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Roman Flugel has been making electronic music for about a quarter of a century, but as Black Acid demonstrates, his productions show no sign of getting stale. "Too Hot To Sleep" is the big dance floor cut here; centring on a jittery, shaky minimal house groove and a sub-bass that's inspired by 2-step's darkest excesses, it's an unforgettable, individualistic track. "Troubled Mind" is slower and more abstract, but provides a neat segue into the title track. There, Flugel brings together many of his influences, including electro drums, minimal house and the melodies of IDM. "Work & TV" features one further surprise, with Flugel reverting to the minimal sounds of "Sleep", this time without the foreboding London bass.
Hot on the heels of his debut EP for Clone Royal Oak - the jaunty, swinging deep house shuffler that is "Valentine's Groove" - KiNK returns to the Dutch imprint. It sees label mainstays Serge and Alden Tyrell join forces to deliver a scorching rework of the previously unheard "Beats". As you might expect from the basement-loving duo, it packs a serious punch, thanks in no small part to their surging drum machine rhythms and expert use of build-and-release arrangement. The experienced pair are masters of creating and retaining energy, and their percussion sounds are always as jacking as they come. In other words, it's another club slammer.
Resist, Markus Suckut's latest album, is released on his own Exile label and plays out like a DJ set. Spread across nine 'movements', it starts with the vocal sampling, bell chiming first installment, before Suckut nudges the listener towards the dance floor with the dense rhythms of number two. However, it becomes clear that Suckut does not succumb to predictability and Resist does not follow the typical conventions of a linear DJ set. Both "Third Movement" and "Fifth Movement" are deep, rolling grooves and the fourth installment centres on a tracky house rhythm. Resist never goes for the jugular - Suckut even slips in an ambient track near the end - and it's this unwillingness to go down the obvious, banging route that makes it so alluring.
The second release on Virgo comes from Electric Rescue aka Antoine Husson. The French producer has a sizeable catalogue and has released music on a wide range of labels, including Cocoon and Bedrock. On Face, he strikes a balance between modern and classic sounds. The title track centres on a driving rhythm and rock hard beats but is also shot through with mysterious melodies. Similarly, "Forwer" resounds to 90s chord stabs but boasts the compressed beats and percussive bursts of modern techno, while "Kerken" is a hazy, frazzled electronic cut. Despite being a relatively new label, Virgo has tapped some great remixers, with Setaoc Mass dropping a frenetic, chord-heavy take on "Forwer" and Nima Khak turning "Kerken" into a tunneling, hypnotic track.
Soma owners Slam continue their journey back to their underground techno roots on the fifth instalment of Track Series. While the Scottish duo may still be best know for their euphoria-inducing Positive Education, there has always been a darker side to their sound, evident on tracks like "Stepback". "Vapour", the sole track on Volume 5, falls into that malevolent category. Kick drums hammer away mercilessly and percussion hisses furiously as a dramatic organ riff filters and twists its way into the foreground. "Vapour" is undoubtedly a 90s-influenced track, and will appeal to fans of Slam's tougher side.
After a brief flirtation with Dixon Avenue Basement Jams, Jared Wilson is back on Jerome Hill's Super Rhythm Trax imprint. Predictably, he's in a retro-futurist kind of mood, delivering tracks that tip a wink to a variety of vintage house and techno productions. He begins with the Larry Heard style warmth, Chez Damier percussion and Detroit techno cymbal lines of "Getting That Feelin", before diving headfirst into the world of classic Chicago jazz on heavyweight acid wriggler "It's The Message". He tehn carries on with the ghostly chords, intelligent techno electronics and mind-altering acid lines of "Midnight On Ecorse Creek", before Wilson caps a fine EP via the Mr Fingers style deep house-jack of "Acid Feeling".
Get to know: Denham Audio continue their powerful 130 jungle charge into the darkest corners of the dance with their Artifice debut. "Leighton Buzzin" rolls with bulbous subs and fractured Think breaks while "Npfo" opts for an icier vibe with its cold synths and crucial stepper drop. Version-wise Walton adds a little flutey prang, Corticyte takes on a dungeon tour while Rivet crunches up the dance with some spiked out acid techno. Two dank originals, three equally murked remixes, documents don't get much better than this.
There's no doubt that 90s UK techno is popular again - just look at Discogs prices for confirmation of the renewed interest in this form. But what do those revered acts sound like now? The exhaustive 2016 compilation, Brainbox, did much to shine a light on those artists' current trajectory and this follow up remix package also does a fine job. The Black Dog deliver an atmospheric ambient take on Scanner's "Eros", while on Future Sound of London's "Monolith", a somewhat bleaker, dystopian take on ambience is audible. That said, classic UK techno also had a place on the dance floor; Kirk Degiorgio's tunneling take of B12's "World's End" - remixed under his Future/Past name - and Mark Broom's skeletal electro version of the same track show that nearly 25 years later, that this remains the case.
It's a case of gamekeeper turned poacher as Ostgut boss Nick Hoppner appears again on the label, following his 2015 debut album, Folk. This three-tracker is like a distillation of his time spent in the Panorama Bar booth. The title track is a hypnotic, techy groove, covered in warm, hazy chords and redolent of classic David Alvarado's Sun Children material. On "Still", Hoppner keeps it deep, but injects some trippy acid undercurrents. The closing track, "Out of Sight", is the most dance floor friendly, with Hoppner opting for a lithe, swinging rhythm as a backing for his warm, sun-kissed chords and melodies.
Detroit's DJ Bone is and always has been one of his city's most underrated producers. In fact, the man is a killer behind the decks too, mashing up house and techno with that inimitable US speed that has also been championed by the likes of DJ Rush et al. His relationship with Bristol's Don't Be Afraid has been a fruitful one of the last year or two, releasing a couple of gnarly EPs under the Differ-ENT moniker, a sound that expands upon his comparatively more rigid techno sound. This is the debut album under the Differ-ENT alias, and we most certainly agree that It's Good To Be Differ-ENT." There isn't a dud tune on here, and for an LP that focusses primarily on the dancefloor, it manages to convey a strong narrative throughout, built with mastery and dedication by this talented artist. Tunes like "Met Allergic Flew Antsy" or "Marvel Less" are muscly and fast-paced, but there is still plenty of exploration going on at their core, while remnants of electro can be heard on tunes like "Compute Her". This is a vibrant LP, made up of many different guises and shades, all finely tuned around the dancehall, and strangely fitting with the UK's lust for the broken sound. Recommended.
Ashley Burchett has been releasing on Token since its inception a decade ago, so the direction on Metropolitan comes as a surprise. The title track is more direct than is Burchett's usual appraoch, with a fizzling din riding an up-tempo, linear rhythm, heavy drums and cheese-wire sharp percussion. It sounds like SP-X going head to head with Robert Hood. On "The Absent Mind", there is another unexpected move; the UK producer delivers a metallic, clanging rhythm that fuses Chain Reaction's dubby repetition with the locked on, linear approach of the aforementioned Mr Hood. Only on "Fallen Columns" does O stay close to the stepping sound that he made his name with - but even there, the approach is understated and ghostly.
Despite his fresh-faced appearance, Weisemann has released on an impressive range of labels, including Mojuba, Artless and Styrax and has recently added Delsin to his list. Separate Paths, his second release on the Dutch label, doesn't offer too many surprises, but it reinforces what his fans have known for a long time - namely that dance floor techno doesn't get much deeper than Sven Weisemann. The title track is a languid, introspective affair, with late night dub chords unfolding over slowed down drums, while the tempo, if not the mood, changes on "Dopamine Antagonist" and "Maori Octopus". There, tight drums support ghostly vocal samples and cavernous dub bass. Finally, "Cascading Lights" is a superbly melancholic piece of Detroit techno.
Rotterdam techno legend Benny Rodrigues aka ROD returns to Klockworks for more functional and powerful DJ tools guaranteed to rock any room with energy. Opening with the epic "Hor" guided by its absolutely explosive synth arpeggio (think Vitalic!) that builds up to a mighty crescendo, there's more dancefloor fodder courtesy of the darkly hypnotic drone techno of "Dubix" treading a similar path as label mate Etapp Kyle. Rodrigues throws a nice curveball on the dark and aggressive electro-funk workout "Nitecollage" while "Pull" is sure to get some hands in the air with this adrenalised and euphoric number geared for some serious dancefloor drama.
Techno pioneer Carl Craig's new album features eight tracks from his back catalogue re-composed in collaboration with classical musicians such as Francesco Tristano and the Les Siecles orchestra conducted by Francois-Xavier Roth. Originally released on the 2004 EP Just Another Day, this revised version of the anthemic "Sandstorms" will be featured on the new album entitled Versus. "Sandstorms" (VCO Update) is a nice modern revision of the track for modern dancefloors in all its seductive and slow burning glory.
Despite his long association with fellow Detroit artists like Omar-S and OB Ignitt, Luke Hess remains out on his own. This is largely because, as Facette shows, he has a unique sound that draws on European as well a US influences. Opening track "Emeralds" has echoes of Motor City synths, but at its heart is a driving, dub rhythm. Similarly, on "Lumen", euphoric chord stabs are fused with a heads-down groove that'll resonate in big rooms. "Myriads" sees Hess return to Detroit techno influences with waves of hissing percussion riding a snaking, metallic groove with echoes of vintage Robert Hood and Stacey Pullen.
Deployment is the debut release from mystery act R.A.S.P and it starts in explosive mode. "Deployed" revolves around a hammering rhythm, surging bass and rolling snares, while a strangled shriek that plays on repeat lends it a truly individualistic feeling. "Fortified" is a more controlled, but also features hollowed out drums and acrid 303s, while R.A.S.P takes it down a notch on "Insert Point". Deeper and more mysterious sounding than the first two tracks, it has the kind of atmospheric nuances that prevail on James Ruskin and Lakker's recent work for Blueprint. Closing the release is "Strong Hold", where R.A.S.P show that they are adept at working 303 elements into a Baby Ford-style minimal groove.
Haslam is one of the more prolific techno artists, with four albums - three under his own name and one as Romans with Tin Man - to his credit in the past four years. As Scale demonstrates though, a high volume of releases has not had a detrimental impact on the quality of his work. The title track on his latest outing for Bunker shows why he is such a talented artist. Despite easily passing the 130bpm mark, its combination of bleeding acid and whiplash percussion is imbued with an innate sense of funk, in the same manner as early Cristian Vogel or vintage Communique releases. There's also a real treat for Bunker fans with Mike Servito and Justin Cudmore team up to turn "Scale" into a throbbing underground groove.
Hoshina Anniversary is a Japanese producer who has put out material on Boyz Noise and now makes a debut for Turbo's sub-label. On "Build Up Your House", he makes a lo-fi play on the Detroit house/techno of K.Hand and Kevin Saunderson; over a pumping groove, he drops ponderous vocals and a scratchy riff that is at odds with the streamlined, stab-heavy backing track. The title track is also a slamming affair, but again its author throws in another curve-ball - this time in the form of a squeaky vocal and some noisy blips and bleeps. "Broken Mo" is less conventional, revolving around splintered broken beats, but Hoshina Anniversary soon reverts to the dance floor with the sweaty pulses of "All You Need is 'Good'".
Nthng has put out a handful of records, mainly for Lobster Theremin, and now follows these with an expansive, varied debut album. There's the lean but deep Detroit techno of "Galaxy", the title track's spacious claps and dramatic synth washes as well as "Soms" and "Abyss", where he lays down the kind of billowing but immersive dance floor tracks that have echoes of classic Sterac and Ross 154. There are hints of Lobster Theremin's more typically abrasive approach on the tonal blips of "Unity", but in the main this is a reflective affair, as evidence by the sensuous ambience of "Touches" and "In My Dreams".
Following a surprise outing on Transmat this time last year, Deep'a and Biri return to the Black Crow label they established back in 2013. This time round, the Tel Aviv duo has delivered two distinctly different cuts. "Basic Cycle" sees them fuse classic, Motor City techno percussion and chords with the kind of looped riffs that were once a feature of late '80s house cuts from Detroit. As a result, the rack has a real warehouse-friendly feel, suggesting that it will suit clubs with big sound systems and even bigger rooms. "Overdrum" is a no-nonsense techno workout built around their impeccable percussion programming, and very little else. It works largely due to the dense layers of drums they employ, including some particularly carnival-friendly hits.
Exclusives
KINK - Beats (Clone Royal Oak)
SVEN WEISEMANN - Separate Paths EP (Delsin Holland)
GREY PEOPLE - VV021 (Valcrond Video US) - exclusive 03-04-2017
Exclusives
TECTURE - Lord Of Mech (BTAIM)
FIEDEL - Substance B (Ostgut Ton Germany)
LUKE HESS - Facette (Echocord Colour Denmark)
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