New Hivern signing Cleveland - AKA up-and-coming producer Andrea Mancini - is living proof that there's more to Luxembourg than tax-dodging corporations and trilingual residents. Certainly, this is an assured label debut, packed full of atmospheric, off-kilter compositions and ear pleasing, analogue-sounding deep house. He begins with the starry synths, bubbly electronics and scattergun drums of the colourful "Shine", before melding electro sounds and breakbeat drum patterns on the similarly melodious "Mercury". He successfully strips back that track on the superb "Early Dub" - think Wolf Mueller on anti-depressants - while "Atlas" sounds like a deep house tribute to vintage Detroit futurism. It's the finest moment on a pleasingly strong EP.
You have to admire Mono Junk's longevity. The Finnish producer released his first 12" way back in 1992, and has barely stopped putting out material since. Following excursions on Skudge White, Forbidden Planet and his own Dum Records last year, he begins 2016 by delivering four chunks of "techno melancholia" for Uncanny Valley offshoot Ratlife. Choose between the throbbing, new wave-influenced pulse of "Can't Understand", the triple-time, analogue techno-glam of "Leave This Feeling", the icy chords, gothic attitude and Visage influences of "Panic Of The Disco Fan", and the woozy, off-kilter electro/techno hybrid "State of Funk". All four tracks come blessed with the producer's own half-whispered vocals, which Uncanny Valley has described as "morbid thoughts".
The latest release on Kann comes from the mysterious Cmd Q. One of the label's Leipzig affiliates, the title track is almost as unassuming as its arrival. Understated drums and percussive hisses support a melancholic, trance melody. It's the kind of track that could easily pop up on Dial or Smallville. On the flip, "Epigon" is more expansive and impressive. This time the 808 drums are tougher and more defined, the percussive more rasping and the synths swirling with atmospheric abandon. While it probably does not quite capture the Leipzig party scene which inspired the release, it does provide a valuable insight into the creativity coming from the east German city at the moment.