Review: Back to 96: The 4th Wave was a producer named Steve Paton. Also operating under aliases such as The Invisibles and Lo-Fi Sensibilities (when he appeared on Mo Wax), Steve didn't remain active for too long outside of the 90s but he left us two killer EPs. One on Planet E in 95 and this one on Kirk Degiorgio's Op-Art in 96. Reissued for the first time, and now featuring the twinkling downtempo delight "Lounge Music" (which was only ever previously available on a compilation), it's a powerful example of the Detroit/UK feedback loop at the time as both techno hubs were influencing each other. "Attention Please" rolls out the breaks, "Mean Streets" bites like a woozy UR record while "Cosmic Dance" whips up a tribal frenzy for the finale. 23 years old and still sounding future.
Review: There's a decidedly rushing, saucer-eyed feel to Ellen Allien's latest album, her eighth since launching the BPitch Control label at the dawn of the century. The Berlin veteran shows no desire to soften her sound or move away from the dancefloor, delivering an eight-track set that giddily charges between neo-trance (the loved-up "Empathy" and tech-trance throb-job "Free Society"), post-dubstep electro (the swirling "MDMA" and atmospheric "Exit To Humanity"), raging acid ("Bowie In Harmony"), decidedly muscular techno (the arpeggio-driven heaviness of acid fired smasher "Love Distortion" and the creepier "Electronic Joy") and bubbly acid electro (superb closing cut "Stimulation").
Review: For the sixth missive on his admirable Touch From A Distance label, Panorama Bar/Berghain resident Nick Hoppner has turned to debutant Cameo Blush. The little-known artist hits the ground running with title track "Murky Waters", a superb fusion of two-step influenced electro drums, bleeping electronic melodies and drowsy female vocal snippets. "Hypervisibility" is a deep but weighty chunk of melodic electro bliss, while "Prophet Paradise" is dreamy, languid and sun-kissed, with bright and breezy lead lines and warming chords. Equally as impressive is killer closing cut "Year 2000 Problem", a rumbling breakbeat workout smothered in the kind of blissful electronic flourishes that were such a feature of Isolee classic "Beau Mot Plage".
Review: Can Oral and Ingmar Koch's Global Electronic Network is described as a "German lo-fi electronic act using second-hand drum machines and broken keyboards". The duo were among the very best house and techno producers who came from a more acoustic background, and their 1994 debut EP, Time Square, has been in our sights for just about the same amount of time. In fact, it's perfect timing for these two voyages two be released again, with "Time Square (part 1)" sounding as deep, rich and explorative as any of the deep-minded techno being made by contemporary producers - more than anything, this thing sounds like it's at the cutting edge of music. The second part, "Time Square (part 2)", is even deeper and more cavernous, totally exploring the inner depths of rhythm, and forming another intricate groove made of glitchy synths. What a stunning reissue - cop it before it's too late!
Review: Yes! Styles Upon Styles step it up and drop their very first album length project and do so in their own inimitable style with this conceptual long player from the superb (and superbly named) Gut Nose. The NYC label have swiftly built a rep for introducing the unheralded or the lesser known (Clay Wilson, Certain Creatures, White Visitation and Kloke) and it's great to see them maintain that approach with Filthy City. Aside from one cassette release and a prior SUS 12", there is little to form an opinion on Gut Nose out there, and that works in his favour on this album. The traditional LP format has been thrown out completely in favour of two extended pieces made up of movements with the A Side, sub-titled Filthy City, a dizzying array of paranoid stuttering instrumental beats reminiscent to the late 90s work of El P and Cannibal Ox. Gut Nose flips it completely with the B-side's Filthnoid Mixx which ups the tempo markedly to a queasy fairground ride through a nightmarish techno landscape. You won't hear another LP like Filthy City this year.
Review: Sound Metaphors head honchos Ben Castro-Moore and Nemo Ripoli have become regular fixtures up at Berlin's Panorama Bar this year. Not content with a growing DJ schedule both at home and internationally, the pair have also prepared their second release on their BLESSYOU imprint which comes from Omar Joesoef. Here is a young talent from Jakarta who makes his debut with "Talo" a downtempo techno journey that is percussive, dark and heavy - a dancefloor chugger in the vein of Vactrol Park or Karamika. On the B side, "Ritmo" goes deep into the rainforest complete, with spooky didgeridoo like drones, cavernous drums and native chants all leading to spiritual enlightenment.
Review: Longstanding Detroit deepsmith Kage returns on his brand new label Michigander. The result? Three superlative exercises in synth soul and an on-point version for later hours. "The Arc" prowls with all the string-soaked majesty of an early Rolando cut while the stringless version hits a little harder. "D Drive" jacks with a slappy bass groove while tipping a slight nod to Yazoo with its vibrant riffy ripples while "Transcending" is all about the big dubby synth washes and off-kick bass palpitations. Let's hope there'll be more to gander from Michigander very soon.
Review: The Kompakt affiliated Kolsch presents the second release on his new Ipso imprint. A collaborative project, his recent club residency in Cologne took the same name and he's back with a brand new collaboration with Turbo head honcho - Tiga. Said to be recorded in a couple days in Kolsch's Copenhagen studio, the pair present three surefire cuts that are ready to burn up any dancefloor - at all hours. From the evocative dancefloor drama of "HAL" with its powerful and catchy analogue melody, some surging adrenaline on the fierce and functional "Still So High" and "First Blood" on the flip: a pounding peak-time weapon that's jam packed full of driving bass and trippy synth textures galore.
Review: This debut single from previously unseen outfit LSD is remarkable for a number of reasons, not least the fact that the trio is made up of legendary UK techno producers Luke Slater, Steve Bicknell and Dave Summer AKA Function. Given their collective history of making thumping, mind-altering techno, you'd expect Progress to be both heavy and trippy. That's certainly what you get from opener "Process 1", where psychedelic electronics and cascading, otherworldly noises rise above an armour-plated techno groove. They push the envelope even further on "Process 2", a track blessed with restless cymbal lines and weird, off-key electronics. In comparison, the similarly intense "Process 3" seems deep and woozy, though the incessant, 1990 style bleeps and "LFO" style synths guarantees a suitably hallucinogenic feel throughout.
Review: (180g Axis Audiophile Series / color label/ black generic jacket) Including audio commentary by Jeff Mills himself. "Looking back in hindsight to the activity and accomplishments of Axis is with much pride - to witness the relationship between the music and listener evolving to this point. The Director's Cut reissue project is about manicuring detail. It's about a rare opportunity to enhance what we've done so that the relationship strengthens for the long term" - Jeff Mills
Review: Given that they not only share space on the same label, but also both explore the deeper end of the dub techno spectrum, we were rather surprised to learn that "Hypnotic Dub Season" marks the first collaboration between musical cosmonauts Mr Cloudy (AKA Sergey Barkalov) and Gradient (Igor Arsenjev). So, was it worth the wait? If you're into dub techno, then certainly. The album is made up of three epic workouts (the last of which runs to an astonishing 30 minutes) in which the pair wrap hissing aural textures, echoing melodic motifs and sumptuous, huggable ambient electronics around chunky, slowly shifting dub techno rhythms. If you like your music hazy, spaced-out and - as the title promises - hypnotic, then you need this in your life.
Review: Blueprint main man James Ruskin is back on his own mighty outlet with a fresh platter of searing techno. "Consumer Patterns" is built on drums that hammer so hard they could put a nail in your wall. The loopy synth lines that run through them add wonky brilliance, then "Social Acceptance" is pure anxiety inducing techno with unresolved loops sending you wild. "Weakness Of The System" is more through, with broken beat patterns and nagging chords suggesting a sense of loss and bring real melancholia to the dance floor.
Review: It's hard to think of a DJ with the global profile of Nina Kraviz who runs a label as underground and innovative as trip. The latest comes from Shadowax, who has previously contributed to the label's compilations but now makes her full label debut. Unlike much of the frantic and frenetic material trip has dealt with in the past, this EP slows the tempos and explores more moody and hypnotic techno. Opener "Nikolai Reptile" is a super slow motion and dub rhythm with searching synth lines gently riding up and down the scale, while "Ochen" recalls the icy minimal perfection of Daniel Bell. "What About Me" has spoken word mutterings and paranoid, pressurised kicks that hurry you along and lastly "Mortal Talking" is a flurry of hyper-speed drums and synth loops to fully flip you out.
Review: Shedbug's slow but steady rise continues via an EP that's as thrilling and action-packed as a narcotics-fuelled weekend with a platoon of free party lunatics. There's a distinctively psychedelic feel to the retro-futurist club cuts on show, with bombastic opener "Aciidmuzik" - all effervescent hardcore style breakeat, psy-trance acid lines and fizzing electronics - being quickly followed by the hallucinatory ambient techno shuffle of "One Day Later". His devotion to the more LSD-inspired aspects of early '90s electronic music continues on the flip, where the exotic vocal samples, trippy electronic motifs and glassy-eyed melodies of breakbeat shuffler "Rubber" come paired with the sunrise-friendly bliss of the EP's most loved-up track, "There's Hope For You Yet".
Review: A little more than a year on from his first appearance on Local Talk, Philpot Records co-founder Michel "Soulphiction" Baumann returns to the much-loved Swedish imprint. Naturally he's in fine form on a loose but on-point cut that sounds like it emerged from one of Baumann's now legendary lengthy live jams. The A-side "Hi Phife Mix" of "Beehive" is loopy and hypnotic with "French Kiss" style hooks bubbling away atop seemingly non-stop machine drums. The flipside "Classic Mix" strips things back, with Baumann peppering clanky, early Chicago house style drums with a more fluid take on the now familiar hook. Best of all though is Jamie 3:26's "Windy City Bump" remix, which is the kind of sweaty and hypnotic jack attack of which his hero Ron Hardy would have approved.
Review: Trinidadian Deep's house music isn't just deep, it is spiritual. He layers up synths into oceanic movements that wash over you time and time again, leaving you feeling soothed in golden sounds. His obsessively detailed percussion adds movement and detail to each track, too, and all four cuts here are testament to that once again. "Balls Deep" is a little synth dance and jumbled house groove to make you move, while "Project 5am" slows things down and encourages reflection. "Flux" is more roomy and cosmic before "Bush Rum" closes with far sighted chords and shimmering drums that are deceptively complex.
Review: Pitch black antics by Greek industrial noise terror (and Liber Null main man) Unhuman, alongside Dutch modular maniac Derk Reneman aka Roberto Auser for this collaboration between imprints Gooiland Elektro and Enfant Terrible out of Holland. Unhuman (Emmanouil Simotas) takes care of the A side of the release, immediately treading the left hand path on the slow burning acid sludge of "Faces Of Death", followed by the seething EBM reduction of "Seven Days". On the flip, Auser lunges straight for the jugular on the brooding and contorted techno experiment that is "Avalon", followed by the pummelling four to the floor grindcore of "Unexplained".
Review: Boo Williams may release far less music than he once did, but every 12" he releases retains the same high quality threshold that has long marked out the Chicagoan's work. This two-tracker is a brilliant example. Both tracks are ear pleasing, musically rich and dancefloor focused, offering a near perfect balance between club-ready grunt and emotion-rich tunefulness. A-side "Out of the Gate" sets the tone, with Williams' layering chiming melodies lines and dreamy chord progressions atop a near techno tempo, bass-heavy house groove. On the B-side, he pays tribute to long time pal and occasional studio buddy Glenn Underground via the tumbling synthesizer chords, bubby acid lines, melancholic flourishes and jacking drums of "Reckless Ending".