Review: Joining forces with producers outside his Visionquest hometown, Ryan Crosson showcases a pair of collaborations that further tap into the sleek and sexy funk of the label he runs. "Angel", penned with the Tale Of Us boys, is an urgent mover with peppy drums and searching dashes of synth clipped into dynamic and ear snagging arrangements. "Head Above Water" reaches for the moody vocal talents of Aquarius Heaven, going for a techy construction that keeps the beat minimal while the melodics come in subtle pulsing tones that create a deeply hypnotic concoction perfect for the blurry end of the night.
Review: Richie Hawtin's label has long been associated with the minimal sound, but this release frees itself from that aesthetic. The title track is stripped back, but it serves up a new take on classic electro thanks to its shuffling 808s and woozy, reflective synths. Tale of Us return to a more conventional approach on "Discochord" but they still avoid hiccupping mnml sounds and the squelchy acid line is accompanied by atmospheric synths. Finally, "Lost City" is more grimy and nocturnal, but again the menacing 808s and reflective synths make it sound a million miles away from the label's trademark sound.
Review: Tale Of Us have revolutionised their Afterlife label over the last few years. Once upon a time, their imprints were about their specific music, a minimalistic take on deep house and soul-ridden tech. This new EP, however, is a perfect example of their recent branching out, with the opening remix of "Monument" being carefully re-stylised by Magazine's head honcho, the ever-impressive Barnt (recently of Hinge Finger recruitment). European techno veteran Stephan Bodzin comes through with a comparatively deeper, dreamier wave of sleek techno, guided here by melancholic male vocals, whereas the moodier Adriatique hands in a much colder, more calculated techno reinterpretation. Solid.
Review: Following on from last year's second Consciousness compilation, Afterlife returns with an even more ambitious project. Label owners Tale of Us deliver a suitably melodic track, "Nova", but there are also a series of contributions from high-profile artists. Sterac's "Universum" is an expertly weighted, stripped back techno affair, while on "Phase In", Edit Select takes it deeper with a throbbing, tranced out groove that is like a more refined take on early Plus 8 material. Completing the techno triumvirate is Scuba's SCB project. Now also a vehicle for the UK producer's socially conscious thoughts, "Tide Slide", which is possibly a reference to the effects of climate change, sees him deliver a frosty techno groove.
Review: Tale of Us launch their Afterlife label in style with the Realm of Consciousness compilation. Bringing together some of the best-known names in contemporary techno as well as a group of newcomers, it moves effortlessly between esoteric moods. Tale of Us contribute the ambient intro, while Monoloc and Woo York are both in more mellow form than usual on the melodic "Phoenix" and "Poseidon" respectively. Meanwhile, Recondite contributes the sad melodies and throbbing bass of "Murphy's Law" and Locked Groove balances supernaturally beautiful hooks with powerful bass pulses on "Emeralds". Even more dance floor-focused tracks, like Obscure Shape & SHDW's "Die Wiederkehr", are filled with trancey melancholia.