Review: 3KZ is a collaboration between Z.I.P.P.O and Kalean, a partnership which already this year has yielded the Parallel Reflections album. Now the pair makes an impressive debut on Darko Esser's label. The title track is a powerful purist techno affair, featuring steely percussion and rhythms, coupled with dramatic synth sweeps. "Nature of Motion" is deeper and more musical, with warm keys unraveling against a gurgling groove. On "Circles", the pair flex their dance floor muscle, as an insistent, driving arrangement is combined with eerie synth loops, while "Times" concludes this club EP with a rolling, atmospheric groove that has echoes of classic Vince Watson.
Review: As 2013 nears its end, labels such as Darko Esser's Balans are the kind that have released more quality music than many may realise. Following Staffan Lazatti's bleepy debut, View From The Collapsing Centre, Pavel Dimitrenkov debuts his Cadans project in impressive style. "Fix" combines Regis-like broken beats with a distinctly European edge - like Markus Suckut on steroids, but not quite Ben Klock - while "Samsa" adds glassy chimes and synthesised bells placed on top of a Skudge-like groove, only dirtier. The EP's final track, "Millian", is rigid, dry and something the label Fifth Wall would have loved to get their hands on.
Review: Hemka follows 707 Collision, her debut on Balans from earlier this year, with a killer four-track EP. Favouring a purist approach to techno throughout, the first "Familiar" is a stripped back affair, led by tight claps and a series of niggling acid lines and broken glass minimal riffs. On "Familiar 2", the French producer moves into the kind of murky space that Jeff Mills' Purposemaker series has mapped out, with grimy, pounding kicks and eerie filter sweeps prevailing. The third instalment sees Hemka veer into Mike Parker's hypnotic, bleep-heavy territory, as an uptempo, steely rhythm track is supported by steely hi hats, while on the fourth and final "Familiar", a pumping, cavernous arrangement, supported by relentless claps, prevails.
Review: Staffan Linzatti debuts on Balans, the sub-label to Dark Esser's Wolfskuil, with an EP of loopy, chord distorted techno. First up is the frenetic bounce of "Opening" which relentlessly threatens to push too far into the red, while "The Contraption" weaves, wobbles and bleeps like Jeff Mills at the controls of an out of control U.F.O. A reverby title track moves the EP into Frozen Border techno territory, while the ghostly and alien bleeps in "Control" create a spooky and atmospheric tension. Haunted DJ tools.
Review: The undisputed king of hypnotic techno returns. Lately venturing out of the comfort zone that is his own Geophone imprint with releases on Mote Evolver, Repitch and now Amsterdam's Balans. "Transgression and Punishment" is more than just another slogan versus the world; it's an apt description for the American innovator's sound. Pounding, relentless, cavernous: these are the descriptions that come to mind when describing Parker's other wordly tracks. The title track and "Smoke From The Burning Fields" are classic Parker; reductionist and ergonomic DJ tools that loop you into submission while "The Freezing Process" delivers one of the most menacing modular snarls not seen since his epic "Forward (The 5AM Mix)". But "The Midnight Zone" is the peak time killer on offer here, with its psychotropic alien signals building gradually in modulation towards transcendental euphoria.
Review: It sounds like N-Phonix doesn't get much sleep. The Russian producer has released nine singles over the past year, but as Benway, his debut record on Darko Esser's label shows, he retains a hyperactive creative streak. It's hard to imagine whom "Nebrakada" will appeal to, as its spacey chords unravel over a frenetic rhythmic backdrop. The title track is more accessible - if you measure accessibility by noisy, stepping rhythms and occasional blasts of noise. Following on from this Shed-meets-Lakker jam, the Russian artist drops "Black Acid". Living up to its title, it features frazzled, grungy 303s layered over a tracky, insistent rhythm.
Review: It's been a rapid rise for Jordan Peak, with just four years active service seeing him snapped up by the likes of Morris/Audio, Bass Culture, One, Material, Tsuba and many more besides. On this latest release for Balans he's in a taut techno frame of mind, letting the edgy chords fly out of "Black Paint" with its piston-pumping rhythm section behind it. "Crocodile Tears" gets into a more restrained groove but there's plenty of movement in the lead synths, and "Cipher" strips things back further with an unresolving synth refrain and some dubby undertones. "False Start" meanwhile gets positively primal with its simple bleep hook and gnarly sound effects.
Review: It sounds like Dutch producer ROD is in tribute mode on Balans. "3yr" is a relatively innocuous, chord-building techy track, but other tracks display a more considered approach to production. "Kloduba" is laced with hypnotic wind chimes and rasping percussion as it begins its gradual ascent to a climax, while "Lego" recalls the early days of Steve Bicknell's productions, specifically the grubby, acidic loops of The Evader project. Best of all is "Float"; based on ROD's typical metallic drums and lithe rhythms, it features a niggling, nagging frequency tone that recalls the unforgettable riff at the heart of InSync's classic, "Storm".