Strahil Velchev has been a lot of places in his prolific career thus far, but he's never been to Running Back before. With the title track the Hungarian production power house steps up to the plate with a surefire peak time rocker, piling on thick electro synth lines and plenty of techno tension built for the large-scale experience. "Diversion" is no less catchy even if its temperament is far sunnier, working that playful edge that has always accompanied Kink tracks, but then "Pocket Piano (Breakbeat Mix)" throws a curveball in the shape of an old-skool breakbeat groove colliding with warm and fluffy arpeggios before opening up into a joyous piano rave experience.
Having already turned more than a few heads with a strong appearance opposite Tuff Sherm on a split disc for Plastic World, Australian producer Cassius Select makes a fully-fledged outing on Unknown To The Unknown with a very savvy blend of sharp-edged club wreckers in line with DJ Haus's own riotous vision of 21st century dance music. "Cross Strut" places the emphasis on clattering percussion locked into a hard funk, while "Crook" lets a few more atmospheric splatters of melody and reverb into the twitchy mix. The ideas come flying thick and fast without losing sight of the dancefloor, just like all good UTTU releases.
For their first missive of 2015, legendary German techno label Tresor has turned to two French producers; veteran DJ Deep and fast-rising youngster Roman Poncet. It's the duo's first collaboration, and Hydraulic Pressure shows real potential. They begin by unveiling "Hydraulic Jack", an undulating chunk of hustling loop techno built around fluid synthesizer riffs, starry electronics and thumping bottom end. "Hydraulic Pump" offers an alternative take on the same track, with bumpier percussion and relentless handclaps offering the perfect accompaniment to the headline synth refrain. Finally, "Artesian Well" eschews the fearless pump of techno altogether, instead delivering a yearning, eyes-closed slice of shimmering ambience built around trippy vocal samples and that now familiar synthesizer sequence.
And so the Token juggernaut continues, slaying all before it with some of the best club techno you are likely to find right now. Terra Incognita sees Spanish producer Tadeo debut on the label after a fine succession of releases in 2014 and at six tracks long Miguel Sar takes the chance to really explore his range. "Requiem" offers a foreboding beatless opener that is rife with tension, whilst "Deep Space" explores similar territory to the Something from the Sky series by Jeff Mills. From here Tadeo runs through various shades of dancefloor techno with the mind bending "Apollo 7" our pick!
Parisian grit from the Rinse-supported Le Dom. Sitting somewhere between techno, classic 80s electro and future beats, "Oazis" is premium piece of raw groove physicality that melts down genres quicker than a debt administrator. Dig a little deeper for "Bang Us". With pitched down vocal shots on the rhythm dynamic and strange off-beat middy bass, again it could lend itself well to all corners of the dance from techno to breakbeat. Finally "Rub Up" is the most authentic electro jam on the release; all spiky paranoid synths, isolated drum elements and an ice cold groove. Thirst quenching.
In the three years since his last full-length outing, Personality, Scuba's stock has continued to rise, nudging him further towards to higher echelons of DJ culture. The fact that he now plays colossal rooms and festival headline slots can be heard in the more dancefloor-minded material on Claustrophobia. While some of the best material is more downtenpo and circumspect - see the heady ambience of "Transcience", the spinetingling wooziness of "All I Think About Is Death" and the immersive dubstep of "Needle Phobia" - it's the stripped-back techno throb of "PCP", hissing rhythms of "Television" and the progressive house inspired hedonism of "Why You Feel So Low" that will get most attention.
Bringing together tracks released by Rene 'Shed' Pawlowitz under his Head High and WK7 guises, this collection shows that when it comes to unabashed, wide-eyed techno, the German producer has few peers. Pawlowitz has spoken before of his love of the early 90s period and that influence is never far away here. From the hard core-referencing, hands in the air-style piano lines of "It's A Love Thing (Piano Invasion) " to the furious break beats of "Higher Power (Hardcore PCK mix)" and the woobly jungle sub-bass of "Megatrap (Mix mix)", this collection is a riotous and hugely enjoyable interpretation of that golden era in dance music. With Shed as your guide, it'll be impossible not to have a good time.
50 releases in under four years is no mean feat, so a round of applause to Unknown to the Unknown who surpass the landmark with a new record from Legowelt. The superbly named Immensity Of Cosmic Space arrives hot on the heels of Legowelt's fine Vaporware Tracks record for Creme and sees the Dutchman exploring the realm of rave era breakbeat techno. Of course what makes Danny Wolfers work as Legowelt so distinctive his mastery of star gazing melodies and hearing them fused with recycled drum breaks on the title track and the Amen filled "Lumeria2" is a real delight.
Gary Beck continues the fine Glasgow techno tradition pioneered by Rubadub and Slam on "Backward", the opening track on this split release. Tribal drums cascade over a rolling rhythm and in the middle of it all, a vocal sample morphs into a hypnotic Afro chant. "Data Flux", Beck's collaboration with techno veteran Mark Broom, is just as rewarding, only on this occasion, the kicks are tougher and more distorted. Bek 022 also gives a platform to new artists - with Hans Bouffmyhre & Kyle Geiger's "Inwards" delivering a flurry of tough kicks and ear-shredding sirens - and to seasoned artists the Space DJz, whose raucous "Double Zero" brings a distorted drum-led end to the release.
Any new single from the musical hive mind of Tom 'Peverelist' Ford and Joe 'Kowton' Cowton is cause for celebration, but Signal 3 is particularly potent even by their high standards. The title track is particularly more-ish, with twisted, looped bleep melodies and muffled rave electronics reclining over a typically dubbed-out, bass-heavy, dystopian rhythm. As with much of their material, it's formidably out there, but with enough weight to the spaced-out groove to suggest real dancefloor potential. "Low Strobe" feels a little deeper - despite its' picturesque elements - with some quietly attractive synth chords adding a surprise shimmer to an otherwise thrillingly low-slung techno groove.
Issued on Dusky's new label, Leon Vynehall collaborator Christian Piers serves up three futuristic house cuts. "Offf" is the most effective dance floor track, based on a succession of dense, filtered drum loops that roll and shuffle relentlessly to an inevitable climax. "Onn" follows a similar approach, albeit with a dubbier influence, as doubled up claps and a driving rhythm provide the backing for a vocal sample that's tucked away deep in the arrangement. Finally, there's the title track, which operates to a similar approach but which sees Piers add in some bleepy acid to the system-levelling bass and steely drums.
Blackest Ever Black boss Kiran Sande recently described "Tragedy of the Commons", the 17-minute lead cut on Felix K's belated label debut, as "exemplary Berlin noir". In many ways, it's an apt description. A murky, claustrophobic collage of looped Tangerine Dream style synth lines, dystopian field recordings and fuzzy bass, it's a particularly atmospheric snapshot of Felix K's immersive, off-kilter aural world. "Silent Money" continues the otherworldly feel, delivering post trip-hop rhythms and thunderous sub-bass. Finally, "Onar Anxiety "delivers a thrillingly dark, paranoid and tribal remix of "Fundamentals", with voodoo drums helping propel the bleak techno groove towards the horizon.
StuxNet is the latest release in a busy schedule for US producer Matrixxman. Tellingly, it doesn't feel like he is starting to tread water. Instead, "StuxNet 1" and "StuxNet II" sound vital and menacing, despite drawing on the well-worn acid sound. In the case of the first track, it's all down to the steely claps and that support the gurgling 303s, while the latter resounds to crashing snares and rough kicks. The release also sees Jamal Moss provide one of his most conventional remixes, as he re-vitalises "Venetian Mask" with hollowed out marching drums and a resonating bass. Spectral has also tapped the hugely talented Silent Servant for a remix and his version of "The Caravan" manages that rare feat of sounding stripped back and understated but also powerful in an eerie way.
If you're interested in finding out where underground house has evolved to, you could do worse than checking the latest release from DrumTalk. By turns bouncy and funky, abstract and extreme, it moves through many moods and tones, often in the course of the same track. "Halo" starts off with shuffling drums and a stepping rhythm before veering into icy chords and acidic licks. "Euphonia" channels chiming house bells and fuses them with a storming techno rhythm, while "Everything" balances the belligerent sub-bass with a cut-up rhythm. Best of all though is "Ishtar", a soupy combination of glitchy percussion, broken down beats and a molten lava bassline.
Fans of L.I.E.S. couldn't have failed to notice the Russian Torrent Versions label, a highly limited vinyl-only operation that shares many artists with Ron Morelli's imprint. While we've yet to prove a direct link between the two labels, the latest piece of compelling evidence comes in the shape of this L.I.E.S White Label from NGLY, an anonymous artist who recently debuted on the Russian Torrent Versions label. Fans of dank basement techno will be in their element with this record, with "Service Cost HH2" offering a muddy jack track featuring an uncommonly melodic touch, but "Some Relationships" offers a track in more of a submerged experimental hip hop mould. On the flip, "Speechless Tape" is a dark 303-led track whose copious reverb and spoken word vocal sample puts it somewhere between classic synthwave and acid, while "I Don't HAve A Soul" harks back to classic Chi house sounds, albeit glimpsed through that gauzy L.I.E.S. filter. As always, copies are limited!
Making a welcome return to the fray with another rare outing for Uzuri, Jitterbug is in top-drawer house mode across the board on this six track groove fest. "Sweet Tooth" works a funky bass lick and little touches of guitar around a rough beat to devastating effect, while "Jus Drums" offers up a rasping rhythm set for all creatively minded spinners to get in a lather about. "Surge" has a more urgent funky techno spirit about it, tapping into the swung style of Stephen Brown with ample interwoven melodic threads. "Ache 4U" takes a slower, smoother approach with a beautiful reflective house excursion, before "Koko" ramps up the energy with a lively disco infusion, leaving it to "Trak 6" to level proceedings with a nasty drum heavy bumper.
Juan-Pablo Pfirter is one of the most individualistic voices in modern underground techno and the latest release on his own label bears testament to this claim. It starts with the droning textures of "Otras Dimensiones", which swirls and lifts like fog on a wintry morning. The title track uses a similar sound design, but tacks it to hissing, bristling percussion and insistent pulses. Changing tact, "Technalog" and "Casus Belli" both represent a markedly different approach from the Argentinean artist. Industrial-strength rhythms, doubled-up claps and waves of buzzing analogue noise prevail on both tracks, which are far removed from the serene manner in which Message 1 began.
There are so many attempts to appropriate the sound and spirit of late-'80s Chicago that it is natural to be suspicious of such releases. On this occasion however, German producer Ruede Hagelstein does a fine job. He makes that sound his own on the title track thanks to the use of dramatic chords sweeping in over tight kettle drums and pitched down vocal samples. Fur Coat delivers a harder, faster version, characterised by throbbing, relentless pulses, while Kenny Larkin steals the show with his 'Moogerfooger' version. Slower and less immediate than the other versions, the subtle rhythm and intricate, jazzy flourishes capture the esoteric essence of Detroit techno.
The Berlin-based label has released a huge volume of music over the past half-decade, but the fifth instalment of its 5 Years series throws up more surprises. While Sendai's dark drones and stepping rhythm on "Inverse Array" is par for the course, Donato Dozzy squeezes new possibilities from his sound on "OZ Taped". Here, the rhythm is slinky and the pulses lap against his trancey synths like dark waves against a harbour wall. Label owner Lucy provides the biggest surprise on "Rema Rema Canoero ". Clocking in at almost twelve minutes, its droning textures are supported by a shuffling, percussive rhythm that calls to mind Surgeon's "As You Breathe Here Now" on Semantica from a few years ago.
Long time partners in prog John Digweed and Nick Muir offer up a new pair of perspectives on Jozif's "Groove Del Verano" in a continuation of their remix series on their home turf of Bedrock. Maher Daniel is also invited into the creative crossover, with the Canadian producer following up on successful turns on 8bit and Rejected by delivering a haunting remix rich in detail and emotion without overcooking the ingredients. Digweed and Muir meanwhile turn out a dynamic version that bursts out of the speakers with its canny blend of measured tension and thrilling twists.