Review: Andrea, Fedele and Luigi are Agents Of Time and they are back after a succession of wonderful releases on their Obscura imprint with this debut here for Cologne institution Kompakt. The label has never been shy of exploring the enigmatic fringes of disco (in their own distinct way) and the Pugliese trio follow this convention by heading into galactic territory on the 'Music Made Paradise' EP. Soar up high, deep into the stratosphere on the cosmic euphoria of "Drive Me Crazy" complete with classic vocoder lyrics, then carrying on with the rich Italian tradition of electronic disco sounds on the bittersweet dancefloor drama of "Under Control" awash in lush synth textures and hypnotic arpeggios galore. Finally the moody night drive of "Interstate 10" is indeed a dark one, but stylishly illuminated with neon flourishes.
Review: Tale Of Us' revered imprint now serves up another thriller courtesy of southern fellow countrymen Agents Of Time. The Obscura Music head honchos deliver some big room melodic tech-house, that is equally as big on the sonic narratives as it is the dancefloor drama. Having previously contributed to the Realm Of Consciousness compilation, they now present their Forest Of Lies EP. The thundering tension and suspense of "Floating Time" sets the scene well, right into the hypnotic journey of "Dream Vision" or when they venture over to the darkside superbly on the nefarious acid of "Vapor Floor".
Review: Agents of Time are one of Europe's most highly rated techno acts; they have released on Maceo Plex and Jennifer Cardini's labels, have launched their own label and are in-demand live performers. Now they debut on Curle with a potent big room affair. "20 Seconds to Mars" is a tranced out big room number, led by soaring hooks, while at the other end of the spectrum, the Italian pair delivers "Polarized". Led by tight claps and grimy acid squiggles, it's a raw, gritty affair, but still highly effective. However, it's on the title track where they really shine; its combination of shimmering, spine-tingling chords and soaring bass make it the kind of track that will be played by the underground and mainstream artists.
Review: Most labels and collectives are challenged to last a decade in electronic music's fleeting landscape, but so far Kompakt has endured for twice this lifespan. This is largely due to the fact that the Cologne operation boasts a tightly-knit group of artists who continue to release on its many labels. For the twentieth edition of the annual Total compilation series, many of those producers come correct; Robag Wruhme and founder Michael Mayer both deliver ponderous deep techno tracks, while Jurgen Paape goes even farther, veering into guitar-spangled melancholia on "Vox Acris". This introspective mood seeps through to more overt dance floor tracks, with Sascha Funke's eerie "Atze" and Voigt & Voigt's "Schopper Da Leu" delivering understated but impactful results.
Review: Acclaimed Italian duo Tale Of Us present the third Realm Of Consciousness compilation on Afterlife Recordings. A collection of spellbinding and melodic epics packed full of narratives plus plenty of dancefloor drama awaits with some rather surprising additions too - artist wise. The German hero Recondite serves up the powerful opening track "Savaaq" with its tension and suspense and those soaring melodies, fellow Italians Mind Against team up with Blausch on the hypnotic bliss of "Trust My Eyes" and Ukranian deep techno experts Woo York give us the steely heads down techno of "Discovery". Elsewhere, southern Italians Agents Of Time appear with the adrenalised and entrancing cyclicality of "Superia", frequent Tale Of Us collaborator Vaal takes you deep into the aether on "Weakness Days" and ascendant German Kevin De Vries gets into freefall on the sublime "Phoenix"
Review: Following on from last year's second Consciousness compilation, Afterlife returns with an even more ambitious project. Label owners Tale of Us deliver a suitably melodic track, "Nova", but there are also a series of contributions from high-profile artists. Sterac's "Universum" is an expertly weighted, stripped back techno affair, while on "Phase In", Edit Select takes it deeper with a throbbing, tranced out groove that is like a more refined take on early Plus 8 material. Completing the techno triumvirate is Scuba's SCB project. Now also a vehicle for the UK producer's socially conscious thoughts, "Tide Slide", which is possibly a reference to the effects of climate change, sees him deliver a frosty techno groove.