Review: Ostgut Ton A-Ton completes their trilogy of compilations charting the early-to-mid-'90s ambient techno work of British producer Luke Slater under the 7th Plain alias. As with its predecessors, the eight included tracks offer a mixture of previously released fare from the project's heyday and music that's sat on dusty DAT tapes for well over two decades. Highlights come thick and fast, from the sun-bright sci-fi melodies, sustained ambient chords and bubbly acid lines of "Time Melts" and the Black Dog-ish shuffle of "Reality of Space", to the booming, club-ready "Lost", drowsy IDM cut "Think City" and the intergalactic, stretched-out bliss of brilliant closing cut "Seeing Sense".
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: 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: Back in 2008, noted experimentalist Alva Noto began a sporadic series of albums that were far more focused on dancefloor-inspired rhythms than his usual eccentric and inspiring fare. Unieqav is the third and, we're told, final part of the series. The album is apparently meant to be a sonic representation of an underwater dive, a conceptual theme which manifests itself through the storied producer's use of deep and atmospheric chords, fluid and occasionally glistening electronics, and rhythms that evoke images of ever-deeper dives into the dark, cold depths. Rhytmically, there are nods to electro, IDM, dub techno and Autechre, though the mood remains laidback and intoxicated throughout.
Review: Despite becoming a serious force in the contemporary techno scene over the last seven years, Antonin Jeanson has never released an album. He's made plenty of killer 12" singles, but for one reason or another has never applied his trademark style to the long-playing format. It's perhaps a surprise then, that his debut album, "Rising", is a near perfect example of a modern techno album. There are quite a few atmospheric and ear-catching dancefloor workouts - see the bustling beats and creepy electronics of "Perchance To Dream", the dark throb of "Duality of Mind" and the slamming psych-techno of "It Follows" - but also more considered, left-of-centre trips into IDM, ambient techno and otherworldly ambient territory. It's these diversions that make the album such an entertaining and rewarding listen.
Review: To coincide with the twenty-fifth anniversary of Berlin club Tresor, Juan Atkins and Moritz Von Oswald have released a second Borderland album together. It begins in ominous mode, with the title track's brooding bass tones casting a long, dark shadow, but the pair soon find a way to break away from the gloom with the mesmerising chords and heavy rhythm of "Lightyears" and the wonderfully spacey Detroit techno of "Riod". Both "Odyssey" and "Merkur" push the tempo back down but keep an emphasis on hypnotic, woozy textures, snappy drums and jazzy tones, while "2600" shows that Van Oswald hasn't lost his ability to craft dub-heavy, dreamy techno.
Review: Over the last four decades, we've come accustomed to veteran electronic experimentalist Uwe Schmidt surprising us with each successive album. Even so, we were still pleasantly surprised by his latest Atom TM release, whose title - Walzeryklus ("Waltz Cycle") - offers a hint to his latest inspiration. Recorded with angel-voiced singer Lisokot, the album is entirely made up of tracks recorded in the 3/4 time signature of classic waltz. Naturally, these waltzes are unlike anything you'll have heard before, variously taking in neo-classical inspired ambient, eccentric left-of-centre synth-pop, bubbly electronica, fizzing Rephlex style "Braindance" and even a gtouch of wonky, mind-altering techno.
Review: Space Of Variants recently described this collaboration between label artists Aura Minimum (real name Vladislav Ishkov) and Flying Cobra (Alexander Khaliulin) as "modern deep sound goodies". While that's a little vague, it's certainly accurate. Across a range of solo and jointly produced tracks, the pair explores a warm, hazy, atmospheric and quietly colourful sound that emphasizes meditative ambient electronics - drowsy chords, drifting motifs and yearning melodies - over the hypnotic dub techno and deep techno grooves that nestle below. It's a formula that results in a hugely soothing, ear-pleasing and smile-inducing listening experience.
Review: Phantasy Sound's main man Daniel Avery has linked up with modular wizard Alessandro Cortini for a debut full length, "Illusion Of Time". It came together over many years, with no real concept or constraints but it has still managed to make a powerful impact despite its spare, lo-fi, ambient vibes. There are heavier, darker tracks like "Inside The Ruins" that are brilliantly bleak, but also thoughtful meditations like the title track, which has some magical piano playing at its core. It's the rays of light amongst the darkness that make this such a beguiling and beautiful listen, and a perfect soundtrack to long lost days at home during lockdown.
Review: Alongside regular studio partner Andreas Baumecker, Sam Barker has released a swathe of admired singles and a couple of on-point albums on Ostgut Ton. Here he returns to the much-loved German imprint with his most significant solo release to date: a debut album of drowsy, sun-baked electronic positivity that expertly melds elements of hazy ambient, dub techno, off-kilter electronica and the classic kosmiche synthesizer soundscapes associated with Tangerine Dream. It's a lot less dancefloor-focused than much of his previous material, but that's not a criticism: indeed, the fact that it's warm, opaque and prioritizes fuzzy, slowly shifting musical movements is the album's greatest strength.
Review: Geir Jensson's debut album under the now familiar Biosphere alias, Microgravity, has long been considered something of a classic of the early '90s ambient boom. First released in 1991, it offered an icy but suitably atmospheric mix of chilly ambience, British-style "intelligent techno" and crystalline IDM. To celebrate 25 years since it was recorded (it was released a year later, in 1991), Geir Jensson has re-mastered it and, with the help of a successful crowd-funding campaign, pressed it onto a double CD minus the cross-fades and sound effects featured on the original pressing. Happily, Microgravity has lost none of its' allure, and the superb re-mastering ensures
Review: While Black Dog founder Ken Downie has rarely been one to talk candidly in the press, his current studio partners, Martin and Richard Dust, have been known to deliver angry missives on a variety of topics. It's perhaps unsurprising, then, that the trio's latest album- their first for nearly three years - appears to have been inspired by the current state of politics and the media. Full of knowing track titles, melancholic refrains, frustrated rhythms, dystopian soundscapes and angry motifs, the album's thought-provoking intent is rather overshadowed by the quality of the music on offer. You'll find bustling electro, end-of-days ambient, rushing cinematic techno, IDM and the kind of hard-to-pigeonhole fare that inspired then NME journalist Mixmaster Morris to come up with the now familiar "intelligent techno" tag.
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.
Beatrice Dillon & Rupert Clervaux - "The Same River Twice"
M:I:5 - "Masstab 1:5/11"
Jan Jelinek - "Tendency"
Dresvn - "Untitled B1"
Objekt - "The Stitch-Up"
Two Full Minds - "No Smoke"
Photek - "T'Raenon"
Don't DJ - "Pornoire"
Flanger - "Spinner"
Carl Craig - "A Wonderful Life" (Epic mix)
Call Super - "Acephale I"
Call Super - "Acephale II"
Marco Bernardi - "Demonia"
Jega - "ZX82"
Shanti Celeste - "Strung Up"
Bitstream - "Incubator"
Bruce - "Sweat"
Convextion - "Niche"
Karen Gwyer - "Hippie Fracca"
Thomas Ankersmit & Valerio Tricoli - "Plague #7"
Walter Brown - "Keep On Walkin'"
Yves Tumor - "The Feeling When You Walk Away"
Max Loderbauer - "Giant Hug"
Speng Bond - "Cutbacks"
Review: Soon, Fabric's impeccable mix series will reach its 100th installment - an impressive achievement in anyone's book. This 92nd volume comes from rising star Call Super, who joins the dots between all manner of tasty house and techno treats - some left-of-centre and quirky, others simply wonky and picturesque - over the course of 80 hugely entertaining minutes. According to the producer, it's designed for the break of dawn, rather than peak-time, a fact reflected in the presence of dreamy, loose, fuzzy and melodious tracks from the likes of Carl Craig, Speng Bond, Max Loderbauer, Shanti Celeste and Dresvn.
Review: Despite the hard-to-pronounce title, this debut solo album from Scandinavian electro sort Celldod is something of a sparkly treat. For the most part, it sits somewhere between the darker, macabre sound of electro noir (and, on the freakish "Orgen I Neckon", clandestine ambience), and a bolder, more dancefloor-friendly take on the style. His style tends towards the bubbly and undulating, with bold synth lines stretching out across mechanical rhythms, body-popping beats and rolling analogue grooves. This CD version of the album contains a number of bonus cuts, including the horror-fixated, electroclash style darkness of "Frater", and the Drexciyan intensity of "Betong".
Review: Berlin-based Canadian Scott Monteith has released many albums over the course of a near two-decade career, though few are quite as focused and laden with meaning as Wax Poetic For This Our Great Resolve. At heart, it's a political record, with each track featuring spoken word pieces or poetry written and delivered (in a variety of languages) by one of Monteith's music pals. Whether his collaborators are musing on the nature of democracy or telling a political parable, their words subtly rise above a sequence of brilliant backing tracks that variously touch on dub techno, melodic deep house/techno fusion, basement bothering post-dancehall riddims, hypnotic organic/electronic fusion and hazy, early morning ambient. As a result, this could well be the most varied and enjoyable Deadbeat album yet.
Review: As usual, prolific dub techno producer Rod Modell has spent much of the last year collaborating with long-term studio buddy Stephen Hitchell under the Echospace alias. Even so, he's still somehow found time to ready another solo album for Soma (his fifth in total for the esteemed Glasgow imprint). This CD version is presented as a continuous audio journey, with tracks seamlessly segueing into each other to create a hazy and hypnotic sound soup. As you'd expect, it's a hugely atmospheric and attractive affair that dozily drifts between meditative ambience and texture-laden dub techno. Pleasingly, much of the material is more melodious and positive in feel than some of Modell's work, which can often tend towards the dense and claustrophobic.
Morgan Geist/Julie Dexter - "Linking Tunnel/The Plan"
Aardvarck - "Komt Goed"
Circulation - "Sincerely" (Creation mix)
DJ Koze - "Let’s Love"
Ron Trent & Chez Damier/Deetron - "Morning Factory/Choose Me" (feat Steve Spacek)
Nikola Gala - "Only" (Ryan Elliott remix)
Keith Worthy - "Moon Dance"
Paul W Teebroke - "Thing 1"
Radio Slave - "Children Of The E" (KiNK SP1200 remix)
Deetron - "Cry With The Stars" (feat Jamie Lidell - acappella)
A Made Up Sound - "Rework"
Hnny - "Hotline Riddim" (Jacques Renault edit)
Tony Allen - "Kilode" (Carl Craig remix)
Pepe - "Benzine Electronics"
Black Dog Productions - "Flux"
Deetron - "Untitled"
DJ Bone - "All My Heart"
Francis Bebey - "Bissau" (Pilooski edit)
Floorplan - "Let The Church"
Terrace - "Seventh City" (Filtered dub)
Derrick May - "Kaotic Harmony"
Equiknoxx - "Flagged Up" (Mark Ernestus remix)
DJ Bone - "Dreamers 6.1"
Stanislav Tolkachev - "Optical Illusions"
K-Lone - "Old Fashioned"
Jessy Lanza - "Strange Emotion"
Review: It would be fair to say that Deetron has taken the opportunity provided by a DJ Kicks mix to show off a little. We'll forgive him, though, because he's delivered an astonishingly good mix. Cramming an astonishing 38 tracks on to one CD might look like overkill, but the selection, programming and mixing (presumably in the studio, given the number of overdubs and sneaky track blends involved) is so good that you barely notice. Musically, he delivers a brilliant blend of electronic music old and new, moving from deep house and jazzy electronica to ambient via slamming rave jams and almost every techno sub-genre you can think of. We'd usually spend time banging on about highlights, but they're so plentiful that there simply isn't space. Just buy it: you won't be disappointed.
Paperclip People - "Country Boy Goes Dub" (Marcel Dettmann remix)
Norman Nodge - "BB 1.0"
Francois X - "Rising"
Marcel Dettmann - "Lightworks" (Phase remix)
Lockertmatik - "M Lock 4"
Wincent Kunth - "Carlre"
Joey Anderson - "Repulsive" (Marcel Dettmann edit)
Marcelus - "Flash"
Vril - "Torus XXXII"
Review: When it comes to DJing there aren't many names as trusted as Marcel Dettmann to provide the essential mix, be it in CD or podcast format. To date he's curated the second installment of Ostgut's in-house Berghain mix series and the Conducted mix for Belgian label Music Man. So it's about time Fabric invited the Berghain resident to participate in their own mix series, with this 77th edition providing a selection mostly based on unreleased MDR demo tracks that Dettmann's been utilising in his sets for years. The result is a good primer for what to expect from his label in the future, with Answer Code Request, Norman Nodge, Ilian Taper Dario Zenker and French producer Marcelus amongst the high-profile names contributing unreleased productions.
Review: Donato Dozzy's previous album, Sintetizzatrice, made beautiful, avant-garde music out of chopped-up and manipulated vocals. For The Loud Silence, he's attempted to do similar with the "marranzano", better known as the humble mouth harp or Jew's Harp. The instrument's distinctive twang can be heard throughout the album, providing inspiration for trippy, droning ambience ("Personal Rock"), glitchy electronica ("The Net"), abstract techno ("Downhill To The Sea", whose industrial influences are obvious), and triumphant, post-Orbital soundtrack electronica (closer "Exit The Acropolis", which is nothing less than superb). Of course, there are musty textures and off-kilter electronic textures throughout, too, but it's the alien-sounding mouth harp the draws Dozzy's disparate strands together.
Review: Zak Khutoresky AKA DVS1 famously doesn't do many mixes. It's perhaps unsurprising, then, that he apparently initially struggled to know how to approach this contribution to Fabric's now legendary mix series. Really, he shouldn't have worried. The finished mix - completed using three turntables and a mixer - is something of a gem; an all-action techno assault on the senses with Khutoresky whipping through 29 tracks in less than 80 minutes. Impressively, every track is an unreleased exclusive, with some 16 of these forthcoming on the DJ/producer's HUSH and Mistress labels. In many ways, it's a near perfect package for those who enjoy Khutoresky's muscular style; certainly, the inclusion of so many unheard gems makes the first listen a genuine voyage of discovery.
Review: You'll struggle to find another album opener that's quite as striking as "Oh, Lovely Appearance of Death", the stunning ambient-folk cut that kicks off Phillip Sollmann's first album as Efdemin for five years. It's utterly beguiling and features a traditional folk acapella over layers of hushed electronic chords. It sets the tone for an album in which Sollmann effortlessly saunters between atmospheric and droning dancefloor techno ("Good Winds", the 14-minute, Berghain-friendly "New Atlantis"), woozy experimental ambient works ("At The Stranger's House"), Jew's Harp-sporting club cuts ("A Land Unknown"), discordant free tech-jazz ("Temple") and the kind of hazy, traditional music-meets-electronica cuts that have previously been a hallmark of Firecracker's Mac-Talla Nan Creag ("The Sound House").
Review: With Naif, veteran German producer Efdemin has become the latest producer to release a set that gleefully blurs the boundaries between an original album and a DJ mix. You see, Naif not only includes 10 previously unheard solo tracks and collaborations from the man himself, but also 19 unreleased exclusives from friends and associates, including Margaret Dygas, Steve Bicknell, Tobias and Gunnar Haslam. As you might expect, it's a fast-paced and thrill-packed journey, with Efdemin sashaying between trippy ambient cuts before working his way through an impressively atmospheric and occasionally forthright selection of club-ready techno cuts. These naturally vary in style and intensity, from forthright percussive intensity and early morning creepiness, to gently melodious workouts, bleep-rich shufflers and far-sighted techno futurism.
Review: Given that they've long been one of techno's busiest live acts, it's perhaps unsurprising that Fear of an Extra Planet is Extrawelt's first album for nearly five years. We'll forgive them for taking their time, though, because it's really rather good. It's largely warm, atmospheric and melodious, flitting between shuffling techno floor fillers, analogue-rich electro, low-slung breakbeat-driven creepiness (see the Brown Album-era Orbital style goodness "Oddification" and "Gentle Venom"), acid-flecked late night throb-jobs ("Silly Idol"), deep space hypnotism ("Fear of an Extra Planet"), James Holden style positivity ("The Friendly Coroner") and surprisingly loose, Giallo-influenced soundtrack fare (excellent closer "2084").
Review: Three years on from his last full-length outing, Norfolk's leading electronic adventurer returns with a brand-new album, his fifth in total. "Blizzards" is in some ways similar to the melodious and inventive trademark sound he's been crafting over the last 15 years - think bold electronic melodies, unsettling and off-kilter chords, curious noises, and occasional rhythms that sit somewhere between IDM and ambient techno - yet at times it feels more fuzzy and forthright than usual. So amongst the relaxed and slowly shifting soundscapes and quirky electronica you'll find a number of bustling club cuts, with "Stepping Stone", "Vectra" and the surging, sparking "Eris & Dysnomia" standing out.
Review: UK techno veterans Mark Broom and James Ruskin first joined forces under The Fear Ratio alias back in 2011, delivering the inventive - and hugely enjoyable - IDM-meets-techno full-length, Light Box. Here they join forces once more for a follow-up that gleefully explores similar sonic territory, whilst throwing a few more influences - most notably experimental hip-hop and vintage electro - into the pot for good measure. The result is a hugely entertaining album that naturally doffs a cap to Skam Records' dystopian roots, as well as the heavyweight soundsystem throb of dubstep, the hypnotism of dub techno, and the crackling electronic wizardry of Autechre.
Review: Kompakt staple Axel Willner returns to present his sixth full-length effort for Kompakt, following up 2016's rather brilliant LP The Follower. On his latest outing, Willner is said to have looked for inspiration outside of the studio, which opened up fresh perspectives on the creation of new music. Moreover, he has stated that in a current climate of hopelessness, the album provided a sense of relief and comfort to him - providing feel good moments that he did not want to end. Indeed, Infinite Moment is a much more introspective affair than previous releases, from the brooding/slow burning opener "Made Of Steel. Made Of Stone", the smoky and glacial dub techno of "Hear Your Voice" to more evocative moments as heard on "Divide Now" or the life-affirming feel of the title track - which closes the impressive release on an optimistic note.
Review: Alexander Khaliulin first donned the Flying Cobra alias earlier this year for an album on Space Of Variants that neatly showcased his seemingly innate grasp of atmospheric dub techno soundscapes. "Flowers Decay Quickly" is the producer's surprisingly speedy follow-up. It's another heady and intoxicating affair, with Khaliulin sashaying between the languid, head-in-the-clouds ambient of "Emanation", the gentle but hypnotic dub techno shapes of "Sleepless" and "Way Above", the sun-kissed laziness of "Night Walk" and the fantastically dubbed-out, slow motion soundscapes such as yearning closing cut "Light Of Truth Has Gone Out".
Review: Given that Four Tet's recent 0181 LP was comprised of material from Kieran Hebden's archives, and last year's Pink was largely compiled of tracks from the previous 18 months of 12" releases, it seems fair to say that Beautiful Rewind is his first proper album since 2010's There Is Love In You, and as such, it arrives with some degree of expectation. The past few years have seen the producer engage increasingly with the dancefloor, and these rhythms are most definitely present across the LP, particularly in the jungle breaks of "Kool FM", pirate radio-influenced techno of "Buchla" and hesitant dubstep style rhythms of "Parallel Jalebi". For the most part however Beautiful Rewind is as varied as the likes of Rounds and There Is Love In You, with the minimalist kosmische of "Ba Teaches Yoga", analogue gurgles of "Crush" and dawn chorus sounds of closer "Your Body Feels" all as beautiful as his most enduring tracks.
Review: In recent years, David Sumner's music as Function has tended towards the dark, lo-fi, industrial and minimal. "Existenz", his first solo album in six years, is an altogether more melodious, thoughtful and ear-catching affair. Of course, there are still some suitably mangled, mind-altering club cuts on show - see the buzzing, shape-shifting heaviness of "Ertrinken", the spaced-out hypnotism of "Kurzstrecke" and the Berghain-ready "Vampire" - but these largely play second fiddle to more playful and tuneful expressions of electro, Detroit style techno, dreamy fusions of deep house and early UK style tech-house, and ambient cuts so lovely you'll want to bathe in them. He even makes room for a couple of vocal collaborations with Robert Owens. It all adds up to a stunning set that's undoubtedly one of the most instantly arresting techno albums of the year.
Sly & Lovechild - "The World According To Sly & Lovechild" (Andrew Weatherall Soul Of Europe mix)
Dorisburg - "Rytm804"
Hiver - "Pert"
Kyle Hall - "Flemmenup"
DMX Krew - "EPR Phenomena"
JRMS - "3"
Shades Of Rhythm - "Exorcist"
Kode 9 - "Magnetic City"
The System - "Vampirella"
Black Merlin - "Kundu"
Aphex Twin - "Vordhosbn"
R-Tyme - "Illusion" (Mayday remix)
Psyche - "Crackdown"
Deniro - "Epirus"
I:Cube - "Cassette Jam 1993"
Review: South Korean star Peggy Gou continues her seemingly unstoppable rise by serving up her first ever DJ mix CD. It's a contribution to one of the longest running series in the business, DJ Kicks, and she's used the opportunity to showcase the depth and variety of the music in her crates. Beginning with the classic early '90s ambient of Spacetime Continuum, Gou flits between humid, mid-tempo Balearic house (her own "Hungboo"), acid-fired downtempo electronica (Pearson Sound), throbbing 1990 peak-time anthems (Weatherall's ace but largely forgotten remix of Sly & Lovechild), hypnotic techno minimalism (Dorisburg), main room throb-jobs (Hiver), pulsating electro (DMX Krew), classic breakbeat hardcore (Shades of Rhythm), post-dubstep (Kode 9), dark tribal drum jams (Black Merlin) and sunrise ready Motor City brilliance (Deniro).
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