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Older articles Newer articles

Faugust – Devotions (1984-2006)

by on at 15:22pm

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James Shaw has achieved recognition thanks to a series of singular techno releases on Avian, Blueprint and his own Our Circula Sound label under the Sigha guise. While they have allowed him to carve out an international reputation, this project sees him unlock a lot more of his potential. Unlike Sigha’s trademark purist grooves, Devotions is an abstract and nebulous offering. Occupying a grey area where electronic and guitar-based sound scapes coalesce, its frazzled, fuzzy guitar chords and evocative, melancholic synth tapestries form bluesy moods and understated pieces.

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Gavin Guthrie – Gavin Guthrie aka TX Connect

by on at 09:45am


With a name like Gavin Guthrie, this Dallas-based producer also known as TX Connect sounds like he should be making emasculated folktronica. The reality couldn’t be more different. This self-titled double pack is rooted in the sound of the early to late ’80s, taking in brutal EBM, Chicago house, early techno and a death-march dirge like the searing bass and cascading synth-led album closer “Haddonfield IL”. Crème also deserves praise for putting out this work; it would have been far easier, lazier and surely more lucrative to release identikit jack tracks, but Guthrie’s debut album only uses this sound as part of a suite of references.

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D.K. – Drop

by on at 16:42pm


Few who heard All Day Everyday, the debut single by Parisian producer D.K. on Get The Curse Music, can have failed to have been charmed by its dreamy, new-age influenced pads, hissing analogue rhythms and sun-baked synthesizer melodies. It was rather surprisingly overlooked on its release in January, save for a few heads who drew comparisons with the tropical house and new age techno promoted by Future Times and Canadian brothers-in-electronics Mood Hut. The comparisons were fair. The mysterious French producer’s use of dense, off-kilter analogue rhythms, fizzing cymbals and picturesque melodies echoed the likes of Aquarian Foundation, Pender Street Steppers and, most potently, Maxmillion Dunbar. The 12” even boasted a stripped-back dub that sounded not unlike Max D’s work for L.I.E.S. as Dolo Percussion.

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Various Artists – Paris/Berlin: 20 Years of Underground Techno

by on at 10:25am

As soundtracks go, the music to accompany Amélie Ravalec’s 2012 documentary about the techno underground in Paris and Berlin was hardly an afterthought. After all, it focuses on the same artists who featured in the film and as such is never frivolous or incidental. A cynic could argue however that it is ultra-serious in its articulation of an updated version of cyber-punk culture. There is no room here for V-neck wearing middle-aged men a la Michael Douglas getting down to T-99 during the Basic Instinct club scene.

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Helen – Witch / Zanzibar

by on at 16:25pm

Tis the season to return to the superficial pleasures of past Italian summers, and to dance all night in abandoned discotheques by the murky Adriatic sea. Bang on the summer solstice, Dark Entries bring out a strange and interesting trio of Italo 12’’s, which in a sense cater to whatever your preferred strand of Adriatic sound may be: Art Fine’s Dark Silence (tinged with the epic brushstrokes of dark wave à la Fockewulf 190), Peter Richard’s Walking in the Neon (a driving hi-NRG metropolitan affair) and this little gem, Helen’s extremely rare Witch / Zanzibar.

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British Murder Boys – Live In Tokyo

by on at 11:34am


To say that Karl O’Connor and Tony Childs’ British Murder Boys project was shocking is something of an understatement. For an Irish national, it brings back deeply unsettling memories of Thatcher’s cold-blooded shoot to kill policy in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. For a wider audience it makes reference, either directly or subliminally, to blasphemy, child abuse and state/military-led brutality and oppression.

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Quiltland – Quiltland

by on at 09:35am

While the name Quiltland may conjure imagery of a department store filled with endless aisles of comfortable bedding for some listeners, it means something very different for Swedish producer Frida-Li Lövgren. Speaking about her productions to a Czech blog back in 2013, she described the project as a multi-faceted outlet for complicated identity politics. “I am a guide for all the different musicians and artists that I make up and I can play their roles just as I want” she states. “There is one different artist responsible for each Quiltland track.”

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Shanghai Den – RS1407

by on at 16:57pm

It’s new talent time once again at R&S, as the veteran label invites hitherto unknown artist Shanghai Den to deliver his debut release with nowt to go on but a previous guest spot on Falty DL track “King Brute”. While there may be no frame of reference in which to place the artist, the music seems to be just fine with that, as this short but sweet two-tracker blurts out a wild and dizzying torrent of singular ideas and approaches that will be turning heads anywhere it gets played.

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Head High – Megatrap

by on at 10:30am


It’s been a year since Rene Pawlowitz’s last Head High missive and in the meantime, electronic music has been catching up with the German’s penchant for early ’90s influences. From the chart-invading success of retro house acts – witness Disclosure’s Glastonbury headline status and the trite Route 94 – to the constant reissuing of classic Chicago and Detroit releases – Derrick May and DJ Deeon records have been re-released in the past few weeks – it feels like that period between the explosion of acid house and the emergence of hardcore is being put under the cultural microscope. Who knows, maybe we’re only a few months away from a happy hardcore revival?

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Various Artists – Brothers & Sisters

by on at 16:12pm


Since launching back in 2009, Justin Carter and Eamon Harkin’s Mister Saturday Night parties in New York have become the stuff of legend, and not only for their riotous, anything goes nature. There’s a hint of militancy about their no-nonsense approach to party promotion; famously, their “dancefloor rules” posters, slapped up around the numerous venues they’ve used for events over the years, ban people from taking photos, using phones, smoking and generally loitering without dancing. Many DJs and party promoters will no doubt empathize with their approach, which in essence boils down to “go hard or go home”. It’s a party, so dance like you mean it.

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El Mahdy Jr. – Gasba Grime

by on at 09:44am


As a producer based in Turkey, combining western club forms like dubstep, grime and hip hop with Raï and Arabesk, culturally popular but critically maligned genres in Turkey and his native Algeria, El Mahdy Jr. is on the opposite side of the fence to Western producers appropriating Eastern sounds in their productions. For El Mahdy however, such an act is not simply an aesthetic choice; speaking to The Wire last year he described these genres as “rebellious” and “political”, adding a dimension to his music that goes beyond the purely aesthetic choices made by a lot of Western producers appropriating the sounds of the East. “I tried to use my own cultural memories,” he explained. “My music is not about a tourist’s dream that redesigns a place to comply with them.”

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JBSF – JBSF2

by on at 15:27pm

Depending on your mood when you’re at the turntable, half of this record can be enjoyed at 33 or 45rpm. Do you pitch down the A-side for some hazy ambient piano riffs? Or alternatively speed them up for a dust unsettling, mid-tempo groove? Whatever the answer, JBSF2 is what deep house should be: a feeling. Jitterbug and Scott Ferguson’s second collaboration is again released on the latter’s Ferrispark label and comes two years after their first dalliance in joint production. And if you were to line up all seven JBSF tracks in order of their appearance it’s as though the two are trying to delve deeper in rhythm and sound by the cut.

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PHORK – High End

by on at 09:12am

A screaming comes across the sky. It’s hard to tell whether it’s fireworks or distant explosions. People cheer – or maybe they’re yelling in panic – maybe both are happening simultaneously. The sounds that comprise “User Experience”, the second track on Neal Reinalda’s latest PHORK LP, are ones that teeter on that precarious edge between exhilaration and terror, the liminal space where celebration and city-levelling anarchy are near indistinguishable from each other. Reinalda’s work under his People’s Higher Order of Royal Kinship has often been fascinated by the contradictions coursing through Americana – song titles like “‘Shit Happens’ Bumper Sticker” and “The Spiritual Consumer” contrast capitalist excess with understated minimalism – it’s music that captures the beauty, bravado, stupidity and suffering of America.

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Innerspace Halflife – Astral Traveling

by on at 09:03am


A quick glance at the title of the debut album proper from Hakim Murphy and Ike Release makes it look like the Innerspace Halflife duo has conformed to the (out)dated techno convention about electronic music escaping to the cosmos or obsessing about other, unexplored worlds. After a few listens to Astral Traveling however, it’s quite clear that nothing could be further from the truth. Maybe it’s down to the Chicago duo’s working methods, but this long player is a journey, albeit one that’s reflective of where the artists’ own heads are at rather than where they want to go to.

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Filter Dread – MIDI Space

by on at 17:30pm


As the amount of critical attention placed on the “new wave of grime” increases, so does the risk of lumping lots of disparate artists under what is an increasingly impractical banner. Filter Dread is one such producer, often mentioned alongside grime experimentalists Logos and Visionist due to a predilection for weightless sounds, and a release on the latter’s Lost Codes label. However, grime feels like a very small component of the music he makes; the producer has stated that his formative years were spent going to warehouse raves in Cambridge, and Space Loops in particular was as potent and nostalgic an exploration of jungle and rave as the deconstructions of Lee Gamble and Leyland Kirby.

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Roll The Dice – Until Silence

by on at 09:26am


With their third album proper, Swedish duo Roll The Dice are once again moving on from what they have done before. Peder Mannerfelt (better known as The Subliminal Kid) and Malcolm Pardon have never stuck to one formula with their collaborative project, moving from their delicate beginnings on Digitalis to the more rounded analogue synth work of their last album In Dust on The Leaf Label. It’s been some time since that release and in the mean time their focus has shifted to a more dramatic musical outlook, drawing on both orchestral assistance and political and social jump-off points to arrive at this ambitious statement of a long player. There are many stated issues to consider with Until Silence, largely focused around the existential crisis of humanity in the 21st century.

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Population One – A Mind Of His Own

by on at 16:50pm

The revelation that Terrence Dixon was retiring from production with immediate effect will surely go down as one of 2014’s most lamentable moments for the techno community. If A Mind Of His Own is to be one of the last records Terrence Dixon puts out, it arrives via a rather fitting label in the newly reinvigorated Metroplex. Back in 1996, Metroplex was the first Detroit-based label to pick up on Dixon’s work as Population One after a couple of breakout releases for Claude Young’s Utensil, and the creepy minimalist strain of this guise has continued to be some of Dixon’s most compelling work. After all, it was the track “Rush Hour” from his Hippnotic Culture doublepack for Utensil that proved the inspiration for the Amsterdam-based label, record shop and distributor of the same name.

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Skudge – Skudge Remixes Part 7

by on at 09:03am

Is this the techno equivalent of the moment that Bobby Ewing emerged from the shower? Back in 2007, when it wasn’t really fashionable to put out hand-stamped anonymous releases, Seldom Felt was doing just that. With a manifesto that included the promise of ‘no minimal, no Ibiza, no sunrises, no ketamine, no Myspace, no repress’ (but no information about what it did stand for), the Rubadub-distributed label represented a Dutch Gold-soaked version of techno anonymity. Seldom Felt disappeared in 2009, leaving as its legacy six releases that flitted from slamming techno to sample-heavy tools and break beat rave anthems.

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Floating Points – King Bromeliad / Montparnasse

by on at 10:27am


It’s always something of an occasion when a new Floating Points release drops, such is the measured way in which Sam Shepherd has issued forth his music over the past couple of years. In the much-lamented era of ever-increasing rapidity, his method is one that makes each record really count, and in truth his music has those unique, somewhat magical qualities that do justice to annual appearances. It does of course also load expectation upon each release to deliver with flying colours, and up to this point it’s arguable that Shepherd has done nothing but. Predictably distinctive might sound like a back handed compliment, but there is no doubt you can always count on that indefinable flair that sets Floating Points productions a prairie apart from even his closest neighbours in the house-meets-disco hinterland.

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Rrose – Eating The Other

by on at 09:26am


If Rrose’s music was edible it would probably be some of the most indulgent, calorie-rich and gluttonous deluges of golden syrup you could pour over your food. And this is exactly what her music does to the DJ sets it appears in. Nothing will erase from my mind the lasting moments of pressurised euphoria Rødhåd drowned Berghain in when he played “Waterfall (Birth)” to that charged room, and there’s no denying each track on this Eating The Other 12” won’t do the same.

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