Review: Two years ago Ostgut Ton launched their ambient-leaning A-Ton imprint with "Chronicles", a fine trawl through the archives of Luke Slater's ambient techno project 7th Plain. This is the second part of a trilogy (the third and final instalment is also out now) and, like its predecessor, gathers together tracks released on General Productions between 1993 and 1995, and previously unheard material. It's as evocative, atmospheric and on-point as that previous volume, sashaying between more dancefloor-leaning fare (see the deliciously dreamy but percussively heavy "Astra Naut-E" and the Motor City flex of "JDC"), genuinely beat-free soundscapes (the Pete Namlook style bliss of "I Think I Think Too Much" and "Big Field") and cuts that shuffle further towards "Artificial Intelligence" style IDM.
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: After the well received Cult Copy album, which was released on CD/DVD earlier this year, it was decided to release a limited press of 1000 copies on vinyl, as a lot of requests were received for this format. Most of the Cult Copy related vinyl is deleted or currently out of stock, so this album makes all tracks available on vinyl again. It will be released as a gatefold 2xLP of which 500 units come with the DVD which is also available with the CD. This DVD contains a 25 minute video by video artist Michael Butink which compliments the music perfectly.
Review: ***B-STOCK: Box damaged, product unused & in perfect condition***
- Creasing to corner of sleeve
Three years have passed since Alessandro Adriani impressed with his debut album, an industrial, EBM, techno and neo-trance inspired set that marked the Berlin-based Italian as a producer on the rise. "Morphic Dreams", his belated sequel, may explore some of the same influences, but Adriani's vision seems far more widescreen. Check, for example, the decaying urban ambience of "Casting The Runes", the buzzing and bubbling synth-wave throb of "Raindance", the tactile slo-mo bliss of Simon Crab collab "Dust/Mist" and the grandiose, rising intensity of dystopian soundscape "Crow". There are, of course, a number of muscular, EBM-influenced club cuts, with the Nitzer Ebb-esque "Dissolving Images" and fizzing "Storm Tree" standing out.
Review: Three years have passed since Alessandro Adriani impressed with his debut album, an industrial, EBM, techno and neo-trance inspired set that marked the Berlin-based Italian as a producer on the rise. "Morphic Dreams", his belated sequel, may explore some of the same influences, but Adriani's vision seems far more widescreen. Check, for example, the decaying urban ambience of "Casting The Runes", the buzzing and bubbling synth-wave throb of "Raindance", the tactile slo-mo bliss of Simon Crab collab "Dust/Mist" and the grandiose, rising intensity of dystopian soundscape "Crow". There are, of course, a number of muscular, EBM-influenced club cuts, with the Nitzer Ebb-esque "Dissolving Images" and fizzing "Storm Tree" standing out.
Review: The Advent were hard techno pioneers who headlined huge shows in the nineties. Now, that is a sound that is very much en vogue: enter a new album on Rotterdam label Mord from the one remaining member, Cisco. "Shadows" wastes no time in smashing you over the head with powerful drum programming, linear percussion and underlapping bass. That is basically the template for all eight tracks, with subtle tweaks and variations along the way that make it a workman like, but utterly essential, album of no frills, high thrills techno.
Review: Barely six weeks after dropping her debut single on River Rapid, Henrietta Smith-Rolla pops up on Skam with a surprise debut album. As first full length excursions go, "Break Before Make" is undeniably impressive. Beginning with the spooky, minor key electronics and angular IDM rhythms of "Day Turner", the 14 track set sees Smith-Rolla successfully turn her hand to bittersweet synth-wave ("And!"), dystopian pitched-down electronica ("Guess What"), spacey electro ("Work It", "Wtfwtfwtf"), clandestine electronic soundscapes (the panicked shuffle of "Blanket Ban") and grandiose sci-fi soundtrack fare ("The Middle Middle"). Throughout, the Manchester-based producer consistently delivers otherworldly musical melancholia with a panache not associated with a producer of her relative inexperience.
Review: During the 1990s, Age was one of the most used aliases of man-of-many-pseudonyms (and all round techno legend) Thomas Heckmann. He released many singles and two albums under the alias, with the first of the latter - 1994's "The Orion Years" - being the most celebrated. This 25th anniversary edition of that set proves why. While the track listing is slightly different from the original version (a couple of tracks have been omitted in favour of unheard cuts produced in the same period) it remains a fantastically spacey, far-sighted and sci-fi focused set that brilliantly blurs the boundaries between techno, acid, electro, ambient techno and electronica - all bubbly TB-303 lines, firm beats, alien melodies, deep space chords and undulating basslines.
Review: Dutch producer Aleks makes the leap to the album format for the ever-crucial Organic Analogue label, showcasing the breadth of his smoky sound from the gorgeous ambient opening track "Void" to the deep tracking tech-dream of "Gone Home". There are some spicier moments to be head, such as the rugged workout "NTH" and the upfront, rolling house thrust of "City Break", but these moments are still smoothed out by a fog of woozy processing, lingering pads and dusty FX that give the whole record a somnambulant quality that feels right at home amongst the standout material that Organic Analogue is rightly celebrated for.
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: Amandra is a French producer, who with partner Ovend runs Ahrpe: a record label founded in 2014. Other than that, he's fresh of a killer split EP on Konstrukt with grey area specialist ASC, in addition to an appearance for Spanish imprint Semantica. His second full length entitled 'Dame De Bahia' comes courtesy of Obscura, run by Southern Italian power trio Agents Of Time. A collection of lush and hypnotic tracks that dwell on the deeper end of techno spectrum yet creating a cohesive whole - a compelling listen overall. Highlights include the dry and broken analogue jitter of "Polichinela" which calls to mind the work of Sebastian Mullaert (wait until that acid comes creeping in), the transcendental tribalism of the title track would make even Refracted stand up and notice, while the downbeat trance induction of "Matisa Anse" will have you levitating in no time.
Review: Michel Amato aka Amato is a French producer more widely known as The Hacker. Alongside Miss Kittin, Amato has been a cornerstone of the European house, techno, and electro scene, dropping singles and album like bombs. Having contributed to a previous split 12" on Cititrax, Amato returns to Minimal Wave's sister label with a wondrous homage to industrial, EBM and electro in Le Desordre De La Nuit. The difference between The Hacker and Amato? The sounds of The Hacker are more constrained than this particular whirlpool of pseudo electro and gargling quasi techno. Whatever you want to call it, these four slammers are all made for the dark room dance, each one nastier than the other and all of them audibly produced by an artist with plenty of experience and effectiveness know-how.
Review: As the Dekmantel brand expands to incorporate the Selectors festival in Croatia, the Amsterdam collective still remain focused on delivering quality house and techno singles and albums. Another fine year for Dekmantel ends with the welcome arrival of Invisible Switch, a second album from US techno artist Joey Anderson. His is a unique and at times alien take on the artform, crafting percussive textures and oddly intoxicating synth lines that sound unmistakably like Joey Anderson and no others. This is very much the case with Invisible Switch, with tracks like "Reset" and "Tell Us Where" instantly gripping your attention and not letting go, whilst "Amarna" is the most bludgeoningly intense production yet from Anderson. The EOY list compilers will be kicking themselves they missed out on this one.
Review: Arcane and esoteric sounds abound on New Jersey house outsider Joey Anderson's third full length opus 'Rainbow Doll', where he returns to Los Angeles via Berlin-based Avenue 66 for the first time since 2013 when he presented their inaugural release. It also happens to be the first album in four years by the Inimeg boss and his most personal work to date, where his emotional vocals can be heard atop deeply meditative jams like "Beside Me", and likewise on the woozy and knackered groove of "Ocean" accompanied by washes of live analogue synth riffs. Further hypnotism awaits on the bass-driven echo mania of "Live It" and the life-affirming elation of "Cindy" - being another fine example of Anderson's penchant for truly spiritual music. Highly recommended.
Review: Turin techno stalwart Andrea has been serving up slabs of goodness on Ilian Tape since way back in 2012, though "Ritorno" is remarkably his very first full-length excursion. The 12 track set is far more varied than his fine club-focused singles, with the Italian variously turning his hand to swelling, Global Communication style ambient techno ("Attimo"), ultra-deep breakbeat dreaminess ("SKLYN"), melodious, jungle-influenced IDM ("LS September"), bassbin rattlers ("TrackQY", the skittish brilliance of moody roller "Reinf"), dreamy soundscape techno ("LG_Amb"), angular fusions of bass music and dark Italo-techno ("Drumzzy") and picturesque ambient dub slow jams ("Twin Forests").
Review: Berghain resident Patrick Graeser returns as part of the Ostgut Ton family, with his second full length opus. Much like his 2014 debut Code, Graeser has honed a hybrid musical approach that stands out in a world of uniform 4/4 techno - as heard over the years on MDR, Music Man and of course his own Answer Code Request imprint. Gens is a diverse yet cohesive affair, between the more straight-ahead tracks like "Knbn2", "Cicadae" or the particularly seething "Sphera" (which are breakbeat driven, bass-heavy and UK inspired), there are some mentalist IDM journeys ("Ab Intus/Audax") and even breathtaking ambient moments like "Orarum" and "Mora". Brilliant stuff.
Review: In line with the timely reappraisal of all things R&S related, the resurgent Apollo have seen the opportunity to bring one of their most celebrated records back for another round. Aphex Twin's ambient recordings mature magnificently with age, sounding ever richer and more emotive as the rest of electronic music continues to play catch up all around. From the gentle breakbeats of "Xtal" to the aquatic techno lure of "Tha", the airy rave of "Pulsewidth" to the heartwrenching composition of "Ageispolis", every track is a perennial example of how far ambient techno could reach even back then. It's just that no-one quite had the arm-span of Richard D. James.
Review: Seminal album alert... If this isn't already in your collection, now's the time to get it. Recognised as one of Aphex Twin's most accomplished long players, I Care Because You Do is a comprehensive exploration into the future of electronic music that was penned 17 years ago but doesn't sound dated in any way. Featuring smooth segues from expansive dreamy soundscapes ("The Waxen Pith") to icy breakbeat workouts ("Wax The Nip") at points this is the warmest, cosiest friend you'll ever have. At others it's the most uncompromising foe you'll ever meet. Essential for music lovers.
Review: Kirk Degiorgio has been a UK techno mainstay since forever. It's been 15 years since his last As One studio album, but "Communion" proves that it was well worth the wait. Covering the sort of star gazing, jazz tinged and high class techno that originated in Detroit, Degiorgio layers up lush chord symphonies with supple acid, icy harmonics and the sort of hi tech funk that keeps you on your toes. A masterclass in real emotion as well as propulsive groves, this is artful, expansive and cinematic techno of the highest order from one of the best in the game.
Review: Attraktta is the new project of Brighton based Steve Hyland, who recorded under his birth name and Normal for Clone sub label Ai many years ago. Echo Principle is his second album that follows up last year's Massive Irretrievable Data Loss (on Touched - Music For Macmillan Cancer Support) where Hyland explores the outer limits of electro, IDM and techno across the album's half a dozen or so tracks. From the industrial edged offworld futurism of "Pulse Echo", the evocative "Distance In Ultrablue" that is reminiscent of early Autechre, through to bass driven futurist beats as heard on "McMurdo Sound" or the title track. All in all, Berlin's FILM imprint have offered up some timeless tracks by Hyland here.
Review: It would be fair to say that "On A Different Note", the debut album from long-serving German producer Andreas Werner, has been a long time coming. Astonishingly, it's been 15 years since he first started exploring the deeper side of techno and tech-house under the Audio Werner alias, making the album a genuine 'event' release. Happily, it more than lives up to the hype, with Werner offering up a fine selection of melodious and atmospheric, club-ready cuts and occasional forays into intoxicating, otherworldly, beat-free territory (see the weird and spaced out "Es". Highlights include life-affirming opener "Ohne", the 13-minute deep tribal techno jam "Vogel" and the inspired ambient techno outing "Alter", which has echoes of Biosphere's 1993 cut "Baby Satellite".
Review: One of the pleasing by-products of the recent electro revival has been the return of Aux 88, a legendary Detroit quartet whose armour plated, bass heavy take on the style made them one of Michigan's finest musical exports in the 1990s. "Counterparts", their first new album in ten years, is therefore big news. After opening with their warm, funk-fuelled take on Motor City techno - the sci-fi brilliance of "Intel" - the four-piece rushes through a range of killer, club-friendly electro jams in their trademark style (tough drums, funky bass, vocoder vocals). Highlights include the moody "My Electro Visions", the foreboding "Stereolized", the ghetto-tech influenced "Pothole Paradise" and the far-sighted, Cybotron-meets-Kraftwerk style goodness of "Electro In Key of Funk".
Review: Having given keen listeners a healthy preview in his Fabric live mix last year, the artist formerly known as Stopmakingme delivers his full-length album for Erol Alkan's Phantasy Sound. It's a limber brew that channels a strong dose of analogue trickery through smart and snappy beat constructions, all bubbling, aquatic synths and troubled delays propelled by unfussy drum patterns so that the melodies can do the talking. Primarily this is a dancefloor album, moving from peppy breakbeat driven numbers to gently bumping house, but always the playful, ineffably warm synth work sets the tone, from "Naive Response"s robotic charm to "Drone Logic"s soaring grind. It's an album brimming in confidence and nailed with precision, and it's packed full of incredibly usable floor rockers to boot.
Review: While undoubtedly one of dance music's greatest party-starters, Daniel Avery has never been a dance music purist. Over the years, there have been various quirky, downtempo-minded side projects and DJ mixes that show the impressive breadth of his musical knowledge. It's for this reason we're not that surprised to find that Song For Alpha, his first album since 2013, combines deeper and more trippy takes on his club-ready sound (home listening fodder, despite the drums) with escapist, early morning cuts inspired by ambient greats (Brian Eno, John Hassell etc.) and the after-hours electronica of Warp's pioneering Artificial Intelligence series. By mixing things up in this way, Avery has delivered what could well be his strongest body of work to date.
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.