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Reviewed this week
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Thirty three seminal Robert Hood productions all in the one download: The M-Plant Mother lode has landed. Even if you're well up to date on the Detroit legend's storied career there's no stopping the joy at what material has been included here - including - the best minimal techno production of all time: Monobox's "Realm". For something funkier there's the "The Pace", "The Greatest Dancer", the all praising "We Magnify His Name" and "Monkey". But wait: there's more! "Alpha" and "The Family" from his Omega Man LP makes the cut as do the epic James Brown and Aretha Franklin samples from newer school Floorplan material "Baby Baby" and "Never Grow Old". There's also the legendary stuff like "Who Taught You Math" and "Minus" to "Protein Valve" and much, much more. Dig in.
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Delsin slip out its highest profile record of 2014 just before the year ends - a whopping Sterac single with remixes from NYC power duo Anthony Parasole & Phil Moffa, Berlin techno commander Mike Dehnert, and a booming Vril dub. The original is a classic slice of Steve Rachmad goodness, with all the cheeky synths, shuffling percussion and funk you could hope for coming from the revered Dutchman, while Vril's dub couldn't do a better service to his Delsin colleague, taking the original's essential elements, stripping them of colour then doubling them in size. Parasole & Moffa focus on the synth power of Sterac's "Hynoticus" as does Mike Dehnert, only the German's version comes straight from the resonating vaults of his Fackwerk bunker. Banging EP!
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Milos Martinov follows last year's Misfit debut release on Mord with this equally dark record. "Trema" is exactly the kind of dense, rolling techno groove that you'd expect to hear on Bas Mooy's label, with grainy drums and a juggernaut rhythm prevailing. Clouds' remix ramps up the pressure further, a heavy, loopy affair that could be Ben Sims on steroids, while the label owner delivers a pounding, abrasive take on "Kontrola". However, it's the original version of this track that really stands out; less direct and upfront than the other tracks, it still captures the listener's attention thanks to its furious, lurching rhythm and disturbed, high-pitched vocal samples.
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Huddersfield's finest and Rinse FM regulars Mak & Pasteman drop a diverse dance floor record on their own Materials label. Both "Bald" and "Drive" are high-paced techno grooves, shot through with acid lines that sneer and spit their way over tough, thundering drums and pounding rhythms. It's ferocious stuff, but "Tempest" sees them take the pace down a few notches. Inspired by old school house, it revolves around soulful synth hooks and a woozy groove. "Granulate" completes the release; once again, the pair shift focus and the stepping rhythm, lithe breakbeats and evocative stabs sound like an amalgamation of rave, 2-step and grime.
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Warp has really spoiled us with this excellent remix EP from label favourite Clark, featuring two of his mightiest tracks licked and remixed by two of techno's biggest stars. The former, Marcel Dettmann, is responsible for the growth and expansion of the Berlin sound, and as you'd expect, his remix of "Sodium Trimmers" is a high-powered, stripped 4/4 affair built exclusively for the floor. The latter, Pariah, is part of Karenn with Blawan, and his remix of "Banjo" is a broken, stuttering analogue workout with plenty of tripping and cut-throat snares.
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Since their emergence as Cassegrain some four years ago, 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 it's found a welcome home in Prologue. After five releases for the Munich outpost, including last year's stellar Tiamat double pack, Cassegrain grace Prologue with their debut album Centres of Distraction. Tsiridis and Evirgren apparently sought inspiration from "the classic 90s electronic album format" when approaching these ten tracks and it certainly covers a lot more moods than the average contemporary techno long player. Greek cellist Nikos Veliotis (of Mohammad and In Trance 95 fame) adds an extra edge to proceedings on abstract highlight "Empress Cut In Segments".
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All hail Dettmann! Having included a veritable swathe of unreleased material from artists affiliated with his label on the excellent Fabric 77 earlier this year, Marcel Dettmann has done the right thing and issued the majority across two EPs. As is the case when granted the chance to own these cuts, it's interesting to see if they retain the power and intensity they conveyed when utilised by Dettmann within the context of the mix CD. In the case of "Transit" and "BB 1.0" from Answer Code Request and Norman Nodge respectively, that's a resounding yes! The latter's production is a particularly potent slab of lysergic sonic dementia that the more adventurous selectors will be playing for years to come. Dettman's A&R skills are on full display with cuts from Stefan 'Kryptic Universe' Schindler's new Lockermatik project and newcomer Ryan James Ford.
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Glaswegian producer Harvey McKay's music is helping to push underground techno into the mainstream, and releasing on labels like Jon Digweed's Bedrock will do him no harm. The title track is a dark, driving affair, its rhythm enclosed in a mesmerising filter and punctuated at regular intervals by a ponderous vocal sample. As it progresses, "Amen" veers into a dreamy coda, but the underlying rhythmic power is still there. By contrast, "Cry Wolf" is far less intense. Over a jacking house rhythm and steely kicks, McKay samples a vocal from an old ghetto track. It lends "Wolf" a gritty feeling that means while it's not as upfront as "Amen", it still packs a hefty punch.
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In Scuba's ever-deepening commitment to emotive tech house, Hotflush score a big coup in teaming up with Agoria for this EP of expansive big room beasts that know just as much about subtlety as brashness. The title track holds back in all the right places to create a palpable tension that simply builds throughout the track, without losing any of that all important presence, while "Make It Real" finds the French producer throwing down chunky chords for everyone to instantly latch on to. ESS delivers a remix of the latter that adds some crafty drum hooks into the mix and a little additional emotive synth work for an equally sizable dancefloor cut.
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Italian producer Somne is a relative newcomer on the scene, and he's making quite the splash landing on the always-reliable Nonplus imprint and offering up a fulsome five-track EP by way of announcing himself. His sound is a neat fit on Boddika's label, laden in the kind of modernist, atmospheric techno touches that have infected many a track on the label. "Millennium" itself is a patient, brooding workout, while "Treppendorf" moves with a graceful yet kinked groove as it cuts through thick swathes of synth. There's fractious rhythm at play throughout the EP, while the pads and leads come on in warm, analogue tones, hitting upon a fertile spring of danceable electronica and sounding very promising for the future.
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More than any other label, Tiga's Turbo represents the new wave of global techno, and on this compilation, those new stars shine brightly. Clouds set the tone for Warehouse Series on "Shared Heritage", where thumping distorted beats underpin a rough sea of acid oscillating wildly up and down the spectrum. TWR72 deliver two knotted, gnarly rhythms reminiscent of Bleaching Agent at his most experimental, while both GoldFFinch and The Junkies drop abrasive, stomping rhythms. There is a less intense side to Turbo's sound, and on this compilation, it's articulated by Gingy & Bordello and Sei A, whose dubby, rolling house grooves are shot through with just the right amount of acid menace.
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Following on from their excellent Hands of Doom collaboration on Sex Tags, Lozano and Fett Burger get together again. On this occasion however, Lozano delivers three tracks, with Fett Burger providing a remix. The title track is a tracky, acidic affair, based on a discordant rhythm and shot through with high-pitched vocal snippets. "Come With Me" is closer in sound to Hands of Doom, with its robust break beats supporting ponderous tones and bleeps. It sets the scene for "The Afterworld", an atmospheric, fluid track, supported again by lithe back beats, while Fett Burger sends the track into a dreamy state, with a balmy, serene house groove.
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Melbourne-based Ben Mill steps from Gynoid's A&R shadows to deliver this three-tracker. "Dark Side of the Spoon" will appeal to fans of Truncate and SP-X, its boulder-heavy beats and firing percussion underpinning incessant filtering and resonating bleeps. "And Your Horse" is more intense, as the Australian artist lays down a resonating, pulsating bass that envelopes the rhythm in wave upon wave of fuzzy filters. It makes for a hugely effective peak time track. Finally, there's the title track, where Mill explores a world of dark, ambient textures. It's an impressive parting shot from an artist who deserves much more recognition.
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He has only put out a few releases, but Vlsonn has already developed a distinctive style. The title track merges a lurching rhythm with big bass licks and tribal house drums, while "Zombie Zaire" is in a similar vein. However, what sets both tracks apart are the screeching vocals and left of centre sounds and textures. These tendencies become more pronounced on "Empty Tank"; the rhythms are more abstract, while chopped up vocal samples, surging chords and an urgent stab that sounds like it was borrowed from Underground Resistance's Jupiter Jazz make for an unusual but nonetheless captivating combination. Spurz's foghorn-blaring take on the title track rounds out the release.
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This split EP finds two artistic sides of the same mind being pitted against each other for Sydney's Templar Sound imprint, with Tuff Sherm's nagging 4/4 meeting with Dro Carey's rhythmically deviant electronica and yet holding together remarkably well. Eugene Ward is clearly comfortable in either cap, although Tuff Sherm's "Scope" is likely to be the runaway dancefloor success of the EP. That said, the submerged techno thurst of DJ Vague's remix of "Human Parcel" could well find its way into the bags of some deeper techno selectors, channelling the aquatic electro of the Dro Carey original to great effect.
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UK techno producer Makaton doesn't pull any punches and this release for Belgian label Token has no shortage of hard and heavy tracks. "Lead You Astray" sets the tone with twisted broken beats, lurching basslines and jarring, discordant riffs. It exudes a queasiness that is nonetheless strangely alluring. "Night #1" is straighter rhythmically, but sees Makaton spit out furious percussive bursts over a high-octane, fuzzy rhythm, while "Dstabilise" is an acid-fried broken beat affair. The only variable here is "Spit To Lubricate"; starting with dense, heavy beats, it eases into an evocative chord sequence that sounds like it was inspired by the ghosts of long lost hardcore tunes.
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There has been a lot of activity from Simon Haydo over the past year or so, largely through the salvo of 12"s released on his self-helmed DEM imprint but also with a brief moonlighting on Studio Barnhus, to whom he returns once more with his ranging and energised take on the Swedish techno format. "Step Inside" rides in on a steadfast kick palpitation which acts as a vessel for dirty swells of synth distortion. "Infiltrate Imagination" is a subtly tempered beast although the day-glo melodic touches are still present, lending a ravey quality to the stern surroundings. "They Keep Calling Me" is more inwardly focused, although the limber thrum of the bass drum keeps things resolutely aimed towards the floor, while "In Silence" signs the EP off on an equally ear-snagging oddball tip.
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The risque Furfriend make another lewd and suggestive appearance on Berlin label Killekill. The title track is a pounding industrial track, led by stomping beats and grating rhythms, while an unintelligible vocal mutters the track's title in the background. Dingo Tush's suggestive vocals make a return on "Touch Myself". Set against a slower, more stripped back groove, he lists a series of sexual pursuits, including the unforgettable line "they scratch your hairy back, then your hairy crack". By the time that the spoken word "Fuck Olympics" appears, Furfriend have strayed into the realms of the bizarre, but it's hard to forget the brilliant but playful "Touch Myself".
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Plucked out of early '00s obscurity thanks to an exuberant Numbers reissue in 2012, Unspecified Enemies represent something of a secret weapon for all those hip to their dynamic, party rocking electro game. This latest reissue on the Glaswegian powerhouse contains snippets from an unreleased live cassette recording some 15 years old, and the tracks are more than worthy of this unearthing. "Ms.45" slams and stretches in all the right places, wringing out a nasty funk with classic samples mashed into a futuristic whole, while "Chip Mode" doffs its cap to Dance Mania and essentially proves that juke and footwork were alive and well long before the likes of Addison Groove caught on to it. This is muscular, gutsy techno and electro plastered with detail and yet never cumbersome, and that's no mean feat.
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With many listeners still coming to terms with the rush of his Theta Wave Brain Sync long player on Deepblak, Eric Douglas Porter is back with more outer-space wares built to make you question everything you thought you knew about cosmic electronic music. Circuitous has some moments of tender beauty and some moments of fiery experimentalism, but it never stops being thrilling, shocking and captivating. With the spirit of free jazz, the convention-less beats of the Brainfeeder posse and an irrepressible delivery that is all his own, Afrikan Sciences has excelled even his high standards on Circuitous.
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