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Darren Cunningham has grand plans for AZD, his latest album. He wants to develop a live performance of the long player that will morph into "the first translucent, non-soluble communication sound pill synergised through impressionistic interpretations of technological equipment". In the meantime, his listeners are presented with a dizzying array of experimental techno. Opening with the pointillist blips of "Nimbus" and the stepping Terrence Dixon-esque techno of "Untitled 7" and "Blue Window", the album moves from the understated into the grainy house grooves of "Fantasynth" and "Runner"- which sound like Detroit's MGUN. Cunningham is, like this US fellow peer, a restless creative mind, and AZD then shifts into the bassy "Cyn", before moving back to techno with the grainy loops of "X22rme". It might not yet have evolved into the communication sound pill that its author envisaged, but AZD is more advanced than most techno albums.
There hasn't been one Black Acre release that we haven't been digging over the last year and, in fact, we wholeheartedly believe that the label has grown stronger and more mature as it's progressed through the years. Their on an African tip at the moment, and newcomer Nan Kola sounds like he'll be sticking around for a while. "Bayefal", the original cut, is a bubbling, zesty punch of tribal percussion leading the EP with just the right sort of energy, and its surrounding vocal chanting makes it all the more impressionistic. The remixes concern the "Malumz" tune, and they come from Tribute To Gqom Oh!, who drops to the most far left of field with a disjointed drum pattern, followed by Citizen Boy's harder, more half-step approach, and finally by the Formation Boyz version, a bizarre but irrefutably seductive mass of drunken beats and vocals that are just on the right side of sinister.
Center is Tobias Freund's third studio album for Ostgut and its title provides a good indication of where its author is at. It veers in style from the dense electro of "Cr 24" to the experimental abstractions of "Autopoiesis" and "Single Minded" and ominous dark ambient compositions like "In Between". There is more dance floor friendly techno tracks such as "Blind Mass", but it is not like Freund makes conventional music and both "Mass" and "Syndrome" resound to stepping rhythms, layered textures and insistent percussion. This has a lot to do with Freund's background as a studio engineer and his perfectionist approach, and it feels like every note, tone and frequency on Center has been carefully, expertly calculated.
London-based electronic duo Patten released their second album for Warp in 2016 entitled ? which served up some interesting takes on the modern electro sound. Taken from the same album is the track "Sonne" which in its original format was fierce and full frontal with its precision beats plus restrained bass pulsations. However, the Hotflush affiliated Travis Stewart aka Machinedrum delivers a much more splintered and angular take on the track here, which will have you equally impressed.
Previously found lurking around W.T. Records and Crimes Of The Future, Tapan comes to Malka Tuti with an exotic, lurching beast of a track to send shivers down your spine should you encounter it on a proper system. "Tarantella" is a mind-bending workout whichever angle you approach from, all psyched-out synth lines and brooding rhythms, and then "Poison High" rears up on the flip with its even more transcendental tones. Black Merlin is a wise choice to tackle the title track for a remix, making an equally tense and tribalistic workout that puts the wayward spirit back into the machine.
Second Woman are an American duo comprised of Josh Eustis, who was formerly of Chicago electronica outfit Telefon Tel Aviv and now a touring member of the Downwards affiliated Tropic Of Cancer with sound designer Turk Dietrich. Together they delivered one of 2016's finest moments on their debut self titled album for Spectrum Spools. Their live audio/visual performance also being one of the highlights of 2016's Berlin Atonal festival. Their second album S/V follows in suit, using innovative software synthesis techniques inspired by ASMR sensations, by way of jagged and angular beat experiments, which in particular call to mind the work of Mark Fell under his SND alias. High fidelity adventures in modern electronica on offer here and well worthy of your attention.