Review: EYA Records presents a double 12" of plush techno and house spanning styles, giving four producers the chance to showcase the breadth of their sound with two tracks each. Innershades brings emotive 90s swoon and peppy acid to the A side, before Two Phase U slips in a little uptempo robo-disco sauce and a feisty jack track. Otis takes things in the direction of wiggy proto-trance and bleep techno, and then Zots finishes up with freaky synth work dripping with mischievous personality. This is a set of tracks that demands to be noticed - don't sleep.
Review: Happily, Neo Violence's third label sampler contains some real gems. It begins with Niro's "Nazca", a distinctively spacey affair that brings together echoing, dub techno style synthesizer motifs, shuffling tech-house drums and chords seemingly beamed down from another galaxy. VNZO's woozy "Relax Yourself" continues the fusion vibe (think ultra-deep Motor City techno mixed with dusty deep house), before NMSS and Jjuan pepper a cowbell-laden broken house groove with swirling chords and late '80s hip-house vocal samples. Another rock solid EP is drawn to a close via the rubbery, post-electro rhythms, darting bass and dreamy pads of Zolaa's standout "Fao-Mao".
Zombies Under Stress - "Maan Zal Zijn" (Svengalisghost remix)
Mark Forshaw - "Submission"
Review: REPRESS ALERT: Contort Yourself has once again gathered the best and boldest from past and present for its fourth EP. To begin with we have the grimacing visage of Volition Immanent, an intense live act made up of Parrish Smith and Mark Van de Maat (Knekelhuis). Behind rawkish distortion, splintered beats and acrid bars screams a boiled anger; a track spitting on the divides of punk and electronics. Nastiness is taken up a notch as noise ne'er-do-wells Zombies Under Stress take over. Static is bent and doubled across thick chords and collapsed clap in the 1986 "Maan Zal Zijn" before the raw and raging battery of "In Onze Tijd." L.I.E.S. regular Svengalisghost grapples with "Maan Zal Zijn, channelling the original's rage into a mechanical monster. The 12" is bookended with bite as Mark Forshaw (Tabernacle/Berceuse Heroique) closes with the tortured and torrential thump of "Submission." A callous, caustic and fervently cruel EP.
Review: Fernando Zapico AKA Z@p is one of those producers whose work is always worth a listen, primarily because his quality threshold is very high. This two-track missive on My Own Jupiter picks up where his recent EP for Japanese imprint Cabaret left off, delivering faintly foreboding futurist techno whose sci-fi inspirations are clear to hear. A-side "Brutalismo" sets the tone, with paranoia-inducing analogue bass, creepy synth stabs and swirling electronic textures rising above a punchy drum machine-driven groove. "We Control The Sound" is notably denser and a little darker, with sturdier beats, moodier chord sequences and a bone-chilling breakdown.
Review: Exos' label X/OZ continues to grow as a distinct voice in the world of minimal techno, this time around inviting Russian producer Nikita Zabelin to explore his sound with a sizable EP of finely crafted techno and thought-provoking ambience. "Confusion" is a consummate slice of hypnotic techno crackling with heavily processed energy, while "Pluton" drifts into rich beatless territory. There's more experimental fare afoot with the fractured tumbles of "Curtains", but "Trans Siberian Express" is on hand to lock things back into a sturdy rhythmic framework. Exos also takes the time to remix "Brooklyn Train" into a noirish dub techno workout.
Review: Argentina's Andres Zacco has form with Ilian Tape, debuting on the Zenker Brothers-helmed label back in 2011. Zacco is back in the IT fold, but this time it's through the label's X Series, a chapter reserved to more spontaneous white label action. As such, "Thaw" is a sublime mass of percussion riding solo on a soundscape, before being punched into shape by a powerful kick drum, while "Quirt" is more of a stripped-back techno slitherer for DJ tool use. Flip the wax and you'll find the weighty kicks and morphing sonics of "Beighty", alongside Ilian Tape's Rupcy's distorted, big room reinterpretation of "Thaw". All killer, no filler.
Review: The Zenker Brothers and their Ilian Tape venture get stronger by the minute, and here Marco flies solo with this latest EP, sounding in utterly rude health with it. "Geezin" is a distinctive opener, ditching standard 4/4 propulsion in favour of an airy drum machine arrangement infected with the slightest flurries of hardcore breaks and offset by wistful synth patterns. It's a curious combination that works magnificently, but for those wanting something a little more direct "Splifer" is on hand to deliver a more classically Zenker techno mantra. "Darai" brings the swing back in fine style, throwing down a chunky stomp to match the sizzling hats, and then "Lubiana" wrecks the surroundings with its magnificent pummel of low end percussion and gritty production values.
Review: Having spent the last couple of years concentrating on his collaborative Zenker Brothers project with brother Dario, Marco Zenker has decided the time is right to deliver a new solo 12". Predictably, he hits the mark from the off, successfully blending starburst chords and loose, clattering drum machine rhythms on the tech-jazz influenced "Amb-01". Those looking for a more metronomic, 4/4 club techno roller should check the bounding kick drums and restless hi-hats of "Isolated". B1 cut "First Feeling" sounds like a Motor City techno take on The Orb's 1989 classic "A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain", while closer "Motion" is little less than a sparkling, sunburst tribute to classic, hardcore-era breakbeat techno.
Review: Noiztank co-founder Zosima has been surprisingly quiet of late, with his last release of note - the suitably intense and dystopian "Apropos Of The Wet Snow" - dropping back in 2017. As the title suggests "Live Cuts I" is made up of fuzzy, lo-fi workouts that were recorded to tape during live shows in Madrid, Berlin and Vienna. All four are suitably atmospheric and spontaneous in feel, in keeping with the producer's sweaty, hardware-driven performances. What you get is full-throttle industrial techno full of head-mangling distorted drums, rhythmic white noise and - on the clandestine "LC3" and paranoid "LC1" - a sliver of wild-eyed melodic intent. Not for the faint hearted, but well worth your attention if you like your grooves raw, ragged and full-throttle.
Review: Having previously impressed with two suitably atmospheric EPs on Propersound, Zug has decided to launch his own imprint. This label debut is naturally rather delicious, with the producer offering up a quartet of analogue-rich cuts that effortlessly combine the sci-fi sounding futurism of Detroit with the comforting melodiousness of Larry Heard. Such is the quality throughout that picking highlights is tough, though we're particularly enjoying the gentle grooves and alien melodies of "Constancia" and the suitably dubby, intergalactic pulse of EP opener "Alegria". Elsewhere, "Bienestar" combines bleeping melodies, dreamy chords and shuffling, tech-house style beats, while "Celebracion" sees him wrap far-sighted electronics around a bustling, two-step influenced rhythm track.
Review: Brawther's Negentropy label has already carried gold star material from Ron Obvious and the man himself, and now it's the turn of debutant producer Zweizig to show off his wares. This assured 12" leads in with the ambient intro "Gewissen" before the crisp minimal funk of "Rhythm Tension" kicks in with its shimmering and shuddering sound design pinging around the dexterous beat. "Zephyr" is a smoky affair with a snappy broken beat and lots of subtle organic matter writhing in the middle distance. "Rehash Repeat" takes things deep and dubby to complete the set, all mellow hiccupping rhythm accents and hazy melodic phrases.
Review: The rise of Ilian Tape has been piloted by Dario and Marco Zenker with a steady assurance, so it makes perfect sense for the brothers to helm the first long player project from the Munich label. Immersion is a vibrant, atmospheric stroll through their various influences and inspirations with plenty to admire amongst the ten tracks. There is the bustling, leftfield breakbeat techno of "TSV WB" and pounding "High Club" (a no-nonsense dancefloor assault blessed with occasional eyes-closed chords), as well as sublime tech-jazz of "Cornel 21" and pitched-down junglisms of "Innef Runs". Interestingly, there are also a number of crusty, distorted ambient interludes, with "Erbquake" sounding particularly potent.
Review: For the latest release on his quietly impressive Greyscale label, Lithuanian producer Grad_U has turned to fast-rising Hungarian artist Zol. The two join forces on collaborative opening cut "Intro", an impeccably spacey and intergalactic voyage into pulsing electronic ambient, before Zol serves up a string of atmospheric dub techno workouts, star-gazing tech-house rubs, bass-heavy minimalist rhythm tracks and clanking, early morning club jams. It makes for enjoyable listening, with the ultra-deep "Fin", hypnotic "Szurke", impressively wonky "Nov1" and intensely blissful "Constellation" - a future dub techno classic in our eyes - standing out.
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