Review: Die Orakel's superb "0114 Series" - a trilogy of 12" singles from Frankfurt artists paying tribute to the turn-of-the-90s Bleep & Bass sound of the Steel City - concludes via a suitably bass-heavy four-tracker from Koga. It's not pure Yorkshire bleep by any means, but the untitled tracks certainly include many knowing nods to the style (think deep and weighty sub-bass, alien electronics and an intoxicating, sci-fi fired late-night mood. Interestingly, Koga's extensive use of breakbeats throughout is perhaps closer in tone to the "Bleep and Breaks" sound that sprung up in London from early 1990 onwards, though the boldness of the bass is thoroughly in keeping with the aesthetics of Warp's early Rob Gordon-mastered releases. Either way, all four cuts are superb, whether or not you're a bleep aficionado.
Review: There's a sense of dark mystery throughout this latest from Onont Kombar, which some will recall from his contributions to the 2016 mini-album, 'Split', featuring celebrated tracks such as 'The Doors'. Not quite a case of more of the same here - all three pieces feel very original - but nevertheless that steely and unnerving cold wave vibe is very much present and correct. This outing veers from suggestion to full intoxication. 'The Last Days Last Forever' sounds like a recording of a track from distance; you struggle to make out the details but together they create a powerful overall mood. Meanwhile, 'Epitaph of Ego' brings acid warbles and snares to the fore, resulting in a tune that owes much to the more Romantic side of electro and electro pop, with 'Moondust In My Eye' employing a chugging groove to give its whirring, industrial details a dash of obscure funk.
Review: German artist Lowtec operates in the shadows, on the fringes of traditional genres where everything becomes weird, wonky and wonderful. Since 2016 he has been doing so for Swedish label Blundar, and after putting out their first EP he now returns for another that is just as unusual and otherworldly. It is made from busted drum loops, distant church bell sounds, deconstructed percussion and off grid rhythm. All four of the untiled cuts here are dark but beautiful, subtle but profound. The opener is the most intense, "Track 2" is filled with mystery and the flip takes in haunting house and rhythmic noise. This EP proves that few are more adventurous or inventive than Lowtec.
Take Down Enemies (Special Request Splurgecore remix) (6:17)
Review: Back in March, Jordon Alexander AKA Mall Grab returned to the Looking For Trouble imprint he founded in 2018 with his first missive of the year. Even by his standards, it was a wild, all-action affair, and this follow-up is no less giddy or sweaty. "Take Down Enemies" is a blistering, all-action affair, with Alexander peppering a stomping industrial techno beat with tight acid motifs and cut-up hip-hop vocals. Under the Special Request alias, Paul Woolford offers up a surging, scintillating rework that adds huge dollops of techno-funk to the Australian's slamming original. Elsewhere, "Alarmed" is a more psychedelic and trance-inducing take on Alexander's big room techno template, while "Smash" is a thunderous voyage through body-popping electro nastiness.
Review: Colin McGraw's MDA Analog project continues to enjoy a renaissance after more than 20 years of silence, serving up the third instalment of vintage techno with a house-spirited warmth. "Lost But Not Broken" capitalises on some particularly soaring synths to create a uniquely uplifting flavour, while "A Theory Of Everything" takes things deeper with dubby pulses underneath an ear-snagging set of keys. "Mimico Creek" has a particularly playful arrangement marked out by nimble arps and bleeps, and "Scavenger Hunt" completes the set with a punchy rhythm section and yet more plush layers of harmonic interplay.
Review: Miles Sagnia has a deep-rooted backstory in the UK underground techno scene. Under his own name and as Miles Atmospheric he's produced consistently compelling techno for labels like Finale Sessions, FireScope, Aesthetic Audio and Applied Rhythmic Technology. Such associations point to the soundworld Sagnia inhabits - a harmonically balanced strain of deep-diving brain food that favours expressive musicality and inventive programming over rigid functionality. Having previously appeared as Miles Sagnia on Ornate back in 2010, he returns to the label as Miles Atmospheric with three cuts that explore melancholic moods through artful interplay between beautifully rendered synth tones and intricate drum machine excursions. These tracks still move with purpose and presence, but the end goal is more cerebral than physical - a perfect fit for the immersive experiences Ornate has always strived to promote.
Review: Having allowed pal Hubble to handle the first vinyl release on his Hellium imprint, Maayan Nidam is rightly at the controls on release number two. What we get is a trio of untitled tracks, beginning with an A-side excursion that tends towards the more aquatic and opaque end of the deep techno spectrum - all gentling pulsing ambient chords, fluid electronic motifs and a kick-drum driven groove so deep it could well nestle at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. He opens the B-side with a more angular and off-kilter chunk of modular techno (think broken rhythms, melancholic chords, distant percussion hits and undulating acid lines), before rounding things off with a more spacey-sounding slab of deep sci-fi techno.
Review: Berlin's Nikk is back after a great inaugural release on the local Spandau20 imprint, and a remix for DJ Haus on his Unknown To The Unknown. This new one is for the ever reliable Dance Trax, and following up great ones by D. Tiffany, Ejeca and Assembler Code. Entitled "Beyond The Measure" it is a proper heads-down banger that proudly wears its Rene Pawlowitz influence on its sleeve. This is followed by an equally slamming remix by British techno legend Mark Broom. On the flip, prepare for a late night at the warehouse party with the mentalist hypnotizer "Sluricane" and its M-Plant style chord stabs leading the way through the strobe lights and smoke machines. It ends the morning with the deep and soulful Detroit vibe of "100 Grams".
Review: London-based producer Nite Fleit has been busy over the past couple of years slinging out rough and ready club cuts with bags of personality on labels like Unknown To The Unknown and Planet Euphorique. Now she returns to Steel City Dance Discs, the Australian label that provided her first break back in 2018, with a new EP, with some rabble rousing rave busters that span styles, gleefully cherry picking the feistiest ingredients to make surefire bangers. "All New Low" is particularly fierce with its massive monosynth bassline grind and ear-snagging sample hooks. Elsewhere there's plenty of electro punishment waiting - don't sleep on B2 belter "Little Monsters" in that regard.