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Reviewed this week
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Daley Padley's music draws on classic house and garage and re-presents these sounds for a contemporary audience. Irrespective of whether or not he is plundering old records, there is no doubt that he does it remarkably well. "Like You" is a typical Padley track, its dark riffs reminiscent of Nu Groove back catalogue and the rumbling bass inspired by early '90s UK progressive labels like Guerilla. The remixes follow a different direction: Audiojack turns the track into a stripped back affair with ricocheting percussion, sweaty vocals and wobbling bass prevailing and Exacta's version is a heavier, tribal affair. Best of all though is the Franck Roger version, its deranged horn riffs unfolding over broken beats.
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Released last November, Illumination was just the debut EP we could have hoped for from veteran DJ Erol Alkan; straddling the line between touchy-feely piano house, pounding acid and oddball breakbeat, it was as honest encapsulation of the man's idiosyncratic approach as you could expect. It's something that follows on to this collection of remixers, which gives a diverse selection of producers a crack at creating something new from Alkan's orginals. Rush Hour's Tom Trago turns in the most conventional remix, and deeper version of the '90s-influenced "A Hold On Love", while The Emperor Machine adds some expectedly trippy dub effects to "Bang!". U's version of "Check Out Your Mind" is even more twisted than the chopped up original, but for us it's L.I.E.S. and Nation affiliate Beau Wanzer's take on "Bang!" that stands out, removing all the sharp edges and turning it into an effective techno bludgeoning tool that will shake sweaty basements apart.
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Surprisingly little information exists online about new Home Taping artist Simba. BY the sounds of "Phase Seq One", though, he's something of a talent. You see, "Phase Seq One" is deep, crackly, woozy and soulful, sounding not unlike the heady productions of Detroit heavyweights Andres and Moodymann - all warm loops, bumpin' beats, classic soul vocal samples and just the right amount of filter tweakery. As debuts go (assuming this is his debut), it's pretty damn hot. The Black Madonna delivers the obligatory remix, stripping back the original and adding a little more drum machine oomph to the beats. The resultant version - blessed with occasional intricate keys and the usual BM Chicago soul - is something of a late night triumph.
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Studio Barnhaus' co-owner Kornel Kovacs is in great form on "Szikra", which - somewhat surprisingly - is his debut solo single for the label. Kovacs' combination of bustling, US garage-influenced beats, dreamy pads, picturesque music box melodies and choice hip-hop vocal samples is nothing less than inspired. As a result, "Szikra" sounds like an unlikely fusion of Confused House style tropical depth and vintage NYC groovery. The stripped back, dub style Bonusz Beat is pretty tasty, too, while experienced techno producer Abdulla Rashim turns the track into an epic 12-minute dub techno exploration. Excellent stuff, all told.
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Helge Tommervag aka Mind Over Midi has been making music for many years. The Norwegian native was famous for his raucous and uncompromising approach to techno in the '90s, but he's slowly moved towards less constrictive terrain. The always-wonderful Diametric label presents an ample collection of his new sound - one that's inherently deep and aqueous, where the synths feel loose and percussion is scarce if at all existent. There's a sense of transportation throughout the whole LP, where Tommervag's wailing atmospherics and pensive arrangement are worthy of a proper listen. No laptop speakers or ear-buds. Sit back, blast it loud and be off on your way to the cosmos. Recommended to fans of everything from Klaus Schulze to Aphex Twin.
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It's no understatement to say that French techno godhead Garnier is enjoying a renaissance and this release for Modeselektor's label is the latest step in that process. "M.I.L.F." sees him investigate his love of primal Chicago house, albeit with a twist. Synths sweep and ride their way through the jacking arrangement, before the track progresses into lithe back beats and grungy bass licks. "D.S.K." is also stripped back, but this time the mood is reminiscent of Suburban Knight as a dark bass pulses to the foreground. No Garnier release would be complete without his sensuous touch, and the bassy "H.E." features a vocal about being "licked from head to toe". Plus ca change.
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There's a real acid house feeling to this release. It begins on the title track, where the anonymous producer lays down layer upon layer of nagging 303s and brassy samples over sassy breakbeats. Meanwhile, "Parenthesis" recalls early UK experiments with acid tracks, as emissions from the Roland are dropped over jazz-infused rhythms and samples from a philosophical debate about human labour keep cropping up in the arrangement. If that isn't post-modern enough then the remixes will satisfy even the most demanding Situationist. The Hardways Bros take on "Kiloton" resonates to a menacing bass and steely drums, while Raudive's excellent version of "Parenthesis" sees Oliver Ho fuse a fuzzy EBM bass with a slamming industrial rhythm.
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Alicante continues his relationship with Cocoon on this peak-time release. Tough and percussive without lapsing into mindless territory, the title track resonates to the sound of tough percussion and a dense acid line that gradually insinuates itself to the fore. "Xyxy" is harder, a slamming affair that resounds to tough claps and firing percussive licks, but which also makes room for warm chords and intricate bells. In a sign that Cocoon has shifted towards more purist sounds, Berghain resident Rodhad has been recruited to rework "Wax Weapon", which he turns into a cavernous big room affair, mapped out by heavy thunder claps. Vath's label has also tapped Ryan Elliot to add some extra percussive muscle to "Xyxy".
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The long-running German act return with three dancefloor-primed tracks. The title track is a pulsing techno affair, led by robust drums and a mysterious bassline. However, these elements merely provide a backing for an inspired vocal performance from Cath Coffey, formerly of the Stereo MCs. No longer singing about utopian rap scenarios, Coffey's tripped out tones include observations about 'being better in bed when you're out of your head'. "Headlock" is more streamlined and functional, with frequency shifting tones taking centre stage. "Tourette" meanwhile, has a live feeling, dubbed out drums tethered to a funk bassline and trippy 303 lines.
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Bas Mooy has deservedly gained a reputation for no nonsense, hard-hitting club techno. The Dutch producer's recent remix of Paul Birken was the highlight of that release and now King of Echo Echo sees him further flex his creative muscles. The title track opts for a dubbier, more percussive sound than the Birken remix, but there is a connection thanks to the introduction of a frazzled acid line midway through. The remixes are also of a high quality; Justin Berkovi's version is all screeching horns and detuned riffs - before a dreamy synth appears - while Ascion & D Carbone's take sees jackhammer drums combined with waves of white noise. Finally, Gabeen & Dr Hoffmann turn "King" into a stripped back, percussive workout.
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Slam's label deserves kudos for showcasing new talent and Fractal is no exception. UK producer Barber already has a few releases under his belt, but his Soma debut is his most high profile so far. The title track starts the release off with tight tribal drums and a loopy rhythm, but this is no standard tool-ish affair, and airy synth stabs are added to the arrangement. "Love in Life" is more offbeat, with soulful vocals and balmy chords coming together over a stuttering backing track. Meanwhile, "Shine" sees Barber return to a straighter groove, with jacking beats and niggling percussion underpinning a sweat-soaked vocal sample.
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One of the members of Exercise One goes off on a fine, deep solo run for Poker Flat. "Basic Motion", with its heavy, ponderous bass and dubbed out claps, is tailor made for Steve Bug's label. Indeed, when the grinding synth gives way to an evocative break down, it sounds like the kind of progression you'd hear in one of Bug's sets. "More or Less" is built from similar material with churning chords unfolding over a woozy bassline, while "Ladies & Gentlemen" sees Resmann opt for a different approach. There, synths shimmer and glisten over brittle off-rhythms and its melodic denouement has echoes of vintage Orbital.
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Solomun has made a virtue out of releasing melodic house music and his latest record is no exception. That said, "Medea" marks a shift of sorts; over a pulsing, tunnelling groove and rolling drums, he introduces dramatic melodic sweeps, the kind that you'd hear on old techno-trance record on Harthouse or Music Man. The title track sees him revert to type, with sensuous pads and acid-tinged melodic hooks dropped over heavy claps. To add to the sense of drama, he delivers an operatic vocal sample as the break down nears. There's also a "strings only" beatless version for those who want to appreciate Solomun's sense of melody away from the dance floor.
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Since dropping his Shunyata album back in 2010, this talented German has concentrated on hammering out essential house tool after house tool on myriad labels. He's never just satisfied with one-dimensional productions though, and the mighty "Samson" is no different: full, rolling drums accelerate under a hypnotic vocal loop and cleverly layered percussion creating a sense of barely contained delirium. Elsewhere we also get a little locomotive techy disco in the form of "Jada Jada", before Harry Romero steps in to add some tribal-swing spice to the title track's original ingredients.
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Smooch-tech duo Niklas "Dapayk' Worgt and Eva Padberg delivered their fourth long player, Smoke, late last year to great acclaim. Now they've commissioned remixes of the entire thing and the results are pretty spectacular. The duo specialise in deep, luxuriant, velvety productions, and here the mood is expanded on in various styles, including melancholic electro-pop (Marek Hemmann's mix of "Silent Fireworks"), sleazy, robot house (Chloe's mix of "Layers), gothy fuzztronica (From Karaoke To Stardom's mix of "Dark Days"), and synthy, sensuous, eyes-half-closed laments (Douglas Greed's mix of "Dance In Your Eyes"). A classy act indeed.
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Istanbul-based duo Paradisko apparently have a passion for "palm trees and pizza", as well as Scandolearic grooves, classic garage and deep house. "Chewing Gun", their debut single, includes audible nods to most of those things (bar the pizza and palm trees, naturally), delivering a bubbly, piano-heavy blast of Balearic nu-disco with all the dancefloor chops of contemporary house. Nu-disco veteran Mighty Mouse ups the tempo and intensity on his deliciously wide-eyed version - Balearic with balls, perhaps - while Digits deliver a lovingly cute synth-heavy version that bristles with vivid electronic melodies. Arguably the best version, though, comes from Xinobi, who adds a little spookiness whilst retaining the original's breezy Balearic spirit.
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Every year, Petar Dundov puts out a release that effortlessly captures the sun-kissed coastline of his native Croatia. This year, his knack of producing summer grooves is articulated on "Origins". Hollowed out drums and a rolling groove provide the basis for a swirling, trancey synth riffs that are just the right side of cheesiness, while Dundov - or one of his collaborators - strums a Balearic guitar in the background. "Rise" is darker and more moody, but here too the synths glisten and shimmer like stars flickering on a midnight surf in the Adriatic. This is techno at its most atmospheric and infectious.
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The Adsum take on the title track relives the classic minimal house approach. For starters it clocks in at over 12 minutes and doesn't have any of the white noise bursts or ping-pong percussive ticks favoured by the mnml brigade. Instead, it meanders in and out of a dubby groove. Augmented by male and female vocals, muffled and obtuse but still captivating, it's the ultimate Villalobos-style groove. By contrast, the version from Minibar staple Cabanne is much more direct. Led by shimmering disco loops, it includes vocal snippets, but the focus remains on the robust, rolling groove. Expect to hear it in Zip's sets all summer.
Exclusives
TERRANOVA - Headache (Kompakt)
SOLOMUN - Samson EP (Diynamic Germany)
MAN POWER - Kiloton (Correspondant)
Laurent Garnier DJ Chart
Anja Schneider DJ Chart
Dapayk Solo DJ Chart
Matthias Tanzmann DJ Chart
Top Labels
Poker Flat Germany
desolat
Rush Hour Holland
Noir Music Denmark
cocoon