Review: What's so striking about the tracklisting for Gold Panda's entry into the DJ Kicks canon is its diversity, erring towards a more stripped-down, experimental kind of techno but ranging across Drexciya, Zomby and Bok Bok. Despite this erraticism, the flow of the mix is relatively smooth to begin with, but around Christopher Rau's "Do Little", the mix drifts off into a strange and sparse minimal hinterland. By the time the wall of chords in Giuseppe Ielasi's "2" hits you, it's hard to remember where it all began. In that sense, Gold Panda has served up one of the most daring DJ Kicks compilations in a long time. Recommended.
Review: Delsin is one of techno music's most established operations, but it deserves kudos for promoting new talents. Most of the acts that feature on this second Inertia sampler on its Ann Aimee offshoot were unknown two years ago, but as their contributions demonstrate, their work is deserving of a bigger audience. Marcelus's "24/7" is a strafing minimal track guided to a climax by subtle filters. Sigha's "Finding Myself" also features lithe metallic rhythms, but the chiming bells lend it a more atmospheric feeling, while Area 41's "CNTCT" is a lethal concoction of seared acid bass, warped rhythms and doubled up claps. However, despite the preponderance of so many new acts, the most intense track is the noisy, distorted analogue howl of Redshape's "Static."
Review: While it might be tricky in these open-minded times for Scuba to shatter preconceptions the way that he did with his Sub:Stance mix a few years ago, this compilation should be seen really as a celebration of the man himself as a DJ. After launching with a decidedly minimalist approach, the mix meanders between pacey techno, bluesy broken beat and rolling dubstep tempos. At times the flow feels unsteady, but then it just rings true that he put this mix together for himself. Without a dancefloor to look after, who knows where many of our favourite DJs might take us?
Review: Very few can do po-faced, gothic techno as eloquently as the UK's dark lord Sigha, the Our Circula sound main man returning on Belgian hard techno imprint Token with the rather restrained "Christ Figures" which makes up for the kind of aggression most usually associated with him (and the label), with its exploration in tension, texture and functionality. Second offering "Puritan" explores the same path of dystopian hypnotism in the tradition of greats like Mike Parker or Donato Dozzy; strap yourself in for this one, it's one wild journey!
Review: Hotflush alumnus Sigha has long been a masterful exponent of dark and gothic techno, developing a signature style that puts pitch-black textures and paranoid atmospherics at the heart of the action. Metabolism is the producer's second full length, and his first since joining Token in 2015. The 12-track set is in a similar vein to his previous work, with the 12 tracks flitting between deep and intricate explorations, more forthright workouts, and clandestine cuts that shy away from easy categorization. It's a formula that guarantees consistently impressive results.
Review: At last, our UK compatriot Sigha reappears on the excellent Avian label, pretty much the most consistent techno label to have surfaced over the last five years...and we deeply thank Shifted and Ventress for their continuity. Techno Derivatives is more daring than Sigha's other work for the imprint, where the EP is split into six parts, six segments of broken analogue techno - not for chin-strokers but for open-minded dancers! The beats are grainy, almost sandy, and they rarely fall into a steady 4/4 pattern as usually expected from the both the artist and the label. The tunes almost feel like pieces of noise loops that have been torn down and reassembled into some sort of techno flavour and there's a clear sense of rising climax, where the stuttering strands of percussion grow and retract with utter ease. This LP is something else, a real breath of fresh air in a genre that can become so easily sterile. Ya need this!
Review: Given his ability to mix the esoteric and ethereal with the bone crushingly intense, it was only a matter of time before Sigha released on Token. Indeed "Our Father" sounds like a perfect distillation of the aesthetic that drives Kr!z label. Hypnotic, crystalline synths break and splinter over a fuzzy low end and dense beats, and this fragile union is held together by blasts of jagged percussion. However, the UK producer departs from the script on "A Better Way of Living". One-note stabs unfold over dense tribal beats and a rough, filtered rhythm that recalls the best of Lost and Cosmic Recordings.
Review: The Purification Loops may be Sigha's debut proper on Avian, but the Berlin-based producer is no stranger to the label operated by Shifted and Ventress. There have been numerous Sigha remixes on Avian releases since the label was established, and Avian have also revealed he was behind the self-styled "S & M techno tools" project A Vision Of Love. Some six tracks deep, The Purification Loops find Sigha "blurring the lines between the dance floor and the ritual chamber" and it fits right in with the direction explored recently by anonymous Swedish duo SHXCXCHCXSH on their Avian return. Prolonged repetition seems to be the order of the day, even if this takes a more meditative form on "Loop Three" or club ready in others - "Loop Four" and "Five" seem destined to test the structures of the more heady techno clubs.
Review: Sigha returns to his own Our Circula Sound label with a four-track EP called A Series Of Desecrations. Like all of James Shaw's music, his titles are as colourful as his music, like the tough minimalisms of "352 Lashes (Ideal)" or the spaced-out "Hard Lines Soft Skin". "My Blood Is Gold" is a statically super-charged, noisier version of the EP's opener, and the same can be said about "Grace" when compared to "Hard Lines Soft Skin".
Morning Star (Marco Shuttle remix) - (7:45) 159 BPM
Review: Taken from Sigha's second album which was released this year on Token, this package of heavyweight remixes cast a hypnotic spell. Wata Igarashi delivers two versions of "Black Massing". The first, the 'Dusk Falls' version, is a dense workout that features a dynamic interplay between the pulsating bass and eerie, textured chords. The second 'Daylight Breaks' take sees the Japanese producer drop mesmerising, tranced out melodies over a bleepy groove. By contrast, Marco Shuttle delivers a droning, low tempo version of "Morning Star", replete with late night squalls, while at the other end of the spectrum, Function turns "Down" into a droning dance floor workout, led by spiky hats and a tunnelling groove.
Review: Hot on the heels of last year's Metabolism album for Token, Sigha drops a new four-track EP. "Circular" is a pounding, bleep-heavy rhythm that resounds to powerful drums. On "Gliss", the UK producer ramps up the intensity levels with droning riffs and a dense rhythm that come across like a contemporary, more refined take on vintage Steve Bicknell. "Flare" is less obtuse and experimental, with Sigha dropping hypnotic tonal bleeps over a pounding groove, in much the same manner as Mike Parker's output. Rounding off the EP is "Hum", where Sigha goes deeper and deeper into experimental sound scapes.
Review: The In Silent Series label is the brainchild of Berlin-based artist Mike Jefford aka Positive Centre, who took the title for the imprint from his 2014 debut album on Sigha'a label. Now Jefford has returned the favour by tapping Sigha to contribute to this split release. "Mother" crackles to dissected industrial rhythms, but is also interspersed with evocative ambient layers. By contrast, SNTS delivers the dense, stepping techno of "Fearless" and on "From Function to Form", Dadub lets loose with a steely, industrial breaker. Jefford himself also contributes to the release, with the multi-layered ambience of "In Extracts" bringing the EP to a dreamy conclusion.
Review: The people who got to know Niels 'Delta Funktionen' Luinenberg through his ponderous Electromagnetic Radiation release or the adeptly programmed warm-up sets posted online may be surprised by the approach on Inertia. However, its direction could hardly be described as unexpected. The second volume of Electromagnetic Radiation and the grimy warehouse techno of Silhouette make perfectly clear that the Dutch DJ/producer likes to play it hard as well as deep. In that regard, Niels is not alone, and this mix, which consists solely of exclusive material, shows that a whole new wave of European techno producers is on the same wavelength. The mixture of the musical and forceful is audible from the outset, with textured chords unfolding over an angular rhythm on Sascha Rydell's "Rainy Days", a few tracks later as Cosmin TRG does his best mid to late 90s Ian Pooley techno impersonation over a rolling, warm bass and midway through on Peter Van Hoesen's "Last One at 1080", where evocative but eerie pads build to the backdrop of a prowling groove. It's a stunning finish to a mix that effortlessly balances the hard and the soulful.
TRG & Dub U - "Losing Marbles" (2562 remix) - (6:38) 138 BPM
Scuba - "Reverse" - (4:29) 137 BPM
Sigha - "Rawww" - (10:26) 124 BPM
Review: Hotflush head honcho Scuba compiles sounds from his revered imprint's early days which demonstrate its sound merging with the then fledgling dynamics of UK bass and the subterranean energy of Berlin techno. No doubt influenced by his move there and the highly successful Sub:stance night he curated at Berghain for a few years. Like many retrospective compilations there are some greatest hits for sure ("Hard Boiled"/"Remembrance"), as well as some near misses (Abucs "Heavy Metrics"/Ei Ono "Kuru Shinju") but the latter sure sound better the second time around. Some killer remixes too, such as Surgeon's menacing rendition of "Ruptured" and Marcel Dettmann's seething take on "From Within" which we shouldn't forget about.
Review: Token celebrates ten years in business with this excellent compilation. Unlike some imprints that use a significant milestone to simply churn out existing material, Kr!z label has taken an unusual approach by getting the label's regular contributors to collaborate with its DJ supporters. This leads to the dense broken beat of "Bloom", a track authored by Sigha and Rodhad, while on "Detonation Vertex", the Dystopian boss teams up with one of Token's core artists, O [Phase], for a tight, pulsating techno groove. O [Phase] also works with Antigone, the French producer, who is one of the label's most recent additions, for the peak time, steely rhythm of "Icosahedron Flood". Of course, the compilation also features Token's boss, with Kr!z dropping the melodic, spiky breaks of "Amalgam" with Inigo Kennedy and the detuned banger, "Comets", with CTRLS. Here's to another 10 years.