M Plant's 20 Year anniversary celebrations are set to end on a high with a triple CD compilation featuring a wealth of new, remastered and unreleased material alongside some classics from the Robert Hood canon. Before then, the latest in an ongoing series of celebratory 12" releases sees Hood look to the classic Protein Valve, which was the first 12" issued on M Plant back in 1994. The title track has already been subject to some edits as part of this M Plant 20 series, but it's nice to see three tracks from that original 12" reissued here as a reminder how Hood's pioneering minimal approach first took shape. Look out for new Hood production "Analog Track (Ghost)" wedged in amongst the protein too!
Corded brings together two of Sweden and Europe's best techno producers. Peder Mannerfelt has already put out an excellent abstract album this year and he continues in that vein with his contributions to this release. "Metastasizing" is all dark soundscapes and the sound of malfunctioning machines, while "Valle" is led by insane screeches, like someone ramming their finger into a live electricity socket. "White Noise-Pink Ladies" is even more extreme, as wave upon wave of noise and ear-shredding tones coalesce. Grindvik meanwhile, represents a more dance floor friendly approach; "Speaker Attack" is led by clonking rhythms and firing percussion, while "Help Me Shiver" is a tough techno groove led by cold bleeps and a driving rhythm.
If there's someone you can trust to remix your music it's Svreca, so why not get him to remix everything like Kontra-Musik has done for Andreas Tilliander's TM404 project. Svreca shapes TM404's experimental Roland drum and acid machine productions into something more accessible for the DJ than the original album, while adding his own, brooding, trademark touch to each track. Basically, if you want five cuts of sublime, deep acid techno that's on more of a linear tip than Varg's productions, look no further than this - Ulf Eriksson, you've done it again.
According to their label, Fjaak live and sleep in their studio, but whatever about their methodology, it is clear that they are doing something right. The title track is a monstrous affair, based on a gargantuan stepping rhythm and tough breeze block beats as the trio shoot out Landstrumm-esque grating noise. In stark contrast is "The Wind". Deeper and groovier, it centres on breezy chords but retains dance floor clout thanks to the shards of hissing percussion. "Curious" sees Fjaak back to the same kind of territory as "Attack"; the only difference is that this time, the groove is straighter, but the grainy drums are just as relentlessly unforgiving.
Has it been five years already? In 2009 Stroboscopic Artefacts revealed itself with label founder Lucy's Why Don't You Change // Dub Man Walking release. In the following years artists like Xhin and Dadub became label faithfuls while others like Perc, Pfirter and Donor helped Stroboscopic Artefacts develop into the techno power house it now is. The recent introduction of artists like Rrose, Lakker (and Eomac), Sendai and Donato Dozzy have further established the label's dominance. This first chapter of various artist EPs Stroboscopic Artefacts will release to celebrate five years of existence brings together the old with the new. Rrose delivers a typically droning "Drowned By Sight" which fans of Sandwell District will love, while Perc's "Tri-City" is a rolling barrage of stiff and rigid drums and industrial atmospheres. Pfirter delivers something more subdued and dubby than his normal peak time fare while Lakker's "Pier" is haunting as always.
Blackest Ever Black's unwavering commitment to gracing 2014 with some of the most distinct sounds continues apace as their latest long player sees the return of William Bennett's Cut Hands project. Entitled Festival Of The Dead, this new album feels like the next logical progression in the Cut Hands sound, with the label describing it as "most potent distillation yet" of Bennett's "malign percussive energy". If you checked lead track "The Claw" which was made available to stream when BEB first announced the album, you will no doubt have an idea of what to expect but this relentless, bracing approach shown there is not the only card played by Bennett across the album. Indeed it's the moments where the sonics get twisted and chewed up (such as the suitably named "Parataxic Distortion") that prove most memorable.
The term 'locked groove' may be primarily associated with tough, loopy techno, but Tim Van de Meutter's latest release under this name is radically different. The title track starts with stripped back, minimal house beats, before de Meutter introduces a dramatic, surging bassline and tranced out synth lines. It's to the producer's credit that he manages to keep the groove dance floor-based. "Meditations In An Emergency" pushes even farther in an esoteric direction; a chattering rhythm and acid warbles provide the backdrop for Locked Groove to provide the kind of dreamy synth scapes that Derrick May used to produce. Van de Meutter's stage name may not fit this music, but "Meditations" is still deep electronic music at its best.
The media-shy Gunnar Haslam first introduced himself to the wider world of electronic music with an album on L.I.E.S. and since then he's gone on to collaborate with Tin Man as Romans while releasing records for Mister Saturday Night and Chicago label Argot. Gunnar Haslam's Delsin debut also marks the onset of a new series from the Dutch label entitled Cameron with fellow L.I.E.S. graduate Voiski and Shlomo also pencilled in to contribute. "Ataxia No Logos" is an EP highlight which matches the booming sound Claro Intelecto delivered on his Stanza EP, while "Corridor Metaphysics" is a smooth, DeepChord-like production mixed with 909 hi-hats. "Dunsinane Hill" is a superb deep house production saturated in fuzzy overdrive while "Discrete Markov Dub" sounds similar to music Unbroken Dub has released on Rawax.
The Perc Trax Ltd label comes up trumps again as one of Perc's secret DJ weapons is opened up to a new generation of techno selectors via some stellar remixes. As Drax, Thomas Heckmann first issued "Phosphene" via his own Trope Recordings label back in 1993, with the pummelling acid number later used by Carl Cox on his classic 1995 mix CD F.A.C.T. Like the Matt Whitehead release that kicked off Perc Trax Ltd, the original is not present though it's spirit very much lives on the remixes here from Perc & Truss, AnD and The Exaltics. All three are naturally pretty bracing affairs, though it's nice to see Mancunian duo AnD add a dash of punk funk swagger into the mix.
"Aqua" is the second release of Finitude Music, the label operated by long-time Tresor Berlin resident Marcel Heese. The A-Side title is from the same recording session with Spanish producer P.E.A.R.L. like "Entrance" from Finitudes first release. This time the remix comes from Techno legend Karl O'Connor aka Regis who needs no further introduction. With his deep and hypnotic contribution he has truly outdone himself.
Over the past few years, Mancunian production unit AnD have become some of the go-to producers for hard as nails techno, with searing releases on Repitch Recordings, Delsin offshoot Ann Aimee and Modal Analysis. Dark Matters represents a second 12" for Electric Deluxe, and is also effectively a marker for the duo's upcoming debut album on Speedy J's behemoth operation due later this month. Whilst it's impossible to foresee how Cosmic Microwave Background will sound as a whole, both "Cosmic Strings" and "Photon Visibility Function" suggests there will be some stylistic consistency with the bracing techno we have come to expect from AnD, with the former track a particularly brutal take no prisoners affair.
Always one to charge into more interesting corners of the techno world, Adam X is in fine fettle as he drops his latest album for Sonic Groove, the first on his own label since 1998's Audiobiography. The tone is very much stout and stern, from the industrial-tinged drum hits to the cold and eerie synth content, but of course it's in the rhythmic department where Adam X really shines. At every turn there are intriguing grooves to latch onto, from the drunken lope of the title track with its anthemic hip hop vocal rip, to the opening broken techno drama of "Interchanges". There are more stripped down moments such as the restrained cycles of "Catenary", and some piston pumping bangers like "On The Verge Of Decimation", making this an engaging listen as well as a great collection of techno tracks.
Milanese techno outpost M_Rec continue to flex hard in 2014, with its seventh release so far this year introducing the talents of US newcomer Allen. Some four tracks deep, the Gravity Assist EP suggests Chris Allen is keenly attuned to the future glancing sounds that characterised much of techno's first wave and how to translate that approach in a manner appealing to the modern techno selectors and collectors. In the case of the opening title track, it's the laser-like bassline that pulses with kinetic energy, with Allen wisely keeping the rhythmic elements to a minimum. The subsequent "EM26" is reminiscent of Something In The Sky era Mills, whilst "MH370" pairs morse code style bleeps with trimmed drum textures. Final track "Kepler" sees Allen unleash something approaching a brooding techno monster to round out a confident debut from this newcomer.
A cynic could argue that Prime Numbers puts out as many remixes of Trus'Me as original material by the UK producer, but this latest collection is still a must for techno DJs. Skudge and French sensation Marcelus' versions of "Moonlight Kiss" and "Hindsight" respectively provide deep, stripped back techno led by stuttering vocal samples and subsonic tones, while Luke Hess explores a more hypnotic approach with his version of "I Want You", as strobe-light synths are shot through by grainy rhythms. Truncate and Truss' remixes are led by nickel-plated drums and juddering, spiky grooves, while Roman Flugel's version of "Somebody" evolves from electro 808s and Chicago kettle drums into a buzzing, fuzzy siren-led climax.
Johnathan Krohn and Karl Meier are Talker, the latest addition to the Downwards stable. Meier, as Kalon, is also credited for releasing one of Sandwell District's strongest records with the dynamic Born Against 12" in 2008, while Krohn has appeared on Downwards once before by contributing "Cut The Weight" to the label's Halha compilation. For Talker's debut album, the duo combine industrial overtones and mechanistic screeches with blustery clouds of Dadub-like atmospheres and wailing walls of emotional synth drenched in reverb. There are regimented drums throughout too, and for some gritty, beaten down Downwards techno check out "Frame Capture" and "Anthony".
Some critics thought Lakker's R&S debut, February's Containing A Thousand, may well have been the Irish techno duo's finest moment to date. That's open to debate, but it was certainly an impressive set. This follow-up is equally as impressive. "Mountain Divide" may be marked by a thrillingly off-kilter rhythm and bouncy, Drexciyan bass, but it's the wall-of-sound samples and swirling, hard-to-fathom atmospherics that catch the ear. "Math Fall" is a little sparser in feel, with gentle melodies wrapping themselves around a jumpy, post-dubstep rhythm. Finally, "Monla" is an enjoyable trip into fuzzy ambient territory - think Selected Ambient Works-era Aphex Twin - where dreams quickly turn into nightmares.
Paranoia Department return to the incorrigible Entropy label with furious anger for the third instalment of their Metaphysical Hinterland Akt series - the very best in stripped beats mechanical, sci-fi acoustics. The movement is structured yet fluid, where tracks like "Incorporeality" create a dense layer of sound amid all the FX trickery and hollow drums. Think Shed but with an extra dosage of eeriness to it! Tasty.