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LNS – Heliacal Rising

Vancouver DJ and producer Laura Sparrow is clearly one for evocative titles when it comes to the music she produces as LNS. Her 1080p debut, Maligne Range, took its name from the Canadian mountain range in Jasper National Park and the six tracks of pared down electro were characterised by a sensation of isolation comparable to an early morning trek through the peaks. Transferring from tape to vinyl, Sparrow’s Heliacal Rising 12” for Jayda G and Fett Burger’s Freakout Cult lives up to its name with six tracks that leave you with an unshakeable feeling of star-gazing.

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Den Nard Husher – Senida

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“These were uncovered from dusty DAT tapes from the vault of Jonas Thor’s basement,” Strobelight Network founder Amaury Arias told me, somewhat nostalgically, when I contacted him about this Senida 12″. Much like Yossi Amoyal’s Sushitech label out of Berlin, Arias’ New York-based Strobelight Network is deeply inspired by the frosty, yet warm and streamlined sounds of Icelandic dub techno outpost Thule – “Strobelight Network” is the 15-minute B-side that dominated the label’s debut record back in 1996 after all. As it transpires, Arias discovered Exos’ classic 2001 LP My Home Is Sonic – subject of a 2015 Delsin reissue after it was originally released on Thule sub-label Æ Recordings – which led to the American to contacting Exos. After the Icelander visited New York the two solidified their friendship and established Strobelight together in 2014 with a three-track, Thule-heavy various artist EP.

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The Chi Factory – The Bamboo Recordings

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When discussing his original concept for ambient, Brian Eno has always emphasised not only the evocative, atmospheric nature of the music itself, but its relationship with the environment. Eno’s primary concern was, according to interviews, the relationship between the music and the space in which it is listened to. Over the years, many musicians and producers have interpreted this slightly differently, using field recordings to intrinsically link studio-based recordings with the places and spaces that initially inspired them.

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Rezzett – Doyce

If bands like Animal Collective or Throbbing Gristle made techno they’d probably fit comfortably on The Trilogy Tapes, a label that consistently pushes experimental electronic music in an interesting direction. The first vinyl release on TTT back in 2010, Dro Carey’s Venus Knock, set the tone for sparse rhythms and distorted rumbles driven by percussion so real you could reach out and touch it. Since then Will Bankhead’s label has continued to explore the outer fringes of techno and beyond, cultivating a sound personified by weighty sub-bass, erratic drums and imposing percussive licks saturated in distortion.

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Various Artists – MDM D

Format foibles don’t come much stronger than those exercised by Frankfurt’s Mmodemm label. Not only did they come to life as a strictly cassette-based affair, but their series of alphabet-themed compilations featured a track from each artist on its own tape, housed in a five-strong box. It’s a cumbersome way of presenting your music, surely with some kind of statement wound up in it as well, but if the packaging was somewhat silly, the music contained within was serious. Das Ding, Hypnobeat, F#X and Container have all appeared alongside less familiar names, the style generally orbiting around grubby, 4/4 oriented electronics for the modern wave of hardware deviants.

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Scheich In China – Scheich In China

Jagged thumps and oxidised howls from the belly of the Sankt Pauli fish market. Hamburg’s Golden Püdel has undoubtedly been a fulcrum for some of the most interesting underground electronic music of the past few years: faithful to the creed of the obscure and fresh in its unhindered genre-bending creativity, the place was also – refreshingly! – recently saved from neo-liberal property speculation. As one of the club’s maverick agitators, Nina’s mixes have also provided much enjoyment of late – and the latest release on the V I S label she runs with Tobias Duffner reflects their scene’s aesthetics and praxis, continuing to push the line where a refined taste for dark techno bleeds into a territory of quick-witted experimentation.

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Pussy Mothers – The Number 1 EP

While many are now familiar with the good work now being done by Glasgow’s Green Door Studio, JD Twitch has been a fan from the very start. Through his longstanding friendship with co-founders Emily MacLaren and Stuart Evans, Twitch has long had an unofficial A&R hotline to the lauded West End studio, with the duo frequently passing on the best of their students’ work for consideration. Ever since he put out the typically eccentric, energetic and experimental Muzikal Yooth album by The Green Door Kids back in 2010, Twitch has hoovered up all manner of material from the studio for release on his thrillingly left-of-centre Optimo Music label. The greatest example of this blossoming relationship has undoubtedly been Golden Teacher, whose retro-futurist distillation of dub, punk-funk, disco, techno, house, techno and electro influences epitomised the free-and-easy, try-anything ethos that Evans and MacLaren have done so much to encourage.

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Minor Science – Whities 008

British producer and music journalist Angus Finlayson put out his first Minor Science EP, Noble Gas, on Trilogy Tapes back in 2014. The record marked an impressive debut for the first-time producer, sculpting moving, erratic soundscapes, combined with genuinely deep and hypnotic rhythms. His second release, Whities 004, on the Young Turks affiliated label Whities, showed a different side to Finlayson’s work. The two-track release drew the listener into darker territory with gritty, melodic techno littered with the same chaotic warmth of Finlayson’s initial record. The Berlin-based producer now returns to Whities for a second time with Whities 008, a further example of Finlayson’s range, delving into even darker realms by delivering a two-track record of sub-loaded weapons.

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DJ Python – ¡Estéreo Bomba!

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What’s in a style these days? For every grassroots genre or movement within music, there are already mutations, adoptions and mergers before a scene is even developed. Perhaps you like your house music laced with a healthy pouring of ambient, or crave some footwork with a sprinkling of early-‘90s jungle and a soupcon of Detroit techno. Whoever the cook at the cauldron, there’s not much music made these days that doesn’t have a variety of flavours poured into the mix. As such, it can only be assumed that billing DJ Python as an ambassador for ‘deep reggaeton’ must be taken with a pinch of Himalayan rock salt, for different taste buds might well call his concoctions plain old homemade techno or house, albeit with an MSG kink in the ingredients.

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NHK yx Koyxen – Doom Steppy Reverb

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Diagonal has never really been the place for techno, but by bending, warping and crunching the genre out of shape it can fit; like a parallelogram bashed to shape a nonagon. It’s these broken remnants and off cuts from the misfitting pieces that Diagonal celebrates, with Kohei Matsunaga, whose music as NHK yx Koyxen has always managed skirt the edges between what’s considered functional for the dancefloor and totally leftfield, delivering the label its most concentrated album of ‘club music’ yet.

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The System – The System EP

By now, we’ve come accustomed to Music From Memory delivering on-point reissues of obscure material that’s devilishly difficult to easily pigeonhole. While it would be fair to say that Jamie Tiller, Tako Reyenga and Abel Nagengast’s Red Light Records-affiliated imprint tends towards the Balearic, the very nature of that “sound” – arguably more open to individual interpretation than any other designated musical style – means that they can pretty much release what they please.

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Vakula – Cyclicality Between Procyon And Gomeisa

Ukrainian producer Vakula first touched-down with his 2008 Hohol E.P on Uzuri, incorporating rhythmic tribal textures with traditional club sounds. Since then he’s continued to develop a brand of house and techno framed within the warming, ephemeral comfort of experimental music. His first full-length album, You’ve Never been to Konotop (Selected Works 2009-2012), showcased some excellent wide-ranging oddities, with the subsequent album continuing to make ranges into interesting territory. What I’ve felt lacking from the previous albums is a consistent narrative, rather opting to present a collection of tracks that don’t necessarily add up to a complete whole. The same can be said for his most recent release on Dekmantel, Cyclicality between Procyon & Gomeisa, a record that fails to maintain any continuity but still demonstrates an inherent musicianship from a talented producer.

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The 7th Plain – Chronicles 1

The Orb, Higher Intelligence Agency and Mixmaster Morris are usually reeled off whenever the phrase ‘90s ambient techno’ enters a conversation. This is as it should be as those artists contributed greatly to the emergence of that sound. However, one name that should always be part of that grouping is Luke Slater. It is hard to comprehend that around the time that he was releasing the white-knuckle intensity of records like X-Tront Volume 2 or In From the Night, the UK producer was also making wonderfully introspective electronic music as The 7th Plain.

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Equiknoxx – Bird Sound Power

From an outside perspective any genre can seem constrained by its formulas. A sardonic passer-by would claim house beats all sound the same, ambient is a generic mush of lift music and all metal is the same old dirge of screaming vocals and distorted guitars. Dancehall is no different, with plenty of familiar tropes that producers adhere to – after all, what would musical trends be without some kind of common stylistic approach? I have to profess that I am no authority on dancehall, but I know that unmistakable offbeat drum machine groove when I hear it.

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J Albert – Strictly J

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Some artists make you wait years between releases, drip feeding samples and new information until the music’s eventual release, which can never quite match the anticipation. New York’s Jiovanni Nadal takes a practically polar opposite approach. In less than two years he’s put together 10 collections of sooty, loose-limbed house under the name J Albert, often on taste-making labels like Black Opal and Ital’s Lovers Rock.

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The Head Technician – Zones

Following on from Abul Mogard’s stunning Works collection, Ecstatic delivers another unexpected project.  Martin Jenkins is better known for his prolific ambient / experimental work as Pye Corner Audio and has delivered ten albums under this name in the past six years. Now he turns his attention to a new project, The Head Technician, and Zones is its first release.

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Boneless One – GYRORIDE 005

The word ‘acid’ is etched into the run-out grooves on the B-side of the fifth release on Tabernacle sub-label Ride the Gyroscope. It’s feasible that it appears there at the behest of Boneless One, the Finnish artist who kick-started the label with two EPs and whose third release now follows two fine records from EDMX. ‘Acid’ is a neat, one-word summation of Boneless One’s catalogue to date; check his sparse pre-Gyroscope catalogue and there is a talk of minds being blown and accompanying titles with psychedelic undercurrents (anyone for some “Lucieeed Dream Embodiment”?).

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Roger 23 – Extended Play

This is a delightfully strange record, one that is likely to leave Ilian Tape fans reared on the Munich label’s recent succession of jet-propelled techno infused with breakbeats very confused. In the best way possible of course. With the true meaning of EP bastardized at will these days by labels mistakenly proffering two or three-track 12”s under the name, it’s great to see Roger 23’s Extended Play lives up to its billing. A six-track record and one that barely bothers with the notion of the dancefloor; instead offering up three vignettes of ambience amidst an equal number of more fleshed-out Roger 23 productions.

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Bored Young Adults – Shy Dancers On Bungalowdorf Beach

Blawan’s 2012 EP for Joy Orbison and Will Bankhead’s Hinge Finger imprint, His He She & She, stands out as one of the most mind-melting club records in recent memory. “Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage?” asked a menacing vocal sample on the opening track that pushed abrasive percussion, jagged rhythms and disturbing wails tightly together to form a raucous techno roller. The club-primed cacophony was a hit, pumping dancers with the frenzied energy of a Norse berserker when belting out of systems, and eventually riding high on multiple End of Year lists as the calendar drew to a close.

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Bill Converse – Warehouse Invocation

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This is US producer Bill Converse’s second release on Dark Entries and follows the impressive Mediations / Industry debut from earlier this year. Like a summer storm gathering over the sea or the sound of chirping crickets at sunset, Converse’s music is by turns vivid, breathtaking and pregnant with an alluring air of expectation.

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