Review: Closely affiliated with Nina Kraviz's trip label, Icelandic maverick Bjarki has managed to carve out a unique identity for himself in the hustle and bustle of contemporary electronic music. Following three full-length releases back in 2016, he now appears on !K7 with a new album that shows off the depth and breadth of his idiosyncratic vision. From curious ambient excursions peppered with rich sound design to spooked out boogie and deconstructed techno, sometimes within the same track, Bjarki has ably cemented his reputation as one of the scene's most intriguing operatives. Just take a trip on the fractured breaks and looming pads of "AN6912" and marvel at the originality.
Review: Surgeon and Regis have been collaborating as British Murder Boys for decades, though in recent times it's tended to take the form of occasional live performances. Like their previous album, 2014's "Live In Tokyo", "Fire In The Still Air" is a non-stop recording of a live performance - in this case one that formed part of Berlin's Atonal Festival last August. It's a thrilling and largely breathless excursion; a non-stop, 51-minute ride in which Surgeon handles beats and electronics, and Regis processed sounds and growling, gravel-voiced vocals. The duo's techno credentials shine through, of course, but it's their industrial and EBM inspirations that come to the fore throughout. For much of the set, they come across like an updated, techno-propelled re-incarnation of early '80s Cabaret Voltaire, and that's not a bad thing at all.
Review: At some point over the course of their career, almost every techno producer has begun to look beyond the confines of the club for inspiration. It appears that Lewis Fautzi has reached that point. While his previous singles and albums for the likes of Soma, Figure, BPitch Control and Pole Recordings have largely been rugged, dancefloor-focused affairs, "Insanity Department" is an altogether different beast. Altogether deeper, melodious and introspective, the album's seven atmospheric tracks draw considerable influence from deep electro, IDM, krautrock, neo-classical and off-kilter movie soundtracks. As a result, it makes for beguiling, creepy and often poignant listening.
Review: Between 2012 and 2017, grad_u released nine EPs of high quality dub techno on the vinyl-only Redscale imprint. With the label now seemingly a thing of the past, the prolific Lithuanian producer has decided to gather together all 19 tracks from those sought-after vinyl EPs on CD for the very first time. Those who have paid close attention to grad_u's career will know what to expect, namely an evocative mixture of deep, hypnotic techno epics, delay-laden dub techno workouts, spacey late night rollers, abstract dancefloor explorations and occasional surprise turns towards a bolder, warehouse-friendly style (see the formidably sweaty and sub-heavy "Holdback").
Review: Considering the hazy, spaced-out and immersive nature of grad_u's dub techno productions, we were rather surprised to discover that "Umwelt" is his first full-length collection of cuts for almost seven years. We're glad he's finally got round to making another album, though, because it's the extended format that offers the best chance to wallow in his becalmed and beguiling blend of fuzzy aural textures, deep dub rhythms, woozy ambient soundscapes, fluid electronics and deep space beats. While it would be easy to pick out highlights - the up-tempo beats and pulsating chords of "Racing Thoughts", say, or the Basic Channel-esque throb of "Mars Odyssey" - the genius of "Umwelt" is how it hangs together as one intoxicating, slowly shifting set of dubbed-out electronic movements.
Review: For the latest volume in their essential reissue series, Tresor has decided to offer up a brand new edition of Robert Hood's celebrated 1994 debut album, "Internal Empire". A quarter of a century after Hood first committed it to wax, it remains one of the Motor City maestro's most potent and inspired works. It effectively defined his throbbing, minimalist style, with heavy and hypnotic cuts such as "Master Builder", the bleeping "Minus", deep and wonky "Within" and angular "Multiple Silence" perfectly encapsulating the stripped-back genius of Hood's production. If you've yet to acquire a copy, we'd recommending grabbing one of these: in truth, no techno collection is complete without it.
Review: Is there a more forward-thinking and proudly distinctive outfit in contemporary electronic music than Modeselektor? Certainly, the German duo's latest album - their first studio set for eight years - suggests that they have few competitors for this crown. Underground but accessible, diverse but consistent thanks to the pair's fuzzy-but-polished production, the set sees them showcase a range of cuts that expertly meld club-friendly beats and sounds - think grime, techno, post-electro, acid house and the punchy-but-rubbery rhythms of UK funky - with skewed pop hooks, oddball vocals, hazy electronics and a big dollop of experimental intent. As you'd expect, the results are little less than superb.