Peder Mannerfelt has always been Peder Mannerfelt, only he’s generally been known as The Subliminal Kid or as one half of Roll The Dice. So with Swedish techno experiencing a purple patch of production at the moment with the likes of Northern Electronics introducing Varg and Acronym to a broader audience, while labels like Kontra-Musik go from strength to strength with each release – and don’t forgot we’ll always have Skudge – it seems now is the perfect time for Mannerfelt to break through. As The Subliminal Kid, the Swede’s productions for labels like Ann Aimee, Still Music and the short lived F suggest there’s an alive and breathing modular system pumping through them, similar to the techno you’d hear from someone like Freerotation festival’s Steevio or the Modular Cowboy label. Producing under his real name however, Mannerfelt’s experiments in synthesis have taken a turn, not necessarily away from the dancefloor, but into an uncharted world of sonic experimentation.
It’s been a while since Juju & Jordash brought it back home to Dekmantel. With their excursions on Golf Channel, some fine remixes and continued live and recorded explorations with Move D as Magic Mountain High, Gal Aner and Jordan Czamanski have certainly not been resting on their laurels since they dropped their last LP Techno Primitivism on the Dutch label they hold a strong affiliation to. The duo’s evolution has been a particularly measured one, perhaps in keeping with their instrument-led approach to electronic music. Where many artists can take their ‘sound’ through wild peaks and troughs as a reaction to new technology feeding into their creative practices, Juju & Jordash have instead matured gently from their first appearances on Real Soon and their self-titled debut LP. The influences and intentions have remained much the same, but their control over their machines has refined over time; a fact which is apparent listening to this upfront two tracker.
For those of us out there that are less creatively blessed, prolific musicians can take on fairly intimidating dimensions, and Oliver Ho is one such example. The British producer has spent the best part of two decades servicing the record shops and dancefloors of the world with his various strands of techno, and more recently has begun to exhibit signs that his creative talents stretch beyond pounding kick drums. ProgramME, the 2012 album as The Eyes In The Heat he released alongside Zizi Kanaan offered a fragmented viewing into some of Ho’s other influences, but was perhaps a bit too polished despite the best of intentions. Yet here he resurfaces as Broken English Club, finding a perfect home on the Jealous God label, and this four-track release only seemingly touches the surface of a vast catalogue of unreleased material under the name.
There’s not much to report on Bristol’s Rhythmic Theory when it comes to identity politics: Several releases on his/her/their eponymous label showcase spacey, enveloping wormhole techno cuts that will make Pev & Kowton fans perk their ears up, but we get nothing resembling a backstory or biography. Then again, when you’re listening to the latest release on The Kelly Twins helmed Happy Skull label, you get the sense that context might be beside the point. Instead, the emphasis here is purely on the functionality of the tracks: two unexpected brutish surges of corrosive techno that come barrelling out of the darkness to smack the listener right in the cochlea.
Weevil Neighbourhood is such a nice name for a label. It paints the imagination with a picture of a busy eco-system hard at work; various breeds of beetles filing in and out of their self-built burrows, others dangling off plants, while bigger ones push dung up sandy molehills. Something else that adds character to the Weevil Neighbourhood, beside its bespoke vinyl packaging and often ominous sounds, is it personalises each catalogue number rather than bar-coding it. It may only be a nuance (of the many they have), but it’s a sweet touch. So for instance, instead of Anthone’s previous releases looking something like WNH004 and WNH005, it was DOTS and GRIDS. So for this Breath / Lungs 12”, naturally it’s AIR with the words ‘inhale’ and ‘exhale’ etched on to each side’s run out groove.
Personally speaking, there’s no doubt that Africaine 808 made some of the most startling and enjoyable electronic music of 2013. Having first appeared on the DJ Muscle series from WT Records last Spring with the pleasingly woozy, humid and intoxicating “Tummy Tummy” – a booming but tactile fusion of wide-eyed electronic melodies, pulsating bottom end, clattering analogue drums and African chanting – the previously unheralded duo went on to drop two superb EPs of their own. Both of these – the Future Times-goes-African tropical house of Cobijas, and the expansive global electronic-organic fusion of the Exotica EP – remain amongst the most inventive and downright thrilling 12” singles of recent times.
After reaching a sizable portion of the leftfield house-consuming populace with last year’s Devonian Garden EP, Cloudface makes a logical move from Mood Hut to London’s Going Good imprint, a label that has already dealt with fellow Mood Hut dwellers Aquarian Foundation. Aside from the logistical links, there is a spirit to Cloudface’s music that shares much with the other artists on Going Good, not least Moon B. The start of Wyre Drive, at least in this reissued running order tweaked from the previous Nice Up Intl cassette release in 2012, is brimming with romantic space balladry as spoken through crusty machines. It’s a theme that ran through Devonian Garden as well, packed full of winsome synth lines rounded out with a hint of sadness but generally warming to the soul.
Having spent a portion of his life as a session musician for legends like Chic and Prince, Alex Israel is also responsible for the somewhat bizarre hip hop alias Rich Heebner, a name under which he’s released a voluminous amount of SoundCloud demos. You’d think that such an eclectic output might mean that the Chicago-based, Detroit-influenced producer’s allegiance might rest with some form of mainstream pop music, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. In a 2012 interview with Little White Earbuds, Israel expressed fatigue with poppy sounds, sighing “I can’t even take stuff anymore if it’s not rough and tumble, I lose interest.” Israel certainly knows himself better than I do, but I disagree with his quote. Maybe he meant that in terms of consuming or listening to new music, he can only stomach sinewy, wrong-side-of-the-tracks scowling analogue house these days, but as for the music he makes? Pop sounds seem to be an essential underpinning.
The Mister Saturday Night label began as a reflection of the musical talent in attendance at the long running party of the same name, but the scope has gradually widened into more of an international concern with the artists featured no doubt introduced to Eamon Harkin and Justin Carter on their increasingly frequent worldwide travels. After several dalliances with Irish producers, the latest Mister release sees attention switched to Glasgow and a new name in General Ludd, though the individuals behind it have a pedigree you should be familiar with.
Firmly entrenched in the new wave of outboard racket-makers, Karen Gwyer has already given us a considerable body of work to consume considering the fact that in 2012 she had but one cassette release to her name. Buffeted on the winds of No Pain In Pop she has since issued a debut album (the excellent Needs Continuum), a long-form cassette for Opal Tapes, and collaborated with Luke Wyatt (in his Torn Hawk guise) for some reworking of her own material. Now she’s back on No Pain in Pop with a ranging EP that shirks edited-down focus in favour of broad strokes as two seventeen minute tracks sandwich a brief interlude in a fit of electronic abandon.
They don’t happen too often but there’s nothing like that rush of adrenaline to the head when you hear a great, inspirational record. The moment this writer heard Love Repetitive Rhythmics, it brought to mind the emotions felt when first experiencing all the other records that are cherished and personally held dear. Maybe it’s because there’s something charmingly naïve about it or perhaps it’s because both tracks are straightforwardly arranged without sounding too simplistic.
Going back to Austin Cesear’s 2012 Public Information debut Cruise Forever, it becomes quite apparent just how ahead of the game the Oakland-based producer was. While there’s certainly no shortage of lo-fi, dreamlike house music doing the rounds at the moment, Cruise Forever still stands up as a stellar piece of work, combining murky house tracks with ambient interludes that sound like the barely audible atomic hum coming off an irradiated wasteland. Although the LP veered stylistically from ethnic percussion to Mills-inspired techno in a flash, the consistently murky pallette and downtrodden mood which ran throughout its nine tracks ensured one of the strongest debuts of 2012.
It doesn’t feel like an overstatement to suggest that there’s a new sheriff in town. In a self-reliant and humbly delivered series of operations, Soren Jahan has snuck out a body of work that already amasses to one of the more vital furtherings of house and techno in recent times, and he’s done all this in the space of just two years. That’s not to suggest that he has taken that flood-the-market approach of flying out as many trite singles and half-baked albums as possible to trick some kind of experience; in fact his discography is really quite considered. One LP for his own Supply imprint, a smattering of singles for the label under a few aliases and the occasional appearance on sister venture Blank Slate, but each of these releases is loaded with the kind of head-turning intent and conception that reignites one’s passion for 4/4 electronic music.
The restless upwards trajectory of Ital has been something of a marvel to behold, rocketing from relative obscurity in experimental corners of electronic music to international notoriety across a broader-minded club scene and with equal respect from the chin-stroking cognoscenti. As such, it’s pleasing to see him passing that success and consequent exposure on to like-minded souls through his re-animated Lovers Rock imprint. Jacob Long, here to be found in his Earthen Sea guise, is a long time cohort of Ital’s, having played bass in their post-punk band venture Mi Ami. Long in fact has a sizable catalogue of contributions, instrumentation and appearances from post rock to hardcore, but Earthen Sea has remained his devoutly solo project.
In the interests of transparency, I have to declare that I know some of the people involved with this record. Hopefully that doesn’t detract from the sentiments expressed in this review and it’ll have the opposite effect of making more people aware of Apartment. For those unaware of this label until now, it was set up by Kenny Hanlon a few years ago and so far has focused on putting out music by local talent.
What sacrilege is this? Someone has had the bright idea of handing over Terrence Dixon’s music to a bunch of other producers for a remix release. Dixon is after all a master of his chosen art; and like a weekend painter trying to capture the essence of a Monet, a project of this nature had real potential to fall flat on its face. Thankfully, Emmanuel Ashoka Beddewela’s ARTS label has put some thought into the choice of remixers with Mark Broom, I:Cube and Marcel Fengler all providing interpretations that while not matching the original versions push the Detroit producer’s music in unpredictable directions.
Is there any style of electronic music that William Burnett can’t or won’t turn his hand to? Admittedly, the US producer’s reinvention as a drum’n’bass creator might be some way off, but in the meantime, he is now tackling the 303 and serves up an acid-drenched release for The Trilogy Tapes. There is little relation to the abuse Burns metes out here to the slew of Chicago-inspired jack tracks doing the rounds. This interpretation of acid is radically different – hoary and grimy and informed by endless foraging in dusty second-hand stores.
Swedish duo Skudge rose to prominence with a series of DJ-friendly techno records that married the best of the 90s loop sound with a resurgence of interest in house music. That was their entry point to electronic music; since then, they have proven themselves to be as adept at curating as producing and through their Skudge White and Skudge Presents series have showcased established but under the radar artists like Stephen Brown and Alex Cortex alongside upcoming producers like Rivet, Fishermen and MRSK.
Truncheon Cadence is the latest transmission to emerge from Cleveland-based James Donadio, also known as Prostitutes, and released on Avian’s Mira offshoot. Headed by Shifted and Ventress, the Prostitutes release marks a welcome addition to a consistent label, coming in the form of two 4 track EPs, released in succession over the course of two weeks. Under the Prostitutes guise, Donadio has previously released on Digitalis and Diagonal, as well as his own StabUdown label, which according to its website, “specialises in uncompromising sounds and thoughts.” With this spirit in mind, Donadio makes rigid techno structures, where crushing minimal beats meet lo-fi synth experimentation.
Is this really what the world needs right now – another anonymous techno series? Certainly the person or persons behind Headless Horseman do themselves no favours in their efforts to stand out with “Execution”. While the track is a decent broken beat workout with some endearing dubby nuances, it is similar to the vast majority of industrial-flavoured techno doing the rounds.