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Reviewed this week
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Henrik Schwarz is one of electronic music's most revered artists for his ability to combine jazz, flamenco and classical music with house and techno. For this third MASSE package he provides one bespoke techno track, and a second floral arrangement of the aforementioned styles. The first, "Lockstep", provides a dubby beat while a dusty snare progression snaps away like Ectomorph on overdrive, highlighting how versatile Schwarz can be with the use of only a few elements - check out Sven Weisemann's "Trackz" for another great example of this. Schwarz's "Unknown Touch Two" sees the German back in familiar territory by providing a hot-blooded, Latin-laced and string plucking piece of cinematic music with a deft touch of house.
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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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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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Given how hot last year's In Plain Clothes EP was, it's little surprise to see Berlin dwelling Italian pair Marieu and Lucretio make a swift return to the Hype LTD label for a second release as The Analogue Cops. Like that previous record, Hot Brass Dance sees Marieu and Lucretio offering up solo productions. Both "Denying" and "Do It Forever" sound like forgotten vocal house tracks from the Relief archives rescued from a crusty DAT tape and spliced with the rawest drums we've heard in some time. Marieu takes a more mind bending approach with "Manipulation" that features the sort of vocal trickery you'd hear on a classic Dance Mania production complemented by a very unpredictable acid line that has laser like qualities. And banging drums. The craziest is saved till last however with "Fall In" a deranged acid monster.
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Since launching in 2013, James McInnes and Vic Edirisinghe's Plastic World label has dared to go where other Australian labels fear to tread, delivering the sort of left-of-centre analogue house explorations usually associated with European and American label. This third 12", featuring two tracks apiece from local lads Tuff Sherm and Cassius Select, delivers four more surprises. Tuff Sherm's two tracks are particularly revelatory, with the woozy melodies and machine drum swing of "Topaz Looper" contrasting nicely with the clattering drums, hip-hop samples and melodic fluidity of "Beneath Numeral". Cassius Select heads to move bass-heavy territory on the flip, delivering two gargantuan chunks of bruk-influenced house-not-house to tempt and tease late night dancefloors.
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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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There's a specific kink to the kind of dark and potent techno that Rodhad crafts. Back once again on Dystopian, the Red Rising EP offers up three examples of how to push things forward in the more serious corners of the techno menagerie. "Hell Diver" works around the cyclical motion of a few key ingredients to create a measured malice that will do nothing for your disposition, with slight touches of foreign sounds in those choice moments to make the ears dart around in paranoia. "Mines Of Mars" meanwhile lets a bleepy bassline head out in front with some playful fills creating a distinctive quality to the synth. "Rising" finishes proceedings off with a stout floor worker buttoned up so tight it might combust at any moment.
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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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Let's not lie, how often do you see, or need, the words 'club version' alongside a Marcel Dettmann production? In this case, for the tracks "Spiritoso" and "Martellato" it makes sense considering the original two were disjointed, industrial-tinged scores for a conceptual performance which took place in Berghain. The first club version strips away the Panthu du Prince-style chimes and chirping bird effects and boils the piece down to a dusty beat with a resonating ambience, sinewave sweeps and the odd piano crash. "Martellato" in its original form is a haunting Phantom Of The Opera type production with this club version somehow transforming it into a watery and dubbed-out piece of tense, minimal techno.
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Throughout the MASSE soundtrack Phillip Sollmann & Marcel Fengler's DIN alias provided the Berghain ballet with the production's most challenging sequences. Those who enjoyed the track "RazKaz" from Fengler's Enigma EP from 2010 will warm to the subtle classical strings of "Euphorium", while bells similar to those heard on M.Bison's stage on Street Fighter II ring melodiously in an arpeggio that flickers like sunlight bouncing off the sea. "Aetas" is a production which fits in with the sketchy sounds of Tobias, and a poetic, spoken word vocal adds an extra touch of depth for a sublime cut of stony, deep, deep, house music.
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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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In the past few years, Kiev producer Yan Cook made a name with his inventive but streamlined techno for Delsin offshoot Ann Aimee. It's no wonder then that Planet Rhythm has commissioned him for this release. The title track is a functional affair; based on razor sharp hats and doubled up claps, these elements provide the basis for insistent stabs and bass licks. For the rest of the release, Cook sets his sights on more experimental approaches. "The Edge" is a lithe, stripped back affair, its stepping rhythm housing deep stabs, while the driving "Cubism" is led by clanging, metallic beats. Best of all though is "RRR", a pitched down, distorted drum workout.
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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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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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Myk Derril returns to Knotweed with another fine slice of minimalistic jack-funk for the floor, and as per usual, these are ragged, ice-cold heart stoppers for the likes of Dettman and Klock to drop in a basement in the early hours. Aptly named in numerical format, these four clusterbombs have enough pounce to cause a real stir in the dark. Our favourite slice is number "03" for its ultra-slick groove and shredded melodies, but they're all winners and make a welcome addition to the rest of the catalogue. Warmly recommended.
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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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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.
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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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It's been a while since we've seen FSG in full flight and for M_Rec they really take off. But they're not high flying, instead they burrow down with rigid Ancient Methods styled drums and a freaked out synth shot which continually morphs like a blob with a brain of its own. Things get more industrial on "Levity" as its groove falls out of rhythm with the beats but it works, especially during the breakdown, while "Learned" is a caustic slab of dubby club techno. One for concrete clubs that's fore sure.
Exclusives
VARIOUS - Field Records: Collection (Field Holland)
BILL YOUNGMAN - Levitate (Killekill Germany)
VICTOR MARTINEZ - Anything Called Dead Consumerism (Rising Label) - exclusive 28-07-14
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Top Labels
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