Review: Paris talents Armless Kid and Aes are back together sharing a hot slab of wax for the Luud label. Yes takes the a-side and gets us underway with deep cosmic house and sauced out breaks of jazz-tinged gem "Jhonedo." "WAYD" ups the ante with fluttering sheet metal snares and ticking hits that ride over bumpy kicks for a truly sci-fi adventure. Armless Kid goes for a scintillating techno cut with warped acid and manic percussion working you into a lather on"603" then a wonky house kicker on "604" that will unhinge any club.
Review: A new project based out of Copenhagen - Aether's Spring comes shrouded in mystery but makes a bold statement with this first transmission. WATER: Dancing Moon 12" leads in with "House In Blue Rain," a downcast track bathed in melancholic pads and blown out percussion around a steady 4/4 tick. "Dancing Moon" is a more kinetic affair that works with all kinds of synth shapes alongside some primal drum machine percussion that lends the track a new wave quality that suits it just fine. Closer "Throne Of Clay" spreads across the B side in a brooding, journeying epic fit for the likes of classic James Holden or a more wave-minded Jon Hopkins.
Review: African Nightlife is a pair of Dutch producers who cook up some intriguing and hugely original material back in the mid-nineties. Opener "4Rest" is a melange of drunken synths and hurried drums with tribal claps that sounds like little else, "Brubaker's Slide" and "Brubaker's Skank" is dub in the style of Adrian Sherwood, and closer "Make Up Your Mind" is a dark, pressurised and bass heavy rhythm detailed with myriad effects and percussive sounds that are bleak and otherworldly. That these tracks are all more than 20 years old is hard to believe because they still very much sound from the future.
Review: Thankfully, Richard D. James has decided to finally release at least some of the output that he's been banging on about since mid-2000s. In a number of interviews, the might Aphex Twin hinted that he has vast artilleries of tracks stacked up and unreleased, probably more on purpose than out of laziness...or maybe not. What we do know is that AFX is reborn after the string of acid 12"s released about 10 years ago on Rephlex, that saw the alias become one of the most popular of James' alter egos. Orphaned Deejay Selek is a collection of tunes that contain all of the Twin's magic and unpredictably, but that also cut straight to the point and head to the middle of the dance floor. This is banging brain dynamite coated in the man's iconic style and flair. Welcome back AFX, and many hats off to Warp for making it happen.
Review: Oliver Moon introduces the Dancing With Strangers record label, alongside good friend and fellow DJ/Producer Paul Louth aka Agile Kind - who inaugurates the label here. While it may have been a long time between drinks for the veteran DJ on the production front (he's intermittently created music under aliases like Water Walk and Soulfish over the years) he proves that slow and steady wins the race on the "Pyramid EP". The emotive vibe of early '90s British IDM and US techno-soul is eminent throughout. From the sensual deepness of the title track or B side cut "Mime" which are reminiscent of classics by the likes of DaRandLand, not to mention the full throttle rework by legend Kirk Degiorgio under the As One moniker on the flip.
Review: Par Avion collective member Agrippa returns with his first full release since last year's "Mygraine Urgraine". Once again getting playful with his titles, once again covering some vast and unforgiving terrains, each of the four cuts takes you to a different corner; "Squid Girls" is an aquatic bashy piece with its techno tendrils lashing wildly, "Dead Wait" is pure crushed stomps with a crunchy warehouse vibe while "Spice Raiders" takes us deep into techno territory; loopy, paranoid and laced with unnerving sound designs before "Scabs" brings us to a fractured close as the 'hot pick' of the EP (not sorry). Time to get Agrippa yourselves...
Review: Presenting the fourth vinyl release, Los Angeles imprint Reinhardt welcomes Romanian sonic explorer Akim# to the fold. Culminating in four tracks crossing genres and themes, pulling from influences and experiences throughout a history crafting his art within the Bucharest electronic music scene.
Taking elements of ambient, electronica and techno, channeled through a dream-state lens. The Phosphene EP is created for the dance floor with a soundscape sensibility, making for an unmapped odyssey.
Review: Brooklyn's J Albert returns with more tripped-out lo-fi house. The Exotic Dance Records boss follows up some great releases of late on top labels such as 1080p, Hypercolour and Black Opal. Whether it's the euphoric strobe-lit ecstasy of "No Longer Me" (dub) that's awash in delay drenched rhythm patterns, snarling bass and hypnotic synth leads. Or the brooding B side cut "Smoke & Mirrors" which is reminiscent of fellow local Patricia and packed full of dusty drums, haunting pads and chilling chord progressions: this one's a totally heads down affair for very late at night. Black Orpheus is a Berlin based label run by expat Patrick Conway, who has appeared on such esteemed labels as REKIDS and Forbidden Planet.
Review: Having made a smashing debut with their inaugural release last year, featuring the likes of John Shima, Rob Amboule and Alec Falconer, Palermo-based Clut are back to the program the "NS Connection EP". On the A side we have debutant Alex Dima, who has been making waves with his DJ sets in and around Torino in Northern Italy. He presents two retro techno cuts, with the uplifting acid rave experiment titled "Sequencing Feelings" being our pick. On the flip, we have Odracir returning for his sophomore effort on the label, firstly with the trippy funk attack of "Cyber" followed by the bass-driven Motor City influence of "Nova 4".
Review: Glaswegian brothers Harvey and Ryan McKay launched their collaborative Alias project last year via a throbbing but quietly melodic three-tracker for Drumcode. Here they return to the popular Swedish techno outlet with more bombastic, floor-filing fare. A-side "NRG" sounds like a carnival techno anthem in waiting, featuring as it does the alluring combination of blistering, full-throttle techno beats, jaunty Latin piano motifs, mind-altering electronics and a whole heap of sweaty percussion fills and layered build-ups. The "I left my brain in the taxi" vibe is even stronger on "Orange Sunshine", where mind-melting acid lines and all-out-assault electronics rise above another tribal-tinged techno groove, while closer "The Event" is a slightly deeper (but not less forthright) techno slammer blessed with an epic, eyes-shut breakdown.
Review: Glasgow based DJ and producer Harvey McKay is up next for Drumcode, with a bit of help from his brother Ryan here as Alias. This will be his fourth release for Drumcode since making his debut for the label back in 2013 with the terrific Lost EP. A staple of such esteemed imprints as Soma, Suara and Bedrock in recent times, the Visions EP is packed full of perfect big room bangers: much like you'd expect from the guy. Kicking off with the industrial strength stomp of "Pentatonic" which is stripped right down to the bone and full of "Spastik" style snare rolls, "The Truth" then gets some Robert Hood style adrenalised cyclicity going on. Finally on the flip, we've got dark and slamming tool techno of "Dream Taker" that goes straight for the jugular. A grinding, hypnotic and downright riveting thriller for the peak time.
Review: Ilario Alicante now makes his full debut Drumcode. He's established himself as a key player among a new breed of techno artists and really is one of the brightest stars in the game. Opening with "Times" Alicante gets straight into top gear, rolling through six minutes of pure power: this is a peak time tool if we've ever heard one and is set to be heard across dancefloors worldwide this year. "Awakened" is one you may have heard from label head honcho Adam Beyer's sets of late; rampant synths and mesmerising vocal hooks all make it one hell of a journey. "Sense" is a more industrial affair, led by its chunky bassline this one is a right trip too. The EP finishes off with "Apogeo", packed with hypnotic siren tones and acute percussion.
Pick Up Your Needle (Initation Rituals remix) (5:55)
Review: Through the jungle mists come Alleged Witches, who hail from Slovenia and are the latest signing to R&S sublabel Meda Fury. Voodoo drum workouts and distant native tongues echo through the ages just like on the eponymous opening track. "Far East" merges the organic and synthetic gracefully in entrancing fashion, while "Pick Up Your Needle" (Initiation Rituals remix) on the flip entrances the listener with its wonderfully hypnotic polyrhythms. Pressed into eerie, marbled, black vinyl and hand stamped with that Meda Fury seal of excellence, this is vinyl only magic forest tracks for DJs.
Review: Underlying Form is a new vinyl only label run by Northern Irish DJ/Promoter Darren Allen. The first release, a debut for Darren, sets the tone for the labels future with 4 tracks of deep and abstract minimal techno on the 'Invisible Landscape EP'.
Review: While he may have been operating in the underground for some time, Darren Allen's music is only just coming to light through his own Underlying Form label now. There's a range of styles on offer across this EP, kicking off with the subtle pulse of "Feel" before moving on to a distinctly French-flavoured micro house groove on "Inmost Cave" that wouldn't sound out of place on Telegraph Records. On the B side, "Routine Kills Inspiration" switches the mood up with a rougher sound palette, even if the arrangement is still a minimally-minded affair. Then it's left to Vid Vai to drop a complex reworking of "MD Habitat" loaded with intricate textures.
Review: Back in 2016, legendary Afrobeat drummer Tony Allen approached techno pioneer Jeff Mills with the idea of working together. A series of live gigs and off-the-radar studio sessions followed, with the first fruits of their joint efforts finally appearing on this must-have 10". As you'd expect, the duo's collaborative work combines Allen's traditional Nigerian polyrhythms, traditional Afrobeat instrumentation, and the far-sighted, sci-fi inspired electronic futurism that has always marked out Mills' work. The result is a quartet of cuts that could arguably be described as retro-futurist Afro-tech - all delay-laden beats, basslines and organs subtly sparring with gentle acid lines, Motor City electronics, beguiling deep space textures and shimmering, 31st century motifs. It's arguably Allen's stylistic contributions that dominate, but that's no bad thing.