Swiss eccentric Robi Insinna seems to be having something of an identity crisis. This sixth solo full length is credited to both Headman - his now familiar alias for coursing, punk-funk influenced dancefloor attacks - and his given name. As if that wasn't enough to baffle the easily confused, 6 also includes contributions from an impressive array of guest bands, producers and vocalists, including Hiem's Bozzwell, Red Axes, Brassica and The Emperor Machine. Musically, it's business as usual, with the ten murky but stylish tracks variously fusing coldwave synths, punk-funk basslines, dub disco grooves, spiralling electronics and a smidgeon of acid house into wonky and entertaining new shapes.
If you've been keeping abreast of all things Minimal Wave this year, you'll probably have picked up on Veronica Vasicka hinting at a forthcoming split release from Silent Servant and Broken English Club, the new project from UK techno man Oliver Ho. We've certainly been eagerly awaiting it her at Juno HQ and it's great to see Violence And Divinity live up to and surpass these expectations! Silent Servant mans the A Side with two tracks that will be familiar to anyone that's been lucky enough to catch his live sets of late, indeed it's almost too easy to visualise the flashing strobes as the pummelling EBM lines of "Cut Unconscious" unravel and beat you down. The two accompanying productions from Ho's Broken English Club dovetail nicely, but veer off into more wave orientated territory, with "Divinity" sounding quite like some of the earlier material put out by In Aeternam Vale. In a word, superb.
The combination of Richard H. Kirk and Minimal Wave was never going to disappoint, but the four tracks on this Never Lose Your Shadow 12" are still very special! Digging deep through the archives of the Cabaret Voltaire frontman, Veronica Vasicka presents a quartet of solo recordings that have never been committed to wax before. The highlight is undoubtedly the title track, a lolloping 10-minute track of hypnotic industrial action made all the more memorable by Kirk's acerbic intonations about "the blind leading the blind". If you've caught a Vasicka DJ set recently you will have probably lost yourself to these ten minutes. Complementing this are three tracks recorded in the same late '70s period which are distinctly more experimental in tone and just as vital.
Lars "Anstam" Stoewe has long been part of Modeselektor's extended family of artists, releasing his first two albums on their 50 Weapons label. While those first two sets were characterized by a desire to blend punishing dancefloor rhytms with elements of IDM and dark ambience, Names - his third LP - is a largely more considered affair, with shards of light amongst the gathering gloom. Of course, he's not totally abandoned the skittering rhythms and maudlin basslines - see the sweeping chords and intense beats of "I Stopped Counting" and the rushing post-dubstep blast of "Fragments of the Good Old Days" - but these moments are countered by hazy songs and sweet soundscapes, with the superb "The Obvious & The Impeccable" standing out.
American synth obsessive TSTI has commissioned a series of remixes that help to consolidate his reputation as an important player in the modern dark wave sound. Synth Alien's take on "Love & Truth" and Museum's version of "Because You Told Me To" are low-slung, pulsing numbers, while Soft Riot's take on "Queen Of Swoons" adds some catchy disco stabs to the track. TSTI's approach is best suited to mid-tempos and this is most audible on Heinrich Dressel's slowed down electronic disco version of "Love & Truth" and the DSX take on "Acquaintance". Fuelled by heavy EBM bass, the vocals sound like Dave Gahan around the time of Black Celebration.
Originally released back in the early '80s, Veronica Vasicka's label has done its audience a fine service by re-releasing Portrait by Swiss duo Guyers Connection. Full of self-conscious vocals and in places decidedly lo-fi synth lines, it's surprising and disappointing that this collection wasn't a big hit first time round. After all, both "Pogo of Techno" and "Keep the City Clean" are as catchy as an oddball Yazoo, "Die Grille" is a jaw-dropping, windswept synth composition and "National Und Stander" sees the duo fuse ponderous piano lines with pulsing, rippling basslines. Best of all though is "Ein Glas Voll Gurken" a breathy synth-pop song that could have conquered charts had it been sung in English.
Zex Model is a project from producer Paul Von Aphid that is, according to its Bandcamp page, "dedicated to mutant sounds of 80s WaxTrax and Nettwerk". Certainly, there is no shortage of tortured sounds and disturbing vocals on First Mutation; "Mutation" and "Kreation" are both tough, stomping grooves that channel EBM bass aggression through the kind of slamming techno rhythm that Terrence Fixmer would make. However, "Dominate DNA" and "Grind the Grey Hell" are more in keeping with the output of '80s acts like Ministry, with shotgun blasts accompanying the deranged shrieks and cyber pulses, while the 'live bootleg' take on "Motormouth" is a bleak industrial number.