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Harry Agius aka Midland is back: does he ever find time to sleep? Following up the Akase side project he's involved in with Robbie Redway and some killer releases on Aus Music, Feel My Bicep and of course his own Graded imprint which this appears on; making it the label's third release already. "Blush" is a slow burning and emotive piece with an epic vintage synth arpeggio and soulful strings backed by the most restrained beat. "Outpost" gets a bit more fierce with a tougher beat and a free running arpeggio that reeks havoc much like Carl Craig's classic remix of "Falling Up". Finally "Holdup" hammers the message home gloriously with its off kilter yet hypnotic beat and sombre yet emotive atmosphere.
Random contact through Soundcloud saw Phantasy owner Erol Alkan sign Ghost Culture and now, seven EPs and one album later, this almost accidental hook-up has paid off in spades. "Safe" is a fine modern techno track; a dark, moody bass lashes and flashes like a live power line, while industrial strength acid ploughs its way over Ghost Culture's pumping groove. On the flip side, "Multiply" represents a different side to his sound. It is deeper and more melodic; tranced out chords and melodic hooks of almost crystal fragility play out over a warbling bass and dry percussive ticks. Both tracks consolidate Ghost Culture's reputation as a fine modern day techno artist.
A taster for Robert Hood's second Floorplan album, this EP puts a spotlight on the radical nature of his musical transformation. On "Music", the visceral rhythms of techno minimalism are gone; in their place is a rolling, tracky groove that boasts a repetitive vocal loop and which has shades of classic Relief /Derrick Carter. "Tell You No Lie" is even more impressive. It sees Hood use a gospel vocal over a stomping, funk guitar-sampling disco house workout. There is an audibly religious dimension to "Tell You No Lie," but Hood's knack for writing a great tune means that it sounds celebratory rather than self-indulgent or preachy.
Peggy Gou has had a busy debut year thanks to her opener on Phonica's white offshoot, and now two EP's out on Rekids in quick succession. Her sound is a subtle, minimalistic blend of house and techno, exactly the sort of tech-minded groovers that have appeared on Radio Slave's label in the past. "Jen High", for instance, takes a dusty being of drums and wraps them around delicate blends of chimes, whereas "When Round, They Go" heads deeper into space with the help of a sublimely cosmic swarm of sonics. The special piece comes from Terekke's remix of the latter, and the LIES man adds his signature touch to an already very deep house tune, making his version that one toke over the line!
Jorden Hodgetts is the producer behind the Cleric project, but there is nothing pious or precious on offer here. Indeed, the opposite is true and he ends up making an unholy racket. "2nd Limit" revolves around a pounding kick drum and an industrial/EBM-style vocal exhorting the listener to 'let the beat control your body'. "Formation" is even more intense thanks to razor-sharp percussion, stomping drums and bleeding acid lines, while "Side FX" adheres to a similar style thanks to its dark 303s and grungy bass. By the time the listener gets to the static interference and white noise of "Control", it feels like sweet relief.
Doncaster's foremost expert on all things rave, Mella Dee, steps up for the latest release on DEXT. He's got a hard act to follow after 'that' Hodge remix of Callahan on the previous DEXT missive, but Mella Dee proves he's more than up for the challenge with this Deep Soul single. Indeed DEXT are calling it his strongest fusion of house, techno and jungle yet and we can't really find any cause to disagree. The title track sets a thunderous tone, throwing down a crucial melange of filtered amens, chopped-up vocals and Reece bass lines that will grip hold of your affections immediately. From here, Mella veers off into straight up jacking house territory on "Universal", whilst "Circular" is there for the heads down crew. Sandwiched inbetween is a rather moody refix of the title track from Endian.
GoldFFinch's relationship with Turbo continues with the impressive Proliferation. On the title track, the Belgian producers drop a murky, low-slung techno track. Led by rough drums and tonal bleeps, it has echoes of early Neil Landstrumm. "Shape" favours a reduced approach but ends up sounding more contemporary than "Proliferation"; a primal rhythm lurches and lunges against the backdrop of hollowed out, croaking drums. By contrast, "For Future Use" is a woozy, tranced out track with GoldFFinch drawing on the dreamy, break beat-driven sound of mid-90s UK techno. The Black Dog complete the release with two driving, hypnotic versions of "Use".
Call Super first met the Dekmantel crew last year, one of many high profile DJs to play their summer festival in Amsterdam and it wasn't long before the esteemed Dutch imprint asked him to supply them with an EP. Impressively, Nervous Sex Traffic is one of his strongest 12" singles to date - no mean feat given his track record - with the title track, in particular, delivering thrills in spades. Stretching out over nine mesmerizing minutes, it overlays snappy, analogue-sounding beats and cowbell hits with alien bleep melodies, synthesized horn stabs, rich bass, and pads that recall Pet Shop Boys' "West End Girls". It's a melodious, eyes-closed treat, all told. "Mount Grace" sees a deeper, more metallic affair that draws inspiration from vintage Detroit techno, blissful electro, and the morning-after confusion of ambient house.
From the prolific Dutch label comes this high-quality compilation. It starts, somewhat inauspiciously, with the serene ambience of JaBBurg's "Summit", but soon after that plunges into the kind of streamlined techno that Paul Boex's imprint excels at. Deepbass & Ness' "Proximity" is a tough tribal track and Voidloss' "Moment Of Total Emptiness" follows in a similar vein, albeit with some hypnotic tones thrown into the dense rhythms. The Jeroen Search take on Tim Wolff's "Backstage Fridge" is reminiscent of late 90s Sterac mixed with Silent Servant as woozy chords are mixed with functional, loopy rhythms. Paul Boex himself also impresses with "Hate is Love" remixed here by Oscar Mulero, bringing the compilation to an urgent, acid-heavy climax.
The latest release on Arnaud Le Texier's label sees Endlec partner up with newcomer Euskalraver for some devastating results. First up it's Endlec; "Cyclo" is a pulsing techno groove daubed in layers of grimy textures, while on "Nycto", he goes for a more extreme approach; the drums and rhythm are more abrasive and visceral, with rusty acid globules dripping over these backing elements. Despite it being Euskalraver's debut outing, he impresses greatly; "Offset Mode" is a hypnotic, tunnelling track in the finest Sandwell District fashion, while "Unestable Motion" is a bleep-heavy groove, the 303s bubbling over robotic drums.
After a string of high-profile releases for Richie Hawtin's Minus, Gavin Lynch aka Matador delivers a new album for Ruckus. It sounds like the Irish producer has matured as a producer. At times, Ructions seethes with an understated menace. This is evident on "Drifting", a drawn out groove with menacing bass pulsing underneath. "Back 2 Bass" follows a similar trajectory, augmented by a repetitive vocal sample and sirens firing off into the ether. There is still a lot of big-room style tracks - just check the ominous "Inceptions" and the heads-down pulses "Klout & Bones" - but this album works best when Lynch explores unexpected directions, like the subtle, sub-aquatic house of "Harcourt Street".
Riva Starr's back everyone: look out! Our favourite Italian tech house prankster appears again on Jamie Jones and Lee Foss' esteemed Hot Creations imprint and it's tech house that's as punchy and as funky as you like it. "Dippina Side" is the kind of rolling main room groove for hedonists that'd make a Gruuv or Saved record pale in comparison. The remix by Neapolitan techno hero Joseph Capriati isn't as ferocious as you'd think, but definitely tougher with some big druggy breakdowns. Finally "Owls & Toucans (feat Haiku 575)" features some sexy and exotic Latin flair with those steel drums but then that adrenalised bump and shuffle comes rushing in complete with wacky synth lead and pitch shifted vocals; all the good stuff!
Since debuting on his Taapion Records imprint back in 2013, Shlomo has delivered a succession of quietly impressive, abstract techno EPs. The Delsin crew were clearly fans, as they've asked him to deliver a series of 12" singles under the In Absentia title. This first 'tome' opens with the icy techno throb of PVNV hook-up "In Absentia", before diving headfirst into darker waters via the rubbery electronics, hushed textures and relentless bottom-end thump of "Escape From The Void". There's a strangely grandiose feel to "Poison River", where dub techno style sonic textures ride a thunderous techno groove. A fine EP reaches its' conclusion with Artefakt's hustling, slow-burn remix of the same track.
To coincide with the twenty-fifth anniversary of Berlin club Tresor, Juan Atkins and Moritz Von Oswald have released a second album together. It begins in ominous mode, with the title track's brooding bass tones casting a long, dark shadow, but the pair soon find a way to break away from the gloom with the mesmerising chords and heavy rhythm of "Lightyears" and the wonderfully spacey Detroit techno of "Riod". Both "Odyssey" and "Merkur" push the tempo back down but keep an emphasis on hypnotic, woozy textures, snappy drums and jazzy tones, while "2600" shows that Van Oswald hasn't lost his ability to craft dub-heavy, dreamy techno.
It's a case of the old and the new getting together and getting down for the latest instalment on Bek Audio. Fitzpatrick is a Chicago veteran, who put out his hard, analogue techno for labels like Relief back in the day (this writer's personal favourite is Tone Control). Beck on the other hand, represents the new wave of modern, big room techno. "BS" came out last year and on this version, Beck provides two mighty reshapes. The first take is a tunnelling, rolling groove, powered by murderous kicks and featuring a wailing diva telling the listener 'you're alright'. Beck's 'Apparatus' version meanwhile, is more contemporary-sounding; the drums roll incessantly and provide a basis for the Scottish producer to layer waves of pile-driving percussion over them.
Originally hailing from Newcastle and now based in Berlin after a stint in Mexico, the man known as Man Power is back, lending some class to the Voyeurhythm label. The title track buzzes and grinds away in ferocious 303 acid fashion; you could really imagine them all losing their heads to this one! Next up "Wither" is a dark journey track much like some of his previous work on Correspondant with some more sick acid included for your enjoyment (and those horns that come in later are a nice touch too we must say). Finally he closes things out with Koncret Cutz killer remix of "Ruthven" which has some deep electro/acid house crossover on this soulful and emotive rendition by this Anglo-French duo.
Danish up and coming producer Denis Horvat is back again on Berlin tech house hero Alex Niggemann's Aeon Audio. First track "Exit" is a tunnelling dark techno journey with rusty and syncopated rhythms while "Transparent" and "Moerna" are dark journey tracks with wonky and catchy synth leads plus haunting atmospheres that'll appeal to Life & Death fans. The remix of "Exit" by rising Italian duo Marvin & Guy is super infectious and has a groove that sits somewhere between nu-disco and progressive house and is equally surefire on the dancefloor.
Up to this day, Nomine has been heavily associated with the mighty Tempa crew out of London - perhaps the most important home to dubstep music - but this time his brooding head-nodders are here on his own Nomine Sound label. "Nomine's Path" is the perfect opener, a mid-tempo drum roll that dilutes perfectly into the steadier kicks and Eastern vocals of "Peace Please". "Lost Girl" is a dubby wave of Space Echo trickery and aqueous chanting, but "Nomine's Mantra" is the final gate to the portal, a mystical bullet of wizard wailing and sparse drum beating. Tip!
When Bristolian man-of-mystery A Sagittariun released his debut album, Dream Ritual, back in 2013, there was a brilliant freshness to his '90s inspired intelligent techno sound. Since then, many others have mined similar inspirations, but few can match the authenticity of his sound. Elasticity, his sophomore set, widens his palette of influences further, via nods to blissful ambient house, trippy interludes (complete with spoken word samples from famous psychedelic thinkers), Drexciyan electro, the guitar-laden atmospherics of Jonny Nash, and, most surprising of all, classic UK garage. It's a fine set, all told, and one that reveals greater details with each successive listen.
According to White Material pair Galcher Lustwerk and Alvin Aronson, their first collaborative album under the Studio OST alias contains a mix of "breezy electro, aquatic dub, high speed jit, and shimmering atmospherics". While clearly tongue-in-cheek, it's a fairly accurate description. Certainly, there's a fluidity, moodiness and palpable sense of atmosphere at the heart of Scenes, which casually drifts between hard-edged club workouts, hazy post-club fare and dreamy, horizontal experiments. It was apparently recorded over a three-year period, during jam sessions at various New York studios. It's the spontaneous aspect of its' creation that has the biggest effect, and makes the whole thing feel like fleeting snapshots of moments in time.
Exclusives
MIDLAND - Blush EP (Graded)
FLOORPLAN - Music/Tell You No Lie (M Plant US)
CLERIC - Voices Of Control EP (Clergy)
Exclusives
MAN POWER - Planet Cock (Correspondant Germany)
BLACKHALL & BOOKLESS - Links EP (Jaunt) - exclusive 08-05-2016
SHLOMO - In Absentia/Tome 1 (Delsin)
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