In line with the ever present allure of coldwave synths and soundtrack sensibilities in house music, Phonica serve up this colourful trio of jams from emergent Michigan producer North Lake. Following on from appearances on Sweatshop and Resista, here Isaac Delongchamp gets to further demonstrate his gift for warm synths and intricate melodies over the simplest of grooves. "Marlborol Noir" is all fuzzy basslines and haunting leads, while "Suomi Kutsusu" is of a much sunnier disposition with its open-topped chords and nagging open hats. "Moonwalker" veers towards electro territory with its illustrious arpeggios and uptempo strut rounding off a rich and varied EP of up-to-the-minute synth house.
With little known about them prior to this release, ClekClekBoom unveil their latest signings with this hooky EP of primal rhythms and direct arrangements. "Tropical Data" is an apt title as the rigid, functional drum machine patterns intertwine with precisely programmed melodic hits of an exotic origin in an urgent 4/4 march. "Meridien S-Dos" is slightly less hectic, letting synths take over from the drums as the main source of energy with decidedly techno-esque results. "Lazer Connect" presents the most intricate and complex of the tracks on the EP, moving in a fractured kind of electro realm that hides the groove remarkably well.
Over the course of ten tracks to appear on Frames Of Reference, the long-time coming debut album by Phase, the Englishman draws upon ideas he's been fine tuning for more than a decade. Of the fresh material is the rich bass and sinister crawl of "On The Edge", the haunted glass whistles of "Dirtro II" and the respective electro and dubby leaning "Just Another Dance" and "Shadow Caster". Rearranged riffs come via the LP's opening track "Binary Opposition (process 3)" which sets the tone for a heady mix of no frills techno undeniably designed for club play. It's an impressive debut which incorporates elements of muscular European rhythmics with passages of motor city mechanics and melodic tonality.
There's a lot of hype surrounding TJ Hertz's work, but thankfully the young producer has the talent to deliver. "Agnes Demise" is all twitchy, hyperactive percussion, a lumbering rhythm and the most merciless kicks and gut-busting bass drops known to man (or machine). All the while that sense of unrest, almost like an itch that won't go away, pervades. "Fishbone" is even more complex; the rhythm feels like it's going to trip over itself and jittery claps support a series of dark sonic blips and jarring riffs. It's chaotic but Hertz manages to navigate his way through the sonic madness with his sanity intact.
OCH - "Scammell" (Jay Bliss remix) - (6:49) 122 BPM
OCH - "Scammell" (original mix) - (6:35) 120 BPM
Jay Bliss - "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus" (OCH remix) - (6:46) 124 BPM
Jay Bliss - "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus" (original mix) - (7:18) 123 BPM
OCH has a strong pedigree of collaborations with fellow underground stalwart Jay Bliss the latest to share space on a Autoreply record with the label boss. Bliss should be known to many as the co-owner of Electrique Boutique alongside Markus Homm, for a long time the only vinyl outlet in Romania, and his discography makes for impressive reading these days. Recent times have seen Mr Bliss share record space with the likes of Skudge and Petre Inspirescu on respected imprints like 20:20 Vision, All Inn, Hudd Traxx and Fear Of Flying. AUTO 015 kicks off with a bouncy rework of OCH's "Scammell" from Bliss featuring sub-aqua sound-scapes and sonar blips on an instantly playable US inspired groove. OCH's original has a distinctly liquid approach possibly referencing the work of LTJ Bukem and Good Looking over techno framework. Jay's main offering "Men Are From Mars" is controlled acid which OCH shifts up a gear for peak time floor play layering the original TB303 patterns to a thundering climax.