Reviewed this week
This is the second full Fear-E release on Dixon Avenue Basement Jams and brilliantly recalls the glory days of Detroit techno and Chicago house. "Back to Basics" revolves around a jacking rhythm and a predatory bass that support a sweaty vocal. It's a classy basement track. On "What Ya Gonna", the tempo moves up a few notches as steely percussion and minimal beats accompany a lo-fi bleep sequence and eerie rave stabs, while "Band of Rubber" is a noisy, muddy groove. None of them can compare to "Sunrize in Avalon" however, which sees Fear-E appropriate the kind of liquid acid-soaked deep techno that Nu Era used to specialise in.



Canadian techno maestro Mathew Jonson burst onto the scene in a big way in the mid noughties. One of his breakout tunes was in the form of "Decompression" released on Richie Hawtin's esteemed m_nus imprint. Now the 2005 dancefloor bomb gets a series of modern revisions by an all star cast. Jonson's "Ambient Pressure remix" is even more brooding and atmospheric than the original. The cavernous sonar bleeps, gloomy pads and sharp rhythms of the original remain, except for its signature 'techstep' style sub-bass: which is replaced by a gnarly, glitched out arpeggio. Autonomic and all round UK drum and bass hero dBridge steps up next, with an 'edit' but it's actually the breakneck junglist steeper that the track has been begging to be transformed into for years: it's worth the wait! Elsewhere, fellow British Columbian and Wagon Repairman Konrad Black appears with more great music after a long hiatus: he too returning to his UK influenced roots (don't forget some of his first tunes were on the likes of Ed Rush & Optical's Virus Recordings), albeit taking his cues from the more modern post UK bass sounds on his remix of the timeless classic
Despite his young age, Kobosil has already got a series of well-regarded releases to his credit, including a debut album on Ostgut. 105, his latest release for the label, will only serve to consolidate this reputation. "OOL" resounds to a pounding rhythm and rough, frazzled kicks, exactly the kind of track that is tailor made for Berghain's main floor. "Bei Nacht (178)" is of a similar disposition and revolves around a rolling, percussive groove and tough drums, while the aptly-named "Derange" sees the young German artist deliver a pacey, percussive workout. The most impressive track is "Backmask N"; a tough, pacey percussive roller, it hinges on the kind of sub-bass menace that Suburban Knight used to specialise in.
Dystopian was one of the first labels to feature Recondite's music, and after a number of years, he now returns to the imprint. The title track is a stirring affair, with the German producer combining a gritty bass with dramatic, soaring strings. On "Thorn", he also puts a focus on the interplay between the earthy and the ethereal: tough, grainy bass and shaking drums provide the basis for an uplifting, hypnotic riff and brooding woodwind. On "Humid Green Haze", Recondite drops the tempo but the tone remains foreboding thanks to tinkling bells and sharp drums. However, Recondite's sound is best suited to the dance floor and on "Sol", he conjures up a sonorous bass and synths so melancholic they could have been lifted straight from a Kraftwerk demo.
Well, we knew that this day had to come some time soon, but we didn't realise it was going to hit us this hard. Regis, real name Karl O'Connor, requires no introductions so we're not going to write one, but what we will say is that plenty of people round the Junodownload HQ have been awaiting for his debut LP from 1996 with a noticeable level of hysteria. Gymnastics, along with a few other key releases, single-handedly launched Regis onto the UK techno scene and helped him to redefine it after the days of hardcore and house. Aside from the fact that this gear sounds as fresh as it did over 20 years ago, every tune on this thing is a keeper; the likes of "Allies", "Translation", "Sand" have been imitated relentlessly by all the techno heads over the years and, if it weren't for this album or this man, the likes of Barghain would not exist in the same way. Nuff said. Essential.
For his latest full-length, post-dubstep innovator turned dystopian soundscape specialist Shackleton has joined forces with British-German singer-songwriter Anika. Her drowsy, chilling tones provide the perfect foil for the producer's alternately paranoid and ethereal musical compositions; stretched-out pagan epics that sit somewhere between the soundtrack for The Wicker Man, the wind-swept ambience of Firecracker's Mac Talla Nan Craeg - compilation, and the experimental sound collages of the Music Concrete movement. It makes for a heady, intoxicating and at times otherworldly listening experience, even if it features numerous pastoral elements. Prepare to be thrilled and scared in equal measure
UTTU owner DJ Haus steps from the shadows to deliver a killer, acid-heavy release. "Hot 4 U" revolves around gurgling acid lines, firing percussion and a hardcore-sampling vocal intoning the track's title. Undeprinned by rolling snares, it makes for a euphoric affair. "Flange Attack" is a more murky arrangement, with grimy acid lines and dense percussive layers housing an insistent vocal snippet on repeat. On "Alien Acid", Haus moves into the kind of raw sound that Bunker dominates, as wiry 303 lines come together with miltaristic, doubled-up claps to create a bleak, dysoptian sound. This release serves as a reminder that apart from curating one of electronic music's most respected labels that Haus is also an impressive, accomplished producer.
Lake Haze aka Goncalo Salgado has a small but impressive catalogue that includes records on Creme and One Eyed Jacks, but arguably his best material has been reserved for Unknown To The Unknown. Here, he delivers two contrasting but impressive sounds. The title track is a rich, symphonic house track, its evocative strings and slightly cheesy keys calling to mind Ibizan sunsets. By contrast, "Apollonia" sees Haze get busy with his drum machine and Roland to deliver a furious acid workout that has shades of Armando. Meanwhile, DJ Boring offers another perspective to bear with his remix of the title track. Stripping away the melodies, he delivers a firing, bleepy workout.
The mysterious E Myers returns with another release that is inspired by the golden age of dance music. "Taps", with its mysterious bass, rolling snares and slivers of spine-tingling synths, sounds like a cross between Suburban Knight's powerful sub-bass signature sound and Legowelt's otherworldly analogue grooves (particularly the multi-layered classic Slompy Jitt). On "Rabona", Myers also takes influence from classic sources. Tough, steely Chicago claps, swirling Detroit chords and a relentless, percussive rhythm - think early Octave One material like Point Blank - all combine to deliver a powerful retro-inspired record that never sounds too generic or veers into derivative tropes.
With its festival, International Series, DJ Directory and Soundsystem: Dimensions has become a leading name in the underground. In only a mere six years of existence thus far, that's quite impressive we must say! Now, they extend their influence with the start of a new label: Dimensions Recordings. It launches with a 12 track compilation across three separate EP. This edition features some cutting edge electronics from legends and new heroes of the scene alike. Electro heroes London Modular Alliance appear with their best impression of purist Detroit electro on "Crosstalk" while the it also features the glacial dub techno tones of Upwellings' "Soft Shadows". Then, Fachwerk boss Mike Dehnert gives us the very Robert Hood sounding "Tokio"and Windy City legend Steven Tang aka Obsolete Music Technology appears with something harder than you'd usually expect from the man: on the gnarly analogue techno of "Comb Freq".



Color is the third album by Patricia, the stage name of Max Ravitz and it moves eloquently throught a variety of moods and styles. On "I Know the Face but Not the Name", he marries detuned riffs with sharp electro drums, while on "Liminal States", the US producer delivers a stripped back techno rhythm that plays host to chiming, melodic chords. Throughout Color, Ravitz exhibits a real depth to his sound; irrespective of whether he is channeling Drexciya for the underwater textures and powerful bass of "Speed Wagon Night Bride" or if he is moving through late night ambient soundscapes on "The Words Are Just Sounds", this is a intricately pieced together, beautifully executed work.
Seth Troxler's hometown features in the latest release on his label. Like the Play It Say It boss, Ataxia also hail from Detroit. However, their sound has more reference points with UK influences. "Time Original" is a pacy tribal groove, populated by tonal squiggles and frosty chords. It sounds like an update on what Swag Records were releasing back during the late 90s/early 00s (long before tech-house became a dirty term). On the title track, a tripped out vocal and more weird tones weave their way through an acidic underbelly, while Ataxia bring the release to a close with "Villains". More understated than the previous tracks, it possesses a similarly out there feeling thanks to its frozen filters and goofy vocal sample.
Adamson has previously released on Eats Everything's Edible label, but this three-tracker showcases a darker side to his sound. It starts with the rough filters and stepping rhythm of "Meeting House", with the upcoming producer offsetting the dense sound with some ticking, metallic percussion. There is a similarly rough aesthetic at play on "Alphabet Song", with growling bass licks and doubled-up claps supporting a cacophony of tone-shifting vocals that pronounce letters of the alphabet in a suitably tripped out manner. The title track is the least visceral-sounding arrangement; Adamson favours tonal bleeps and a growling bass against a rickety rhythmic backdrop that rounds off an impressive, individualistic release
Vince Watson is arguably one of a handful of European producers whose approach to techno matches the original ethos of the sound's Detroit pioneers. It's probably for this reason that Derrick May asked him to "remix and remodel" two timeless Rhythim Is Rhythim classics. Pleasingly, Watson's versions of 1991's "Icon" and "Kao-Tic Harmony" (the latter an early collaboration between May and Carl Craig) are both superb, getting just the right balance between respecting the original versions whilst bringing something new to the party. While the evocative, string-drenched version of "Icon" is superb, it is the fizzing, sci-fi fuelled melodiousness of Watson's "Kao-Tic Harmony" revision that really hits home hard. Naturally, both versions sound like breezy Motor City classics.
If you're a tech fiend it doesn't really get better than this; the big, bad, bold and often mysteriously positioned Shed is back with another slice of Equalized funk in what is now an instantly recognisable white label. That font, those stamps, that sound - it's back for the series 6th instalment and, as you'd expect, Shed has reinvented himself once again here. His familiarly jagged percussion flex is still very much in place on both tracks, but he's meandered onto more sombre, less direct territories that tap into the shadier, more obscure sides of techno. "Track 1" is a deep, progressive bombshell that pounds its bass drums to a mild-mannered sequence of harmonies, whereas the more punishing "Track 2" reverts to the man's more prototypical formula - that is, a electrifying swarm of bass surrounded by killer drums and his trademark hypnotism. Wonderful, as per usual.
Given her rising reputation in recent years, it's something of a surprise to find that Rembo is Karen Gwyer's first full-length excursion since 2013's Kiki The Wormhole on Opal Tapes. While that latter set was impressive, Rembi is arguably even better. For starters, Gwyer refuses to settle on one groove, following a glistening ambient opener with a fuzzy, IDM-influenced chunk of left-of-centre dancefloor techno, which in turn makes way for a beat-less slab of hazy synthesizer positivity. It's a pattern that continues throughout, as the talent American producer delivers bustling, redlined techno jams laden with dirt-encrusted synthesizer motifs, spacey IDM club tracks and picturesque electronic soundscapes that sidestep easy categorization.
According to their mission statement, Sheik 'n' Beik are a music collective/label based in New York City. Their parties reflect a euphoric spirit and they welcome you to their mind expanding experiment. This time around they've got French electronic maestro Voiksi on board for some typically epic techno of the deeper strains that you'd expect from this now revered producer and dynamic live act. He gets straight down to business on the gorgeously melodic and groovy "Let Down Disco" which does live up to its namesake with some very slinky and seductive arpeggios over its tight and energetic groove. Then, it's a much more straight ahead affair on offer with "5th Dolphin Transmission" which is something more typical from the producer on the emotive and soulful techno tip. Tunneling sonar synth bleeps, euphoric pads plus rich/gritty synth leads that will altogether have you surrendering to the void.
Fear is the follow-up to Cardopusher's 2015 album, Manipulator, and it shows that the South American producer has really honed his craft. "Dreamjumping" sees him lay down a slinky, acid-tinged electro workout - replete with hardcore sampling chants - while on "Mind Eraser" and "Llegue Por La Noche", he goes into full-on menacing ebm techno mode. The tongue in cheek menace of electro oddball Otto Von Schirach's vocals on the latter track only adds to the sense of high camp. Despite these curveballs, Cardopusher knows how to command a dance floor, and the primal jack and deranged shrieks of "Forbidden Zone" would sound at home on Traxx's Nation, while "Idol Worship" cleverly reinvents the tough NY house of Nu Groove for a new world disorder.
Ricardo Villalobos remixes "Deardrum" from Alejandro Mosso's long awaited second album Isolation Diaries, recently released on hi-tech soul merchants Third Ear. The Chilean-German minimal maestro worked up a nine minute jam from this forty minute section. It moves from a gentle pattering of sounds into a full on Villalobos style groove; taut and slinky at the same time, but irresistibly funky. The jam then subsides into chattering noises before the groove begins again.
Aber has slowly but stealthily raised his profile, with releases on his own Be As One imprint and for well-known labels like Ovum and R&S. However, this EP on Figure is his most artistically daring. The title track sees the Israeli producer deliver a rolling groove and snappy percussion but it is accompanied by atmospheric Detroit chords, in the process sounding like Carl Craig getting it on with Ben Sims. There are further surprises on "Rumbles"; it sees Aber slow down the tempo to deliver a submerged, dubby techno stepper. On "Matrix", he shifts gears again and knocks out a stripped back, bleepy minimal workout that defies expectations.
Exclusives
KAREN GWYER - Rembo (Don't Be Afraid)
RECONDITE - Theater II (Dystopian Germany)
ELLIOT ADAMSON - Je Suis EP (Me Me Me)
Exclusives
LAKE HAZE - Love In Lux (Unknown To The Unknown)
REGIS - Gymnastics Restored (Downwards)
CARDOPUSHER - New Cult Fear (Boysnoize Germany)
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