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".
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.
The German label welcomes new producer Alan Backdrop to the fold - judging by the approach of VR Plan, he fits right in. The title track sets the tone, a creeping mantle of droning textures that expands gradually, while "Honok" is even spookier, its atmospherics winding their way to an inevitable climax. Backdrop does make use of beats - check the pummelling drums of "Medel" and the dubbed out "Siere" - but on this release, he impresses most when conjuring up chilling soundscapes. Just check the sensuous pads of "Ere" or "Cherber", whose warbling pulses sound like a more relaxed Pom Pom, if you are in any doubt.