Reviewed this week
Matt Edwards marked the 100th release in Rekids earlier this year with a release that featured "Feel the Same", and now he is putting out the debut Radio Slave album using the same title. It's a real mixed bag; "2nd Home" starts with gentle ambience and the dreamy breaks of "Forana", before the UK producer changes pace and drops the album version of the title track in all its vocal-heavy, driving glory. If its insistent riffs get too much, then there is the low-slung bass-heavy groove of "Trans" and the dubbed out abstractions of "Draw" to keep his audience guessing. Rekids may now be a house music institution, but as "Feel the Same" shows, it doesn't slide into predictability.
By Steffi's own admission, State was recorded after she had 'freed' herself from a personal situation. This explains why the Dutch producer, who now feels more comfortable creatively, has made a third album that is more experimental than its predecessors. In places, it sounds influenced heavily by early 90s UK techno and electronics - in particular "All Living Things" is a dead-ringer for B12's Detroit-focused abstractions. At the same time, it still contains echoes of her previous albums. The warm, warbling bass on "Schools of Thought" could easily fit into the Panorama Bar's deep house releases. Counteracting this link to her past is the hyper-speed title track, where she channels Stingray's pacey electro funk, and the jittery, discordant techno of "Mental Events". It all adds up to an impressive, mature work.
Having set our world alight with his third Ilian Tape EP, 2012, back in the spring, Munich man Skee Mask delivers another essential collection of loose-limbed, broken techno workouts. Typically, he's on point from the word go, enveloping swinging, off-kilter techno breakbeats with swirling chords and cascading melodies on brilliant opener "Inti". His love of African-influenced polyrhythms is explored further on the ghostly, percussion-rich club cut "Kappelberg Chant" (which, incidentally, makes great use of choral chants), while "Routine" is a warm, loved-up and evocative tribute to rave-era British breakbeat-house. His debt to British dance music's formative years also comes to the fore on killer proto-jungle jam "Skreet Lvl Dub".
Lennard Poschmann may not be as famous as his artistic name sake, but as his first album for Live At Robert Johnson shows, he is keenly aware of electronic music's cinematic power. This is audible on the lush ambience of "Welcome" and "Zerphyx", while similarly emotive sounds are underpinned by a hyper-speed, Juan Atkins style rhythm on "Rise" and "A66", where a warm, buzzing bass supports Poschmann's sublime synths. At times, the album veers too close to other producer's tropes - the delicate "Situation" is the most Aril Brikha track ever made - but like his enigmatic predecessor, Wells throws the futuristic electro of "Trianon" and the bleep-laden soundtrack of "Sincere" to keep his audience guessing, in Third Man style, right till the very end.
Jeals comes from 'Poland via the USA' according to Lobster Theremin, but as Flux demonstrates, his sound encompasses many strands. Opening track "W Scape" is a dreamy ambient affair, while "What It's All About" sees him deliver a delightful oddball house affair, combing the London label's in-house jerkiness with some early Dan Curtin-style jazz influences. On "Gentle Chain", Jeals moves into warm, downtempo electro, but picks up the pace again for the US house of "Flexx". Rounding off what is a deeply impressive debut release is "Up There", where the newcomer combines blips and frequency tones with crashing claps and a jerky rhythm.



Following up the Cold Heart EP by label bosses Dusky, 17 Steps present a new one by Kiwi: the London producer's debut on the label. Having recently released on labels such as Futureboogie, Correspondant and Optimo Music, his distinctive sound is a mix of Italo, techno and electro. The uplifting epic "Marmora's Theme" is powered by a razor sharp arpeggio and balanced out by those hands in the air style piano loops. We were about to draw comparisons to scene heroes Tuff City Kids, but whaddya know: they're up next on the remix! They work their magic as always with a retro flavoured piece of dancefloor drama: they found it fitting to throw in a gnarly Reese bassline too. Epic!
Originally released back in 2002 on the Bellboy label, Len Faki has resurrected Frankie Bones' "Bump Your Head". It's the latest track to come under the spotlight on the Berghain resident's LF Rmx sub-label. Dedicated to creating dance floor versions of tracks that are tailored to his DJ sets, Faki does't disappoint here. The 'Hardspace Mix' resounds to incessant claps, the vocal from the original track on loop and a relentless drum pattern. Unsurprisingly, the 'Hardspace Tool' is even more functional, with Faki putting a focus on incessant percussion and relentless kicks. It's sure to sound even more impressive on the Berghain rig.



This is the second part of a trilogy that Mark Broom is releasing on ePM. The techno veteran's ear for crafting straightforward but effective tracks clearly has not diminished over the years and the title track presents the listener with a stab-heavy arrangement, played out against the backdrop of heavy kicks and niggling percussion. "77" sees Broom take influence from tracky US house, riding a shuffling, looped groove to infinity, while "LX" continues in a similar vein, led by chiming piano keys and an insistent, filtered rhythm. Striking a balance between house and techno, ePM have recruited Gary Bek to remix the title, which revolves around an organ stab and a rolling, looped arrangement.



Deep and tunnelling techno for avid fans of the acid life up for grabs here, courtesy of Aroy Dee's always reliable M>O>S imprint. Gijs Poortman, MarcoAntonio Spaventi and Steven Brunsmann bring you "Dreadfully Nervous" which would mark the trio's sixth release on the label. "Dreadfully Nervous" (Aroy Dee's Acid mix) will take you all the way back to Chi-town circa '88 when Phuture and Trax reigned supreme. The reduced DJ tool "Dreadfully" (Stoned version) strips the track down to its bare elements for creative effect at your volition. Finally on "No Soul" (Shallow String mix) they really saved the best for last on this grinding, squealing and tripped out vortex: which really works that little silver Roland box like a you know what!
Eleven years ago, at what seemed like the peak of his career during the mid-noughties minimal boom: we wouldn't have imagined French tech hero Lee Van Dowski re-surfacing on John Digweed's reputed Bedrock imprint. Van Dowski never stopped going though; take a look at his discography since and you'll see he's appeared on esteemed imprints such as Ilian Tape, Rekids and more recently Crosstown Rebels and its Rebellion diffusion label. Bedrock is a fitting home for the Nine Lives EP. The title track is a brooding and suspense filled serving of dancefloor drama in the vein of the Life & Death sound while "Ban This" sees him do trance with absolute precision: this features the most razor sharp and elevating arpeggio you'll hear this year! Finally, he ends on a deeper tip with "Miss One" which is similar in style to the last offering but is best described as early evening progressive house mood lighting.
After a long hiatus, the past few years have seen Reinhard Voigt enjoy a resurgence, with a string of releases on Kompakt. Listening to "Seven Lines", it sounds like the German producer has become more reflective - its stripped back drums, dissected percussion and occasional frequency shifts are the very epitome of understated. However, there remains a flip side to his character, and this is audible on the title track. Centred on a fat, warbling bass, Voigt unleashes a synth line so melancholic but beautiful that it sounds inspired by the godfathers of German electronics, Kraftwerk. The contrast between these two elements ensure that "Apokalypse" is memorable.
Nthng has just released his debut album on Lobster Theremin, but that hasn't affected his productivity as he debuts on Delsin. Like his long player, Gaia shows that he is adept at covering a range of styles. "Oralage" is a lean, linear affair, led by ticking, steely percussion and tough drums. It's atypical for the Dutch label, but soon afterwards, the Amsterdam producer moves into more familiar dreamy ambience on the expansive "A Souls Search". The most impressive track is "Gaia" itself: revolving around a chugging groove, dense, metallic drums and cavernous sound effects, it feels like Nthng has effortlessly reinvented the Basic Channel dub techno blueprint.
After a string of acclaimed releases on Figure and his own Clergy label, Cleric aka Jorden Hodgetts makes his debut for Soma. The UK producer's sound is similar to that of SP-X and on "Nowhere Fast", this proves to be especially true, with rock-hard kicks underpinning cavernous filters. While "Moxie" is also built on tough kicks, these support mysterious chords and the overall result is understated. There are no such nuances on "Dualistic Soul"; led by a granite-weight drum pattern and metallic percussion, it's an intelligently executed, peak-time affair. The same can be said of "Arctic Circle", where Clergy cleverly uses phased percussion and his trademark drum sound to create an unusual big room track.



Following his appearance on Ann Aimee, Sawlin aka Ronny Scholz makes the transition to the mother label, Delsin. For fans of the Dutch imprint, Sawlin may seem like an odd choice, but Motion Keeper finds him in less full-on form than usual. The title track is his version of a deep house track, full of atmospheric, dubbed out textures, vocal snippets and a rumbling, bass-heavy backing groove. "Endless Supplier" sees him revert to tougher techno, as razor sharp percussion and dark stabs come together to create a sense of menace. However, it it is only a temporary distraction from Sawlin's deeper mission, and "Wired Evening" resounds to woozy chords and a stepping rhythm.
The latest release on Portuguese label Monocline is a combined effort between two of its regular contributors, Re:Axis and Cardao. Clearly, this collaboration has been highly productive and the end result is a slickly executed underground release. It starts with the sharp percussion, smart filtering and dense kicks of "Gravitate", while on "Chaotic" acrid acid burns its way over rattling percussion and heavy drums. "Erratic" has echoes of late 90s techno thanks to its heads-down rhythm, looped to infinity, even though the accompanying filters are inspired by minimal house. There is no such ambiguity around the inspiration for the title track - it's an eerie, sleek techno track in the finest Jeff Mills tradition.
Since 2011, or what we could describe as the rebirth of vintage electronic music and the muddled, increasingly convoluted evolution of 'bass' music, Nick Harris aka A Sagittariun has been providing our charts, and the wider scene, with consistently high levels future-proof techno. Slightly Ajar is his third release of 2017 already, and it comes through on his own Elastic Dreams imprint with a squadron of deep and effortlessly mesmerizing electronic shapes. "Stingray" opens with an ocean of euphoric pads and industrial rhythms coming together as one, and is followed elegantly by the much deeper, more reflective broken patterns of "Burning Crystal". On the B-side, "An Infinite Number Of Possibilities" kicks the gears into motion with a much bouncier, club-centric techno groove filled with surreal melodies, and "720 Degrees" buries a load of bleeps into a hypnotic bundle of sci-fi sonics for total dancefloor domination. Effective and ultra-sleek - the lot of them!
Cold Recordings are proud to now bring you Cocktail Party Effect. Eric Baldwin, the Berlin based British producer, shows off his colours here with a diverse, but always dancefloor savvy EP with four killer cuts. The title track "Battered" kicking things off with a glitching set of electronics and setting a curious mood, before dropping into a crazed rhythmical explosion. "OOYFM" takes things into more typical UK bass music territory, rolling out techno ingredients, with a grimey bassline and broken-beat dynamics that also hint at UK garage influences. On the second half of the EP you'll find "Intens" taking a stance that sits somewhere between dancehall and techno, rolling and smashing its way as it goes along. The EP closes with the moody, bass driven and percussively expressive track "I Kno3".
'Heat' is the kind of track that was just made for the dancefloor, as the track plays you can almost picture it in its perfect setting, 4am, a small club, nearly completely dark with just the occasional flash of light, the odd call of elation from the crowd. The gently pounding beat sends you into a euphoric trance, extenuating every note of the jazzy piano as it dances along the track. 'Artificial Intelligence' is harder and more harrowing than its neighboring track, there's white noise and slow builds, adorned with sci-fi effects and elements.
The latest release on Popcorn is rather a special one for label founder Antoine Molkou. It marks his debut as a recording artist (under the previously unheralded Siler alias) and contains a trio of contrasting cuts. Compare, for example, the dreamy, tech-tinged deepness of opener "Saint Eustache", where a bass-heavy groove is smothered in darting electronics and Pete Namlook style ambient chords, and the bustling, funk-fuelled deep house jack-track that is "Rue Vignon". The latter, full of stuttering drum machine handclaps, lolloping 909 drums and a stabbing bassline, is something of a peak-time treat. Arguably best of all, though, is Flabaire hook-up "Spatial Purim", which wraps Larry Heard style bass and Motor City melodies around a rolling, Chez Damier style drum groove.



As "Rise of the White Dwarf", the opening track on Pfirter's latest release shows, the Argentinean artist isn't solely focused on the club environment. It's a neo-classical piece, led by stirring strings. By contrast, "Double Existence" sees Pfirter back on the dance floor, albeit in left of centre mode. The track's stepping rhythm, wooden percussion and understated bleeps makes for an unusual arrangement. In stark contrast, "They Want to Fool Us" is a tough, rolling groove that is led by tribal beats and layered chants. Completing this varied release is Stanislav Tolkachev's high-octane, insistent take on "Fool Us".
Exclusives
BEATRICE DILLON & CALL SUPER - Inkjet/Fluo (Hessle Audio)
MR E TONES/MR GAS MASK/MYSTIC BILL/NERVES OF RUBBER - Aciiieeed! No 24 (Communique USA)
KILLAWATT - 47012 (47 Germany)
Exclusives
NTHNG - Turn To Gaia (Delsin Holland)
SKEE MASK - ISS002 (Ilian Tape Germany)
AVISION - Excess EP (Beard Man)
Top Labels
Naked Lunch Portugal
Planet E US
Stroboscopic Artefacts Germany
Music Man Belgium
Ostgut Ton Germany