Calum Lee aka Paleman returns to Loefah's new 81 label, the more spontaneous, more digi-centric Swamp 81 offshoot, and as usual the man brings with him an air of innovation to the whole bass sphere. That's because "Yrs Ago" is a tune that could easily be played out in a techno set and, much like Boddika's recent output, it subtly ties the lines between many futuristic genres and sub-genres - a total winner! "Animus" is bleaker in texture and hollow in structure but nonetheless at the cutting-edge of UK bass music. Both tunes offer something less penetrable and more impressionistic that the majority of Paleman's compatriots in 2016. Excellent and highly recommended.
B is the first in a series of three albums that Bjarki will release on Nina Kraviz' label this year. If this first instalment is anything to go on, the Icelandic producer looks set to provide a real mixed bag. The album starts with the jarring, rave-heavy break beats of "Marsian Raver" before veering into stripped back, pounding techno ("Opalocka Acid Groove 12 Bit Mix") and the DBX, pitch-bent vocal minimalism of " Planet Earth Q94 [Live Edit]". Proving that he is a maverick, hyperactive talent, the album also features the wispy downtempo "Son Of A Son" and the grimy bass and electro ticks of "T4it 3". Heaven only knows what the next two albums will sound like.
Pig & Dan are back with what could be their most ferocious offering yet. The Mexico EP starts out with the stripped and tunnelling hypnotism of the title track or the particularly atmospheric "The Licker"; these are tracks that make a great DJ tool for any serious DJ. "Chez Dre" is a thick slab of industrial style techno with a wall of bass that will topple crowds, plus those dub techno stabs and CJ Bolland style mentasms for added fear factor! Hammering the message home is the rather crowd friendly "Point Blank" with its infectious synth lead getting some of those Bodzin or Jonson style moments of euphoria in effect!
The latest release on Tronik Youth's label features a return visit from Heretic. Real name Timothy Clerkin, he makes an impressive sound on the title track. Jittery Chicago drums underscore an androgynous vocal sample, noisy acid and atmospheric synth sweeps. It's redolent of classic Mood Music and Ewan Pearson before the electro house boom got out of hand. The remix from Low Manuel is more considered and reflective, with the Italian DJ toning down the acid and fusing it with a hypnotic pulse. Thomaas Bank's version returns to the original track's noisy approach, with the synths stripped away and just the bare, bruising rhythm remaining.
Glasgow imprint Dixon Avenue Basement Jams are really on a roll at the moment aren't they! After some great releases by the likes of Casio Royale and Big Miz they now present the return of Detroit producer Jared Wilson, who last appeared for the label back in 2012. The Communing With Ghosts EP features "Pheo Acid" which is a dark and epic 303 excursion that will no doubt appeal to hardcore fans of the classic Chicago sound. "Acid River" (getting the theme now?) is more restrained with the relentless squelch of that little silver box, but still pumps along at a nice pace. On the flip we've next got "Smartbar Acid" which we really can imagine sounds like a night up at the infamous Windy City institution. Finally the title track might break the pattern of names thus far but not the sound (thankfully) and it's definitely the most high octane acid track on here that would make even DJ Pierre himself stand up and notice.
Code is Law has been instrumental in showcasing some fine new producers, and the latest one to appear on the label is Lithuanian artist Specta. On "Empire", it's possible to discern his roots in dub step and jungle as militaristic No U-Turn bass and cold robotic vocal roll over pummelling drums. For the most part though, he is happy to explore peak time techno. Both "Disperse" and "Obscure Surface" are tough, rolling tribal workouts, with the latter impressing more with its Sims-style beats. The title track is the stand out cut though, its screeching siren and hammering rhythm sounding like a modern take on classic Robert Armani.
We've come accustomed to Nein Records delivering a constant stream of psychedelic chuggers that sit somewhere between kosmische, nu-dicso and pitched-down acid. Intriguingly, this rare solo outing from Mercury member Felipe Gordon begins with a chunk of undulating, up-tempo deep house/tech-house fusion, and the EP just gets more intense from there. The metallic "Revolution" is particularly potent, with Gordon dragging the throbbing Munich disco sound of Giorgio Moroder through a collapsing munitions factory. "Nintechno" is a distorted, 8-bit dancefloor thumper, while Losbikini turns opener "El Caracas" into wobbly nu-disco chugger.
Mosca's Not So Much has seen the producer's style progress gloriously over the last couple of years from his UK bass beginnings to some of the freshest explorations in house and techno. On Cedar Wood State (Vector mix)" he throws down the kind of trippy and cyclical machine techno that you'd usually attribute to the likes of Mike Parker or Abdulla Rashim; this one is absolutely mental! On the flip Cedar Wood State (Volt mix)" is a bass heavy electro jam that works that beat repeat to monstrous effect. The kind of track you'd hear at a serious Detroit electro party like No Way Back. Tip!
Those familiar with the Strange Life label operated by Danny Wolfers will know it's rife with CDr material worthy of the vinyl format. Whilst our personal favourite (the bizarre Portopia by Wolfers alias Satomi Taniyama) remains looked over by labels, Berceuse Heroique were responsible for a quite sumptuous double LP edition of Smackos album The Age Of Candy Candy earlier this year. Now local Den Haag crew BAKK have got their hands on 2004 Strange Life album Dark Days for an equally classy triple LP edition. Wolfers fans not familiar with this album will immediately fall in love with Dark Days, thanks to the signature blend of goofy track titles ("Lego Resistance", "An Obnoxious Affair On Tape") and music that veers from soaring, synth vistas to grotty techno via cold, primitive electronics and more.
Mythic Lowlands collective Lost Trax believe in the purity of techno as an art form, maintaining their anonymity over the past ten years to ensure the focus remains "on the music, not the face or fashion behind it." After intermittent transmission the past decade, recent months have seen the Lost Trax machine in full flow with this Flatliner 12" for Shipwrec arriving mere months after they appeared on the Dutch label via The Return split release. Some four tracks deep, this clear marbled 12" finds Lost Trax exploring the outer galactic realms of the techno utopia, with lead track "Faith" a towering highlight. Clap heavy techno is the order of the day on the title cut, whilst "Lost" sinks deep into the swamp of squelchy 303ness. Proceedings end on a high with the vintage electro shimmer of "Renderer".
Given his reputation for pioneering techno in the Netherlands in the '90s, it is no surprise a broad range of labels are looking to work with Steve Rachmad. Not soon after the man known as Sterac contributed a pair of remixes to an Aera 12" on the mighty Innervisions, Rachmad's earlier material is the subject of a reissue 12" on home turf titans Rush Hour. It's his mid-'90s work for Dutch techno label 100% Pure that is the focus of the Amsterdam operation's attentions here, specifically the cuts "Osirion" and "Primus." Issued together on a '96 12" on 100% Pure, both these tracks are not as widely feted as Sterac classics from the same era like "Sitting On Clouds" but they do demonstrate Rachmad's innate mastery of the Motor City sound. Remastered for 2016, they sound just as fresh some 20 years on!!
To mark the twentieth anniversary of the foundation of his label, James Ruskin has put together this massive compilation. It includes long-term friends and associates of the label - like Oliver Ho, Regis and Luke Slater - as well as newer additions to the roster, including Lakker and Rommek. Apart from uniting artists from different generations, the compilation also showcases the label's various hues; from the broken beats and intricate rhythms of Ruskin and Regis' O/V/R project and the hypnotic soundscapes of Lakker's "Orange" to the trace stabs and 10 tonne kicks of Regis' "Party Spoiler Too" and the chaotic industrial rhythms on Truss' "Wanastow", this compilation offers to newcomers an invaluable introduction to Blueprint, or to long-standing fans an indispensable reminder of why the label is unique.
The latest release on Developer's label contains the kind of detailed but functional tracks that are now inextricably linked to Modularz. The Italian pairing of Conrad Van Orton and VSK set the scene on "Sub Atomic", with its subtle off beats and intricate chords, before dropping the deep pulses of "Interaction". The tempo shifts considerably on "DP", where a tougher, acid-led groove prevails and "Entanglement" is a heads down, peak time banger. However, like many releases on Modularz, the release moves through a range of moods; "Angular Momentum" sees the pair do their best Sandwell District impression with a hypnotic, bleep-laden groove, while best of all, "Mystery of Time" is a beautiful ambient piece.
Connaisseur is celebrating a decade in the business and certainly doing it with style. This time around there's some great collaborations; check these out. Melodic, soulful and absolutely emotive vibes courtesy of Swedish legend Aril Brikha teaming up with Ireland's Chymera on "Nihari". Next, The Element teams up label head honcho Alex Flitsch on the deep, tunnelling and atmospheric progressive house of "Puma" which really has the label's classic sound in mind. Finally the mighty trio Of Norway, Linnea Dale & Preben Olram serve up the blissful deep house cover of Pornos For Pyros hit from 1993 "Pets" and what a fantastic tribute it is!
Traum Schallplatten goes in large for this remix package of Mario Hammer's 2015 album as Mario Hammer and The Lonely Robot. German duo Extrawelt turn in two melodically sweet revisions of album opener "Mono No Aware", while Stil Vor Talent's Jonas Mantey does a white noise, techno booming remix of "Sirimiri (Hammersche Modularverschaltung)". The bleeps and Moderat-like soul on Sine Sleeper's remix to "Nyctophilia" gets real heavy, while ambient sessions come from Mario Hammer himself for an abstract, emotive and classical sounding remix to "Misodocktakleidist" - but it's Ian Max Mauch's Granular rework to "Mono No Aware" that hits the B Pitch Control, IDM chord the most.
Apron alumni Brassfoot, aka Tinto Brassalini, has been making all the right moves since his first appearance on Funkineven's label back in 2014 alongside Lord Tusk; along with a fine debut on UTTU he's committed two further 12"s to the Apron cause and slipped out some low-key cassettes with the unheralded J M S Khosah. Given his penchant for vintage electro motifs underpinning distorted percussion and wild electronics, it's no surprise to see Brassfoot has caught the cultured ear of Paul Du Lac who has duly invited the Londoner to contribute to his excellent Bio Rhythm label. At five tracks long, the Dreamstate Intercal 12" is quite the statement and the general corrosive feel of the music feels tight at home on a label that's championed the likes of Jamal Moss and Borft boss Jan Svensson.
Five years on from the release of his debut album, Gymnastics, Ramon Lisandro Quezada finally serves up a follow-up. Conjure is a fine set that neatly showcases the varied sides of the prolific deep house producer's output. So, we get Iberican tribal drums fused with hazy trumpet solos ("Feed Off Of"), dreamy ambience ("Candlelit"), groovy downtempo beats (the hip-hop influenced "Supafly"), sumptuous and sensual dancefloor deepness ("Lotus (In Memory Of)"), and dark, intense, occasionally dubbed-out late night business ("Whistle Song", "Visitation", the stripped-back hip-house of "Toc"). There's little in the way of filler or fluff, and plenty of playable, club-ready material.
It's hard to believe that Pasquale Ascione is only in his late twenties, given how accomplished his productions sound. This release on Shipwrec spin-off Deep Sound Channel is a case in point. "Fraxtile" is a killer, big room techno affair, its haunting chord builds reminiscent of Sterac tracks like "Primus". At the other end of the spectrum, there's the gentle, early-Autechre ambience of "Anhatolia". "Doubledpang" sees him drop a rough, acid-laced peak time track. The release also strays into break beat techno; with the exception of Shed, or in its harder form, Regis, it's not a sound that has been mined effectively, but Acion's robust beats and rhythms on "Cybbar" and "Illusorium" ensures his contributions need to be valued.
The latest addition to the Sonic Groove roster is UNC, a producer from Italy. He opens his account on the US label with "Shesha", a spellbindingly hypnotic techno groove, which sounds like it was recorded at 20,000 leagues beneath the sea. By contrast, "Xellerate" is a densely tangled web of broken beats that is too abstract to work on the dance floor. "Anarchemy" sees UNC back in club mode with its dense, slamming beats and thundering, stepping rhythm hitting the listener like a breezeblock in the face. Finally, there's "Sanskrit Vinyasa"; with its nagging, insistent percussion and snaking bass, it is UNC's most subtle and sophisticated production so far.
It's amusing to see some outlets calling the latest release by Thomas Brown and Aaron Turner aka Perfume Advert 'garage house'. The reality is that the northern English duo takes influence from the hazy deep house sound carved out by DiY during the 90s. Sure, there are vocal samples on "Mirror Shield", but like the Nottingham collective's releases and DJing, Perfume Advert bury them deep inside cavernous chords. "Single White Junker" follows a similar path, with a powerful bass supporting the dissected samples. Perfume Advert then turn their attention to German influences, with "Destiny Bond" sounding like Terry Lee Brown Jnr at his dubby best and "Gown" veering down a clicks'n'cuts route.