Heretic - "& We Are Left To Dance In The Ashes" - (7:51) 126 BPM
Review: Modularz marks 10 years at the forefront of underground club techno with a release that will surprise as much as it entertains. Label owner Developer sets out a ferocious agenda with the thundering "Rattle Bell", which forms around a repetitive, ringing tone, while on "Haunted Cave", Rhomb tunnels down the worm hole with a serving of mysterious throbbing rhythm. Surprisingly, there's a deeper dimension to this anniversary release; Heretic's "We Are Left To Dance In The Ashes" resounds to a dramatic, bleak synth-led melody, while a chord-heavy workout from Astronomical Telegram in the shape of "Saara" shows that Modularz isn't as singular as might have been imagined.
Review: Creeping ever closer towards their third year of existence, Modularz have remained steadfast in their aesthetic approach, deftly combining the dynamism of straight up techno with an intricately textured approach that has proved enduringly rewarding. Label boss Developer once again features prominently on their tenth entry, contributing four cuts. The expansive bassline to the opening track "Sequence 85" practically consumes you, with "Sequence 88" markedly sparser, allowing the rigid percussion and booming kicks centre stage. "Mover Of The Mercury" meanwhile combines linear, tribal drumming and bleak, distant drones, while "Gaining" is imbued with a surprisingly funky character a la Gesloten Cirkel, as dark synth horns snake around precision drums. The producer's allies put in a fine showing too; last seen on Mote Evolver, Spaniard Psyk adds further balance with the subaqueous dub techno of "Transito", whilst the unknown quantity Rhomb is on electrifying form with the Mike Parker-esque "Reboot". Elyas' "Camberwell" may seem to take its name from one of South London's more picturesque locations, but the slamming techno stabs and granite drums are anything but polite, recalling Shed's Equalized material; Ascion rounds things off with the trippiest cut of the release, as savage waveforms twist themselves around abstract atonal beeps.
Review: The fourth instalment in the Dead Architect series is a proper heads-down affair. It starts off with label owner Developer delivering "Utero", a visceral, pulsing groove encased in concrete kick drums. Rhomb, who has released a few EPs on Modularz, also keeps the focus on peak-time sounds with the rave stabs and subterranean bass of "Helix", which unfolds over a galloping groove. Rebekah maintains the intensity levels with the chain mail percussion and relentless rhythm of "Reflex", while CNCPT, another artist who has released before on the US imprint drops "Frazil". While it's not as fast-paced as other tracks, its dark tones and rasping hi-hats bring this split release to a close with a menacing undercurrent.
Review: Swedish producer Petter B has been knocking about for a few years now, releasing music for labels like Drumcode, and more recently, his own Bond. For this split EP on Developer's Modularz, he really lets loose, delivering two huge steel slabs of warehouse techno. On the flip is Rhomb, a fledging producer who debuted on Modularz last year providing one production to a four-track EP featuring Psyk and Developer. For this EP he delivers a steamy and dub-driven "Output", while "Glitch" is militant with a horror-thematic break down that's silenced by more booming techno beats. This is a huge record.
Review: This is Rhomb's third outing on Developer's label, but it's the first release that he hasn't shared with a peer. Listening to "Rebus", which unfolds to tense clicks and foreboding textures that linger over its bass-heavy rhythm, it sounds like this solo flight was well deserved. Rhomb's star quality is reinforced by "Worn Out Places", where he shifts styles to deliver a bleep heavy, nickel-plated percussive workout. "Run In Circles" sees a deeper departure into that sound, with the track's dubbed out, hypnotic groove recalling Silent Servant's contributions to Sandwell District. "Bullet Train" marks another change, but this time it's towards the dense, drum-heavy approach favoured by Modularz' owner.
Review: Having impressed with releases on Developer's Modularz label, Yan Cook now brings his Rhomb project to the ARTS imprint. "Artefact" is a hypnotic roller, featuring high-frequency electronic blips exploding over a robust, menacing rhythm. "21" sees Cook venture farther down this direction, with jagged string stabs fired like arrows over tough drums and a relentless, looped groove. The title track marks a shift in direction: while it is also primed for club use, it has a less intense feeling thanks to its tranced out melodies and acidic undercurrents. Consolidating this shift towards a deeper sound is "Lima", where the sublime synths and lean rhythm sound similar to Petar Dundov's reflective techno.
Review: Apart from boasting one of the best ever names for a series, the second in the Dead Architect Series sees a wide range of sounds represented. Christian Wunsch's "Tilmun" is a killer peak time affair, its distorted beats and metal bar riffs sounding like it came from a horrific dystopia. Datura Dilema's "Illuminance" is less abrasive but just as hypnotic, with heavy dub beats underpinning a rolling, hypnotic groove. Wunsch's other contribution, "Marduk", sees him opt for a more considered approach, as he delivers a stripped back, stepping rhythm. Rounding out the release is Rhomb's excellent "System C01d", an understated but hypnotic deep techno late night groove.