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: Somewhat surprisingly, this collaborative album had its roots in a 2013 request from Michael Mantra for dub techno and ambient dub stalwart Mr. Cloudy to remix tracks from his Silent Season-released 2013 LP "Light In My Head". Six years later, and after sending parts and versions back and forth, the pair has conjured this set of lengthy, deep and mind-altering excursions. Mr. Cloudy provides versions of the collaborative "White Dub": an ultra-deep, spaced-out "Remix" that smothers a gentle, slowly shifting ambient dub rhythm in heavily processed snatches of field recordings and atmospheric aural textures around and a sparser, more spaced-out "Edit" that's closer in tone to Mantra's otherworldly, dub-influenced soundscapes. Sandwiched in between you'll find a hypnotic version by Mantra that was partly created using music concrete techniques.
Review: Having seemingly ditched the Bwana alias with which he made his name, Nathan Micay seems to be maturing as a producer. "Blue Spring", his long anticipated debut album, is undeniably his most positive, melodious and well-rounded work to date, with Micay offering up a range of tracks that wrap colourful and tuneful synthesizer lines around a variety of club-ready and downtempo grooves. It's a hugely entertaining and impressive set, with highlights including the psychedelic acid techno throb of "The Party We Could Have", the melodic neo-trance rush of "Blue Spring", the exotic breakbeat shuffle of "Ecstacy Is On Maple Mountain" and the ambient bliss of "Romance Dawn For The Cyber World".
Jesper Dahlback & Mark O'Sullivan - "When I Was Young"
Midland - "First Tube"
Review: Midland apparently spent much of his years fantasizing about one day playing at superclub Fabric, so it's perhaps fitting that the globe-trotting producer has finally been given a chance to contribute to the club's long-running mix series. Beginning with the woozy, off-kilter electronica of Georgia's "Pey Woman" and ending with his own "First Tube", the mix sees Midland effortlessly join the dots between breakbeat-driven house, skewed analogue techno, hypnotic leftfield tech-house, warm and fuzzy ambient house, quirky broken techno shufflers, throbbing electro and lots more besides. What's perhaps most impressive - aside from the quality and subtle variety of music on show - is the DJ/producer's willingness to flip the script and allow for lengthy beat-less intros, confirming his belief that mixes should be about more than a simple linear journey.
Review: Given his length of service and the sheer volume of music he's put out, it would be fair to say that a Jeff Mills career retrospective is well overdue. Happily, as "best of" compilations go, "Sight, Sound & Space" is up there with the best. The three discs boast no less than 42 tracks plucked from Mills archives - and those of his Axis Records imprint - with the accompanying 50-page booklet containing detailed commentary on each by the man himself. It's a superb package for both fans and newcomers alike, with the decidedly intergalactic and alien-sounding tracks perfectly summarizing the breadth and depth of his far-sighted work (think Motor City techno anthems, heavy loop jams, sci-fi fuelled electronic soundscapes, neo-classical soundtrack comp, heady ambient works and early morning minimalist club jams).
Review: Since opting to release more music under his given name, DeepChord man Rod Modell has largely stuck to dubbed-out ambience and heady drone soundscapes. His latest full-length is a little different, though, offering up club-focused cuts that mix his usual fuzzy aural textures and dub-fired motifs with up-tempo techno rhythms. By his standards, it's a very forthright set, with highlights including the noise-soaked stomp of "Reiki", the thrusting heaviness of "ITO", the hypnotic slam of "Jade" - where breezy, early morning electronics flutter away above tough drums and a mind-altering bassline - and the boisterous peak-time techno anthem "Scrawler".
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.
Review: After years spent slowly building his reputation, 2016 has seen Monoloc - AKA Frankfurt producer Sascha Borchardt - hit the big time. This sophomore album - his first for four years - follows hot on the heels of well-received EPs on Soma and Hotflush. It's an undeniably atmospheric affair, with Borchardt smoothly moving between dark and evocative ambience, macabre techno, moody electronica, foreboding experiments, and creepy, post-dubstep bass explorations. While the overriding mood is naturally ghostly and occasionally intense, he finds time for moments of picturesque clarity, not least the wonderful, string-drenched IDM of "Gently Falls" and melancholic fluidity of closer "Ground Disorder".
Review: In recent times, Sergey Barkalov has begun to look back over his vast discography and re-release selected albums. Space of Variants first surfaced on Germany's Confineless Recordings back in 2012, and here gets a deserved reissue on the Russian producer's own label. It's undoubtedly amongst the ambient and dub techno heavyweight's finest releases, and offers a near perfect balance between deep space textures ("Intention"), dubbed-out ambience ("Reduce", "Cloudy Spaces"), and minimalist dub techno ("Space of Variants"). Like the original CD release, it also boasts a trio of reworks of "Space of Variants": a thrillingly horizontal dub techno rework from Sub Made, a more fluid and positive ambient dub rendition from Desove, and a quietly hypnotic and trance-like rearrangement by Arkhaious.
Review: On this fine compilation, Sergey Barkalov has decided to showcase the dub techno side of his Mr Cloudy output. Bar a couple of previously unheard versions, all of the tracks were previously featured on limited edition, hard-to-find 12" singles. Although there are a couple of scratchy, experimental workouts, for the most part the tracks featured on Planets are far more melodious and ear catching than you'd perhaps expect. Barkalov's interpretation of the dub techno blueprint is a little looser than some of his contemporaries, with numerous ear pleasing electronic elements complimenting the heavy basslines and hazy sonic textures. It's these subtle tweaks, not to mention his impeccable production skills, that makes Planets such an enjoyable listen.