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Djrum – Forgetting

It takes most new producers time to find a unique voice, but not DjRum. From the first release, Felix Manuel’s music lacked close comparisons, seasoning UK dance structures – drum and bass, garage, techno – with sounds harvested from a broad spectrum of genres. The result was so successful that it’s remarkable so few producers have followed in his footsteps.

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Series – A – Evolution ⁵ Technology

For their latest release, esteemed San Francisco label  Dark Entries has decided to change tack, turning to a period when Detroit’s electro sound was beginning to morph into what would later be christened techno. Even by the standards of a reissue scene obsessed with unearthing previously hidden or practically unknown gems, Evolution 5 Technology is deliciously obscure. Despite its Michigan roots, the record was originally destined to come out on California’s Satellite Records in 1987. In the end, only 50 promotional copies were ever pressed up; the label ran into financial difficulties soon after, and the 12” – the only one its creators ever made under the Series-A alias – has been all but lost ever since.

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Brain Machine – Peaks

It’s a great time to be part of a synth-led group. There is, in electronic music, a prevalence for artists to be lone wolves, betrothed to the inner sanctum of their studios and generally better off working on their own, but since the upwards trend of hardware kicked back in with gusto it’s easier to envisage that classic band dynamic in the sexy blinking lights of sequencers and matted knots of quarter-inch jack cables. In terms of collaborative live performance, a bunch of screen-glare victims ignoring each other while jockeying laptops on stage just never seemed that convincing, no matter how worthy the process and sonic performance may have been.

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Dan Lissvik – Midnight

When former Studio man Dan Lissvik released his first solo material following the band’s break-up, he still seemed in mourning for their passing. Although 2014’s Meditation arrived two years after he officially parted ways with Studio partner Rasmus Hagg, it felt like a heartfelt tribute to a 10-year partnership gone awry. It opened with “An Ode To Studio” (complete with tear-jerking pianos), before sauntering through tracks that felt like they could have formed part of the duo’s brilliant – and critically acclaimed – 2006 debut album, West Coast. The band’s trademarks – glistening electric and acoustic guitars, languid dub basslines, freshly baked textures, space disco synths and krautrock style rhythmic hypnotism – were all present and correct. It was great, of course, but he’d clearly not moved on.

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Bell-Towers – I’m Coming Up

A sense of fun isn’t generally the first thing a critic looks for in a new release. The worlds of techno and experimental music rarely raise a smile, barring an occasional wry smirk. Most house music that’s meant to be fun, those identikit bangers that clog up the internet, are so calculated that the joy is sapped out from the moment the needle hits the wax. But with the music of Rohan Bell-Towers, you can’t avoid the fun-factor. It just about smacks you in the face the moment you start listening to his music.

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Xaõ Seffcheque – Kess Kill 02

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This is a wonderful record and it is hard to believe that it was produced 35 years ago. To put that into perspective, the music on this three-track EP predates techno, house and most electro and yet it still sounds fresh, alive and vital. Seffcheque comes from Austria and according to Kess Kill, Rivet’s label, he went on to enjoy widespread acclaim as a screen writer and movie director, including a stint as a writer on the hugely popular German crime series, Tatort.

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Sexazoid – Up ‘n’ Coming

At this point, it goes without saying that the Born Free crew are going to surprise you with whatever they do. Since 2011, Sling & Samo have done a marvelous job of weirding out the competition with a salvo of unfamiliar names burrowing in the nooks and crannies between house music conventions. Just recently we delighted at the wonders contained within that excellent Powder 12”, while Special Occasion provided a curious diversion into synth pop and hand played hardware abstractions. If there’s one thing that seems to unite the label, it’s an instinct for freakiness, even in its more pleasant and docile output.

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Huerco S. – For Those Of You Who Have Never (And Also Those Who Have)

When Brian Leeds first emerged as a producer, his voice was just one of many lumped within the outsider house scene. The atmospheric club abstractions of Huerco S were strikingly emotive but not wholly unique. As the dust settled over the lo-fi scene it was unclear where he would go. Yet where others faltered, Leeds’ star rose. As the years passed his style grew more distinctive and defied easy categorisation.

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Floorplan – Victorious

No other electronic music artist has undergone such radical transformation in recent years as Robert Hood. From the creator of minimal techno and the author of its benchmark works, like Minimal Nation to the Floorplan project which honours the Creator, the Detroit artist has developed in an unpredictable manner. It appears that this shift has been as a result of changes in Hood’s personal life, which include him moving to a rural part of the States and becoming more actively involved in his church.

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Convextion – Acido 22

2016 will go down as a year of great activity for Gerard Hanson. The low-profile Texan producer released his first E.R.P. record in three years and now comes Acido 22, the first Convextion record in almost a decade. It was this project that Hanson originally gained attention during the mid-’90s and which has yielded a remarkable series of EPs and self-titled album.

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Powder – Afrorgan

Powder: Somewhere to turn when house and techno is letting you down. With the sounds of Chicago and Detroit, to Birmingham, Bristol and Berlin so ubiquitous in inspiring producers everywhere, it’s nice to come across music that bends the musical hallmarks of those cities into something original. It’s said Powder comes from rural Japan and ESP Institute’s release of the Highly EP painted her as something of a character from a Haruki Murakami novel. The type trying to escape the nine-till-five life of cubic Tokyo by making supernatural music late at night. A previous turn on Born Free also felt as neon-lit as Tokyo’s world famous Shibuya district while in other sections it’s as serene her assumed pastoral homeland, but the genius of it all is this music comes from somewhere off the map.

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L.M.Y.E. – Lend Me Your Ears

Apron Records has continually produced a wide range of house and techno since 2011, from the stripped-down electro of Greg Beato to the bumping house sound of Shanti Celeste. The latest release features new production pairing L.M.Y.E with their self-titled debut, Lend Me Your Ears. Having apparently met at Bristol record shop Idle Hands, the two friends combined their passion for music and began producing together. The release brings to the fore another contender in Bristol’s ever-growing house scene with a number of natives making their mark on the U.K over the past few years. From the above-mentioned Shanti Celeste to new labels like Happy Skull, Lend Me Your Ears cements L.M.Y.E amongst the city’s established house fraternity.

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Rhythmic Theory – Circulation

The opening track of Rhythmic Theory’s debut album, Circulation, could well soundtrack a spacecraft touching down on an uncharted planet in a sci-fi film. Hazy ambient textures resonate absorbingly throughout “Intro (to my imagination)” but with a touch of trepidation, and a distorted voice adds to the almost fraught sense of intrigue. It invites listeners into the world the elusive Bristol-based artist constructs over the course of Circulation, his longest and most fully-formed work yet.

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Wolf Müller & Cass. – The Sound Of Glades

Since launching last year, International Feel’s horizontally inclined mini-album series has delivered two of the ambient revival’s most enjoyable moments. They were notably different beasts, Len Leise dived head-first into woozy, new age waters, while CFCF popped down the beach to watch a Balearic sunset in the company of guitarists, accordion players and an under-used percussionist. But both proved the magical, life affirming qualities of the best ambient music. Given that the style is often clumsily mishandled – see Sasha’s recent soul-sapping effort on Late Night Tales, for starters – it’s heartening to see International Feel’s series start in such confident and assured fashion.

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Abul Mogard – Works

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Electronic music’s brief history is full of entertaining myths and urban legends. From the one about Derrick May sitting in his apartment naked in tears after writing Strings of Life to the one about Aphex Twin playing a piece of sandpaper in a DJ set, the music’s largely instrumental, abstract structure requires additional story-telling to provide some background.

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DeViere – Beyond The Celestial Gate

There are those artists whose fearlessness positively radiates out of their music. It’s especially apparent when dealing in techno, where there are so many established structures and formulas one can hold onto for safety, and yet where one of the fundamental principles of the genre is to break new ground and keep pushing the technology into new realms. Terrence Dixon is a prime example with the uncompromising energy that spills out of his music. Jamal Moss too demonstrates just what can be wrangled out of drum machines and synthesisers decades after they first went into circulation, and in these backwards-looking times anyone with a sense of adventure is sure to stand out.

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Zahgurim – Moral Rearmament

Zahgurim was a short-lived ‘80s band, established by Paul Ackerley and William Vince. Together they released just one album, Moral Rearmament, before the founders focused on other projects. Mannequin, the label of choice for anyone with even a passing interest in wave and industrial curiosities, has now decided to shine a light on this fleeting but fascinating project. The modern audience’s senses are so overloaded with ‘artists’ – and in this context that word is fully deserving of the quotation marks – pedalling their team’s marketing tactics on social media that we tend to forget just how shocking and outright seditious music can be.

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Beatrice Dillon / Karen Gwyer – Split

Earlier this year London-based all-female DJ collective Siren unveiled a poster that bluntly addressed the facile suggestion from club promoters, “there just aren’t enough women DJs.” Starting with Resom and ending on Nightwave, the poster lists out a whole host of talented female selectors using a variety of fonts to deliver a simple yet powerful slap to the chops for the laziest of excuses to cover up the lack of gender diversity in club line-ups. This is as good an example you need of the rise in discussion and action aimed at making clubbing – and electronic music in general – more inclusive.

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Various Artists – Versatile 1996-2006

In early 1996, during the midst of Paris’ infamous – and much-chronicled – “French Touch” revolution, a budding DJ/producer from the local party scene, Gilbert “Gilb’r” Cohen, decided to launch his own label. While the imprint’s first two releases would stick rigidly to the filtered, disco-heavy house style dominating Parisian dancefloors at the time, it wouldn’t be long before Cohen’s label would begin living up to its’ name: Versatile Records. In the two decades since, Cohen’s imprint has remained deliriously difficult to pin down.

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DVA DAMAS – Clear Cut

Taylor Burch and Joe Cocherell’s association with Downwards goes back to 2010, when Regis’ label was undergoing a period of transition. At that time, it was issuing retrospectives of its owner’s work while simultaneously embracing the emerging post-punk/ industrial strain of underground electronic music, typified by Tropic of Cancer, Six Six Seconds, The KVB and DVA Damas themselves.

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