Sebastian Voigt may be a newcomer, with just three Eps to his credit so far, but it sounds like he has been making and releasing music for decades. The title track on this release is an epic electro affair, all flickering strings and robust 808s reminding the listener of classic Detroit-style electro like Lost Trax. On "Lamm", he puts his focus on the dance floor, with crisp beats and clanging metallic percussion underpinning pulsing acid, while on "Rua Ferreira" he fuses high-pitched acid tones with a bubbling bass and blasts of brittle percussion for a techno track in the Speicher vein.
2013 was the last time we heard from Praveen Sharma aka Braille and Travis Stewart aka Machinedrum, who together have always made music as Sepalcure. In fact, it was this project that allowed them to make a name for themselves via Scuba's Hotflush Recordings, and the duo return to the the label with this new album, Folding Time. The best way to describe these scorchers is to dub them under neo-R&B, a rather wide banner, we know, but it really gets the mood of these tunes across. Electronic beats are always an important part of the arrangements, but the melodies and vocals are soulful, drenched in a spiritual pop flair that makes this LP as smooth as f***, and a perfect comeback to this great project.
The latest release on Tommy Four Seven's label features tracks from the guests who performed at his night in Arena, Berlin back in February. It's a mixed bag. Amotik's "Sau" is a proper, 90s-influenced peak time affair - redolent of Luke Slater's infamous remix of "Forklift" its shrieking sirens unfolding over relentless kicks. Shlomo's "Golem" also plays out on the dance floor, although its sleek pulses and steely percussion are less intense than Amotik's contribution. The two other tracks, from the label owner and Pfirter, revolve around broken beats. Tommy's "Funf" is a dark, layered workout, while "Homeostasis" is less intense thanks to its subsonic bleeps, but those clanging drums lend it some serious weight.
David 'Trus'Me' Wolstencroft's fourth album marks a sea-change in direction for a UK producer best known for soulful house and techno. This shift is audible from opening track "1979", where a caller to a late night radio show describes seeing aliens at an unnamed facility. The outer space-fixation continues on the eerie soundscapes of "The Unexplained", before he eventually hits the dance floor on "Dark Flow". Here too though the mood favours the otherworldly as ghostly vocals and resonating piano keys unfold over muted kicks. "Ring Round Heart" ventures back towards the hypnotic house sound that Trus'Me is known for, but it's a relatively short divergence and both 'Red Sun' and 'Our Future' see the UK producer push techno into the most far-flung end of our galaxy.
Gate is Nathan 'Bwana' Micay's third release on Will Saul's Aus, and sees the Canadian-in-Berlin drop more complex, futuristic house music. Opening track "Homeboy", with its granular percussion and one-note filtered stab, is redolent of big room minimal, while at the other end of the spectrum, there's "50% Maximum Power". Here, the beats are heavy, the claps crisp and the synths full of the bright-eyed optimism of early 90s techno-trance. Add in some well-placed screeches and the track has a real old school feeling. Finally, just to show that he is effortlessly chameleon-like when it comes to productions, Bwana drops the big diva wailing-house of "Muscle Powers Final Hour".
The seventh instalment of the series that Adrian 'Developer' Sandoval began back in 2011 sees him lay down more functional but individualistic techno. At the deeper end of the spectrum, there's "Outer Planetary Horn Calls", where atmospheric chords and a wiry groove prevail, while "Out of Body Terminology" is a hypnotic tribal groove with similarities to the hypnotic Italian techno of Obtane and P.God. At the harder end of the spectrum, there's "Ancient Modernists", a tough banging acid workout and the scuzzy, grungy techno of "Tesla On The Radio", but probably the track that best sums up Developer's linear, functional sound is the metal-plated rhythm and firing percussion of "Latin Mechanics".
According to JD Twitch's sales notes, Luke Solomon and former Greenskeepers man Nick Maurer decided to join forces as Powerdance in reaction to "the bland, soulless dance music that's infiltrating clubs the world over". Certainly, there's little bland or soulless about opener "Mysterious Space Plane", which not only jacks harder than Ron Hardy after a face full of amphetamines, but also boasts a typically eccentric vocal from Maurer (this, incidentally, is given additional prominence on the accompanying, beat-less Reprise version). Elsewhere, "More Fire" takes TB-303-driven acid house into deep space, while "Fire Beat" offers a stripped-back, percussion heavy take on the same cut.
Irrespective of whether one buys into the appeal of Nina Kraviz as a DJ, there is little doubt about her ability to A&R a label. The latest split release on Trip features Kraviz herself, label regular Bjarki and a rare Aphex Twin track. Recorded under his AFX guise, "P-String" originally surfaced back in 1995 on a Peel session. Its combination of pounding drums and chilling strings stills sounds fresh and, to Kraviz' credit, is in keeping with the tone of the release. Bjakri's "Baepolar" chops up mid-90s jungle bass with glitchy rhythms, while his "Naked Naked" is a storming techno affair, led by pounding kicks. Even Kraviz gets in on the '90s mood, with the deep, abstract groove of "Don't Mind Wrong Keys".
A year on from the woozy, experimental oddness of their simply titled debut EP I, Guido Zen and Joel Martin re-ignite their Vactrol Park production partnership. II sees them exploring similar sonic pastures, offering up moody, atmospheric, analogue-heavy workouts that join the dots between krautrock, drone, ambient, leftfield techno and curiously distorted, dubbed-out experimentation. The hypnotic, slowly unfurling opener "Tired & Feathered" is probably our pick of the bunch, though similarly epic, slo-mo closer "Grottaferato" - a creepy exercise in sparse, dubby electronics and Ket-addled rhythms - is not far behind. "Hump", a trip into the furthest realms of the duo's collective subconscious, is also strangely fulfilling.
We always thought of Unknown To The Unknown as a multi-faceted and exploratory label when it came to sussing out new talent, but we didn't see this one coming. Mak & Pasteman, recently of Lobster Boy, are a duo who are more often than not categorised under the dreaded 'bass' banner, but what they have here are actually a couple of stone-cold house cuts with a Dance Mania kinda flavour. "Percwerc" is a gritty, jittery 4/4 bomb with vintage drop that'll have your jaw wrapped around your head in no time, while "T2000" is just as raw and filthy except that the mood is funkier, deeper and little more musical. Both heavy, both recommended.
Blueprint's 20th anniversary celebrations wouldn't be complete without a new EP from British techno veteran Oliver Ho, who first appeared on the imprint way back in 1996. Opener "Burning Heretics" is a typically no-nonsense affair, with Ho effortlessly joining the dots between contemporary Surgeon, modern industrial techno, and the ragged intensity of purist acid house. "Worship" is deep, out-there, metallic and partially ambient, while "Control" is a near perfect exercise in bouncy acid techno. Finally, Ho presses the button marked "tribal" on the loose-limbed, broken techno brilliance of "Genuflect". As the old cliche goes, this is "all killer", with "no filler".
There was a time during the late-'90s when Kanzleramt was the undisputed ruler of German techno and Heiko Laux was one of its main artists. Then minimal house happened and electronic music's focus changed. However, time and tastes move in a circular direction and while Laux or the label never stopped releasing music, both are now back in the spotlight. In part this is thanks to Laux's killer EP on Klockworks. Haulin Ass sees him ramp up the energy further - the title track revolves around a bombastic bass and mad hoover stabs, while on "Onyx", he lays own the kind of slamming, raw techno that will rattle your brain at 20 paces. However, there is another side to Laux and both "An Elephant in a Silver Box" and "Lila 7" explore a world where brittle breaks, chilling synths and warbling acid prevail.
The Soul Designer is back everyone! Belgian techno legend Fabrice Lig is still at it and boy are we impressed, as always. He never went away really; he just kept doing his thing: Motor City inspired techno-soul of the highest calibre, as displayed on his fabulous last single "No Judgement" (featuring Ann Saunderson) on Planet E. This time he teams up with Midwest legend Titonton Duvante for the Sensual EP. "Even Deeper" is the kind of track that you could imagine Derrick May or Laurent Garnier dropping mid set for one seriously ecstatic moment, with its funky SH 101 bassline (a Lig trademark) and some emotional chords/ keys. "In The Hood" gets a bit more tough and energetic for us with its darkly executed futuristic blues of the funkiest kind.
Tom Dicicco has already built a quietly impressive discography - think releases on Off Minor, The Corner and his own Run Out Run - so it's little surprise to see him appearing on Delsin. The Shadows & Tears EP is typical of his textured, spacey, evocative techno sound, and contains a quartet of impressive outings. The British producer kicks things off with "Extracting The Error", a beautifully melancholic slab of tactile techno. "Morph Cycle" is a darker and more percussively intense affair, a stylistic trait continued on the warped electronics, hissing cymbals and distorted analogue drums of "A Prayer For Jupiter". Finally, he combines abstract electronics, fuzzy textures and rolling, intergalactic melodies on the impressive "Fallen Spaces".
This is Perc and Truss' first collaborative release in two years, but it does not feel like they have been absent at all. "Subox" hits the listener straight between the eyes with its pounding industrial beats, shrill tones and acrid acid lines. "Badman" is less direct and shows that the pair are not afraid to experiment as a menacing bass underscores deranged tones and mysterious, dissected vocals. However, probably the biggest surprise is the title track. Couched in a standard Perc/Truss backing track is a pumping, throbbing bass that sounds like E-Dancer transposed to a European techno setting. The last time this was attempted with such a degree of success was Laurent Garnie's Sound of the Big Babou, but Perc and Truss have gone even further because listen carefully and it sounds like they have sampled the vocal from Saunderson's remake of Esser's "Forces".
Steven Conner aka Adapta delivers four lean electro tracks for Frustrated Funk. "MKS 50-01" is a clubby affair, led by a surging bass and a tight, wiry rhythm. "02" is based on a similar approach, and while the bass and drums sound more mechanical, it is just as well primed for the dance floor. The third track sees Adapta return to a more purist electro style as furious percussion and crashing 808s encase melodic synths in a dense rhythmic framework. The fourth and final track offers the biggest surprise, with Conner sampling hoover rave riffs and shoehorning them into a tight electro-techno rhythm.
Despite its prominence as a big-room techno label, there is a real fragility to the title track on the latest Figure release. Maybe it's the influence of Gabriel 'Regal' Cassina, but either way, the organic rhythms of "The End" teem with melancholic twists. "VCO" also follows an unpredictable route, with a menacing bass bubbling its way through the centre of a mid-tempo groove. It's only on "Abroad" that the pair really focus on the peak time, with dense tribal drums underscoring pulsing electronic emissions that will fry an audience's brains once it's played on a big rig.
Consumed Music is a record label based in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Belonging to "one of the most played producers in the modern techno house scene, Consumed Music has become a home to many globally glorious artists in the field" and who are we to argue. This time they present local lad Richard Cleber with a bit of help from L&S Project on "Ormes" a dark tech house journey with moody atmosphere, tight rhythms and a razor sharp bass. The remix of it up next by David Wincent goes for the fiercely druggy main room vibe of a Drumcode track: this one's totally sick! There's two more original tracks: "Nicotina" then "Overtake", in particular, which will certainly cause a headrush or two with its massive drop and and moody industrial stomp thereafter.
Given Chris Farrell's passion for supporting local talent, it was probably only a matter of time before he teased an EP out of fellow Bristol resident Bruce. The Hessle Audio affiliate is on fine form on The Trouble With Wilderness, utilizing both sides of the 12" to touch on a variety of moods and styles. The title track sits somewhere between throbbing Bristol techno, sparse electronica and drowsy deep house, with Bruce working wonders with only a handful of key elements. On the flip, you'll find the melancholic, heart-aching ambient chords and field recordings of "Waves (For Yasmin)", and "Summer's Got To End Sometime", a melancholic chunk of melodious deepness that counts among the producer's most evocative efforts to date.
Given that the 'phonautograph' referenced in the title is apparently the oldest sound recording device, it is no surprise that Kevin McHugh's debut album as L4-4A takes a lot of its influences from older times. That's not meant as a negative, and the opening tracks, "Frequenzvariabler" and "Transmitter" are eerie, ambient soundscapes. McHugh keeps the focus on classic-sounding electronic music with the acid-fuelled, bass-heavy electro of "Dialup" and "Semantron" and the deep Detroit tones meets quirky rhythms of 90s UK techno on "Blitzlicht". McHugh also delves into the world of acid with the sharp drums, gurgling 303s and MCing on "Resistor". L4-4A's debut album is a long way from McHugh's previous incarnation, Ambivalent.