Review: Fresh from unleashing their excellent album A Sensible Alternative To Emotion on Oscar Mulero's Pole Recordings, heavy hitting Spanish duo Exium return to their own Nheoma label for this split release with Kwartz. The first of the two tracks by Exium is "Wolf Rayet", a tunnelling boom of cavernous techno, while the Jeff Mills inspirations come to the surface in "Fenomen", sounding like a heavier take on the Detroit producer's Something In The Sky series. Mario Campos' emerging Kwartz project proves to be just as impressive; "Sinapsis" maintains the industrial edge of the EP with more loopy, reverberant beats. "The Beginning of The End" sees a ghostly synth line sliced apart by the kind of forceful drums and smashing hi-hats that are synonymous with Speedy J's music.
Review: Pole Recordings, as it was known back in 2014, was one of the first labels to release material by Kwartz aka Mario Campos. Fast forward three years and a number of EPs later, and the Spanish producer returns to Oscar Mulero's renamed imprint. "A Tragic End" starts the release in somewhat reflective mode, as Campos brings together atmospheric textures with a dense, stepping rhythm. There is no musical element on "Right Discipline", where a rolling, hammering groove and metallic drums collide. The release takes an intense turn on "Dissociation of Body and Mind", where waves of electronic fury unfold over a rough, mangled rhythm and pile-driving percussion. By the time he reaches the relatively serene "Theory of Emptiness", Kwartz's fans will be craving its dubbed out nuances.
Uncontrollable Process Of Self-destruction - (7:53) 124 BPM
Ultraviolence - (5:50) 128 BPM
Fallen Into Fear - (6:38) 128 BPM
Death Is Not Defeat - (7:05) 128 BPM
Death Is Not Defeat (version 2) - (7:10) 126 BPM
Escape To Nowhere - (7:06) 128 BPM
Review: Here's more heavy techno sounds on Bas Mooy's label, this time courtesy of Spanish producer Kwartz, known for releases on Warm Up and Pole. The Zooloft-inspired title of "Uncontrollable Process Of Self-Destruction" reveals itself to be for more than an exercise in poor English with FUSE-style bleep-notics fused with dreamy hardcore synths. By contrast, the aptly-named "Ultraviolence" is a thing of extreme danger as its wiry, broken rhythms and lashes of percussion seep over and gnaw at the listener's synapse. Two versions of the title track are also included, with Kwartz laying down the kind of dark, slightly distorted pulsing rhythms and steely percussive builds that Mord has become synonymous with.
Review: Kwartz aka Mario Campos is the latest in a long line of Spanish techno producers to emerge over the past decade and his tough sound is at home on Warm Up. At times, it feels like Spain's techno sound has been caught frozen in time, in a place where the more hypnotic end of the loop sound has been left to coalesce with stepping, broken beats. Rite is very much in keeping with this approach. From the dense, heavy beats and wild stabs on the title track to the demented, Lost-style panel beater that is "Black Horse" and Mulero's own rumbling, rolling take on "Rite", this is heads-down, peak-time material in the finest Spanish tradition.
Review: Two new-school producers share the duties on Sonntag Morgen's sixth release. The Italian label has chosen wisely and Mario Campos aka Kwartz delivers two peak-time, 90s-themed tracks. "Lost Signal" is based on tough, metallic drums but features powerful pulses rising up through it, while "Tension" is a more visceral affair, with noisy kicks providing the backdrop for churning filters and screeching riffs. Oaks, who has released on labels like Mutewax and Key, provides "Solarmental", which starts deceptively deep before picking up the intensity level with machine gun claps. "That Morning Upstairs" has a similar approach; it begins with deep house melodies before Oaks drops devastatingly powerful percussive bursts.
Review: Spanish outpost Polegroup is the archetypal techno label, and Kwartz is a purveyor of the finest techno workouts. After having released artists such as the US' Developer, the nomadic Kwartz touches down on the label with two daring and sublimely bleak tracks for the midnight hour. Both "Form & Void" and "Breakage" are perfect Berghain tracks for the likes of Dettman or Klock, but that's not all - Reeko and Exium remix the former and the latter respectively, turning up the power considerably and making things that little bit heavier.
Review: Launched back in 2015 as a platform to feature artists like Sleeparchive and Developer on Weekend Circuit, the third instalment in the Ground-Fault-Interrupt series has the same lofty aims. Kwartz kicks off the EP with the pounding, pummelling "Trapped In Reality", which features concrete beats supporting tranced out riffs, while Rommek's "Movement of Inertia" is a visceral, metallic banger. On "Universe Forms", label owner Michael Wells chooses a less direct but equally effective approach, with broken beats providing the basis for haunting, swirling textures, while Positive Centre steers the release back to the dance floor with the tough but atmospheric banger, "Mesquinhata".
Review: The third installment in this series delivers gnarly, peak time techno. Kwartz' "Reflection" sets out the stall with stomping beats and grainy, industrial drums providing the backdrop against which whooshing chords build and malevolent filters churn. On Quorum One's "Alpharad", the sound has more in common with the icy minimalism of Sahko, with a series of austere bleeps pulsing and squelching across a maze of hissing percussion and panning claps. Then there's Inaki Kreator's "Creatures". Like Quorum One, the sound is clear and precise, but the approach is more full-on, with a moody chord sequence unravelling as razor sharp percussion trashes away feverishly.
Review: Oscar Mulero's Polegroup label closes the year with a mammoth compilation that defines the current state of the techno nation. As Unknown Landscapes shows, it is a diverse place. There's droning ambience from Daphne RXX, while Reeko, Reggy Van Oers and Mike Parker deliver bleep-heavy, hypnotic groove that draw on the influence of F.U.S.E and Sandwell District. Heads-down loopy fare is also catered for - with the spiky percussion and bleak filters of Jonas Koop's "Fu Factor" standing out - and the form also revisits the rough, analogue sound of the 90s thanks to Karl Bult and American scene veteran DJ Hyperactive's contributions.
Review: Oscar Mulero's other label celebrates its fifth anniversary with this mammoth compendium. For fans of the Spanish imprint's club techno there is no shortage of material to get excited about; the Lewis Fautzi remix of Exium's "Nucleoid" is a hypnotic groove par excellence, its confluence of acid and droning pulses arcing to a tantalising climax, while Christian Wunsch and Exium once again represent the tough industrial and dub-meets-noise sound of the label on "Emission Lines" and "Biolag" respectively. However, there is also a more musical, reflective side to Poelgroup's sound. In this regard, 5 Years delivers most impressively with the chilling strings of the Architectural project from Reeko as well as the Spanish producer's cinematic, break beat-led reshape of Jonas Kopp's "M31".
Review: This is Mord's most ambitious venture to date, with a box set of seven records laying out the Dutch imprint's tough techno agenda. Regulars like UVB and Radial set the tone, with the former dropping brutish kicks and jarring riffs on "Someone Calling Cut" and Radial veering into a pumping direction on "Cru".Label owner Bas Mooy moves the compilation towards a more streamlined approach with the dense, linear Klockworks-like "Owl In Daylight", but Herdersmat also shows that the label has succeeded in attracting some heavyweight international talent; Eomac's "Phisk" is a disorienting rave-flecked stepper and Sleeparchive drops the bleep-heavy bomb that is "Evicted".