Review: Martin Atjazz Iveson has enjoyed a truly unique career. Having scored the music for the original PS Tomb Raider, he tired of the gaming world and began to explore the extents of soul and its relation to electronic music. Nearly 20 years of singles, four albums and heaps of stunning, subversive reversions have followed, and R2 have compiled 33 of his most remarkable rubs right here. Showcasing his range, here we find Atjazz at his most upbeat and tribal (King Britt's "Our Time"), his most lounge-like and smooth (Bob Sinclar's "The Ghetto"), his most tripped out, dark and electronic (Comfort Fit's "Ask The Devil"), his most percussive and carnivalesque (Kerri Chandler's "Rain") and his most dreamy and deep (Musaria's "Moment"). A celebration of a flawless repertoire so far, and a calling card for all future productions, Atjazz's unique career continues...
Review: Confusingly, this is actually the second full-length round up of exclusive tracks from the DJ Kicks mix series (the first, with the same title, was released in 2006). It gathers together notable exclusive tracks from some of the many DJs and producers who've contributed to the series in recent years. It makes for fascinating and enjoyable listening, flitting between sounds and styles at a breakneck pace. Highlights include jazz-flecked deep house from Motor City Drum Ensemble and Henrik Schwarz, dextrous dancefloor jazz from Four Tet, a Hall & Oates impersonation from Chromeo, booming bass music from Scuba and a dash of bleary-eyed New York disco from The Juan MacLean. Oh, and a decidedly bleep-heavy two-step rinse out from Photek & Kru. Check it.
Review: In the last several years, German producer Lorenz Brunner has established himself as one of the most defining voices in techno with his singular sound. You just know a Recondite track when you hear one: dark/epic and melodic journeys that have brought ultimate euphoria to many of the world's biggest dancefloors and courtesy of a who's who of labels. From Innervisions and Life & Death through to Dystopian, to name but a few. Another revered institution that has championed his work of course, is Hotflush, and the brilliant Bavarian is their next label stalwart to be thrust under the spotlight as part of their Update series. The much celebrated DRGN / Wist 365 EP from 2012 appears, in addition to ?2014's Caldera and last years Phalanx EP. Plus, not one, but two remixes of label boss Scuba's "The Hope".
Review: SCB had been an alias for Scuba's dance floor-focused techno tracks, but as Caibu and the EPs that preceded it demonstrate, it is now also a vehicle for the UK producer to explore different styles and to articulate his concerns about modern society. Tracks like the bleep-heavy "Test Tubes" and the storming, big room "Manufactured Consent" - the title a riff on the classic Chomsky tome - show that the project remains synonymous with killer techno, but Caibu succeeds largely by showcasing SCB's other side. "The Cut" is a shimmering, widescreen piece of music, the tone-laden breaks of "Freedom for the Fifty" sees Scuba seek justice for a wronged group, while the warbling, off-centre "Extinct" is an understated sound track for end of times.
Review: In the three years since his last full-length outing, Personality, Scuba's stock has continued to rise, nudging him further towards to higher echelons of DJ culture. The fact that he now plays colossal rooms and festival headline slots can be heard in the more dancefloor-minded material on Claustrophobia. While some of the best material is more downtenpo and circumspect - see the heady ambience of "Transcience", the spinetingling wooziness of "All I Think About Is Death" and the immersive dubstep of "Needle Phobia" - it's the stripped-back techno throb of "PCP", hissing rhythms of "Television" and the progressive house inspired hedonism of "Why You Feel So Low" that will get most attention.
Review: The latest release from Hotflush boss Scuba is reminiscent of the sound he made a few years back under his SCB alias. Irrespective of the reasoning to release under his own name, the fact remains that "PCP" is a hugely effective, dubby techno affair. Based on a shuffling rhythm and featuring some insistent vocal samples, it sees the UK producer embrace a spacious, textured sound that will nonetheless work in a big room. The remix comes from Mathew Dear's Audion project, and doesn't disappoint. Fusing the grindhouse bleep and blips of big room techno with insistent, stepping rhythms, it makes for an unusual but rewarding reshape.
Review: After time spent enjoying the instant gratification of electro and pop styles on his more recent output, Scuba is making a return to more introspective matters on his impending Claustrophobia LP, and he precedes it with this atmospheric taster. It certainly harks back to the melancholic atmosphere of albums like A Mutual Antipathy and Triangulation, albeit with a strong thread of Berlin techno restraint as more commonly witnessed in his SCB alias. With its probing low end and taut piano and string arrangements, there are a lot of subtle dimensions to this track which on first listen seems like a simple proposition. As ever, Scuba refuses to rest in one place.
Review: If 2013 was the year that classic house made a comeback, it could also be viewed as the time when artists like Scuba drew on this source to drive their own creativity. That's not to suggest that Update - a "story so far" compilation from Scuba's back catalogue aimed at newcomers - is all about Kerri Chandler grooves or Larry Heard's drums. Indeed, tracks like "The Hope" and "Never" see the UK producer head in a decidely commerical direction and on "So You Think You're Special" and "Before" he turns his hand to slowburn ambient pop. But there is an underlying element from yesteryear on Update, be that on the soulful vocals of "Adrenalin" or the sweeping keys and dramatic break down of "You Got Me". 2013 belonged to classic house, but Scuba's ability to adapt was never far behind.
All I Think About Is Death (Radio Slave remix) - (12:22) 126 BPM
Why You Feel So Low (Function remix) - (7:15) 129 BPM
All I Think About Is Death (Radio Slave Atmos) - (4:24) 126 BPM
Review: Ah yes, we knew this was coming - off the back of his latest Claustrophobia LP, Hotflush bossman and general tech don, Scuba, has his "All I Think About Is Death" tune remixed and morphed by a bunch of serious heavy-hitters, potentially two of the biggest techno artists of the last ten years. First up, Rekids boss Radio Slave adds some of his signature stutter to the tune - the percussion work is simply perfect on the dancefloor - and then throws down another Atmos mix in a semi beatless stance...gorgeous. US techno emperor, Function, delivers his usual masterful craft on the remix of "Why You Feel So Low", a sublime and painfully FUNCTIONal techno bomb.
Review: It seems Paul Rose can do no wrong. With a successful career that has gone from strength to strength through its many phases in the last several years he returns with another masterclass, peak time production taken from his new album Claustrophobia. "Black On Black" goes back to his trance inspired explorations of a few years ago, hypnotising you into submission with its epic synth lead while doom laden Carl Craig style synth stabs lurk in the background. Speaking of all things dark and apocalyptic, who better than getting Berghain and Figure main man Len Faki in for a remix. No surprises here; he turns in a version just as epic than the original.
Transience (Tuff City Kids remix) - (7:48) 128 BPM
Family Entertainment (A Phase remix) - (6:46) 127 BPM
Transience - (4:24) 120 BPM
Family Entertainment - (2:32) 126 BPM
Review: Paul Rose gets the remix treatment from two of house and techno's most respected acts. In its original format, the title track is a blissed out ambient composition, equal parts evocative and atmospheric. Tuff City Kids use these musical textures as a backdrop against which they overlay a pulsing, throbbing bassline and churning chords, turning it into a classic deep house jam. Phase's reconstruction of "Family Entertainment" is even more radical. While the original version's half-heard squeals are not audible on the Token artist's remix, the tough broken beat arrangement nonetheless seethes with an underlying feeling of menace.
Review: Within UK dance music's expansive circles, there are few who have offered as much as Scuba over the years, who here returns to his beloved Hotflush household for a stunning new project by the name of 'In Retrograde'. This project sees him traverse a complete spectrum of electronic music, with a half time dubstep feel being the central yarn in its tapestry. From the distorted utterings of 'Buzzsaw' and funky inspired flavours of 'Gyroscope' to the more soundscape led compositions of 'Entrospect' and 'Ants', this project boasts a wealth of musical expertise, showcasing a depth of dubstep influences and offshoots.
Review: A marked difference from his most recent Scuba originals, 'Expectations' signals a contrasting path for sonic exploration by the Hotflush chief - covering house, garage and rave sounds. He references classic Stateside house of the early '90s on the title track to stunning effect, before heading down an introspective route on the evocative acid epic "Voices" (including Rose's own vocals) and going deeper on the glassy-eyed and melancholic vibe of "Burn Out" - calling to mind his earlier output several years ago under the SCB alias. It also features recordings of live acoustic riffs by the artist. Cover art by Lando (Decadence Comics).
Review: While Hotflush may have mutated into many different forms in recent years, most would still link Scuba's label to the heady days of experimentation that fuelled dubstep's emergence. This compilation hones in on the time when wider influences were seeping into the genre with thrilling results, from Elemental's rough drum break machinations to the seminal Vex'd remix of Toasty's "The Knowledge". Elsewhere Loefah's masterful wobble on his remix of Search And Destroy is still unparalleled while Walsh & Kromestar and Jazzsteppa brought the lighter, roots influenced vibes. As a document of dubstep in full bloom, it's a worthwhile reminder for those who were there, and a valuable insight for those who weren't.