While Luke Slater is busy as always, his Planetary Assault Systems output has slowed since the release of the all conquering Messenger LP for Ostgut Ton in 2011. For Future Modular, Slater is less visceral and more arpeggiated than previous releases, harking back to a '90s-early-2000s PAS-sound, specifically the title-track. On the B-sides there's the deep, trippy and linear "Serc", but before that there's a sinister "Riot In Silo" that's showered in 909-hi-hats to get through first.
Continuing L.I.E.S. boss Ron Morelli's approach of releasing music regardless of whether it's brand new or been sat in the archives for some time, Legowelt's "Teen Romance" has been kicking about for some time. Regardless of its vintage, the track highlights everything there is to love about Danny Wolfers; spectral melodies, snapping drum machine rhythms and gurgling analogue basslines all sunk in thick-set tape dust. "Days of Persistence" goes in on a deeper tip with its sweeping pads, and "SH-High School Daze" is a bubbling pit of simmering psychedelic acid.
Given their long individual commitments to the dubwise cause, you'd expect a collaborative album from dub techno type Scott Monteith (AKA Deadbeat) and sometime Rhythm & Sound vocalist Paul St Hilaire to be a formidable proposition. And so it proves, as the duo apply their dub techno credentials to a more traditional dub framework on The Infinity Dub Sessions. St Hilaire is at his beguiling, soulful best riding Monteith's riddims, which veer from floor-friendly dub-house and dub-techno grooves (see "Little Darling" and "Rock of Creation"), to heady trips into more traditional dubwise territory (check the celebratory "Peace & Love" and tumbling "Hold On Strong"). Throughout, there's a loving authenticity that's extremely appealing.
Of all of 2012's widely-lauded releases from the L.I.E.S. battalion of unusual suspects, it was perhaps Unicursal Hexagram by Jahiliyya Fields that stood out, quite because it sounded like nothing else around. The work of Ron Morelli's close friend Matt Morandi, Jahiliyya Fields now makes a welcome return to L.I.E.S. with the less comprehensive but no less mind warping sounds of Pleasure Sentence. This record also differs from Morandi's previous L.I.E.S. release in incorporating more clearly rhythmic elements; the four tracks still sound resolutely like Jahiliyya Fields though and quite like nothing else. "Anon Anon" is perhaps the best example of this as Morandi utilises a solid 4/4 rhythm wrapped in animated analogue tendrils that ripple with gentle energy over its 15-minute running time.
For this release Jeroen Search departs company from his usual production cohort Dimi Angelis and delivers an EP that's 100 per cent Search, designed specifically for Decoy's gritty and industrial aesthetic. "Lost Contact" is fast-paced, hi-hat clashing techno, with a cheeky mid-track dip in amplitude making it all the more '90s inspired, while the bleeping synths and tapping drum machines of "Ancient Space" grumble and spurt like the electronics you'd here in the hidden bunker of a Secret Counterintelligence unit during the Cold War. Rounding out the four track EP is "Subdued", a stripped, minimalistic DJ tool-version of its fellow inhabitant "Ad Infinitum".
You've got to wonder about what Alexander Kowalski made of the recent hard techno revival. The German producer was there first time round, dropping menacing bass-led releases for Kanzleramt during the loop techno period. Wisely, he has chosen Detroit techno rather than the flaccid late '90s sound to make his comeback with. The title track is a wiry, relentless affair, very much in the visceral Rob Hood mode. "Morgan" sees him pursue a full on approach with thunderclaps and a series of dramatic breakdowns documenting minimalism's transition from a US to a European aesthetic. Finally, "Revivalism (Dirt mix)" is less frenetic, with clanging drums and eerie synth lines prevailing.
Prime Numbers return to Treat Me Right, the Trus'Me LP that was issued earlier this year and given album cut "Somebody" the full single. For many, "Somebody" was a highlight of the producer's third artist album, a simple yet highly memorable production based around subtle shifting rhythmic touches, a hypnotic bassline, and highly pressurised percussion and that sole vocal loop. In terms of DJ tools, few others had such reach last year with everyone from Dan Bell to Nina Kraviz and Ben Klock making optimum usage of the track. On remix duties is the man that never smiles Mosca, tasked with adding his own slant on the track; a deft drop in tempo and the stripping away of several layers of percussive intensity allows a degree of space resulting in a wonderfully brooding slab of heads down house.
This album for Studio Banhus sees Simon Haydo map out new possibilities for techno. Remaining in dance floor mode throughout, his deft production touch, subtle editing and use of unusual sounds mark him out as a producer with real promise. "The Territories Marked" is all about the combination of resonating bleeps and abstract percussive ticks, while on the pumping rhythm of "The Strain is Too Much", the sound of the wind whistles in the background. Best of all though is the title track, with tripped out, jarring riffs and tonal shifts set to a jerky rhythm. If you're looking for a brave new look for dance floor techno, you've come to the right place.
Although NYC producer Bookworms has been busy of late collaborating with Steve Summers on their Confused House label, solo productions from the man are generally few and far between, which makes Japanese Zelkova particularly welcome. Described by the label as a "divergence" from his previous material, with "dusty crunched out samples and programming" giving way to a "man/machine element", these three crunchy tracks are a far cry from the "African Rhythms" track unleashed on the world all those years ago.
Here, Beat Pharmacy man Brendon Moeller delivers his fourth full-length, his first since 2011. In typical fashion, there's a twisted, druggy intensity to the music, which flits between psychedelic electronica (see opener "The Frequency of Love" and vaguely tropical "Stepping Out"), tough, acid-tinged techno beatscapes ("Guilty Pleasure"), dub-influenced sludge (the excellent title track), and dubstep-influenced industrial spookiness ("Deep Fried"). For all the murkiness on display, there are moments of startling beauty and almost alarming clarity, with the samba shuffle and sun-flecked melodies of "Tricks of the Shade", and picturesque, humid "Lost" standing out.
Lock up your daughters, it's another release form Scalameriya. The stage name for Serbian producer Nikola Grebovic, his latest release for Glenn Wilson's Planet Rhythm makes for an unsettling listen. "Planetary Deflector" sets the tone for the release as hammering broken beats underpin weird, abstract sonic squiggles. "Undeciphered Language" offers more of the same, albeit before tailing off into a bleak reverie and "Colonial Resort" has the added bonus of a bass so grim and a rhythm so heavy it'll rattle your teeth. Just to make sure that he has succeeded in scaring the crap out of everyone, Grebovic delivers the coup de grace, the ass-quaking sub-bass and ghastly horror riffs of the title track.
New York techno club The Bunker expands operations with the launch of a new label The Bunker New York. Despite the calibre of artists that have played the club over the years, includes Regis, Silent Servant, Marco Shuttle and Peter Van Hoesen in the past 12 months alone, the first release from the label opts to highlight one of the "characters who lurk in the shadows of the party" in the shape of Leisure Muffin. A Bunker regular otherwise known as Michael Hopkins, Leisure Muffin's music is produced with a modular synth setup and is described by the label as a "modern take on kosmische music". Apparently produced last year as Hopkins looked after his dying mother, the record is supposedly influenced by early Warp Records artists like Seefeel and Autechre, as well as Drexciya, Coil, and recent Morphine retrospective subject Charles Cohen, with whom Hopkins has previously collaborated.
Luke Standing, a UK producer based in Berlin, is behind the Blue Hour project and it sounds like he has immersed himself in 90s techno. The title track is a big room groover, its terse acid lines mixed with hissing hats and woozy filters, with a series of snare rolls ensuring that it has the required effect. "Meridian" is of a similar nature, with dramatic chord stabs unfolding over an insistent rhythm, while "Solace" sees Standing focus again on acidic sounds, realised against a spooky, Detroit-style groove. "Inner Reflections" provides an ambient outro, but fans of vintage Dave Angel and labels like Pacific should check this release.
Many happy returns to Dutch techno stalwarts Delsin, who celebrate reaching a century of releases with 100 DSR, a collection of previously unreleased gems from the label's global army of artists. With such techno and electro talents as Gerry Read, Claro Intellecto, Redshape and A Made Up Sound involved, you'd expect it to be good. Pleasingly, it is, darting between shimmering IDM (CiM's brilliant "Way Station", Conforce's equally impressive "Wave Trance"), luscious Detroit futurism (Bleak's "Keep Me Close", John Beltran's brilliant "Return To Nightfall") and formidable heads-down pump (Sawlin, Mike Dehnert).
Fabrice Lig on DJ Bone's Subject Detroit label backed with killer remixes from Aaron Carl and DJ Bone! Allegedly stored in the Subject archives for some time, "Hmong Dignity" is finally unleashed and the original will be familiar to anyone that's witnessed a DJ Bone set in recent years. Eminently raw, but filled with melody thanks to those chords and restless riffs, "Hmong Dignity" is a fine example of how Detroit influenced European techno. A remix from the late, great Aaron Carl features, lending the track a familiar dose of murkiness thanks to some stomach churning bass, whilst that instantly recognisable central melody is wisely retained. The accompanying remix from DJ Bone glides along on a tough techno meets electro vibe, superbly slicing up the melodic element to form an entirely different refrain.
After another impressive 2013 that saw label debuts from the likes of Paula Temple, dBridge, Alex Smoke and Tessela, as well as a debut album from Space Dimension Controller, Lakker are set to join the R&S fray with Containing A Thousand EP. Lakker will no doubt be delighted at landing a record deal with R&S as the two have been quoted on numerous occasions citing Aphex Twin, a R&S regular back in the day, as a major influence on their productions. That said, they've delivered their own individual sound to R&S, that, for the most part sounds like rusted robots rising to life out of a misty swamp, particularly the lurch of "Mausoleum" and injured sprint of "Thermohaline". There's a Stroboscopic Artefacts sound to the title track, while "Kantu" is rhythmic, tribal, and metallic. This is arguably their best release yet.
Cast your mind back to the fun loving early days of the UK bass scene and South London Ordnance was an almost ubiquitous presence, with as many 12" appearances as interviews evading attempts to discuss his true identity. Having inaugurated his Aery Metals label last summer with a remix-focused record that featured JD Twitch, Chris Carter and Nik Void of Factory Floor, the lad SLO appears to have taken a step back with Dead Cell his first release since then. The title track comes across like a half awake, drugged up Sunklo B-Side with a dash of rolling drum & bass textures thrown in for good measure, whilst "Portal II (Girls Talks About Acid)" naturally features (subtle) elements of acid and the spectral female voices plunged deep into a dub techno framework.
Keith Tucker's other project has a techno focus, but it is still informed by the electro sounds of Aux 88 as well as the techno from his hometown of Detroit. Both versions of "Origins" feature breathy vocals and spacey synths, with the original version backed up by a shuffling rhythm. "Elements" sees Optic Nerve venture farther into techno territories courtesy of a prowling Reese-like bass, while "Anomaly" is a soulful affair, in the vein of vintage Stacey Pullen. Released on Arne Weinberg's Diametric, the only other mystery is why it took so long after its physical release - it was the label's first release in 2009 - to be made available in digital formats.
It's easy to hear that techno's shift into the abstract has had an effect on newer artists like Korova. The title track resounds to hammering broken beats, but thankfully this is not simply a display of austere, abrasive sounds. Both the original version and the 'extended play' remix also feature deep keys, swirling, spaced out filters and dubby effects. The label has also had the good sense to have tapped Mike Parker for a remix of "Hashima". Less intense than some of the Geophone boss' own productions, its dubby beats and linear rhythm plot a new path for Korova's musical leanings.