Review: A surprising collaboration here between two old friends from Detroit's heyday: Dirtybird head honcho Claude Vonstroke and the Minus/Items & Things affiliated Marc Houle. Story has it that the latter sent over an old file that Vonstroke loved, but they both realized it needed to sound more modern to suit 2020 dancefloors. The resulting track is "Fly Guy", a throwback to the heady minimal techno sounds of the mid '00s - is this now the classic sound's comeback already? Second offering "Arizona" sees Vonstroke channel the same aesthetic once again, only in a more tunnelling and cerebral fashion that is perfect for trancing out under the strobe
Review: After years of making the most stripped back music imaginable, Undercover sees Houle go back to dance music's roots. Inspired by Detroit electro and Chicago house, the album is the ideal antidote for those tired of hiccupping, stuttering rhythms and white noise FX. "Juno 6660" and "Hearing" offer tripped out takes on classic electro with shufflimg 808s laying the basis for time-stretched basslines, woozy synths and muffled vocals. The title track sees Houle deliver his verison of jack, albeit cloaked in icy synths and brooding robo vocals, while "Mooder" offers an alluring combination, as heavy claps and a nagging rhythm support brooding synth sequenes. As reinventions go, it's up there with Dylan's conversion to the electric guitar.
Review: The title track on Marc Houle's Undercover EP, coming on the freshly revived Items & Things label features some neat vocal vs instrumentation interplay, with a chuggy bassline and tough drums marking it out as a certified fabric floor filler circa 4am Sunday morning. "Triple E" is bouncier, with cheeky bass stabs and vocal stutters leading into more perfectly tweaked low frequencies. There are two fine remixes of "Undercover" to choose from, with Miro Pajic beefing up his version to paranoia-inducing effect, while the Bruno Electric Blanket dub goes subterranean with deep-as-you-can-get bass bringing the most out of that vocal line. Recommended.
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: Talk about a transformation; former Minus mainstay and minimal stalwart Marc Houle goes from ping-pong beats and hiccuping rhythms to this deep, 80s-referencing house release. " Don't Want To Watch You Read" is a mesmerising affair, centred on a booming bass and featuring a mysterious vocal that is similar to the one that featured on Brian Kage's record on FXHE earlier this year. There is a reference to Houle's minimal past on the rushing sirens of the Golden Filter remix of "Read", but in the main this is a radical departure. The title track is a pulsing electronic disco affair, while the Red Axes remix of "Read" is an epic, EBM-fueled reshape.
Review: Houle is one of the most quietly prolific techno producers out there and on his latest album for Items & Things sees him push in a deeper direction than before. There are echoes of Houle's minimal past throughout Sinister Mind - and it is most evident on the rickety "Conbular" - but the strength of this work lies in its author's abilities to fuse precise, dissected rhythms with diverse sound pallettes. This results in the Aril Brikha meets Minus deep techno of "Paligama"; the title track, where Dave Gahan-style vocals are merged with evocative chords and the ebm-influenced groove of "Maskatron". Houle even turns his hand to underground electro on "Bassoffific", where bugged out 808s come together with his microscopic percussion to form an unusual, highly distinctive arrangement.
Review: Following releases on Curle and his own Items & Things label in 2018, Marc Houle makes a debut on Dirtybird. While the US producer rose to prominence during the minimal house boom of the mid-00s, Min & Soda is a radically different proposition. The title track is a steely techno affair, led by a clanging bass and sharp, crispy drums. It has more in common with stripped back Motor City sounds than the white noise-infested, hiccuping grooves Houle was known for. "Car and Driver" sees the US producer venture farther down the wormhole. Its mixture of noisy riffs and acrid 303s unravelling over doubled up claps mean that this is a blistering, peak-time affair.