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: Coming completely out of nowhere, this collaborative album between two of dubstep's most revered producers is not only one of this year's best examples of the genre, but some of the best dubstep to emerge since the demise of Shackleton and Appleblim's Skull Disco label in 2008. In a landscape increasingly dominated by the sounds of genre hopping post-dubstep, this album is a timely reminder of the dark spaces dubstep once inhabited; "Jellybones" for instance utilises eastern percussion manipulated to increasing degrees of mind-warping confusion, whilst "Levitation" weaves furious rhythms around radiophonic weirdness, while closer "Monks On The Rum" is a gripping exercise in tension, contrasting cut-glass percussion with a hesitant bass. But for all the structural complexity of these tracks, for example in "Rooms Within a Room", which weaves a brooding string intro and sampled choir around traditional dubstep atmospheres, the pair have never sounded so focused. Essential.
Review: With one single from pioneering producer Shackleton having already emerged on his Woe To The Septic Heart! Label this year in the shape of the synthesis-based Freezing Opening Thawing, he makes a swift return with the first installment of the Deliverance Series. Fans of his last work will be right at home with the minimal, almost Villalobos-esque sounds of "Beat His Command", whose wiry arpeggio seems capable of tunnelling its way directly into your brain. "Vor Und Zuruck" continues the synthetic choir motif of its associate, melding Shackleton's trademark percussive bounce with an almost weightless structure and progressively psychedelic structure that sounds like a digitised acid trip. This is still recognisably Shackleton, but it sounds like he's rebuilt his sound from the ground up.
Endless Memento/Regression/Wading Through The Underworld - (14:22) 65 BPM
The Future Is Hurt/Dirt & Fields - (15:50) 68 BPM
Hinter Der Vitrine - (14:14) 98 BPM
Our Sharpened Blade/Rid Yourself Of The Parasites/Endless Longing - (19:21) 65 BPM
Review: For his latest full-length, post-dubstep innovator turned dystopian soundscape specialist Shackleton has joined forces with British-German singer-songwriter Anika. Her drowsy, chilling tones provide the perfect foil for the producer's alternately paranoid and ethereal musical compositions; stretched-out pagan epics that sit somewhere between the soundtrack for The Wicker Man, the wind-swept ambience of Firecracker's Mac Talla Nan Craeg - compilation, and the experimental sound collages of the Music Concrete movement. It makes for a heady, intoxicating and at times otherworldly listening experience, even if it features numerous pastoral elements. Prepare to be thrilled and scared in equal measure
Review: The original version of "Deadman" is a tense, dense affair that skirts on the edges of dance floor accessibility, but is chiefly concerned with setting a tone rather than delivering instantaneous gratification. Admittedly, there are pummelling tribal drums and rolling percussion at the heart of the arrangement, but they act as a facilitator for the eerie textures and the almost detached-sounding vocal intoning "everyone starts from point one, no one Honest Jon's have recruited Roger Robinson and Kevin Martin to contribute a remix as King Midas Sound and their "death dub" version certainly lives up to its title. Dispensing entirely with the already tenuous dance floor link, the duo conjure up foggy textures that sound more malignant than anything the current wave of dub techno producers could muster, and use them as the basis for an eerie, childlike vocal - like the creepy kid from "The Sixth Sense" movie on qualudes. Finally, the crackle remix provides some light relief, with tiny, chiming bells tinkling through an abstract take characterised by soft-focus edges.
Review: Representing a spread of some of the strongest operators in the ever-more fractious world of electronica, Bleep celebrates ten years of operations with this strong package of exclusive tracks. The styles run the gamut from nervy droning sub-techno courtesy of Gas through to Nathan Fake's charmingly fuzzy melodic bombast. Notable inclusions come from Machinedrum with an excellent line in live drum funk, Autechre refiguring the slow jam as a hallucinatory march, and Shackleton turning out some fiery percussive patterns. When the cast also includes Lone, Oneohtrix Point Never, Untold and many more besides, who needs any more convincing?
Review: The third instalment of Hotflush's compilation series drops and it's a seven year flashback to the label's most fractured, far-minded roots as Scuba's label explores their foundations on the fringes of bass and left sided echelons of dubstep. Cuts like Jamie Vex'd's almost p-funk level of bullishness on "Twitch", the loose jazz drums of Elemental's "Sparkle", even looser jazz horns of Jazzsteppa's still-filthy "Two" and Si Begg's baggy, bulbous rhythm on "Angel" represent Hotflush's consistent surges past the very forefront of the once-burgeoning genre, joining the dots and helping make sense of the stern techno cityscapes the label constructs today.
Review: Take a look down the tracklist of Fabric 20th anniversary release and you'll be met with a generation of artists that have helped shape the institution in all manner of ways, be it legendary DJ sets or residencies to previous releases to the FabricLive mix compilations and so on. Inside you'll find a who's who of genre influencers, be they Margaret Dygas and Marcel Dettmann with their European minimal and techno connection, to the more left field and UK-centralised club sounds from Pinch & Trim, Call Super and Special Request. Classics have been leafed from Source Direct, UNKLE and Shackleton, with B.Traits, Maya Jane Coles and Daniel Avery rankable alongside Sascha, Nina Kraviz and Groove Armada in filling a most influential time capsule of club music and DJ culture history.
Special Request - "Codename Turbo Nutter" - (5:41) 85 BPM
Source Direct - "Vigilante" - (7:25) 113 BPM
J Majik - "The Lost Tribe" - (5:16) 162 BPM
Shackleton - "Drawn And Quartered" - (8:11) 136 BPM
Pinch & Trim - "That Wasn't It" - (2:45) 128 BPM
Daniel Avery - "Whilst We've Got Metal In Our Blood" - (4:02) 145 BPM
Mantra - "Embers" - (5:24) 127 BPM
B.Traits - "Mameya" - (6:08) 126 BPM
Groove Armada - "Wesley Nightshade" - (6:11) 118 BPM
Unkle - "Catch Me When I Fall" (Fabric Club mix) - (10:49) 115 BPM
Review: This second 20 Years Of Fabric compilation presents a new arranged selection of the defining network of artists that have come to call fabric home. Taking in deep and atmospheric loops from Groove Armada to the light and sprinkled chords of Call Super, the sound of the Farringdon trips through the live and acoustic percussions of Margaret Dygas, the devastating hardcore cuts of Special Request and pure strads of drum and bass by Source Direct and J Magick. More recent tracks include the epic classicalisms of B.Traits acid-flecked "Mameya" to the industrial and dubbed out techno from Marcel Dettmann and Imogen. And not to be overlooked of course are bonafide classics from Unkle, Shackleton, Cassy and Sascha with "Comet Chaser".