Last year Rumah debuted on the Church label with the Stutter/Murmer EP, a record which seems to have grabbed the attention of Blueprint boss James Ruskin. This SC1 EP, a collaboration between Rumah and Progression, provides the label's BPLTD series with its first release that's not by Ruskin, and it's a minimal and dark affair. Respectively "SC1" and "SC2" are linear and progressive, dubby and downbeat - similar to a Truncate production - while "SC3" harks back to the days of early MDR releases. The final track, "SC1 (Creech)", then offers a broken beat alternative to the straight up techno before it.
Has it been five years already? In 2009 Stroboscopic Artefacts revealed itself with label founder Lucy's Why Don't You Change // Dub Man Walking release. In the following years artists like Xhin and Dadub became label faithfuls while others like Perc, Pfirter and Donor helped Stroboscopic Artefacts develop into the techno power house it now is. The recent introduction of artists like Rrose, Lakker (and Eomac), Sendai and Donato Dozzy have further established the label's dominance. This first chapter of various artist EPs Stroboscopic Artefacts will release to celebrate five years of existence brings together the old with the new. Rrose delivers a typically droning "Drowned By Sight" which fans of Sandwell District will love, while Perc's "Tri-City" is a rolling barrage of stiff and rigid drums and industrial atmospheres. Pfirter delivers something more subdued and dubby than his normal peak time fare while Lakker's "Pier" is haunting as always.
M Plant's 20 Year anniversary celebrations are set to end on a high with a triple CD compilation featuring a wealth of new, remastered and unreleased material alongside some classics from the Robert Hood canon. Before then, the latest in an ongoing series of celebratory 12" releases sees Hood look to the classic Protein Valve, which was the first 12" issued on M Plant back in 1994. The title track has already been subject to some edits as part of this M Plant 20 series, but it's nice to see three tracks from that original 12" reissued here as a reminder how Hood's pioneering minimal approach first took shape. Look out for new Hood production "Analog Track (Ghost)" wedged in amongst the protein too!
Corded brings together two of Sweden and Europe's best techno producers. Peder Mannerfelt has already put out an excellent abstract album this year and he continues in that vein with his contributions to this release. "Metastasizing" is all dark soundscapes and the sound of malfunctioning machines, while "Valle" is led by insane screeches, like someone ramming their finger into a live electricity socket. "White Noise-Pink Ladies" is even more extreme, as wave upon wave of noise and ear-shredding tones coalesce. Grindvik meanwhile, represents a more dance floor friendly approach; "Speaker Attack" is led by clonking rhythms and firing percussion, while "Help Me Shiver" is a tough techno groove led by cold bleeps and a driving rhythm.
Kondo is the latest signing to Ali Wells' label and as Radiate shows, his sound is every bit as idiosyncratic as the label's other signings. Throughout the release, there is a noisy, distorted sound, mixed with muffled vocals and found sounds. "Lose The Ability To Understand Existence" revolves around a limber, stepping rhythm and a repetitive vocal sample as creaky noises grind away in the background. The title track is more direct, with distorted, slamming beats underpinning pitch-bent vocals, while "Unvanquishable Number" is a more reduced, stepping workout, albeit one full of half-heard vocal samples. However, Kondo never strays too far away from his love of discordance and "Something For Those Who Wait" is a killer, droning workout.
Autoreply Music's 20th release sees the return of OCH with a seven-track EP, following on from output on renowned labels like PAL SL, Trelik and Bass Culture. By focusing on stripped-back percussive grooves, sparse 909 drum programming and ultra fine-tuned dynamics he certainly proves that the original jackin' house and techno sound will always have plenty of life and soul, especially on "Samarkand Sulci" and "Snarecrow". "Don't Fight It" is an eight-minute acid builder featuring haunting vocals and crisp synths, whilst the bass-driven dub of "Enceladus" wouldn't be complete without live delays and distorted pianos. Check Out "Morning Glory" for a surprise contender for this year's balearic soundtrack or "C Ring" for ultimate warmth. Tracks for every situation and not to be missed!
One of Europe's biggest electronic music parties sets out an impressive taster for this year's event. Mixed by French DJ/producer Brodinski, it moves from the deranged, siren-led "Slope" by Joe, through the swinging techno of Randomer's "Bring" and the chord-heavy groove of Brendon Moeller's take on Appleblim & Peverelist's "Over Here" before moving into more raw forms. This is articulated by the rough analogue jack of Marquis Hawkes' "Outta This Hood" and the firing, lean techno of Robert Hood's "Protein Valve (Edit 1). Brodinski also deserves kudos for dropping the grainy, surging bass and crisp drums of Claro Intelecto's rumbling electro killer, "Tone"
Over the past few years, Mancunian production unit AnD have become some of the go-to producers for hard as nails techno, with searing releases on Repitch Recordings, Delsin offshoot Ann Aimee and Modal Analysis. Dark Matters represents a second 12" for Electric Deluxe, and is also effectively a marker for the duo's upcoming debut album on Speedy J's behemoth operation due later this month. Whilst it's impossible to foresee how Cosmic Microwave Background will sound as a whole, both "Cosmic Strings" and "Photon Visibility Function" suggests there will be some stylistic consistency with the bracing techno we have come to expect from AnD, with the former track a particularly brutal take no prisoners affair.
Joining London labels like Ear to Ground is the new imprint Resin. For its fifth release, it showcases the talents of UK producer Divided, who had previously featured on one of the label's split releases. "Eigen" starts the release with a formidable mood , its stomping beats and shredded drums underpinning a galloping, runaway rhythm. "Eventide" sees Divided make a digression with a stepping rhythm and subsonic pulses, while "Dawn" inhabits a strange place where jazzy licks and an off rhythm collide. While Divided never rekindles the intensity of "Eigen", the closing track, "First Light", is a swinging, noisy workout, full of industrial menace.
The hugely talented Dutch DJ/producer Esther Roozendaal aka Estroe launches her new label with a typically deep serving of modern house. The title track is a driving affair powered by lithe percussive bursts and which eventually leads into fragile, understated melodies. "I Wish" is slightly more forceful thanks to the niggling acid line that runs through it, but on this occasion, gentle, lullaby-like vocals and tinkling keys serve to highlight Estroe's deft, musical touch. Lending some dance floor clout to the release is Canadian dub techno artist Deadbeat, who delivers a harder, 303-led take on the title track and Nadia Struiwigh, whose version of "I Wish" is a droning, tunnelling affair.
Blackest Ever Black's unwavering commitment to gracing 2014 with some of the most distinct sounds continues apace as their latest long player sees the return of William Bennett's Cut Hands project. Entitled Festival Of The Dead, this new album feels like the next logical progression in the Cut Hands sound, with the label describing it as "most potent distillation yet" of Bennett's "malign percussive energy". If you checked lead track "The Claw" which was made available to stream when BEB first announced the album, you will no doubt have an idea of what to expect but this relentless, bracing approach shown there is not the only card played by Bennett across the album. Indeed it's the moments where the sonics get twisted and chewed up (such as the suitably named "Parataxic Distortion") that prove most memorable.
The media-shy Gunnar Haslam first introduced himself to the wider world of electronic music with an album on L.I.E.S. and since then he's gone on to collaborate with Tin Man as Romans while releasing records for Mister Saturday Night and Chicago label Argot. Gunnar Haslam's Delsin debut also marks the onset of a new series from the Dutch label entitled Cameron with fellow L.I.E.S. graduate Voiski and Shlomo also pencilled in to contribute. "Ataxia No Logos" is an EP highlight which matches the booming sound Claro Intelecto delivered on his Stanza EP, while "Corridor Metaphysics" is a smooth, DeepChord-like production mixed with 909 hi-hats. "Dunsinane Hill" is a superb deep house production saturated in fuzzy overdrive while "Discrete Markov Dub" sounds similar to music Unbroken Dub has released on Rawax.
US producer Mike Parker has such a singular, linear sound that it must be a daunting task for any producer to play about with it. Tweak it too much and you'll possibly alienate Parker's fans, stay too true to the original and it'll end up sounding like a second-rate copy. Thankfully, such issues do not arise on this package. Cassegrain's take on "Lustration Three (Atlantic)" is closest to Parker's own sound, but its tripped out groove navigates its way through a series of dubby whooshes. Svreca meanwhile, takes a surgeon's scalpel to "Lustration Three (Atlantic)" to deliver stripped back, metallic rhythms and outer space bleeps, while Edit Select favours a radically different approach, with dubby beats and Detroit synths powering his take on "Lustration Eleven (Sarychev)".
Teste are back, but not without reminding us why they are so revered. Their track "The Wipe, originally released in 1992, is often credited as a forbearer to a style of techno described as bassline-driven, and a style long championed by Munich label Prologue. So before Teste release any new music, Edit Select has extended their famous cut so the wormhole experience of "The Wipe" can last all the more longer. The real treat though is "Ascender", a brand new production between Teste and Edit Select which is similar to "The Wipe" only it swaps foreboding sounds for something lighter and the results are transcendental.
"Aqua" is the second release of Finitude Music, the label operated by long-time Tresor Berlin resident Marcel Heese. The A-Side title is from the same recording session with Spanish producer P.E.A.R.L. like "Entrance" from Finitudes first release. This time the remix comes from Techno legend Karl O'Connor aka Regis who needs no further introduction. With his deep and hypnotic contribution he has truly outdone himself.
The term 'locked groove' may be primarily associated with tough, loopy techno, but Tim Van de Meutter's latest release under this name is radically different. The title track starts with stripped back, minimal house beats, before de Meutter introduces a dramatic, surging bassline and tranced out synth lines. It's to the producer's credit that he manages to keep the groove dance floor-based. "Meditations In An Emergency" pushes even farther in an esoteric direction; a chattering rhythm and acid warbles provide the backdrop for Locked Groove to provide the kind of dreamy synth scapes that Derrick May used to produce. Van de Meutter's stage name may not fit this music, but "Meditations" is still deep electronic music at its best.
Herva made his debut on Delsin in 2013 with the What I Feel EP after breaking through on the Bosconi label (and don't forget last year's immense Technology Fail As A Birth Control For Unnecessary Recordings 12" with Mass Prod for Kontra). Instant Broadcast is Herva's second album and features 12 tracks said to shun the usual Chicago and Detroit reference points, instead conjuring up a truly idiosyncratic style that puts Herva in a class of his own. The album itself is all over the shop, ranging from muggy sessions of sampled, lo-fi piano ambience to pressured, discombobulated disco, house and techno, to other Actress-like sounds and beat downs. One of this year's most unique LPs.
Dub techno must be one of the most over-used tropes in contemporary electronic music, but upcoming artist Tomas Rubeck provides a fine interpretation of it on FM. "FM1" sees him layer textured chords over a stepping rhythm that lurches and morphs unpredictably. "FM2" follows in a similar vein, but here the spacious, cavernous sounds are shot through with acidic undercurrents. The remixers also impress: Exium lends some extra strength to "FM1", imbuing it with tough rhythms and acid-fried riffs. Meanwhile, Quail's take on "FM2" recalls Swayzak at their most delicate and understated, with gentle melodies tinkling and a reduced rhythm playing away in the background.
Two tracks from Italian producer Dario Tronchin aka Chevel's 2013 album, Air is Freedom, get the remix treatment. Non Series deserves to be praised for choosing the remixers wisely, with precocious UK artist Happa delivering an incendiary version of "Harsh Times". Over a lumbering, stepping rhythm, he drops ear-shredding, grating waves of noise and claustrophobic beats that gradually get more and more intense as the track unravels. The other remix is radically different. French Fries is best known for his work on ClekClekBoom and his take on "Lumen" is just as adventurous. Lo-fi chimes and insistent acid squiggles make for a more understated affair, but it too will insinuate its way into the listener's sub-conscious.
According to their label, Fjaak live and sleep in their studio, but whatever about their methodology, it is clear that they are doing something right. The title track is a monstrous affair, based on a gargantuan stepping rhythm and tough breeze block beats as the trio shoot out Landstrumm-esque grating noise. In stark contrast is "The Wind". Deeper and groovier, it centres on breezy chords but retains dance floor clout thanks to the shards of hissing percussion. "Curious" sees Fjaak back to the same kind of territory as "Attack"; the only difference is that this time, the groove is straighter, but the grainy drums are just as relentlessly unforgiving.