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Reviewed this week
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California's foremost John Candy lookalike Vin Sol has enjoyed a productive couple of years, delivering well-received solo and collaborative releases (mostly alongside regular sparring partner Matrixxman) for Unknown To The Unknown and his own So Wavey imprint. Here he pops up on Clone's Jack For Daze offshoot with four blasts of dancefloor-centric machine music. "Off The Chain" expertly blends the energy of original Chicago jack with metallic electronics and a touch of deep house warmth, while the sweatier "Sox" makes merry with restless percussive builds and a nagging electro hook. "House Freaks" sounds like a long lost Jungle Wonz classic, while "Trac" offers some stripped-back drum machine abuse for charged-up late night 'floors.
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With his profile bounding into the premier league thanks to salvos on Livity Sound, Hotline, Tempa and Berceuse Heorique, Hodge cements his reputation with a double pack on Hemlock that justifies every ounce of praise. Across the four tracks his rough and tumble approach to bass-infused techno dynamics holds court with confidence, as "Blood Moon" throws down dramatic grime strings over clattering drums and "I Don't Recognise You Lately" turns out a melancholic chime pattern embellished with tightly coiled slithers of percussion. "Recall" edges towards nervy blips and gargantuan claps, while "Tail Of The Snake" summons up tribal incantations in an uneasy UK twist on minimal techno.
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Matthew Watt aka Killawatt drops his debut LP on the UK's Osiris Music. Gnarly, psychedelic techno is the name of the game here, and there's a whopping twelve tracks up for grabs. Blending everything from UK bass to dubstep and even drone, Killawatt's particular brand of four-to-the-floor is both singular and caters to just about anyone whose into menacing beats and abstract sonics. We're particularly into the choppy beats on "Spinal Swarm" and the outsider techno rhythm that is "Excessive Hyperbole". This album is absolutely brimming with quality and singularity. More from Mr.Watt, please!
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Fresh from their Dreams escapade, there's no sleep for Trax Couture as Sub Skank operator Akito joins the fray with four slabs of pure bass future. "Dalston Dips" comes in two flavours; the original is a militant marching anthem with heritage traces of LFO and Unique3, while the alternative take barges and bashes with more of a ghetto-tek attitude. The attitude gets even more brutal as "Strategem" simultaneously nods at grime, techno and UK funky. "Sordid Forfeit" closes the show on his most poignant note as cold slo-mo arpeggiated pads writhe mournfully before twisting into the full bass hook. Powerful.
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Tensal is the personal project of Hector Sandoval, one half of legendary Spanish techno duo Exium. This is the third release for his burgeoning alias and label and it's as greyscale and no-nonsense as you would hope. This seven-track release, inclusive of a digital bonus, is designed to fuel the long-winded club night somewhere in Europe, and each track throbs with maximum four-to-the floor force. If techno from the likes of Token and Modularz, and of course Pole Group, is your thing, you know what to do.
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As its title suggests, these remixes are the latest interpretations of tracks from Vermont's debut album. Like the Prins Thomas versions that preceded them, they make the most of Vermont's glistening melodies and Krautrock-inspired abstractions. Mano Le Tough fuses the dreamy reverie of "Abersprung" to a rumbling bass and a succession of clap volleys. Marcus Worgull's take on the same track isn't as full on and makes use of yelping acid and hissing percussion to plot out a more understated approach. Finally, the DJ Tennis edit of "Majestat" sees tough beats and a dubbed out groove fused with Vermont's melodic flights of fancy.
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The Jealous God label returns and it's a Gallic affair as Lyon-based hardware mangler In Aeternam Vale offers up a trio of productions that demonstrate how under rated a producer Laurent Prot is. You will probably know In Aeternam Vale from the various archival releases issued by Minimal Wave over the past few years, but the music contained on this clear dark blue 12" is of a more recent vintage. It's also superb, with lead track "V8" one of Prot's trademark extended productions that expertly builds up a gripping sense of hissing, brooding atmosphere - the usage of delay as the final third approaches is just immense. On the flip, both "62,54hz" and "808TS" are worthy of Sandwell District in their pomp.
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Soma welcomes talented German producer Monoloc to its roster. The title-track is a brilliantly moody track; it starts with an insistent, snaking rhythm, a wobbly bassline and shaking, sassy percussion. Midway through, the percussive elements give way to ponderous vocals and deep, dubbed out chord changes. It's a near perfect mixture of melody and functionality. On the flip side, "Cupel" sees Monoloc apply a similar approach, albeit in reverse. Pulsing bass licks underscore breathless melodies and it's only midway through that he lets loose with a series of percussive bursts. By then, the listener has already been seduced by Monoloc's sound.
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Formerly a drum and bass producer, Danish artist CTRLS has now become a key component in the Token operation. The descriptor 'component' is apposite here; like his previous releases on the label, Users is a mechanical, metallic release, sounding like it was forged in a steel foundry rather than a studio. "Incoming Data" is based on lithe, angular rhythms and cold, subsonic bleeps, while "The Disparates" is straighter and more banging. Despite being led by gnarly beats, it is shot through with jittery percussion. Neither can compare to "Externalizer" however, a track built on mangled drums and led by the kind of merciless rhythm that can by turns tingle and crush spines.
$1.49
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The Jealous God label returns and it's a Gallic affair as Lyon-based hardware mangler In Aeternam Vale offers up a trio of productions that demonstrate how under rated a producer Laurent Prot is. You will probably know In Aeternam Vale from the various archival releases issued by Minimal Wave over the past few years, but the music contained on this clear dark blue 12" is of a more recent vintage. It's also superb, with lead track "V8" one of Prot's trademark extended productions that expertly builds up a gripping sense of hissing, brooding atmosphere - the usage of delay as the final third approaches is just immense. On the flip, both "62,54hz" and "808TS" are worthy of Sandwell District in their pomp.
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ClekClekBoom turn to a host of their regular suspects for a quick fire compilation that shines a light on everything the label stands for. French Fries and NSDOS are up first with the stripped and teasing techno worker "8 Hours From Nation", keeping the drums at the forefront and the melodies very subtle indeed. Aleqs Notal meanwhile delivers a tougher but no less drum-led throwdown in the form of "Mare IMB", keeping a cheeky wonk in the track's bubbling synth line, before Jean Nipon and WL take things much deeper with the pad embellished immersion heater "Cause Of Action". Barbara Ford rounds things off with the snaking programming of "Frostbite", making for a limber and intricate acid track that pushes a well worn style into new and intriguing configurations.
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Woofing, powerful and sound effect heavy techno is what Hatzler delivers for the producer's debut on Senso Sounds. Expect mind bending streaks of sewer synths and fresh percussion in "Venom", while "Antidote" is minimal and bleepy - and heavy. Metallic stabs and gurgling atmospheres give "Kammerflimmern" a welcoming dirty vibe with rattling snares (no beats though) similar to that of Plastikman's seminal roller "Spastik".
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Pablo Diaz-Reixa originally posted these tracks online and they were subsequently released on John Talabot's Hivern label. Now Turbo has got in on the action and has commissioned remixes of "4" and "5". If you haven't heard the original tracks, this is a good opportunity; "4" is like Herbert doing tribal techno, its tough drums deconstructed, the central rhythm skewed and knackered in places, with chopped up vocals and jazz licks inhabiting the break downs. "5" is slightly more routine and straighter, with a buzzing bass fused with clipped drum loops. Both provide great fodder for remixers. Pilooski delivers a grinding take on "4", while Thomas Von Party drops the tempo, adds subsonic bleeps and makes the vocals slower. Completing the package is Clarian's acid-fried take on "5".
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After time spent enjoying the instant gratification of electro and pop styles on his more recent output, Scuba is making a return to more introspective matters on his impending Claustrophobia LP, and he precedes it with this atmospheric taster. It certainly harks back to the melancholic atmosphere of albums like A Mutual Antipathy and Triangulation, albeit with a strong thread of Berlin techno restraint as more commonly witnessed in his SCB alias. With its probing low end and taut piano and string arrangements, there are a lot of subtle dimensions to this track which on first listen seems like a simple proposition. As ever, Scuba refuses to rest in one place.
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The latest instalment of remakes of Teste's evergreen '90s track "The Wipe" has a techno focus, with two of the form's most singular artists involved. First up is Steve Bicknell's version, which sees the Lost resident deliver a typically relentless, unflinching take. Like his No Hats Required release as the Evader, this is dance floor techno at its most hypnotically severe, with Bicknell hammering out a hard metal-plated rhythm that is so sturdy it could support a skyscraper. By comparison, Mike Parker's version is almost mellow and his characteristic tonal bleeps and hypnotic rhythm will appeal to fans of his Geophone work.
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Stu Robertson aka Asok comes through on his very own Scenery label after a rather glorious first outing on the ever-reliable MOS label from Holland. "Hunter" takes a gritty, broken house groove and chucks in a rolling punch made of distorted 4/4 kicks. Conforce appears under his Versalife moniker for the remix of the title track, transforming the original into an even deeper, more sinister affair boasting dreamy pads and a rickety, swinging percussion. "Cabal" is a little lighter and more club-ready, and the same goes for "Millenium 2:2" - what a punch on that bassline! Strong sounds on this sixth release from Scenery.
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Following the break-up of Azari & III, Alixander has delivered this EP for Toy Tonics. Working with vocalists from his hometown of Toronto, he drops a three-tracker that pushes house music to its outer limits. "(She's So) Young", which features Kim E & Gingy, is the most conventional track, its deep acidic lines and playful female vocals chopped up to seductively claim "there's a few girls for the new girls". "The Black Room", featuring Terence Kissner, is more discordant and the evocative vocals are underpinned by detuned riffs, howling analogue tones and steely percussion. By the time he gets to "Something 'Bout You" featuring Chobo, it sounds like Alixander is throwing away the rulebook with the vocals surfacing in a soupy but metallic arrangement.
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Centrum is Parisian producer Bambounou's second artist album on Modeselektor's label and it shows two distinct sides to his musical palette. The album begins with haunting, glitchy tracks like "Composer" and "Fire Woman", before Bambounou moves into melodic, bleep-heavy sounds courtesy of "Excluding Natalia" and "SAC". Unexpectedly, the listener is shaken out of this stupor with "Each Other", a tough, hammering rhythm, "Oez", which is less direct but also revolves around a grainy, dense rhythm track and the glitchy techno of "At The Mirror". Just in case the listener is left in any doubt about Bambounou's musical duality, the album ends with the humming bass and tough percussion of "I Ride".
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New Zealand's Denver McCarthy had but a few scant appearances under a handful of aliases in the late 90s, but his 1999 "Steps To Recovery" record on Nurture lay bubbling as something of a secret weapon for any lovers of the deepest vintage techno. So it is that Delsin consider it time for a re-release, and it's a good thing too, bringing to light some sumptuous tones that could verily be lifted from the vaults of an early Pure Plastic release. "Engaging Causeless Mercy" skips and bounces through hazy pads with high-frequency sci fi squeaks lighting the way, while "Constructing Space" conjures up a more subterranean, dubbed out feeling. It's a damn fine record receiving a much welcome second chance in the sun.
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The latest release on Par Grindvik's release is an unusual one, uniting old and new artists. Last year, Jesper Dahlback revived his The Persuader guise, which during the late '90s released a series of exquisite - and now highly sought after - deep house records. For this release he surprises with the serene ambience of "Pressure Relief". Dimi Angeles & Jeroen Search's "Emotional Times" proffers the same kind of dreamy sound, as does newcomer Stefan Vincent on the cinematic synth sweeps and dramatic strings of "The Void She Left". However, there is another side to Vincent's canon and he highlights it on the churning filters of "I Would Give Anything To Feel Nothing". Grindvik also focuses on visceral techno with the noisy, pumping analogue stomp of "Stay In Wild".
Exclusives
HATZLER - Antidote EP (Senso Sounds) - exclusive 02-03-2015
TEXIER, Arnaud Le - Continuum EP (Affin)
TRANCES - Trances Remixed (Turbo Recordings)
Exclusives
NOTHING BUT BLOOD - White Of The Eye (Crimes Of The Future) - exclusive 03-02-2015
ALIXANDER III - Heavy Friends (Toy Tonics)
McKAY, Harvey - Glasgow Safari (Drumcode Sweden)
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