Long before the current trend of EBM/industrial fuelled techno, Terrence Fixer was there, honing his now trademark style on his highly regarded Planete Rouge imprint as well as collaborating with Nitzer Ebb frontman Douglas McCarthy for several energised live shows over the years. For Berlin institution Ostgut Ton, he appears again with "Beneath The Skin", a powerful and brooding exercise in main room techno with equal parts tension and suspense. "Trace To Nowhere" features dramatic, reverb soaked vocals backed by trippy and hypnotic madness that even Mike Parker would stand up and notice. Finally "Immersion" provides a different and refreshing perspective from the Frenchman, going for an ethereal and emotive deep techno style that's perfect for drifting.
One of Richie Hawtin's early releases under the Jack Master alias from 1993 was originally released on Plus 8 sub label JACK and is now available digitally via Soma Recordings. A true zeitgeist of the early '90s techno sound as popularised by Jeff Mills, Joey Beltran, Mark Archer and Frankie Bones, this classic still gets hammered out today by the likes of Function. Its relentless and cavernous 909 workout beneath sonar bleeps and a jacking vocal refrain is the stuff of legend!
The romping stomping Daniel Avery, is back on Phantasy Sound with a new two-track 12" which doubles up as the label's 50th, and continues the English producer and DJ's path down a streamlined, hard-edge techno path. Unsurprisingly, "Sensation" is a total juggernaut, a heady techno track that slithers its percussion sway amid huge mounds of delays and atmospherics. Over on the flip, "Clear" sticks to a techno formula insofar as its mid-to-fast tempo, but the melodies and chimes emanating from its underbelly are something wilder and altogether more ethereal. Conniving DJ tools!
Anthony Cardinale is an American producer who has just launched this new side-project, Avision. It's clear that the long years spent frequenting and playing at underground clubs in the States has rubbed off on his production style and this EP is a rough, raw analogue ride. The title track sets the tone with its insistent rhythm and noisy drums, while "Stripped" is even rawer-sounding, as a clanging metallic bar bashes away against the backdrop of pumping drums and surging chords. "Dope Jazz" offers some respite - and showcases Cardinale's deeper sound - but it's only a temporary one and label boss Mark Broom drops an intense kick-drum heavy take on the title track.
Richard Fearless re-incarnation from trip hopper extraordinaire to dark disco don has been one of the most remarkable reincarnations in electronic music. This phoenix-like transformation continues on Consequences of Love. The track has a lo-fi feel and its scuffled pulsing groove sounds like it was inspired in part by Throbbing Gristle's "Hot On The Heels of Love". In a neat twist Drone has commissioned former TG members Chris & Cosey to reshape "Love". The female vocal that bubbled beneath the surface on the original comes to the surface and unravels over a shiny synth and streamlined pop pulses. In the pair's hands "Love" becomes bright and curiously uplifting and euphoric.
Very few can do po-faced, gothic techno as eloquently as the UK's dark lord Sigha, the Our Circula sound main man returning on Belgian hard techno imprint Token with the rather restrained "Christ Figures" which makes up for the kind of aggression most usually associated with him (and the label), with its exploration in tension, texture and functionality. Second offering "Puritan" explores the same path of dystopian hypnotism in the tradition of greats like Mike Parker or Donato Dozzy; strap yourself in for this one, it's one wild journey!
It's been two years since Shifted last released material and over the coming months he is putting out his third album. Before that happens, there's this EP on his own label. "Anti" is an immersive wall of humming static and frazzled white noise, while "In Equal Measure" is an off beat affair as the UK producer layers atmospheric textures over a lithe, stepping rhythm. However, Shifted hasn't left behind the sound that he became known for; on "Persistence of Vision", he takes the pulsing, cavernous techno sound to its logical conclusion and makes the listener feel like they are being sucked backwards through a wind tunnel, the bass booming forcefully all the way.
Planet Rhythm has been one of Luis Ruiz' main platforms since he appeared almost ten years ago. This latest outing for the label marks something of a change - "KV 55" is an acid-drenched jacking affair - but also offers much familiarity for fans of his sleek techno. The title track is typical of the Argentinean's sound as high-pitched blips unfold over lithe rhythms. On "Shi Im Ti" he mines a deeper approach with subtle vocal riffs and psychedelic organs to the fore while the skipping drums and insistent chord stabs of "Dominant Roles" closes out this classy measured release in style.
Jordan hails from Belfast, but listening to the title track of this release on Tiga's sub-label, it sounds like he came from Germany via Miami. There's a bubbly electro synths of the sunshine state's capital merged with a metallic rhythm that's so precise and steely it would make Pershing look inaccurate. "Pleasure Centre" is another unusual amalgamation; this time it sees Jordan fuse the glitchy experimentation of IDM with filtered, tracky tech-house. There's one final surprise on this release; Leeds producer Sia is tasked with remixing "Coup De Grace" and turns into a granite-heavy tough techno workout, with the warm synths still appearing at intervals.
Distant Hawaii, the wavy Lobster Theremin offshoot, seems like the perfect home for Garrett David's lighthearted strain of house music, and we are very impressed with the Smart Bar resident's development over his last three EPs. The Chicago DJ and producer drops a pulsating little bomb in the form of "Octagon Blues", but "Power Up" is what truly brings his Chicago roots through thanks to its funky, jazzed 'out sound that never goes anywhere near being cheesy. On the flip, "Remedy" is sunken and aqueous in shape and texture, whereas "Healing Channel" eradicates the beats and percussion in favour of warm, hollow chords that spew neatly onto an off-kilter beat with a broken house edge.
UMFANG is the production alias of techno-minded Brooklyn resident Emma Olson, who made her recording debut with 2015's 1080p-released cassette OK. This marks her first appearance on wax, and sees her joining the dots between fuzzy, polyrhythmic techno and otherworldly ambience. She begins with the intelligent techno-era acid lines and heartfelt synth-strings of beat-less number "Riffs", before heading skywards with the fizzing electronic riffs and wide-eyed rush of the similarly percussion-less "Force". Flip for two fine examples of her techno nous - the stomping, post apocalyptic "Ecstatic Layer" and polyrhythmic thumper "Spaces On Spaces" - and the deliciously weird ambient cut "Entrada".
The mysterious DJ Python is said to be arguably NYC's first deep-reggaeton artist. He appears next on Anthony Naples' Proibito. On the A side, the trippy and looped up minimalism of "Tranquila" is a perfect groove for trancing out in the sunlight, while by contrast "Cuidado" is more suited to the night in a Brooklyn basement; this deep and dirty tribal groove is perfect for dancefloor trance induction. Finally "Sunset Groove" kinda does exactly what it says on the tin really; and those uplifting and hypnotic synth strings just rise and rise, getting some real euphoric feelings happening. Python himself is said to claim this will be a huge open-air record: he's not wrong!
Leeds' Mak & Pasteman are back on the Materials imprint for their seventh instalment of tech-driven house music, and if you're wondering whether this is of the outsider variation then you might be disappointed. However, if you want something effective and banging on the dance floor, then these two are at the top of the UK house/techno game right now. "Sermon" is a full-out fist-pumper, a technoid floor track with a rolling, subtly acidic bassline and some big room drums. "Deeper" says it all in the name, but this techno track is still powerful enough to give any sort of dancer the motivation to move and rave out. Effective DJ tools, right here!
Since making his debut back in 2007, Marco Shuttle has released material on an impressive selection of labels, including Clone, The Bunker New York, and his own Eerie. Here he pops up on Donato Dozzy and Neel's freshly minted Spazio Disponible imprint, serving up three tracks of creepy, feverish techno. With its bellowing, metallic hits, rainforest textures and chiming melodies, opener "Flusso Dinamico" feels like the soundtrack to a paranoid chase through a South American jungle. "Danza Cinetica" is similarly sticky in feel, but altogether more clandestine in execution, while the title track sees him charge off into experimental tropical techno territory, via high-octane rhythms, intoxicating synthesizer lines, and intoxicating melodies.
Since their first release began to surface back in 2013, the Gang Of Ducks label has released some utterly spectacular music through artists like Traag, Ital, S Olbricht and One Circle. The label don't have any rules concerning genres per se, but they do like to keep things experimental and diverse with each release. This is a new compilation form them, the aptly named Paradisia, and it features all their top talents plus a few new names, too. Haf Haf's weirdo house is as murky as anything we've heard recently, then there's "Call Me" by house deviant Ital, a marvellous electronic abstraction by My Panda Shall Fly, more gold from S Olbricht, and plenty of added fire by the likes of Sabla, Shape Worship, and a final slice of krautrock-inspired goodness by Quicksails. Big release!
Now, Damon Bell is an interesting signing, indeed. This is especially true for this latest EP on Bristol's Don't Be Afraid, both because he acts as an interesting and refreshing addition to the label's catalogue, but also because he has pretty much only released on Deepblak until now. "Ankh Boogie" is everything you'd expect from Damon Bell: a kinetic, dusty percussion that has been processed significantly, and an airy collection of circulating atmospherics. "Aural Afrek" is deeper, more mysterious and techno-minded, while "Time For Change" breaks out the dubbiness and goes for a Basic Channel kind of approach that is layered smoothly over a more delicate house framework. Effective and impressive - shouts to Semtek.
The always impressive Lobster Theremin are back with yet more grainy and decayed techno mutations, this time courtesy of another mysterious artist named Snow Bone. Starting out with the hypnotic and pounding groove "Neon X" with its bleep cyclicality over furious drum patterns reminiscent of early Mills or Hood, he's then serving up "Tradecraft" reminiscent of the broken and body bashing experiments of Force & Form era Surgeon. He goes out all guns blazing on "Love Is A Stranger"; the Eurythmics cover this certainly ain't: this grinding and cyclical DJ tool will instantly appeal to fans of Surgeon's early Lino releases or Gymnastic era Regis.
Originally discovered by Heinrich Mueller (Dopplereffekt, Drexciya), Federico Leocata is an Athenian electro artist with penchant for the dark side. Following a string of releases on key underground labels he now returns with this long player on Central Processing Unit. Fans of minimal wave and synth pop won't be disappointed as we get nine stark cuts of gimp mask beats and dungeon friendly melodies. Highlights include the sleazy horror-clash of opener "Der Zeitlose Raum", the metaphysical dominatrix vibes of "Metavision" and the Propaganda-on-a-budget pop of "Zunachst" which features the ice-cool vocals of Beta Evers.
This is Chris Moss' follow up to his 2015 release on Don't and follows a similarly acid-heavy approach. On the title track there's a maniacal giggle that unravels over rough kettle drums and a primal grinding rhythm. There's a similar aesthetic at play on "DP Acid" with wild 303 tones surging over Chicago house rhythms. The UK producer ramps up the intensity on "Pumped Up MF" where air raid sirens hurtle in over Armani-style kicks - exactly the kind of track that label boss Jerome Hill would play. Moss ends the release with "Elektra" a moody electro workout led by a prowling sub-bass.