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E.R.P. – Ancient Light

It’s been a few years since electro/techno producer Gerard Hanson last surfaced, but Ancient Light makes it clear that despite the passage of time, nothing has changed in his world. Irrespective of trends or hype, the Dallas producer just keeps doing his thing regardless, and Ancient Light is the latest articulation of his position. The release is part of Solar One’s Hubble Telescope Series, kick started by Luxus Varta and which will also feature Gerald Donald.

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Kilchhofer – Dersu

With their previous releases, Marionette have established themselves as a label concerned with rhythmic excursions that fall outside of the homogenised 4/4 tradition. That’s not to say that, for example, the second release from Laurine Frost didn’t have techno qualities, and indeed from a strictly theory based standpoint some of the music does still fall within the four beats, four bars mantra, but there are other forces at work in the label’s favoured style that place this music in a more interesting realm. With Deer and Maxim Wolzyn rounding out the roster to date, it’s safe to say that this new outfit is reaching to less familiar talents and they seem to have an impeccable ear for doing so.

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Albert Van Abbe – Champagne Palestine

It has taken Albert Van Abbe fifteen years to put out his debut album, but it’s been worth the wait. The Dutch producer has always approached techno with one ear in tune with the dance floor and the other focused on experimentation, and Champagne Palestine is no exception. Van Abbe’s concept for the album revolves around a dream-like story that unfolds in the Middle East, but the listener shouldn’t let this narrative get in the way of what is a fine, experimental techno album.

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Locks & DDM – Locks & DDM

You can file this delightful little curio from Locks & DDM alongside the Transformation 12” from a few years ago under ‘L.I.E.S. releases with somewhat fanciful backstories that are hard to believe.’ Whereas that one-sided Transformation 12”, Sketch 1, apparently originated in late-‘90s Oldenburg, Germany, but was more likely the work of Nation boss Traxx and associates, the information offered on Locks & DDM is even more vague.

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Jega – 1995

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When it comes to the phenomenon of classic electronica from that golden era of the Aphex, Boards, Autechre, Warp Records et al, the focus has always been on technological innovation and progression. Even if the practices of many such artists have oscillated between analogue classicism and digital pioneering, the arc of development has always been geared towards breaking new experimental ground beyond the confines of traditional house, techno and electro structures. Jega was, and is, no different, having first emerged on Skam in the mid-‘90s and then progressing on to albums for Planet Mu that rank as genre classics for devotees of the UK-centric sound. Dylan J. Nathan’s output seemingly dried up around the 2000 mark with a modest discography behind it, and so those holding a torch to his particular blend of emotional robotic music welcomed his return with Variance in 2009 with open arms.

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Various Artists – BC003

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Brooklyn-based Broken Call Records describes their third instalment as “disoriented dance music straight from the sex center.” Previously serving up the likes of French industrial haunter Mondkopf, the L.I.E.S affiliated Person Of Interest, aka Angel de la Guardia, as well as productions by label boss and Brooklyn underground stalwart Gaul Plus in its consistent run over the last year.

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Wata Igarashi – Haziest Just Before the Dawn

Varied as his musical path is, there is a certain consistent thread that runs through all of Wata Igarashi’s projects. Whether it is punk bands he formed in Madrid when he was a teenager, an improvisational jazz group where he soaked up music theory or solo productions that have made his name, the Japanese producer has always sought out trippier elements of music. The last few years have seen him refine his deeply hallucinatory style to make for a lean yet effective sound through a handful of masterfully crafted techno cuts for labels such as Midgar in Berlin and Time To Express by Peter Van Hoesen, who’s given Igarashi’s skill set the seal of approval.

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Lost Trax – Flatliner

For an act that took four years to follow up its debut, the past few months have represented a veritable purple patch of creativity for Lost Trax. The collective, who want to remain in the shadows and let their music talking – unlike those who wear masks, hand stamp their records and make a media-friendly nod towards being anonymous – have just issued their second record in six months. Flatliner arrives on Shipwrec, a Dutch label that has done more than most to further underground electro, but which also provides a platform for left of centre techno from artists like Drvg Cvltvre.

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Deep88 – The Black Album

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Like many producers of house and techno, Alessandro Pasini has been chugging away on the margins, without fanfare or fuss, for the best part of a decade. In that time, he’s established a label, 12 Records, delivered a clutch of enjoyable albums that touch on a variety of deep house flavours, and maintained a steady stream of solid singles under the semi-familiar Deep88 alias.

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TM404 – Acidub

As the rush of rediscovered excitement around hardware practices settles to a steady hum, it feels like there is a growing acceptance that it really is OK to use any tools you like to make your music; it’s the content that counts. That won’t stop people having their preferred workflows and waxing lyrical about them, but at least now the analogue dogma can resign to the same redundant pocket of hype-driven chest-beating that laptop-jockeying digital evangelists adopted once DAWs and plug-ins could stand up to the capabilities of drum machines and synthesisers.

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Machine Woman – Genau House

Russian-born, Berlin-located Anastasia Vtorova has been publicly sharing music with us for three years now, uploading experimentations to her SoundCloud page in between releases for labels like Tesla Tapes and Peder Mannerfelt Produktion. Her music as Machine Woman so far has been perfect for people who want to take the dancefloor into a weirder, deeper headspace while still pumping out sub-bass powerful enough to make your stomach lurch.

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Healing Force Project – Transhumanism

Verona imprint Le Disque, named after the local record store of the same name, only has a modest output on its main label. It has recently launched new sub label Ambiwa, whose mission statement simply declares that it is into ‘abstract house music’. They’ve previously presented us works recently by Downbeat Records mainman Jose Rico as well as a collaboration by MCDOO and Sirius Type aka Deepblak main man Eric Porter. For their third edition they’ve handed the reins to Antonio Marini aka Healing Force Project whose impressive and defiantly original music of late see him as the perfect candidate to cater to this fledgling label’s MO.

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Spike – Orange Cloud Version

Remix albums have long been an established part of dance music culture, with roots stretching back to the instrumental dub albums of the 1970s, and the post-disco dancefloor collections of the early ‘80s. Over the years, the format has given us some genuine gems – Imagination’s Night Dubbing, Gwen Guthrie’s Padlock, The League Unlimited Orchestra’s Love & Dancing, and Massive Attack’s No Protection, to name four that quickly spring to mind – but also some badly conceived fluff. For every well thought out set full of brilliantly inventive but respectful revisions, there are ten or more collections designed primarily with sales and marketing in mind.

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Umwelt – Shipwrec Remix Series 1

On his Facebook page, Umwelt describes the music he makes as ‘Ravelectrodarkacidrave’. It’s not a bad description. Since the late ‘90s, the French producer has been putting out uncompromising, 303-laced electro tracks that are best heard on a big rig in the open air. (Previously, he had posted a video on Facebook, now removed, of an outdoor rave he played at during the ‘90s which perfectly captures this aesthetic).

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Kane Ikin – Modern Pressure

While we may be living in a time of plenty for experimental music, it’s easy to forget in the surge of snarling overtones and lo-fi charms what wonders can be communicated through truly pristine production. Sometimes the notion of clear, well-mixed and detailed production can be mistaken for a lack of soul, and in some cases that might be right. It’s hard to get a thrill out of anodyne music-by-numbers fashioned out of a collection of vanilla sounds, but equally signal chain grit and leaning heavy on the gains isn’t a shortcut to creative excellence.

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L/F/D/M – Crocodiles in the Ceiling

It’s a surprise that L/F/D/M is releasing on Ecstatic, a label with links to Kompakt through founders and former Walls duo Sam Willis and Alessio Natalizia. Indeed it would be hard to think of an aesthetic that is more at odds with the Cologne-based operation than that which L/F/D/M aka Richard Smith propagates. The London-based producer released an album last year on the label and now he’s back with arguably his best release to date.

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Stéphane Laporte – Fourrure Sounds Vol. 2

Antinote has many facets to its aims as a label, but there are definitely times when it seems Zaltan and co. are keen to champion a very French kind of electronic music. Nationality-based musical definitions can be cringeworthy at best, calling to mind the right wing jack-boot of British Oi! punk or German oom-pah band pastiche, but you can’t deny that electronic music from France has often had a personality that could not come from anywhere else. In Antinote’s case, sometimes the artists don’t even have to be French to fit this bill. Just listen to Latvia’s finest, Domenique Dumont, with their bright and breezy Gallic pop. Syracuse too ooze Parisian lounge lizard sophistication, and Geena’s chunky hardware house movements sports a special kind of flair.

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IORI – Cold Radiance

Hailing from Okinawa, now-Tokyo-based producer IORI once cut his teeth as an assistant for David Mancuso’s revered party, The Loft, in New York City, where he learnt a meticulous sonic mentality from his audiophile mentor. This permeates his carefully-handled arrangements, which have helped make his name and define a series of spacey, atmospheric originals and remixes for proponent imprints like Phonica and Prologue to name but a few. Two years after his floor-focused, full-bodied contributions to the Collection compilation, he makes a return to Field with his second album Cold Radiance, throwing himself into an almost beatless excursion. It is an answer to the Dutch label, which called for IORI to explore his experimental and ambient side.

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Max D – Boost

It may have been three years since Andrew Field-Pickering’s last full-length excursion, the RVNG-released Woo, but the Washington D.C-based producer could hardly be accused of slacking. In that time, he’s released a series of 12” singles expanding on his now familiar skewed, new age-influenced, leftfield house template. These have included a dash of sweaty, rave and jungle-influenced madness for Hot Haus (“Highlife”), an EP of out-there ambient jazz for The Trilogy Tapes, another collection of fizzing drum machine jams under the Dolo Percussion alias, a deep and picturesque broken beat excursion on Berceuse Heroique, and a typically eccentric, Detroit techno influenced outing for Off Minor. As if that wasn’t enough, he also found time to explore experimental electronica, jazz and ambience for PAN as band leader of the acclaimed Lifted collective.

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Alex Cortex – Parallax Mind

Alex Cortex is an acquired taste. He doesn’t make easy, straightforward music and has a tendency to move in an unexpected way, jumping between styles as diverse as disco-house and grating, industrial techno – check the difference between “Discola” and “Live at Monox” if you’re in any doubt. Cortex has enjoyed a long relationship with Viennese label Pomelo – which released his last album, 2011’s Kihon – and now he makes his debut on another Austrian imprint, the long-running Trust.

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