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Reviewed this week
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Warm Tonal Touch marks a new chapter in Jamie 'Blawan' Roberts career, as the producer launches his Ternesc label. Set to offer a home to most of his solo material, he kick-starts the imprint with a quartet of modular techno workouts. Undeniably rhythmic and floor-friendly throughout, there's a surprisingly tactile feel about the rolling grooves of "Talatone" and "Roll Mick", despite the presence of clanking, metallic percussion. Interestingly, it's when he tries to do things differently -such as on the intense, clicking grooves and dislocated horn samples of "Blue Bottle", or the intense, cacophonous, unsettling throb of "Fentanyl", that the EP really excels.
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After flitting between labels for the first four years of his career, Blawan has decided to become master of his own destiny. Last month's Warm Tonal Touch EP marked the debut of his Ternesc imprint. This speedy follow-up continues on a similar theme, delivering a range of ragging, dark and often intense modular techno workouts. All four tracks prioritize percussion and rhythm, with any melodic elements - usually short, nightmarish loops, or horror-influenced textures - playing second fiddle to his impressive drum programming. It's a formula that works well, from the left-of-centre bounce of "Hanging Out With The Birds" and throbbing 4/4 pulse of "Mine Oh Mine", to the sludgy, industrial fuzziness of closer "Diatonic Valves".
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While the Arches has sadly closed, that other great Glasgow institution, Soma, keeps on putting out great music. The label's latest project is Transmissions Glasgow, a compilation of 15 tracks from the city's producers. It is executed in much the same way as one of Slam's flawless DJ sets; beginning with the serene ambience of Edit Select's "iN1" and the fractured, slow-motion beats of Puddledub's "Circling", it moves into the deep, trance house of Dextrous "Station to Station". It wouldn't be a Soma compilation without some techno and this is provided by artists like Deepbass and the brilliantly named Complex Emotional Response, but as always, Slam's take on the form is deeply soulful and emotive, demonstrated here most impressively by Edit Select's percussive but mournful synth-led "Resurface".
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Since making her debut on Sandwell District back in 2011, Rrose has become a familiar figure on the experimental techno circuit. Though she recently committed a quite singular album to the Further Records cause, it's Rrose's own Eaux label through which her revelatory material largely arrives and For Aquantice is another fine single. Rrose's first single of 2015 features three more ghostly, otherworldly compositions, beginning with the creepy electronics and undulating rhythms of "Levitate". There's a greater rhythmic intensity to the wonky, delay-laden drums of the equally supernatural "Vellum", while "Signs" charges off in a classic off-key intelligent techno vein - all spiraling riffs, spitting melodies and psychedelic electronics.
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Dutch label Dynamic reflection continues to go from strength to strength with power duo Abstract Division comprised of label boss Paul Boex and Dave Miller. The original of Metropolis is a nice slice of soulful melodic techno that fans of Heiko laux or Vince Watson will be all over. The first thing you may think then listening to the Trolley Route mix is it sounds like Oscar Mulero; and it is! Things start getting hectic when they big guns Function and Marcel Fengler are called in for remix duties. Dave Sumner's pounding yet atmospheric version is all you'd expect. But he keeps the lush melody of the original intact and it works well. Fengler's rendition delivers exactly what he's renowned for in the form of energised, peak time minimal; just the way it should be!
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A taster for Karmil's second album, due this year, Play It.. draws on a range of house influences and tropes to create an idiosyncratic release. "Play It" is all dense drums and full of the kind of tripped out delays and filters that were last heard during the minimal house boom. In contrast, "Do It" is a rolling, linear affair, powered by a strong sub-bass and recalling the late 90s/early 00s sound of London tech-house. Karmil ventures farther back in time for the final track, "Say It". Here, the production is cleaner and sparser, the synths have an eerie, otherworldly sound and the end result is reminiscent of Two Lone Swordsmen's unforgettable flirtation with deep house on Swimming not Skimming.
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Current go-to-man for the UK underground, Beneath follows up some high profile releases on PAN and his own No Symbols imprint, with a new one on Berceuse Heroique featuring some typically beaten down but forward thinking perspectives of the dancefloor. First up "50/50" and its snarling acid work out faces off with a broken beat off set by serene atmospherics. "Freeze" is next with its funky and disjointed rhythm taking a more minimalist approach to showcase that A1 bassline and sultry kick ass rhythm. "Soho" with its sheer futurism merges reliable dancefloor dynamics with cleverly executed sound design, then wait for the drop! Finally "Future Shock" pays homage to his dubstep roots with a dirty exploration of sub-bass dynamics complete with haunting yet exotic string accompaniment. Tip!
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Undoubtedly one of the most prolific Dutch artists currently working in electronic music, Boris Bunnik has put out a staggering amount of records in the eight years since he first surfaced. Presentism is his fourth full length under the familiar Conforce name and flips the script a little. Recorded following his recent move to Rotterdam, it sees the veteran Dutch artist blending glacial electronics, crystal clear melodies and spacey chords with elements of ambient, classic IDM and Detroit techno. As a result, it's a far more picturesque and set than his three previous albums, with an emphasis on mood and melody previously buried beneath industrial textures and razor-sharp rhythms. It could well be his best set to date, and that's saying something.
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Given the obscurity of its producer - his most recent EP dropped way back in 2012 - many people might skip past this debut album without giving it a listen. That would be a mistake, though, as Life In The Clouds is actually rather good. Largely ultra-deep, spacey and unmistakably electronic in outlook, it effortlessly flits between dreamy, tech-tinged deep house, sprawling downtempo piano jams, horizontal dub techno workouts, and - in the case of the rather fine "Stain" - luscious organic house. The album also comes bundled with a terrific, 12-minute rework of the title track from Sebastian Mullaert, who somehow makes the dreamy original even more intoxicating.
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Catz n Dogz Pets imprint always hands out surefire tech-house grooves and this is no exception. As proven on previous releases on Adam Beyer's Truesoul and ManMakeMusic. Title track "Firma" put simply is a monster and it's huge in every way from its in your face synth stabs, epic strings and pristine drum programming. "Liberal" is a dirty epic with a tamed hoover bassline and haunting melody with overall brilliant sound design. But it's no doubt the remix by Eduardo de la Calle that'll blow your socks off here; a dirtier, more soulful Detroit vibe. There's more white noise build ups on here than a Stephan Bodzin record, which incidentally fans of Stephan Bodzin will definitely appreciate. Truly galactic proportions by this up and coming producer from Portugal.
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With their respective careers already seeing them achieve great things in the world of gutter techno, Simon Haydo and Peder Mannerfelt don't really have too much to prove to anyone but themselves, but still they step up to Shifted and Ventress' Avian label with a record that confirms there are always new directions to head down within the bounds of noise-focused 4/4. There is actually a noticeable minimalism about much of the music on Radio Mohave, as fine slithers of percussion dart nimbly around the more bloated tones and textures of the music. Even so, the synths and feedback is handled with care so as to exude an atmosphere that runs deeper than simple distortion fireworks, leaving you with a decidedly affecting release that should tickle the synapses very nicely indeed.
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While it's not made explicitly clear, there is much to suggest t hat the newcomer behind this release for Phonica is in fact Moire, more commonly found plying off kilter wares on Werkdiscs. Whatever the case, this single features Moire as himself turning out a delightfully spannered remix of "Mouth Shut" that piles the sonic detail on high from chopped up vocals to delirious chord stabs and plenty of grainy detritus. "Party Girls" meanwhile finds Moire teaming up with Disguise for an edit perfectly honed to get a big crowd jumping, even if it employs plenty of deviant tropes. Disguise also turns in a "Special" mix of "Mouth Shut" that ramps up the bumping house groove and reins in a little of that madcap energy for a more focused finish.
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Italian Roberto Corizzo aka Hydergine has steadily built a strong profile and his latest release on French label Knotweed sees him smash out some no nonsense 130 BPM plus adrenaline for dancefloors; with an intelligent take. "EXP5" is a booming brutalist beast of a track that Modularz fans will be fond of, beware! "EXP3" injects a razor sharp arpeggiated melody over an uplifting pad workout. Finally "EXP1" gets gritty with a serious 303 acid workout backed up perfectly with syncopated 909 rhythms. Some great sonic artillery on offer here and a worthy addition to any techno DJs crate.
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Berlin-based producer Koehler may well have affiliations with both Skudge and Creme's R-Zone series, but he's clearly built a bond with London label Berceuse Heroique. Last year's label debut Dynasty was Koehler at his post-apocalyptic best and he's on similarly face-slapping form with "Anti-Gravity Switch". Produced with fellow Berlin type Kuno, the track is essentially a DJ tool for those who like their tracks to breathe a certain filth laden rudeness. A disgustingly thick acid-like riff is at the core of "Anti-Gravity Switch" around which Koehler and Kuno lay down some foundation shattering drum programming. Just listen to the clips! Dave Huismans remixes the track as A Made Up Sound, stripping it down and building it back up as some nasty broken dub business.
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Berlin based Italians Audioluis aka Ruhig and Synthek and their Natch imprint is steadily growing in profile and this release showcases some great remixes on the second part of their 'Unwise' remix series. First up Kwartz's brutal and broken take on "Counterbalance" nails that Berghain vibe so well. Fabrizio Lapiana's take on "Over the edge" just shows why Italians indeed do it better with a hypnotic journey into the darkside reminiscent of old Zooloft. Paris' new hero of the underground Antigone re-creates "Something else" into a beautifully ethereal and transcendental journey, perfect for the sunrise set. Finally Sweden's Varg follows his highly lauded run of exceptional music with his recreation of "Overcast" with nefarious industrial soundscapes sounding more like something on Posh Isolation; works for us!
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LA-based Israel Vines has been productive over the last few years, what with his Borrowed Language label to run and producing dusty floor tracks at the same time! This time, however, Mr.Vines steps out of the Borrowed Identity circuit and inaugurates the newly crowned Eye Teeth label with a dark, three-tracked piece of brain dynamite. "WWKD" is a hissing, rickety techno slither, while "Relapse" is colder and "Tone Approach" reduces the beats to a lonesome and dreary-eyed cascade of drones. Effective and well constructed cuts for the most cavernous of minds.
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In 2010 James Ruskin and Mark Broom turned more heads than usual with the release of their No Time To Soon and Erotic Misery EPs, both of which found a release on Blueprint. Following this the pair formed a new project called The Fear Ratio, and they've just released a new album on Skam. But if you're after another taste of the booming warehouse techno that took hold around the turn of the decade, this two-track single will give you a reenergised version of "No Time Too Soon" (with extra 2015 industrial scrapings) and, for all we know, a reduced version of all time classic "Erotic Misery".
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Tibor delivers a master class in measured but functional techno on Cobra. "Banana Taco" features tripped out reveries, dubby whooshes and weird sound scapes, but all of these elements are supported by steely drums and insistent, nagging percussion. The title track uses a similar approach; a pulsing, hypnotic bass provides the centre-piece, but to this Tibor adds a breathy vocal that lends the track a mysterious edge. On the subject of vocals, "Des My Winter" also features a vocal but it is high-pitched and indistinct, which fits perfectly with the track's reduced, minimal rhythm. "Besen Wife" meanwhile is Tibor's take on Berghain techno, its hypnotic sound scapes supported by a sinewy bass.
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There's usually something a little creepy about Roger Semsroth's work under the Sleeparchive alias, an aesthetic that both of his previous 2015 12" singles, And In His Eyes I Saw Death and Senza Titolo, gleefully embraced. He's at it again on this outing for Warm Up Spain. Opener "Window-057" sets the tone, lacing uneasy, off-key electronic loops over a decidedly unsettling techno groove. "Window-092" is similarly horror-inclined, albeit with twisted sirens and fizzing textures over a booming kick-drum led rhythm. Warm Up owner Oscar Mulero provides remixes of both, shuffling around the parts whilst retaining Semsroth's typically forthright approach.
$15.61
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Dropping the Kal from his name once more, Lando makes a second outing on his own Myth Music label with four tracks of typically chunky, metallic peak timers. It's worth noting that this release has been offered up as a Traktor Remix set for enhanced creative interaction for all those tinkerers out there, meaning you can really get to grips with the ear snagging hooks and forthright rhythms. The tracks themselves veer between the sturdy thrust of "Posse Form" and the unhinged synth twirls of "Insyde", all catering to long dark nights without ditching warm, human qualities in the process.
Exclusives
PSYK - Human (Mote Evolver)
A MADE UP SOUND - Archive III (Clone Basement Series Holland)
DIXON, Sean - Unknown (Final Chapter) - exclusive 20-07-2015
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MEAT BEAT MANIFESTO - Kasm02 (Kasm)
REHEARSAL - We This EP (Lost Thumb)
HENNING BAER - In Pursuit Of Myself  (Sonic Groove)
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