Synthesizer fancier Chinaski (AKA producer Stefan Haag) doesn't tend to release a lot of music, with his last EP of note dropping way back in 2013. That said, what he does release is usually top notch, with rich, colourful synth melodies and sepia-tinted chords riding fizzing drum machine rhythms. This expansive first EP for Live at Robert Johnson is packed with such moments, from the chiming beauty of dancefloor shuffler "Night School" and the Pet Shop Boys-on-class A's rush of "Hide Society", to the ghostly tunefulness and tech-house chug of opener "Time To Kill". Best of all, though, is "Midnight Workout", a tear-jerking chunk of deep synth-pop melancholia that's simply sublime.
Over the past 12 months, Stefan "Chinaski" Haag has really hit his stride. First, there was a superb EP of rich, melodious, synthesizer-heavy compositions for Live At Robert Johnson, followed by a fine contribution to Uncanny Valley's fifth anniversary releases. Here he returns to the latter label with arguably his strongest collection to date. As usual, he fuses a variety of vintage influences - most obviously Italo-disco, early Chicago house, dreamy instrumental synth-pop and Detroit techno - to deliver hypnotic, life-affirming pieces with bristle with melodious intent. Highlights are plentiful, from the head-in-the-clouds bliss of pulsating opener "Disaster", and the John Carpenter creepiness of "Lifetime", to the Behaviour-era Pet Shop Boys melancholy of "Street" and "Never Look Back".
When it came to celebrating their first five years, Uncanny Valley decided to do things differently. So, alongside a retrospective (Five Years On Parole - What Happened), they've delivered an EP of previously unheard material from the archives (Five Years On Parole - Gems From The Vaults), and this selection of brand new cuts. There's naturally much to enjoy, with Chinaski and Panthera Krause both delivering wonderfully deep and dreamy analogue house workouts. There's something particularly impressive about Derive's krautrock, Kraftwerk and proto-techno inspired contribution - think modular synthesizers and pulsing drum machine rhythms - while Iron Curtis' "En Suite" is a clandestine acid jacker build around ragged 303 lines, metronomic percussion and trippy synthesizer motifs.
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