Reviewed this week
Originally released earlier this year, Rekids now taps Floorplan for two brilliant remixes. ironically, it's Robert Hood's side project that has seen him receive the most recognition in recent years, and it's not hard to understand how this happened. The first Floorplan version of "Feel the Same" sees the Detroit producer deliver a jacking, grinding rhythm track, which underpins a lo-if riff and a female vocal intoning 'get back feel the same' on a loop. The second version is heavier and more suited to techno dance floors, as brooding chords swoop in over doubled up claps and the vocal is truncated to simply intone the track's title.
Bjarki Runar Sigurdarson's latest release for Nina Kravitz's Trip label - his sixth in total - is a thing of rare beauty. While there's enough dancefloor thrust and sturdy weight to his beats and basslines, it's the elements that he surrounds them with that catch the ear. Check, for example, the early '90s intelligent techno motifs of "Fimmtudagar 16-2", breakbeat-driven IDM/techno fusion of "Galoppin Muninn", and distorted, techno snowstorm that is the wonderful "This is 5321". Best of all, though, is the forthright EP opener, whose spacey melodies, drowsy chords and crackling aural textures perfectly compliment the producer's steel-plated beats. In many ways, its unsurprising Kravitz is a fan of the Icealnder's work; after all, he's a very talented producer.
Almost 18 years on from its debut release, Kompakt Extra is just months away from notching up a century of releases. For EP number 98, Kompakt's club-focused offshoot has snapped up a pair of heads-down, late night delights. Danny Daze and Shokh join forces, laying down a pulsating chunk of trance-like dancefloor hypnotism whose power derives not from thunderous percussion (though the drum hits are solid enough), but rather restless arpeggio lines, spacey electronics and some mind-altering melodies. Then it is Patrice Baumel taking an altogether different approach, slamming down a formidably heavy chunk of bass-heavy techno wonkiness smothered in the sticky humidity of an unlikely jungle rave.
Colin McBean was way ahead of the curve when he was releasing EPs on his Phoenix G imprint back in the late 90s. Now some of those seminal tech-house records get a re-release and unsurprisingly, they still sound fresh. "Gladesmen" is a tough affair, led by niggling acid lines, but McBean really impresses on "Pepsi!" The distinctive, layered drums rumble in, there is a woozy synth line and the arrangement sounds even tripper thanks to a slurred vocal loop intoning the title. "The Day After B" is also impressive, with McBean dropping a filtered loop and those unmistakable, steely drums.
The Abstract Eye is Gabriel Reyes-Whittaker, a producer who releases music mainly using the monikers GB, The Reflektor, Frankie Reyes and Julian Abelar. Five prolific, soulful/melodic tracks originally released in 2011 on Valentine Connexion, are now available again courtesy of Amsterdam's always reliable Rush Hour. The extraordinarily gifted Los Angeleno creates striking electronic songs here, which integrate the technological with the spiritual and ancestral. There's respectful nods on here to Motor City greats like Japanese Telecom ("Cool Warm Divine") and John Beltran ("Nobody Else"). Might we also mention "Nobody Else Pt. 2" which channels the cyclical/minimal soul of Internal Empire era Robert Hood: absolutely sublime!
Following releases on Be As One and Eduard de la Calle's Analog Solutions, Orbe drops this superb six-tracker for John Talabot's label. "Somebody Bring Me Here" is a deep, broken beat affair with a breathy voice asking "when did you first hear acid?". "Visceral Terror" is preceded by an abstract, noisy intro before it moves into a wigged out, pulsing minimal groove. The mood shifts back to the reflective on the title track's jazzy guitars and off centre beats, before making a dance floor detour for "Unexpected Dream's Rave". Underpinned by the kind of rough beats and rhythm that Lone makes, Orbe then drops layers of dreamy synths, making for a blissed out but clubby track.
Mark Hawkins takes a break from his controversial house project Marquis Hawkes to deliver four purist techno cuts on Developer's label. In some ways, Singularity sees the UK producer return to his roots. After all, Hawkins originally released hard techno on labels like Djax and Uglyfunk in the early 00s, but this new approach is more linear and streamlined. "One Ten" sees him drop a firing percussive track that resounds to eerie riffs, while on "Entranced", he combines a mesmerising synth riff with a pulsing acid backing. "Mist" is slower and more murky, while "Alley Groove" is the rawest track on the release, combining a stripped back metallic rhythm with frequency shifting tones.
Nathan Fake's most recent album, Providence, was also one of his most critically acclaimed works. Now the UK producer hands over "Degreelessness" (featuring Prurient) from the album to remixers Huerco S and Overmono. The decision to pair up Fake with Huerco S was an inspired one, with the US artist turning "Degreelessness" into a dreamy, languid affair. By contrast, the Overmono version uses Fake's tripped out sense of melody to create a soaring but glitchy dance floor track, supported by steely, angular drums. This package proves to be an embarrassment of riches for fans of the singular UK producer, with a new track, "Bosky", navigating a path between his melancholic sound and swinging, assured electro beats.
Toronto's Carlo Lio has been making highly explosive dancefloor bombs for over a decade now, with his passionate take on tech reaching every corner of the globe. Here he returns with one of his most high profile releases yet, Psychout, on none other than Tiga's legendary Turbo Recordings. It's all about the twin turbos here, boasting two tracks for our listening pleasure. The title track is an excellent slice of techy minimal disco; a streamlined and linear digital snake. "All She Wants" meanwhile, is a heavier affair with pulsating Popof-style bass, percolating rhythms and creepy vocal snippets. Lively!
Label-hopping Dutchman DJ Overdose can usually be relied upon to bring the goods. Happily, he's in fine form on this first solo Unknown to the Unknown appearance since 2015's fantastic Housejam Freaker. Wisely, he's decided to steer clear of well-worn retro-futurist cliches (jungle breaks, hardcore revivalism and so on), instead delivering a trio of raw cuts that blend elements of electro, 1990 style European techno and blistering acid house. "Probably Too Commercial", a rough-and-ready dose of distorted, high octane electro smothered in alien electronics, is probably the pick of the bunch, though sweaty, stab-tastic opener "Feeding The Fad" - all razor-sharp electronic riffs, wayward drum machine beats and old school vocal samples - also impresses.
Alex Tsiridis is part of dub techno act Cassegrain, but for this release on Shifted's Avian label, he unleashes a new project, Rhyw. Seeking to straddle both the dance floor and experimental worlds, Cave Walls features the grainy, twitchy "Iroquois" and the dark soundscapes of "Aversion Two". At the other end of the spectrum, there's the dark, pulsing ebm rhythms of "Sylvan" and the creepy, stuttering industrial of "Vixen for Society". However, the strongest track comes as a result of a partial retrenchment by Tsiridis to his default sound. More streamlined than the Cassegrain material, "Vixen for Society" is nonetheless a droning, hypnotic affair that brings the listener through the darker end of the cosmos.
Here's an interesting melting pot of influences; Engrave Ltd is based in Sicily and the label's latest offering - by new act Phunkadelica - draws on Italo Disco and the country's lesser known wave/industrial heritage. The title track fuses tripped out acid lines with ebm bass and searing techno riffs to create a distinctive dance floor workout. "Collapso" sees this fledgling act combine grungy, Bunker electro with a throbbing, disco groove, while on "Ipernova", there are echoes of Italian horror movie soundtracks, played out against a melodic but moody rhythm track. Factor in Man Power's epic "Italo Belgique" take on "Collapso" and its clear that Engrave has one of 2017's most unusual releases on its hands.
Reigel is the latest signing to Enemy and brings a unique perspective to Dustin Zahn's label. Apart from her ability to switch between tough, loopy club gear and atmospheric mood music, the upcoming producer also adds her own vocals into the mix. On "Transformed" and "Acceptance", her mysterious tones float in the ether over pounding drum tracks. In particular, "Acceptance" impresses with echoes of classic Harthouse. The title track is another example of her unique sound, albeit this time with her vocals unravelling over a peak time track. Proving that her approach isn't limited to big rooms, Reigel also delivers the hazy, frazzled dub of "Nachalo".
Once described as 'the Andy Warhol of techno', DJ Hell is a legend, a reputation he recently sealed with both the release of acclaimed new LP Zukunftsmusik and his four day Berlin rave to mark the 20th anniversary of his Gigolo label. The aforementioned album wowed most with its noirish 70s sci-fi electro vibes. A highlight of the record "Anything, Anytime" is now released in a new 14 minute(!) extended version, allowing the listener to get lost even further in its dreamy Kraftwerkian clouds. Remix-wise "Argy's Straight Outta Hell Mix" delivers good Lasergun-style electro-disco, but it's Solomun's much-celebrated ghostly electro-pop remix that everybody's talking about.
A double header debut from US latin techno experts Sanfuentes Records. Argentinian dancefloor legends DJs Pareja team up with Cologne's ''jackmaster' Bryan Kessler to present the Detona EP. Both parties coming in hot from their prior releases on Comeme and Numbers. Starting off with the banging machine funk of the title track, we then get into some properly jacking tech house on the rather adrenalised epic "Ramp & Rage". Their third offering "Shu Shu" firstly appears in its original format: which is a bumpin' and bass driven deep groove, until the remix by Mijo really lights a fire under its ass! Electronic voodoo music right here.
It's been a while since Xosar released new material, but her recent album and now this four-track release both show that the US producer has lost none of her flair. "X (Osar) Files", which is surely a nod to the cult sci-fi show, combines frosty synths with brooding bass and a bleeding acid line, while ethereal vocal snippets float through the arrangement with an understated sensibility. "Paranormal Detective" continues the voyage into the surreal, with insistent drums and claps providing the basis for eerie strings and an insistent horn riff to swirl in mysteriously overhead. "Lycropolis" is more earthy and tribal, but it too veers into a vivid, psychedelic synth segue.
The witching hour has always been popular in disco. It both marks the beginning of a new day and the messy end of a previous one. Terr (aka Daniela Caldellas) is a producer determined to capture that 12am feeling. He does a pretty good job of it too on "Midnight", where driving new wave bass underpins hiNRG synth melodies for a totally 80s inspired dancefloor banger. Elsewhere Tuff City Kids deliver a killer rave influential rework of "Outrun" that features retro hardcore bass lines and machine gun snares and laser blasts. What's not to love?
Los Angeles based Grant heads up The Lauren Bacall, which has presented work by Gable, AVA and Bardot.. but then again they could possibly be more of his own aliases. After his impressive LP entitled Cranks on Mork, he now returns to its parent label Lobster Theremin, with the No Lights EP. It features several servings of house and techno memoirs captured to VHS. Starting off with the neon lit vocal-led anthem "Feeling" (Vocal mix), there's the mandatory lo-fi jam in the form of the darkly stripped back and heads down groove of "Values". The title track is particularly impressive: a woozy and hypnotic after hours groove with some nifty drum computer moves and those moody Mr. Fingers style pads that navigate their way through all the tape saturation.
Cleric and Reflec are back with Works Unit 002 on the latter's always reliable Clergy imprint. This is no holds barred techno that's finely tuned for thrashing out at serious clubs like Berlin's Berghain and all go straight for the jugular: no more Mr. Nice Guy! The first track features the fierce boom and bounce of a meticulously programmed 808 contrasted with Millsian style pads for added hypnotic effect. "Insulation Two" goes for strobed out effects with its spitfire hi-hats and furious toms playing the backdrop for a some psyched-out loops: this one's sure to cause a headrush or two. Finally the "Acidic edit" of the last track does exactly what it says on the tin: working that little silver box like a you know what: Hardfloor style!
Elton D has released on a range of labels over the past decade, and now brings his colourful sound to Sub Cult. On "Moves", the Brazilian producer revisits the party techno sound of the early 00s; deploying a rolling, bass-driven groove, he uses disco stabs, vocal snippets and horn riffs to ensure that it will appeal to a wide range of DJs. "Duque" has a more contemporary flavour, and sees Elton mine minimal influences. While the groove remains at a tempo that guarantees it broad appeal, the dayglo trance riffs, stuttering vocal samples and rolling snares also ensure that it's an essential release for those who like tripped out techno.
Exclusives
I HATE MODELS - Totsuka No Tsurugi (ARTS)
DANNY DAZE/PATRICE BAUMEL - Speicher 98 (Kompakt Extra Germany)
AVION - Dispersion (Index Marcel Fengler)
Exclusives
DJ HELL - Car Car Car Part 2 (International DeeJay Gigolo)
RHYW - Cave Walls: Part One (Avian)
Z.I.P.P.O - My Elements (Suburban Avenue)
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