Matthew Herbert's return to the dancefloor, via the re-launched Part series (volume one landed way back in 1995, amazingly), has been one of the good news stories of 2014. Part 8 is the third instalment in the long-running series this year, and features another quartet of wonky, left-of-centre house cuts in his inimitable style. Naturally, there's much to admire, from the piano jazz-meets-outsider house swing of "Remember Ken" and the glitch-funk of "Ticket", to the acoustic-goes-electronic pulse of "Her Face". Arguably best of all, though, is "The Wrong Place", which boasts many of Herbert's aural trademarks - think cut-up vocal edits, tipsy electronics and a delightfully odd, low-slung groove.
Juju and Jordash are rather good at making albums. Their last full-length excursion, 2012's brilliant Techno Primitivism, was a gloriously maudlin and evocative affair, as influenced by drowsy ambient and experimental electronica as house and techno. While there are some similarly dark tracks lurking in the shadows of third album Clean Cut (see the creepy "Swamp Things"), for the most part it's a pleasingly dancefloor-centric concoction. That's not to say that they've packed it with jolly moments - the tipsy, melodious "Anywhere" and dub disco-meets-deep house wonk-out "SP Shakes" aside - but rather their leftfield blends of house and techno have a more club-friendly feel. The results are, for the most part, extremely good, with the rave-era revivalism of "Whippersnapper" (a kind of darkroom, Detroit-influenced take on T-Coy's "Carino") standing out.
The 1080p empire expands its belt to let in another fresh talent, and this time it's Mongo Skato showing off an idiosyncratic style across eight tracks that veer from plush, chopped up boogie on "Fela" through to dense and slamming techno pressure loaded with textures and flair on the excellent "Jobin". There's a kitchen sink feel to the sound that Mongo Skato conjures up, with a particular penchant for sample choppery that calls to mind Jackson And His Computer Band, but at any given point there is equal attention given to plush melody and atmosphere as much as crafty edits, and in that sense it's an eminently listenable and enjoyable release.
Club Music (Ancient Methods 'Korpersaure91' mix) - (7:40) 60 BPM
Club Music (Ancient Methods 'Pogo Im Saurebad' mix) - (4:12) 120 BPM
So We Went Electric (Richard H Kirk main mix) - (6:36) 58 BPM
So We Went Electric (Richard H Kirk dub mix) - (6:44) 118 BPM
With the label at the peak of its powers after a breakthrough 2014, one of the final Diagonal releases sees material from Powell's excellent Club Music EP treated and abused by the titan-esque figures of Ancient Methods and Richard H. Kirk. If you've seen Powell towering over some decks or heard his Melon Magic show on NTS it's likely you will recognise at least one of the four remixes here and it's hard to pick out one favourite. Ancient Methods goes all turbo-charged Nitzer Ebb on his opening Korpersaure91 remix of "Club Music" whilst the playfully juddering rhythms of the subsequent Pogo Im Saurebad effort should explain the title. Meanwhile Kirk boils down "So We Went Electric" to its barest rhythmic elements on a fizzing main mix whilst the accompanying dub is full on crazy.
The Ongoing Significance Of Steel & Flesh - (4:17) 156 BPM
Acid - (2:34) 152 BPM
So We Went Electric - (6:39) 112 BPM
Robotics - (3:48) 150 BPM
Have It - (3:18) 132 BPM
Fizz - (7:29) 160 BPM
Nude - (2:40) 160 BPM
Oh No New York - (5:23) 150 BPM
Maniac (feat Russell Haswell) - (6:19) 100 BPM
Body Music - (6:07) 148 BPM
Diagonal has been one of 2014's standout labels, bringing innovation and most importantly a sense of humour to techno across a series of releases from the Russell Haswell, Bronze Teeth and more. It is however label founder Powell's own music that set the tone for the label, and on this retrospective collection the producer collects all of his music from the past three years released on labels including Diagonal, Liberation Technologies and The Death Of Rave. If you're yet to indulge in the gristly, skewed, off-centre brand of techno Powell has been blessing us with recently, this is the ideal place to get involved with one of techno's most exciting producers.