offer here by new imprint Hypnohouse. Darren Woollard aka Dawl who has been putting out some wicked grooves on Libertine, Furthur Electronix and Klasse Wrecks lately gets into some proper bleep techno action on "Output" while Kiev-based Trippsy finishes up the A side with the strobed-out and tunnelling sensations of "Flashback". Flip over for Uruguay's Fede Lijtmaer who channels some Dopplereffekt vibes on "Passing By" followed by Wulffius' retro techno jam "Salty Breeze". Tip!
Review: Tectonic bossman Pinch on Berceuse Heroique? Now this is a match made in boundary-breaking heaven. Not even the lead track "Border Control" can keep things confined as we're hurled into a swampy, heady, paranoid and relentless stampede which is just as much techno as it is 140. "Fortune Tellers" brings us back down to even woozier 125 as layers of off-kilter percussion scuffle up and down the mix in a blurry, sense-deceiving way before "Loose Cables" turns us inside out with its tripletty off-beat, subaquatic pressure. A one of a kind artist on a one of a kind label; there are no borders here.
Review: Having previously appeared on Nyame and Something Happening, Somewhere, Amsterdam-based producer Vand now brings his delicate, dubby take on techno to Alpengluhen. Nodding to the atmospheric moods of Claro Intelecto and the like, he draws you in with the icy refrains of "Altarf-unn" before upping the emotion with the heart-wrenching pads of "Concord". "Kodama" has a more pronounced impact which is tempered by liberal delay and reverb, and "Paraztul" keeps things spacious and fractured for a more electronica-tinged trip outside the 4/4 slipstream.
Albert Luxus - "In Den Arm Bitte!" (Julian Stetter mix)
Tom Demac - "Serenade"
Jurgen Paape - "Abstrusia"
Reinhard Voigt - "Der Amnn, Der Nie Nach Deutz Kam"
Rex The Dog - "Vortex"
Justus Kohncke - "Mindless Sex Track"
Voigt & Voigt - "Der Schwarm"
Anii - "Ride The Tiger"
Clarian - "Early Life"
Extrawelt - "Pink Panzer"
DJ Balduin - "EWBA"
Anna - "Remembrance" (main mix)
Fahrland - "Yesterday" (Night version)
Patrice Baumel - "Grace"
La Fleur - "Tears"
John Monkman & James Monro - "Pesto Punk"
Blackrachas - "Rotary"
Raxon - "Dark Light"
Yotam Avni - "Track For Agoria"
Jonathan Kaspar - "Renard"
Gui Boratto - "618" (Kolsch mix)
Review: Cologne powerhouse Kompakt may not be talked about as much as it once was, but the label continues to put out high quality electronic music with its own distinctive vibe. For proof, check the 19th annual edition of their now legendary compilation series, "Total". There's much to set the pulse racing amongst the 25 tracks scattered across two CDs, from the shoegaze-influenced haziness of Weval's "Are You Even Real" and the picturesque, piano-sporting dancefloor deepness of Tom Demac's "Serenade", to the neo-trance throb of Rex The Dog, the twisted techno intensity of Voigt & Voigt, and the intergalactic electro/rave fusion of Raxon's strobe lit "Raxon".
Review: "Supernature" is Escape Artist's sophomore EP on Salt Mines and is another stylish intersection between breaks, electro, techno and ambient. The music here is crisp and clean, with sleek lines and sharp edges making it all the more pure and serene sounding. "Carpentaria" is a scene-setting opener that builds on smeared pads without ever fully taking off, and "The Earth" repeats the trick but with more bubbling and organic percussion. "Silicone Valium" is a brilliantly trippy electro cut on fat and heavy kicks and the title track marks full lift off with a surging future-techno groove detailed with some old school breaks.
Review: Almost thirty years after it was first released and spawned an entire new sub genre, "Acid Tracks" still bangs harder than 99% of new tunes. Here it gets remixed by a selection of seriously big names as well as hot newcomers and then pressed up to limited green vinyl. The big man Carl Cox goes first and is in no mood to muck about, layering in hammering kick drums and making the 303 even more wild and serrated. Swiss-Chilean minimalist Luciano distils it down to a more soft and supple acid track that works on the mind, while the flip side offerings serve up stomping warehouse techno, strobe-lit anthems and rubbery drum workouts.
Review: Japanese artist Sunao Gonno's idiosyncratic sound has appeared on labels such as Endless Flight, International Feel and Beats In Space over the years, where he's dabbled in shoegaze, kosmische and psychedelia as heard on 2015's breathtaking "Remember The Life Is Beautiful" or on last year's contemporary jazz outing "In Circles" with Kazuhiko Masumura. An accomplished DJ also, he's no stranger to Berlin's Panorama Bar, where Nick Hoppner (Touch From A Distance) has long held a residency. The two artists collaborate for the first time on "Lost", featuring three sublime sonic journeys: go deep into the exotic on "Bangalore" with its world music influence, or chill to the vivid downbeat tones of "Love Lost" until "Start Trying" returns to the program with its neon-lit aesthetic plus breakbeats reminiscent of the rave era.
Review: Hot on the heels of the release of their first album in 17 years, Underground Resistance affiliates Scan 7 return with one of their funkiest and most accessible EPs to date. Opener "Chuuch" is a riotous and righteous affair that sees main men TrackMasta Lou and Mr Hooper peppering a funky techno beat with killer samples from a wild and celebratory gospel disco classic. It's one of those tracks that will have even the most miserable clubber throwing their hands skywards in celebratory release. The pair continues on a similar vein on the organ-driven gospel techno stomp of "No Enemy No Table", before moving in a deeper and more relaxed direction on the equally as impressive "Here To There".
Review: Mancunian legends Graham Massey and Andy Barker reunite for the first 808 State album in 17 years. They recorded the new opus "Transmission Suite" in the Granada studios (where they once performed live on television 30 years ago) and looked to their hometown's club scene as their main source of influence - along with the timeless aesthetic of Detroit which has always influenced their style. Across this collection of "sonic landscapes" (as described by Massey) you'll hear the booming acid electro of first single "Tokyo Tokyo" and "The Ludwig Question", through to off-kilter jams like "Westland", futurist house grooves of "Ujala" and a modern reboot of classic "Angol Argol".
Review: Mella Dee's Warehouse Music doesn't try to be smart or clever, but it does bang, and what more can you ask for from a dance producer? The title of his latest suggests he was in a particularly direct mood when putting these tracks together and so it proves: "Techno Belter" is built on big, bulky drums with prickly synth details, and "Silver Street" has wonky chords bringing an inebriated feel to the cantering kicks below. Floatation Device does a great job of sprinkling in some cosmic dust on his mix of "Jack U Later" and "Stack Select" is pure Jeff Mills minimalism. Great stuff.
Review: Classy Italian label Where We Met unveil a new signing on their seventh release, which also marks the mysterious ReKaB's debut. His skills belie that newbie status, because this is atmospheric techno with emotional and musical depth. "2019" is a real highlight with its twitchy synths and breezy electro grooves making for a pensive vibe before things cut loose on warm and rubbery house jam "The Hassle". The ambient synths that colour these tracks is what make them standout, and closer "Self-Destruct" is a prime example of that. "Music Makes It Better" is a title we can all relate to, and in the case of this track, it sure is a beautiful place to be.
Review: Essential repress! Tomas Bangalter's stone cold classic Roule 12" Trax On Da Rocks makes a return. The five tracks on offer - "On Da Rocks", "Roule Boule", "What To Do", "Outrun" and "Ventura" - have acquired legendary status, standing as sublime examples of the rough, raw end of the filter-soaked French house sound. Some 17 years since they were first released, these tracks have lost none of their madcap brilliance; if this isn't already a cherished part of your record collection, here's your chance.
Review: Copenhagen-based producer Rune Bagge (Northern Electronics/Ectotherm) presents the third installment on Courtesy's Kulor imprint. "Ingen Tak Til Systemet" (English translation: No Gratitude Towards The System) is a four track exercise in pure unadulterated sonic ultraviolence - if we've ever heard such a thing. From the pummeling and strobe-lit warehouse onslaught of opener "Secret Solutions", to the guttural and contorted noise terror of "Repulsion" followed by the frantic peak time mentalism of "I Am The Solution" which then gives way to the hyperspeed IDM of "Coup D'Etat" - there's truly no rest for the wicked on this one!