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Mount Liberation Unlimited – (Eerie) For Your Love

Ever since the early days of Chicago jack-tracks, live improvisation has been a popular pursuit for those who create house music with hardware. The benefits of the method to those who master it are obvious, most notably the attractiveness of creative spontaneity it affords (see the Magic Mountain High and Reagenz live shows for proof), and the energy captured in straight-to-tape performances.

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Various Artists – Blurred Angles

Brokntoys clearly believes in the power of collaboration, and Blurred Angles is its fourth split EP to date. This time though, the London-based label has engineered a different twist to the concept of ‘various artists’; each track on Blurred Angles is a collaboration between Luke Eargoggle and one of his peers.

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Metropolis – Angstpolitiek

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Working together with Robin Koek as Artefakt, Dutch producer Nick Lapien explored the world of Detroit-influenced techno with The Fifth Planet on Delsin last year. The pair has just put out a follow up release, The Final Theory, on Field for those interested in acid and string soaked dancefloor techno. Artefakt forms the classic-sounding side of Lapien’s output, but it seems that when he works on his own as Metropolis, the production approach follows a less predictable turn.

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Mirror Man – Blood Is Truth

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Paul Du Lac’s Bio Rhythm label has shone over the past year thanks to a willingness to support some unusual projects and a genuine desire to push electronic music forward. First there were Mick Wills’ edits of the new beat act A Thunder Orchestra’s “Shall I Do It?” , followed by Wills and Du Lac’s edits of Italo trio Three of You. Then Bio Rhythm released Deviere’s Beyond The Celestial Gate, which featured some of the most unusual interpretations of deep house and techno heard in recent times.

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Amato – Le Desordre et La Nuit

Some comebacks are ill-advised and cringe-worthy, whereas others are timely. The sight of Giorgio Moroder pretending to DJ or Nile Rodgers squeezing the life – and every last dollar – out of Chic’s back catalogue at most major music festivals over the past few years both make strong cases for some artists never to come out of retirement.

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Gonno & Nick Höppner – Fantastic Planet EP

When Nick Höppner released Folk, his debut solo album in a production career that spans more than a decade, the former Ostgut Ton label boss told Kaput that its title pointed to the similarities of the genre to techno and house, noting that they were all initially written with rather basic arrangements and equipment. In such simple creative environments, what draws the listener in is neither elaborate edits nor intricate sound design but visceral dynamism that runs through the fabric of the music itself. And this is exactly what you find on the Fantastic Planet EP, the result of a three-day session in Berlin where Höppner teamed up with Japanese producer Sunao Gonno.

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Various Artists – Moustache X

David Vunk has impressive form when it comes to discovering new music. The Dutch DJ’s Moustache label has championed artists like Ali Renault and The Problems, while the sub-label, Moustache Techno was one of the first platforms Gesloten Cirkel’s music appeared on. Now the garrulous label owner again casts his gaze wide for this split release, Moustache X.

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Greg Beato – Untitled

Over the years we’ve seen a number of L.I.ES releases tell a story; tracks carefully selected and curated in order to build a narrative. Records like KWC 92’s Dreams Of The Walled City or Marcos Cabral’s False Memories, both wildly different releases that tell their own particular tale. Greg Beato’s latest outing is no different, five tracks of deep and ominous techno that burn dark and twisted images into the imagination. Primarily releasing on Apron records, Beato previously put out PMA on L.I.E.S. back in 2013. This was one of four records that year which brought Beato’s deeply emotive and pounding techno to the fore.

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Hunee – Hunch Music Remixes

“Crossroads” and “Hiding The Moon” featured on Hunee’s 2015 debut album Hunch Music, and Rush Hour have handed them over to Sex Tags artist Fett Burger and Mick Wills to remix. It’s true that sometimes, remix packages smack of naked opportunism as a label seeks to re-package existing material and squeeze the most from its catalogue. It’s as much an issue with independent labels as majors, with some imprints overloading releases with remixers. Thankfully, there is no such intention displayed here and both remixers bring radical new interpretations to the South Korean’s refined music.

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Djrum – Forgetting

It takes most new producers time to find a unique voice, but not DjRum. From the first release, Felix Manuel’s music lacked close comparisons, seasoning UK dance structures – drum and bass, garage, techno – with sounds harvested from a broad spectrum of genres. The result was so successful that it’s remarkable so few producers have followed in his footsteps.

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Series – A – Evolution ⁵ Technology

For their latest release, esteemed San Francisco label  Dark Entries has decided to change tack, turning to a period when Detroit’s electro sound was beginning to morph into what would later be christened techno. Even by the standards of a reissue scene obsessed with unearthing previously hidden or practically unknown gems, Evolution 5 Technology is deliciously obscure. Despite its Michigan roots, the record was originally destined to come out on California’s Satellite Records in 1987. In the end, only 50 promotional copies were ever pressed up; the label ran into financial difficulties soon after, and the 12” – the only one its creators ever made under the Series-A alias – has been all but lost ever since.

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Bell-Towers – I’m Coming Up

A sense of fun isn’t generally the first thing a critic looks for in a new release. The worlds of techno and experimental music rarely raise a smile, barring an occasional wry smirk. Most house music that’s meant to be fun, those identikit bangers that clog up the internet, are so calculated that the joy is sapped out from the moment the needle hits the wax. But with the music of Rohan Bell-Towers, you can’t avoid the fun-factor. It just about smacks you in the face the moment you start listening to his music.

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Xaõ Seffcheque – Kess Kill 02

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This is a wonderful record and it is hard to believe that it was produced 35 years ago. To put that into perspective, the music on this three-track EP predates techno, house and most electro and yet it still sounds fresh, alive and vital. Seffcheque comes from Austria and according to Kess Kill, Rivet’s label, he went on to enjoy widespread acclaim as a screen writer and movie director, including a stint as a writer on the hugely popular German crime series, Tatort.

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Sexazoid – Up ‘n’ Coming

At this point, it goes without saying that the Born Free crew are going to surprise you with whatever they do. Since 2011, Sling & Samo have done a marvelous job of weirding out the competition with a salvo of unfamiliar names burrowing in the nooks and crannies between house music conventions. Just recently we delighted at the wonders contained within that excellent Powder 12”, while Special Occasion provided a curious diversion into synth pop and hand played hardware abstractions. If there’s one thing that seems to unite the label, it’s an instinct for freakiness, even in its more pleasant and docile output.

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Convextion – Acido 22

2016 will go down as a year of great activity for Gerard Hanson. The low-profile Texan producer released his first E.R.P. record in three years and now comes Acido 22, the first Convextion record in almost a decade. It was this project that Hanson originally gained attention during the mid-’90s and which has yielded a remarkable series of EPs and self-titled album.

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Powder – Afrorgan

Powder: Somewhere to turn when house and techno is letting you down. With the sounds of Chicago and Detroit, to Birmingham, Bristol and Berlin so ubiquitous in inspiring producers everywhere, it’s nice to come across music that bends the musical hallmarks of those cities into something original. It’s said Powder comes from rural Japan and ESP Institute’s release of the Highly EP painted her as something of a character from a Haruki Murakami novel. The type trying to escape the nine-till-five life of cubic Tokyo by making supernatural music late at night. A previous turn on Born Free also felt as neon-lit as Tokyo’s world famous Shibuya district while in other sections it’s as serene her assumed pastoral homeland, but the genius of it all is this music comes from somewhere off the map.

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L.M.Y.E. – Lend Me Your Ears

Apron Records has continually produced a wide range of house and techno since 2011, from the stripped-down electro of Greg Beato to the bumping house sound of Shanti Celeste. The latest release features new production pairing L.M.Y.E with their self-titled debut, Lend Me Your Ears. Having apparently met at Bristol record shop Idle Hands, the two friends combined their passion for music and began producing together. The release brings to the fore another contender in Bristol’s ever-growing house scene with a number of natives making their mark on the U.K over the past few years. From the above-mentioned Shanti Celeste to new labels like Happy Skull, Lend Me Your Ears cements L.M.Y.E amongst the city’s established house fraternity.

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DeViere – Beyond The Celestial Gate

There are those artists whose fearlessness positively radiates out of their music. It’s especially apparent when dealing in techno, where there are so many established structures and formulas one can hold onto for safety, and yet where one of the fundamental principles of the genre is to break new ground and keep pushing the technology into new realms. Terrence Dixon is a prime example with the uncompromising energy that spills out of his music. Jamal Moss too demonstrates just what can be wrangled out of drum machines and synthesisers decades after they first went into circulation, and in these backwards-looking times anyone with a sense of adventure is sure to stand out.

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Beatrice Dillon / Karen Gwyer – Split

Earlier this year London-based all-female DJ collective Siren unveiled a poster that bluntly addressed the facile suggestion from club promoters, “there just aren’t enough women DJs.” Starting with Resom and ending on Nightwave, the poster lists out a whole host of talented female selectors using a variety of fonts to deliver a simple yet powerful slap to the chops for the laziest of excuses to cover up the lack of gender diversity in club line-ups. This is as good an example you need of the rise in discussion and action aimed at making clubbing – and electronic music in general – more inclusive.

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DVA DAMAS – Clear Cut

Taylor Burch and Joe Cocherell’s association with Downwards goes back to 2010, when Regis’ label was undergoing a period of transition. At that time, it was issuing retrospectives of its owner’s work while simultaneously embracing the emerging post-punk/ industrial strain of underground electronic music, typified by Tropic of Cancer, Six Six Seconds, The KVB and DVA Damas themselves.

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