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Hashman Deejay – Sandopolis

by on at 11:55am

Until very recently, all the public had to go on about the existence of a certain Hashman Deejay was some whispered message board conjecture and the “Tangerine” EP on Future Times. On the label of that record, two pencil-sketched piercing eyes stare out at you, poking out from the brush of the wilderness. “Tangerine” imparted soothing rainforest sounds and subtly progressing drum patterns aplenty; but whenever this writer threw it on his turntable, those eyes gave a feeling of uncertainty; one was being watched. While some savvy internet use will connect the dots between Hashman Deejay, Tanner Matt, Aquarian Foundation and Vancouver’s sure-to-be-topping-some-’best-of-2014′-lists Mood Hut collective, this writer thinks part of the enjoyment of a Hashman release is allowing yourself to be swept away in the intrigue, the uncertainty and unpredictability of what’s inside.

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Tambien & Tiago – EP 01

by on at 11:23am

It’s not clear who came up with the idea of Tambien and Tiago joining forces in the studio, but as a concept it makes a lot of sense. Musically, they have a lot in common, from a shared love of sweaty tropical rhythms, percussion-heavy re-edits and downbeat, ultra-deep techno, to the wonky, do-it-yourself ethos of their respective labels. Apparently, the trio behind Tambien – producer Bartellow and Public Possession shop/label owners Marvin and Guy – have long been friends with Tiago Miranda – a rapport that has seen the quartet share a DJ booth on numerous occasions.

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Grey Branches – Lower Bounds

by on at 09:35am

Belgian artist Yves De Mey is a hyperactive talent and Grey Branches is his latest project. While much of his output is experimental, he isn’t completely divorced from dance floor techno – check some of his Sendai work with Peter Van Hoesen – and this new venture seeks to unite those often incompatible worlds.

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Panoptique – Panoptique

by on at 09:25am

The Antinote train keeps on rolling as a one-stop shop for some of the most essential unearthed gems from the fertile underground of French techno and electro curiosities, and once again an unfamiliar name is presented to us in the shape of Panoptique. With but a couple of obscure compilation releases behind him, Bordeaux-based Panoptique makes a debut release here that more than steps up to the other shamanistic machine mantras that the label has dealt in thus far.

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Robert Hood – M Print: 20 Years of M Plant

by on at 09:24am

Everywhere you turn, techno artists and labels are celebrating anniversaries. This is no surprise; this sound has been developing over the past three decades and has the kind of longevity and worldwide reach as other established forms. Despite electronic music being made by producers all over the world, it’s important to understand where the music came from. In many instances, this process leads back to Detroit and to artists like Robert Hood and his M-Plant label.

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Floating Points – Nuits Sonores

by on at 09:20am

Any new Floating Points release is cause for celebration! Fresh material from Sam Shepherd may have been relatively thin on the ground in recent years, but what he has put out has been predictably strong. His sole 2013 release, Wires, was a gently unfurling modern jazz masterpiece – with the obligatory deep house influences, of course – while June’s King Bromeliad 12” – a typically rolling, Rhodes-laden deep house-jazz jam, was arguably his strongest dancefloor moment since the days of People’s Potential. While he may not have totally abandoned his jazz ambitions, Shepherd does seem to be paying closer attention to the demands of club-friendly records.

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Marco Shuttle – Visione

by on at 14:54pm

Though Marco Sartorelli has always stated that he perceives techno “as more of a musical expression rather than a tool to make people dance,” the majority of his output until now has killed two birds with one stone. When the drums on 2011′s “The Vox Attitude” double up on themselves, it makes even the smallest dancefloor feel like it’s plummeting down an abyss, and 2012′s “Don’t U Want” repackaged a First Choice vocal sample into a cavernously addictive record. And while recent work such as this year’s Fanfara EP saw him gravitating towards the dronier, abstract side of the techno spectrum, Visione continues that trajectory, moving him entirely away from four to the floor rhythms entirely.

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T.B. Arthur – 3

by on at 09:09am

There’s little information to be had on T.B. Arthur beyond the insinuation it’s the work of a forgotten US producer from the ‘90s whose plans fell foul to financial issues, and a Chicago area phone number printed on each of the three records. Dial it up and you’ll be met with an automated message informing inquisitive minds: “You have dialled a number that is no longer in use, but continues to receive many calls. Please check the number you want and dial again. You have not been charged for this call. Thank you”.

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Various Artists – Lovers Rock #6

by on at 09:22am

There’s an identity shaping out of Ital’s Lovers Rock imprint, and it’s making for one of the finest outposts for dreamy techno you could wish for. It’s not all mellow and wistful (although some of it definitely is), but even in its tougher moments a spirituality seems to emanate from the tracks that has resulted in every release thus far being utterly essential. After a string of more artist-focused releases, this sixth installment makes the wise move to invite a few more characters along and thus further establish the characteristics of the label.

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Various Artists – Vidal Benjamin Présente Disco Sympathie

by on at 09:21am

The explosion in archival disco and boogie releases in recent times poses a problem for those thinking on entering an already crowded compilation market. Where once you could get away with simply gathering together a mixture of classics, rarities and in-demand cuts, an increasingly informed public now demand more. In order to stand out, labels have to dig deeper, have a solid concept – something not seen before, ideally – and a track list that focuses on the sort of dusty, little heard tracks that will intrigue record collectors and casual selectors alike. If you can work with a renowned crate digger, that’s even better.

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Powell – Club Music Remixes

by on at 16:46pm

The UK label Diagonal rounds out a stellar year with remixes from one of its founders, Powell’s Club Music release. Somehow the label has managed to persuade Ancient Methods and Cabaret Voltaire’s Richard H Kirk to rework tracks from the record with predictably impressive results. Now just a solo act, it sounds like Ancient Methods is channeling the spirit and sound of 80s industrial and EBM on his two remixes which seemingly contain source elements of all three tracks from Powell’s original record.

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Afrikan Sciences – Circuitous

by on at 17:06pm

Eric Douglas Porter has been on an increasingly prolific tip of late, gaining exposure for his craft while managing to be totally singular and independent of any particular movement or scene. He is of course affiliated to Aybee and the Deepblak stable, forming one of the central tenets of the Oakland label, but he moves in his own orbit much like the way Ras G holds his own space despite being an central figure in the Brainfeeder story. Even when he and Aybee collaborated for the sublime Sketches In Space LP earlier in 2014, Porter’s voice shone through true and tangible, arguably sending his collaborator’s reasonably loose sound out into the even braver frontiers in which Afrikan Sciences resides.

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Ike Release – Noir

by on at 10:15am

Ike Release is one half of the excellent Innerspace Halflife project – Hakim Murphy is the other member – but can his solo debut album scale the same dizzying heights as the two Innerspace long players? Unsurprisingly, Noir is based on the same classic electronic music influences as Release’s collaborative work and was realised predominately with hardware (although there were some iPad apps used, according to the accompanying press release) The key difference to the Innerspace Halflife material is that Noir is more streamlined and functional than this year’s Astral Travelling album.

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Juju & Jordash – Clean-Cut

by on at 14:46pm

With a title like Clean-Cut and a confident statement about “not hiding behind a hazy screen of FX”, you would be forgiven for wondering if Juju & Jordash were heading for some kind of smooth, Balearic yacht confection on their third album proper. Perhaps those countless smoky sessions summoning up deep techno incantations with Move D had finally tipped them over the edge and they made a dash for less woozy climes? Breathe a sigh of relief then as the title track kicks off the album with gusto and a chunky drum machine meets some snappy synth lines with all the rawness you would hope for from such well-schooled hardware heavyweights. Of course the duo’s reference to their approach on this album was more about a direct kind of composition and production style, not a complete change in tact, and after the flurry of ideas and experiments that melded into Techno Primitivism, it’s no bad thing to find the pair punching their ideas out into fewer but more fully realised tracks.

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Klara Lewis – Msuic EP

by on at 09:16am

Sometime early this year, a friend of mine started referring to that breed of greyscale electronics as ‘tinned techno’ which sums up the trappings rather well; dark, sombre, slumber techno preserved in fluid state until the sides start to congeal and packaged to await activation. A meal sure, but one in which the essence of its ingredients have been reduced. There’s a relative over-supply of the stuff by enamoured artists and a distinct repetition in terms of formula, perhaps even a kind of gradual inertia to the blunted moods of violence, dread, anxiety, and tension that tend to be conveyed. As a result, I’m becoming increasingly tempted to pass over a record as soon as I see some b/w cover or mention of an annex between knowing clusters of genres.

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In Aeternam Vale – Gnd Lift

by on at 09:41am

As Tony Poland pointed out in his feature on In Aeternam Vale in Juno Plus earlier this year, Laurent Prot was making proto-techno tracks like “La Piscine” back in the ’80s in complete isolation, which “makes them sound more impressive”. Can the French artist win the hearts and minds of modern audiences who have been weaned on a steady diet of technologically advanced electronic music? Certainly, Prot’s recent release for Jealous God showed that he was well capable of making hypnotic dance floor rhythms and Gnd Lift goes some way to continuing his resurgence.

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Acre – Icons

by on at 16:29pm

In a blitzkrieg of clattering drum breaks and mutant sirens, Acre’s latest release batters its way into earshot on the back of tempestuous manifestation “Ping”, and it demands attention in an instant. What is so refreshing about the approach here is that it doesn’t lean on the same tired hardcore breaks that have been utterly rinsed over the last year or two, instead reaching to other unknown sources for rough live beats and wielding them with the same kind of punk antagonism that embodied Untold’s Black Light Spiral album. After the moody textures and growls of his appearances on Cold, Acre’s efforts on this release for Pinch’s bigger label seem like the next logical step up to a distinctive and exciting sonic identity.

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Various Artists – Decapitated One-Liners

by on at 09:46am

As a natural cynic, this writer harbours an in-built suspicion of musical trends. As soon as a few similar releases appear or a bunch of labels start to put out records that inhabit the same artistic space, the alarm bells start ringing. Therefore, the whole reissue concept jars. Why are these labels all suddenly discovering obscure ’80s producers and why are they putting them out on cassette? Who even owns a cassette player any more? Sure, some labels do the past with style, recreating the original artwork with high-end finishes and re-mastering the music to give it added clarity. Others aren’t quite as diligent and there are represses knocking about that sounded like they were mastered in a crack den.

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Jovonn – Goldtones

by on at 09:30am

It’s been almost 25 years since Brooklyn’s Allen Jovonn Armstrong came out with his first hit, a Billboard top 10 surprise smash in the form of “Turn and Run Away”. Employing little more than a clashing drum machine and vocals layered on top of themselves, its success seemed to reach from two different camps of dance music- the mechanical jacking consistency of Dance Mania cuts like Steve Dexter’s “Work That Muthafucka” and cascading soulful shouts giving it the playful harmonization of a cut like Groove Theory’s “Tell Me”.

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Bintus – Lightnin

by on at 09:10am

There’s something stirring in the dark and troubled underbelly of techno, which can only mean that Power Vacuum is firing up its cauldrons and concocting another heathen’s broth of deviant dancefloor depravity. It doesn’t feel like an overstretch to talk about the music of Bintus and his label in such terms, for his is muscular machine music that revels in such gutter-dwelling sonics and makes a fine art out of it. Quite how one can be so disgusting and so gripping in the same bar is the great conundrum of one of Britain’s finest current techno exports. There’s nothing to shock or confuse about Lightnin if you’re already hip to the Bintus game, but equally there’s no sense of repetition or over-familiarity here. For starters the title track is a great intro that borrows its amelodic arpeggio twirls from the soundtrack to the original Terminator movie.

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