Review: Cologne duo Hidden Empire have only a few releases to their name, but look set to enjoy the kind of recognition that fellow German big-room acts like Booka Shade and Oliver Huntemann have attained over the past decade. As Empire demonstrates, their ascent will have a lot to do with their ability to create storming, bass-heavy club tracks that are full of clever effects and tricks. On "Black Beauty", they achieve this with the use of a tingling bass, air raid siren builds and an ominous, churning bass. The title track comprises more air raid sirens, this time released in slow motion in tandem with bleak filters and a menacing low end, while "Transcending Time" sounds like a modern, grainy techno take on Laurent Garnier's classic "Crispy Bacon".
Review: With just a few EPs to their credit, production pair Hidden Empire deliver their debut album. It's a bold move, but one which showcases their production skills. "Journey Into Self" is a menacing, ebm-style groove, while on "World of Fantasy" and "Hummus", they drop pulsating, mesmerising tracks, like evolved versions of 90s trance. "Acid Flashback" is also redolent of the same decade, but recalls the wildest 303 excesses of Emanuel Top and vintage Harthouse. Proving that they are not just obsessed with the past, "In The Woods" is a noisy, rolling techno groove, while on "Fafnir", they channel the influence of the Middle East for a spellbinding percussive workout
Review: Branko Novakovic and Niklas Schafers are Hidden Empire, the ascendant German duo who presented their impressive debut album Mind Palace on Berlin institution Stil Vor Talent last year. Now the boys are back with more moody dancefloor drama, expertly executed on the Alexandria EP. Razor sharp bass lines and shimmering melodies make for much excitement on the majestic "Valhalla", while the title track's moody and ethereal vibe is perfect for trancing out under the strobe light. Finally, "Odessa" is a perfect example of an ethereal tech house jam packed full of brooding elements - just the way you like it!
Review: Stil Vor Talent up the ante with some seriously dark and pummelling techno by German duo Hidden Empire who have previously appeared on Traum and Trapez. To classify these efforts as 'dark journey tracks' (the label's usual fare) would surely be an understatement. For as much the synth leads are wonky and atmosphere are nefarious, "Lost In Time" and "Get Lost" also pack a whole heap of adrenaline and aggression that could see them appeal to Drumcode fans. Next up is local lad Boy Next Door who serves up the driving peak time tech house tool entitled "Dael" while "Kuba" is more ethereal and atmospheric in its subdued approach to trance aesthetics, with those epic arpeggios working a treat.
Review: Congratulations to long-running Berlin label Still Vor Talent, which has now notched up no less than 200 releases. To celebrate this milestone, the label has put together this fine celebratory compilation featuring contributions from "old and new faces". Fittingly, it's arguably one of the imprint's strongest and most varied releases to date. Of course, there's plenty of typically Germanic fusions of deep house and tech-house present, but also the Arabic-influenced deep house exotica of Sam Shure, the rising, piano-laden dancefloor bliss of Oliver Koletzki's "Don't Take Yourself Too Seriously", the heavily electronic, club-ready psychedelia of Fideles ("Dark Stone") and the lilting melodies of Deorbiting's warm and picturesque "Warnsignal".
Review: More moody and brooding main room techno excursions from the ever reliable Senso Sounds camp. Matter of fact, It's harbour city sorrow all the way on 5Y, under adopted Hamburger Oliver Huntemann's careful curation - celebrating a a strong half decade in the business. Surrender to the void on label staple Andre Winter's sub bass snarler "Carte Noir", Maksim Dark from Russia truly signals the end of days on "Mega Pulse", Shaded who traded the sunny shores of Los Angeles for the black beach is on form with the slinky hypnotiser "I Got Haters" or trance out to the bleak mentalism of Carlo Ruetz' "Thunder" while Distale's "Hooka" will get your tunnel vision on with intoxicating style.