Review: Reactions to the news that Marcel Fengler was going to mix Berghain 05 focused on the fact that he is the club's most overlooked resident. This is to do Fengler a disservice and to understand the club in the narrowest context possible. If anything, the trajectory Fengler follows here defines the broad brush strokes played out in the Berlin club. There's the eerie intro which moves from Dettmann's vocal version of Emika's "Count Backwards" into Peter Van Hoesen's spacey, bleeping "Axis Mundi". Classic sounds always form an integral part of Fengler's approach and this is evident on Octogen's widescreen yet menacing electro reshape of Terrence Dixon, the wiry 90s minimalism of Ratio and in the alternate version of Secret Cinema's chord-heavy early 90s classic "Timeless Altitude". In between these sounds, Fengler proves his technical prowess, moving effortlessly from the drones and broken beats of Dr Walker's take on Byteone and the Regis version of Tommy Four Seven's "G" into straighter, albeit bass-heavy techno and house from Duplex - remixing Gerd- and LB Dub Corp, who delivers a new, multi-layered take on Fengler's own "Thwack". Put simply, Fengler has that rare talent that most DJs lack - he can put together seemingly disparate tracks without losing the flow. The club he resides at provides Fengler with a blank canvas and this mix is his masterpiece.
Review: The second Skudge 12" bomb "Melodrama/Ontic" finally sees a digital release after a good few years of anticipation...this is especially exciting seeing as the original vinyl is now near impossible to find and extremely sought after! "Melodrama" is full-on Skudge mode: an echoing female voice is pushed forwards by their signature fist-pumping kick drums and sparse bass lines - an irresistibly seductive and hummable dub-filtered rhythm for fans of Basic Channel or Shed. "Ontic" is another progressive, analogue-powered Skudge anthem - grainy hi-hats, 909 kicks and murky, reverberant bass lines are all swallowed by a stunning backdrop of pads. A definite TIP!
Review: The second chapter of Skudge remixes hits the digital realm with a suitably classy line up. The inaugural Skudge remix EP housed one of our favourite reworks of 2010 in Aardvarck's relentless regroove of "Convolution" and the same track is reworked here. Marcel Fengler, no stranger to creating a wall of reverberating sound as resident at Berghain, delivers a remix propelled along by a heavy throbbing bass line. Around this, he crafts abrasive tones, piercing kicks and heavily compressed vocal edits that have a distinctly 2-step vibe. Expect a messy dancefloor at the midpoint descent into the bass line throb. Up next veteran techno don Aubrey tackles "Melodrama", reimagining the track as a bustling Basic Channel hypno groove replete with busy percussion, industrial tones, heavily phased vocal snippets and generally harsh bass scratches.
Review: Although Skudge's uniquely deep brand of techno stands apart from almost everyone else on the scene, they certainly know how to pick their remixers. This first entry into their remix series sees two of jacking underground techno's unsung heroes taking turns to offer their take on Skudge's sublime originals. First up, Dutch oddball Aardvarck reworks "Convolution" with skeletal beats playing off against warped vocals and submerged chords, while Detroit's current contemporary master of tracky analogue techno Jared Wilson provides his raw take on "Overture", combining powerfully unfiltered bass and a savage 909 assault.
Review: Finally available digitally, Skudge Records offer up the Swedish analog fetishists' first single, which has more than stood the test of time. The dense, shuffling beats of "Convolution" sound similar to those on Martyn's last album, albeit a few degrees denser, while the evocative female vocal that lingers in the background could have been borrowed from a hardcore record which itself sampled an old house track. Just in case any listener thought that Skudge had a 'funky' side to their sound, they then weigh in with "Contamination". Still one of their hardest tracks, its tough, metallic beats provide the basis for insistent stabs and an acid line that embodies malicious intent. Infection has rarely sounded so alluring.
Review: It would have been difficult to imagine an act as talented as Skudge indefinitely following the approach of their first few EPs. Indeed, as the Swedish duo told Juno Plus in our exclusive interview with them a few months back, their influences and more importantly, their ambitions stretch further than Basic Channel dub techno. That said, "Surplus" doesn't mark a radical change in style, nor does it herald an artistic volte face from the pair. What it does achieve rather craftily however is to subtly push the Skudge sound towards a more wide-ranging place. "Void" is more closely aligned to modern day sounds as its insistent keys build to an acid-tinged, filtered climax. It's Skudge's most accessible track to date and it is likely to appeal to DJs who so far have not played their releases. However, it is unlikely that Skudge will become the preserve of big-room house, something that is reinforced by the remix of "Void". Ironically, Conforce's version is the track most in keeping with the duo's original approach. Based on robust, dubby beats and powered by driving hats, the sick, underlying acid line is a reminder that Skudge's roots are still firmly planted in the underground. Excellent release.
Review: Here's us waxing lyrical about the third Interia sampler being the best of the lot, and then the fourth one lands on our laps and now we're all confused. Skudge, Conforce, Cosmin TRG and Sascha Rydell all contribute tracks here, with Swedish duo Skudge opening with the sparse rattle of "Pollution", which is ably supported by the twitching minimalism of "When It Appeared" by Conforce. Up next, Cosmin TRG adds to his growing techno oeuvre with "Plaisir Interdit", which, much like his recent material on 50 Weapons, combines restless, swinging hats with bowel-shaking low frequencies. Finally, Sascha Rydell (the only artist on this 12" who hasn't released an album this year) drops "Rainy Days", and rather then being overawed by the esteemed company, he revels in it, turning in a majestic slice of atmospheric, contemplative techno.
Review: For the fourth part of the Dekmantel anniversary series, Skudge and San Proper go head to head with two varying levels of dark techno business. Skudge are in fine form, delivering one of their subtly melodic tracks that work around one repeated and tweaked refrain. San Proper spices things up nicely on his "Rattle (Station 2 Station)", as a grinding, industrial beat mixes with dense vocals, synths, speech samples and plenty more. The end result is a perfect example of the kind of steamy, sweaty haze of late night damage that Mr Proper has made his own.
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.