We've come accustomed to Marc Romboy delivering fine, full-length excursions that join the dots between techno and house. Voyage De La Planete, though, is something totally different: an intergalactic exploration of ambient, electronica, and seductive downtempo compositions. It's a blueprint that guarantees hazy, head-in-the-clouds thrills, from the Nils Frahm style piano motifs of "La Lune Et La Etoile" and dark, clandestine throb of the Black Merlin-esque "Phenix", to the Namlook style bliss of string-drenched closer "Nocturne" - with its gently undulating beats and sweeping orchestration - and picturesque, break-of-dawn sumptuousness of "Atom De Danse". We're not quite sure why Romboy has decided to go in this direction, but we have no complaints: fundamentally, Voyage De La Planet is a superb set.
There's no doubt that 90s UK techno is popular again - just look at Discogs prices for confirmation of the renewed interest in this form. But what do those revered acts sound like now? The exhaustive 2016 compilation, Brainbox, did much to shine a light on those artists' current trajectory and this follow up remix package also does a fine job. The Black Dog deliver an atmospheric ambient take on Scanner's "Eros", while on Future Sound of London's "Monolith", a somewhat bleaker, dystopian take on ambience is audible. That said, classic UK techno also had a place on the dance floor; Kirk Degiorgio's tunneling take of B12's "World's End" - remixed under his Future/Past name - and Mark Broom's skeletal electro version of the same track show that nearly 25 years later, that this remains the case.
if there is one collaboration that we have bowed down to over the last few years, it's most certainly this new found friendship between London's Kevin Martin aka The Bug, and American doom metal guitarists, Earth. One wouldn't immediately make the connection between inner-city future-grime music and suburban stoner rock, but the two styles were in perfect unison, and this is because they're both fascinated with dark, looming clouds of bass. Whether that's through virtual synths or badass bass guitars, it doesn't matter, because the mood is mightily present. Concrete Desert is the alliance's debut LP, and it's all guns blazing from start to finish; tunes like "Snakes vs Rats" or "Metal Drone" represent exactly the sort of freshen-up that each respective act needed - on the one hand, The Bug could have done with some more external influences to the melodic constructions, while Earth needed a new framework to enter the minds of a new, European audience. We've dubbed this style 'metal drone', and we're pretty sure that it's gonna stick after you've hit the ol' play button. Top quality stuff - highly recommended!
UK techno outsider BNJMN has been turning heads in recent years with some killer releases on Jericho One, Delsin and Rush Hour; not to mention his own Brack imprint. He is back with more bass infused lo-fi techno shenanigans on a new EP for true techno merchants: the legendary Tresor. Commencing with the grainy and saturated dark ambient odyssey "Overskies", he's then into the gritty and aquatic 4/4 electro-funk darkness of "Hadal Zone". Finally "Syzygy" serves up his signature clang and clutter on this grinding and lo-fi analogue techno jack full of squealing synth textures plus dusty/frayed drum computer beats.
Jacaszek's last outing on Matthew Dear's fine Ghostly International imprint came all the way back in 2011 but, then again, the artist doesn't exactly put out a vast amount of music. It's most certainly quality over quantity for this imperceptible producer, and we respect him for it. In fact, this is surely what drove Jon Wozencraft to land him on the sublime Touch label, and we take that as a sign that this guy is worth shouting about. KWIATY is a work of immense beauty, dipping and diving its way through dark and mysterious corners of the ambient domain; places that many other artists of this calibre rarely visit. For an album that is somewhat ominous by nature, there are plenty of uplifting moments throughout, and this is undoubtedly brought to the foray by the soulful voices riding high on the crest of solitary, hollow drones in the underbelly of the sonic sketches. It's an ambient album for people who are not into the genre. It's for those wishing to float and meditate to some beautiful melodic waves.
Unlike seminal Vancouver EBM/industrialists Skinny Puppy, Digital Poodle had only a cult following in Toronto and some parts of the North American continent; a real shame considering their impressive body of work. However, tracks such as 1995's "Head Of Lenin" got some international airplay, not to mention being played at quite a few goth clubs back in the day (not that we'd know, of course!). Finally there's a a renewed enthusiasm around them among a new generation of fans and die-hard nostalgists alike. 1992's Soul Crush" gets a worthy reissue on local analogue freak Solvent's Suction imprint and gets a some pretty nifty reworks. Sonic Groove main man Adam X serves up a pounding, droning and hypnotic rendition that stands in stark contrast to the slow and steely funk groove of the original. Also worthy of mention is British legends Soviet France and their "Virtual Mix" to the original release which is 13 minutes of epic ambient house bliss.
Terence Fixmer and Douglas McCarthy are what you would class as big dawgs in the house and techno game. The two have been present and very much in the frontline since the turn of the millennium, but their collaborative project under the Fixmer/McCarthy banner has been more of a recent conception. They've released plenty of effective dance material for Fixmer's own Planet Rouge imprint so, it was time to branch out, and what better way to do that then release an EP for Adam X's gnarly Sonic Groove? The label's been a staple of the NYC techno diet since the 90s, and it really is showing absolutely no signs of slowing down as it reaches its 30 year birthday. There's two cuts to the electrifying "Chemicals" tune, a first version with the vocals intact, and a second instrumental cut; the base of the tune is high-powered techno with a bubbling electro bass line, and a malevolent flurry of punked-out vocalism. "Wrong Planet" is a stranger sort of beast, a tune that lurks in the depths of the techno underbelly, but that has no problems in launching continuous arial threats in the form of sinister screams and spectral melodies. Enter if you dare...
Turkish female prodigy Ipek Gorgun has been aptly recruited by the mighty Touch imprint within minutes of her first material being released, and we couldn't think of a more suitable home for this young talent's sonic experiments. Enrolled as a music student in Ankara, Gorgun certainly has no time for traditional music laws if this album is anything to by. Improvisation and experimentation are the two keywords here, but we really mean it; we've heard very few releases that manage to harness so many different styles and influences under one roof, and the producer's talent lies in her ability to make seemingly impossible transitions seem utterly natural. From noise, then straight to gentle ambient, and then back to the most placid of drones, Ipek Gorgun is the new, undisputed Drone Queen.
Mistry enter album mode with a remarkable body of work from Kailin. A quantum leap from the floors the label has been denting, Kailin explores the post-club environment with dense weaves of textures and ghostlike vapours. Ambient in its nature yet spiked with fractured club echoes, it's an ultimately physical affair best experienced being as unphysical as possible. Highlights include the throbbing mechanical palpitations of "Chatter", the clunky glitches and alien designs of "Fracture" and the warped trickles and blurred cascades of "Disintegration". An intense move by all concerned.
Last year, Astral Industries released The Bamboo Recordings, a sublime, non-stop ambient voyage from obscure Dutch outfit The Chi Factory based around recordings Hanyo van Oosterom made while living in a cave on the Greek island of Palmos in the early 1980s. This follow-up contains sounds, textures and musical elements recording during the same period, which van Oosterom has been tinkering with, on and off, since the early '90s. Like its predecessor, The Kallikatsou Recordings - named in tribute to the "sacred mountain" the producer lived beneath on Palmos - joins the dots between Eno style ambience, Stockhausen style sound collage, the sample-heavy brilliance of The KLF's Chill Out, the humidity of Finis Africae, and contemporary drone productions. If anything, it's even better than The Bamboo Recordings.
Here's something that should excite all those of an experimental persuasion: a recording of an obscure, 1973 "graphical" score for modular synthesizers recorded last summer by an ensemble cast that included Junior Boys man Jeremy Greenspan, Hot Chip's Joe Goddard, Simian Mobile Disco's James Shaw, and various members of the Floating Points and Caribou touring bands. We won't go into the arty premise behind Tactus Tempus, other than the fact that each musician - armed with a modular synth or other electronic music-making gadget - follows a different graphical score with mesmerizing and occasionally discordant results. The A-side "Tonal" version is a little more musical, with the flipside "Noises & Impulses" version resembling a thrillingly cacophonous collection of whizzes, bangs, and intergalactic pops
Aside from clearly having a way with ambient drones, the mysterious producer known as Alexandre Navarro is also kind of a nifty entrepreneur. The artist has set up three imprints since his debut into the scene back in 2004; the EKO Netlabel, SEM Label and DISQ AN are all a product of his hard work, so it's no wonder that he was called up to Pheek's Archipel imprint for a new album. It would be reductive to call Anti-Matiere an ambient album, however. The LP is full of many different colours and shades, and even its most deconstructed moments are full of zest and kinetic flow. The opening "Phosphorous" is a good example of this, a gentle swarm of drones guided by subtle rhythmic infusions, and the same goes for other tunes like "Amazone" or "Contempie", two magnificent escapades into the deepest corners of the ether. In short, one could almost class this sublime piece of work as an ambient work for people who are easily bored from the genre. It';s for those with a certain kind of vision of drone that this will appeal to.
Sporadic listeners of John Roberts' endlessly pleasing strain of house music might not know too much about the artist outside of his releases for labels like Dial. However, the enigmatic producer has been focussing heavily on his own imprint as of late, the eccentric and beautifully curated Brunette Editions. Roberts has only released output under his own name until now, so it's a refreshing hit of sonic adrenaline to see him venture under a new moniker, especially one as daring and convoluted as Body Four. These fourteen experiments are the product of cellos, sequencers, and vocal samples. That's it. And, as we always say, there is a distinct feeling that less is almost always more. Roberts manages to construct real songs out of these basic instruments, a collection of moving, concrete grooves that form into shape thanks to the producer's intricate use of pauses, effects and crafty pitching. Electronica doesn't really cut it as a term for the Body Four sound; this album is what we would call 'weirdo gear', and the most elegant form of it, too. Warmly recommended, and surely the best left field release of the month.
Apparel Music return and introduce a new sub label Apparel Tronic. The intention for diffusion label is to shift focus towards UK-rooted beats, nu-jazz, downtempo and even jungle - or what the label likes to to term 'bliss-beat'. Here Giuseppe D'Alessandro a.k.a Kisk and Ludovico Schilling have a new project which they inaugurate with the Hella LP: a collection of UK influenced dance tracks that merge influences from the aforementioned street-sound genres Originally born in Milan, Schilling relies on a process that he likes to describe as a 'contamination' of sound which entails the layering of field recordings and the sounds of his home environment with those of synths, real instruments and samples'. This approach distinguishes his productions and enables him to create a truly singular strand of dance music: and it's this that brings together the nine disparate tracks on this fine album.