If you've seen Comeme selector Lena Willikens in the dance over the past few months, you will probably have come away wondering what one track in particular is. Reminiscent of a train going full pelt to the sound of a limber xylophone player, the impossibly catchy "Pil Sagol" from Red Axes has been a secret weapon for the Salon Des Amateurs resident for some time, and is finally available for public consumption thanks to Hivern Discs. You should know Dori Sadovnik & Niv Arzi from their work for I'm A Cliche, Highlife Edits, Relish and more but the three tracks here might be their best Red Axes material yet. 12 minute lead track "Todum Todum" is stripped back techno at it's trippiest, especially the mid point deviation into Vangelis territory, whilst "Ma & Abra In Ruanda" presents a breezier, looser side to the Red Axes sound. What else to say about "Pil Sagol" other than it's possibly one of the B sides of the year!
It comes as no surprise that Brecht is a close affiliate of Henrik Schwarz, as his music shares the same roots and sense of drama. "Nuages" and "Fetes" are by-products of the post-minimal landscape. Although their drums and percussion click and tick repetitively, both still sound less mechanical and, thanks to the glorious melodies that prevail on both, much more human than most iterations of that sound. The standout track here is "Sirens"; more up-tempo and groovy than the other tracks, its dramatic, string-soaked builds and subsequent drops are reminiscent of fellow German producers Ame at the height of their powers.
Moodmusic affiliate Dave DK is no stranger to Kompakt, having featured on several of their compilations over the years and done the odd remix. Their relationship is formalised here with the arrival of Val Maira, the Berlin producer's third album and a concerted attempt to go beyond the impressive production skills previously shown by Dave DK to offer "deeply personal expressiveness and emotional impact". Listening through the eleven tracks on this double LP edition, you'd have to say it's a success; Val Maira is rife with the kind of emotive electronics you expect from a Kompakt LP and is perfectly sequenced to run through a gamut of moods. A fine album from DDK.
Having appeared on labels such as Visionquest, Mobilee, Defected and Vakant, Forrest has already made quite a name for himself. The Montreal-based artist makes the move over to 20:20 Vision with the head-nodding, vocal-laced tones of "Manhattan" and instantly proves why he's had so much favourable attention in recent times. You can always count on Ralph Lawson's label to be no slouches when it comes to remixes as well, and in this instance Christian Nielsen steps up with a remix and a dub of "Manhattan" that chops the original up and reforms it as a more sharp-edged tech house beast, while VAM creates a rough, heavy-loaded bumper out of the original elements.
Newcomer Tom Akin makes his debut and on the excellent Four40 imprint out of Birmingham, one of the remaining UK strongholds for all things bass. "Worm" is a solid house stepper complete with an itchy percussion flex and cinematic sonics in its underbelly, but it's "Greize" that turned us on to Akin when we heard this EP. It's a slow-building, utterly stripped and lo-fi techno nugget for the early morn'. Production quality is solid, this dude will be back soon, no doubt.
The long-running Cabinet label serves up some more sublime tech-house. Audio Werner started releasing records during the minimal boom, but in more recent years he has forged out a deeper sound. On the title track, he lays down dense drums and a pulsing rhythm before the musical elements take over. A combination of spacey chords and balmy keys sees "Dwelling" soar into the cosmos. By contrast, Daniel Paul's "Gemuet" is all about remaining on the ground. This the Cabinet mainstay achieves through the use of a walking bassline that sounds like it might protrude through the speakers at any moment, such is the power of the track's subs.
wAFF makes a welcomed return to Hot Creations with three original cuts on his mighty 'Fat Gash EP'.
Playfully named after his best friend, title track 'Fat Gash' is a dancefloor monster with highly infectious vocals, while 'Shabby' has powerful keys, sonic builds and rolling percussions. Over on the flip 'Connected' is a high energy hitter with smooth vocals and a serious party vibe. Since releasing his Rainbows EP' on Hot Creations in 2012 and following with a number of successful releases and remixes, wAFF has become a staple part of the crew playing with the likes of Jamie Jones, Lee Foss and Richy Ahmed all over the world and is now entering into his third year as resident at DC10 for Paradise.