Sven Vath's annual residency in Ibiza is home to some of the best and most adventurous electronic music on the white island and the annual compilations follow the same path. O starts with the fuzzy, frazzled trance of Roland M Dill's "The Messenger", followed by the rolling, steppy house of Tripmastaz "Grindin" and Dana Ruh's "If You Don't Know A Name", which sounds inspired by the growling bass of Kevin Saunderson's E-Dancer project. The madness doesn't end there and O also boasts trance techno from Dast, Tom Demac's rave sampling house and Steve Parker's tribal techno banger, ""Brian's Lullaby" - making the compilation as wild and unpredictable as Cocoon's own nights.
The culmination of 10 years' experience as a producer, InharmX is a masterclass in techno purism. The release starts with the dubby techno title track before briefly diverting into the chord-heavy ambience of "Under Part 1". From there, Haus ups the tempo and intensity levels; "Under Part 2" is an intense workout, undercut by doubled-up rhythms, and better still, "Module 3" is a relentless, Sahko/Sleeparchive-style bleep techno affair - which Roger Semsroth himself approves of. Finally, there's "Axid", a pummelling, unflinching workout, laced with acid and shot through with the kind of distorted 909s that Jeff Mills himself would approve of.
Ireland's Sian is still at it. Making it big around a decade ago in the early noughties minimal boom with some great tracks like "Apple Tree" and "Sei" it's good to see he's still at it. Released on his own Octupus imprint, this album shows his deft skills at sound design and creating dancefloor ready artillery. First tracks "Ascension" and "Diamond Shore" are rolling tunnelling trips that really nails the modern techno sound. As does "Candy" with its buzzing peak time bassline and druggy Minus style pitch shifted vocals. There's a lot to get through here, 22 tracks to be exact. But it's great bang for your buck, trust us!
London's Progression returns to Blueprint Limited with four high-powered slabs of machine noise, characterized most appropriately by the term 'techno'. This naughty, hand-stamped piece of wax is dark, foreboding and distinctly industrial in texture, where cuts such as "Omnipotent 3", "Obscuro" and "CH1" explore all of the genre's tricks and no nonsense sonics. The bleepy outlook of "The Coriolis Effect" is a particular highlight!
Bittersharp is the work of a Belgian producer and sounds like it was influenced in part by that country's hardcore past. The title track is an intense, high-paced techno track, led by screeching rave riffs and reminiscent of some of Reload Records' more abrasive releases from the mid-90s. "Kobalt" is just as tough and sees Border One drop concrete block kicks and screwdriver riffs. For his final track, he takes inspiration from Germany rather than his home country. "Arachnid" is also high-paced and features hammering drums, but the cold, repetitive bleeps sound like they were lifted form Sleeparchive's studio.
There's something more than a little unsettling about the cover image for Perc's latest release which finds the producer's face covered in what looks like porridge. In some ways, it's rather fitting, because the EP itself - like much of Alistair Wells' output - is similarly hard to handle. The single's final track, "Change To" - a cacophonous fusion of distortion, scattergun hits and garbled voices - sounds like his vision of the end of days. Of course, few are quite as accomplished when it comes to creating raw, bleak, intense techno, and its' these moments - particularly the industrial motifs, aggressive electronics and thumping beats of "Gruel" - that make Gob a must-have.
Paul Rose gets the remix treatment from two of house and techno's most respected acts. In its original format, the title track is a blissed out ambient composition, equal parts evocative and atmospheric. Tuff City Kids use these musical textures as a backdrop against which they overlay a pulsing, throbbing bassline and churning chords, turning it into a classic deep house jam. Phase's reconstruction of "Family Entertainment" is even more radical. While the original version's half-heard squeals are not audible on the Token artist's remix, the tough broken beat arrangement nonetheless seethes with an underlying feeling of menace.
Huerco S has long been a mainstay of Anthony Naples' Probito label, and has delivered material for the label under a variety of pseudonyms since its' launch in 2013. His latest missive for the imprint is, unsurprisingly, rather special. It's the near 10-minute A-side "Rushing to Paradise" that really stands out. Following a long, suitably intergalactic ambient build up, the track quietly builds in intensity whilst retaining an overwhelming sense of hazy, sun-kissed blissfulness. It's the kind of enveloping, saucer-eyed deep house track that you could take to a desert island, listen to on a loop for weeks, and never get bored of. It really is a sublime piece of shuffling cosmic house.
The Bunker New York rarely mess around when it comes to techno. With a few notable exceptions, their releases are rarely less than thrillingly forthright and intense. Certainly, this surprise EP from veteran techno producer Mark Verbos - a man whose discography stretches back over 20 years - fits that remit. Flitting between acid-laden psychedelic intensity ("Just A Little Late"), high-octane loop jams ("In The Back Room") and sweaty, all-out assaults on the senses (the metallic madness that is "Start Up Drive"), it portrays Verbos as a masterful producer of no-holds-barred dancefloor techno. Interestingly, he diverts a little from the script on the EP's final moment, "Walk The Distance", combining sparse dub techno rhythms and ghostly electronics.
Photic Fields is an imprint with a clear and pronounced predilection for electro informed productions that dart out into murkier leftfield corners of contemporary electronic music, and with just four previous releases since 2012 they're an outfit clearly focused on quality over quantity. Be that as it may this release finds no less than six tracks jammed onto it, but there's no arguing with the calibre of artists. BNJMN's melancholic beatdown, Aroy Dee's gently lifting synth-pop funk, Lerosa's acidic drama, Metropolis' tense house noir, Perseus Traxx's adventurous box jam and TR One's balletic composition, all feeding into a release oozing hardware class and vintage sophistication.
Rotterdam's Mord continues with its consistent onslaught of peak time club destroyers, proving they really are the techno label of the moment! Who better to carry on the torch than the legendary Brendon Moeller, under his Echologist alias. In the past known for his dub techno explorations, these days known for relentless grooves. With its tunnelling melody, sinister synth squelches and monstrous kick drum, lead track "Shake Well" ticks all the right boxes. "Inside Dimensions" is the absolute peak time weapon on this one, which tears the through the speakers like a post-apocalyptic steam train. The mayhem continues with the sinister modular workout of "Lucky Bastard" as good as anything by Mike Parker or Steve Bicknell did recently, but the restrained energy of "Transformer" and "Penetration" provide equally worthy DJ tools for different circumstances.
Based in Japan but global in outlook, the second release on the Blindetonation label is an impressive affair. "What Do You Think You Saw" could be an old progressive house number reimagined by Speedy J, its teased out groove coated in acidic swathes. Meanwhile the title track is a superb, eerie techno groove, reminiscent of early Matrix records. Its only contemporary reference is the shadowy Secret Initiative project. The remixes are also impressive; William Earl turns the title track into a tranced out groove, while Heretic Monotype's take on "What..." is all dramatic synths and pulsating 303s. In this interconnected world, Blindetonation is proof that it's not where you from but where you are at that really counts.
Argentine producer Sebastian Lopez make his debut on Format with a tough techno four-track EP. It starts with the title track, where churning, insistent chords unfold over a pumping rhythm. Lopez follows a similar approach on "Drones", only on this occasion the bass is coated in a thick layer of grime and the end result is like an old DJ HMC track. "X-Pansion" sees Lopez take inspiration from rave influences, while "In Tension" is the most impressive track. The rhythm has Joey Beltram's corrosive acid sound and with the pitch-bent vocal sample, Lopez pays tribute to the stripped back minimal house of DBX.
Like Moritz Van Oswald and Andy Stott's work, Dubbing is proof that techno can be intellectually stimulating and entertaining at the same time. The work of former modern art professor Vincent Raude, the title track features an appearance from jazz legend Michael Zerang on drums. Remaining at a low tempo, Raude lets loose with a stepping rhythm accompanied by understated, rolling drums. On the flip side, Raude favours a similar approach. "Lighthouse Dub" is a textured, deep techno torch song. Influenced by the late night shanties of Rhythm & Sound, it brings to a close the latest installment in dub techno's intellectual development.
Hot on the heels of their well-regarded debut album, Immersion, Germany's Zenker Brothers pop up on Index Marcel Fengler with four more tracks of dancefloor-focused techno. Opener "Night Hustler" has a surprisingly bumpy feel, with expertly programmed cymbals working in unison with a rising and falling refrain. The unflinching "Bias" - all dense drums and early '90s riffs - has an altogether ravier feel, while Philipp Von Bergman hook-up "Karma Lounge" pairs up high octane rhythms with a restless melodic motif. Finally, the duo doffs a cap once more to the early '90s with the hands-in-the-air riffs and pounding percussion of "Neunkeu".
Spencer Parker's Work Them Records returns to the Werk single from Radio Slave the label issued last year, inviting a stellar cast of contemporaries to rewerk the title track. First up is an 11 minute version from White Material co-founder DJ Richard, who once again demonstrates his talent for bringing new levels of depths and emotion to the humble DJ tool, teasing out a certain cosmic flight from Radio Slave's original with the results quite trippy indeed. Dan Beaumont comes through with a thick set wall shaker with some finely programmed kick drums whilst local Berlin talent Sven von Thulen also shines with a bleed laden lo fi burner take.
The work of Jean-Louis Huhta, the Dungeon Acid project sees modern techno might and precision brought to bear on classic acid sounds. The Point Chaud remix of the title track is based around stripped back rhythms and crunchy rhythms, while on "Timewave", Huhta goes into full-on hard techno mode, with searing acid lines complementing scary rave riffs. Label owner Par Grindvik contributes two versions; the first is a tough, pumping affair, undercut by stomping beats and a pumping rhythm, while his second take is more impressive. It too features the Swedish producer's steely rhythms, but as it progresses, it veers into a dark, atmospheric cloud.
Detroit techno legend, Belleville Three member and all-around badman Kevin Saunderson revives his E Dancer project with a new two-tracker on his very own KMS imprint. There hadn't been new E Dancer material since the late '90s, so we're being treated to a bit of a rarity this week, particularly because both mixes of "Foundation" are simply killer. The original is classic Kevin with its driving beat, rocking percussion and progressive stance made for you to...DANCE. The dub mix goes in deeper, spanning across vaster landscapes and working those synths to their very limits. They're simple tunes but they're also ones which will no doubt stick in your mind. Welcome back.
Culled from last year's debut album Trust, this remix collection comes from artists that 18+ respect and occasionally collaborate with. Suicideyear's take on "Cake" is a dreamy, entrancing affair, with haunting electronic melodies and half-heard vocals set to push the listener into a trance. It's followed by the huge bass drops and dissected vocals of Mr Mitch's take on "Nectar", with Tia Maria Producoes' remix of "OIXU" is in a similar vein thanks to its massive subs. Birds cawing, clicking thumb percussion and techno bleeps comprise Audri Nix's reshape of "Crow", while Mr Mitch goes into melodic, atmospheric mode for his remix of "Nectar".
Techno outsider Julixo makes his debut on France's Knotweed entourage with three sublime dancefloor nuggets, each of them warm and under-compressed. "Rebho" is a stripped back number with sparse, airy melodies and frenetic percussive swings, while "Reflections" takes a more soulful edge to its chords and beats, and "Life Of Crime" dominates the floor thanks to its repetitive blasts of hi-hats, snares and furious shots of bass. Effective, malleable and utterly pumping.