Review: With records for Ovum, Pets Recordings and REKIDS of late, Mathias Kaden's quintessential festival sound makes it back to Radio Slave's label following last year's Liberate Drums EP. Delving into synthy, dub techno territory with "Substance" (DJ Pete we hope you're watching), the rest of the record finds itself rooted in classic strands of bigger room Detroit techno and European minimalism, alongside a touch of electro and industrial synth wave in "Control Your Mind" - thinned down and stripped back by Marcel Dettmann's remix. Littered with tougher elements of rave and banging tech house alongside solid bassline progressions in "Conviction" and "Anticipation" too, Mathias Kaden helps us remember what it's going to be like when festivals resume once more. Downloaded for Richie Hawtin!
Review: Glasgow-based label Avoidant deserves kudos for bringing together some of the most respected names in electro for this compilation. Annie Hall and Versalife represent deeper ends of the spectrum, with Hall's bubbling "Meido Estetico" in particular standing out. Carl Finlow drops a lean, industrial funk workout in the form of "Syncopated Automated", while on the compilation's title track, The Advent teams up with Zein Ferreira on a bleak trip through discordant synths and popping rhythms. Sharing space on the compilation are label regulars like CYRK, who drop the epic melodies and gurgling bass of "Block" and Kronos Device, a project from Bass Junkie / Dexorcist, which sees concrete weight bass drums connected to wild electronic stabs on "Crisis Point".
Review: It's hard to believe that after all these years one of the founding forces in Detroit ghetto tech is only now, in 2020, releasing his debut album. Well...at 44 tracks large, maybe it's been worth the wait...coming from a man who back in the day helped set up Twilight 76 that released classics from the likes of DJs Assault, Deon and Slugo to Dave Clarke and Todd Osborne. More recently Godfather relaunched his Databass label which he now champions with an epic, straight-shootin' and unpretentious full time opus that takes in every angle of Detroit ghetto tech, be it the more contemporary, breakbeat and footwork sounds of "Smoke In The Air" to the gnarilier electro vibes of "The D". Featuring crewdem like Goodmoney G100, King Saadi, Lil Mz 313 and Parhouse to Dan Diamond in "These Strippers", Electro Beats For Freaks is bold music for bold times, but fresh as fuck.
Review: Sometime Roam Recordings and Nein artist Zakmina has been rather quiet of late, so this outing on Bristol's increasingly assured Futureboogie Recordings label is long overdue. Titke track 'Church of Madness' is pleasingly psychedelic and mind-altering, with the publicity-shy producer layering trippy acid lines, ghostly chords and wayward electronic motifs atop a chugging, Moroder style bassline and early '80s machine drums. On his accompanying 'Ezoteric Breakdance Remix', Hungarian producer Gnork re-imagines the track as a melancholic chunk of eccentric dancefloor electro. Elsewhere, 'D?j? vu' is a foreboding, strobe-lit acid chugger capable of inducing hallucinations, while 'Running Amore' is a hedonistic, timbales-sporting late-night throb-job.
Review: As we continue to celebrate the stream of releases Rotter's Golf Club have brought to us by The Woodleigh Research Facility we're endowed with three more cuts from Nina Walsh's unrivalled collaboration with Andrew Weatherall. Forever bent on their slight electro trip, the pair dial up a spooked computer in "Scattered Microworlds" next to "Moment Of Lucidity" which only emphasises the project's identity as some kind of solitary outpost conjuring up all kinds of telecommunication experiments somewhere in the southern hams of Devon country. With subtle post-punk and industrial themes weaved into the darker tones of "The Fallen", we rate this EP up there as the project's most exemplary yet.
Review: Maelstrom follows last year's Heat Wave release on Mechatronica with this fine follow-up. The title track revolves around a busy, glitchy rhythm, monstrous subs and a series of smart drops and builds, while on "Lest We Inhale", a similar approach applies, as acidic tones and bleeps are woven into the stop-start rhythm. "Lost Axis" sees Maelstrom wear his Detroit influences in plain sight, with dreamy synth textures fused with a throbbing bass, while on "Never Crash", he strips back his sound again to deliver an acid soaked banger. Closing out this varied release is the cinematic ambience of "Szdet Drops".
Review: Icelandic imprint Lagaffe Tales are back after another awesome instalment, following up a great one by label chief Jonbjorn. Their latest is the debut of one Kerr Wilson. A good friend from back in Reykjavik, he's been based out of Berlin for the past few years and is slowly building a name for himself with his ecstatic DJ performances around the city. On the 'Kids' EP he brings forth three dynamic cuts, starting out with the sensual and dusty deep house of the title track, a poignant tribute to his new home on the mesmerising electro beat of "Berlin Took My Breath Away" and closing it out with the evocative stepper "The Right Left".
Review: Carl Finlow is one of the UK's greatest electronic music producers, as this compilation demonstrates. Issued on 20:20 Vision, the label he co-founded with Back 2 Basics' Ralph Lawson, it features some of his finest electro work. On the deeper tip, there's the wonderfully mournful synths of "Anomaly" and "Equilibrium", while he veers into synth pop with the irresistibly catchy hooks and nerdy vocals on "Broken Mirror". However, that's not to detract from the weight of Finlow's catalogue, and tracks like the menacing "Nanotech" or the dense electro funk of "Mr Machine"- the title track of the bench mark 2002 album he recorded under the Silicon Scally guise - put him right up there with electro's greats.
Review: In a collaboration that's come through Snuff Trax sub-label Snuff Cuts - the Larionov & St Theodore project presents the Russian duo's third release following some deep cuts on Rotterdam Electronix and Oliver Lieb's Maschine label before that. Welcomed into the much loved Craigie Knowes fold, the duo Larionov & St Theodore fire up their SH-101s, TR-808s and 909s for this Thunderstrike EP to turn in some EBM powered electro in "Destruction Wave" alongside the murky synths of a Detroit-flavoured "Infinity Abyss". Independently, Larionov looks to '80s synth and sub-electro-pop in "Never Forever" while St Theodore's "Cursed Dreams" looks to '90s techno inspirations alongside some heavy acid trance. Strike like lightning crash like thunder.
Review: Boris Bunnik follows the Manifold long player from earlier this year with another fine Versalife release. Over four tracks, Shape Shifter sees the Dutch producer deliver the type of expansive electro that the project has become synonymous with. There's the warm, rumbling bass and eerie synth lines of "Synapse", where the Versalife project sounds at its most cinematic, while in contrast, there's the stripped back, frosty "Fractal". On the title track, Bunnik lays down metallic kicks and ticking percussion as a basis for wild, acid-led bass licks, while he rounds off this exemplary release with the eerie, layered sound scapes and glitchy percussive ticks of "Novelty".
Review: Delivering a fifth record for your stash of hardcore electro and house music wares in 2020 is DJ Haus, continuing to fly the flag high for Unknown To The Unknown during these modern times. Sending in three tracks here, a highlight almost without saying is the melodies and sweet tones of "Analog Chime" in combination with Haus' trademark gnarly acid progressions. "WiFi Network" adds a new spin to what a dial up modem might sound like in 2020 thrown amongst some splashes of Drexciyian electro while the title-track is a righteous piece of deep sea dwelling computer music. Dial up. Plug in. Download.
Review: With most altruistic projects focused on supporting Covid-related causes, it's heartening to see that the Craigie Knowes label continues to support the War Child charity. This fourth instalment is an exemplary volume, and features expansive, wide-eyed ambient pieces from Night Tide's Eluize and The Burrell Connection sitting alongside the twitchy, acid-infused breaks of Rudolf C's "Crystalliser". Scene veteran Warlock also contributes, with the busy, noisy electro of "Shock Headed" - which is similar in style to "Real Seeker", Stellar Om Source's contribution - while on "Transitions", Innershades steers the compilation back towards a more melodic direction. While these tracks all stand out in their own right, the fact that they are supporting a good cause makes them even more precious.
Review: Having previously proved his mettle with a pair of albums in quick succession ((2015's "Projections" and 2016's "Love Songs: Part 2"), Archie Fairhrust AKA Romare decided to take a little longer to produce his third album for Ninja Tune. The thing is, you can tell. Full to bursting with great ideas and canny fusions of various strains of house, techno, electro and IDM style electronica, the album's nine tracks bristle with sparkling melodies, raw analogue basslines, occasional choice samples (see the bluesy "The River") and beats that demand further attention. The plentiful highlights include picturesque downtempo number "Deliverance", sleazy and rave-ready opener "Gone", cheery upbeat workout "Heaven" and quietly jazzy downbeat closer "Home".
Review: Having recently contributed to the label's War Child compilation series, Eluize returns to Craigie Knowes for her second album. "Ennui" kick starts the release in dreamy mode, before she focuses on a darker sound with the pummelling kicks and wild acid spirals of "Relinquish". On "Wasn't Ready", she keeps her focus on acid influences, this time with hushed vocals underpinned by a throbbing acid line, while "Hideaway" showcases Eluize's ability to craft techno torch songs as dreamy vocals are fused with a mysterious, downtempo arrangement. Meanwhile, on "Supposed", she reaches a midway point between the dreamy and the dance floor-based with an acidic stepper.
Review: Delivering the best in electro beats this side of the cosmos is the super sonic Craigie Knowes label outta Glasgow. Following an epic 2019 that saw releases from the likes of Textasy, Maelstrom, Jensen Interceptor and the always reliant John Daly, Craigie Knowes follows up its first 2020 release by Cygnas with the deeply cool Descent EP from Carl Finlow. Full of some fine snap, crackle and deep electro pop - word to the Craigie Knowes mastering engineer of choice over the years - this EP maintains the quality of standard we've come to know from the label. The hit here is "Undertones" with its glistening production values that finds its sister track (or slight dub version) in "Descent". For something gnarlier check the riffing basslines of "Cascade" or the spacious and percussive minimalism of "Displaced". Bonafide quality.
Review: The Woodleigh Research Facility is the name adopted by Andrew Weatherall and Nina Walsh to channel the creative partnership that began a staggering 30 years ago, which, by and large, has found its ultimate release in 2020. Adding to a huge torrent of music that AW's legendary Rotter's Golf Club has released this year, Facility 4: A Walk With Bob & Bill Vol 2 sends in two uniquely badass, analogue to the core, and firing electro tracks and the one meandering, atmospheric and industrial techno number, "Poiesis". For the more cosmic and melody minded head to "I Hear The Sun", with the sweetest treat in this package the beatdown sparks and sizzling sonics of "Without Distraction". The real deal.
Review: Initially a party organisation from Belgium, De:tuned has become a record label for reanimating the sounds from electronic music's early days. Run by Ruben Boons and Bert Hermans, it continues with the cherry-picked selections for its 10th anniversary with volume 5 in the celebratory series. Terrace (aka Stefan Robbers) and Nu Era (aka Marc Mac, best known as a founding member of 4 Hero) channel the timeless spirit of Detroit styled hi-tech soul and Jupiter jazz with their stellar contributions. While electro is the order of the day elsewhere, courtesy of legend Carl Finlow on the dystopian electro bass of "Photo Array" and new school heroes London Modular Alliance going further into dystopian and sci-fi aesthetics on the powerful "D6".
Review: Straight-laced drums straight outta Rome thanks to Italian producer Kocleo with this San Lorenzo three-track stunner! It presents a debut release for Kocleo on Tensnake's platform which sees the artist push a pumping disco and acid house blend of righteous Italo met with the slightest of techno touches. With some progresive heaviness weaving its way into "Fase2", Kocleo's "Break Away" provides a simmered down alternative to the big room antics of "San Lorenzo" and its synth heavy flow. Dancefloor romance!
Review: TAU label heads Adana Twins have been soaking up the success of their single 'My Computer", remixing legend Josh Wink and a collaboration with Danish pop outfit WhoMadeWho alongside Greek producer Echonomist - who just presented his 'Modern Wonder' EP on for the label. It's been a hugely successful year for these two acts and they collaborate once more on the 'Subway Yard' EP, featuring four sublime cuts: from the moody and dystopian electro-bass excursion of the title track, the euphoric neon-lit nu-disco action of "Into The Night" right through to the tunnelling and hypnotic dancefloor drama of "Universal Dolls".
Review: Last year PBR Streetgang launched their Kurtz label via two tidy 12" singles containing a wealth of sleazy, acid-fired fare and stripped-back, warehouse-ready treats. They've flipped the script slightly on their delayed third Kurtz EP, offering up a title track that showcases their deep, atmospheric, percussively punchy and alien-sounding take on electro. Quin Whalley dons his occasional Johnny Aux alias for the obligatory remix, successfully pitching up the beats and adding some spacey sounds for an authentically intergalactic electro feel. Elsewhere across the EP, 'Sendeturm' and 'Thru The Shutters' are both analogue-rich synthesizer workouts that reminded us of the late, great Greek composer Vangelis.