Review: Such has been the dizzying rise of Helena Hauff in recent years that the release of her second album, Qualm, feels like a genuine "event". Preceded by a limited, while label edition, the Hamburg producer's first full-length in three years is undoubtedly worthy of the growing hype surrounding it. By design, the 12 tracks are raw, distorted and lo-fi, with Hauff peppering heavyweight, redlined drum machine beats - think wayward Chicago jack, laidback electro and nails techno - with a mixture of razor-sharp acid lines, moody industrial textures and drowsy chords. The clattering intensity of the album's dancefloor moments is in sharp contrast to the creepy and evocative, soundtrack style electronic soundscapes showcased elsewhere on the album. These - ambient in ethos, but more experimental in tone - are frequently amongst the set's most inspired moments.
Review: The seemingly unstoppable rise of Helena Hauff continues apace. After previously shining on Ninja Tune's Actress-helmed Werk Discs offshoot, the Hamburg-based DJ/producer has now graduated to the parent label. As usual, there's much to enjoy throughout, from the punchy drum machine percussion, tumbling synthesizer melodies and foreboding chords of opener "Nothing Is What I Know" and thrillingly intense, end-of-days techno jam "Do You Really Think Like That", to the lo-fi, intergalactic brilliance of closer "Gift". Perhaps most impressive, though, is "Continuez Mon Enfant Vous Serez Traite En Consequence", a thrillingly wonky trip into dark, acid-fired electronica. In a word: essential.
The Exaltics - "Do I Have To Repeat Myself" - (4:42) 130 BPM
Helena Hauff - "Culmination Of Frustration" - (5:23) 140 BPM
Perseus Traxx - "MK-Ultra" - (4:50) 126 BPM
Drvg Cvltvre - "The Dead Envy The Living" - (6:23) 120 BPM
Ekman - "Landmarks" - (5:08) 140 BPM
Review: Artwork of the week goes to this Solar One 12", with the label enlisting Lowlands don Mehdi Rouchiche to work his Godspill magic on the collective talents of Helena Hauff, Perseus Traxx, The Exaltics, Drvg Cvltre and Ekman. Perseus Traxx's moustache is quite something! These artists join forces for the Signs Of Decay 12", a powerful collective statement on the desiccation some "hard and dirty acid tracks" can do to a dancefloor. Don't come here looking for any lofty concepts, this is just five of the best banging their boxes in the name of all that is grotty and lysergic. Fans of Hauff's Panzerkreuz material will be delighted with the demonic, red lining sounds of her contribution "Culmination Of Frustration."
Review: Every once in a while, the underground electro sound finds its way into electronic music's mainstream. The last time that this happened to a significant degree was during the late '90s and early '00s, with electroclash artists like Tiga and Fischerspooner representing its most mainstream iteration. No one could ever suggest that Helena Hauff is on the same level as these two acts, but she does provide modern electro with a face and an identity. Tellingly, on Desires, she neatly encapsulates everything that that is great about this form, from the moody soundtrack of "Silver Sand & Boxes Of Mould" to the rolling 808s and nightmarish synths of "L'Homme Mort" and "Tripartite Pact" to the higher-paced, tweaked electro funk of "Funereal Morality" and "Piece of Pleasure".
Review: Hamburg-based DJ/producer Helena Hauff has come along way since making her debut on Actress's Ninja Tune-owned Werk Discs imprint back in 2013, delivering a debut album of sorts - the cassette-only acid/techno hybrid A Tape - earlier this year. He she returns to Werk Disc with arguably a new release of intense, paranoid, acid-flecked dancefloor workouts. There's naturally much to admire, from the breathless intensity of opener "Drowning Demons" and the full-throttle techno workout "The Bean Field & The Gods", to the tumbling Drexciyan electro meets lilting IDM of "The First Time He Thought, He Died".
Review: The hotly tipped Golden Pudel resident Helena Hauff joins forces with Andreas Gehm for a release on The Exaltics label. Unlike much of the output on Solar One, this four-tracker ignores electro in favour of a more malevolent sound. "Rupture" sets the tone for what is to come, its grainy beats and heavy claps marking out the relentless rhythm track approach that both artists have decided on. However, by the next track, "The Purely Painful Confrontation Of Opposites" it becomes clear that the duo want to fry their audience's brains with the most aggressive 303s since DJ Skull. "HKX" is just as punishing and "Solar Two" ends the split release with malevolent, pounding acid-fuelled beats.
Review: A regular fixture at Hamburg's Golden Pudel club where she presides over the Birds and Other Instruments night, Helena Hauff is a killer DJ with a keen interest in classic and contemporary electro, something confirmed via the Obscure Object C90 mixtape released recently on the Krokodilo Tapes cassette label run by Blackest Ever Black. A longstanding friendship with Actress has resulted in his Werkdiscs label issuing Actio Reactio, her debut EP of solo productions. Both the title track and "Break Force" see Hauff utilize her arsenal of analogue gear to deliver two tracks of acid-drenched hardware techno in the mould of producers like Svengalisghost or Beau Wanzer, while shorter production "Micro Manifesto" is more grounded in the realm of primitive electronics with Minimal Wave act In Aeternam Vale a good reference point.