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Jay L – Show Me

Since 2008, Jay L has been running Bristol’s Falling Up basement parties along with Andy Mac and Typesun – also superb producers nowadays – bringing sublime broken beat and deep house names to the city. All three have absorbed the great music they’ve pushed and after years on the DJ circuit they’ve slowly started to emerge as distinct, understated producers full of integrity. Jay L’s been in no hurry to get music out there either. I reviewed Jay’s first record back in 2012 for Little White Earbuds, and until now there’s only been 2014’s bumpy foot-stepper “Together” to break the silence.

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Typesun – Make It Right

Of all the DJs in the Bristol-based Falling Up collective, Luke Harney was the first to cut his wares onto wax as Typesun some ten years ago. These days his fellow spinners Jay L and Andy Mac have all started to amass respectable profiles as producers in their own right, but one gets the impression Harney is a musician first and foremost ahead of his forays into clubbier realms. His own Root Elevation label, while centred on groove-oriented notions, has always leaned heavily on live instrumentation and jazz-informed composition, and the live band manifestation of Typesun is a dazzling hit of neo-soul that has a life of its own independent of the records.

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Khotin – Baikal Acid

Thanks to the combined efforts of 1080p, Mood Hut, Pacific Rhythm and Normals Welcome, few can have missed the continuing rise of Canadian electronic music. These labels, and the homegrown talents who record for them, have spent the past few years beguiling us with dreamy, raw, vividly colourful music that blends a range of late ‘90s/early ‘90s sounds – often made entirely on similarly vintage – with a hazy, almost horizontal approach to life. Many of the artists involved – think Pender Street Steppers, Florist, Lnrdcroy, Hashman Deejay, Cloudface and Aquarian Foundation – have become much-discussed underground heroes, with their cassettes and records exchanging hands for large sums of money.

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Various Artists – Bookbinders EP

There is a sense of mutual appreciation apparent between meandyou. and Workshop that has worked in the favour of the former so far. A relationship that began publicly with Kassem Mosse, Lowtec and Even Tuell playing meandyou. events has developed further since the Manchester collective branched out as a label. The debut meandyou. 12” featured Kassem Mosse, whilst an early live set from the Leipzig native at one of their Manchester parties was issued on tape last year. Workshop co-founder Even Tuell now features on this later split meandyou. 12” named Bookbinders to further honour the now-closed Manchester venue they used to throw parties in.

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Shamos – Road Works Part 1

Bursting forth from seemingly out of nowhere, Shamos appears on Steve Julien’s Apron label with little to no context to anchor his music. All we can go on is the identity of the imprint, which in this case has been making great strides to define itself in the past couple of years. Naturally a lot of that identity orbits around its founder’s projects Funkineven and St. Julien, but in looking at artists such as Greg Beato, Seven Davis Jr and most recently Shanti Celeste, it’s not hard to sense a pattern of sorts. Shamos appears from the mist and slots neatly into this loosely defined theme of brittle beats, scuffed sample triggering and brazen melody.

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Model Man – Hidden Waves EP

DJ Overdose’s Model Man project launched the Bordello A Parigi label back in 2011 and in the intervening years, it has become one of the most prolific and important labels in the revitalisation of Italo. Championing veterans like Fred Ventura and Flemming Dalum as well as newer artists like Machinegewehr and Ric Piccolo, Bordello A Parigi has enjoyed an enviable run of releases since that first Overdose record.

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Savage Grounds – Unpleasant Music For Unpleasant People

With hardware obsessed retroverts being dime a dozen these days, it sure does take a lot to stand out from the pack. Enter the latest record from Lux Rec, the Zurich label pushing the guttural lo-fi sounds of pawn shop synths towards interesting forms, not to mention their limits. Savage Grounds is the production collaboration of label co-founder Daniele Cosmo and Lux Rec mainstay CCO (Contra Communem Opinionem, just in case you were wondering) whose partnership was first ushered in with the 2014 12” Over Fences.

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Raw M.T. – Richard’s Revenge

Lobster Theremin is one of house and techno’s hardest working labels. Not held back by insecurities that appear to stifle the productivity of other outlets, Lobster boss Jimmy Asquith is a man who trusts his ears and wastes no time in bringing quality music to the fore. The label released 16 records last year, with a further seven coming out across newly founded sub-labels Distant Hawaii and Mörk. It was on the latter that young Italian artist Raw M.T. made his Lobster-affiliated bow last March with the La Duna EP of late-night house and driving techno.

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Borusiade – Jeopardy

Jeopardy may be Borusiade’s first release of her own productions but she’s been involved in music for 14 years already. Back in 2002, she started DJing in her home city Bucharest. There was very little in the way of underground dance music coming from Romania production-wise, with a focus on Eurohouse. Miruna Boruzescu was one of the very few female DJs contributing to the clubbing scene in Bucharest at the time.

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Cmd Q – Nine

Late last year we published a feature by Nic Tuohey on new Leipzig club, Institut fuer Zukunft, and it was there I first came across the term: hypezig. As Tuohey explained it’s the city’s newest nickname, a tongue in cheek expression directed at the amount of people moving there for cultural and commercial reasons. Before hypezig, though, there was Kann Records, a bastion of Leipzig’s music scene with a unique bent for melodic, melancholic and minimal house and techno. They throw a great party too.

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Batu – Bleeper Feed / April These

Batu makes a prodigal return to Livity Sound, reprising yet reappraising the understated adaptation of his style he applied to Spooked / Clarity for the verbally-inverted sublabel two years ago. Like Livity Sound founders Asusu, Kowton and Peverelist, Batu’s always had close ties to dubstep, specifically Bristol’s own incarnations and mutations. In 2013, Pinch put out Batu’s debut release on his label Cold, patching ruthless broken beats and dark, creaking bass onto dubbed-out, rolling foundations; “Ghosted” was even selected for Tempa Allstars 7, a continuation of dubstep’s foundational EP series that included early productions by Digital Mystikz and Loefah, among others.

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Mono Junk – State of Funk EP

Finnish techno artist Kimmo Rapatti, aka Mono Junk, seems like a strange choice to release on Rat Life. The Uncanny Valley spin off imprint has put out The Pagan Rites’ post-punk, Mick Wills edits and label owner Credit 00’s dance floor tools. While at times identifiable with the dance floor, Rat Life’s approach comes more from an edit/crossover perspective rather than the precise, crisp purism of minimal techno.

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Crash Course in Science – Jump Over Barrels

Listening to “Jump Over Barrels”, it’s not hard to understand the ongoing significance and relevance of Crash Course in Science. The US band formed during the late ‘70s, and are clearly a strong reference point for modern acts like Factory Floor and LCD Soundsystem as well as the Nation roster. Indeed, in today’s climate, “Jump Over Barrels” possesses a timeless feel to it and it is hard to reconcile the fact that it was recorded nearly 35 years ago.

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Dip In The Pool – On Retinae

There’s little doubt that Music From Memory has made a big impression since slipping out its’ first release back in 2013. While there has been the odd brand new gem – the Gigi Masin, Young Marco and Jonny Nash collaboration as Gaussian Curve, most notably – the label’s primary focus was to reissue the obscure and overlooked music that founders Abel Nagengast, Jamie Tiller and Tako Reyenega had collectively and individually discovered. While this remit leaves enough wriggle room for sideways moves – see the quirky lo-fi synth-soul of Napoleon Cherry, say, or the epic experimentalism of Michael Turtle’s brilliant “Are You Psychic?” – the label is often at its best when exploring baggier, looser, dreamier and more loved-up pastures.

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Metropolis – Unify

Last year saw Dutch producer Nick Lapien enjoy acclaim through a record from his Artefakt project on Delsin and a solo release on Fed P’s Soul People label, but it’s as Metropolis that he most effectively captures the zeitgeist. Metropolis shares creative space with Giallo Disco, and artists like Roberto Auser and Timothy J. Fairplay  – both of whom have put out records on Charlois – but also has common ground with the Viewlexx/Murder Capital axis closer to Lapien’s home. Like those labels and their producers, Unify, his latest Metropolis release and Charlois debut, goes to great lengths to push electronic disco down a dark alley.

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Tapan – The City

After WT Records releases this year from Florian Kupfer and Entro Senestre, William Burnett’s label comes up with a wonderful, left of centre release to close out 2015. Tapan is the work of Serbian duo Nebojša Bogdanovic and Goran Simonoski, and their WT debut, The City, is dense, dark and compelling at nearly every turn.

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Parris – Burr

This new plate for Bristol’s Idle Hands by young Londoner Parris bears the familiar markings of a producer with a sub-bass obsession, who you can imagine perhaps cut his teeth on Youngsta’s Rinse FM shows. Parris has indeed followed that pioneer’s tradition, from working at the BM Soho record shop to running Soundman Chronicles, and releasing music with Wen on the iconic Tempa imprint. It’s producers like Parris that not only keep the dubstep flame burning, but, deeper still, in his own production he holds close the legacy of the original heads-down swingers El-B and J Da Flex who helped create that genre.

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Shanti Celeste – Being

2015 saw the South West of England flourish as a home for dance music with all eyes on Bristol. From the more established labels – Livity Sound, Idle Hands and Pinch’s Tectonic – to the newcomers such as Shall Not Fade, Hotline and Happy Skull, we’ve watched the city become ever more important hub for house, techno and grime. One of the most central figures of the city is Bristol-via-Chile’s Shanti Celeste who has risen from Idle Hands employee to amongst her current talents being a co-runner of label Brstl, an excellent DJ and also producer.

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L’estasi Dell’oro – Every Light Is Blue

It has been yet another productive year for Berlin imprint Macro. With releases from regular staples such as label head Stefan Goldmann and Austrian trio Elektro Guzzi, Macro has expanded its roster to include recent releases by Bulgarian hardware maverick KiNK, edgy French experimentalist rRoxymore and now another outing from Christopher Ernst’s L’estasi Dell’oro project. Likewise, this Brooklyn artist also had a rather productive 2015; alongside running the labels Voodoo Down and Flaneur Audio, he presented his second full length album I Look Upon Nature While Living In A Steel City on Field Recordings. Offering up eight tracks of haunting, industrial edged hypnotism with a nod to modern classical as heard in his two previous aliases: the UK bass influenced Subbway and the textural dub techno of Penalune.

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Szare – The Rain God Has Cursed The Golden Land

As last year’s debut album Lost Shapes proved, Szare’s music comes loaded with meaning and coded with secret messages. Initially, the duo’s arrival on Dutch label Field with The Rain God Has Cursed The Golden Land would seem to continue in this vein. However, on closer inspection, this appears not to be the case. Rather than imbue their music with grand statements, Szare prefer to take a tongue in cheek approach to techno. The way they see it, using politicised titles that hint at half-formed manifestos is their way of initially grabbing the listener’s attention to their abstract, complex techno.

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