Review: Back to 96: The 4th Wave was a producer named Steve Paton. Also operating under aliases such as The Invisibles and Lo-Fi Sensibilities (when he appeared on Mo Wax), Steve didn't remain active for too long outside of the 90s but he left us two killer EPs. One on Planet E in 95 and this one on Kirk Degiorgio's Op-Art in 96. Reissued for the first time, and now featuring the twinkling downtempo delight "Lounge Music" (which was only ever previously available on a compilation), it's a powerful example of the Detroit/UK feedback loop at the time as both techno hubs were influencing each other. "Attention Please" rolls out the breaks, "Mean Streets" bites like a woozy UR record while "Cosmic Dance" whips up a tribal frenzy for the finale. 23 years old and still sounding future.
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: Given that they not only share space on the same label, but also both explore the deeper end of the dub techno spectrum, we were rather surprised to learn that "Hypnotic Dub Season" marks the first collaboration between musical cosmonauts Mr Cloudy (AKA Sergey Barkalov) and Gradient (Igor Arsenjev). So, was it worth the wait? If you're into dub techno, then certainly. The album is made up of three epic workouts (the last of which runs to an astonishing 30 minutes) in which the pair wrap hissing aural textures, echoing melodic motifs and sumptuous, huggable ambient electronics around chunky, slowly shifting dub techno rhythms. If you like your music hazy, spaced-out and - as the title promises - hypnotic, then you need this in your life.
Review: Earlier in the year, Luke Slater offered up one of the most full-throttle and mind-altering Planetary Assault Systems releases of recent times, "Straight Shooting". He opts for a similarly mind-altering, forthright fusion of sci-fi sounds and jacking techno rhythms on this fine double EP, which marks the British veteran's return to Ostgut Ton after a three-year break. It was apparently inspired by his experiences in Berghain and on tracks like "Red" - all looped bleeps, computerized rhythms and hazy vocal samples - and the thrusting, acid-fired tribal stomp of "Whip It Good" you can definitely hear the influence of the Berlin club space. It's there, too, in the wonky broken techno/electro fusion of "Kamani" and the feverish "Peru Drift", which sounds like a 21st century take on Jaydee's "Plastic Dreams".
Review: Random XS was founded in 1991, when DJ Zero One (Sander Friedeman) joined forces with Arno Peeters to perform live at a small underground party in Utrecht before the latter left three years later and was replaced by Frank de Groodt. After the long awaited re-release of their 1992 Djax-Up-Beats classic "Give Your Body" last year on Delsin, they return with a pair of unreleased jams for fellow Dutch imprint MOS Recordings. Both tracks are said to be recorded in the early '90s, but reworked and remastered for "heavy club impact". On the A side is some proper minimal mentalism on the frantic and tunnel vision "Centrifuge", followed by the sublime 303 wizardry of "Relic Reworked" on the flip, which hails "all aboard the acid express!" better than any other.
Review: Blueprint main man James Ruskin is back on his own mighty outlet with a fresh platter of searing techno. "Consumer Patterns" is built on drums that hammer so hard they could put a nail in your wall. The loopy synth lines that run through them add wonky brilliance, then "Social Acceptance" is pure anxiety inducing techno with unresolved loops sending you wild. "Weakness Of The System" is more through, with broken beat patterns and nagging chords suggesting a sense of loss and bring real melancholia to the dance floor.
Review: It's hard to think of a DJ with the global profile of Nina Kraviz who runs a label as underground and innovative as trip. The latest comes from Shadowax, who has previously contributed to the label's compilations but now makes her full label debut. Unlike much of the frantic and frenetic material trip has dealt with in the past, this EP slows the tempos and explores more moody and hypnotic techno. Opener "Nikolai Reptile" is a super slow motion and dub rhythm with searching synth lines gently riding up and down the scale, while "Ochen" recalls the icy minimal perfection of Daniel Bell. "What About Me" has spoken word mutterings and paranoid, pressurised kicks that hurry you along and lastly "Mortal Talking" is a flurry of hyper-speed drums and synth loops to fully flip you out.
Review: Trinidadian Deep's house music isn't just deep, it is spiritual. He layers up synths into oceanic movements that wash over you time and time again, leaving you feeling soothed in golden sounds. His obsessively detailed percussion adds movement and detail to each track, too, and all four cuts here are testament to that once again. "Balls Deep" is a little synth dance and jumbled house groove to make you move, while "Project 5am" slows things down and encourages reflection. "Flux" is more roomy and cosmic before "Bush Rum" closes with far sighted chords and shimmering drums that are deceptively complex.