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Reviewed this week
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Amsterdam's Field Records is hardly renowned for its productivity; this compilation of music from the label's growing roster of artists - simply titled "Collection" - is only the imprint's 12th release since it launched in 2008. Given the renowned quality of their deep, woozy, Detroit-influenced offerings, that's something of a shame. Still, this is a real bonus for anyone turned on by their winding ambience, stargazing IDM, crackly minimal and floor-friendly Motor City style techno. Highlights include the surging analogue techno pulse of Viski's "A Star In Your Head", the bubbling, immersive ambience of SYS's "Radius", and the retro-futurist fun of Resoe's "Outer Dimension", but it's all pretty tasty.
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Whilst the most recent Modeselektion compilation saw Berlin pair Modeselektor pick from a largely established (if very varied) pool of artists, the latest release on their 50 Weapons labels shows Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary have not lost any of their canny A&R skills for uncovering new talent. The uniquely named Fjaak are a Berlin trio with "futuristic minds but already nostalgic feelings" and as far as we can tell this two tracker is their debut release. Familiarise yourself with both cuts and you'll understand why Bronsert and Szary scooped Fjaak up, with a their rave ready productions executed on a mixture of hardware and software the sort of club focused music 50 Weapons has made it's name on. As immediate as the title track is, our pick is the tougher techno fix of "Plan A".
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Oscar Mulero's Polegroup calls upon a storied cast of producers to remix Exuim's 2013 album, which begins with this EP's highlight: a fresh, post-punky - supremely techno sounding - Silent Servant remix to "The 12th Planet". Jonas Kopp's remix to "Nucleoid" is a deep vamp of circulating darkness for the warehouse set, while Oscar Mulero turns in a dubby, liquid-coated production of throbbing bass frequencies when reworking "Massless Particle". The digital version of this EP presents two bonus remixes and the first comes from Dark Esser's Tripeo alias with an edit of "Dronid". It's both booming and calm while Mulero provides a second subterranean option of "Massless Particle". Tripeo's official remix of "Parallel Computing" completes the EP with a combination of bleep and chime sequences wavering on top of watery basslines and industrial atmospheres. Something here for every techno DJ.
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Everyone's favourite strawberry-flavoured techno creator, Erdbeerschnitzel returns to Delsin with a quad of cuts that billow with synthetic detail and imagery. "The Ample Waters" is an upbeat juggernaut powered by melodies and counter melodies that smoulders with UR heritage while "Never Tilt" provides sweet contrast thanks its slow-burning synth-heavy soul. Further on we hit "With Level Hopes", a subversive deep house cut that seeps jazz sentimentalities in such a way it could make Moody Man blush. Finally we're sent to the cosiest of pastures with the beautiful R&B homage "Yet Unfulfilled". Slinky, sleazy and laced with subtle vocoder elements, it's an emotional conclusion to a highly accomplished EP.
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Steve Mizek's Chicago-based Argot label is usually a reliable source of formidable dancefloor fare from currently hot or fast-rising talents. Previously, the label has showcased work from The Black Madonna, Gunnar Haslam, Pittsburgh Track Authority and Amir Alexander. Here, Mizek has managed to coax some new original material out of Mister Saturday Night main man Eamon Harkin. There's an intoxicating, psychedelic intensity about the early '90s British techno influences on the moody, string-laden, acid-flecked "Species of Comedy". "Back Down", meanwhile, is a much more robust affair, with nagging hooks and twisted riffs riding a balls-out techno groove.
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Despite being over two hundred releases old, Soma has lost none of its A&R skills. This is the second EP on the label from Ukraine duo Woo York and it's an impressive release. The title track is a raw slice of techno, its dense, seemingly impenetrable groove containing waves of noise, burning acid splurges and, by contrast, lithe percussive licks. "In The End" is a swaggering, stepping affair; it is based on dense drums and dubby kicks, but at its core there is a haunting hook that serves to offset the intensity. Soma can't be faulted for its choice of remixer and Phase delivers a dark, pulsing take on the title track.
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Martinez joins NX1 as the latest artist to release on new label Rising. In its original format, the title track is a stomping, stepping affair, its muscular rhythm interspersed by powerful blasts of white noise. Oscar Mulero's take is even more intense, with the Warm Up boss adding panel-beating drums and insistent filters to the original arrangement. From there on in, the release drops a few notches in the intensity stakes; Ness delivers a deep, mysterious version, full of eerie twitches and turns and Adriana Lopez drops a percussive remix that while dancefloor-primed doesn't teem with the primal force of the original version.
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When it comes to stabbed-up, drum machine sequenced techno, Psyk is a go to producer. The producer's Maan alias is Manuel Anos' stripped-back take on his dub-tailored style of club music which is less brooding than the Spaniard's other productions. It's also Maan which defines the Non Series sound, which on this EP is best heard via the staccato-driven, cowbell filled "Burn". For a deep rhythm track there's "Jackin (Part 2)" - something you'd imagine Steffi playing to beef up the vibes in Pbar - while "Lost" loops a vocal like Robert Hood would as Floorplan.
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There's a definite "no-nonsense" feel about this latest Tobias EP on Ostgut Ton. Simply titled Remixes, it sees a quartet of producers turn in typically locked-in re-interpretations of classic Tobias tracks. Matthew Jonson and The Mole join forces to turn "If" into a ten-minute chunk of broken tech-house - all bubbling electronic rhythms, relentlessly bumpy acid lines and crackly late night textures. Peter Van Hoesen takes a trip back to the early '90s with his spiraling, acid-flecked rework of "Cursor Item Only" (think Brown Album era Orbital, with a little more 4/4 techno grunt), before Blue Hour deliver a pulverizing version of "He Said" that's by far and away the EP's most bowel-bothering moment. It's no-holds-barred techno and then some, with one almighty sub-heavy bassline.
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This is something of a treat for techno fans: a rare appearance from Robert Hood's sci-fi inspired Monobox project. Amazingly, the last original material Hood released under the pseudonym was way back in 2003. This brand new two-tracker sees him in fine form, layering exotic, alien melodies over typically jacking, stripped-back techno rhythms. "Film" opens proceedings. With darting electronics and melodic synths riding a hypnotic, clap-heavy groove, it's as hypnotic and engaging as you'd expect, with a more picturesque feel than many of Hood's productions. "Rectangle" is a touch dubbier with more than a hint of acid within the chaotic electronic squiggles and relentless kick drums, while grandiose cymbals give the track a sweaty, energetic feel.
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Since Cassegrain entered the techno consciousness back in 2010 with the final artist release on Kevin Gorman's Mikrowave label, the Greco-Austrian pairing of Alex Tsiridis and Huseyin Evirgren have carved out their own corner in the world of foreboding, bassline driven, deep techno. And with material from Tiamat the focus of a recent heavyweight remix package from Prologue - Mike Parker, Svreca, Andreas Tilliander's TM404 project and Ed 'Inland' Davenport all involved - Cassegrain return to the Munich label with their first solo release of 2014. The title track's power electronics fall somewhere between a Regis, British Murder Boys and Donato Dozzy production, while the focus of "Hexagon Fifteen" is steely ambience, oblique drums and ghostly textures. The final track, "Yokai", is what real Prologue fans will associate with most thanks to its floating hypnotic sounds and extreme feedback loops.
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Bill Youngman brings a cavernous and industrially-tinged dub techno sound to Killekill on his latest EP for the Berlin label, starting with a whirlwind of brooding atmospheres which make up the title-track "Levitate". Dub disappears for something synthier, broken and pleasantly melancholic in "Teardrops Turn To Solid" in a production good enough for a Stroboscopic Artefacts Monad release (if Youngman was to do one), while a stormy "Magnetic" sounds like an Ancient Methods and Perc collaboration. If only!
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The second of two quick releases for the Diagonal label, A Waif's Rent sees the project of Factory Floor's Dominic Butler and L/F/D/M producer Richard Smith deliver three more productions crouching in the crawlspace between techno, industrial and noise. Like the material on the O Unilateralis record, these three tracks pull no punches in terms of their sonic impact; the 13-minute "Albion Pressure" sees a gritty, pulsating synth line driven forward on a wave of insistent metallic clutter, while "Cut Bronze" employs a more subtle approach, with sub-bass frequencies placed underneath modular gurgles and a hypnotic rhythm that could be described as minimal. "Tephra" is the real killer, taking its central synth line to giddy eardrum-splitting frequencies.
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Having already laid out something of a mission statement with the first release on his own Resin imprint, Pris strikes up the label's third release with another salvo of deep and engaging techno. "If She Bends, She Breaks" throws down a gauntlet of slithering, snaking percussion and spine-tingling synth tones that keep the outlook tough but constantly surprising. "St Elmo's Fire" has a whisper of electro in its low-end punch, but dark, big room techno is the order of the day. "If She Cracks, She Bears" works in a lighter drum set and saves the mind-bending synth action for later into the track, and then "Echoes Of The Tundra" finishes the EP off with a more densely packed foray into complex rhythmic structures.
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Re-mastered for a new generation, Revisited brings together some of UK veteran Aubrey's finest moments. The release starts with the frenetic "Inner Passions Out", a fast-paced metallic rhythm that jerks and jacks in the finest Detroit tradition. "Rapid Fix" is next, with Aubrey dropping the tempo and delivering layered, hypnotic bleeps and menacing drones, while "Behind The Mirror" sees the UK producer match jazzy keys with an off-centre, stepping rhythm - a good decade before this approach became fashionable. The final track shows that Aubrey was ahead of his time in other ways, and "Strange Life" is a driving, toolish affair with mad alarm bells going off.
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Detroit's Rolando continues his comeback with this excellent two-track release. Paying homage to his home town but also to Berlin's modern-day techno sound, both tracks crackle and fizzle with great energy. The title track is redolent of "The Shining Path", the B-side from his 1997 debut Aztec Mystic release, only slower, more considered and streamlined. Still, the same shuffling, rolling rhythm and tough tribal beats prevail, only on this occasion they give way to breathlessly melodic chord sequences. "Mood Maker" sees Rolando opt for a harder approach; the drums are tough and grainy, the percussive bursts sharp and insistent, while the accompanying filter churns mercilessly.
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Delroy Edwards' label won't win any prizes for releasing safe music and certainly its sixth record is not for the faint-hearted. "Dirge 2" is lttle more than a wall of fuzzy, frazzled noise interspersed with incessant filter bursts, while "Dirge 4" is more danceable as the author drops crunchy beats and waves of building feedback. On the remaining "Dirge" tracks, the unnamed producer focuses squarely on the floor. "Dirge 1" is an uncomplicated but effective fusion of banging beats and firing hats. Best of all, though is "Dirge 3", which features pounding titanium drums supporting relentless percussive volleys, a killer club track to rival Edwards' own material.
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The latest release on Ibadan sublabel Apotek finds label boss Jerome Sydenham teaming up with Sally, perhaps better known under his alias Moire Patterns. "My Normal Usual Far" leads the way with a leaden thump that stalks at an easy pace considering the weight of the kick, working some vocal and acid elements into the techno momentum to make for a powerful set builder. "Encouragement" meanwhile takes a lighter approach in some respects, letting solid rushes of chord charge upwards without sacrificing the fist-shaking techno M.O. of the rhythm section. For those needing stout and sturdy workhorses for bigger spaces, look no further.
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Voiron's fourth release this year is issued on Photonz' One Eyed Jacks label. It feels like the producer has decided to plunder the past as much as possible. "Hardchore" is a metallic stepper that features breezy trance melodies, while the title track sees Voiron go back to the early '90s warehouse sound, as subsonic, bleepy bass unfolds over tough breakbeats. "Harlem Juno Shake" is led by crashing cymbals and wild acid bursts. This connection to the '90s continues on the remixes; the Violet take on "Harlem Juno Shake" is more evocative and led by lithe breaks, while Pal+ version of "RN12 91" adds shaking percussion and ecstatic 'oohs and ahs' to the arrangement.
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Fittingly, the Bunker's offshoot label is just as adventurous as the New York club itself - and Marco Shuttle's Fanfara upholds this experimental approach. Thankfully though, Shuttle favours experimentalism with a small 'e' and his adventures in sound don't come at the expense of providing dance floor excitement. The title track evolves from dense and textured drones, a throbbing bassline kicking in after a short intro, followed by out there, extra-terrestrial sounds and effects. "Marching on the Rings Of Saturn" is more intense as sheets of percussive fury are shot over a pounding backing, but in the background there are waves of abstract sound and textures that keep the listener guessing.
Exclusives
MONOBOX - Film/Rectangle (M Plant US)
TOBIAS - Remixes (Ostgut Ton Germany)
PRIS - A Shot Across The Bows (Resin) - exclusive 04-08-2014
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