Reviewed this week
Hot on the heels of a fine new version of Truncate's 2014 single "7_1" comes this fresh EP of dancefloor dynamite from David Flores's best-known project. Appearing on James Ruskin's long-running Blueprint label for the very first time, Flores kicks things off with the no-nonsense techno roller that is "Terminal 5", a dark, brooding foray into pitch-black techno territory typical of the British label's output. "Process" is similarly minded but slightly more positive in outlook, with mildly foreboding electronics and a repeated vocal sample riding a rubbery techno groove. "Tribal Tool", an exercise in drum machine percussion and dense African drums, completes a rock solid package.
The debut release on Yan Cook's new label sees the Ukraine hotshot in flying form. The title track is a relentless, tunneling workout, hypnotic and banging at the same time. On "Grey Layers", he uses a similar approach, but drops the tempo. Bringing rasping percussion to the fore, the track resounds to insistent stabs. Then Cook delivers two unexpected tracks; "Falcon" is tough and banging, thanks to its razor-sharp percussio, but it appears to sample an old rave track. A further surprise is audible on "Twisted"; favouring a stepping rhythm, he fuses it with a clanging, grainy bass and reversed filters to create a highly distinctive track.
Big Miz left the cherished bosom of the Dixon Avenue Basement Jams crew to guest on friend Wheelman's new Stereotone label. Here he returns to DABJ with his second solo single. Title track "The Bomb" is something of a killer, with Miz lacing a bouncy, funk-fuelled drum machine rhythm with wild but jazzy synth lines, warehouse-friendly stabs and bleep style electronics. Elsewhere, "Sponk 900" is a breathless, ghetto-house inspired slammer, while "You Lose" is a raw and wonky fusion of noisy but funky electronics and thrusting machine drums. "Break The Law", a more hypnotic but no less guttural jack-track reminiscent of early 2000s Chicago tech-house, completes a fine package.
Dutch party crew/ label Dekmantel has achieved more in the past decade than most labels, and that they are able to call on such a heavyweight line-up for the third installment of their celebratory series is evidence of this fact. The release starts with the steely drums and mournful, rainy day pianos of Levon Vincent's "UK Spring Vibes" - which is a rare contribution from the US artist outside of his Novel Sound label - and continues with the fist-punching acidic sweeps of Legowelt's "Blue Austral Techno". Shifting the focus back to the other side of the Atlantic, Joey Anderson weighs in with the spooky, swirling synths and understated "Opened Gate", while Danish artist Central rounds off the EP with the jazzy abstractions of "Six Five Two".
Belt is Kopp's second artist album for Tresor and embodies an aesthetic that has long been synonymous with the German label. With echoes of James Ruskin and Surgeon's late 90s / early 00s work for Tresor, Photon Belt has no shortage of tough, linear techno, audible on tracks like the percussive "Galactic Core" and "Aile". There is also another side to Kopp's work, expressed on the atmospheric ambience of "Electrons Splitting" and "Taygeta", and the album also covers the middle ground; this is articulated most impressively on the stripped back, stepping "Bridge To The Stars" and the hypnotic, wiry pusles of "Projections From Alcyone."
Nost is Ellen Allien's seventh studio album, and it's the first one since 2010's Dust to focus on the dance floor. As each track demonstrates, this is the place where the Berlin DJ really belongs. The album begins with the rolling groove, pitch-bent male vocal and eerie synths of "Mind Journey" and the queasy bass of "Innocence", before Allien opts for a more raw option, audible on the stab-heavy "Jack My Ass" and "Call Me", which unfolds to rolling sabres and air-raid sirens. Unlike some of her previous albums, there is no high concept on Nost - as the firing, building techno of "Mma" shows, it is simply a collection of killer club tracks.
After a series of singles on Shifted's label, Shawn O'Sullivan delivers the debut 400PPM album. It's an angry, bleak affair. Even in its less visceral moments, like on the stepping metallic rhythm and Rose E Kross' muffled vocals on "New Expiration", or the dark, tranced out pulses of "Into The Heap", a gloomy sensibility hangs heavy in the air. "Sintered Bauxite" sees O'Sullivan add frazzled, droning bass to a similarly angular rhythmic workout, while "Bolling Oscillation" resounds to wild sub-sonic bleeps. For the most dance-floor friendly intense iteration of the 400PPM sound, look no further than the slamming, industrial techno of "Metabolic Grift".



3KZ is a collaboration between Z.I.P.P.O and Kalean, a partnership which already this year has yielded the Parallel Reflections album. Now the pair makes an impressive debut on Darko Esser's label. The title track is a powerful purist techno affair, featuring steely percussion and rhythms, coupled with dramatic synth sweeps. "Nature of Motion" is deeper and more musical, with warm keys unraveling against a gurgling groove. On "Circles", the pair flex their dance floor muscle, as an insistent, driving arrangement is combined with eerie synth loops, while "Times" concludes this club EP with a rolling, atmospheric groove that has echoes of classic Vince Watson.
German producer Johannes Volk runs the Lifeworld and Exploration imprints. On this new EP for Belgian techno imprint Token, he firmly wears his old school influences on his sleeve. This EP being a dedication to sorts to the hypnotic polyrhythms from the late nineties and early noughties. "Designing Evolution" creates some basic trance induction with its complex layers of steel drums, bongos and syncopated 909 hats all working in wonderful unison like early James Ruskin. The bleepy bell tones and sonar qualities of "Escapism" create wonderful style of suspense over a furious warehouse groove. "Cosmic Clockwork" is the EPs true standout which is reminiscent of Jeff Mills and Oliver Ho's finest moments on Purpose Maker or Meta respectively.
Bitter Music is Ali Wells's third studio album and manages the rare feat of combining experimentation with a focus on the dance floor. It means that the husky, breathy vocals and found sound ambience of "Exit" and the spooky tones of "Wax Apple" both sit next to the panel-beating techno of "Unelected" - possibly another one of Wells' political references - the eerie, rumbling drums of "Chatter" and the low slung menace of "I Just Can't Win". On other occasions, Wells articulates his ability to straddle both worlds in one arrangement, audible on the deeply disturbing shrieks of Aja Ireland over the gnarly rhythm of "Spit" or the tape dub cut up groove of "Rat Run". Ali Wells has matured as an artist but as Bitter Music shows, in the process he has lost none of his bile-laced anger.
Different Shapes & Sizes is a new, three part series of EPs from Berlin resident Spencer Parker forthcoming on his Work Them Records imprint over the next few months. Conceived as a neat way of showcasing Parker's love for different shades of house and techno, The third installment takes a walk through the Rekids artist's love for the subtle differences in the genres he tends to focus on in most in his sets. "Size Information" sees Spencer do his tribute to the loopy/steely sounds of early '90s techno by Jeff Mills and Regis, a meticulous, noisy and overdriven 808 drum track/DJ tool is in order on "Shape Fascination" while "Size Devotion" hammers the message home in thunderous fashion on this fierce warehouse techno monster full of wobbly metallic textures.
French producer Julien Saillenfait began producing music at the age of 19. His prior releases on Clubwerks, Soul Notes and Boysnoize Records have been supported by some of the biggest names in techno. His mission with the Deapmash project is simply to provide bangers to ravers and DJs: and it's safe to say that's mission accomplished. On "Halcyon" he deconstructs rave techno into new forms and to interesting effect, while on "Solar 909" he teams up with Benjamin Damage for a furious broken beat techno workout that blows the bloody doors off!
Reggie Johnson follows his debut Keeno 18 release on Ultramajic last year with this hard-hitting album. Focusing on pacey, distorted rhythms, Johnson draws influence from ghetto tech and the tougher iterations of Detroit techno. "Debois" and "Glah" with their cacophony of tonal bleeps, repetitive vocal samples and rough jacking, both sound like an up-tempo fusion of Shakir and Dan Bell, while "Unkintintin" is a detuned, slamming ghetto tech affair. There are some musical moments - check the swirling stings of "Ghana Gate" or the jazz chords intertwined with the relentless, rolling drums of "Swirling Pot" - but in the main, this is a collection of gritty, Motor City-inspired jams
This release, a collaboration between two of European techno's most experienced practitioners, starts on an unusual note. "Spiegelkabinett", with its jazzy licks and offbeat rhythm sounds like an electronic update of The Durutti Column or 80s funk act A Certain Ratio. It proves to be a temporary distraction though; the title track is a straight down the line techno track, led by heavy kicks, shaking percussion and hiccupping samples. "Stringer Bell", presumably named after the character in The Wire, is a tough, firing affair, led by ticking percussion, detuned tones and surging chords. Completing the release are the tranced out synths of the Petar Dundov-esque "Millipede".
Guy Brewer aka Shifted set up Drifting Over as an outlet for his dance floor-focused work, and this is exactly what its second installment delivers. "Centipede" is reminiscent of Cosmic/Lost Tracks material at its most dense and opaque, as a repetitive stab is looped over a steely, stepping rhythm. "Gauze" is just as functional; it sees the UK producer drop a series of bleeps over kicks that seem to fall in on top of one another. "A Way Beyond" is less complex and more linear; over a straight groove, rolling snares, not too far removed from those of Richie Hawtin's Plastikman project, are key to keeping the momentum going.
Despite featuring what appears to be a refugee camp viewed from the other side of a fence on its cover, Vatican Shadow's "They Deserve Death" is one of its author Dominc Fernow's most mellow, introspective moments. Its layered guitar textures recall The Durutti Column's eponymous album and early New Order. Shifting the tempo and style for the title track, the author surprises again with what sounds like his approximation of jacking Chicago house, albeit with a man groaning away in the background. Completing what is one of Fernow's most unpredictable releases is the tunneling techno groove and layered, distant shrieks of "Weapons Inspection".
Something Happening Somewhere label and events by Nuno Dos Santos out of Utrecht Netherlands now presents Amsterdam rising star Presk. "2bxprzd" is a dark and brooding journey track optimised for some proper dancefloor drama. The bouncy and uplifting "Starets" is a positive change of attitude but with equal pizazz on the dancefloor until finally the remix by label head honcho Dos Santos delivers something more dreamy and evocative.
Selected by label owner Ilario Alicante, this split release mines an underground but refreshingly diverse path. Hush & Sleep's "Perceptual Isolation" is a tough, acid-soaked pulser that rolls deep. There are no such niceties on SLV's "Meteor", a propulsive affair that resounds to rolling drums, tough kicks, lone bleeps and a ponderous vocal sample. On "Tentacles", the contribution from Maxime Dangles, a frazzled 303 and fuzzy bass intersect to create a sound not radically different to Sandwell District, while ZIPPO's track is more straightforward. "The Leopard Prey" is heavy, panel-beating techno, led by doubled up claps, steely kicks and discordant riffs.
HTID: Heaven-sent Tekno Impakting Dancefloors, or Hardcore Till I Die' is Calum Macleod and Liam Robertson's third record for Speedy J's respected Electric Deluxe imprint. The Perth Drug Legends throw down some gnarly analogue techno mayhem across the LP's dozen or so impressive track selection. Highlights on here not limited to: "Base Damage" where they go straight for the jugular on this screeching terrorizer, the harsh body-bash of "Dinner At Skinja's", the broken beat industrialism of "Floatation Advice" which reminded us of British Murder Boys or the pummelling "Panosonics".
TWR72's latest outing on Float shows why the duo has become synonymous with high-quality, forward thinking club techno. The title track is a linear, twitchy track that borrows from the minimal funk of French label Logistic. On "Erudite", the Dutch duo ups the tempo to deliver a tough, rolling groove, underpinned by rasping hats and featuring a lone bleep on repeat. "Colloquial" opts for a different approach again; the rhythm is more electronic and bleepy, as hi hats and snares roll in together with great intensity. "Aporia" rounds off the release - a dynamic, bass-led workout, it sees mysterious synths swirl over the futuristic arrangement
Exclusives
MAP vs DJ HAUS - X-Mod EP (Dixon Avenue Basement Jams)
LEVON VINCENT/LEGOWELT/JOEY ANDERSON/CENTRAL - Dekmantel 10 Years 03 (Dekmantel)
RHINE - De Storm EP (Delsin)
Exclusives
MAELSTROM - Her Empty Eyes (RAAR)
ELLEN ALLIEN - Nost (BPitch Control Germany)
400PPM - Fit For Purpose (Avian)
Jason Fernandes DJ Chart
Bach Music DJ Chart
Steve Pain DJ Chart
Spektral DJ Chart
Top Labels
Sonic Groove
50 weapons
R&S
Perc Trax
Token Belgium