Review: To mark the twentieth anniversary of the foundation of his label, James Ruskin has put together this massive compilation. It includes long-term friends and associates of the label - like Oliver Ho, Regis and Luke Slater - as well as newer additions to the roster, including Lakker and Rommek. Apart from uniting artists from different generations, the compilation also showcases the label's various hues; from the broken beats and intricate rhythms of Ruskin and Regis' O/V/R project and the hypnotic soundscapes of Lakker's "Orange" to the trace stabs and 10 tonne kicks of Regis' "Party Spoiler Too" and the chaotic industrial rhythms on Truss' "Wanastow", this compilation offers to newcomers an invaluable introduction to Blueprint, or to long-standing fans an indispensable reminder of why the label is unique.
Review: You have to admire Ostgut Ton's ambition. While celebrating a decade in dance music with a compilation of exclusive, previously unheard music is now standard practice amongst leading underground labels, few would have the balls to release it with such a killer tracklisting as Zehn. Across the 30 tracks (count 'em!) you get a who's who of Berghain and Panorama Bar associates delivering a quite outstanding selection of left-of-centre techno and deep European house, with Marcel Dettmann, Boris, Virginia, Steffi, DVS1, Martyn, Tobias and Ben Klock all featuring. Highlights naturally come thick and fast, from the spacey electronics, heady textures and hypnotic rhythms of Function's "DX3 Analog Bass Seq", and the rush-inducing, string-laden house warmth of Matthew Styles' remix of Dinky's "Planes", to the picturesque intelligent techno of Doms & Deykers.
Review: It seems Function is a fan of Cassegrain & Tin man material as he's just signed them up for his next release on Infrastructure New York. For this second Berghain 07 sampler, Function's appetite for boomy, acid techno is whetted by the collaboration's "Oxide". Meanwhile, former flatmate Ed Davenport, aka Inland, delivers "Sca Fell", a subaqueous workout that would get the Mike Parker seal of approval. DVS1 throws down some trademark warehouse beats with some caustic stabs to boot, while Steve Bicknell delves even deeper into the abyss than he did on the first sampler, with a track that's as menacing and frenetic as what Drexciya can be.
Review: Australia's Balance Music is known for its quality mixes by the very finest in the underground music circuit. With previous compilations by the likes of New York's Danny Tenaglia, Deetron and Funk D'Void, among others, this is as close to a Fabric mix as you can get without those shiny tin cases. Ex-minimal legend turned all-out techno queen Magda steps up for number 27 in the series, and it's nothing but vibes on this one. Amalgamating shreds of stripped back techno - Marcel Dettmann, DVS1, Samuli Kemppi - together with newer, more underground sounds from some of the most cutting-edge labels around - Marco Bernardi's Sandman project, TTT's Minor Science, XDB and Shackleton - the Minus legend shows why she's still one of the best in the game and a true expert at evolving her aesthetic. A great mix, dig in.
Review: Oscar Mulero's Pole Group closes out the year with a collection from some of techno's most respected producers. While the overall tone on Unknown Landscapes is dark and at times unsettling, it never strays into the plodding furrowed-brow seriousness that often besets contemporary techno. DVS1's "Strobe" sees the US DJ deliver churning chords over a grinding, metallic rhythm, while Reeko's "Enlightenment Process" shifts from pounding broken beats into a spacey, filtered segue. That's not to suggest that the label or its owner have gone soft either; the squelchy acid and stinging riffs of Jonas Kopp's "M31" is as intense as it gets, but at the same time, contributions from Adam X and Forward Strategy Group tingle and pulse in a dubby, fuzzy afterglow.