With so many producers involved in this release, it is surprising that "Morphism" manages to sound so cohesive and flow so seamlessly. Built on tough but heavy dubby beats, its deep, textured chords lend it an opaque, mysterious feeling. However, this is only a temporary state and soon enough, the four-man act drops in a resonating, plunging bass that cuts through the sonic ether. It acts a wake-up call from the surrounding musical fog, but it also gives the arrangement the dance floor muscle it needs. Dreamy but effective, this is exactly the kind of track that will make its way into Digweed's re-cord box.
Watson's second release on Poker Flat sees him step away from the deep, sensuous techno he is best known for. Instead, the title track is based on a rough acidic bass, against which synth lines bounce, surge and then judder off into the ether. "Sonar" is another big room-style track and here, insistent, powerful pulses underpin dramatic string builds and drops. It's like Watson has finally man-aged to give his deeply musical sound a functional dimension. There are no such plans on "Feel It". Dubby drums groove in and provide the basis for warm, jazzy keys and sensuous, symphonic strings.
Leipzig native Stefanik rose to recognition during the minimal boom, but it sounds like he has long since departed from that scene. The German producer's latest release on Cocoon pushes in other directions; on the title track, Stefanik uses a nagging bass to underpin synths that shift in mood from deep and doleful to scarily atmospheric. The flip side track, 'Illumination', is even more hard-hitting. Percussive bullets fly in and tough kicks that have more in common with Magnetic North than Minimal Man ensure that it never operates at anything less intense than fist-pumping level. It's quite a transformation.
Given how prolific he's been across multiple aliases these past few years, you can forgive Boris Bunnik for the lack of output that's characterised his year so far, with just the sole Versalife 12" for Clone's Store Only Series issued. A return to his main creative concern Conforce is most welcome then and the Depth Over Distance EP suggests the Dutchman's production powers are fully recharged. Opening with the title track, Conforce's talent for captivating spacious lines and crisp refreshing drum programming is on full display whilst "Plateau" veers off into abstract territory. Powered by supple arpeggios and powerful kicks, "Rendez-vous" feels like Conforce at his most floor focused whilst "Closer" ends proceedings on a haunting, ambient note.
Toolroom Live 01 is a behemoth. At 61 tracks large, inclusive of three continues DJ mixes, this new concept by Toolroom, as they say, is to highlight key artists, present new tracks, and give their fans a taste of the live experience. On here there's music from Harvey Mckay, Gary Beck and Maison Sky, to Bat For Lashes, Hot Since 82 and label owner Mark Knight, and if you're looking to grasp the Toolroom Live concept (and other oddities you might not expect), while getting some bang from your buck, this release is a well informed start.
Although Mark Knight has been pushing rising star Bontan via his Toolroom imprint, we've not had any new material from this guy since April. Presumably that's because he's been to busy spinning in Ibiza all summer at Toolroom's parties at Booom. Now the season's closed, he's back to the day job and back with a bang - "Gadgets & Buttons" is a quality foray into deep, funky, late night tech-house.
It's fair to say Mr Danny Daze is enjoying a fine 2014 with this debut on Kompakt's Speicher series arriving in the aftermath of two superb releases for Jimmy Edgar's Ultramajic and Maceo Plex's Ellum Audio. There's a sense of prestige that comes with a Speicher release and the two powerful productions from the Miami-based Daze hint he's fully worthy of his placement in the Kompakt extra annals of fame. Lead track "Freeze (Frozen Mix)" sees Daze focus on detail, keeping the drum programming to a minimum so an accompaniment of synth washes, machine noise and muted horns can have full effect. Those wanting something a bit more marauding will be all over "Speaker Language" which pairs a powerful snare rattling groove with some treated vocals.
Alex Kruger shows the depth and range of his sound on Sticky Cow. Although it only features three tracks, it feels like the Berlin producer is racing through a catalogue of sounds and nuances. The title track is a dubby, driving affair that occasionally veers into a stepping, buzzing UK bass path and then ends up in jacking mode, led all the way by clanging bells. On the sublime "Jankowski", those bells are swapped for alpine bells that could have belonged to a stray cowherd. A bigger change however is the stylistic shift, with sensuous strings and a gloriously warm disco groove featuring. Finally, "Kord" sees Kruger veer into seductive vocal house.
Spencer Parker's Work Them label continues to grow as an outpost for club ready tools, with its latest release a remix-shaped celebration of last year's Radioslave platter Report Myself. In original form the record was a perfect display of Matt Edwards' capacity to distil house music down to its bare essentials, so it's little surprise the label has chosen two remixers who build the track back up and take it in their own inimitable direction. First up is Berghain's latest pin up resident Rodhad who unsurprisingly moulds the track into a slab of hypnotic 9am techno with some truly crafty manipulation of the vocal, and it's complemented well by Bearweasel who opts to indulge his 303.