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Reviewed this week
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Sven Vath's annual residency in Ibiza is home to some of the best and most adventurous electronic music on the white island and the annual compilations follow the same path. O starts with the fuzzy, frazzled trance of Roland M Dill's "The Messenger", followed by the rolling, steppy house of Tripmastaz "Grindin" and Dana Ruh's "If You Don't Know A Name", which sounds inspired by the growling bass of Kevin Saunderson's E-Dancer project. The madness doesn't end there and O also boasts trance techno from Dast, Tom Demac's rave sampling house and Steve Parker's tribal techno banger, ""Brian's Lullaby" - making the compilation as wild and unpredictable as Cocoon's own nights.
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London's Progression returns to Blueprint Limited with four high-powered slabs of machine noise, characterized most appropriately by the term 'techno'. This naughty, hand-stamped piece of wax is dark, foreboding and distinctly industrial in texture, where cuts such as "Omnipotent 3", "Obscuro" and "CH1" explore all of the genre's tricks and no nonsense sonics. The bleepy outlook of "The Coriolis Effect" is a particular highlight!
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There's something more than a little unsettling about the cover image for Perc's latest release which finds the producer's face covered in what looks like porridge. In some ways, it's rather fitting, because the EP itself - like much of Alistair Wells' output - is similarly hard to handle. The single's final track, "Change To" - a cacophonous fusion of distortion, scattergun hits and garbled voices - sounds like his vision of the end of days. Of course, few are quite as accomplished when it comes to creating raw, bleak, intense techno, and its' these moments - particularly the industrial motifs, aggressive electronics and thumping beats of "Gruel" - that make Gob a must-have.
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Spain's Reeko returns to the dance floor for his latest excursion on Oscar Mulero's label. Tough, tribal beats, rolling grooves and insistent rhythms are on offer across these four tracks. However, to describe Reeko's music in such simplistic terms is to do it a disservice. Each track on this release has an extra layer, an added dimension that makes it stand out from the increasingly crowded tough techno scene. On "Empty Streets", this manifests itself in the form of niggling percussion, the title track is characterised by its tough tribal beats and best of all, "Dishonest Thoughts" resonates to gut-wrenching sub-bass.
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Ever the productive soul, Keiran Hebden returns to the Percussions project for a new one track release that really hits the spot. The delightfully named "Digital Arpeggios" arrives a few months after Hebden issued an album's worth of archival Percussions material and if you liked that this new cut will most certainly resonate. Roadtested to high levels of rapture during Hebden's Dekmantel festival performance as Four Tet, "Digital Arpeggios" rolls out over nine minutes at a leisurely 117BPM pace with skippy 2step referencing beats joined by a simple lead melody that has you hooked from the off. Hebden's mastery of musicality is evident as the track swells with emotive intent, reaching a mid-point high before he reins it all back in for a triumphant second movement.
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Bittersharp is the work of a Belgian producer and sounds like it was influenced in part by that country's hardcore past. The title track is an intense, high-paced techno track, led by screeching rave riffs and reminiscent of some of Reload Records' more abrasive releases from the mid-90s. "Kobalt" is just as tough and sees Border One drop concrete block kicks and screwdriver riffs. For his final track, he takes inspiration from Germany rather than his home country. "Arachnid" is also high-paced and features hammering drums, but the cold, repetitive bleeps sound like they were lifted form Sleeparchive's studio.
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Techno outsider Julixo makes his debut on France's Knotweed entourage with three sublime dancefloor nuggets, each of them warm and under-compressed. "Rebho" is a stripped back number with sparse, airy melodies and frenetic percussive swings, while "Reflections" takes a more soulful edge to its chords and beats, and "Life Of Crime" dominates the floor thanks to its repetitive blasts of hi-hats, snares and furious shots of bass. Effective, malleable and utterly pumping.
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The third release on Local Sound Network is from the label owner and it's a stormer. '"Silhouette" sees Takeuchi focus on the kind of stepping, broken beat techno that Phase and Inigo Kennedy are known for. By contrast, "Veil" is much more direct and revolves around a tough, pumping techno rhythm. Takeuchi has also chosen the remixers wisely; Deepbass delivers a rolling, percussive take on "Silhouette", while best of all is the Obscene Mannequin version of "Veil"; high-paced, distorted beats underpin dreamy, layered chords and the end result sounds like Lenny Dee getting it on with James Holden.
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The work of Jean-Louis Huhta, the Dungeon Acid project sees modern techno might and precision brought to bear on classic acid sounds. The Point Chaud remix of the title track is based around stripped back rhythms and crunchy rhythms, while on "Timewave", Huhta goes into full-on hard techno mode, with searing acid lines complementing scary rave riffs. Label owner Par Grindvik contributes two versions; the first is a tough, pumping affair, undercut by stomping beats and a pumping rhythm, while his second take is more impressive. It too features the Swedish producer's steely rhythms, but as it progresses, it veers into a dark, atmospheric cloud.
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Cari Lekebusch has been putting out quality underground techno for two decades, but he hasn't attained the superstar status that some of his peers now enjoy. There is a relatively simple explanation for this - the Swedish producer never pandered to the mainstream or changed his sound to get big bookings. Available in two versions on this release, "Truth" is testament to this singular approach. Robust drums, dubby bass licks and heads down rhythms all come together to form powerful techno tracks. Of the two mixes, the second version is the more distinctive thanks to its ravey samples, but both versions will do untold damage on the dance floor.
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Thus far, Anunnaki Cartel have only been releasing EP's, most of which have been collaborative efforts by Amir Alexander, Joey Anderson and Chris Mitchell, among others. This is their first LP and it's by Alexander himself, a man who is no mood to beat around the bush and gets his sound across right from the start of "Tight Situations". However, it's the album's slower and stranger pieces such as "A Virtuous Woman", "Love & Fear" or "A Child Is Born" which caught our attention! We'd never heard Alexander making more experimental pieces so it's refreshing to hear an artist so capable of making both hard-hitting floor music but also more docile and abstract sounds.
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Paul Rose gets the remix treatment from two of house and techno's most respected acts. In its original format, the title track is a blissed out ambient composition, equal parts evocative and atmospheric. Tuff City Kids use these musical textures as a backdrop against which they overlay a pulsing, throbbing bassline and churning chords, turning it into a classic deep house jam. Phase's reconstruction of "Family Entertainment" is even more radical. While the original version's half-heard squeals are not audible on the Token artist's remix, the tough broken beat arrangement nonetheless seethes with an underlying feeling of menace.
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German label Dial was probably not the most obvious choice for DJ Richard to release his debut album on, but it turns out that Grind is a perfect fit. Tracks like "No Balance" and "Waiting for the Green Flash" are eerie, atmospheric compositions and capture the often times sangfroid sound (and design) of the Hamburg imprint. Elsewhere, there are nods to the classic deep house and techno, especially on the winding, stop-start bleep groove of "Savage Coast" and the fragile, sublime melodies of closing track "Vampire (dub)". However, if there is one track that really consolidates the Dial-DJ Richard relationship, it's the staccato beats and sonorous bass of "I-Mir", an arrangement that perfectly captures the label's wintry escape from the daily grind.
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Culled from last year's debut album Trust, this remix collection comes from artists that 18+ respect and occasionally collaborate with. Suicideyear's take on "Cake" is a dreamy, entrancing affair, with haunting electronic melodies and half-heard vocals set to push the listener into a trance. It's followed by the huge bass drops and dissected vocals of Mr Mitch's take on "Nectar", with Tia Maria Producoes' remix of "OIXU" is in a similar vein thanks to its massive subs. Birds cawing, clicking thumb percussion and techno bleeps comprise Audri Nix's reshape of "Crow", while Mr Mitch goes into melodic, atmospheric mode for his remix of "Nectar".
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Argentine producer Sebastian Lopez make his debut on Format with a tough techno four-track EP. It starts with the title track, where churning, insistent chords unfold over a pumping rhythm. Lopez follows a similar approach on "Drones", only on this occasion the bass is coated in a thick layer of grime and the end result is like an old DJ HMC track. "X-Pansion" sees Lopez take inspiration from rave influences, while "In Tension" is the most impressive track. The rhythm has Joey Beltram's corrosive acid sound and with the pitch-bent vocal sample, Lopez pays tribute to the stripped back minimal house of DBX.
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Previously responsible for the "Connected" anthem on OFF Recordings, Walker & Royce's latest outing is a smart, inventive affair. The title track centres on heavy, swinging beats and a vocal sample telling the listener that they're about to get off. The track reaches a crescendo with another more excited, high-pitched vocal screeching to the listener, 'this is my stop'. Accompanied by percussion that rings as insistently as a malfunctioning bus bell, it is sure to cause ructions on the dance floor. "Seventeen" uses similar elements, including an insistent vocal sample, but it is less intense. Indeed, its smart filters and sub-sonic bleeps show that there is a more considered side to the pair's music.
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Every once in a while, the underground electro sound finds its way into electronic music's mainstream. The last time that this happened to a significant degree was during the late '90s and early '00s, with electroclash artists like Tiga and Fischerspooner representing its most mainstream iteration. No one could ever suggest that Helena Hauff is on the same level as these two acts, but she does provide modern electro with a face and an identity. Tellingly, on Desires, she neatly encapsulates everything that that is great about this form, from the moody soundtrack of "Silver Sand & Boxes Of Mould" to the rolling 808s and nightmarish synths of "L'Homme Mort" and "Tripartite Pact" to the higher-paced, tweaked electro funk of "Funereal Morality" and "Piece of Pleasure".
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Higher Forces At Workfeatures the same kind of steady but deep take on the Dance Mania template by Marquis Hawkes as previously seen on his first release, "Higher Forces" kicks off with some simmering vocals, spring loaded metallic percussion and thick analog stabs, while "Automatic" provides a strung out basement jam whose elastic synth bass and finely chopped samples offer a fresh take on the well worn formula of low-slung disco. "I Want You" offers more shimmering disco deconstruction pushed forward by a raw, stripped back house beat and a savage bass undercarriage, while closer "Divine Intervention" pairs flanged percussion and a deep acid bassline gently interleaved with sun kissed pads. If Tiger & Woods and Parris Mitchell collaborated, the end result might sound something like this EP - which is no bad thing.
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The bond between Sascha Dive and fellow German operation Ornaments Music dates back to 2008 when the Deep Vibes boss put out the Deepest America 12". His love for the original US deep house sound remains unabated on this new 12" for Ornaments, Tribute, with the title track notable for some deft sampling of cult Detroit DJ The Electrifying Mojo. Around his legendary tones, Dive crafts a bone shaking house groove with chords positively dripping with emotion. Bust out the B side and Underground Quality's Jus Ed lays down a killer phased out Deep Sleep remix of the track whilst Dive adds his own filter heavy Disco version. A fine 12".
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Like Moritz Van Oswald and Andy Stott's work, Dubbing is proof that techno can be intellectually stimulating and entertaining at the same time. The work of former modern art professor Vincent Raude, the title track features an appearance from jazz legend Michael Zerang on drums. Remaining at a low tempo, Raude lets loose with a stepping rhythm accompanied by understated, rolling drums. On the flip side, Raude favours a similar approach. "Lighthouse Dub" is a textured, deep techno torch song. Influenced by the late night shanties of Rhythm & Sound, it brings to a close the latest installment in dub techno's intellectual development.
Exclusives
PERC - Gob (Perc Trax)
SCUBA - Transience (Hotflush Recordings)
18+ - They Remixes (Houndstooth)
Exclusives
PERCUSSIONS - Digital Arpeggios (Text)
REEKO - Bad Mood EP (Polegroup)
ZAHN, Dustin/EMMANUEL - Man Worships Power (Enemy)












 




ZAHN, Dustin/EMMANUEL - Man Worships Power (Enemy)
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