Calum Lee aka Paleman returns to Loefah's new 81 label, the more spontaneous, more digi-centric Swamp 81 offshoot, and as usual the man brings with him an air of innovation to the whole bass sphere. That's because "Yrs Ago" is a tune that could easily be played out in a techno set and, much like Boddika's recent output, it subtly ties the lines between many futuristic genres and sub-genres - a total winner! "Animus" is bleaker in texture and hollow in structure but nonetheless at the cutting-edge of UK bass music. Both tunes offer something less penetrable and more impressionistic that the majority of Paleman's compatriots in 2016. Excellent and highly recommended.
Pig & Dan are back with what could be their most ferocious offering yet. The Mexico EP starts out with the stripped and tunnelling hypnotism of the title track or the particularly atmospheric "The Licker"; these are tracks that make a great DJ tool for any serious DJ. "Chez Dre" is a thick slab of industrial style techno with a wall of bass that will topple crowds, plus those dub techno stabs and CJ Bolland style mentasms for added fear factor! Hammering the message home is the rather crowd friendly "Point Blank" with its infectious synth lead getting some of those Bodzin or Jonson style moments of euphoria in effect!
B is the first in a series of three albums that Bjarki will release on Nina Kraviz' label this year. If this first instalment is anything to go on, the Icelandic producer looks set to provide a real mixed bag. The album starts with the jarring, rave-heavy break beats of "Marsian Raver" before veering into stripped back, pounding techno ("Opalocka Acid Groove 12 Bit Mix") and the DBX, pitch-bent vocal minimalism of " Planet Earth Q94 [Live Edit]". Proving that he is a maverick, hyperactive talent, the album also features the wispy downtempo "Son Of A Son" and the grimy bass and electro ticks of "T4it 3". Heaven only knows what the next two albums will sound like.
The latest release on Tronik Youth's label features a return visit from Heretic. Real name Timothy Clerkin, he makes an impressive sound on the title track. Jittery Chicago drums underscore an androgynous vocal sample, noisy acid and atmospheric synth sweeps. It's redolent of classic Mood Music and Ewan Pearson before the electro house boom got out of hand. The remix from Low Manuel is more considered and reflective, with the Italian DJ toning down the acid and fusing it with a hypnotic pulse. Thomaas Bank's version returns to the original track's noisy approach, with the synths stripped away and just the bare, bruising rhythm remaining.
It's amusing to see some outlets calling the latest release by Thomas Brown and Aaron Turner aka Perfume Advert 'garage house'. The reality is that the northern English duo takes influence from the hazy deep house sound carved out by DiY during the 90s. Sure, there are vocal samples on "Mirror Shield", but like the Nottingham collective's releases and DJing, Perfume Advert bury them deep inside cavernous chords. "Single White Junker" follows a similar path, with a powerful bass supporting the dissected samples. Perfume Advert then turn their attention to German influences, with "Destiny Bond" sounding like Terry Lee Brown Jnr at his dubby best and "Gown" veering down a clicks'n'cuts route.
Since making his debut in 2013, Thomas "Innershades" Blanckaert has almost single-handedly re-invented Belgian techno. Few contemporary artists are quite as capable as drawing influence from Belgium's early '90s rave scene and bringing it bang up to date. This latest excursion - his first for Creme Organization since 2014 is full of revivalist treats, from the bleep-goes-Beltram throb of "Knowledge" and early R&S heaviness of "The Kings", to the deeper, more melodious, US garage-influenced sweetness of "Crossing Paths". Closer "Wait", where intergalactic, Motor City melodies tumble over a Frank De Wulf-meets-Mood II Swing groove, is also rather fine.
To mark the twentieth anniversary of the foundation of his label, James Ruskin has put together this massive compilation. It includes long-term friends and associates of the label - like Oliver Ho, Regis and Luke Slater - as well as newer additions to the roster, including Lakker and Rommek. Apart from uniting artists from different generations, the compilation also showcases the label's various hues; from the broken beats and intricate rhythms of Ruskin and Regis' O/V/R project and the hypnotic soundscapes of Lakker's "Orange" to the trace stabs and 10 tonne kicks of Regis' "Party Spoiler Too" and the chaotic industrial rhythms on Truss' "Wanastow", this compilation offers to newcomers an invaluable introduction to Blueprint, or to long-standing fans an indispensable reminder of why the label is unique.
Traum Schallplatten goes in large for this remix package of Mario Hammer's 2015 album as Mario Hammer and The Lonely Robot. German duo Extrawelt turn in two melodically sweet revisions of album opener "Mono No Aware", while Stil Vor Talent's Jonas Mantey does a white noise, techno booming remix of "Sirimiri (Hammersche Modularverschaltung)". The bleeps and Moderat-like soul on Sine Sleeper's remix to "Nyctophilia" gets real heavy, while ambient sessions come from Mario Hammer himself for an abstract, emotive and classical sounding remix to "Misodocktakleidist" - but it's Ian Max Mauch's Granular rework to "Mono No Aware" that hits the B Pitch Control, IDM chord the most.
The title track on Randomer's first release for Dekmantel is deceptive. Although the rhythm flails and rolls with the UK producer's usual sense of urgency, it is swathed in misty, hazy melodies. There is no such ambiguity on "My Ears Hurt"; earning its place on the label's UFO Series, the arrangement features a rhythm that weaves its way in and out of a myriad of tonal blips and bleeps. In contrast, "Rendell Pips" and "Music for Two Kalimbas" are powerful DJ cuts. In the absence of any unusual sideways turns, Randomer relies on tight drums, rolling rhythms and plunging breakdowns to lead the listener down the wormhole.
Glasgow imprint Dixon Avenue Basement Jams are really on a roll at the moment aren't they! After some great releases by the likes of Casio Royale and Big Miz they now present the return of Detroit producer Jared Wilson, who last appeared for the label back in 2012. The Communing With Ghosts EP features "Pheo Acid" which is a dark and epic 303 excursion that will no doubt appeal to hardcore fans of the classic Chicago sound. "Acid River" (getting the theme now?) is more restrained with the relentless squelch of that little silver box, but still pumps along at a nice pace. On the flip we've next got "Smartbar Acid" which we really can imagine sounds like a night up at the infamous Windy City institution. Finally the title track might break the pattern of names thus far but not the sound (thankfully) and it's definitely the most high octane acid track on here that would make even DJ Pierre himself stand up and notice.
Mosca's Not So Much has seen the producer's style progress gloriously over the last couple of years from his UK bass beginnings to some of the freshest explorations in house and techno. On Cedar Wood State (Vector mix)" he throws down the kind of trippy and cyclical machine techno that you'd usually attribute to the likes of Mike Parker or Abdulla Rashim; this one is absolutely mental! On the flip Cedar Wood State (Volt mix)" is a bass heavy electro jam that works that beat repeat to monstrous effect. The kind of track you'd hear at a serious Detroit electro party like No Way Back. Tip!
Given his reputation for pioneering techno in the Netherlands in the '90s, it is no surprise a broad range of labels are looking to work with Steve Rachmad. Not soon after the man known as Sterac contributed a pair of remixes to an Aera 12" on the mighty Innervisions, Rachmad's earlier material is the subject of a reissue 12" on home turf titans Rush Hour. It's his mid-'90s work for Dutch techno label 100% Pure that is the focus of the Amsterdam operation's attentions here, specifically the cuts "Osirion" and "Primus." Issued together on a '96 12" on 100% Pure, both these tracks are not as widely feted as Sterac classics from the same era like "Sitting On Clouds" but they do demonstrate Rachmad's innate mastery of the Motor City sound. Remastered for 2016, they sound just as fresh some 20 years on!!
Dj Haus has been a foundational member of the UTTU crew over the years, and it's been his altruistic take on Chicago house that has inspired a whole slew of incredible material from the label. This is his Enters The Unknown compilation, twenty one guaranteed floor blazers that'll please everyone form the outiderists to the bass-weighters, and that's because Haus likes to make bouncy, diverse dance music that is powered by a 4/4 format but that meanders onto different territories. Get Stuck in an feel the vibes; there's a continuous mix, too, for headphone and chill format.
The latest release on Developer's label contains the kind of detailed but functional tracks that are now inextricably linked to Modularz. The Italian pairing of Conrad Van Orton and VSK set the scene on "Sub Atomic", with its subtle off beats and intricate chords, before dropping the deep pulses of "Interaction". The tempo shifts considerably on "DP", where a tougher, acid-led groove prevails and "Entanglement" is a heads down, peak time banger. However, like many releases on Modularz, the release moves through a range of moods; "Angular Momentum" sees the pair do their best Sandwell District impression with a hypnotic, bleep-laden groove, while best of all, "Mystery of Time" is a beautiful ambient piece.
Bizzeea! Is the alter ego of Moscow based Vadim Ruadinskiy and is next up on London/Berlin tech house hotbed Nein Records. The Un-Tape EP features four sharp cuts, starting out with the grinding, slow burning bounce of "L/L Lichnoe/Lirischnoe" (whatever that's referring to!), the minimal acid techno stomp of "ROOFF (Room Of Fuckin Fuckers)" and speaking of minimal; Flamingo Dance"sounds like early Robert Hood in all its vintage bleepy cyclicalism. Finally "Awake In Me" gets some adrenalised tech house happening that will appeal to fans of the Clouded Vision sound.
Five years on from the release of his debut album, Gymnastics, Ramon Lisandro Quezada finally serves up a follow-up. Conjure is a fine set that neatly showcases the varied sides of the prolific deep house producer's output. So, we get Iberican tribal drums fused with hazy trumpet solos ("Feed Off Of"), dreamy ambience ("Candlelit"), groovy downtempo beats (the hip-hop influenced "Supafly"), sumptuous and sensual dancefloor deepness ("Lotus (In Memory Of)"), and dark, intense, occasionally dubbed-out late night business ("Whistle Song", "Visitation", the stripped-back hip-house of "Toc"). There's little in the way of filler or fluff, and plenty of playable, club-ready material.
The latest addition to the Sonic Groove roster is UNC, a producer from Italy. He opens his account on the US label with "Shesha", a spellbindingly hypnotic techno groove, which sounds like it was recorded at 20,000 leagues beneath the sea. By contrast, "Xellerate" is a densely tangled web of broken beats that is too abstract to work on the dance floor. "Anarchemy" sees UNC back in club mode with its dense, slamming beats and thundering, stepping rhythm hitting the listener like a breezeblock in the face. Finally, there's "Sanskrit Vinyasa"; with its nagging, insistent percussion and snaking bass, it is UNC's most subtle and sophisticated production so far.
Those familiar with the Strange Life label operated by Danny Wolfers will know it's rife with CDr material worthy of the vinyl format. Whilst our personal favourite (the bizarre Portopia by Wolfers alias Satomi Taniyama) remains looked over by labels, Berceuse Heroique were responsible for a quite sumptuous double LP edition of Smackos album The Age Of Candy Candy earlier this year. Now local Den Haag crew BAKK have got their hands on 2004 Strange Life album Dark Days for an equally classy triple LP edition. Wolfers fans not familiar with this album will immediately fall in love with Dark Days, thanks to the signature blend of goofy track titles ("Lego Resistance", "An Obnoxious Affair On Tape") and music that veers from soaring, synth vistas to grotty techno via cold, primitive electronics and more.
Swiss minimal maestro Mirko Loco is back, this time on Visionquest with the Alba Mons EP. Lead track "Evolyon" is the kind of reduced and experimental yet intricate journey that has earned him releases on the likes of Cadenza previously. It's the remix of by Romanian heroes Livio & Roby though which really does it for us! Stripped back, bumping and downright weird; this one was no doubt perfected at Bucharest's finest afterhour shindigs! Finally "The Hutchinson Effect" closes the EP out in wonderfully hypnotic and melodic fashion.
Mythic Lowlands collective Lost Trax believe in the purity of techno as an art form, maintaining their anonymity over the past ten years to ensure the focus remains "on the music, not the face or fashion behind it." After intermittent transmission the past decade, recent months have seen the Lost Trax machine in full flow with this Flatliner 12" for Shipwrec arriving mere months after they appeared on the Dutch label via The Return split release. Some four tracks deep, this clear marbled 12" finds Lost Trax exploring the outer galactic realms of the techno utopia, with lead track "Faith" a towering highlight. Clap heavy techno is the order of the day on the title cut, whilst "Lost" sinks deep into the swamp of squelchy 303ness. Proceedings end on a high with the vintage electro shimmer of "Renderer".