Reviewed this week
Robert Hood has just put out an artist album under his own name for Dutch label Dekmantel. However, that release doesn't seem to have put paid to his Floorplan schedule, and he returns with this religiously themed release. The title track follows the same approach as usual for Floorplan, with the Detroit producer laying down a bumping, tracky rhythm and a screeching gospel diva vocal. On "Made Up in My Mind' and on a new 'Lyric' remix of 'Never Grow Old', a similar aesthetic applies, with uplifting piano keys and bouncy grooves providing the backing for euphoric vocals. The only exception is the jarring, grinding "'He Can Save You", but in general, this is a deeply spiritual affair.
Los Angeles bassheads and Jelly Bean Farm bosses Squane and Rees are back with more nasty low down bass shenanigans on the Illumination EP. Starting out with the guttural street level grind of "Grable" before the brooding deep dubstep journey "Shards" takes you well into the void. Elsewhere, "Automotonic" goes for a more futuristic and dystopian vibe on this experimental cut full of bleeps and sci-fi sound FX creating some real atmosphere to immerse in. Closing out the release is "Aphotic" which introduces some industrial textures over its half time beats which make for some very rolling and trance inducing riddims this side of the Autonomic or Exit Records sound.
A decade ago, the Dekmantel crew threw their first party in the Dutch capital; two years later the record label followed. For their decennial anniversary, Dekmantel Records are releasing 10 very special EPs over the course of 2017. The fourth release in their celebratory series is a collection of new material from some of the label's favourite artists. This fourth edition brings together their love of electro and wave influenced grooves by the likes of Los Angeles electro legend The Egyptian Lover, who serves up the aptly titled "This That Old School" which proves to all the bandwagon jumping wannabes what 'real' electro is. Staying on that retro flavoured tip are the Antinote affiliated Syracuse & Epsilove doing some acid infused analogue jack by way of pop on "Scubatomic Love". Finally, they look locally with the Red Light Radio affiliated/Rush Hour 'analogue adventurist' Interstellar Funk: who pursues some retro/balearic vibes on the sublime "EFX Harmonix"
Following a release on its sub-label, Nick Harris brings his A Sagittariun project to Hypercolour. The title track resounds to cinematic orchestral flourishes and moves rather skilfully from rolling break beats into dance floor friendly kicks. "The Pathway" offers no such musical distraction and centres on tough, insistent kicks, a succession of filtered breakdowns and splintered percussion. To mark his appearance on the label, Hypercolour have commissioned US producer Matrixxman to rework "The Pathway". Taking the tempo down, his version has a cavernous, spacious feel. The kicks feel like they are submerged, but Matrixxman keeps the dance floor focus thanks to the use of rickety percussion and wild horn stabs.
This year marks 10 years since Bastian Volker first donned the Baaz alias. He remains one of deep house's most reliable producers, as this outing on longtime home Office Recordings deftly proves. He begins with the ocean-deep chords, softly spoken electronics and hypnotic groove of "Ween Been", before wrapping heart-aching pianos and drowsy chords around a barely audible drum track on the near-ambient bliss of "Absent". On the flipside you'll find the tech-tinged shuffle of "The Friend", where bolder kicks and snares rise above his liquid dreamscape, and the brilliant ambient electronica of sublime closer "Two (For You)". This is music for sunsets, sunrises and particularly sleepy afternoons.
Dehnert is a prolific producer, with a long list of EPs and albums to his credit, but Home is his most diverse work yet. While he initially rose to prominence with storming club tracks, much of his latest album sits in stark contrast to that style. There's the atmospheric ambience of "Intro" and "No Time", and the electronic torch song, "Between No Words", featuring the vocals of Albert Vogt. On "Want Be", there are echoes of the German producer's sinister techno sound, albeit realised against a lithe stepping rhythm, while the title track and "Up" sees Dehnert use his trademark churning chords and firing percussion in a more off-beat style. Even on more out and out dance floor tracks, like the swirling organ playing of "Providing Home 2", Dehnert ends up sounding more like Bodycode than Basic Channel. It's an assured, mature work.
Kennedy has put out some corkers before on Token - 2013's Cathedral springs to mind - but the tile track on his latest offering for the label really ups the ante. Less upfront than usual, it revolves around a steely, stepping rhythm, while the spellbinding tapestry of hooks and melodies ensure it stands apart. There are elements of trance, 'Artificial Intelligence' and IDM all audible here, but the manner in which the UK producer blends them so seamlessly together will leave audiences reeling. "Glacier" is a mid-tempo affair, led by a stepping rhythm and gentle electronic pulses, while "Voyager" sees Kennedy at his most cosmic as he reaches for the stars over a pulsing groove, but it's on "Tornado" that he really causes a storm.
Mind is Fautzi's third album and follows two long players for Soma as well as a brace of EPs on Figure, Warm Up and Pole. It's a mysterious, textured affair that begins with the ambient noise of "Psychopath" before moving into the eerie sound scape menace of "Entering". The Portuguese producer then shifts his attention towards the dance floor - "Subconscious" is a stripped back, minimal groove laden down with eerie soundscapes, while on "Defracted" and "Rentless", he veers down a tunnelling, acid soaked path, like a murky, visceral version of Sandwell District. "Seasick" is darker and more droning, led by a Mike Parker-style bass, but no matter what style he tuns his hand to, Mind demonstrates that Fautzi is a master.
Here's a match made in techno heaven - Mote Evolver boss and veteran producer Luke Slater has teamed up with O [Phase], who is best known for his releases on Token. Between them, they have come up with a killer EP. The title track fuses Phase's abstract sound design with Slater's intuitive understanding of what works on the dance floor, as waves of abstract sound unravel over a firing, futuristic rhythm. On balance, "Bugeye" is more about Slater's signatures, with a pulsating electronic riff and repetitive bleeps combined with stripped back but tough drums. Closing the release is "The Chains"; a ten-minute epic, with a ponderous vocal set to a lean, acid-soaked arrangement.
Techno duo Cassegrain launched their Arcing Seas label - it's an anagram of their own artist name - back in 2016 but is only now making their ownership of it public. The pair's approach to music-making is similarly mysterious and enchanting and this three-tracker fuses detailed sound design with an understanding of dance floor requirements. On "Shahmaran" this takes shape through electronic pulses underpinning tranced out, hypnotic chords. "Caracal" is harder and more pared back and sees the pair drop grainy kicks and a coruscating rhythm, but the sense of mystery that pervades the label and their productions soon returns. "Vulpine" resounds to lithe, clicking percussion, a dense rolling groove and the occasional blast of white noise.
Brassica is a trusted staple in the field of outboard house and techno, from time served on labels as esteemed as Dissident and Civil Music through to more recent outings on Feel My Bicep and others. Here The UK producer has been snapped up by Vivod for four tracks of deep analogue house and electro to warm the cockles a treat. "Coco Diaz" is a tightly wound jam that hinges on a broken beat, while "Splash" opens out into a blissful melancholic reverie. "Nothing To Say" amps up the sleaze and the acid a treat before "Blue Function" heads into more trippy soundtrack territory.
Hessle Audio mark the first release of their 10th year in business with a label debut from one of Bristol's finest. Head of the Timedance label and events series, Batu steps up with four tracks of driving percussion and oddball atmospherics. Starting off with the offbeat sci-fi groove that is the title rack, "Off Court" soon gets into some booming lo-end dynamics, complimented by some darkly emotive synth textures. "Nosema" is the most straight ahead effort on here: a tight and rolling groove (for sweaty late night weirdness) until the lush ambient epic "Don't" closes out the EP in top style. In addition to his hot releases on Dnuos Ytivil and Fringe White in recent times: this guy's on fire!
Fresh from mixing the latest instalment of Fabric's mix series, Panorama Bar resident Steffi launches a new sub-label, Dolly Deluxe. Many of the tracks that feature on Fabric 94 also appear across the first four EPs on this offshoot. The second Dollydeluxe release boasts an atmospheric feeling, but with a dance floor bias. This is evident on Answer Code Request's stirring break beat opener, "Forking Path" and Voiski's brooding acid stepper, "Sound of Distance". Dexter, one of Steffi's closest peers, opts for a stern, steely electro approach on "66", while 214, fresh from his release on Lunar Disko, moves back towards ethereal sounds with the widescreen synths and ERP-style bass of "Sound Moments".

Luke Standing's Blue Hour project has consistently taken influence from 90s techno - so it comes as no surprise that this remix package also makes reference to that period. The key difference however, is that those tasked with reworking his music have taken inspiration from the tougher end of 90s techno. Mark Broom's version of "Common Ground" is a case in point; its surging chords and acid lines resound to the loopy urgency that you would normally associate with Jeff Mills. Similarly, the Pangaea take on "Falling Lines" is a dense, drum-heavy affair and even Substance's take on "Untitled" doesn't stray too far from the scuffled dub sound of Basic Channel and Chain Reaction. Only VC-118A's version of "Introspective 2' diverges from this approach, with its deep synths and tight electro rhythm.
Following a near two-year hiatus, Delta Funktionen resurfaces in order to invite us on his Junior High School Excursion To The Parallel World. While the title evokes images of bad 1980s teen movies, musically the Dutch producer has delivered a double-pack full of what we would describe as "proper" techno and electro. That means thrusting rhythms, bold and restless basslines, intergalactic electronics and melodies that sound like they've been beamed down from, well, a parallel world. There's naturally plenty of subtle variation - compare and contrast, for example, the booming rhythmic intensity and creepy melodies of "Torpedo" and the winding late night acid trip that is "Stingoperation" - but Delta Funktionen keeps his eyes firmly fixed on the dancefloor throughout.
Cadans aka Jeroen Snik returns to Clone Basement,having made his debut or that label back in 2015. Since then, the Dutch artist in London has released on Tripeo and Wolfskuil, but the Clone empire seems like his most natural environment. The title track is a raucous affair, with drums rolling over a jittery, shaky rhythm as a repetitive vocal plays away in the background. It's raw, noisy and extremely funky. On "Dominion", he opts for a straighter approach, as a murky jacking rhythm and cheese-wire percussion prevail. Cadans completes his second release with a looped, tool version of the title track, where the vocal sounds more high-pitched.
According to Turbo, the label thought that Steve Lawler had written "Crazy Dream" with it specifically in mind. It's not hard to understand why - over a gritty drum track, the UK DJ lays down a murky bass and a robotic male vocal. It's exactly the kind of music that Tiga's label has continued to release despite it being unfashionable. Turbo has also commissioned an impressive list of remixers; Jori Hulkkonen delivers an acid-heavy jack track, while Charlotte de Witte, who has already released on the label, turns it into a firing techno affair. DJs Pareja from Argentina favour a similar approach, with snare rolls and an old school bass doing all the damage.

Despite his young age, Massien has already released on XL and now drops this EP for E-Beamz - the home of rising names like DJ Boring and DJ Seinfeld. What's most remarkable about this release is the irreverent manner in which Massien weaves a thread between and re-interprets tropes and sounds that were in circulation for decades. The title track is a case in point: breathy vocals unravel over a UK garage shuffle, a hardcore/bleep techno bass and the wooden claps of newer producers like Martyn. It's a fusion so free of prejudice and so unencumbered by musical hang-ups that it cannot fail to impress. "Swerve 2" sees Massien serve up microscopic acid licks over a break beat techno arrangement and eerie junglist textures, while on "Vital Signs" he marries cold electro tones with a tight stepping rhythm.
George Thompson's Black Merlin project has found a home on labels as Jealous God and Boyz Noise and now he brings it to Berecuse Heroique. "Proto World" is the most DJ-friendly cut here, all booming drum patterns, foreboding male vocal samples and an adherence to a decidedly industrial-influenced groove. Having satiated that need, Thompson then proceeds to impress with more abstract offerings; "Spirit World" is an enchanting, gamelan-esque workout, while on "Vision Animal", he moves into chilly stepping mode, led by sharp percussive bursts. The real highlight is left till last though, and "Hope" is an entrancing, hypnotic mood music piece.
Swiss quartet Les Points are comprised of Audino, Barbir, LOUH and Nicola Kazimir and are part of a new breed of minimal house musicians and DJs that are hybridising the reductionist groove of early Perlon with Detroit electro-funk sounds of Drexciya or Ectomorph to stunning effect, alongside other purveyors like Italy's Spacetravel or Saverio Celestri. For the label's ninth release, the reins are handed over to Barbir and Kazimir (who often work as a duo) and the results are always nothing short of remarkable. Gentrified Underground Youth LP features a dozen wacky cuts traversing a universe of all things analogue, vintage, lo-fi and classic: but timeless all the same. Tip!
LORY D - Strange Days (Numbers)
BLACK MERLIN - Proto World EP (Berceuse Heroique) - exclusive 30-06-2017
BRASSICA - Blue Function (Vivod)
BIOGEN - Halogen Continues (TRIP)
WHO - Make My Love (Get Your Copy) - exclusive 07-07-2017
BATU - Marius (Hessle Audio)
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