Review: The latest episode in Ambivalent's label sees the US producer bring together some of the best new names in techno. He cosies up to Matrixxman on "Junction"; led by pounding drums and ferocious percussive blasts it sets the tone for the rest of the release. Physical Therapy also drops a visceral techno track in the shape of "Rosemary" which morphs into a dreamy segue but without losing its abrasive edge. Avalon Emerson replicates the sound of an entire beehive being eliminated on the layered tonal builds of "Glider Gun" while Toms Due rounds off this dance floor-primed release with the acid-led jacking rhythm of "Module".
Review: Up next for Defected's In The House series is the UK's DJ Haus, 'a decidedly untraditional DJ, producer, originator and DIY label innovator.' The Unknown To The Unknown and Hot Haus Recs boss has received big props from the underground house community and in Defected's opinion: he's an ambassador for the future of house music. Quite a compliment there! Serving up a a wicked collection of raw and jacking sounds that encompass electro, Chicago house, disco, techno and UK garage: and all very much on the lo-fi tip. The supporting cast on DJ Haus In The Haus is quite a remarkable one and musical highlights are not limited to: NYC hero X-Coast (who is fresh off a killer release on Underthesea) with last year's sleeper hit "Mango Bay", Aussie larrikin and Steel City Dance Discs boss Mall Grab with the wicked "Pool Party" through to stateside jams by Justin Cudmore - who gives us a taste of the acid life on "Forget It" and so does the master Matrixxman on the epic "The Spell" (Original Mix).
Review: The ongoing celebration this year of Dekmental's tenth anniversary has already yielded a series of interesting split EPs and the eight instalment is no exception. It starts with Peter Van Hoesen and Donato Dozzy's "Storta". Over a sliding, distended rhythm, the techno duo conjure up cinematic sound scapes. In stark contrast is Matrixxman's "Sexual Frustration", which draws on classic Midwest techno to deliver pneumatic kicks and wild acid tones. Deniro's "Serval" sees another shift in style, but remains in the same geographical space as Matrixxman; combing atmospheric synths with powerful bass tones, it sounds like the lost connection between Patrice Scott and Kenny Larkin. The droning, discordant techno of Talismann's "Aciano" completes the latest Dekmantel celebration.
Review: In terms of current US artists, no one seems to have made as much of an impact in recent times as the the superbly named Charles McCloud Duff has done under his Matrixxman name. Unknown To The Unknown, Spectral Sound and Soo Wavey Records are some of the labels that have put the call out for material from Matrixxman, whose club ready style of house and techno has always been complemented by a clear sense of humour. Matrixxman's superb debut for Dekmantel makes for a perfect start to 2015 for the increasingly influential Dutch label and is hopefully the start of a prosperous working relationship. Opener "Sermons" is loose and jacking, with a decidedly haywire acid line at its core, whilst "Cybernetic Implant" reins in the rhythmic madness in order to let those deep bleeps catch you off guard. If you like rolling vocals a la Hodge's "Amor Fati" do check closer "System Blackout", which is our pick!
Review: StuxNet is the latest release in a busy schedule for US producer Matrixxman. Tellingly, it doesn't feel like he is starting to tread water. Instead, "StuxNet 1" and "StuxNet II" sound vital and menacing, despite drawing on the well-worn acid sound. In the case of the first track, it's all down to the steely claps and that support the gurgling 303s, while the latter resounds to crashing snares and rough kicks. The release also sees Jamal Moss provide one of his most conventional remixes, as he re-vitalises "Venetian Mask" with hollowed out marching drums and a resonating bass. Spectral has also tapped the hugely talented Silent Servant for a remix and his version of "The Caravan" manages that rare feat of sounding stripped back and understated but also powerful in an eerie way.
Review: San Francisco DJ/producer Charles McCloud Duff has been making increasingly prominent strides under the Matrixxman guise over the course of the past year with the exposure from releases for Fifth Wall, Unknown To The Unknown and Vin Sol's Soo Wavey paving the way to getting scooped up by Spectral Sound, Amulet is his most high profile release to date, and suggests he's more than comfortable with life on the Ghostly Intl offshoot with all four tracks an effortless showcase in house music production. Executed with a rack of Roland gear, lead cut "Venetia Mask" sees Duff pairing classicist Chicago signifiers with a modern production sheen, equipped with the best finger snaps in some time. The release also includes two examples of Matrixxman's tougher techno side with final track "The Caravan" a real darkside roller.
Review: Matrixxman has enjoyed a productive couple of years, both on his own and with longtime production partner Vin Sol. Here he pitches up on Kraftek with another solid EP of floor-friendly gems. Opener "The Spell" is, in many ways, surprisingly tough, sounding like pitched-down classic late night techno - think thunderous kicks, intense electronics and foreboding synth basslines - with a few typically melodic deep house touches to lighten the mood. Phil Kieran's remix of the same track is decidedly wonky, with snappy drum machine handclaps providing the meat of the sparse-but-tough rhythm. Elsewhere, the Larry Heard-inspired "Eternal" is notably deeper and more picturesque, while "The Sigil" sounds like an unlikely fusion of vintage Orbital and contemporary deep house.
Review: Charles 'Matrixxman' Duff's debut album follows a rake of EPs over the past two years, including a recent offering for Ghostly spin-off imprint. While a good deal of Duff's work is associated with Chicago and acid influences, his debut album moves through a wider range of influences. Granted, it still looms large on the bleepy minimalism of "Network Failure" or the tough kettle drums and bleak tones of "Red Light District", but there is much more going on here besides. "Annika's Theme" is a windswept ambient passage, "Switchblade" is a stab-heavy techno workout and, best of all " HMU (Hit Me Up) (feat Vin Sol)", sees Duff recreate DBX-style minimalism in all its analogue glory.
Review: Hot on the heels of his 2015 debut album come these remixes of tracks from Matrixxman's Homesick. Charles 'Matrixxman' Duff and frequent collaborator Vin Sol's take on "Necronomicon" is a typical acid-heavy affair, but the other reshapes follow an unpredictable path. The Instance reshape of "Earth Like Conditions" is a breathy deep techno jam, while Mike Parker applies a dense wall of bleep bass to "Opium Den". The real coup here is Spectral persuading Larry Heard to provide three remixes as Gherkin Jerks of "Augmented". There's the melancholy 'Bass Vibe' version, and better still, two old school acid-fried 'Lab Chaos' takes.
Review: While Matrixxman has produced releases for a wide range of labels, it seems that he has a soft spot for Amsterdam imprint-turned- party organisers Dekmantel. It was on this label that Charles McCloud Duff put out the excellent Nubian Metropolis in 2014, and Sector I/Rhythm is just as impressive. While Duff's approach is far more singular on this follow-up, it proves again that he is a skilful interpreter. In this instance, it's the 90s techno of Hawtin, DBX and 7th City. Percussion flies in like hail stones descending on the Hudson waterfront; drums kicks and stomp relentlessly, and each track has the nervous, twitchy analogue energy of mid-90s midwest techno.
Review: Bay Area retrovert Matrixxman has become one of the most in demand producers of techno in the last couple years, due in so small part to some stellar releases on Delft, Spectral Sound and of course Dutch institution Dekmantel who now present the second installment of a triptych series. Following up the first volume Sector I: Rhythm, Sector II: Acid does exactly what it says on the tin: exploring the timeless capability of that little silver Roland box. He joins the dots between hypnotic techno and acid house on "Arrival" or "Rites" just as well as Scandinavian Varg can. Speaking of acid house: it's exactly that in all its vintage charm; it's like '88 all over again on "Bad Acid" or the absolutely explosive "I Am Matrix".
Review: Charlie Duff puts his head down and ditches the Chicago influences for this release on Henning Baer's label. The title track is an upfront roller that mixes the repetitive tonal sounds of Berlin artists like Sleeparchive with the dense loops of late 90s UK techno. "Polarity" marks a change of direction and a lowering of the tempo thanks to its staccato beats, radio interference squiggles and dark bass belches, but this is really a pure techno record. This overarching aesthetic is audible on the cold bleeps and steely drums of "Beacon" - which sounds like the bastard child of the aforementioned Sleeparchive and Sandwell District's Function - and on the tranced out, dub-heavy Goner take on the same track.
Review: Matrixxman's third instalment in the Sector series for Dekmantel sees him deliver a fine, diverse techno release. On "Initiation", he drops a rolling, mysterious groove, led by a heavy bass and a ghostly synth line. "Access Granted" is in a radically different vein, with the US producer taking inspiration from Robert Hood to create a visceral minimal techno workout. In stark contrast again is "Desert Planet"; it sees Matrixxman dropping the tempo to conjure up a balmy deep house groove. Rounding off this release is "Horizon", where the US producer delves into Detroit techno to drop a warbling bass-led groove that has echoes of vintage Carl Craig and Stacey Pullen.
Review: Dropping your debut on Sinden's Grizzly imprint ain't a bad way to kick off your budding career. That's exactly what the mysterious Matrixxman has done; delivering a retro yet still forward thinking house banger. Calling on the campy sound of early 90s New York clubs, "God Created The Beat" is the kind of tough bitch/tranny house that the likes of RuPaul and Michael Alig's club kidz would party to. A deeper "groove' mix is also supplied for those afterhours moments. Remix-wise, Physical Therapy provide an Art Of Noise-style, chillwavey dub and Optimo's JD Twitch offers a pulsating techno-meets-piano-house romp.
Review: Before we say anything, here's what the artist blurb said: "This is what happens when 3 Tumblr personalities manage to transcend time and space and use virtual reality to create some of the most warped ghetto house and techno this side of Second Life." There is no way we're going to argue with that. Heavy duty aggression mixed with a massive dose of slow-release intensity reaching through each tune makes this four tracker a must-cop for techno and deep house heads looking for something harder. Be brave. Just try it, you never know, you might like it.
Review: Oh yes, the collaboration between Vin Sol and Matrixxman continues and this time it's on San Francisco-based label, Icee Hot! The former has been busy releasing music on Unknown To The Unknown and has an EP forthcoming on Clone Jack For Daze, while the latter has just dropped an absolute stormer of a single on Dutch stable, Dekmantel. Daddy Issues is all about raw, jacking beats and phat, warm basslines; "Lotus Position" is a straight-up head-nodder complete with mesmerising pads and jittery Roland drum machine beats, backed with a slicker, more rolling remix by Ghosts On Tape. "Interrog8" is darker and more ethereal, while "What You See" is a no-BS, cowbell-ridden cut for the DJs. Quality, as per usual.
Review: 139 is the first release this year by Spectral, the house/techno offshoot of Ghostly International. It shows that despite the passage of nearly two decades, the US imprint is still relevant. Starting with the wild acid of Gunnar Haslam's "Versione Antica", the label takes the listener on a journey that includes the murky hardware techno of Minimal Violence's "Travel By Night" and Matrixxman teaming up with Riccardo Limiti to deliver the stomping "Inferno". Other highlights include the noisy, Chicago jack and eerie tones of Russell EL Butler's "Run Away With My Heart" and D'Marc Cantu's resonant "Regular People". It's testament to the label's approach that after nearly twenty years in business, it can still put together such an inspirational release.
Review: A true staple of the Amsterdam scene, the Rush Hour affiliated Yuri Boselie aka Cinnaman takes up the reins for local institution Dekmantel's extended tenth birthday celebrations with this mastermix. It takes in the entirety of the 10 volume edition - what an effort. What may seem as an outrageous challenge - what with the compilation's genre diversity and wide rage of tempos - it's a success, for they've certainly found the right candidate. Cinnaman plays a wide range of styles anyway, and is never afraid to mix the known with the unknown - he has a reputation for his remarkable combinations and transitions. From moments of sublime ambience (Italian ambient legend Gigi Masin with the utterly evocative "Maja") to bass heavy electro bounce (courtesy of Egyptian Lover or Syracuse & Epsilove), right through to techno bangers of the cerebral variety (by Donato Dozzy & Peter Van Hoesen or local hero Talismann) and stuff by Bufiman or Tony Allen - it's a solid effort here by one of Holland's finest selectors.
Pjotr G & Dubiosity - "Action Potential" (Digital Only) - (6:19) 87 BPM
Pjotr G & Dubiosity - "Design Argument" (Digital Only) - (6:09) 127 BPM
Review: The latest release in Planet Rhythm's various artists series brings together some of the most exciting producers working in techno today. First up is Yan Cook, who delivers the moody, metallic roller, "1991". On "In Your Inner Sea", Alpi offers up a more reflective, introspective interpretation, with deep chords bubbling up over a snaking bass. In stark contrast, Wrong Assessment ups the intensity levels with "Remodelling", a dense, stepping workout, full of metallic riffs and punctuated by pounding kicks. The label has also commissioned a collaboration between Matrixxman and Brendon Moeller's Echologist project for this EP. The resulting track, "Shellshock", is led by visceral drums and is every bit as impactful as one can expect from these two talented producers.
Review: If Mark Knight and Co. aren't busy enough celebrating Toolroom's big 15 year birthday at present (and its global parties in celebration of it), they've also found enough time for another mandatory volume in their esteemed Ibiza Underground series. With another collection of surefire hits and soon to be anthems that are sure to rock The White Isle this summer - this is all you need right here. A wide range of cuts (50 to be exact) that venture into darker territories come from the likes of New York duo Blondes on the fierce and broken "Quality Of Life" (Struction remix), the surprising addition of Scottish IDM wunderkind Lanark Artefax's "Touch Absence" (Intimidating Stillness mix), Dutch techno-bass merchant Martyn on the futuristic "Feel The Magnetism" and American retrovert Matrixxman on the tunnelling acid trip "Horizon". Rest assured that there's faire more typical of the label like Josh Butler, Franky Rizardo, Rick Wakley and birthday guests Booka Shade. For your convenience, the collection comes as two continuous mixes as well.
Review: Dekmantel rounds off a hugely successful year with a compilation that reflects the organisation's multi-faceted approach. At one end of the spectrum there's the dubbed out groove and spacey vocals of Peaking Light's "Blind Corner" and tropical act Bruxas' left of centre beats, while at the other end Robert Hood delivers the blistering techno of "Red Machine". In between these extremes, there are Dekmantel-supported artists such as Betonkust & Palmbomen II - impressing here with the Legowelt-esque "Renaat Egypte" - and zeitgeist-defining names like Lena Willikens and Matrixxman. Add in some Dutch scene veterans such as Tom Trago, on fine form with the epic but understated "Working Machines", and it's not hard to see why 2018 was a great year for the Dutch collective.
Review: The last commercial mix that Robert Hood did back in 2008 for Fabric re-ignited his career. Appearing at the tail end of minimalism, its hard-edged sounds provided a welcome relief to the prevailing sound. A decade on, the 66th DJ Kicks finds the Detroit artist once again in firing form. "Focus" signals his intent with its massive siren riff and pounding drums, while "Clocks", which builds and builds to electronic bee swarms, shows that he has lost none of his minimal techno firepower. Sure, there are other fine contributions, like Truncate's sheet metal banger "Terminal 5" and the shadowy riffs of Marcel Fengler's "Thwack" - itself a paean to Dr Motte's "Der Klang Der Familie" - but like the Fabric selection, this instalment of DJ Kicks is all about Robert Hood.