Watergate 18 (continuous DJ mix by Butch) - (1:19:51) 124 BPM
By the stuffy standards of German techno, Bulent "Butch" Gurler is something of a maverick - an eccentric whose seemingly never-ending output regularly pulls techno in a variety of different directions. Certainly, he's a great choice to mix the latest instalment of Berlin club Watergate's excellent mix series. Beginning in a deep and contemplative mood, Gurler works through a range of micro-genres in an undulating, entertaining, 22-track trawl through various contemporary inspirations. Along the way, you'll find cuts by The Horrorist (as remixed by Ricardo Villalobos), Redshape (the thrilling broken techno of "Goom"), and Shifted and Sigha. There's also a couple of exclusives from the man himself and regular studio partner Hohberg, including the exotic, Arabic pulse of "Thai Cubensis".
Hopefully the people from the Trading Standards office never catch up with Blondes, because the US duo's latest effort could hardly be classified as an EP. Instead, they unleash a 50-minute long track, available on cassette and now digitally. As befits its length, "Reins" is an epic, sprawling affair. Starting with dense, abstract percussion and waves of sound, it leads into clattering rhythms, dense claps and then an eerie, atmospheric synth scape. That only covers the first ten minutes; for the remainder of the track, the pair then veer into Aphex-like melodies, tribal drums, discordant techno and finally finish off with an eerie ambient outro.
Battles have always operated at the fringes, in a place where rock and electronic music meet to get it on. On this occasion, it sounds like the chosen remixers have tipped the balance in favour of Battles's techno leanings. The Qluster version of "Dominican Fade" is closest in sound to the act's own approach, with dreamy synths spiralling to a climax against a glitchy backdrop, but it's all about the straight four/four material here. Kangding Ray's take on "Toddler" is a sumptuous dub techno groove, while Silent Servant's version of "Inchworm" is all about the humming, pulsing bass and rattling percussion.
The notion of a second record from Black Sites on PAN was first mooted by the Berlin label back in January and finally arrives to sign off another year of fine releases overseen by Bill Kouligas. As Black Sites, the Golden Pudel pairing of Helena Hauff and F#X has exhibited an auspicious talent for delivering mucky, freeform dancefloor beaters that tend to stretch past the ten minute mark in just a few releases. Title track "Unit 2669" certainly continues in this fashion, ripping through almost 12 minutes of grotty industrial strength 303 action, but "MOCKBA" hints that Hauff and F#X have other cards up their collective sleeves. Here the pair dip into the kind of abstract electronics you'd find on a Container record. A great way to sign off 2014 for PAN.