Golden Dawn (feat Stefanie Parnow) - (7:14) 133 BPM
Interdimensional Interferenc - (5:58) 137 BPM
Distant Paradise - (8:04) 128 BPM
Be (feat Robert Owens) - (4:50) 138 BPM
Vampir - (6:29) 127 BPM
Downtown 161 - (11:36) 132 BPM
Review: Existenz is Dave Sumner's third artist album as Function, and it partly ushers in a change in style. While there are echoes of his typical brooding, hypnotic techno on the mysterious, acid-tinged "Nylon Mood" and the heads-down roller, "Golden Dawn" - which features Stefanie Parnow - much of the album comprises a more mellow mood. There's the wonderfully hypnotic 90s ambient of "The Approach" and "Sagittarius A (Right Ascension)", while Function hooks up with vocalist Robert Owens to do deep house on the layered, textured "Growth Cycle". It's without doubt Function's most diverse long player, and ranges from the rickety electro of "Pleasure Discipline" to the dub shanty of "Interdimensional Interference".
Review: While he's been keeping himself in the spotlight via some suitably glassy-eyed and loved-up remixes and collaborations, Phillip Lauer has not released much solo music in 2018. Now we know why: he was putting the finishing touches to "Power", his latest full-length for Gerd Janson's consistent Running Back label. As you might expect, all nine tracks ripple with giddy audio references to vintage dance styles of the '80s and '90s, from the synth-heavy Italo-disco revivalism of "Phaser7" and "Mirrors", to the rush-inducing electro positivity of "Direction" and the almost overwhelmingly sun-kissed pulse of Balearic-minded ambient opener "Blissos". While his inspirations are overwhelmingly old-fashioned, the resultant tracks are rarely less than brilliant, with the instrumental synth-pop rush of "Realistic" and muscular, Bobby Orlando-esque sing-along "Power" amongst the many sparkling highlights.
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: Usually, De:tuned puts out reissues, so Communion marks something of a departure for the label. It's Kirk Degiorgio's first studio album in 15 years under the As One project, and as befits its heritage, it's a gloriously widescreen affair. There's the dreamy ambience of "Absorption Spectra" and both "Downburst" and "Irimias" fuse similar sound scapes with brittle electro back beats. "The Ladder" sees Degiorgio push farther in the Detroit techno direction, guided on the way by out space blips, while the serene "Aimpoint" is redolent of the deeper than deep ambient-techno sound he explored on the classic As One album, Reflections. It's a timeless work.
Review: Work is Steffi's first release on Ostgut in a few years, and it sees her hook up with long-standing collaborator Virginia. "Be True to Me" is a typical Steffi track: understated blips and lush synths unfold over a bubbling groove, with Virginia's soulful tones at the heart of the arrangement. However, the approach changes on "Sight From Above", where smoky beats support the vocal narrative. "Help Me Understand" and "Until You're Begging" both see Steffi reach back to the angular electro that her label Klakson became known for, albeit with vocals added. Meanwhile, the title track sees the pair head off into deeper waters, with a rumbling bass accompanying bruising drums and Virginia's soulful tones.
Review: Samuel Van Dijk aka VC-118A follows 2016's Shift Register with another effortless, elegantly executed artist album. Moving from the frazzled dub techno of "Tide" - a sound more commonly associated with his Mohlao alias - into sleek electro jams such as "Pcb" and "Dither" and eerie ambient passages like "Metric Spaces", the Dutch producer's third long player shows that he is one of modern electronic music's most versatile producers. While most of Inside adheres to an understated sensibility, there is also a playful undercurrent here, audible on the stepping rhythm and frazzled acid of "Fm", while "Hiss" ranks among his most dance floor friendly techno output.
Review: Always one to charge into more interesting corners of the techno world, Adam X is in fine fettle as he drops his latest album for Sonic Groove, the first on his own label since 1998's Audiobiography. The tone is very much stout and stern, from the industrial-tinged drum hits to the cold and eerie synth content, but of course it's in the rhythmic department where Adam X really shines. At every turn there are intriguing grooves to latch onto, from the drunken lope of the title track with its anthemic hip hop vocal rip, to the opening broken techno drama of "Interchanges". There are more stripped down moments such as the restrained cycles of "Catenary", and some piston pumping bangers like "On The Verge Of Decimation", making this an engaging listen as well as a great collection of techno tracks.
Review: After the meteoric impact of his self-released singles and spots on Hessle Audio, Power Vacuum and Bleep, the electronic music world has been waiting patiently for TJ Hertz to step up and share a wider vista of his sound world. This debut LP for PAN does not disappoint, channelling the electronica quality of his most crushing club music and giving it a chance to roam that bit more freely. The beats still hit hard on the likes of "Ratchet", but that's not their only purpose. With sound design and general production fireworks at the forefront, whether you can dance to this or not is unimportant; what matters is how completely edge-of-your-seat thrilling it is to listen to, from every space age sweep to each grubby reverb impulse. We always knew he had it in him, and Objekt has more than delivered on that promise.
I Could Never Live Without You By My Side - (3:53) 128 BPM
Martin (feat J.Manuel) - (4:42) 134 BPM
Apollo Tag 2 (feat Fadi Mohem & Tobi Neumann) - (4:16) 133 BPM
Arctic Warmth - (1:38) 126 BPM
**Smells Like Security** - (5:03) 129 BPM
Netto (Interlude) - (2:39) 133 BPM
All My Friends Are In The Bathroom (feat Koogan, Fadi Mohem & J.Manuel) - (4:08) 133 BPM
Anio' - (4:22) 125 BPM
Review: Following on from last year's debut album, techno trio Fjaak bounce back with another fine long player. Whether or not Havel is named after the former Czech dissident is unknown, but there is no doubt that it finds them in fine form. "Take Your Life", which features Koogan on paranoid vocals, could be an acid-soaked Prodigy during their heyday, while at the other end of the spectrum, "I Could Never Live Without You By My Side" and "Version 184.108.40.206" are atmospheric break beat pieces. Fjaak are also adept at creating tough techno - just check the banging sound of "Martin" - while they team up with Tobi Neumann for the deeper break beat house of "Apollo Tag 2". On the evidence of Havel, it seems Fjaak can do no wrong.
Review: Keith Tenniswood (aka Radioactive Man) has always had a bit of an anti-authoritarian streak in him - from his ravey days in Two Lone Swordsmen to the creation of his new label, Asking For Trouble. The title of this new long player, Luxury Sky Garden, (his first since 2012) was inspired by the never-to-materialise public park at the top of London's Walkie Talkie building - originally promised by developers but quickly turned into the grounds of a luxury restaurant instead. The music is inspired by the live sets he's recently been playing and features 11 cuts of his signature mischievous electro and breaks.
Review: Earlier in the year, Marie Davidson signed a high-profile deal with Ninja Tune. She makes good on that contract, following a couple of killer singles with what could be her strongest album to date. After setting the tone with clandestine, tongue-in-cheek opener "Your Biggest Fan" - a creepy spoken word cut taking aim at stalker-line fans to the accompaniment of heavy analogue synth bass and creepy computer bleeps - Davidson giddily flits between elastic dancefloor workouts (the brilliantly sleazy "Work It" and mind-altering "Workaholic Paranoid Bitch"), attractive post-EBM instrumentals (the psychedelic and fizzing "Lara"), meditative ambient melodiousness ("Day Dreaming"), bizarre experimental weirdness (the suitable dystopian "The Tunnel"), and stylish analogue pop (the whispered vocals and off-kilter early morning funk of "So Right").
Review: It's rare that an electronic album is the biggest album of the year, or at least the most hyped. That's certainly the case with Syro, Richard D James first official release under his Aphex Twin moniker for some 13 years. So, is it any good? For starters, it sounds like an Aphex Twin album. Listen through to the 12 tracks, and many of his familiar staples are present - the "Digeridoo" era rave breakbeats, the mangled synth-funk mash-ups, the intoxicating ambient-era melodies, the warped basslines and the skittish drill & bass style rhythms. There's madness, beauty and intensity in spades. In other words, it's an Aphex Twin album, and - as so many have pointed out since the album's release was announced - there's no-one else quite like Richard D James.
Review: The work of Dutch producers Betonkust and Palmbomen II, Center Parcs was recorded in an ageing holiday park, from whence its name is derived. Like the slowly decaying surroundings that became the pair's de facto studio, there is a degraded sensibility throughout Parcs. It starts with the dreamy, frazzled "24 x 33" and "Smerig Eiland" and continues on the easy listening "De rust die Je Zocht". There is also a slightly more sinister edge to the album, audible on the pair's exploration of raw techno on "Renaat Egypte" as well as the warped acid of "Skytronic Cola". But overall, a longing for better times and the faded glory of their surroundings win through, audible on the serene "Troostprijs" and the blissed out "Nintendo Pantera".
Review: It's a surprise to see DMX Kru land on the Permanent Vacation imprint. After all, the legendary artist has pretty much focused on bold-faced acid antics for most of his illustrious career, but it is true that electro has also been a core component of his output. This style of electro, however, is much gentler and more dreamy that the usual industrial lashings that he churns out, making Nu Romantix a wonderful LP for lovers of both synth-pop and pure rave music. In fact, most of these tunes are hybrid in form and shape, rendering them effective in a multitude of situations, both on and off the rave-hall. The title is more than apt, too, with many of these tracks containing a clear 'nu-romantic' feel at their core, shaped by modern technology - hence the 'X' factor.
Review: Center is Tobias Freund's third studio album for Ostgut and its title provides a good indication of where its author is at. It veers in style from the dense electro of "Cr 24" to the experimental abstractions of "Autopoiesis" and "Single Minded" and ominous dark ambient compositions like "In Between". There is more dance floor friendly techno tracks such as "Blind Mass", but it is not like Freund makes conventional music and both "Mass" and "Syndrome" resound to stepping rhythms, layered textures and insistent percussion. This has a lot to do with Freund's background as a studio engineer and his perfectionist approach, and it feels like every note, tone and frequency on Center has been carefully, expertly calculated.
Review: By Steffi's own admission, State was recorded after she had 'freed' herself from a personal situation. This explains why the Dutch producer, who now feels more comfortable creatively, has made a third album that is more experimental than its predecessors. In places, it sounds influenced heavily by early 90s UK techno and electronics - in particular "All Living Things" is a dead-ringer for B12's Detroit-focused abstractions. At the same time, it still contains echoes of her previous albums. The warm, warbling bass on "Schools of Thought" could easily fit into the Panorama Bar's deep house releases. Counteracting this link to her past is the hyper-speed title track, where she channels Stingray's pacey electro funk, and the jittery, discordant techno of "Mental Events". It all adds up to an impressive, mature work.