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Reviewed this week
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It seems Paul Rose can do no wrong. With a successful career that has gone from strength to strength through its many phases in the last several years he returns with another masterclass, peak time production taken from his new album Claustrophobia. "Black On Black" goes back to his trance inspired explorations of a few years ago, hypnotising you into submission with its epic synth lead while doom laden Carl Craig style synth stabs lurk in the background. Speaking of all things dark and apocalyptic, who better than getting Berghain and Figure main man Len Faki in for a remix. No surprises here; he turns in a version just as epic than the original.
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Holland's Martyn is so in tune with the UK sound that we sometimes think he's hiding out in the underbelly of South London among the likes of Burial or Loefah. This time he's back on his own 3024 alongside The SpaceApe - usually delivering his fine vocal swagger for Kode9 - with "Is This Insanity?", a stop-start dubstep hybrid for the darker sets. "Camberwell Green" follows without any kick drum, just a gorgeous bundle of melodies and percussion riding on the top, and Berghain master DJ Ben Klock remixes the title track into an effective techno clusterbomb reminiscent of the tunes for his own Klockworks imprint. Large.
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Al Matthews continues with his explorations into harsh, abrasive and retro influenced techno with this new release on Overlee Assembly, channeling the old school vibes of R&S and Djax Up Beats. There's the original of "Static Renegade" with its mental melody and 909 drums thumping and hissing all over the place like an old Jeff Mills cut, but its Perc's remix with its relentless overdriven kick and distorted snares that really hammers the message home. "Indra" is a nice slow burner with a brooding hoover bass, as is "Quango (The Cobble) with its equally wacky bassline and reductionist aesthetic perfect for opening sets.
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LA-4A is the latest project from Kevin McHugh, who was also responsible for the Ambivalent project. On "Invader", he explores a dark, drawn out take on Chicago house, with a booming bass unravelling over a primal rhythm. "Synthapella - America Kid" is a deep, swirling beatless affair, but the remixes will get more attention. Matrixxman's version of "America Kid" is a tracky affair, led by a prowling bass and best of all is Alden Tyrell's take on "Invader". More reminiscent of the abrasive, raw techno of mid-90s Joey Beltram and Luke Slater rather than his Italo or jack trademark sound, the remix is led by a searing bass and noisy kick drums.
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The second release on FINA White is a four tracker from rising Barcelona producer and former RBMA attendee Clip! Diverse releases on Discomaths, Classicworks, Sweat Taste and JD Records, coupled with his signature 'hardware only' live shows have really put Clip! on the map locally and throughout Europe. Key to his sound is a shifting style and impressive knowledge of sound design, displayed on this Brotherhood EP though four pure and unadulterated peak time cuts. There's a real menace to the bassline, low end throb and razor hats of the title track, whilst "R36" showcases the fusion of sounds Clip! can attain in his productions. On the flip side, "Forward" is, surprise, a no messing, relentlessly percussive banger whilst "Dissonance's Technique" heads down an equally straight-up, rough n' ready path.
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The UK's number one house pusher, Mr G, steps out of his own Phoenix G stable and lands on Holland's long-running Planet Rhythm, an imprint ran out of The Netherlands by Glenn Wilson. The music, however, is quality as per usual from our main man but the tracks are a little darker, a little edgier in texture. "M's Retrogade", for instance, is more broken compared to Mr G's usual sound, its metallic percussion stabbing away nicely at the rolling beats, while "Flexable" is deeper, dubbier and straighter. Over on the flip, "Binky's Groove" is a classic G joint, straight highs and ingenious vocal samples sliding like mad, and "Dis-tracted" is a swinging techno belter for peak time floor damage. Red hot!
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Rising star and Resin label head Pris is back with some more minimal and hypnotic techno that he's fast making a big impression with. There's "Reef" with its entrancing wooden percussion, looping you into submission nicely, "Dodeca" with its persisting loop, similar to a birdcall; gradually rising in resonance and absolutely mental in its execution. Lastly "Devil In The Detail" ups the anti with its savage broken beat, crunching metal snare, demonic vocal samples and siren to boot!
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Berlin's Dystopian has introduced the European techno world to some of its current maestros - Rodhad and Recondite to name a few - so it's always interesting to hear what the grey-scaled German label is up to. Daribow, a name we know little to nothing about, comes through with four shimmering floor tracks in the label's familiarly cold and bleepy style. Although there are certainly hard beats in tracks like "Eclipse" or "The Darker Stage Of Twilight", the majority of the tracks are made up of complex swarms of modular melodica. "Apostles Of Flame" is a little more minimalistic and stripped, while "Immortal Soul" contains what is probably the most hummable string of sequences in the whole EP. A certified slice of Dystopian goodness.
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The shadowy Berlin based SNTS appears again, but not on their own imprint or Horizontal Ground, rather master hypnotist Edit Selects label and how fitting. "ES19.1" has the droning, tunneling Zooloft vibe down pat, while cavernous, relentless and broken is "ES19.2". Man of the moment Blue Hour steps up to deliver a perfect peak time heavy hitter on the remix of "19.3" and "19.4" is yet another dark and reverberating workout reminiscent of something off Surgeon's seminal Force & Form release of fifteen years ago.
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Marco Bernardi wears many musical hats, but still manages to release records that perfectly capture a variety of moods and styles. On Miracle Sign, his latest venture, he takes inspiration from deep, Detroit techno and the kind of tough beat track sound that is common to Mathematics. The title track is an inspired mixture of lush strings and airy chords unfolding over searing acid and rough kicks, while "60606" sees him dispense with musical elements for a distorted beat track. The EP closes with "We Only Have" - on this occasion, the rhythm isn't quite as rough, but it still rolls and pumps with all the power of a runaway juggernaut.
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Having previously used their dnuoS ytiviL offshoot to release material from their nearest and dearest (think Batu, Bruce, Hodge and Alex Coulton), Bristol's Livity Sound crew turns to unknown French producer Simo Cell. The two tracks showcased here are a rather fine introduction to this newcomer, with opener "Piste Jaune" offering a clandestine blend of stuttering electro bass, discordant analogue percussion hits and spooky electronics. The mystery man goes for the jugular on "Cellar Door", with pitched-down, bleep style melodies and liquid electronics riding an off-kilter, broken techno groove. Another fine Livity release.
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Formerly working as Kate Wax, primarily for Mental Groove, Aisha Devi's new EP is about 'sluts, awareness, death', but also makes nods to her grandmother who passed away recently. On "Aurat (tool)", the mood is mournful and melancholic as a female vocal is covered in fragile synths, while a similar mood prevails on "The Saviour on Spilled Blood". There, a powerful bass rumbles and throbs underneath shiny, sublime melodies and eerie, almost alien-like vocal tones. However, as its title suggests, there is also a more abrasive side to Devi's approach, and this is most notable on "Kim & The Wheel of Life". There, pounding industrial breaks are mixed with tortured, high pitched Middle Eastern wails for an expression of girl power that makes most militant feminism lame by comparison.
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While Convex has focused more on his Kid Drama alter ego over the past year, this split release shows that he is still highly adept at delivering underground techno. Available here in remixed format from the ubiquitous Matrixxman, "Day After Day" swirls and bleeps hypnotically, its tones and almost catchy chords sounding like a cross between Sleeparchive and Ian Pooley. On the flip, Convex has commissioned Light Year's "Inside". Again, it is only released in a remixed format, with Mr G underpinning the infectious hooks and mysterious vocal sample with the kind of tough tribal beats that have become his signature.
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Osiris Musik head honcho Simon Shreeve returns with some more of the same brutal slabs of noise he fast become renowned for. "Contort" channels the same vibe as its coincidental namesake, Samuel Kerridge, with its sludgy downbeat techno of relentless sub bass and sinister atmospherics. The body bashing broken beat of the affectionately titled "Flustercluck" is pure sonic ultraviolence, plain and simple. Lastly "Gutter" is an unashamedly sadistic soundtrack for BDSM clubs. Listen at your own peril.
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One of experimental electronics' most transgressive labels returns and it's always a pleasure; this time in the form of Frankfurt legend Uwe Schmidt. "Riding The Void" with its dark and dense minimal electro workout builds gradually, showcasing the immaculate studio skills he has become renown over the last 25 years. There's some fine remixes on offer here too; none other than Scuba stepping up to offer a tremendously dark and hypnotic remix. Herr Schmidt himself steps up to deliver two more fine remixes; the smooth minimal house vibe of old Force Inc. et al on the Nought remix while the Consumed mix takes it back into the electro realm, albeit a darker and harder take somewhere between Silicon Scally and E.R.P.
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As Ruaridh Law's Broken20 label continues to offer up unpredictable reams of fringe electronics, so noted Colony promoter Max Bacharach joins the fold with his debut release as Tengui (bar a remix turn for Perc a couple of years ago). The six tracks that make up Transference deal in engrossing ambient studies comprised of shapely samples and found sounds shimmering in amongst vast pools of drones both melodic and atonal. At times the mood is cold and alien, as on "Mutation", while elsewhere on "Kicktrip" oppressed rhythms guide the sounds. There's also space for some moments of melodic pleasantries too, with "Conditions" being a notable highlight of this accomplished debut EP.
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Caution Your Blast, released in the spring of 2015, was one of Jaymo and Andy George's strongest efforts to date. Written and produced with Sidney Charles, its' two tracks offered the perfect balance between jackin' house grooves, bass-heavy garage influences, and the woozy shimmer of contemporary powder house. Here, one of the tracks from that set - "Hip Shots" - gets the remix treatment. Both versions are far rougher, dirtier and heavier than the original, with Crosstown Rebels and Hot Creations man Russ Yallop leading the way. His acid-heavy rework - all undulating 303 lines, snappy beats and chopped-up vocal fills - is particularly potent, though Philip Bader's booming, rave-inclined Warehouse Mix isn't far behind.
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This is a nice idea and one that happens only rarely. Austrian trio Elektro Guzzi and new school acid producer Kink are doing a remix swap. Kink's take on EG's "Atlas" is up first and sees him move far beyond his comfort zone. Full of warm synth melodies, insistent bleeps and luscious strings, it is in stark contrast to Kink's usual box-hammering workouts. Elektro Guzzi return the favour with their interpretation of "Vodolaz". Like Kink's remix, the focus is on reflective sounds, with shimmering synths and laid back electronic pulses casting Kink in a different light than is usual. Hopefully more labels will take their cue from Macro's initiative.
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Like Heaven 17, one of the great Sheffield electronic bands, it appears that fellow steel city artists The Black have a fascination with the divided society. On Commodities & Pavement, rather than corporation-obsessed synth pop, the trio deliver intricate, thoughtful techno. "Platform Lvl 6 (Crash mix)" is led by a woozy sub-bass and its insistent groove features a series of drops and a robotic vocal sample. "Commodification (South Sea Bubble mix)" is faster and less nuanced, with a spiky, rickety rhythm and throbbing bass licks prevailing. It mightn't get The Black Dog on Top of the Pops, but it shows again that they are the thinking man's techno act of choice.
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Man of the moment Florian Kupfer is back, so look out! After highly lauded releases on L.I.E.S. and WT Records, Kupfer aligns with Fotomachine's prospering Technicolour label and delivers four cuts that should be filed under 'all killer, no filler'. First up "Explora (Slave)" gets all up in your face with its retro techno stomp but the chugging minimalist epic that is "Headpiece" is grinding, beatless affair. On the flip we have "Brute Force" which trances you out with its sinister analogue synth arpeggio; so simple but utterly effective. Finally there's "Schpel" another experimental and atmospheric cut that is haunting as much as it is riveting. Tip!
Exclusives
PRIS - For A Better Understanding (Resin) - exclusive 03-08-2015
BLEACHING AGENT - Static Renegade (Overlee Assembly)
DARIBOW - Nightfall EP (Dystopian)
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BJARKI - Arthur & The Intergalactic Whales (TRIP)
HAZYLUJAH - Knife Silhouette (Delsin Holland)
KINK/ELEKTRO GUZZI - Atlas (Macro Recordings)
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