Review: The Cocoon compilation series has become an unofficial state of the nation statement for modern house and techno, and the latest instalment is no exception. It features deep, Detroit styled grooves from Damiano van Erckert and Stephen Brown alongside more accessible minimal house from Claude Von Stroke and murky, analogue jams, including the layered, dubbed out Daniel Avery track, "Your Future Looks Different in the Light". The compilation series has also been successful in spotlighting emerging artists, and volume T is no exception, as it shines a light on Yokto's bass-heavy deep house and the swaggering electro-techno of Defekt's "Terraform".
Review: With 20 years spent releasing, distributing and representing techno and electro's finest producers, it's fair to say that ePM is a true champion of the underground. That commitment comes into sharp focus on EPM20, which brings together music from all of the Eps that the label released over the past year. The listener is really spoilt for choice: Regis delivers the beautifully ghostly techno of "Beyond The Reach Of Time Pt 1", while Robert Hood keeps the mood mysterious on the aptly named "Shadows". While the compilation spotlights prominent producers, it also showcases artists who sometimes fly under the radar - on this occasion, it's Paul Mac with the drum-heavy "Nothing Remains" and Carl Finlow's nocturnal electro on "Optogenetic". The fact that it's dedicated to the sadly departed Tim Baker is also a lovely touch.
Review: Tronic has decided to celebrate its 400th release by issuing the second edition of its More Than Machine electro series. It gets off to an impressive start with label owner Christian Smith delivering an ominous slice of machine funk on "I Want It", before Carl Finlow drops a lithe rhythm and powerful low end in the shape of "Anomaly 3" and Detroit veteran DJ Godfather up the pace with the twitchy "Invasion of Detroit". But the presence of these veteran electro producers proves to be the exception rather than the rule, and the rest of Machine features techno artists exploring less well-known paths. Samuel Session impresses with the gritty, angular "Engine of War" and Alexander Kowalski deploys his bass-heavy approach to the nocturnal "Flickering Lights".
Review: Glasgow-based label Avoidant deserves kudos for bringing together some of the most respected names in electro for this compilation. Annie Hall and Versalife represent deeper ends of the spectrum, with Hall's bubbling "Meido Estetico" in particular standing out. Carl Finlow drops a lean, industrial funk workout in the form of "Syncopated Automated", while on the compilation's title track, The Advent teams up with Zein Ferreira on a bleak trip through discordant synths and popping rhythms. Sharing space on the compilation are label regulars like CYRK, who drop the epic melodies and gurgling bass of "Block" and Kronos Device, a project from Bass Junkie / Dexorcist, which sees concrete weight bass drums connected to wild electronic stabs on "Crisis Point".
Review: Delivering the best in electro beats this side of the cosmos is the super sonic Craigie Knowes label outta Glasgow. Following an epic 2019 that saw releases from the likes of Textasy, Maelstrom, Jensen Interceptor and the always reliant John Daly, Craigie Knowes follows up its first 2020 release by Cygnas with the deeply cool Descent EP from Carl Finlow. Full of some fine snap, crackle and deep electro pop - word to the Craigie Knowes mastering engineer of choice over the years - this EP maintains the quality of standard we've come to know from the label. The hit here is "Undertones" with its glistening production values that finds its sister track (or slight dub version) in "Descent". For something gnarlier check the riffing basslines of "Cascade" or the spacious and percussive minimalism of "Displaced". Bonafide quality.
Review: Initially a party organisation from Belgium, De:tuned has become a record label for reanimating the sounds from electronic music's early days. Run by Ruben Boons and Bert Hermans, it continues with the cherry-picked selections for its 10th anniversary with volume 5 in the celebratory series. Terrace (aka Stefan Robbers) and Nu Era (aka Marc Mac, best known as a founding member of 4 Hero) channel the timeless spirit of Detroit styled hi-tech soul and Jupiter jazz with their stellar contributions. While electro is the order of the day elsewhere, courtesy of legend Carl Finlow on the dystopian electro bass of "Photo Array" and new school heroes London Modular Alliance going further into dystopian and sci-fi aesthetics on the powerful "D6".
Review: France based Liverpudlian Carl Finlow requires no introduction. He presented five tracks of his idiosyncratic electro style for Scottish imprint Craigie Knowes back in 2016 on the Boolean EP - which now receives a much needed digital reissue. From the deep electro funk of "Chronos", dystopian sci-fi bodyrock of "Marauders" to the utterly majestic "Exile" nailing that same aesthetic of the Detroit innovators. Following up some great music on AC, Electrix and Lone Romantic in recent times, Finlow is still a force to be reckoned with.
Review: Carl Finlow is one of the UK's greatest electronic music producers, as this compilation demonstrates. Issued on 20:20 Vision, the label he co-founded with Back 2 Basics' Ralph Lawson, it features some of his finest electro work. On the deeper tip, there's the wonderfully mournful synths of "Anomaly" and "Equilibrium", while he veers into synth pop with the irresistibly catchy hooks and nerdy vocals on "Broken Mirror". However, that's not to detract from the weight of Finlow's catalogue, and tracks like the menacing "Nanotech" or the dense electro funk of "Mr Machine"- the title track of the bench mark 2002 album he recorded under the Silicon Scally guise - put him right up there with electro's greats.
Review: Unlike the best part of this recent wave of electro stunners hitting our charts, Carl Finlow's material dates back to the mid 1990s; the man is an underrated pillar of the genre, and thanks to his days working with Ralph Lawson he has accumulated plenty of respect around these parts. Following up from some killer EPs by the likes of Maceo Plex and Mariel Ito, Finlow lands on Barcelona's Lone Romantic imprint, coming through with four effectively assembled electro deviations. The opening "Romboid Assassin" is a dark, cavernous gunshot of bass and elastic beats, while "Veiled" goes deeper on the euphoric synths, "Phisge" strips it all down to bleeps and hard-edged drums, leaving "Anomaly 2" to keep us dreaming in warm, placid drum-machine jam. That's Finlow for you.