While some of his Jakbeat associates have embraced EBM, new wave and industrial, US producer D’Marc Cantu has kept his focus on classic house sounds. It means that his productions are not as off the wall as last year’s Charles Manier album from Tadd Mullinix or have that unpredictability that characterise Traxx’s DJ sessions. Despite this, Long Weekend navigates a impressive path through the myriad of samey deep house cast offs and single idea jack tracks. It also doesn’t sound too similiar to anything else on Aroy Dee’s label, despite MOS Deep’s catalogue drawing on similar influences.
Spanish producer Pettre has got something of an impressive track record when it comes to creating evocative, emotion-rich electronic music. As one half of sometime Hivern Discs and Mathematics duo Aster, he’s delivered a string of fine 12” singles that join the dots between shape-shifting, immersive ambience, vintage electronics, weary deep house and glistening dancefloor Balearica. Now he’s decided to strike out on his own by setting up his own label, Modern Obscure Music, and adopting a new pseudonym, Pedro Vian. Crucially, he’s also got a couple of similarly inspired producers to weigh in with remixes. With Madteo and Hieroglyphic Being (AKA one-of-a-kind analogue abuser Jamal Moss) on board, fireworks are all but guaranteed. As a result, Dancing Hindus is not defined by Pettre’s deliciously sleepy, ethereal original tracks – however fine they may be – but rather by two contrasting reworks that are little less than stunning. This is not to say that Pettre’s tracks are not impressive; in fact, the two cuts on offer would be strong enough to carry the EP on their own.
“The ruins of Berlin should be preserved as a modern Babylon – the city is completely deserted. You can drive miles through smoking ruins and see nothing that is habitable. This city can never be rebuilt.” So said Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Tedder, back in 1945 when rigorous bombing had left the majority of the city in rubble. Some of the only architecture that had survived was buildings like the Detlev-Rohwedder-Haus, which was purposefully left in so that bomber planes would have some kind of landmark to more efficiently bomb other buildings. But as the decades marched on, Berlin’s tendrils of industry wrapped themselves around the city and started to build a new territory – ideologically and geographically.
In the wake of a healthy general interest in techno, there’s been less said about the value of the wonkier end of the spectrum. There’s plenty of slamming, industrial tinged brutalism, dubby hypnotism and fusion styles that draw on other musical phenomena, but for a faithful few there’s a lack of discussion about, or more importantly playing of, the kind of jerky, depraved sound that once got dancefloors unhinged and spoke to the most primal of noise junkies. It’s a sound that was spearheaded by Neil Landstrumm and Cristian Vogel, while giving rise to plenty of other artists with a similar taste for the freakier side of techno. After all, why couldn’t pounding club music be shaped to sound like total mental collapse? An acquired taste maybe, but one that surely lends itself to these malleable times as much as any other revived style.
Like that other Dutch label with ‘field’ in its name, Photic Fields’ latest release features contributions from a group of artists rather than one producer. Another similarity with the Field Records split series is Fields of Light focus mainly on Dutch talent, with Aroy Dee, BNJMN and Metropolis all tapped for music. However, the release also includes artists from the UK and Ireland.
Although we’re certainly not short of releases from the various projects revolving around the axis of Bristol’s Young Echo collective, Vessel, El Kid and Jabu’s Killing Sound has remained the one collaboration frustratingly low on recorded material, with only one side of a cassette on the No Corner label to their name. Entitled “Real Love”, that early 18-minute foray into hardware exploration had much in common with fellow Bristolian Ekoplekz’ freestyle improvisations rooted in dub, hinting at a project that was prepared to go into much more nightmarish territory than much of the collective’s other work.
Finally, the lunatics have re-taken the asylum. The past few years have seen greater acceptance of hard techno and correspondingly, raised profiles for artists like Blawan, Perc and Truss. The repercussions of this development are significant, lending exposure to a label like Earwiggle that operates at techno’s fringes. Without suggesting that the aforementioned artists are bland or mainstream, it is nonetheless true that they present techno in a more digestible way than Sunil Sharpe’s label.
Considering the hype around Joshua Leary has been at a fairly consistent level since uploaded a batch of anonymous tracks to YouTube at the tail end of 2011 under the name Evian Christ, it’s been frustratingly difficult to get a handle on what kind of an artist he actually is. Few would disagree that the level of praise afforded to him in the early stages of his career was probably somewhat out of proportion with the material itself, which, in hindsight, was little more than a slightly different take on the well-worn practice of chopping up acapellas and combining them with some 808 rhythms and soft synths. It’s probably for that reason that Tri Angle elected to release that material as the free Kings and Them mixtape, well aware that they were dealing with a promising yet inexperienced producer catapulted prematurely to the limelight rather than the finished article.
It’s not hard to tell that there’s a Swedish connection to Vosnos Records when listening to the first release by A.O.T. Coming out of Malmö despite being a subsidiary of Barcelona’s Subwax imprint, The Echo comes caked in gnarly sonic muck, trading on that Scandinavian knack for channelling industrial techno into a wildly creative and imaginative end result that takes as much inspiration from layers of rust as it does the hitting of metal objects. For from the pristine monotony of more standard jackhammer wares to be found in other parts of the world, Skudge, Kontra Musik and more besides have demonstrated that the tougher end of the 4/4 spectrum needn’t mean a trade off when it comes to interesting sound design and playful track dynamics, and A.O.T. seems fully attuned to this mentality.
At first glance, this collaboration between Spanish producers Pional and Henry Saiz might seem a little unlikely. While the former has built his reputation on creating unusual takes on deep house for Hivern Discs and Permanent Vacation, the latter is best known for his releases on Bedrock and Renaissance, where he joined the dots between chunky tech-house, hypnotic minimal techno and post-progressive house. While Pional represents the Spanish new school – cool, unflustered, open-minded and dedicated to the joys of analogue gear – Saiz is an old head with strong links to the mid-2000s “Iberican” tribal and prog house scene. Put in these terms, they make a very odd couple indeed.
At this point in time it’s a little tricky to discern the precise context in which Wolf Müller operates. Certain links suggest he is also Jan Schulte, part of the Vulkandance crew operating in Berlin, although he and Müller have separate performer credits on this second release for Themes For Great Cities. In a way the long list of musicians feeding into this record give the impression of a wider collective, where maybe Wolf Müller is in fact a kind of smoke screen under which a spread of artists operate. With the ties the label has to the Dusseldorf-based art space Salons Des Amateurs it’s a theory that makes just as much sense as any other.
When Omar-S isn’t getting a kick out of trolling the Juno Plus editorial team by email correspondence, one can get the sense that he’s hermetically sealed himself away in his Detroit workshop, sitting on a mountain of unreleased material. Back in 2009, Alex Omar Smith discussed how his attention span with his music had been reduced, talking about getting “ear-drunk” on his own productions to the point of paralysis. “None of that shit to me sounds good anymore, nothing, not even my own music”, he pessimistically said. But FXHE’s busy release schedule suggests otherwise. Since that interview, Smith has put out some of his most anthemic material to date, and his recent 10 Year Compilation mix showed just how muscular the label’s discography has become: From L’Renee-featuring bedroom jam “S.E.X” to euphoric long-player “Here’s Your Trance Now Dance” to the crunchy space-synth of OB Ignitt’s “Oh Jabba”, it’s a catalogue that shows no sign of creative exhaustion.
As anyone who has seen Fred P DJ at peak time will attest, the man isn’t afraid to embrace his inner techno demon. It can come as something of a shock to those enchanted by his deeper-than-your-average deep house, but when the man wants to flex some tough rhythmic muscle he can do so with the same assured quality that permeates his production. It’s a pleasure then to catch wind of his self-proclaimed techno side project Anomaly scoring a full 12” release, following a brief appearance on 2011’s C.O.M.E compilation. That track, “Above Below”, features again here on the B2 in recognition of the fact it may have been overlooked before.
Feel that chill in the air? No, it’s not the latest bank of stormy weather coming in from the Atlantic, but the gloomy feeling that the latest Clone West Coast Series release invokes. After Serge decided to divide the Clone Empire a few years back into separate fiefdoms, the West Coast Series operation yielded the most impressive releases. It was the outlet for Versalife’s great Nighttime Activities series and also put out Legowelt’s brilliant, if overlooked Bayville Cove release.
Before finding fame with Zombie Disco Squad (a project he’s no longer a part of), Luca Lozano was plain old Lucas Hunter, an excitable teenager from Sheffield obsessed with underground house and techno. He’d spend many happy hours in the Warp Records store on Division Street (long since consigned to history, following the influential label’s decision to sell up and move to London), flicking through racks of obscure early ‘90s house and techno records while influential local producers – the likes of Winston Hazel, DJ Parrot, Chris Duckenfield and Richard H Kirk – hung around the counter. At night, he’d tune into pirate station Fantasy FM, inspired by the blend of skuzzy rave music, Detroit techno, Chicago jack and good old Yorkshire “bleep and bass” drifting from the speakers.
Even as the All Caps label presents its fourth release, it’s still tricky to work out what their remit is. There certainly seems to be an unhurried, instinctive quality to the signing of the three twelves the Glasgow imprint has yielded so far, and all from contemporary producers caught in the flux between the gritty techno renaissance and the production heft that still lingers on from dubstep. Given the approximate proximity of Alex Coulton, Helix and Kowton, it’s surprising to learn then that the fourth release comes not from another modern maverick, but rather a secret weapon of UK techno lain in suspended animation since the mid ’90s. Guy Evans may have reactivated his studio in the wake of the renewed interest in machine-driven electronics, but these tracks All Caps have chosen to release were recorded between 1994 and 1996.
With a live set that inspires feverish responses from any lucky enough to witness them, Donato Dozzy and Neel’s collaborative project is a celebration of everything the techno experience should be. Best heard on a loud soundsystem, constantly searching and surging forwards and avoiding staid rhythms, there’s an undeniable spiritual quality at work on anything the pair have turned their hands to, with their recorded offerings making a neat precursor to the chance to have them rain down upon you over a PA.
Those beloved miscreants at Power Vacuum are never ones to take the soft approach, leaving them carving out a roughshod space as frontrunners in the field of amped, distorted and unhinged techno abandon. Considering the competition in these times, that’s no mean feat. After a series of stellar artist EPs and the double pack from Bintus, it’s time for the label to widen the net and invite some other guests in to play. After all, the style of the label screams tear-out fun to anyone listening, let alone an artist looking to let off some studio steam.
For listeners of a certain age, there’s nothing particularly new about the stargazing, psychedelic techno antics of West Country man-of-mystery A Sagittariun (a pseudonym for a 40-something house producer whose identity is an open secret in his home city of Bristol). His style – all thickset techno rhythms, tight breakbeats, dreamy chords and intergalactic electronics – offers a thrilling blast from the past for anyone who lived through the “intelligent techno” boom of the early ‘90s. Think Megadog parties, chill out rooms, Day-Glo drapes, tie-dye t-shirts, astrological wall charts and car loads of frazzled crusties heading to illicit raves in Somerset fields.
Using the tagline “nautically inclined” for your SoundCloud profile may dredge up all-too-recent memories of sea punk, but fortunately Lumigraph’s music doesn’t rely on twittering dolphin sounds or sea foam blue hair dye to leave an impression. Instead, the term might apply more accurately to his geographical preferences: Scroll through his tumblr and you’ll see vistas and wide-open spaces overlooking bodies of water: Shots of tourist-filled Montauk Point, photos taken out the window of airplanes, the glimmer of sunlight reflecting off the surface of swimming pools. That same nautical influence was very traceable in recent EP for Mister Saturday Night, which walked the line between breezy house on “Yacht Cruiser” and the claustrophobic improvisational crunch of “Playing My Numbers”.